Friday, December 28, 2012

These Christmas Moments

linked with Soulemama
I hope your Christmas continues to be a time of peace and joy with friends and family!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Your birth, O Christ our God, has shed upon the world the light of knowledge; for through it, those who worshiped the stars have learned from a star to worship you, the Sun of Justice, and to know you, the Dawn from on High. Glory to you, O Lord!
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One; and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable. The angels sing his glory with the shepherds; the wise men journey with the star. The eternal God is born for us as an infant child.
May this Season of Christ's Nativity be a blessing to you and your family!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pretty Happy Funny Real Almost Christmas

It was a pretty, happy and funny day, watching my kindergarten boy sing his Christmas program in his classroom. We still are praying for all that has happened and offer any sacrifice for those left behind.
find more {phfr} at Like Mother, Like Daughter

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Meet Teresa: happy housewife, prayer warrior, Catholic

describe your faith journey: I came into this world in 1968 as an Episcopalian. My father, an Episcopalian priest at the time, converted (by the influence of one Fr. John A. Hardon, to Catholicism in around 1971). Since then, I have been a Catholic. As far as practicing my faith is concerned, (if you mean doing the minimal, by going to Sunday Mass) I have done that since 1971. However, the reason I went, in my teens at least, was because my father made it abundantly clear we would go to hell, if we didn't attend on Sundays. But, going out of fear is better than not going at all. The rest of my life didn't reflect, in the least, my Catholicism. So, my rebirth in the Church was somewhere in 1989.

I came from a broken home, with my father fighting the divorce every step of the way. My mom divorced my dad in 1976. So, for years I lived a rather wild life. I was very angry with my mother for years, so I acted out that anger in rebellion. I partied every weekend, which included getting drunk to the point of passing out, a most of the time.

I messed around with boys without losing my virginity until I turned 16. Then I lost my virginity. I was not promiscuous, but I did have a few sexual partners in my younger days. I knew premarital sex could send me to hell too, so I never approached a man for sex, except once, in drunkenness  I would always run to the Confessional afterward, by the way. At any rate, I allowed men to take advantage of me, by not having boundaries and allowing myself to be alone with them or even so much as coming to my house at night, unannounced. That is what my life was pretty much like. 

At any rate, my dad prayed me into conversion. He found out about the Franciscan University of Steubenville from his boss, whose son attended there. He got me to go, by telling me he would pay for my first semester there. Well, a free ride is a free ride, so I went there for the first semester fully intending on leaving after the first year.

I got there and my first impression was that there were a whole lot of nerds there. So, I joined a sorority, so I could enjoy my first semester with partying and drinking as much as possible. Well, God had other plans. He tricked me into inviting Him into my life. He used my weakness, (men or boys at that time) to lure me into giving my life over to Him. I met this guy, named George and as usual, went gaga over him. 

At Steubenville, they have what are known as Households, where each member gets together, celebrates Lord's day on Saturday night, by singing and praying and drinking wine or grape juice in my case, as I was too young for alcohol (little did they know I didn't care that the law prevented me from drinking) and passing around bread. We then would commence to dinner to the campus cafeteria. They did other social and spiritual things together as well.

At any rate, my sorority had a household too and I told the household coordinator, DeAnn, that I had this crush on this guy. She then asked me what I was looking for in a man. I told her he had to be stable in more than one way and treat me with kindness and respect. And, just to tickle her ear, I told herhe  had to be Christian. I honestly didn't give one hoot as to whether he was Catholic or Christian, I just said it. 

Well, she said, that if I want to have relationship like that with a man on this Earth, I had better start with having a relationship with the Man in Heaven. I asked her would I get married that much faster, if I did? She said you stand a far better chance. So, I was game. I asked her how I went about doing it. She said get on your knees before going to bed tonight and say "You are the Potter, I am the clay, mold me and make me, this is what I pray." I thought that sounds easy enough. I did it and never expected much of anything. 

Would you know I woke up the next morning with this awesome feeling of Jesus' love in my heart that just burned right through warming me to my very depths? I stayed on cloud nine for a while, then asked to be brought back down to Earth. He let me back down with a thud, then the healing of my heart began, but I haven't turned back since.
describe your prayer life today: I pray the Rosary every day, I try to attend daily Mass, as much as time permits. I try to be the wife God calls me to be, to a most wonderful man that I married late in life, by the way. God's timing is not ours. I try dying to myself to become a more charitable person because this is my struggle. I speak what is on my mind a lot and it needs to be filtered a lot more before I say it or write it, especially on facebook.

We are open to life, having had 2 miscarriages, we are hoping and praying for a little one or ones to live on this Earth with us. I evangelize when I am approached. I also am attending the Catholicism series at St. Julie Brilliart's on Monday nights. It is helping me to understand my faith, with the Blessed Mother and the Saints better. My husband and I try to go to monthly confession, as well. I also incorporate the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Angelus every day, as well as 9 Memores for specific intentions, as well as Scripture reading. We pray novenas, as well. I also try to learn from my good Catholic friends and family, asking advice every so often. 

favorite Bible verse: My favorite Bible verse would be Jeremiah 29:11 
New International Version (©1984)
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

favorite spiritual quotation: St. Augustine: In essential things, unity, in nonessentials, liberty, in all things charity.

beloved saint: St. Teresa of Avila. She is my favorite because she is my Patron saint for one and also she has a feistiness about her like mine. This woman was so strong and had so much wisdom. I admire her for all that. I want to emulate her.

living spiritual mentor: my Spiritual Director and his name is Fr. Hildebrand from Thomas Aquinas College. 

Right now, I don't have a ministry in the Church. I used to lector and sang in the choir at St. Sebastian's in Santa Paula. I am very picky about church music and it being liturgical. The only choirs that I would consider right now, is either St. Sebastian's or Santa Clara in Oxnard, but they are too far away for me to go and practice as often as would be necessary.

I have a Bachelor's of Science in Mental Health and Human Services from FUS and a minor in Theology from the same school. I am a currently laid-off happy housewife, for now. 

favorites & hobbies: One of my favorite movies is "To Sir with Love" with Lulu and Sidney Poitier (1967). I have watched that many times and would watch it many times more. My favorite book is probably Fulton J. Sheen's "Three to Get Married." My favorite kind of music is 80's era music. My hobby is music. I love to hear it, sing it and dance to it. I learned to play the violin at 12 years old and played it for 5 years. Oh and I went to Cincinnati's School for Creative and Performing Arts, where Sarah Jessica Parker attended. I also took Drama class and was very shy until then. But, once I got praise from my Drama teacher, I came out of my shell and havent gone back in since. That was also at the age of 12. 

Thanks Teresa for sharing your story! 
Click on the label (to your right) 'I'm a Catholic' series to read about the others featured 
You can find Teresa Seely Pineda on Facebook

Monday, December 17, 2012


“I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien

Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Very Quick Takes

1. Are your Christmas preparations stressing you? First, read this troparion of Christmas and pray about the true meaning of the holiday:
Your birth, O Christ our God
Has shed upon the world the light of knowledge;
For through it, those who worship the stars
Have learned from a star to worship You, the Sun of Justice
And to recognize You as the Orient From On High.
Glory be to You, O Lord
Then, click on this link and listen to the Nuns of Chester chant an Advent hymn. Don't you feel calmer?
2. Baby Girl refused to wear her homemade sister-matching Christmas kitty skirt (Girl #1 got a fourth tier on her Christmas dogs skirt), but deigned to wear a ballerina skirt I made her.
3. For a completely different but equally beautiful song, click here and listen to a Arabic Byzantine Christmas Hymn. The theology-rich lyrics should be read and prayed.
4. Baby Girl finally stopped pouting and started dancing in her skirt
5. Bloggers should not be sensitive types. that. is. all.
6. from last year...I still enjoy these (& before someone gets upset, the cartoonist is making fun of commercialized Santa, not Saint Nicholas):
7. I wonder how someone got priest-husband's cell phone number. It's in our bulletin, but these are strangers. He is off to anoint a person in a nursing home. Yes, it is after 10:00 PM and he got home at 8 after working since 7:30. I guess no one else was available. I would have chauffeured him as he is exhausted from a long day's work, but I don't want to leave the children sleeping in the house alone.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pretty Happy Funny Real 'Birthday of a King'

Pretty & Happy- We were happy to hear the girls sing at their Christmas concert, and I think they sang very prettily. The video above is my desperate attempt to capture a bit of the music.
Funny? Not really- I got to the concert after the girls' Ave Maria duet and right before Daughter #2's solo. This is as close as I could get.
Real- I wrote about the behavior of the concert goers yesterday...that felt a little too 'real.' And then I checked my cell phone. I thought I had taken video of their duet, but I messed up. Apparently one has to turn on the this {phfr} is a bit of a 'downer,' but we are still content!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmastime Confessions from Priest's Wife

the song O Christmas Tree. In German, it is okay. In English, sung slowly, in differing keys and in thick Eastern European accents, I cannot abide it. This song is second on my hate list to Happy Birthday. These are definitely 'smile and wave' kind of songs for me.

irreverence when a church is used for a concert. I made it to the second half of my girls' choir concert last night. The concert took place at the local historic Padre Junipero Serra mission church which is still an active Catholic parish. About ten minutes after the concert was finished and most people had left, I asked the accompanist to play the Ave Maria so I could hear my girls sing their duet. Not only were the remaining people talking over my girls' singing, they had their backs to the altar, guffawing like there was no other place for their conversations. When my girls finished, the talkers kept talking, I used the holy water to make the sign of the Cross and congratulated my girls when we were outside the church.
emails that have the subject line: Christmas Eve Private Mass? My husband got a request for a family private Mass from someone I don't know (most likely from the parish that husband does the 6:30 AM Mass every Sunday). This family has a tradition of a private Christmas Eve Mass and their priest who normally does it- a retired priest without a parish- cannot be there. So they are very kindly asking my husband to do it. And the wife and kids can come too! After a 2 hour Christmas Eve Divine Liturgy and then knowing we will be getting up early to travel an hour for another 2 hour Divine Liturgy Christmas morning! Thanks for asking! So most likely, the big girls will help their dad with this and I will put the little kids to sleep. These people love my husband enough to give him the privilege of celebrating a private Mass for them on the second busiest time of the year, but they have never visited us for our Divine Liturgy.

Irish breakfast tea with eggnog in place of milk and sugar. This is my favorite drink for Christmas. 

Having a break from teaching my college class! Now finally I can get some sewing done!

Divine Liturgy- especially when the little ones song 'Lord, have mercy'...they are getting better in their old ages (3.5 and 5.5)

the craziness of this time with going to parishioners' homes to carol them. My husband usually gets his Christmastime favorites to eat like calves' foot jelly. Yes, we will be back again after Theophany with the new year's blessed waters to bless the homes. Just like last year.

Amy Grant Christmas music. There. I said it.

a little bit of tackiness during the Advent/Christmas season. I am very tempted to buy myself this scarf made from old Christmas sweaters...

the adoption happily-ever-after story that is happening at the blog Posie Gets Cozy- my Christmas wish is that all children would be so cherished!

a British Christmas dinner- Yorkshire pudding, roast beef, trifle. This is another reason why I love celebrating at the very least the octave of Christmas. There is time for plenty of celebrations. Of course, we have a traditional Romanian dinner as well with cabbage rolls, sausages, polenta and other goodies.

Romanian folk Christmas carols. Search 'Hara' (a group I like) and 'Colinde' (Romanian word for Christmas carol) for more
My Wish List to Santa (really my husband- Santa gives only the stocking stuffers at our house)
Some Charitable Donations that will make me happy....wish I were richer and could give more
Questions to you from Priest's Wife:
Does 'Elf on a Shelf' exist? I have never seen it!
What do you adore and/or abhor about the Advent/Christmas Season? As always...commenting is easy here

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

4 Saint Nicks in 4 days...& then a Santa Claus

Thursday the 6th- As always, we set out our shoes the night before in anticipation of St Nicholas' visit. The children got chocolate coins and other goodies. Daughter #1 received some lavender lotion, and Daughter #2 got an assortment of mustards. Dad got a six-pack of O'Douls (he is on-call 24/7 with his hospital, so any alcohol really is not advisable) and he likes the taste- many people do not! Since I am not on-call, St Nicholas gave me a bottle of Ventura Limoncello. It is the best I have ever had.
Friday the 7th- We went to our monthly home school park day and Saint Nicholas visited. Some of the children brought crafts and goodies to sell, using a percentage of their proceeds to donate to food baskets in the community. It was a wonderful time, but Baby Girl was terrified of Saint Nicholas and refused to greet him. Perhaps it was his Roman-rite style bishop's mitre ;)

Saturday the 8th- Saint Nicholas visited us after our Divine Liturgy on Saturday evening. It was a special surprise for the Latino community who were there as well to celebrate the end of their novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They liked the idea of a feast day for Saint Nicholas, but this time of year is busy with Our Lady of Guadalupe. And Baby Girl started to warm up to St Nicholas...

Sunday the 9th- We had a combined Divine Liturgy with the 'big' community and us (the smaller jurisdiction that rents space). Then we sat down to a breakfast in the large hall and waited for saint Nicholas to arrive. Finally, Baby Girl went up to St Nicholas. A friend of mine took some photos. Baby Girl was very serious and refused to smile, but she did look in the camera.

Monday the 10th- While waiting at the door for their kindergarten morning ritual to begin, Boy was talking to his friends about St Nicholas. I don't think they really got the concept. Then, their teacher hinted that a man "in a red suit" would be visiting that day. They still didn't get it. I whispered to Boy, "I think Santa's helper might visit your class today." Boy told his friends and they cheered with delight. I suppose the 'spirit of Christmas' never gets tiresome.
and yes, Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus will come back and fill our stockings on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meet Emmanuel: artist, autodidact, papa, Catholic

I've been a Catholic for thirty-eight years and my reversion happens a few seconds after my eyes open each morning. I've always been a practicing Catholic and never missed a Sunday Mass (except when in the hospital a couple times). 
I am not holy...just to set anyone straight...I have obvious flaws that annoy and interior flaws that sometimes make me fear for my salvation. 

My greatest challenge in practicing the faith is remaining hopeful and consequently joyful. I place great hope in the thought that God created out of nothing. He has much more to work with now so imagine what He must be planning! 

My favorite Spiritual writings after the Bible are Fr. Emil Mersch's The Theology of the Mystical Body and The Hermitage Within (by an anonymous monk). 

I cannot really pin down a verse in scripture because I like how it interacts with the person in the story (of course I place myself in their shoes). Two favorites are when the woman at the well says "give me this water to drink that I may not have to come here and draw" and He answers with "Call your husband." This shows me that the living water comes when we encounter our lives honestly in the light of God's Plan in Christ. I listen to the Gospel of John on mp3 (by Leonardo Defilippis) and when Jesus encounters the magdalene after the resurrection and says "Mary" she replies "Rabboni!" and almost instantly my eyes moisten. 
My favorite saint is St. Benedict Joseph Labre because he tried so hard going from vocation to vocation only to find that his vocation was going from place to place. My favorite quote is long. 

Unfortunately my mentor died with the last pope and hasn't yet found a replacement. 

My ministry in the Church is to raise an angel, a mother superior, a priest, a hermit, a worker artist, another nun, and a victim soul.

My education is my Mp3 player as I work. My favorite movie is Fiddler on the Roof, I mentioned my favorite book already and my music is hands down the Akathist hymns for good friday and Rach III for variation.(I listen to these about twice a day or more with little to no variation). 

I am good with my hands so I create sacred art when I can but as a day job I am a finish carpenter/restoration remodeler. I talk a lot. What is very cool or interesting about me is that I am a Catholic. 

Thank you, Emmanuel, for sharing your life! Others in the I'm a Catholic series are Kim and Cat.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Perks of Being Unimportant- 7 Quick Takes

1. When you share worship space with a much larger community, you had better be prepared to have native Mexican dancers at your Saint Nicholas Divine Liturgy and potluck. (2011's photo). Accept it as a perk of being unimportant. Look at the beautiful smiles of the dancers! It was a fun, very international (hence- "catholic") time.
2. This week was a good bonk of the head to help me with my lack of humility. I was quite excited to have a short Advent reflection posted at Huffington Post Religion. It wasn't that entertaining or earth-shattering, but I was still pleased to be published by such a huge site. I didn't get ONE person clicking from the Huffington Post back to me to read from my personal blog. Not ONE person was interested in reading more? Ouch. Oh well, I still get a click every now and then from when the lovely Simcha Fisher posted a link to me. I should have known that Simcha's audience is far cooler than Huffington Post's. 
3. and then you say- Priest's Wife, get over yourself!
...and then I say- okay, thanks for the bonk in the head! We have more important issues in today's world than my first-world pity party.
4. Our monastery has a new vocation that we all celebrate and pray for. Cardinal George, has he ever celebrated a Mass with such a small community? Probably not. While we pray these holy monks will grow into a larger community, there are benefits to being small. Can they 'fly under the radar' and escape satan's wrath and attacks? Probably not. Pray for them, and if you live in the Chicago area, consider joining them for a retreat.
5. Heaven forbid that we ever become successful. Maybe it is just sacramental grace, but I think my priest-husband is telegenic enough for the media. But it is for the best. I pray for priests like Fr Mitch Pacwa and Fr Robert Barron to fight the good fight and not succumb to the world like Fr Cutie and Fr John Corapi. Anyway, it is the media that is missing out on my heavily-accented, photogenic husband.
NOT on T.V.
6. So Fr Z (I appreciate his blog) and Michael Voris (sorry, I can't abide the swirling pencil even when his message is positive) are having a "retreat" on a cruise ship during the later part of Lent 2013. I'm sure that there will be plenty of shrimp and lobster to accommodate the meatless Fridays. You can probably imagine that I agree with The Crescat.
7. Your comments are important to me! You don't even need to out on your glasses to submit a comment because I don't require captcha codes. And for more smallness, visit some of the links at my quasi-blog In Union With Rome.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Pretty Happy Funny Real Romanians

Pretty- Baby Girl was pretty at the Divine Liturgy last Sunday, wearing national dress to commemorate Romania's National Day.
Happy- Boy was happy to wear his Maramures hat- the region where his daddy is from. And I was happy to see the little ones interacting so well. They are good friends even when they are squabbling.
Funny- Kids are funny. Boy traveled to Europe when he was four months old, so he is much more of a world traveler than I ever was. We live in a very diverse area, and he has friends of all colors and creeds. None of this mattered when he was listening to a 'pray as you go' recording. The background music was from Africa, I told him. He looked at me with wide eyes. "Africa! People live in Africa?" He thought that Africa is filled only with animals like zebras and lions with no people. Kids are funny.
and yes...I am getting a camera for Christmas. No more of these awful cellphone camera photos!

Crocheting Cute Animals for Christmas

Daughter #2 is furiously crafting for Christmastime- stating "I think I learned my lesson- I am starting in February next time." Oh! Don't we all say that?! No matter, I am proud of her. She is twelve and taught herself to crochet. I only knit- and very, very badly.
The crocheted piece above is going to be a turtle for her father. Is she telling him to slow down? 

Thoughts on the Byzantine Advent Season

"O faithful, let us celebrate beforehand the Nativity of Christ; let us raise up our minds to Bethlehem, and we shall be raised up in spirit. We shall gaze upon the mystery of the cave; Eden is opening up, and God is coming forth from the pure Virgin. He is perfect in divinity and in humanity. "
the nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Byzantine Catholics throughout the world- Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Romanian and more- do not celebrate Advent as the majority of the Roman-rite Catholics and other Christian denominations do. Like Orthodox Christians, the time before the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus Christ is a fasting period that consists of 40 days beginning November 15th. We call it Saint Philip's Fast or the Nativity Fast. It is both a season of preparation and penance. 

The Nativity Fast is less severe than our fasting time of Lent before Easter, but it is a penitential time nonetheless. As a Byzantine Catholic family, this nativity fast plays out in a forced simplicity. We leave any Christmas parties to Sundays during the fast, mostly waiting for the actual Christmas season that begins on December 25th, the 25th being the 'first day of Christmas.' 

As with every fasting period, we strive to follow the way of true penitence- like a strong three-legged stool we fast from certain foods, we pray more, and we give time and resources for charitable good. Because we are a clergy family, much of the time and resources that we offer to God and His people is through supporting husband and father in his ministry of additional confession times, prayer services, masses and counseling sessions. 

Like many families, we light the candles, we tear off a strip from the Advent paper chain daily and we prepare cookie dough for our cookie trays to give to neighbors. As many Christian families do, we juggle obligations with all the fun distractions and strive to give our children a balanced life in this world that rejects Christ yet still wants the gifts. What makes us a bit different than the rest is that our Advent wreath has seven candles- one for each Sunday of the Fast and one for Christmas Day.  Our Advent chain is longer as well. We will bake the cookie dough and give to friends during the twelve days of Christmas. 

We live a counter-cultural and perhaps hopelessly outdated life as faithful in the Byzantine Catholic Church. Churches, vestments, traditions and songs are modeled after ancient Constantinople. Like Christ who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, we cling to a timeless faith that has not changed. Following the Nativity Fast, we remember that we are imperfect, waiting for the perfect Christ Child. 
Therefore, let us call out: O holy God, O unbegotten Father, O holy and mighty One, O Incarnate Son, O holy immortal One, O comforting Spirit, O holy Trinity, glory to You! (from the Pre-Christmas vespers, traditional)

I decided to post this here because I assume that the Huffington Post doesn't keep short guest posts up for long. The original post was here at Huffington Post Religion.

Click here for a beautiful reflection from Christ the Bridegroom Monastery

Some Thoughts Posted at Huffington Post Religion

Huffington Post Religion posted a short reflection on the Nativity Fast that I wrote. I invite you to click over there and take a look!
If you are visiting from Huffington Post Religion, I encourage you to click on the posts below to see where I am coming from.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A December Daybook

I'm in a bit of a slump...maybe it is the fast that the sun sets at about five PM....but this post is where I am today...
Outside my window...the orange tree is loaded with fruit. Just on time. We need the Vitamin C. 

I am thinking...that we need more Advent songs!

I am thankful...for the season of Advent (Nativity Fast); it seems to expand time. When everyone is stressed out because Christmas will come and go on December 25th, that is just the beginning for my family. We celebrate for twelve days beginning December 25th..
In the kitchen...I'm making cam chowder and figuring out how to use the random vegetables from our CSA box.

I am wearing...a black t-shirt and black pants...a bit boring just like this post...I'll change before I go out!

I am creating...ruffled skirts for the girl cousins. I hope my machine will behave.

I am help my children finish their cousin Christmas cards.

I am wondering.... about this text in preparation for Christmas...

"Christ is born! Glorify Him! Christ descends from the heavens, welcome Him!
Christ is now on earth, O be jubilant!
Sing to the Lord, the whole earth,
And sing praises to Him with joy, O ye people,
For He has been exalted!"...
I am reading...The Fathers Know Best by Jimmy Akin. If you ever wondered what the early, early Church taught and thought, read this book.

I am see The Hobbit as early as possible, perhaps an early morning showing. We'll see it alone together, and then we will take the big girls. This is an exceedingly rare 'theater' movie for us. We usually wait and use Netflix.

I am looking forward 60 year old bachelor uncle's wedding at the new year!

I am learning...that I shouldn't wait until December to start Christmas crafting...

Around the house...Boy is playing Lego, making boats and planes and not asking to watch a video
I am pondering...this text in preparation for Christmas
"The Son who was born of the Father
Before all ages, and in this latter day
Was made incarnate of the Virgin
Without seed; Christ our God"
A favorite quote for today..."We all long for [Eden], and we are constantly glimpsing it: our whole nature at its best and least corrupted, its gentlest and most humane, is still soaked with the sense of ‘exile’. " JRR Tolkien

One of my favorite things...Thai Iced tea- too delicious...yum...

A few plans for the rest of the week: prepare the final week of my college classes- then on to Christmas break!
find more daybooks at a simple woman's daybook

Monday, December 3, 2012

Meet Cat: youth minister, mama, Catholic

How long have you been a practicing Catholic? 
I was baptized into the Catholic faith as a baby.

Care to share your conversion, reversion story? 
Although my mom made me go to church every Sunday as a child, I lacked conviction and excitement about the faith until I was 17. I met Jesus in a very personal encounter on a retreat and determined that living and dying for Him was the only thing that would bring meaning to my life.

How does your faith inform your day-to-day life?
I hope that it informs each decision that I make during the day. If God is not my waking thought and the last thought before I sleep, then I lack peace and joy.

What is your greatest challenge in practicing your faith?

favorite Bible verse? 
Sirach 2:1-6 "My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Be sincere of heart and steadfast, and do not be impetuous in time of adversity. Cling to him, do not leave him, that you may prosper in your last days. Accept whatever happens to you; in periods of humiliation be patient. For in fire gold is tested, and the chosen in the crucible of humiliation." 

favorite Spiritual writing quotation?
"Because I was small and weak, Jesus stooped down to me and in secret taught me the marvels of his love." St Therese

favorite saint and why? 
Edith Stein (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross) is one of my favorite saints. I aspire to love truth as she did.

What is your ministry in the church? 
ministry to teens, ministry to families with young children (organize monthly children's adoration, other catechesis opportunities for families), occasionally help with adult formation (not RCIA) in our parish

education and job 
FUS grad. My jobs have included teaching English abroad for the Language and Catechetical Institute, youth ministry, and working for a home health provider. I have two boys, ages 6 and 3, and am now a stay-at-home mother.

favorite movie, book, music 
Some of my favorite films are Casino Royale, Zelary and Kolja. I tend to have an affinity for films that don't necessitate a "happy" ending. 
Crime and Punishment, Les Miserables, LOTR, and the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe are among my favorite books. 
Mozart's Requiem Mass in D minor is my favorite music. 

I enjoy playing guitar, especially when my boys join me in singing (or try to "help" me play).

What is 'cool'/interesting about you?
I met and married my best friend while living in Slovakia. 
It took my husband and I three entire days to hitchhike across Slovakia. (It took my husband the same amount of time to hitchhike from Slovakia to London.) Things were not going well for my husband and me on that trip until we were first picked up by Moses (Mojzis) and next by Abraham (Ibrahim). 

Thanks for sharing, Cat! Here's the first entry to the 'I'm a Catholic' series.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

7 TurkeyTakes with Cute Kitty, Cute Kid & Thanks

1. See what I did there? TURKEYtakes about TURKEYday? Just kidding, I find it endlessly annoying when Thanksgiving is called Turkeyday...some people don't eat turkey, but they still give thanks. 'Turkeyday' is as bad as 'Dads and Grads' in June....but I digress...

2. He has blond hair and blue eyes. He must be mostly Puritan, early European American, right? No, we didn't come on the Mayflower, and most of my ancestors are post-Revolution. Color doesn't mean much; I have 100% Mexican students who are whiter than my boy. 
3. According to a family tree that my paternal grandmother researched, we have Native American blood on her side. So we have more Native American in us than early European American. Now, it is a moot point. My children might be all 'mixed up' on my side (Czech, English, German), but they are all Romanian (basically Dacian from Maramures) on their daddy's side. 
4. Poor Lucky, he is an outside kitty and it has been raining. All is well so far; he likes his cozy basket.
5. We do only do-able crafts around here. Girl #2 made a paper turkey to attach to the humus bowl and made a fan of sweet pepper strips for the feathers. Cute and easy!
6. Here's a few things that I was thankful (to God!) for this November:
7. Did you catch Monday's post on this blog? I am starting a new series called 'I'm a Catholic," featuring practicing Catholics, their faith journeys and what makes them interesting and different. Please click over and meet Kim, my first Catholic profiled and come back Monday to meet my far-away friend Cat, guitarist, catechist, mom and all around cool chica

Email me at if you have someone to nominate for the 'I'm a Catholic' series- even yourself! I am specially looking for non-bloggers (or 'micro'-bloggers).

Pretty Happy Funny Real Thanksgiving

Pretty & Happy- Baby Girl was so happy to have time with a family friend's sweet baby. She still remembers that she was not allowed to hold the baby the first time she saw him- of course, we saw him when he was ten hours old in the hospital and we were not going to hand over a wee babe to our barely three-year old girl. She wouldn't smile while I was taking the photo. She knew that she was doing serious work, holding the precious boy.
Funny- We had a small group of friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. They asked what they could bring. They were traveling a ways to get to us, so bringing cooked food wouldn't be practical. I joked- none of them drink alcohol- that they could bring some 'Patron Silver' tequila. Guess what is waiting for a special occasion in my upper cabinet right now?
Real- I have reservations posting this picture. The child didn't ask to be photographed. There doesn't have to be anything wrong with Christmas gifts. It is wrong to post something simply to 'raise awareness,' but photos such as these have inspired me to simplify. It doesn't matter if I have less than the typical California celebrity. I must do more for my fellow man. 
The rich West is well-aware that there is extreme poverty in the world- whether caused by famine, war, massive inequities in resource distribution within a country, or corruption. We are simplifying our holiday celebrations and we will give to some specific causes and people who could use help. I hope you are inspired to do the same.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

An Advent 1st Corinthians 13

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love, I'm just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned mealtime, but do not show love, I'm just another cook. 

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love, it profits me nothing. If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata...but do not focus on Christ,I have missed the point. 
Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. 

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but rejoices in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails. 
(This a replay from last year- I think it is a good reminder for the month of December)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet Kim: teacher, traveler, mama, Catholic

Thank you, Kim, for being the first in my 'I'm Catholic' series! I want to profile fellow Catholics, their faith journeys and what makes them different and interesting. I'm breaking my first rule today. I was planning on profiling non-bloggers (because we already know how cool Leila, Simcha and Ginny are), but Kim blogs- very occasionally- at Byzymom. I decided to break my rule because she is a rare one- a possible future priest's wife. If you are or know someone who would like to be profiled, send me an email at
How long have you been a practicing Catholic?
I converted to the Catholic faith 5 years ago.

Care to share your conversion, reversion story?
Although I was baptized Anglican, I grew up in an agnostic home. I attended a Presbyterian youth group throughout high school but mostly just wandered around lost and confused. With no knowledge about vocation or God’s plan for my life, it was hard for me to find direction and purpose and I spent my university years trying to find fulfillment in the things of the world.  I read books about many faiths but nothing could answer my questions. When I started dating my now husband I told him I didn’t believe in organized religion and he called my bluff. After a BIG fight I agreed to start reading about the history of the Christian faith. After I was sure that Catholicism was the truth I had been missing it was just a matter of East vs West.  I like the incense, candles and mysticism that is more present in the East than in the West. It also helped that my boyfriend was Eastern Catholic.  I entered the Church on May 13th 2007, about one month before my boyfriend proposed to me. Although my husband is a cradle Catholic, he fell away from the church in his early twenties and we met at the perfect time for his reversion and my conversion. We have been blessed to grow in our faith together. I do find that he has grown in leaps and bounds and I sort of putter along. The grass is always greener where you water it and he is much more disciplined than I am in his daily prayers.

How does your faith inform your day-to-day life?
 I know it sounds cliché but my life is my faith. Meal planning depends on the fast or feast and I am trying to raise my children with the knowledge of the liturgical calendar and seasons.  I don’t know how I would survive three children under three without the intercession of the Theotokos and the Saints! I currently can’t find the controller for the TV and I am really hoping that St. Anthony will intercede for me because without it I have no emergency “quiet time” for the kids.
Like Catherine Doherty (and others) have said “do little things exceedingly well for love of Me”.  When I do the dishes, laundry, diapers, shopping, cleaning I try to do it all for love of Christ. Ideally, I pray a little in the morning if I can manage to wake up before the toddlers, a little in the afternoon while the baby sleeps and the toddlers are playing and a little at night with my husband. We read the Prologue of Ochrid (lives of the saints) together as well as some scripture. I am hoping to go to adoration hour once a week on Friday mornings (with the Roman Catholics). Hopefully this will become a routine in the very near future.
In reality; I almost always sleep as long as possible, the baby doesn’t go down for a nap and I fall asleep before my husband gets home from his singing lessons.  Pray for us.

What is your greatest challenge in practicing your faith?
 As a control freak (with really messed up hormones) there are some teachings of the church (ahem..NFP) that I struggle with. It’s hard to give up control and to trust “Let go and Let God”. It’s much easier said than done. My husband and I both come from small families that only had two children and then stopped permanently. We are already the black sheep with our three. That being said I think my greatest challenge in practicing my faith is my own sinfulness, honest!  I could complain about how my family thinks I’m crazy, my childhood friends have stopped talking to me, my kids never sleep and my husband won’t stop singing weird Bulgarian tones. But the truth is, I would rather sleep an extra hour than get up for Matins, I want my kids to behave in church so I won’t look bad and I have a sugar addiction that makes Lent really hard. The key is to remember God’s love and forgiveness and that each day, each hour can be a fresh start.

favorite Bible verse?
Currently...Luke 10:41-42 “Martha, Martha. You worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part.”

favorite Spiritual writing (besides Bible) quotation?
 I am big fan of the writings of Catherine Doherty. Living The Gospel Without Compromise is a great book and I’ve read it 3 times...and I should read it again. Her lay apostolate was instrumental in my conversion and I have spent time at Madonna House in Combermere.  I could go on for days about how the light of Christ really shines through these people and their writings!

favorite saint and why?
 Martha. She is not on the calendar in the Eastern Church but this is where I “breath with both lungs”.  I have a hard time staying in the moment and not fussing in the kitchen when I could be present to Christ in my life. Martha reminds me that every person that walks in my door is made in the image and likeness of God and that my daily prayers are more important than making a complicated dinner.

Do have have a living spiritual mentor?
Because my husband is currently a seminarian I have access to a lot of holy people! The local parish is thriving with holy mothers and the rector is always bringing in amazing priests to speak with the seminarians about their vocations.  There are two people in particular that come to mind. One is a little schema monk that travels around the country. He has been a spiritual father to our family for about four years and helped in our discernment of this vocation. He baptized all of our children. The other is an elderly lady whose son is the rector of the seminary. She just radiates with love for Christ and His Church. Of course there are also the priest wives in the area that have taken me under their wings and are always there to listen. I have truly been richly blessed!

What is your ministry in the church?
 My ministry is to raise saints and get my husband into Heaven..haha.  Because my husband will (God willing) be a priest one day I will be a priest’s wife. I am just beginning to learn the ins and outs of this ministry. Pray for me.

Education and job 
 Before I had my children I used to work in group homes and in an HIV hospice. I also worked as a special needs teachers assistant in the schools. My children are very close together and I had to give up my positions when my middle child was born. I haven’t had an opportunity, desire or need to return to work yet. Now that we have moved across the country for my husbands formation I will probably return to some kind of work part time after I wean the baby sometime in the New Year.

favorite movie, book, music 

Ushpizin...such a great movie!

Book?..does a cook book count?...I like to read cook books.  Rebar has NEVER done me wrong during Lent and Nourishing Traditions is a classic with lots of reading material inside! Both are available on amazon and probably your public library (although I was 83rd on the hold list for Nourishing Traditions until my MIL bought one for me..bless her!)

There was a VERY short time in our marriage B.C. (before children) that my husband played the upright bass in a blues band and we would travel around to smoky old bars in the middle of the prairies and it was lots of fun. I like Blues/Country music  (with a side of pop when the kids aren’t in the car).

I am a bit of an urban homesteader (in as much as I can living in a small apartment with no yard). I like to bake and make yogurt and water kefir. One day I want a garden, a worm compost and a chicken.
I aspire to be able to crochet or knit but who am I kidding, it all becomes one big mess of yarn. So, instead, I get books from the library and look at the pictures.
When I have a free moment I study iconography. I take workshops when they come up and have worked under a couple different masters. I have done 12 icons and my master tells me you need to have done 100 before you can be an iconographer so I have awhile to go.

What is 'cool'/interesting about you?
I found this question the hardest. I’m not sure what to say that I haven’t already mentioned.
Three months ago I moved my family across the country so that my husband could attend the Eastern Catholic Seminary for three years. That’s kind of interesting. I have three young children and I want more one day. I also want to be a foster mom when we finish our formation and are settled back at home.

If you had $20 and an hour of free time what would you do?
...browse the organic food store for a good bar of chocolate and then get a manicure, a cup of tea and a newspaper.
Thanks, Kim, for sharing! We will praying for you throughout your family's journey!