Saturday, December 22, 2012


Mary said:

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."

Luke 1:46-56

Today's Gospel reading is one of the most eloquent of all passages. I have an affinity for literature and poetry, not that I get to indulge that much aside from Scripture these days (thank you, Magnificat). So the various canticles that are found in sacred scripture are some of my favorite parts. Obviously, I hold Mary in high regard and more and more I try to emulate her example as a wife and mother. But for years, I had the hardest time relating to her canticle. It was beautiful to my ears but otherwise fell sort of flat in my mind.

The last few years, as my faith has grown and life has happened, I've come to appreciate Mary's song. I've actually had moments occur which evoke the opening lines straight from my heart. One of which happened just a week or so ago.

On Dec. 12, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and my grandmother's birthday, I decided to take the boys to the adoration chapel at our parish after I picked them up, to light a candle for my grandmother.

I was a little nervous bringing two rambunctious boys into that sacred space that's just so quiet, but I persevered. After a quick explanation to the boys -- no talking, bow to Jesus, etc -- we walked into the oratory, which was pretty crowded. Thankfully, many of the older parishioners are always so delighted to see us parents bring our children before the Sacred Host. Hardly a sour face there. We went straight back to Mary to light the candle. The little one sat quietly in the chair I plopped him in and the older one stood next to me as I lit the candle. And much to my surprise, he kneeled down next to me as I said a little prayer.

We all left as reverently as we came in and I thought our mission was complete. Well. We get outside and my older boy wants to go to the rosary garden, which we visit after most Masses. I'm feeling so great, I say sure! My little one and I follow him over, and much to my surprise he walks right up to the statue of dear Mary and kneels down, crosses himself and prays.

Well, my soul could do nothing but proclaim the greatness of the Lord at that moment. Tears came. A little laughter. A lot of amazement.

I watch my older boy pray, then cross himself again and walk back to me and grab hold of my other hand. Beautiful. I tell him how proud I am and how wonderful that was. Then my little one wants to go to Mary, too. Of course! Who could say mo?!

He walks up, crosses himself and tells me there are no flowers, where are her flowers? I tell him, we should have brought flowers. I'm sorry we didn't. So he proceeds to give Mary a hug and says , "Bye Mary!"

By then I was so overflowing with gratitude and amazement, I could barely think.

Indeed He has done great things for me, but most of all He has been merciful and I can truly see his fulfillment of His promise in my boys.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


I was just reminded that to some people, I am rich. Now that's humbling.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A sad day

The horrible things that happened in Connecticut today -- I can't even bring myself to link to a story -- are breaking my heart in a million ways. I want nothing more than to go pick up both my babies from school and kiss and hug them until they tell me to stop. But instead I'll be sitting at my desk, praying and shopping online for Christmas presents. Even that makes me feel guilty.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Our Lady of Guadalupe

I no longer think it coincidental that my grandmother's birthday is on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Considering she was the first in the family to convert to Catholicism, I think it's entirely appropriate. It's unfortunate that her conversion wasn't a fire that burned through the family, though. I  mourn that, actually. But perhaps it's God's plan after all. I've come home, and I've brought my husband and children to the Lord. I wish to pray always for the continued conversion of my family and friends -- I want for them what is promised to the faithful -- life eternal in his beatific vision.

I was reading this today and I find it an extremely well-written piece on what it means to be Catholic, especially at Advent. I am a sentimental person by nature, so the Flannery O'Connor quote struck me deep:

To be a Catholic is to enter into a relationship with Christ that is at once intimate beyond imagining and entirely anonymous, hidden, and private. Flannery O'Connor once observed: "I went to St. Mary's as it was right around the corner and I could get there practically every morning. I went there three years and never knew a soul in that congregation or any of the priests, but it was not necessary. As soon as I went in the door I was at home."
"To expect too much," she wrote elsewhere, "is to have a sentimental view of life and this is a softness that ends in bitterness." 

I am blessed because I am able to experience the body of Christ and fellowship experience at my parish. I have attended Mass and Confessions by priests I felt were less than interested or distracted. Naturally, I was disappointed and hurt by the experiences, but I was a new convert and didn't understand that it's not the priest that matters. It's a huge plus if you happen to have a wonderful homilist and confessor like we do. But that is so far from the point of Mass. I've learned this as I've grown in my faith.

And I'm beginning to realize that being Catholic has been my calling all my life, but I haven't been ready until (fairly) recently. Because I am drawn to the Mass and to sacred space like never before. Just to be there, in His presence, is what I crave.

But I don't fool myself for a minute by thinking that I'm starting to get it, for that's precisely when the wheels start to come off. I will never understand it all, and that's okay. I don't really want to, until Jesus says it's time. Until then, I am living the mystery and praying His will be done.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Faith and presence

Let it be done for you according to your faith.

They are Jesus' words to the blind men who cried out to him, "Son of David, have pity on us!"

And it took me a while for it to hit me ... according to your faith. Really? It should come as no surprise -- Jesus was constantly telling the recipients of his miraculous healings, etc. "Your faith has saved you" or something to that effect. But for some reason, today it really *hit* me. According to my faith. Let it be done according to your faith. It makes me wonder, is my faith strong enough? I realize everything doesn't hinge on whether or not my faith is strong or weak -- Jesus died for us and my salvation is in his hands, his mercy infinite. But it did make me wonder, if Jesus stood before me now and I asked him to heal me, would my faith be enough to save me?

As today's Advent meditation in Magnificat discusses, it's not like magic from a genie in a bottle. It's a matter of aligning your will to God's will and desiring what God desires for you. This has been a recurring theme for me for about the last year or longer -- we humans always think we know what to pray for, we always think we know what we need. Nothing could be more wrong. Our vision is so flawed and so near-sighted!

"For all who in blindness cry out to be healed to see, the birth of Jesus is God's answer to desires adjusted to God's desire. Christmas is God's Fiat to our deepest desire: 'Let it be done according to your faith.'" (Douglas Bushman)

All this being said, this Advent so far has been particularly challenging. I usually have a tough time tampering my desire to start celebrating Christmas righthisminute, and that's mostly because I want to keep that "holiday" feeling going for as long as humanly possible. Which is a great part of being Catholic -- I can celebrate for a whole month after! Take that! But this year, anxiety has crept into my life in a way unlike anything I've experienced before. Thankfully, my support system is deep and well-acquainted with anxiety issues. But its presence has kind of knocked me off-balance. Just trying to be cheerful is a chore. Heck, just relaxing is a chore. Not to mention nearly impossible. The closest I come is adoration and Mass, speaking of presence, and as much as I'd like I can't move into the chapel or onto church grounds. I haven't tried yet, but I'm pretty sure I'd be missed at home.

In all honesty, I can't wait for my oldest boy's Christmas vacation from school. There's a chance I won't have to work that week (hooray!) but even if I do, I'm looking forward to being able to let go of our schooltime schedule for a while. That's really what I loved about homeschooling -- making our own schedule. It was awesome. But alas, it's not to be, at least right now. Which brings me back to aligning my will to God's... so much easier said than done. But the Lord knows I'm trying, and I'm confident that counts for something. I'm seeking to remember His presence in me and with me, to be ever-mindful of His presence. Which makes Christmas the best present ever.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Social media has almost soured my opinion of public sharing at this time of year. Not because I think sharing the things you're grateful for or thankful for, but because, like so many other good things in this world, it becomes a kind of competition, a spectator sport.

Real gratitude isn't spending a month (if that -- I suspect some people stop on Thanksgiving Day) counting your blessings. We should do that every day. It seems to me that honest gratitude is knowing and appreciating (as much as we can) what we have and not wanting more. It is to be happy with what we have but taking it even farther -- being honestly content because we know we don't deserve more. If my life is truly in order, what more could I possibly want?

Tonight at bedtime, I read the story of St. Kateri Tekakwitha to the boys. And as only Amy Welborn can, that story illustrated this kernel of what gratitude is. If you "put things in order" and know what's most important in life, honest gratitude naturally flows from the peace that comes with such order.

At the end of each story, Welborn has a short reflection question this one, in essence, asks what's most important in your life. Since my oldest was still awake, I asked him that question. His answer knocked my socks off. He said, "Well, uh, church."

Now, for a kid with autism and who fights going to Mass most of the time, I was a little incredulous (sorry!) so I said, "Church? Really?" And he said, "Yeah."

Now what more could a mother ask for? I know "church," the construct isn't what's most important, and I think my son does too. After all, I've been teaching him for years that church is God's house. He knows Jesus is "in the box." But of all the things this kid could have said, he said "church."

And that's close enough for this grateful mother.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Flash of wisdom

I believe I've discovered a large part of my recent problem with work/home balance. I need to find joy in piles of laundry. 

To those who aren't housekeepers in one form or another, this may sound silly or counterintuitive but I believe the key to my sanity lies within that statement. 

I must find joy in piles of laundry. Joy in work yet done. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jesus, period.

I never intended for this blog to be so Catholic, but it does seem inevitable if I'm to be a honest blogger, as I strive to be. So, let it be.

There are some days I just can't leave for work on time. Some days are my fault, some days are because of the kids, other days it's no one's fault, it just happens. Today was one of those days. And I think it happened because one of my favorite preachers was celebrating Mass on EWTN this morning.

Father Wade Menezes, I'm making a public confession: I am a fangirl. You bring home the faith like no other priest I've heard, aside from my very own Father Jim. You're a riveting public speaker and a white-hot conduit of the Holy Spirit.

Okay. I feel better now.

Click here to see/hear this morning's homily.

Hearing him speak about our need for trust in Jesus and nothing more made me realize just how self-involved I've been lately. You see, I got braces on Thursday. Yeah. Because of my jaw/bite issues, I've been needing them for a while but talked myself out of them for many reasons -- cost, vanity, pain. But the jaw pain in the last several months has gotten so crazy that I figured with summer daycare costs out of the way, now's the time.

So I took the plunge and got spacers in week before last and braces on last Thursday. And they suck. And they hurt. And I look quite different with them and have a wicked lisp. And oh yeah. They're expensive too.
So anyway, here we are, I'm listening to Father Wade talk about "Jesus plus a good job, Jesus plus money in the bank"and I realize I've been withholding my trust in Jesus alone and trying to figure out how to fix everything. Again.

I really don't know how many times I'm going to be hit with that same anvil. I mean, really.

Faith and grace

Friday's homily from Father Brian Mullady is a great follow-up (or should it come first? He certainly knows more than I do) to my previous post on faith.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Faith ... what it is

This is the talk I gave to the RCIA class at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church on Sat., Sept. 29. I've edited it a bit for privacy's sake. 

I want to share something with you today that I wish I’d known when I was where you are today in the RCIA process and it is this – faith is not something you find, it is not something given to you.
Faith is a deliberate movement of the will. It is moving your will to align with God’s will. This is a continuous, deliberate and conscious choice that you make.

Faith also requires several things of us. First, it requires revelation, which you each have experienced in different ways, or you wouldn’t be here. And God willing, that revelation will continue throughout your life in what I like to call your faith journey.

142 By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company."1The adequate response to this invitation is faith.

Second, it requires submission of the intellect and will to God. Again, faith is a deliberate movement of the will.

143 By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.2 With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, "the obedience of faith".3

Next, faith requires obedience. Now, obedience is a word we don’t like to hear these days and in this world. Obedience has become synonymous with following rules and being told what you can and cannot do. However, true obedience is a product of love, not coercion. Think about the things you have faith in – for most of us, we have (or at least had) faith in the love of our parents or other family members. We couldn’t prove it – couldn’t put our finger on it or hold it in your hand, but you just knew. You knew those people loved you. I think about this with my kids – even my son with autism who has a real hard time with understanding emotions, even he knows I love him even though he doesn’t know why. The same is vice verse. They may not always act like it, but I freely submit to the truth of their love for me.

144 To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to "hear or listen to") in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself. Abraham is the model of such obedience offered us by Sacred Scripture. The Virgin Mary is its most perfect embodiment.

Lastly, faith requires trust. Trust is another word that is loaded with meaning in this world. Some of us are actually taught to not trust anyone else, to trust only yourself. Not only is this no way to live, you can’t have faith in God without trust in God.

Let me share with you a little about my life and faith journey. I was raised Catholic, Catholic in name only that is. I was baptized but that was really it. My parents are a product of the ‘60s and reflect the disillusionment that happened to many young people during that time. They raised my sister and I to follow our feelings, to question authority and to trust no one but yourself. It was a very relativistic mindset. 

I was told to find my place in this world and I spent years and years looking for it. Deep in my heart was a yearning for faith, so I looked everywhere – the Baptist church, Methodist church, a little of the occult – but I couldn’t find the answer to my searching.

Finally by the time I was in my late 20s, I thought I’d found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and when that didn’t work out I was crushed physically and mentally and I absolutely refused to let it go.So, we were “just friends” for a while and during the entire course of our relationship he actually helped me a lot. 

He was a non-Christian, and I was fascinated by his faith and how it formed and shaped his days and life in general. It was he who told me to start my faith foundation with what I knew, with where it began as a child. So I did.

I joined RCIA, and it was great. But I still struggled the whole time with what this meant for my life. Where was I supposed to go from here? No one else I knew was Catholic, let alone faithful. And, well, the answer came in the form of the greatest gift from God – my son.

I offer this somewhat cautionary tale to help you understand that your faith life, your faith, will only happen and grow when you submit your will to God’s. And you’re already doing that by being here. Just remember that faith is a continual process, not something you have once and that’s that. It is ever-growing expression of God’s revelation, God’s will, obedience to that will and trust in God.

Italicized text from the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Copyright me 2012  Don't plagiarize, for the Lord is just even if you're not.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Not worrying about a lot...

So, fall is officially here. Even though it's still in the 90s where I live, I've had to dip into my cold-weather clothes just to stay warm at work, where they still have the AC cranked like it's 110 outside. And I've discovered a few things about myself in this process...

1. I have managed to go down a size and a half since last fall.
2. My sweaters are in terrible shape. My cardigans, especially. Stretched out, faded, some are pilling beyond help. Doing the math, it only makes sense since most of them are about 5 years old.
3. My long-sleeved t-shirts have either decided to run away from home or I donated them and don't remember.

I guess this means I need to buy clothes but since that's not likely to happen any time soon, I'm just going to punch another hole in my belt and make the best of it.

That said, I went to Target during lunch to buy allergy medicine for the kids and walked out with this in a mustardy-gold color and this in Smoky Rose, which has the potential to be my fall go-to lipstick. Not too thick, not too dark, not too opaque or too shimmery. Spot-on!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Rantings of an Exhausted Working Mother in Need of an Outlet

This is usually how it goes, right? Drop after drop in the bucket, day after day, month after month, and not so suddenly the bucket is too heavy to lift. Some call it a breaking point. I call it my current state.

Physically speaking, I'm bone-weary and for no good physical reason. Oh, except that I've been subsisting on 6 hours of sleep a night since February and I don't even have a baby to make it worth it or to afford me naps. I'm starting to see things again, too. Strain and sleep deprivation can do serious tricks with my vision. Black spots here, little moving things there. Fun stuff. The TMD -- I can't even go there. Jaw pain, ear pain, joints and tendons so tight it's like a rubber band about to pop. Sinuses, forget it. Constant pressure.

Emotionally, I'm unhappy. Simply put. I like my job, I hate working. I hate being away from home all the time. I hate that my kids irritate me when I finally get them home in the evening and all they do is whine about being hungry or bored or why do I have homework? Why can't you be home every day? Why do you have to work? And where is Daddy? Good question, sweetie. Dad is at work. I think he might be on his way home. No, honey, you can't break Daddy's building. He'll still have to work somewhere. Why? Well, so we can pay for the house and food and your toys. No, honey, you can't break the house either. See what I mean? Work, drive, pick-up, pick-up, home, dinner, dishes, bathtime, bedtime. And it's 9:30 and the boys are running like wild men. I'm really at a loss. A breaking point.

And this doesn't even begin to address this burning desire I seem to have about having another baby. Am I crazy? Yes, I really think so. But I do. And they're everywhere. Women having babies, being pregnant and I can't even think of having another one (even though I do) because we can't afford it. Because I'd have to quit my job because we couldn't pay for doctors and two day-care bills. And if I quit, we'd be back where we were -- broke, wondering how we were going to make the mortgage and buy groceries.

So, am I crazy? Yes. Am I borderline depressed? Not for long. I imagine I'll be fully depressed here soon. The boys aren't sleeping through the night, so neither are we. There is something seriously wrong with this family, but I don't quite know what. Except for the fact I am supremely unhappy yet hiding it oh so well.

One might wonder, where is your faith? Can't the Lord deliver you from such misery? Well, you see, there's the funny bit. The job was the answer to my prayer, or at least I think it was. I'm beginning to doubt my judgement. We were desperate, and I asked St. Joseph to give us the solution. I told God, tell me what to do. That afternoon I got a phone call from a friend of a friend, my company's hiring and so-and-so said you might be interested? I still can't believe they hired me. So the source of my misery, or at least from my perspective, is the answer to my desperate prayer. Take note of this and be careful what you pray for. Seriously.

But the funny thing is, we're not even getting ahead with my income! We're still treading water, what with daycare and gas and food spending up. We're not much better off than we were before I started working full-time. Which makes me want to quit, let me tell you. At least then the laundry would get done. Right?


So, this is my life. Not every day do I feel like this. Honestly. It just happens every once in a while, when things build up. Just writing this out made me feel so much better, if not a bit emotionally naked. But one of the purposes of blogging is catharsis, right? Not just mindless, self-involved chatter but therapy of sorts. I must get a chaise lounge for to blog from...

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Welcome and hello!

Surely you have no idea why you're here... I don't either! Heh!

Well, since you're here, take a look around. This is a project long in the making, one I've often procrastinated into oblivion then resurrected only to ignore it again. So! I'm making a fresh start, no holds barred, with one goal only: to keep my sanity.

That's right! That can only mean one thing -- this blog will be a mess: erratic, mis-punctuated and all over the map. Which will end up giving you, the reader, a fairly accurate picture of me. Not quite like the one in my profile.