Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lent Fatigue

I have Lent fatigue. Lent is indeed the busiest season for churchies, we add all sorts of extra programming and it's traditionally sacrament time, too, so there's even more going on. We've been having simple soup suppers followed by Stations of the Cross every Friday, which has been absolutely lovely but means that we haven't had two days without going in to the church since Ash Wednesday. Ohhhh for two days off!!!
And I've been doing this low-carb thing for my Lenten promise- and doing really well at it! I've been disciplined, even drinking that awful low-carb beer instead of the real stuff, even when we're out on the town! Maybe that doesn't sound too impressive to you, gentle reader, but ohhhh it is.
Last Sunday was Laetare Sunday, which is meant to remind us that we're getting there- that joy and rejoicing are just around the corner. It worked on me, and I started dreaming about Easter Sunday morning, sleeping late and eating great things all day, relaxing with Scott in pajamas all day, maybe a nap... ahhhhh. I can't wait.
But there's still a bit to go- and I'm going to look for some new low-carb things to try, get a little variety in to stave off the boredom, and try to keep myself on track until glorious, glorious Easter.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

parish family

Today I was perched behind the organ in the chapel, watching the Baptismal festivities. The two babies who were baptized were so cute, and I am lucky to be able to help the deacon with the annointings, because I get an up-close look at the action. From where we sat on the organ bench, we had a great view of a little toddler in a pink dress who was having a great time babbling and checking everything out. Her family passed her around until the right aunt kept her busy and cozy in her lap. After a while, she ended up out in the center aisle, walking slowly toward the front. As she moved forward, I watched each adult at the end of their row tap the shoulder of the person in front of them, passing on the job of being the watchful eye for this little girl. No one jumped up and panicked about her being loose, they all seemed to know her pretty well and know she'd be okay and not disruptive- but they all kept a loving eye on her. It was a neat example of how a family works- I am starting to see that there is enormous value in being part of a big, loving, extended family.
Later I saw that again, with Marissa and Nicole and little Alycia all taking care of each other at Mass. Young people follow their parents' lead in so many ways, but it just can't be discounted how incredibly important a great Auntie can be, how valuable a loving Godparent can be.
I served as a Eucharistic Minister at Mass, too, and was touched by the hands that reached out to receive Communion from me. I'm always intrigued by the different styles of receiving; by hand, by mouth, by hands held up high or way down low, by the people who say "Amen." before I even finish saying "Body of Christ." One guy walks up so close to me that he bumps into my bowl. Some bow before receiving, most don't. Some look into my eyes, some look at the wafer, some at my hand. But anyway, tonight, I was amazed by all the sizes and shapes and textures of the hands that reached out in front of me. They were all ages, and some were strong looking and some were curled up with age. It felt beautiful to be serving communion and be in communion with the variety of hands that make up our parish.
Now I'm off to be with the same headache that's dogged me since Friday. Hormonal, I guess. Tomorrow's supposed to be very cold again, Spring hopes are dashed. But Easter's coming, I can feel it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

cheery cheery cheery

Today it was around 60 degrees, and sunny. I saw green points poking out of the ground, and went for a walk without a proper coat, without gloves, without snow-proof shoes. I've been getting emails from a seed catalog company and it's full of temptations. I think we've planted mostly perennials in our little garden at this point, but I seem to recall a few empty spots.
I can feel a difference, physically, when it starts to warm up like this. This morning I cleaned the whole kitchen and part of the bathroom, made myself breakfast and lunch, and got it all done before going to work!
I always think about how brilliant it is that Lent happens in the Spring. I know, I know it's no coincidence but I really love how we start in darkness and each day as we grow closer and closer to the glory of Easter, the days become brighter and warmer and all around are signs of new and renewed life. It really is a hope-filled time and I can feel my heart warming along with my fingers.
Right after Easter we leave for California for a religious education conference, and I can't wait! I love having something to look forward to. I feel happy and lucky to have the life I have!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY 03/12/09...
Outside My Window... my little garden is gathering up strength for the day I can pull all the mulchy leaves off and let the sun at them.
I am thinking... about 30 Rock, it's just such a funny show!!! I get a new quotable quote from that show every week.
I am thankful for... for payday! We can get groceries now! Woo!
From the kitchen... did I mention we have no groceries?
I am wearing... I'm dressed, still dressed from work! No pajamas this time! But soon...
I am creating... seriously strong stomach muscles from the cough I have.
I am going... to California in April for a conference. I'm so looking forward to it!!
I am reading... still a LOT for my Christology class. But also, I'm reading a book called Good News Parish Leadership that says, among other things, that hospitality is job one for a parish. Job One!
I am hoping... that my doctor will call me tomorrow and save me from this cough.
I am hearing... Pip purring from my lap
Around the house... oh, you know, laundry awaits.
One of my favorite things... is bedtime. I love crawling into our bed and pulling the comforter up under my chin. Ahhhhhhh.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Friday night is Soup and Stations at the church, and the Youth Ministry is sponsoring. The rest of Friday and Saturday I will probably spend the day on the couch trying not to cough.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Last year I planted grape tomato seeds, and they only grew about two inches over the summer, so I brought them in for the winter. Lookit them now!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


So like I said I'm about halfway through Christology. We've talked about the subject of Christology itself, how it works, and we've talked about the difference between Jesus and Christ and we've talked about the Trinity, and we've talked about the Personal Unity of Christ (that is, how He's human AND divine at the same time). What we haven't talked about yet, and what I've been waiting for anxiously, is SALVATION.
I'm curious about salvation and as one of the authors in one of my articles said, salvation is something that every Catholic knows, until asked to define it. I've heard so many conflicting answers to the question of Are We Saved/Who Is Saved/How Are We Saved If Indeed We Are that I just don't know. I mean, I have a hunch... but I'm waiting and waiting for the answer to come to me in Christology class. Everyone who's answered these questions for me has been a good resource, Capital C Catholic, and each answer has been juuuuust different enough to leave me confused. I've heard that we're Redeemed, but not Saved, but that we don't believe in Faith And Good Works as a way to get to salvation, although, I've heard that we kind of, actually, do.
I've heard that Jesus has saved us but not yet.
So, if I get through this course (or God forbid, my graduate studies) without finding the answer, I am going to be sorely disappointed.
Gotta go get some more reading done.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Post the second, Boston Symposium

So. This was the Boston Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis, offered by a bunch of different offices from the RCAB. The original speaker was to be Fr. Brian Bransfield, who I've never heard of. I wonder now what his take on the subject matter might have been. He was called to a big meeting, though, and we were glad when it was announced that Sean Reynolds would take his place.
The day opened with an address by Cardinal Sean, who urged us to make Catholic Identity a priority, by going back to the Sacraments, Marian devotion, and the Papacy. Yeah.
The rest of the day was divided into segments:
Session One: FORMING YOUNG DISCIPLES- a quick review of the NSYR
Session Two: The Conclusion Chapter of Soul Searching
Session three: Are we asking the right questions?
It was interesting to watch people's reactions to what Sean presented. He gave us some fascinating insights into the faith lives of kids, like;
  • When it comes to faith, Most teens pretty much follow the faith of their parents.
  • In most variables measuring religiosity, Catholic teens, in comparison to other Christian denominations, are worse than all others.
  • Most American teenagers were found to be not very spiritual or religious.
  • Most American teenagers are remarkably inarticulate about their faith (particularly Catholic teens).
This means, of course, that the way we've been doing faith formation for teenagers in the Catholic Church needs to change, not soon, not now, but 30 years ago!! This comes as shocking and unwanted news to the DRE's in the room who have used the same textbooks for 40 years and felt like they were doing a pretty good job.
The thing of it is, the whole day ended very much to be about ADULT faith formation. If we find that kids basically do what their parents do, then WHY are we using the bulk of our resources on children?
Of course (my words here), ministry to youth is important- vital. Necessary. And... it had better be good. Because when our young people become parents, they'll be passing along what they believe. It can't start with a Young Adult Hootenanny Group, and it can't wait until they stumble back to the church to have their kids go through First Eucharist.
I wonder what people there thought of the presentation. The group was a mix of Youth Ministers, DRE's, and Catholic School teachers, and I bet they expected something a little bit more centered around... well, how to do catechesis with youth. But as for us Whole-Community-Catechesis people, us Lifelong Faith Formation people, I think we were certainly affirmed. I was one of only a couple of people who raised their hands when they asked if anyone's job involved working with parents. I wonder, too, what the Cardinal thought... he was supposed to give some kind of reflection at the end, but instead sent us off with a thanks and an Our Father...

Post the first, Boston Symposium, Rant Edition

So yesterday we ventured into Archdiocesan territory for the Boston Symposium on Adolescent Catechesis. There are two parts that I must report on, regarding this day; the posh new Pastoral Center, and of course the presentation.
I admit that I have such a bad attitude when it comes to the RCAB- twice this very week I heard about two good ideas falling flat because the Archdiocese couldn't make them happen, and of course I've been 3rd-degree burned by some of the Upper Persons in the RCAB organization. So I do admit I approached the day with a chip on my shoulder, well-earned as it may be. It's that same old feeling of running into a bad ex at a mutual friend's wedding- but I did my best to think positive and expect good things from the day. It was my first visit to the Pastoral Center and hooooeyyyy it's nice.
I know, I know, it's donated- the building came from a very generous donor, okay... but I couldn't believe how tricked-out it was. Fancy lighting, gorgeous everything, everything was A-1. This did not look like the building of a group who was trying to dig itself out of a financial hole and win back the hearts of the Little People. And yeah, maybe this is nitpicking but it was nowhere near Green. They didn't even have recycling buckets for the cans and water bottles from lunch. This, I guess, might be a niggling detail, but to me it signifies a group that just can't seem to get their behavior to match their values. Contrast that to the Sisters of St. Joseph's "mother house" which was carefully designed to be a good investment for the sisters, and the design and maintenance is thoughtfully made to be green green green. It's a gorgeous building but no the sisters were careful not to sell their collective souls to build it.
The Symposium was oversold, so about 30 of us were in another room with a screen, speakers, a better view and more space and comfort than the hundreds of people in the actual room. We did participate, and the speaker was great at recognizing our existence and including us in the presentation. I guess I'd say it was an educational day, in many ways!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Catholic Tool

I know, I've been very neglectful of this blog, and you, dear readers... I just haven't been able to complete a fascinating thought lately. Maybe it's because I'm on "Spring" break. We've had a ton of snow and it's been awfully cold, and I'm starting to feel that longing that comes around in March every year.
I've charged right into Lent with pretty good resolve, and this year I'm low-carbing, which is tricky in Lent. Fridays are especially tough for an almost-complete-meat-eater. It's also been Scott's birthday "season," which means parties and cake at every turn. I don't want to be a Catholic Tool and peel the cheese off the pizza at staff lunch, and so I suck it up and try to do the best I can.
Each Friday for Lent our parish is hosting simple soup suppers followed by the Stations of the Cross. A different parish group sponsors the suppers each week, and supplies the soup. Our first one was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, pros at this sort of thing, and they served minestrone and corn chowder. The chowder was delicious due, no doubt, to the bacon bits in it.
The more I learn about Jesus, the more I cringe at things like the Stations of the Cross. I have a hard time paying such strict attention to just that part of the story, because to me the important parts of Jesus' Christ-hood are, well, all the parts. So when we kneel and say that by His holy cross He redeemed the world, well, I have some trouble with almost that whole sentence. This is the trouble with gaining a little bit of knowledge I guess. I still have another half-semester of Christology to go, so maybe that'll swing me back around.