In transit with Our Lady

In transit with Our Lady

When I ride the metro by myself, I like to pray the rosary. If I time it right, I can get three decades in on the train itself, and two on the walk to or from the metro station. If I don’t time it right, or start to daydream, or lose my place, I end up at work or at home mid-conversation with Our Lady. Sometimes there’s a lot to say, and sometimes it’s more of a companionable silence. There are times when I envy some of our more charismatic Christian brothers and sisters the ability to craft beautiful extemporaneous prayers, to “freestyle.” It often makes me uneasy if someone asks me to say grace or offer a special intention. Sure, part of it is probably the inherited Catholic cultural discomfort of openly discussing religious feelings, but that’s not all there is to it. I sometimes think that finding the right words takes away from the beating heart of the conversation. Though it would shock the teachers who joylessly doled out countless glow-in-the-dark rosaries in elementary school CCD to me and my bored classmates, I’ve come to love the “formulaic” prayers of our faith. The other day, I was cleaning out those odd corners of my room where things seem to get hastily stashed and quickly forgotten about, when I found the rosary I used in college. I spotted the little soft blue bag covered in dust and I misted over a bit. I was so happy. Though you can ask Our Lady’s intercession as effectively on borrowed plastic beads as you can on pearls, I’m of the opinion...
On Learning How To Respond To A Cry

On Learning How To Respond To A Cry

I haven’t been blogging a lot lately. And it’s the usual excuses. However, there’s been a topic on my mind for some time and I’m hoping others can benefit from the hours I’ve spent pondering it. I’m hoping I can benefit from getting all of my thoughts out onto the page. When my baby cries, or even whines, I have a deep, strong impulse to respond immediately. Maybe it’s hormones, maybe it’s the fact that I’m his mama who loves him and wants him to be happy. There are times I think I would do anything to make that crying or whining cease. The problem is, my anxiousness to make him happy isn’t always a good thing. In fact, at a year and a half old, it’s beginning to be rarely a good thing. He demands a piece of chocolate and I would love nothing more than to give it to him and to enjoy the four seconds of silence that ensue while he chews. And then he’ll demand another. He’ll cry because he’s tired and he’ll cry because my eight months pregnant body just can’t bear to hold his 25 pounds all day long. These are all problems that I can’t fix and requests that I simply can’t fulfill. Because I love him, I can’t give him chocolate for breakfast. So I must listen to the whining which I detest so much. For these reasons, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to teach myself how to not be so affected by his cries and his whining. Yes, this sounds cruel, cold and calculating. It seems, to an outsider, like I’m attempting to...
Q & A with Fr. Scott – Why should I do penance?

Q & A with Fr. Scott – Why should I do penance?

We have entered into the penitential season of Lent, and it seems like everyone with keyboard and a blog is writing about how to live this time well. We all know about the traditional—and essential—penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We have also heard much in recent years—and recently, from Pope Francis—about not just giving things up, but of doing positive acts of charity for others. Of course, these are firmly grounded in the Sacred Scripture, and form part of the bedrock of what we might call “Catholic culture.” We are also all familiar with the warning that comes along with these practices. We know that we should do these things out of love, and that there is a temptation to do them out of vanity. So, if we fast for Lent, it shouldn’t be to look good in our summer clothes after a winter of heavy foods and holidays, but out of a genuine love for Our Lord and for our neighbor. Especially as we see Christians suffering around the globe, any kind of vain sacrifices done in a shallow way are seen for the foolishness that they are. We can hardly reduce Lent to a 40-day diet when we see Christians starved, or add a few glib prayers when we see martyrs praying before their execution. So, we strive to live a Lent worthy of the Christian name. Our penance arises out of what we heard on the First Sunday of Lent in the Holy Gospel from St. Mark, when Our Lord said, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The Greek word for repent is metanoiete. This...
How Are We Called to Be Holy?

How Are We Called to Be Holy?

I had a crisis of faith over the past few weeks. I was not questioning any points of doctrine or doubting God and His existence, but I was doubting whether or not I, as a middle class American with so many comforts, could ever really live life of heroic virtue. The doubt came from a combination of circumstances, the first being the bleakness of a winter that has no end in sight, the second being the deaths of a number of people close to me or close to those I know, the third being considering the lives of a couple of saints through film. The winter is self-explanatory. It is getting pretty long here in Minnesota, even though it has been mild compared to last winter. But when the 20s seem warm, you know you have a winter problem. The glumness of winter wears a person down, and opens one up for doubts. Further, Lent is looming on the horizon and as I think about what to do for Lent, all of my faults and tendencies towards sin stare up accusingly at me. Then there are those who have died. The first was a neighbor, an elderly man of Christian faith, leaving behind his kind widow. They have been great neighbors, and for my children he is the first person that they knew personally to pass away. They pray for his soul daily, just as they prayed for him to overcome his cancer daily. The second was the father of a good friend. This also affected my kids, since he is the grandfather of some of their friends. The...
Movie Review: Why You Should See Paddington

Movie Review: Why You Should See Paddington

Have you been to the movies lately? Yeah. Neither had I, until this past Saturday. For a matinee it was still a small fortune with eight of us. If it hadn’t been for the generosity of a sweet sister of mine, we wouldn’t have gone. Movie going just isn’t something we do often so when we do go, I have high expectations, and most of the time (you know, all two times in the last four years that I’ve paid to see a movie in a theater), I am disappointed.   I’m saying all of this so you understand, Dear Reader, why I want to tell you about the movie we saw, and why I highly recommend you go see it too. This weekend, we saw Paddington.  Our group included ages 2 through 13 (as well as 34 year old me) and every single one of us thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was funny. It was sweet. It was heartwarming and silly and every good thing you could imagine a family movie to be. And to top it all off, it had a thoroughly  Christian message of welcoming strangers and orphans.  I’ll explain. Marmalade and Darkest Peru If you’ve read the Paddington books, by Michael Bond, then you already know that Paddington is a bear who travels to England from “Deepest, Darkest Peru.” He arrives at the Paddington railway station in London, with nothing but his special suitcase (which had been full of marmalade at the start of his trip), his signature red hat, and a tag hanging around his neck, much like those worn by children during the evacuation...
This Just In: Life Is More Than a Countdown

This Just In: Life Is More Than a Countdown

There are a lot of things I’m currently counting down to. I count down the weeks until my husband comes home. I count down the weeks left of this pregnancy. I even (gulp) count down the hours until my baby’s bed time. By these habits alone, you’d think that I had a pretty miserable life, where I’m just desperate to get to the next thing. Nothing could be further from the truth! I love my life! Whenever I’m in a halfway unpleasant situation, though, my mind immediately goes to a time when things will be easier or more comfortable. Ease and comfort are things that I’m reeeeeeeally attracted to, and counting down is a way of escaping the less pleasant. The thing is, if you’re so busy counting down to the next thing, you miss the beauty of what’s right in front of you. Obviously, I’m not the first to ever present this idea, but it’s striking how guilty I am of ignoring it. Time with Peter by myself until John gets home is a gift. Babies are a gift. Any time with them is a gift. Late nights/ early mornings of caring and feeding and loving are a gift, as are the tough mornings that follow. All are symptoms of  and indicators of the biggest gift of all: life.  I often think how much I’m looking forward to when our kids are in school. I’ll get to have uninterrupted time to read and the quiet that I so enjoy. Some day, I will sleep more than a few hours at a time on a regular basis. I can’t wait until they’re older and we can talk...