Novenas! And other updates.

Larry asked for another novena.  Far be it from me to deny him.  I see the feast of the Annunciation is just around the corner, what perfect timing.  If you’re inclined to pray the for-serious way, EWTN has an annunciation novena here, and the US Bishops have one here (PDF).  I’m grateful for even the tiniest thing offered up, though, so please do not scruple.

I see that the bishop’s have titled theirs, “A Heart Open to God’s Will.” Chuckle chuckle.  I love being Catholic.  We have the punniest spirituality going.

Edited to Add: Please keep Larry D.’s intentions in mind this week.  His family’s going through the wringer.

***

So how’s it going, Jen?  After being silly tired all week, I had a great Saturday daytime.  It turns out the SuperHusband sometimes gets this weird not-quite-right head thing when he’s on a really intense hike in the mountains.  It’s not dizziness, and it’s not lightheadedness like you’re going to faint.  You might say ‘fuzzy-headed’, except that you can think clearly.  But you would be inclined to use one of those words.  Anyway, I did a pile of laundry and cleaning stuff up, paced so that I didn’t cough once, not once.  It turns out that if you persist for enough hours, this unnamed phenomenon turns into a headache.

And then later the shortness of breath was back on the slightest exertion.  Fatigue, huh?  I’m fascinated by all this.  It’s like race training at a microscopic scale.

***

Busy blorging week. A handful of linky-link posts, and a couple serious columns:

  • I really wasn’t trolling for Atheists when I wrote about free will and suffering, but I guess the title doomed me. Second in the suffering series, and the combox discussion is, well, enlightening.  I shut it down because I was tired of moderating and it was starting to degenerate.  I so did not mean to provoke that conversation.  Cringe.
  • Paging Dorian Speed . . . Christian Leblanc wrote a very good, helpful, encouraging column at Patheos in reponse to a struggling catechist.  I ranted and raved.  But every time I think, “Yeah, I was too mean,” I go back and re-read my post, and I think, “Yeah, that needed to be said.”  But I feel for the poor guy who wrote the letter.  I get the frustration.  I do. I really do.

Elsewhere, maybe I was nicer?  At AmazingCatechists.com, a post with thoughts on changing your course to meet the needs of your students.  Don’t hate me because I had smart kids this year, it works both ways.

(What are the Apologetics for Kids students doing while I’m on sick leave? Watching Steve Ray videos, of course.  Footprints of God.  Google it.  You want the whole collection. They are great for kids and grown-ups both.)

And at CatholicMom.com today, I’m the Gospel-reflector.  Once again, my spirituality could be summed up as, “Just like St. Peter, Before Pentecost Edition.”

Happy Sunday!

Liturgical Living

Went confession last night, and sneaked over to Mass this morning.  Happy happy.

Kids were off here, there, and everywhere, so SuperHusband sneaked me over to a very good (not expensive, just good) restaurant after confession, and I lasted 2/3rds of dinner before I was ready to go lay down or something.  The poor waitress was mortified, because, sure, the service was slow.  But it wasn’t that slow.

A little PSA . . .

Dear Jennifer,

Today at Mass, the lady in front of me just wouldn’t kneel.  She sat through the entire Mass! Leaning against the wall!  And she hardly said anything out loud, at all!  It’s like she was really tired or something.  There was a big open space in my pew, so I could have scooted over, I suppose, if I wanted to kneel. But it seemed like a much better idea to insist on kneeling right up against her — personal space is so, so, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, isn’t it?

Please tell me I did the right thing.

Sincerely,

Pious but Clueless

 

Dear Pious,

Personal space is not contrary to the Spirit of the Gospel.  Consider scooting over one space in the pew if the person in front of you is not kneeling for some inexplicable reason.

Jennifer.

Meanwhile, over at the blorg . . .

  1. More meat talk. Because even in America, you can do this abstinence from meat thing all year round.
  2. Giving up the Sunday Work Habit. Which is not as simple for Catholics as it is for everyone else, but still, it’s something you are supposed to do, if you can.
  3. Music for your Lenten listening pleasure.

Today’s Blorging: When You Get Called a Hater Because You Oppose Same Sex Unions

The Calling of St. Matthew by Hendrick ter Bruggen

In which we explore the root of the hating action all around:

Want to give up TV fast?  Forget worrying about foul language or sex scenes.  Try watching only programs that glorify kindness, respect, and forgiveness.  Insult-flinging is the new blood sport.  There are whole genres that consist of nothing but showing people how terribly, terribly wrong they are, and thus deserving of mockery.

Not exactly a surprise that people are a tad paranoid, on a diet of that. The solution to the hate-charge is pretty straightforward.  1) Head on straight.  2) Don’t hate.  3) Gospel gospel gospel.  Read the whole thing here.

Mardi Gras, Family Life, Meat Demon

1. CatholicMom.com is back up, and here’s my post: Homeschooling and the Art of Living Together.  In which you hear about how cool my son is, and also that there’s more to this parenting thing than where you send your kids to school.

Let me just say that writing a post while feeling favorably disposed towards your children is like begging for them to do all kinds of crazy stuff for the next 48 hours.  Or more.

(Nothing serious.  Just normal everyday reminders that they do need parents. Sigh.  Everyone needs parents.)

2.  At the blorg today: Thwarting the Meat Demon. We have polished off the bacon, and the chicken is next.  Because basically, yes, my spiritual disciplinary advice consists of “Eat a Cheeseburger on Thursday.” You have to start somewhere.

3.  A friend of mine gave me a bag of these:

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzels

Puts the gras in Mardi Gras.  We do it right around here.

So How’s it Going, Jen?

1. CatholicMom.com is temporarily under the weather, but when it comes back up (pray for Lisa Hendey’s sanity), my monthly homeschooling column should be there.  I talk about homeschooling-while-sick, but no handy tips, mostly just, “Yeah, my kids are awesome.”  I’ll link to the article when it recovers.

2. Prayer request for me: I’ve got two kids coughing and sneezing. Ordinary colds.  I’m keeping my distance.  I really, really, would be better off not catching this thing.  Recall: I’m already coughing just laughing or moving around too much.  Not in one of those dramatic, “time for the tear-jerking moment in the musical” ways, but still  . . . I’d just rather not go there. Whereever Me + Cold turns out to be.  Thanks.

(If I seem like I’m on social media a ton, instead of hovering over my children while they do their homework, it’s because yes, I’m trying to be in a different room than them. We’re in communication, yes we are.  School is happening, just more hands off than usual.)

3. Speaking of suffering, here’s a preview of my new blorg outpost:

The blog is still under construction, FYI.  Waiting on the header art, need to learn how disqus works, lots of little jobs. But I’m going ahead and getting a few posts up so that the living room isn’t empty when everyone comes over for the big housewarming party.

And yes, I discussed my assimilation situation with Larry D. and he said he’d pray for me.  (Um, seriously, I loved Larry’s Star Trek piece, which I can’t seem to find right now.  Larry & I are good friends online, and respectfully agree to disagree on the prudence of blorging.  Y’all: Larry’s got a special intention he needs prayed for, so regardless of your level of vexation regarding the blorg, say a prayer for him today?  Yes?  Thank you.)

I’ll announce again once the paint is dry and the curtains are hung.

4. What I do with my free time instead of watching infuriating television shows: I break into the spouse’s video editing software, and mostly don’t botch it that badly.  A few technical errors, but for my first attempt at making a movie without swearing or punching walls, I’m okay with it: Lord Have Mercy, There’s a Baby in my Church.

The artwork is from Wikimedia, and the soundtrack can be downloaded here, for free.  Pick the “Whitbourne Conf. Mass.”  Funny story: St. P’s did this twice, once on the weekend, and once for the Confirmation Mass, recorded with two different setups.  Jon asked me to pick which of the two I liked better.  I liked the sound on this recording better than the other, but I also really, really liked the babies.

St. Peter’s doesn’t usually put babies in their choir, but the bishop came, so they pulled out all the stops.

5.  People want to know how I’m doing. So, sometimes, do I.  What I know:

  • I feel perfectly normal as long as I’m sitting around.  I’m getting a lot of writing done.
  • Animated conversation kills me, but calm conversation is okay.  I thought I needed more boring friends.  I think I just need to not talk so loud, and listen more.
  • I cough when I laugh out loud.  This happens all the time, because of the people I live with.  I think it’s probably pretty safe.
  • I cough if I move around too much. I’m getting better at avoiding this.  I’m not sure if it’s from just breathing too deeply, or if it’s something more nefarious.
  • But a little bit of up and down, in moderation, isn’t a problem.  I’m getting better at figuring out what “in moderation” looks like, so I feel better and am less tired than a week ago.
  • Otherwise I’m totally normal. No problem with speed, balance, snarky comments, etc etc.
  • Actually I’m better than normal, since my other minor signs of decrepitude are all aggravated by walking around too much, and I’m nowhere near that level of activity.  Long term, of course, that’s a good way to die early.  But short term it’s pretty funny that being seriously ill = being not in pain, at all, unlike normal life in which a handful of minor aches are just everyday reality.

To do items for this week: Keeping aiming for that exact right combination of rest and activity, and avoid catching the girls’ colds.  Heart cath next week.

6. I’m not freaked out because, you know, catechist.  Forget the nonsense about facing serious illness with a “we can beat this!” attitude.  I mean sure, I’m all about that, and am doing my share to see it done. I strongly, strongly prefer being alive, thank you.  But sooner or later you’re going to drop dead.  Either you’re okay with that or you’re not.  Probably catechesis is not for you if the prospect of eternal life doesn’t take the edge off.

 

 

News & Links: Four Variations on the Parent Problem.

1. Now up at New Evangelizers, my latest contribution to the RE Conflagration:

The answer to the parent-problem is simple: Evangelize them.  Mom or Dad (or Grandma or Grandpa) has darkened the doors of Church, and so what if they’re just there for the poinsettias or the white dress, run with it!  Welcome them, share the Gospel with them, and bend over backward to make it possible for them to take another step forward in their faith.  They might or might not choose to accept that invitation, but we can at least eliminate as many excuses as possible.

Also you learn something about the state of my garden.  Which is no better than the state of my housekeeping, as it happens. Despite the fact that I love the one and could happily dispense with the other. Go figure.

2. Update from yesterday’s round of vexation, condensed and paraphrased version:

Dr. W: I dunno what’s wrong.  How about we do a heart cath?

Us: Really?

Dr. W: Really.

Us: Really?!

Dr. W: Really.

We did that about twenty different ways, then set a date for March 12th.  He said I was probably quite safe checking the mail in the meantime.  And anything else I feel like doing.

(He didn’t mean “anything I feel like doing” as in: Break into the box of Easter chocolate.  He meant like physical exercise and stuff.)

UPDATE TO CLARIFY per a question from a friend: By “twenty different ways”, what I mean is that we talked about all the medical issues and agreed on a plan.  Didn’t mean that to sound like we just shook the 8 Ball or something.

3. If you want do something double-good this Lent, consider reading one of Ann Frailey’s books.

4. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Larry D’s father.  Who popped into my mind for entirely other reasons, which I’ll chat more about a different day.

Rant-o-Rama – Catechesis Edition + Proof I Can’t Proofread But You Should Write Your Story Anyway

1. If you haven’t seen Dorian Speed’s posts on Catechesis, look now. #2 is up.  Don’t neglect the combox.  But here’s what: If your parish has to wring hands over whether to give the 2nd Graders a pre-sacramental quiz, the question isn’t, “Should we give a quiz?” The question is, “How have we gotten into this bind, and what do we need to do radically differently from now on?”

The answer is not in the quiz.  It’s not about the quiz.  Soul at a time.  Soul. at. a. time.

2.  You should never, ever, write something like this:

There’s a fine line between humility and stupidity, and I try my best to stay on the better-edited side of that line.

Yes, I used the word “try”. I was trying.  I was. trying.  I proofread that post.  I did.  Proofread. Solemn assurances of truth-telling.  And yet we’ve found three egregious typos in it so far today.  Read it yourself and see what else you find.

[Hint: I tell you that if you like to write, you should write the stuff you like to write.  Not complicated, and yet weirdly people get all confused about this.  Also I plug the CWG, because trust me your favorite best-selling mega-busy author is not your critique service.  But the CWG?  We do this.  Amateurs welcome.]

3. Back to catechesis: Allow me to tell you a terrible story. I once had a DRE tell me how much she loved her current job, because it was so different from her previous parish.  “Here, all the catechists go to Mass on Sundays!”

I was happy for her. I was.

But seriously.   Problems in catechesis run deep.  It’s not about the quiz.  The quiz conundrum is the nasty festering ulcer everyone’s tempted to chop off, and maybe it does need to be chopped off, or filled with leeches or maggots or I dunno what.  But until you figure out what’s causing that festering wound, new ones are going to keep popping up.  There are bigger problems.  Deeper problems.  Fix those.

4.  Prayer and fasting.  That’s how.

A Feast Day Gift for You & Your Friends

If you are looking for some Petrine thoughts out of me today, take a look at the workbook I put together for today’s CCW retreat.  It’s conveniently stored on this page here on the blog, and this is the direct link to the PDF. It is not for sale, but you may use it and reuse it and pass it around.

Please keep the retreat folks in prayer.  Might I observe that the Joyful Mysteries are perfect for this sort of occasion?  Those of you who won’t see this request until after the retreat is over, consider yourself part of the post-retreat-letdown-prevention wing of the prayer group. Thanks!

Hey, and Pray for the Pee Dee Council of Catholic Women’s Retreat!

You praying types (that’s all of you, right?), mission for today and tomorrow:

Today: Please pray for Deacon F., who’s going to be giving the retreat in my stead.  Pray that God will give him wisdom and courage as he prepares, and that he will put together the retreat these ladies need, regardless of how that matches up with the notes and stuff I sent him.

Tomorrow: Please pray for those attending the retreat, that God will use this retreat to draw them closer to Him, and to help them to live more and more the way God is calling them.  Please pray specifically that those who need to come will be able to come, and that our Lord will use this as a stepping stone in the evangelization of the SC coast.

Thanks!

Jesus and the Laundry Fairy

Two weeks ago I was still ostensibly the person responsible for doing laundry, though I’ll allow that a party of alpinists had contacted us about permits for ascending Mt. Foldmore.  But let’s harken back to the days of old, when it sometimes happened that a person could toss his clothes into the laundry hamper, and a few days later find those clothes clean, and folded, and waiting in the drawer or closet for their next use.

There’s was something of cycle to it, though, and often the sock and underwear drawers would get perilously empty.  And then one day, just when things had gotten very grim, a certain SuperHusband would wake up and discover his drawers were restocked, and he would proclaim, “Behold! The Laundry Fairy has come!”

And I would remind him that there is no Laundry Fairy. That was your wife who did that for you, thank you very much.

***

This morning’s Gospel is one of those miraculous feedings of the crowds.  (Mark 8:1-10).  What caught my eye today wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the people part.  Our Lord observes, “They’ve been with me three days now, and have nothing to eat.  If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, for they have come a great distance.”  The disciples up the stakes: “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them, here in this deserted place?”

Those are the miracle conditions.  You’ve stuck around with the Jesus Person until you’ve run out of food and have no way of getting more.  You didn’t bail even as you approached the point of no return.

You’ve let yourself get desperate.  Empty-handed.  No way to make it on your own.

–> There’s an aid to faith here, by the way, if you can stick through the tempting part, the getting-out-while-you-still-can.  Once your case is hopeless, there’s really not much point in trying to turn elsewhere.  Makes it easier to stick the final corners.

And that’s when the miracle shows up.  Not before.  If there’s something consistent in the Gospels, it’s that desperation.  Joyful, hopeful?  Sometimes, yes.  But unequivocal: Jesus isn’t one more tool in the portfolio. It’s got to come down to Him being the only way.

(And yeah: You’re left as your only hope with Someone who’s idea of goodness involves self-sacrifice and an eternal outside-of-time-frame.  If what you want is a patched-up Old Earth, you’re fresh out of luck.  That’s not what He does.  Not how He does it.)

Of course God sends us thousands of natural helps every day as well.  Our very existence — in this life or the next one — is only by virtue of Him keeping us here.  But either way, whether in the day-to-day miracle of ordinary life, or the big moments of divine intervention on this side of the grave or the other, there’s a consistent theme: No Laundry Fairy.  That was Me, thank you very much.

****

Back to practical stuff: SuperHusband’s taken over the mom-jobs like groceries and meals and laundry, but in a pared-back way that makes it not so overwhelming.  Our friends and family are totally showing up to do all the extras, like getting kids to activities, or whipping out dinner when we’re way late getting home from doctors appointments. I had three different people offer to step in and get the girls their valentine supplies. All that makes the load on Jon much, much lighter.

But something specifically laundry-related that we did was to give me a basket in the bedroom where my clean laundry lives. So no one ever has to put my laundry away in drawers and closets, only to have to pull it back out again. The nice thing about my particular state of decrepitude is that it isn’t fashion-intensive*. A pair of jeans to wear and one to wash.  Ditto on PJ’s.  Underwear, socks, a pile of t-shirts, a jacket.  That’s it.  You can store all that in a single laundry basket, no problem. None of it really needs to be ironed.  Works great.

*In contrast, in normal life on any given day I might have:

  • Work clothes for doing stuff in the yard
  • Normal less-grungy clothes
  • Church clothes
  • Possibly something business-y, or business-casual.
  • Usually not workout clothes, because normal stuff works for that, but maybe yes, depending.

Completely different game.

And as long as we’re playing the gratitude game, you know whom I really appreciate? The people who’ve picked up slack for me on stuff I could do, but they could do instead.  It is remarkable how much fortitude gets consumed on accomplishing very very little.  I’m massively thankful for the slack I’ve been cut in a few places.  Pure luxury.