Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Gift of Self...

"Not only in fulfilling my responsibilities to everyone, not only in charitable work, not only in prayer, but in my whole attitude and way of life. Great and holy ideas and deep convictions often influence others only through the attractiveness of those who embody them. "You will know them by their fruits"(Mt 7:16), our Savior said- by the fruits of devotion, charity and radiant faith, and also by those blossoms that first attract notice and precede the fruit; those are called tender love, graciousness, social refinement, serenity, equanimity, friendliness, joy, and simplicity. A truly holy person-mistress, by divine grace, of her body and it's challenges- without ever speaking, exudes the delicate perfume of these flowers. Such a person attracts others by her gentle influence and prepares them for God's approach, which she eventually obtains for them through her prayers." ~ Elizabeth Lesuer

The Theme of My Generation....





Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle

Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ask....

....And you shall receive.
Isn't it amazing that we have been told, by God Himself, that He is just waiting for us to ask Him when we need something?
He is our loving Father. He wants us all to be happy and he gives us all that we need for that.
Ask, and you shall receive. Maybe not instantly, maybe not in the form that we think we want or need, but we shall receive....the best.
What do we really need that He would withhold? He gave us His own Son, His very life.

Trust is a hard thing, especially now, in our world where the idea is to get what we want, now.
Trusting God to give us the gifts that He has in store for our lives on earth, and in eternity, is that realistic? What if that job doesn't come through? What if good health doesn't hold out. What if something happens to keep us from fulfilling our dreams?

Who can dream better dreams for us?  Can we in our short-sightedness, or the Father who created us and all things and knows every moment, every breath and heartbeat of the lives we have lived, are living, and will live. Every moment in His will is a blessing, even though it may be uncomfortable or may not seem to make sense.

We can have all this and heaven too. All we have to do is ask.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lord, I Love Your Commands...

The Psalm at Mass today really struck me in a special way.
I was sitting in the pew listening to my friend Paula sing the psalm, and I was holding Lilly on my lap. 


I had been praying before Mass and just thanking God for my family and the fact that we were all there together safe and sound, since Tim was away this past week. 
Then I started thinking about things that get in the way of a right relationship with Christ. He is the ultimate Truth and authority. So much can get in between us and Christ in the world we live in today.
I have been reading "The 100 Thing Challenge" which is about a family's journey from commercialism to detachment from material things. It had me thinking about priorities even before Mass.

R. (97a) Lord, I love your commands.
I have said, O LORD, that my part
is to keep your words.
The law of your mouth is to me more precious
than thousands of gold and silver pieces.



So anyway, I was sitting with Lil and I heard that first verse of the psalm and I thought about how she would probably not be here without the love of God's commands. She is so much more precious than silver or gold, this little bundle of love and sweetness. She is a second generation survivor of the culture of death. 




 R. Lord, I love your commands.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.

Now, I realize that not paying attention to one of God's laws put me in the position of having to decide whether to obey another one. That is a lesson learned. It was a very hard lesson. Mea Culpa. However...given the circumstances....

Had I not known the Lord's commands, I could have been swayed by the siren song of worldly success, and decided to pursue my own goals, to have what the world told me was important, and destroyed a precious gift that God wanted to give to the world. Because I knew that the precepts of the Lord are given to us out of Love, and following them is the only way to go forward, it was a comfort and it gave me courage. If I had chosen another path, Laura, Nina, Lucy, Lilly, Molly and Claire would not be here. No matter how much Jim argued against it at the time, if I had even told him, no matter what kind of promises he made, I could have ended the possibility of six beautiful, creative, loving, wonderful people. I was in MY hands, as a woman.  Jim would have suffered as well. So that's another person hurt, and countless others missing someone that they would have loved. My mom and dad, the other grandparents, Buzz, Alice, my Grandpa and Grandma. Laura and Nina were a joy to grandma Alice in her final years. All the aunts and uncles, Andrew and his family. These are all people that love my girls, and their girls. 



 R. Lord, I love your commands.
For I love your command
more than gold, however fine.
For in all your precepts I go forward;
every false way I hate.

Thank you Lord, for your laws and your Love. Without them I would have had to navigate a very difficult time with the world to guide me. The world can be a dark and scary place. Our priorities can become skewed so easily. You not only give us your commands, you show us the way to the pearl of great price. You cast your light out so that we can see it. We are simple, and easily confused, even more reason to cling to your law. 


R. Lord, I love your commands.
Wonderful are your decrees;
therefore I observe them.
The revelation of your words sheds light,
giving understanding to the simple.

I love your commands. They have saved me, and mine, from myself.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Slow Down Summer!

I am feeling that middle-of-summer energy that always sets in this time of year. It's the halfway point, a little past actually, and I am looking at planning the coming school year.
The booklist is complete, orders placed, and new boxes are rolling in every day.
I know for the boys, this is an awful sign. The death knell of Summer. They want to put off even thinking about studying, and every time they turn around the UPS guy is knocking at the door, and mom is cheerily thanking him for another load.
"Hey, it's your Science book!"
Somehow they seem less than enthused.
True, it seems like we just started our summer break.
Pool time, warm weather, and late nights are the theme for this season.
I love it, but I am watching the time sifting through my hands. There were so many projects that I was going to get to this summer. Painting the schoolroom walls, possibly carpeting. I want to get more of the house purged and open up space in the pantry and on bookshelves.
I had been thinking about really going over the utility room, but that was while we were thinking that Bosco would be "moving", turns out he's still here, so the utility room doesn't get a facelift.
I need to make a list.

This school year is going to be more serious, as John is entering High School. We are finally at the point where we can fine-tune his education. We get to start really using all that spelling, vocabulary, and Grammar for in-depth writing assignments. Literature will be at a much higher level, and we can do deeper discussion and critical thinking exercises. It's so neat to hear the thoughts and ideas that come out of this young man! Now he gets to start really thinking about what he wants to do with that fabulous brain!

Brendan is going to have to buckle down and write a LOT more. He is a very good writer, when he puts his heart into it. Math is no problem for him, and Science is going be a lot more challenging, but I think he will enjoy it. He doesn't struggle, but he isn't as academic as the other two. As long as he gets everything he needs to be able to choose to do whatever he wants with his life, I will consider him a well educated lad. He has the mind for it, that's for sure. I don't ever want my kids to feel that there is something they don't want to try because they don't feel confidant in their education.

Paul is going to be in the fifth grade. We have a lot to cover this year. He will also have to do more writing and he has the usual language arts materials to get through. I am really happy with the fact that the Parish is going to allow me to use the Faith and Life religion books that I love! I have been trying to balance two books every year and it has been a challenge. I can finally enjoy the program that I have been wanting to do all the way through.

I myself am going to take a bit of a leave of absence from most of the non-school activities that I have been so busy with. I will be taking courses in organizing coaching, on the computer, but I really have to be home with my family at night and not going out to appointments and meetings.
I am hoping that this will make for a more focused school year.
I always have great hopes for that, but this year I am taking steps to set it up that way.

So on Monday I guess I will see what kinds of projects I can find to fill up the last few weeks before I run out of "Summertime".

Thursday, July 21, 2011

And Now, The Weather....

We have been busy trying to keep cool theses last few days!
I have been trying to keep the boys busy while we wait out this horrible heat wave.
It's actually dangerous to stay out and try to do anything physical.
Maggie doesn't even want to go outside!
I have been working around the house, and then the boys and I usually go to the pool in the afternoon.
This morning we went to Ikea and did a little bit of looking around, and ate lunch at the little cafe there.
We came home and I made some muffins for the potluck at the pool.
The boys swam for hours with their friends and Lilly and Nina were there too!
Lilly is really coming along with her swimming.
Tomorrow is looking like an even hotter one. UGH!
Glad Dad got to come to visit last weekend instead of this one!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t a Saint? A Meditation on the Gospel for the 16th Sunday of the Year

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

We live in difficult times for the Church,  and from many sectors the very legitimate cry for reform goes up frequently. Beyond the sexual abuse scandal, there are also deep concerns regarding the uncertain trumpet of Catholic preaching, lukewarm and nominal Catholics, an overall lack of discipline among Catholics, and a lack of disciplining by the bishops and clergy of Catholics, clergy and lay, who cause scandal. In a way, the list is quite long and has been well discussed on this blog, which is, overall sympathetic to the need for reform, and greater zeal in the Church.
But today’s Gospel issues a caution in becoming over zealous to root out sin and sinners from the Church. It is the memorable Parable of the Wheat and Tares. The Lord’s cautionary rebuke to the zealous farmhands who wanted to tear out the weeds, was that they might harm the wheat as well. Wait, says the Lord, leave it to me. There will come a day of reckoning, but it is not now, wait till harvest.
This does not mean that we are never to take no notice of sin or never rebuke it. There is need for discipline in the Church and other texts call for it (see below). But this text is meant to balance a scouring that is too thorough, or a puritanical clean sweep that overrules God’s patience and seeks to turn the Church from a hospital for sinners to a germ-free (and hence people-free) zone.
We are going to need to depend on a lot of patience and mercy from God if any of us are going to stand a chance. Summoning the wrath of God to come on sinners, as some do, may well destroy them as well. We all have a journey to make from being an ain’t to being a saint.
So let’s allow this Gospel to give us some guidance in finding balance between the summons to reform and the summons to patience. The guidance comes in Four Steps.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Special Weekend

It was a very nice weekend with Dad here. He is attending a pro-life conference up in Pennsylvania this week, so he and Cathy Gonzales, the other attendee, spent the weekend here.
I ran up to Philadelphia to pick them up at the airport on Friday.
Yesterday we had a nice morning, and then we went to the pool after it opened.
Dad got to swim with the boys,
 
and we all enjoyed a very nice day without much humidity.
After the Pool we went to Mass. Brendan and Paul served, and Dad said he really enjoyed it.
We brought the boys home, and then Tim, Dad, Cathy and I went downtown to dinner. I really wanted to go to the Tidewater Grille, but the wait was an hour and a half! We ended up at McGregor's, and while the atmosphere left something to be desired, the food was really great!
We ended up getting up REALLY early this morning, because Tim had to go out to New Mexico for work. I would probably have gone back to bed, but Dad was up and had made the coffee, so I stuck it out.
We went back up to the pool for a while this afternoon, and then I drove Dad and Cathy up to Malvern, to the retreat house. We went out through Lancaster county, and it was just a beautiful drive!
I got home pretty early and got the boys some dinner.
I think I am going to make an early night of it though!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bees and Butterflies....

....in our backyard.

 This little guy stopped in for lunch.
Yes, it was a working lunch....

 I had to get a shot of this beautiful creature, or two....


With a sky like this, it's got to be Summertime in Maryland!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elk Neck State Park....



Today we headed up to North East, to start our "Park Quest" adventure with a nearby park. Elk Neck is a beautiful park on the Chesapeake Bay.

The Quest itself was a bit simple. That may just be this particular park though. John was rather underwhelmed with the questions and answers, and all of it was easily found within a few hundred yards of the beginning.
Still, we took Maggie along, saw quite a few critters, learned about the local plants, and something about pirates. Brendan used his own compass, which got us the "bonus quest"After we finished and got our stamp, we went further into the park and headed on the trail to the lighthouse.







It was really hot, and Maggie was having a tough time with the heat,
so we turned back. We are going back up with the bikes, and letting Maggie enjoy staying home in the A/C.
I hope to get to a couple of quests a week at different parks. We'll take Maggie each time we go, because she loves the adventure too!





Saturday, July 9, 2011

Swimming Progress

 First we have Lilly and Grandpa on the 4th of July. She was having so much fun learning to "dunk"!



Brendan learned to dive that night, and so he wanted to go right back to the pool and work on his skills. Here he is on the second day....



Paul is coming right along, as well. He is using a tube to give him something to aim for, and it works like a charm!



And this is Brendan's latest craze, a front flip with a twist....

Friday, July 8, 2011

Updated Website for TORCH of NorthEastern MD!

 Lumen Christi T.O.R.C.H. of North Eastern Maryland



I have worked off and on all day to get our Homeschool group website updated and ready for the coming year. We had a great meeting last night, of all our past leaders, except Lynn :( , and we hammered out a BUNCH of really foundational details. The national TORCH group is not going to continue, and we had to get our ducks in a row before people start looking for homschool information for this coming year.

I am starting to get that feverish feeling that comes around about this time every summer. Target had started putting out the school supplies and it was a nudge. I have all my books picked out and have created a document with links to every place that I will be going to purchase them. I can't wait for the boxes to start arriving and to start planning all that I expect to accomplish this year.
It's so much fun!! I can't imagine what I will do when the last one goes off to college.
I can't imagine how ANYONE can say that they can't wait for school to start!
These guys are incredible.
They are bright, funny, well mannered, helpful, generous (at least to me), and I count every school day that we have to be a special gift.

Summer is really great. I am enjoying the chance to tackle some things that I don't have time to do in the winter. I do look forward to another fresh new year though.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Indeed....

If Contraception, Why Not Gay Marriage?

Howard Kainz

In his book Heretics, G. K. Chesterton writes,

There are some people — and I am one of them — who think that the most practical and important thing about a man is still his view of the universe. We think that for a landlady considering a lodger, it is important to know his income, but still more important to know his philosophy. We think that for a general about to fight an enemy, it is important to know the enemy’s numbers, but still more important to know the enemy’s philosophy. We think the question is not whether the theory of the cosmos affects matters, but whether in the long run, anything else affects them.
Chesterton is making the point that one’s general system of values is an all-important factor in the choices he makes. For example, someone who subscribes to Ayn Rand’s “philosophy of selfishness,” or to Peter Singer’s judgment that infanticide is permissible because of utilitarian values, or to Christopher Hitchens’s view that religion is the most dangerous thing on earth, or to theologian Rev. Richard McBrien’s claim that popes have no authority in morals, can be expected to act in certain ways and take certain positions when confronted with choices. If we know their world view, we do not have 100 percent certainty about particular choices they might make under particular circumstances — but we do have high probability.
The Catholic analytic philosopher G. E. M. Anscombe (1919-2001), whose 1958 article “Modern Moral Philosophy” instigated new movements in “virtue ethics” and renewed interest in natural law, astonished her academic colleagues at Cambridge University in 1979 by publishing Contraception and Chastity, a defense of the Catholic Church’s position on contraception. Anscombe’s influence is still being felt in the United States via the Anscombe Society at Princeton University.
Analytic philosophy is famous for investigating logical connections, even in ethics, and Anscombe draws out the inescapable deductions that can be made from a value system accepting contraception:
If contraceptive intercourse is permissible, then what objection could there be after all to mutual masturbation, or copulation in vase indebito, sodomy, buggery, when normal copulation is impossible or inadvisable (or in any case, according to taste)? … But if such things are all right, it becomes perfectly impossible to see anything wrong with homosexual intercourse, for example. I am not saying: if you think contraception all right you will do these other things; not at all. The habit of respectability persists and old prejudices die hard. But I am saying: you will have no solid reason against these things. You will have no answer to someone who proclaims as many do that they are good too. You cannot point to the known fact that Christianity drew people out of the pagan world, always saying no to these things. Because, if you are defending contraception, you will have rejected Christian tradition…. For in contraceptive intercourse you intend to perform a sexual act which, if it has a chance of being fertile, you render infertile. Qua your intentional action, then, what you do is something intrinsically unapt for generation (emphasis added).
In other words, Anscombe is saying that, if you believe you have a right to non-procreative sexual intercourse, you have no right to criticize non-procreative sex by others — for example, by a gay couple. You may justify your personal practices on the basis of your genuine mutual love and commitment to lifelong fidelity. But homosexuals may be even more intensely in love with each other and even more firmly committed to mutual fidelity. They may even be more open to procreation than you are, through adoption or through in vitro fertilization. To want to have sex without the possibility of offspring, and condemn others for similarly non-procreative sex, would be blatantly inconsistent.
According to polls, more than 80 percent of Catholic married couples are using various kinds of contraceptives in order to prevent or separate births. But there is no necessary connection between control of births and contraception. Natural family planning (NFP), which is approved by the Church and often used by couples who want to identify a woman’s fertile periods in order to have children, can also be used to space out births without contraceptives. NFP has been shown in various studies to be just as effective as the contraceptive pill. Systematic development and improvement of the Billings method of NFP over the years has been carried out at Creighton University. The Pope Paul VI institute at Creighton has a good history of assisting married and unmarried women with irregular cycles and other problems.
A variety of objections to gay marriage have been offered. Some oppose it because it arbitrarily redefines marriage, or because it is not suitable for children to have gay parents, or because it will involve greater taxpayer burdens for Medicare and Social Security down the line, and so forth. But if we are part of that 80 percent of Catholics who are also involved in non-procreative sex, we cannot take the “high road” and be opposed to gay marriage because of “immorality.” At the very least, Catholics who choose artificial contraceptive methods, in the interests of consistency, should modify their opposition to gay marriage. If and when they follow the Church’s teaching on contraception, which has not changed over two thousand years and was reiterated by Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, they will have a more secure moral justification for their opposition.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Independence Day


Happy 4th of July, (tomorrow)!
This is a holiday that we should celebrate with a sense of gratitude. We have a duty to uphold the ideals that the founders of our country fought, and died, for.
When they declared their independence from an oppressive king, they were insisting on being allowed to live in a way that we now take for granted. It was truly a novel idea, in that time and place in history.

What have we done with the gift that they gave us? 

Every generation has to make choices as to which direction they will go as they create their identity. Each society is known by it's fruit and it's course in the human story.
What do we have to show? What is our fruit? When people look at our era, what will it be remembered for?
These aren't rhetorical questions.
The answers are real and important. They define us, and we can't leave them to be answered by the future.
We can see the fruit of those that have gone before us, but ours is still ripening on the vine.
Will it be sweet and plentiful, or bitter and paltry?

Our founding Fathers gave us the unique ability to determine these answers for ourselves.
We can build on the bounty that has been left to us, or we can, like the Prodigal Son, take what is our part of the inheritance and squander it. If we choose to play the prodigal, will we turn around and go back, or go on blindly trying to find our own way? Will we return in shame at the way we have wasted a fortune, or will we stubbornly go on, never giving a thought to the Father that we left behind? Will we say we are sorry to the One who has given us the gift of this great country?
We are in the process of a very Prodigal story.

I hope and pray that it ends the way the parable does....

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sacred Heart of Jesus....


...we belong to you.
Tonight we celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus by having our new image blest by our dear friend Fr. Henry, and consecrating our family to the Sacred Heart. What an amazing thing that is.
We have always had a picture of the Sacred Heart in our living room, but we had never actually done the consecration. Our Lord has always been so good to us, and we are so grateful.

This Feast Day will always be very special to our family.



from Revelations of Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary