- Catholic Women’s Almanac No. 17 (catholicpostergirl.stblogs.com)
I wasn’t going to write about this, because really, what else can be said about the whole Newton thing?
A few things, I guess.
1) To paraphrase Elizabeth Ann Seton: God’s son was crucified. If he had to suffer, how do you think you’re going to get out of it?
2) What happened in Newton is horrible. It is, truly, frightening. But when people ask, “Where is God when this happens?” I say: see poitn 1, above, and also, the story of the Jews during the Holocaust: In one of the camps, a young boy was executed in front of the prisoners. The guards sneered, where is your God now? A prisoner replied, “There, hanging on the gallows, there is our God.”
3) God doesn’t do these things to us a la the kid with the magnifying glass and the ants. He doesn’t do this to torture us. I’ve never had a problem with the idea of theodicy–the idea that an all-loving God and a universe that involves pain co-exist. Parents love their kids, too, but they still do things that make the kids “suffer”. It’s how we grow. We can accept the challenge, a la Job, or we can rebel against Him.
4) Suffering. Is. Everywhere. Jesus came to suffer and to die for us. Yes, Christmas is about our salvation. But to achieve that salvation–the cross. The creche is only the beginning.
5) One of the psalms says: “in the midst of life we are in death.” But we also must rejoice, as St. Paul told us last Sunday. Rejoice that this is not the end. Death is not the end. If we believe in Christ, we believe in his promise of the resurrection. We believe in the hope of Heaven.
We can–and should–pray and mourn for those killed. But let’s also pray for the dead on a regular basis. Let’s use tragedy in our lives to grow as Christians and to become stronger in our faith. God is always here, but sometimes He’s harder to find.
Christianity is the religion of the Cross. But the Cross is not, is never, the end.
Outside my window::
It’s snowing. Not sticking, because we had rain earlier. But snow, when I have my tree up, fireplace going, and Christmas music on, is a great thing.
From the kitchen::
This tonight. My sister got me the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook for Christmas, so I have been perusing the book and the website, and have come upon a lot of culinary gold. But right now I’m thinking a semi-homemade tomato soup for Wednesday (eating out at a meeting tomorrow). Also making shopping lists for the things I’m responsible for in the Christmas Food Department.
I am wearing::
Lululemon yoga pants and a gray Old Navy tanktop, because I have working out, cleaning and gift wrapping in my future.
To live the liturgy::
Mass as often as possible during the week; the Liturgy of the Hours; rosary; reading my Advent books; lectio.
In the CD Player:
A few plans for the week:
Planning meeting for Lifeline of Ohio‘s Dash for Donation (it’s in July, but fortune favors the prepared) tomorrow, and bachelorette lunch at PF Chang’s on Saturday. We’re really just calling it the ‘bridesmaids’ dinner’ instead of a bachelorette party, because we are not doing anything at all related to the normal ideas of a “bachelorette party”. Also, one of the girls in the wedding is in high school, so even if we were bachelorette party people, we’d have to tone it down. Also gift exchange with one of my best friends this week (I think. Depends on her schedule. Her gift is the one being wrapped tonight. )
Be Holy: A Catholic’s Guide to the Spiritual Life; Introduction to the Devout Life, Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting.
Two friends that are getting married at the end of the month; two Dominican student brothers who were in a car accident last night (they’re in stable condition, some broken bones, which are no fun), and some friends’ intentions.
I don’t mean actual eating–although Advent and Lent are good times to think about “penitential” practices like fasting, or avoiding meat on W and F–I mean spiritual eating.(And no, not Communion, either. Although, you should definitely go to confession and receive communion more often during Advent, to better prepare for Christmas!)
In today’s reading from Come, Lord Jesus, Mother Mary Francis talks about “right nutrition”. Today’s gospel reading is the story of the Loaves and the Fishes; the reading is from Isaiah, about the Lord feeding his people choice food and wine, and the psalm is 23–the Lord is my sheperd–”you spread a table before me in the sigh of my enemies”. So food is a propos today.
But Mother Mary Francis uses her chapter talk to discuss spiritual nutrition, as in, what we’re putting in our minds and hearts and imaginations. Are we forgiving others? Are we being patient with others? Are we focusing on our prayer life, making time for prayer, lectio, Mass, adoration? What does our internal soundtrack sound like?
In musical parlance, you could say what multitudes of conductors have said: “How you practice is how you perform.” If you’re goofing off, not paying attention, singing lacklusterly, that’s how it’ll be come concert time or opening night. You can’t just expect the discipline and the music to come out when the lights are up. You have to practice them.
In the same way, we have to practice being patient, being kind, being prayerful people. And, again, like music, it’s freaking hard. I remember one year in college, my choir was singing this godawful hard piece by John Rutter, called the “Donkey Carol.” If you’ve heard it, you might know why it’s hard. It’s supposed to sound like the gait of a donkey–not steady. The meter, I believe, changed every verse. There were lots of verses.
I hated this song, and the stupid donkey. I hated practicing it. But when we got to the first night of Christmas Festival, the song was performance ready. Now, I still don’t like it all that much. But I can sing the Alto part the way it’s meant to be sung. And who knows, I might like to sing it now.
Practicing patience and all the other virtues is like that too. There’s a reason some are called “heroic virtues.” It’s not supposed to be easy. I lose my temper. A lot. I get frustrated. A lot. But I try to not take that out on other people (and sometimes I still do this)
In Advent and Lent, I try for more spiritual nourishment. More confession. More Mass. More spiritual reading and lectio. This is part of the “practice” of virtue. Good things in—> good things out. (Most of the time)
I won’t be perfect at the end of Advent, just like when you start a new fitness regiment, you usually don’t hit your goal weight in four weeks. But I’ll be better.
Boy howdy, I have a lot of these!
This first book is indispensable. I mean that. Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting, by Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C., is amazing. I look forward to this more than almost anything during Advent. It’s like sitting in a monastic conference every day during Advent, with separate Sunday reflections for each Year (We’re in Year C now, peeps!). Do yourself a favor, and get this post-haste.
Second: Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Pope John Paul II. Again, daily readings from the Pope’s genearl audiences, writings and conferences, with meditations and “action” items. It’s short, and it’s fantastic. There are others in this series, too, if you’d rather have someone else: Fulton Sheen, St. Francis, GK Chesterton, etc. (They also have a Lent and Easter series)
...But if I was Mary, I would’ve been scared out of my mind.
Think about it: she’s a teenager, she’s pregnant with the Son of God. It took awhile to convince her husband of this, but eventually she got some help from an angel. So she and Joseph are preparing for this very important birth in Nazareth.
Then they’re told they have to travel 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Now, my car can do 80 miles in an hour and change. I don’t think donkeys go quite that fast. So Mary, who is very, very pregnant, is on the back of a donkey, for a multi-day journey to a place she was probably never been. Oh, and they may or may not have a room. There was no Travelocity for them so she and Joseph are counting on there being space for them…
Beauty in the ordinary:
Meeting the result of my friends’ marriage–Baby E. Isn’t she PRECIOUS?
(Her mom took this photo while I was gaggling over her. Hence my face)
Listening to: :
Les Miserables 10th Anniversary Concert CD in my car. Christmas music starts in December.
From the kitchen::
Pondering this after I write this.:) I had dinner with my parents tonight.
(Yeah, this is short. Not a whole lot for you this week! I’m relishing being done with the draft of the novel.)
Even if they’re not local.
These Benedictines in Missouri have a CD out just in time for Advent.
Christmas ideas? Maybe?
Let’s support our local (or not so local) religious communities!
Moments of Gratitude (1,000 gifts):
747) My winter coat, which is new, because it’s going to be used tomorrow.
745) Spending time w/ my mom on my day off.
746) Grilled cheese. Really. Grilled cheese is a great thing.
747) my Lay Dominican chapter
748) Benedictine chant!
749) spending time at my alma mater
750) My novel–it’s National Novel Writing Month and I am on track to finish. Whee!
751) my new position at work.
752) Nice people in my new office.
753) Advent is almost here!
Beauty in the ordinary::
It’s Veterans Day observed here in the U.S, so I had the day off it. It was really rainy and windy, so I got to read this afternoon, work on my novel, and take a nap.
This. Any ideas?
From the kitchen::
Tonight was Mac and Cheese night. It’s that kind of day. Tomorrow dinner out, Wednesday dinner at my parents’, but Thursday might be omelet night.
My Office, the rosary. Mass as often as possible.