Saturday, July 28, 2007

Still alive

I figured I'd better post that I am still alive. I have been busy, and I have been missing my YDD who is away at summer camp until tomorrow. I am also deep in though about HP7, indeed the entire HP series and the deeper meaning it seems to have. I will probably post more on that later.

Peace.

Lord,
Thank you for being with me to carry mee through the rough spots. It is knowing that you are with me that keeps me going...keeps me putting one foot in front of the other and getting out of bed each day.

Amen.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Mailing lists and politics

I somehow wound up on the e-mail mailing list for GOPUSA. I am not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat. I declare no party affiliation. Today, the e-mail newsletter from GOPUSA included political cartoons. Here is the link. There is a cartoon about that Clintons that made me laugh, so I thought I would share it.


Does anyone else get newsletters that they didn't sign up for, and have no idea why they receive them?

Lord,
Help our leaders to seek your guidance. Help us, a people to vote according to our beliefs, and to avoid simply voting a "party ticket." I don't see that our choices will be very good this year at election time, Lord. Please open my eyes to see the candidate You would have me choose.

Amen.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Mass and other thoughts

I read a comment in this post on Ukok's blog that stated that "I was raised Catholic but lost interest in the church as a teen because it wasn’t relevant to my life. (That and the fact the Bishop was known to make the best martinis around.) In my 30s I came to know several Godly people who lived in a relationship with the risen Christ. That was something I’d never seen or even heard of in catholic school. I became a Christian and began to learn about that relationship. Worship services were just that - worship - and not cold, dead liturgy."(emphasis mine)

I have been thinking about this statement a great deal. This person has gone on to become a protestant who believes in sola scriptura and sola fide.

He continued on: "The nail in the coffin in my relationship with catholicism came when I went home for my father’s funeral. There was a memorial mass and the family sat together. At communion time, the priest became every emphatic that communion was only for ‘true believers’ and was therefore closed to non-catholics.
It would have been a wonderful tribute to my Dad and his faith for the family to share the Last Supper as Christ shared it with His disciples.
Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians has nothing to do with catholisism (which didn’t even come about until a few hundred years later.) Rather, he is getting to the heart issue. Those without a holy relationship with Christ, who still carry unrepentant attitudes, have no business sharing the Lord’s Supper. But for the rest, it is indeed open to all who believe on His name."

He tells us in another comment that most Catholics (Roman Catholics, that is) do not know how to pray anything but rote prayers and that at a conference his wife attended, the Catholics who were present had to be taught what to include in a "spontaneous" prayer.

I am saddened by this man's comments for myriad reasons. The comments about rote prayer saddens me because it shows very clearly how poorly catechized many Catholics are. As part of the Charismatic renewal in the early 80's, I was part of a wonderful Catholic youth movement called Teen Encounter. We learned that Christ was our friend if only we would let Him be. We learned to speak to Him as though He was sitting next to us. In Leadership Training, we learned Church History. We read the Bible, although mostly the New Testament. It was a wonderful experience, but it stopped as soon as you were no longer a teen, or in my case, when you married. There simply was nothing available for young adults to keep them involved with the church or their faith. I find this remains true even now. I know that Cursillo is available, but it is my understanding that you have to be able to get away for an entire weekend at the onset of involvement in Cursillo. I know this is difficult for many.

I am next saddened by this man's obvious interpretation of scripture without any body of authority. He argues that Paul's words in 1 Corinthians do not refer to the Catholic Church. He means this passage: 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 to which Ukok referred in her original post.

The commenter stated that he believes Christ's words in regard to the Eucharist are meant figuratively. Frequently Christ's words in scripture are figurative, but He speaks in parables and uses similes e.g "The kingdom of God is like..." When Christ says to disciples "Take and eat, this is my body." Matthew 26:26b He does not say that the bread is like his body, but that it is
His body.

This man says he "lost interest" in the Catholic church because it "wasn't relevant" to his life. This is a struggle we all must face in keeping our children active in our faith. We must instill in them a love for the Lord, and a respect for the church. I know that as a child growing up post Vatican II, I was not taught that we were created to "know, love and serve God." Reading the old Baltimore Catechism with my own children has helped me to understand the fundamentals of my own faith. I do not know how old this man is. I do understand his frustration with his own formation and I am saddened that he has apparently never met any Catholics who demonstrated godliness.

What saddens me most about this man's posts, though, was this comment: "I became a Christian and began to learn about that relationship. Worship services were just that - worship - and not cold, dead liturgy."(again, emphasis mine)

This was my response to the "cold, dead liturgy" portion of his comments: "I find it rather disturbing that you refer to the Mass as “cold, dead, liturgy.” The Mass is made up, from beginning to end, of God’s sacred word. We pray, and we read scripture. even the “rote” prayers (eg. The Lord’s Prayer…see Mt. 6:9-15) come from scripture.
I would like to finish with this: God’s word is alive, not dead. If you are truly a “Bible believing Christian,” liturgy should not be something you perceive as dead. "

I feel so very deeply about this, yet I do not seem able to communicate to my own children just how alive the Mass is. I know my husband does not really like all the "standing, sitting, kneeling, standing" as he puts it. I cannot articulate the whys of the liturgy at this point. I just know how my heart overflows during the Mass.

Ukok's post was titled "Why Protestants can’t receive Communion in the Catholic Church." Catholics are not supposed to partake of "communion" in other churches, either. This was not really discussed in Ukok's post, although I believe it was mentioned in passing. The same arguments that are stated against Protestants receiving in the Catholic church can be used when referring to Catholics not participating in the protestant "communion." The greatest of these arguments is "Why would you want to participate in something that you do not believe in?" As Catholics, we believe in transubstantiation. That is a fancy word that means we believe that Christ is present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist. Protestants do not believe this. They believe that the bread and wine remain bread and wine and that they are only symbols of the last supper. As a Catholic, why would I want to participate in that? It is so totally incomplete. If I want to just break bread with friends, I will participate in an Agape (Ah-gah-pay) meal, or I will participate in a Lord's Day celebration with friends ushering in the Sabbath. Both of these things very much resemble what many protestants consider communion. If I want what many protestants call "worship," I will go to a Charismatic prayer meeting. I don't need my music to be loud rock and roll type music in order to consider it to be worship. To be honest, I do find that type of music wonderful for praising God but, to me, worship is quiet and respectful.

That is all I have to say on this tonight, but I imagine these topics will continue to haunt my heart and mind for a while.

Dear Lord,
Thank You for the beauty of Your word. Thank You for giving me Your living word, and for giving me the church as authority in interpretation. It is comforting to be able to go to the church fathers for guidance when I have a question regarding Your word. Thank You for the Eucharist. Please help me as I prepare YDS for the reception of Your holy sacraments. Help me to guide him toward reconciliation through Confession and toward the reception of his First Holy Communion. Please prepare his heart. I ask you, too, Lord to bless all those who participated in the discussion regarding reception of the Eucharist over at Ukok's blog. It has been thought provoking, and has stirred my heart to be closer to You. Please continue to clear all the garbage out of my heart so that there is more room for You, Lord. I desire closeness to You.

Amen.

Alas, poor Freddy, we knew you well....

We discovered this morning that one of our two gerbils was dead. I don't remember him moving around much yesterday, so he could have been dead for a whole day. Poor Cuddles, our remaining gerbil now has to live all alone in the cage.

Having gerbils has been an adventure. We got them in February of 2005. They chewed through 3 cages during their tenure here. It was interesting trying to catch them when they got out of their cage by chewing their way out. We also had to chase them a couple of times when the cats knocked their cage over. They are really kind of cute little things.

Of course, DH bought them for our 2 youngest boys without talking to me about it first, so I was not happy about having them. I was assured that they would take care of Fred and Cuddles. That lasted about a month. I have had the displeasure of caring for them and cleaning their cage ever since. A mom's work is never done.

I know that are gerbils were both the same gender as they never had babies. We have heard that two males together could be quite aggressive toward one another, so we figure we probably had two females.

According to this article on gerbil care, gerbils do best in pairs or families. I wonder if Cuddles will be okay alone now, or if he will pine away.

The children were not as upset as they might have been. We have several pets, so I think this loss was not as a big a deal as if the gerbils were our only pets. YDD is more concerned that Cuddles will miss Fred than anything else. Now if one of our cats had died......I shudder to think of the grief that the children would probably express.

Lord,
Thank you for giving us beautiful little animals to keep us company. I have come to realize that our stewardship of our pets can be a reflection of how we treat others. Help the children to cope with any sadness they may feel, especially YDD as she seems to have taken this loss the hardest.

Amen.

P.S. Baby Charlie is home from the hospital. You can read the update here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Naming

Well, I finally decided on a name for our home school. Drum roll please........By His Grace Domestic Academy. It has taken me over a year to name our school. I felt like most of the Marian names were taken, and my DH, while raised Catholic is not currently a practicing Catholic (although he has recently begun coming to Mass), so he gets a bit touchy about things relating to Mary at this point in his life.

By His Grace, though, really suits our home school, for it is by His grace that we home school.

I believe that educating at home is a vocation. We have been called to educate our children at home, just as some people are called to send their children to public school and others are called to send their children to private schools, either Catholic or secular. It has been difficult explaining to some in our family why we do this. My parents are still wondering when I am going to put the kids in school and go back to work. It amazes me that so many people don't think of what we stay at home moms/teachers do as not working. Often, I am up first and to bed last. While I do get some help from the children for our household chores, the fact remains that I do a majority of the work. My children are being trained to do the work, so one of my jobs is to train them in these responsibilities. I must train them first to know, love and serve God, then to love and serve their family. I must train them to love their neighbors. The building of their character is one of my most important "jobs."

Before I became a SAHM and home educator, I worked outside my home and was tired and frustrated at the end of the day. My children bore the brunt of this. When DH told me to quit my job, I was ecstatic. While we have less "stuff" as a result of our choices, we are all happier. At least I think we are all happier. I know I am happier, although some days I can still be grumpy.

Today we stopped at the local grain store. It is so much more than that, though. They have a little bit of everything. We stopped there because we heard crowing while we were driving by. The children were excited to find out that the crowing was coming from Roosters they had for sale. They also had a couple of hens. I was able to explain to the children the differences between the roosters and hens. Every day presents an opportunity to learn something. I love to sneak the learning into the children's lives. They don't even know we are "schooling" some of the time. :-)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for the Grace which allows me to be home with my children. Please help me to remain thankful for all the gifts you have placed in our lives. Please help me to appreciate my children's differences, and to recognize their strengths.

Amen.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

What to do?

My YDS is 7, but sometimes at church he behaves like he is 2. I have tried spanking, grounding and taking away his computer privileges and video game privileges(which he only gets on weekends anyway). Some weeks he is wonderful, but others, like this week, he climbs under the pews and behaves disrespectfully. I have tried reminding him that church is God's house, and he claims to love the Lord, but still the behavior does not get better. YDS wants to receive Communion. I have tried to explain to him that in order to receive the Lord in Communion, he must behave respectfully.

Maybe some Catholic moms and dads out in blogland could give me some ideas that have worked for them.

Lord,
YDS can be the sweetest, most loving and caring little boy, yet when we enter Your house on Sunday, I never know how he will behave. Please help me to discern where this problem lies, and help me to show my son how to change his heart.

Amen.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Camping trip

We just came back from our annual Fourth of July camping trip on Thursday afternoon. I think that after this trip, we are officially members of the "anyone can camp in good weather" club. We arrived at the campground on Tuesday. It was relatively nice out. These two photos show the view from our campsite on Wednesday morning.



This is YDD in the middle of eating breakfast on Wednesday morning.


YDS was climbing and clowning around on Wednesday morning.


And he was quite messy the night before with a sticky marshmallow face.


This little fellow was quite bold as he scurried around the campsite. We actually had several little red squirrels visiting with us. You would not believe how loud they are!



For all the hype about "global warming," the weather here in Massachusetts has not been any too warm. We had a couple of days of temperatures in the 90's a couple of weeks ago, but since then, it has been on the cool side. Well, anyway, back to the camp out. We arrived at the campground on Tuesday. We have a pop-up trailer, a tent, and a canopy for over our picnic table. We had 4 of our children with us on this trip. We decided to sleep in the tent with our air mattress and let the older children have the trailer this time. YDS slept on cushions in the tent.
Everything was fine on Tuesday night. Wednesday night, however, the heavens opened up and we were deluged with water. Our tent was under a pine tree with some low branches. These low branches brushed the top of the tent. This was not a problem until it rained. The tent leaked where the branches were rubbing on it. We were lucky, though. We only got a little bit of rain in our tent. At one of the other sites, they had about 2-3 inches of rain in the tent. The only reason they didn't get wet was their really thick air mattresses. Another tent was quite literally floating on the water. It had been quite dry for the last couple of weeks, so it did not take long on Thursday morning for everything to dry out.
Wednesday night. listening to the rain, I was praying "Dear God, Please help me go to sleep and PLEASE don't let me get wet." Man I am a wimp! DH got a little wet on his side of the mattress, but I stayed dry. Thank you, Lord, for answered prayer!
Lord,
Thank you for the opportunity we had to o away for a couple of days as a family. Thank you for the beautiful little creatures who reminded us of how awesome you are, and for keeping me dry during the downpours overnight the other night.
Amen.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Update on Baby Charlie

Things are going much better for my blog friend Katy's little one, but keep on praying. To read the latest, visit her here.

Lord,
Thank you for the awesome miracles that have occurred in little Charlie. Help his parents to cope with their current strange living situation. Restore the swallow reflex to Charlie so that he can nurse and grow. To You is the glory of all the wonderful things that You have already done for him.

Amen.