KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sin, Righteousness, and Condemnation

The Last Judgment by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel, Vatican


The Gospel this morning had some interesting words from Jesus:

For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. (John 16:7-11)
It is not our job to convict the world. That has already been done. Our job is to believe in Christ and lead others to believe. Our job is to align our desires with Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life and help others to do the same--for God's glory, not our own. Failure to see past the power and principalities of this world condemns us.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam



For many years I have been drawn to Ignatian Spirituality. Yet it has been somewhat of a pushmi-pullyu relationship. My experience with the Jesuits calls to mind the nursery rhyme about the little girl with a little curl in the middle of her forehead. When Jesuits are good, they are very very good. When they are bad, they are horrid!

I once was part of a weekly prayer group. We used a book series of daily meditations that I found both quite helpful and quite troubling. I loved the essential principles introduced each day but their practical applications seemed twisted. Both the author and members of the prayer group were using these principles to endorse homosexuality, contraception, women priests, and general dissent from the Magisterium. It was only later that I realized this series of meditations was written by a Jesuit and based on the Spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius.

On the other hand, I have found many Jesuits who are  brilliant and ardent defenders of the Faith. They apply the tenets of Catholicism to the everyday world with both charity and clarity yet never compromise the truth. Every encounter with these men, whether it is in person or through their writings, is an ennobling experience.  They draw wisdom from the Spiritual Exercises without casting aside Church teaching. Their everyday lives exude the Jesuit motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam--for the greater glory of God.

Perhaps prompted by both the election of Pope Francis and the urgings of the Holy Spirit I have found myself reading and thinking more and more about St. Ignatius and the Jesuits. This past Lent I used  a devotional based on the writings of St. Ignatius. Currently, I am reading The Jesuit Guide to (almost) Everything by James Martin, SJ. This is an introduction to Ignatian Spirituality written in a very folksy style. I am not far enough into the book to give it a thorough review, but so far it rings true. It is definitely not a scholarly tome but there is plenty of material to make you think. I like the summary of the Jesuit  charism:

1. Find God in all things
2. Become a contemplative in action
3. Look at the world in an incarnational way
4. Seek freedom and detachment.

I look forward to developing a deeper understanding of each of these points as I journey through this book. I will try to keep you posted on the progress.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Writing Round-up




Once again I find my words showing up more at other venues than here. You might enjoy these articles.

At Zenit.org I address the issue of religious liberty and healthcare workers. Read the whole article at the link but here is a snippet:

Every profession is vulnerable to this religious discrimination, but perhaps none more so than the medical profession. Health care workers are intimately involved with matters of life and death on a daily basis. Catholic teaching, in accord with natural law, professes that all human life has intrinsic dignity from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death and faithful Catholics seek to uphold this dignity in every aspect of their lives, including their professional activities. Catholic health care workers are increasingly challenged by a secular health care system that offers little or no protection for the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly, and has little regard for religious principles.
Writing at the HLI Truth & Charity Forum I talk about how the times of Downton Abbey prompted Pope Pius XI to write Casti Connubii.  A preview:

As I watch this story unfold and with the benefit of knowing what ensues in the next ninety years, I find myself wanting to grab Lady Mary by the shoulders and scream, “Please, no! You are on the road to heartache. Abandoning chastity will not strengthen your eventual marriage. Contraception and eugenics advocate Marie Stopes is a false prophet!” Unfortunately, I cannot change history.
Please head over to the HLI Truth & Charity Forum to read the whole thing.

Finally, at CatholicStand.com I weigh in on the Pope's remarks about large families made during his flight from Manila to Rome. They are not as radical as hyperventilating pundits declare:

Much of this angst could be alleviated if everyone remembers that Catholic doctrine and teaching do not turn on a single utterance of the Pope. This interview is not an encyclical, an apostolic letter, or even a formal address. It is a conversation. One must look at the entire context.
 Thank you for all you support and I would love to know what you think about any of these issues.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Little Epiphanies and Old Habits



It seems like many of my recent posts address the recent transitions of my life like spending Advent as empty nesters and musing on the why's and what if's of Christmases past. Tonight I had another little epiphany about my current state in life. As I begin to pack away Christmas ornaments I don't really have to pack them away so that they are ready to move across the continent on a moment's notice.

For thirty years I carefully secured every single ornament so that it could withstand a military move. Even though the last nine years of my husband's career were spent in the DC area I was always prepared for the announcement that we would be moving again. My husband has been retired for three years now and we are not planning on leaving our current home for the foreseeable future. I probably don't have to make sure every breakable ornament is cradled and cushioned. Barring another rogue earthquake, once the boxes are put on the basement shelves they will not be moved again until Advent of 2015.

The thing is I am not sure I can break this habit. Many of these ornaments are like old friends. They have hung on our Christmas trees in Upper Peninsula Michigan and in Florida. They have seen Christmases in Georgia and Christmases in California and several spots in between. I don't think I can just carelessly fling them into a box. There is something comforting about packing them away for the year and something joyous about unwrapping them as Advent begins. I know they are inanimate objects and will be totally unaffected by their state of storage, but their state of storage emotionally affects me. Taking a little time with the ornaments gives me a little more time with the memories they contain. Maybe all the wrapping I have been doing over the years was less about ornaments withstanding the rough and tumble handling of military moves and more about me withstanding the rough and tumble realities of military life.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Old Dog--New Tricks




I am trying to figure out how I missed out learning about the the food mill. I just bought one and it is wonderful! I've been making lots of fresh applesauce with the wonderful apples I've been getting from local farmers. With this handy gadget it is super easy. I just quarter the apples and fill up my stock pot until it is about half full. No peeling, coring or seeding is required. I add a cup of water, cover and simmer on the stove until the apples are very soft--mushy soft. Give the apples a stir every now and then to make sure the bottom apples are not sticking to the pot.  I position my food mill over another stock pot and ladle the soft apples in. I just start cranking the handle and beautiful applesauce comes out the bottom. Peels, stems, and seeds stay up top. You turn clockwise to get the applesauce but remember to give a frequent counter-clockwise turn to reposition the apples. You can process the applesauce for canning if you like, but I just ladled it into freezer safe containers and put it in the freezer. I could have used a food mill back when my children were eating baby food. I am looking forward to trying it out on a variety of fruits next summer.

Discovery number two is liquid chalk markers. I like using stick-on chalkboard labels for reusable storage jars in my pantry. It works pretty well but the regular pieces of chalk were not easy to use when I wanted to print small letters. With repeated handling of the container the chalk writing smudged easily. I just tried these liquid chalk markers. They are as easy to use as a pen and the liquid chalk flows on easily. It is also more durable. It wipes off easily with a damp cloth.  Even after 30 years of housekeeping there are still things to learn.




I guess the point of this post is just to remind myself that I never know it all. There is always one more thing to learn or one more innovation to try.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Evangelize Like A Star

My latest article for Catholic Stand is up.  Head on over and read the whole thing.  Here is a snippet:

While the gifts of the Magi offer worthy and valuable meditations, I would like to concentrate instead on the star. 
The Wise Men were drawn to Christ by the light of a single Christmas Star. The star made no sound. There were no blaring trumpets or chorus of angels. There was only light. In that sense, the star’s role in the Christmas narrative seems passive and almost unintentional. Yet it was enough to inspire three kings to leave the comfort of their homes, traverse an unknown path, and bow down in homage to a child.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lessons Learned



As I mentioned in the previous post, we have now reached the empty nest phase of our lives. Children still come through our doors but they are visitors, not residents. Overall, I feel very blessed by my children. I know I did the best job as a mom I could do at each stage of their lives. Of course, that does not stop me from musing about "what if's". There are definitely some things I would have done differently if I had the wisdom at age 25 that I now have some three decades later.

The Advent and Christmas seasons bring this to the forefront. I did always mark the season of Advent with a nativity scene and an Advent wreath. But I was probably ten years in to this parenting adventure before I really appreciated the value of the liturgical calendar. The rhythm of the liturgical seasons with their special feasts and traditions keep a family focused on God's time, not the world's time.

So just looking at Advent and Christmas there are some things I wish I had done from the very beginning and other things I am grateful that I figured out early on. I had Christmas dishes but they stayed in storage and were brought out for Christmas entertaining and on Christmas Day. It was hard to justify the storage space for these dishes when they were used so infrequently. Then I realized that if Advent and Christmas are seasons, I can use the dishes throughout the season. So part of the first Sunday of Advent ritual was changing out the dishes. From the First  Sunday of Advent through Epiphany I use my Christmas dishes. This was a daily signal to the kids that Christmas is coming.

What I didn't take advantage of were all the wonderful feast days during Advent. For example, it has only been in the last ten years that I consistently marked the Feast of St. Nicholas. The Feast of St. Lucy is the perfect day to begin Christmas baking. I wish that I had promoted a family Rosary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to distinctly mark these Marian days.

Christmas is a season, not just a single day. Yet after putting up decorations in October the secular world stops all Christmas carols and takes down the decorations as soon as the day is done. It is not uncommon to see discarded trees on the curb on December 26. I am sorry to see so many neighbors stop turning on the Christmas lights once Christmas Day has passed. I do understand after the mayhem of Christmas morning it is tempting to quickly put everything back in order. All of those New Year's resolutions to be more organized are looming and there is an urge to get a running start on discipline. I think part of the problem is that all of the gifts are exchanged on Christmas Day so there is nothing anyone is really looking forward to after that. Christmas is defined by the material and not the spiritual.

My solution that I did not implement with my own children, but I wish I had stems from basing our celebrations on the liturgical calendar. I would begin Advent as always. I would mark St. Nicholas Day with candy or other small treats in their shoes and perhaps a small wrapped package at their dinner place.

I would try to keep the focus of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on family and on Mass. We would have our big family dinner and and attend Mass together but gifts would be de-emphasized. In the current culture it is unrealistic to make Christmas Day devoid of gifts. However, I think I would make it a stockings only gift day. If family is visiting and leaving soon after Christmas Day we could exchange gifts with them. However, all other packages would stay under the tree.

My mother told me that in her Hispanic community as a child, most gifts were received on Epiphany. I wish I had done that. The gifts given and received are tied to the gifts of the Magi to the Christ Child. I also like the idea of keeping the Three Kings from our nativity scene wandering about the house throughout Advent and Christmas and having them arrive at the manger scene on Epiphany.

I don't think I failed at celebrating the Advent and Christmas seasons with my children and I don't think there was anything wrong in the way our Christmas traditions evolved. I am not even certain that doing the things I described above would be better and not just different. I just wish I had been smart enough back then to give it a try.

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