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Oldest Son left for college on Monday. He is now a junior. How did that happen? It seems like only yesterday that he was a nervous freshman, excited and terrified all at once. Now he is a confident young man with graduation a real possibility in less than two more years. He is looking at the real world now. For him, the real world means being an Army officer. He loves Texas A&M and he loves the Corps of Cadets. Maroon is now his favorite color. But he knows this is all just preparation for something bigger.

Second Son leaves for college tomorrow. He begins his freshman year at Rice. He has asked that I fix shrimp pesto pizza this evening. Missing Mom’s good cooking seems to be the number one concern. Since my parents are in Houston he isn’t even too worried about that since Grannie is more than happy to keep his belly filled. I am not sure if he is really confident or just oblivious to the challenges ahead. Of course, he is the one who at age two declared, “I have imagination, and I have a plan!” Right now college seems to him like an interminable adventure. The real world hasn’t come into view.

I think I am feeling like Oldest Son as I reflect on my parenting adventure. I will never stop being a Mom. I will never stop praying for my kids and fretting a little bit over their well-being. But as a second fledgling takes flight, the reality of an empty nest is looming. There is a real world out there that doesn’t include carpools, science fair projects, and nagging about messy rooms.

Of course, I still have two more chicks in the nest and six more years before the youngest makes the leap for college so there is still a good bit of intense parenting to be done yet. But the world beyond having kids at home has appeared on the horizon--exciting and terrifying all at once.


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Find Catholic Mass even when Traveling

First published 1/27/06

There is no such thing as a travel dispensation. Even when you are away from your home parish, you are expected to take advantage of your Sunday opportunity to attend Mass. With most communities offering a Saturday evening vigil Mass as well as Sunday Mass, there is really no excuse for missing Mass while traveling unless you are backpacking beyond the reach of civilization. It takes just a little planning and effort on your part. The question is, “Do you really want to go to Mass?”

Why should we worry about missing Mass while traveling? Well, the easy answer is “’Cause the Church says so!” Missing Mass is considered a serious sin. Jesus told Peter Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven (Mt 16:19)so we must take the edicts of the Church quite seriously. Still, this is a child-like level of understanding. The more mature answer is we have a responsibility to maintain our relationship with God. Like any relationship, if it is neglected, it weaken…

Dispelling the Myth of the Travel Dispensation

One of the fun things about having a site meter on my blog is I can see which posts garner the most attention. I can also see how people find my blog. One of the most read posts from my two years of blogging is this one that discusses finding Mass while traveling. I would like to think this post is so popular because it is so well written. The truth of the matter is that it generates so much traffic because I use the words “travel dispensation for Mass”—as in “There is no such thing as a travel dispensation for Mass.” I would guess that nearly a dozen times every week, someone googles “travel dispensation for Mass” and finds my blog. I wonder how many of these folks are poor souls trying to assuage their Catholic guilt with evidence of a justification for missing Mass while on the road.

I know that when I tell my seventh grade CCD students that attending Mass every Sunday is a commandment (one of the top ten!) and not just a pretty good idea they are amazed. Missing Mass has become so …

Parent Letter from a Catechist

I am going to be teaching seventh grade CCD this year. We do most of the preparation for confirmation during this year since Confirmation is usually scheduled for the fall of the eighth grade year.I have composed a letter to the parents to try and keep them active in their children's religious education. I thought I would post it here and get your feedback before I send it out in a couple of weeks.

I am privileged to be your child’s seventh grade CCD teacher for the 2006-2007 school year. This is a very important year. We will focus on your child’s preparation for confirmation. Of course, you have already been preparing your child for this sacrament for many years. You are the primary catechist for your child. You show how important your Faith is by making Mass attendance a top priority and by family prayer.

Confirmation is one of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a beginning. It is not a graduation. This year we will work to solidify the foundation of your child’s Catholic Faith.…