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, Professor, 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.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Friday, August 31, 2012

As happens so often when I attend daily Mass, this morning I found just the words my heart needed. The looming election with its consequences for the soul of the country weigh heavily on my thoughts. There are family issues that have furrowed my brow. But this morning, the psalmist eased my anxieties and lifted my heart:

You bring bread from the earth and wine to gladden our hearts.
God will provide. I am called to remain faithful. Enjoy the fruits of Providence.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Feast of St. Monica






St. Monica is a patron of this blog and a very special saint to me. She is the mother of the great St. Augustine. Now, I have a tremendous devotion to our Blessed Mother. But, if truth be told, there is a part of me that says, "You know, Mary was full of grace and born without the stain of original sin. That certainly gives her a leg up on the holiness scale." Monica, on the other hand, had a fallen nature,  She had foibles and weaknesses. Yet she was still able to be a great wife and mother. She never gave up on her son when he was careening down the wrong path. She followed him doggedly. He said he was going to Rome so she went to Rome. Of course, he actually went to Milan. So she followed him to Milan. She prayed for him without ceasing. She didn't try to do it alone. She sought the counsel of St. Ambrose. Her son eventually did repent and became one of the greatest minds of the Church.  I look at St. Monica and think, "She was a Catholic mom, just like me. I can do this. I can persevere even when things are looking bleak."

St. Monica, please pray for all mothers. And please pray for all of our children, especially those who are struggling.






Friday, August 24, 2012

Is your physician your advocate?

My latest article for HLI America explores the changing attitudes of the medical profession when it comes to the principle of "First, do no harm". An increasing number of physicians are accepting the practices of euthanasia and assisted suicide. Here is a snippet:

For millennia the physician has been charged with being an advocate for the patient. Part of the impetus for the original Hippocratic oath was to ensure that doctors would not be paid by an enemy to give poison instead of medicine. Patients should be able to come to their doctor when they are sick and weakened, and have no fear that their vulnerability will be exploited.


Unfortunately, the sacred trust of the doctor-patient relationship is being strained by a new ethical model. Physicians are being urged to place the “greater good” above the needs of their individual patients. A disregard for the sanctity of human life as well as a utilitarian philosophy that judges the value of a patient to society is becoming more mainstream in the medical profession. This is evidenced by the increasing number of articles in respected medical journals that call for approval of assisted suicide and euthanasia, euphemistically called “assisted dying.”
Please read the whole article here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Transitions





I just returned from a quick trip to see my Dad for his birthday. It was a really great visit. It is still hard to grasp that my mother is not there. Her mark on the house is everywhere. Dad is gradually adapting to life alone in the house. Every time I visit we take up a task to make the house more his. This time we cleaned out the pantry. It has been a year and a half since my mother died and there were still boxes of tea and other food items that my father will never use. We tossed out a great deal and loaded up a bit for the food pantry. We gathered 3 boxes of canisters and storage containers for a thrift shop donation. Visiting Dad also is like a little mini retreat since we make it to daily Mass as well as the Divine Mercy devotion.

The home front is also in flux. My youngest moves into his college dorm in a couple of days. I am going to miss all of his daily comings and goings. Once he moves out, the upstairs will be pretty empty. I am glad he will just be up the road and able to visit regularly.

I begin my fifth semester of teaching anatomy and physiology at the local community college. Summer vacation is over and it is back to work. I am excited to get back to teaching, but not too excited about the time crunch it always brings. Still, with no competing high school activities, life should be at least a little simpler.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecc 3:1)
As we transition from one season to the next, I pray we shall always see God's purpose.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pro life reflection on Olympics

My latest HLI America article is up:

I am an Olympic blubberer. Whenever I read the news stories or watch the competitions I need a box of tissues nearby. The drama of the competition, the heartbreaking falls, the soaring successes and the inspiring narratives all reduce me to tears. The 2012 Summer Olympics tugged at my heartstrings with so many stories, but none more so than the bronze medal winner in the shot put, Reese Hoffa. When the reporters put the microphones in his face seeking a comment after the medal ceremony, he took advantage of the platform to extol the virtues of adoption.
Read the whole thing here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A reading just in time for the political season

Both parties now have their tickets set for the 2012 presidential election. The campaigns are accelerating. I am sure I will utter a word or two about politics on this blog. I am sure a reader or two will disagree with me. But as we enter in to a discourse over the issues let us remember yesterday's second reading:

Brothers and sisters:
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,
with which you were sealed for the day of redemption.
All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling
must be removed from you, along with all malice.
And be kind to one another, compassionate,
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love,

as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us
as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. (2 Eph 4:30-5:2)

 Having a different opinion and supporting this opinion with facts is important. That is how civil discussions are constructed. Making broad ad hominem attacks is quite another matter. It is perfectly acceptable for two Christians to disagree and make their cases forcefully. However, let's keep focused on the issues. Let us respect the dignity of all who enter the fray. I will do my best to live up to this ideal. I hope you will too.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

One day at a time

As of now, all my children are adults. My youngest just celebrated his eighteenth birthday. Amazing! Back when I was responsible for all the school stuff, scout stuff, soccer stuff, youth group stuff, etc, I wanted to minimize my trips to the grocery store. I was all for buying in bulk. And actually, buying 7-8 gallons of milk at a time really only lasted about a week. Now my life is paced a bit differently. I am working more than I did a few years ago, but it is more according to my agenda and less according to the whims of the English teacher or the soccer coach.

I also have fewer knees under my kitchen table at meal times. Often there are three of us, but it is not unusual to just have two. Every now and then we get four or more for dinner. Gone are the days of filling one grocery cart with just milk bread and breakfast cereal.

It really works out easier now to make a couple of small runs to the grocery each week instead of a huge run every two weeks. I am also learning to buy from the farmers market according to what I will use over a few days rather than weeks. When I first tried shopping at the farmers market I found I still had my stocking up mentality. The produce was all so gorgeous. I bought great quantities. But then it would spoil because I couldn't use it fast enough. Now I plan my meals and think about what I will use over a couple of days. 

Summer is wonderful because there are two farmers markets very nearby. One on Thursdays is my source for fresh eggs and amazing ethnic foods in addition to the produce. The one on Saturday offers a dairy that makes incredible chipotle cheddar cheese, another that sells fresh Greek yogurt, and an orchard owner that offers incredible peaches and apples. Both markets have an ample supply of squash, tomatoes, onions, and greens. And I have learned to pace myself. I can buy just one tomato at a time if that is all I am going to use.

 At the time when all my children were home it made sense to fill the pantry to the gills. Now, we have the luxury of a little more simplicity. Shopping is now a leisurely outing and I have time to take advantage of items with a great fresh taste but a limited shelf life. Apparently I am not the only one who prefers freshness. As I looked out my window I noticed that the goldfinches were completely ignoring my feeders full of nyger seed but were delicately perched on the rudbeckia blossoms and feeding on the dark seeds in the center.

I like this new rhythm in my life. I still have some long term goals and short term deadlines looming. But I am also better able to appreciate life one day at a time. I wonder what I should have done, if anything, to have found this peace sooner.  Maybe it is just that as the years go by I see God's grace and goodness more and more. I realize my role is to cooperate more than control. The little pressures are put in perspective and it is easier to let go.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Pray with me...

Right now there are quite a few members of my circle of family and friends who are facing challenges and sorrows. Let me offer a few lines from the Universal Prayer of Thanksgiving After Mass. This is a rather long prayer, but it covers all the bases. I say it after every Mass. The verses that seem to speak the loudest right now are:

Guide me by your wisdom,
Correct me with your justice,
Comfort me with your mercy,
Protect me with your power.

I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you;
My words: to have you for their theme;
My actions: to reflect my love for you;
My sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory.
May this prayer provide aid for those in need.

Through Christ our Lord we pray.

Friday, August 03, 2012

What's for dinner?

I am trying out this recipe. I've been trying to be a little more organized with my cooking. I am taking full advantage of the local farmer's markets but I need to plan or I will succumb to buying so much of the gorgeous produce that I cannot use it all. I've experimented a bit with some new vegetables and grains as well. This recipe uses quinoa, a very high protein grain. I also made tabbouleh using barley and my abundant supply of mint a couple of weeks ago. You may notice these recipes are meatless. And it's Friday. And it's not Lent!

The Church never took away the requirement for acts of penance on Friday. What she did was remove the specification that the penitential action had to be abstinence from meat. The reality is that once the restrictions on meat were lifted, most Catholics did not replace it with anything else. In fact, I had no idea we were even supposed to offer up some sort of sacrifice on Fridays until about five years ago. So I tried to come up with a penance on Fridays. Well at least some Fridays. On occasion. If I remembered.

Then a couple of years ago I was at a Catholic conference and some lovely habited nuns who were also in attendance commented on how grateful they were to find grilled cheese sandwiches in the lunch line. I asked them if their abstinence from meat on Friday was part of their order's discipline. They smiled and explained that they had just returned to the tried and true Friday penance.

I thought about that. Why was I trying to reinvent the wheel? For years and years, Catholics offered meatless Fridays as a communal penance. What was the point in trying to find something new? The Bishops of England and Wales actually reinstated meatless Fridays for their diocese. Now that I have given up meat on Fridays for a couple of years I can understand why. As more and more Catholics return to meatless Fridays, there is increased solidarity in the Catholic community.  It strengthens the Catholic identity of the community when everyone engages in the same act of penance. It builds a Catholic culture.

There is no moral obligation to take this path. But there is a requirement to do something. I really would encourage you to think about joining the meatless Friday movement. It offers spiritual benefits for you as an individual as well. Perhaps more importantly, it helps strengthen the flailing Catholic identity in our culture.