Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander...

My daughter is going to her first birthday party!

A young girl from Russia is in her preschool this year and she has invited Isabella to her party.
I have been thinking long and hard about which gift to get her. Should it be educational? Should it be a toy? Should it be a typical gift that I have seen other people get for preschoolers? Then I thought about the culture that she comes from. What if her parents don’t want to indoctrinate their child to the American merchandising craze?

I picked up a Disney Princess book that has little disks to you can hear the narrator tell the story. I thought ‘This may be a good compromise”. Then I looked at the pictures through a new set of eyes. I looked at Arial with her seashell top and exposed midriff. I saw Princess Jasmine with very low cut harem pants and revealing top. Even the three “admirers” in Beauty and the Beast are well endowed, throwing themselves all over the villain of the movie.

It made me uncomfortable. Was I being a prude?

I decided not to get the book. And then it occurred to me: If these stories were not good enough for this little birthday girl, why were they okay for my own daughter?

Isabella has been going through a Disney Princess faze and although I see it as fostering her imagination I can’t help to feel that I am conditioning, even condoning this type of image. No matter how “strong” these heroines are they are still portraying a sexy image which shouldn’t even be brought to a child’s attention. In addition, my sister brought up a good point at how sanitized the Disney stories are. For instance, in the real story of the little mermaid she ends up dying and endures great pain during the story. The story also has a point about the consequences when she doesn’t listen to her father. How does the Disney version end? The father accepts the choices she makes even though she defies him, she gets what she wants and it is all happy in the end. What does that teach a child? (I will stop there as I sense a rant coming on…)

I spoke with my husband last night and he agreed with me. My only challenge now is how to start weaning Bella off these images. There must be a better way to foster her imagination than to subscribe to the entire Disney package.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Duck Sweater...

My mid teenage years are the reason my parents have gray hair today.

I went through the “usual” period of self discovery, sharp tongue and self “expression”. It was a time of adjustment, finding a way to belong and this often happened at the expense of my parent’s sanity. There was a clash between what my peers did and what was expected of me as a member of the family.

I would leave the house in grunge attire, as was the fashion at the time, and my mother would often offer some of her clothes to spiff me up a bit.

One of the articles often offered to me was a sweater. It was oatmeal colored cardigan with round silver buttons with snowflakes embossed on them. The sweater was adorned with a few apples, ducks, spinning wheels, Amish people and stalks of corn. (It sounds busy but believe it or not it is pretty tasteful looking.) I hated it at the time and would ignore my mom’s requests to put it on, seeing it as “lame” and so “Mom”. I continued to wear my dark clothing for a couple of years.

Later on I ask my Mom to wear it and she said no. Over and over again she said no. I let on like it didn’t bother me, after years of her trying to make me wear it, but I didn’t understand why the offer was now refused. Why couldn’t I wear what I had now labeled, “The Duck Sweater”?

One Christmas we were going light on gifts. Every family has "tight" Christmas seasons and this was ours. Although, looking back on it we were always blessed and my parents so very generous. I opened each gift, thrilled with each one. My Mom handed me a box and I tore through the wrap with excitement that can only be brought on by Christmas morning. As I opened the box and unfolded the tissue paper I found the beloved duck sweater.

It was a gift of understanding, a personal and meaningful gift.

I sit now wearing my duck sweater, many years later, and am grateful. I am grateful for my Mom’s generosity and also for sticking by me during those years where I had been difficult and contrary.

As I put on my sweater, as my son plays with the snowflake buttons, I think of Christmas’ of past and how blessed I have been. I am also grateful to both my parents who never gave in and never up on their little girl.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

McDonalds is a Bad McInfluence…

Today was crazy. Out pipes under our kitchen sink finally went kaput so Marc made his way to Home Depot, full of confidence, though well aware he would have to make multiple trips.

My sister is in town from the Big Apple and decided to get the kiddos a treat, a McDonald’s happy meal, while I started to bring out a few Christmas decorations.

I heard the usual chorus of “Oh Boy! Chicken Nuggets!” My sister threw me the “toy” that came in the happy meal.

Oh boy, a W.I.T.C.H. figurine, what a great idea. I mean sure, if you like teens that can control wind, fire and water etc. and feel empowered by this, why not? Oh, and the title, “W.I.T.C.H” that must be harmless, right? After all, it is just the first letter of the first name of each of the characters. And let’s face it, it is created by Disney, how could that be a problem? Did I mention they had their little midriffs showing? How totally modest and hip of them…

The problem is that my 4 year old is getting this toy in her HAPPY MEAL! It is a treat for her because it isn’t exactly a regular occurrence due to the nutritional information. (I use the phrase nutritional very loosely.) What am I supposed to think when a toy (and the bag the meal comes in) has the word WITCH all over it? These characters battle “evil” by their own “magical” powers. So that makes it okay, because it is a “good” kind of magical power? I will be upfront and say that the term WITCH is the phrase that makes me sit up and take notice. I am uncomfortable with it and my motherly instinct says “NO!”.

No, I do not believe I am not overreacting. Am I crazy or is this a slippery slope? As a parent I am responsible for the nurturing and protection of my children. I am selective about television programming, books, etc. what would me act any differently about a toy? I will put my money where my mouth (a big mouth maybe) and tell them this is not okay.

I can tell you how grateful my little one was that she didn’t get a toy today. How do I explain that to her?

Thank you so much McDonalds.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christ the King and Thanksgiving...

Today is the feast of Christ the King.
Incidentally, it is also the week of Thanksgiving.
And there is so much to be thankful for.

The feast of Christ the King has great significance to me and my family.

My husband and I started dating during the feast of Christ the King.
We got married the feast of Christ the King.
We got pregnant during the feast of Christ the King.
We moved to Rochester the week of Christ the King.
We moved into our first home on the weekend of Christ the King.

I am so very grateful for these events, as they have altered my life forever.

With Christ at the center of our lives I continually consider myself blessed. I have a wonderful husband, beautiful children, a family who loves and supports me and friends which are loyal and bring me joy. And of course I am thankful for the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Christ established in order to bring us to Him.

I think of those who are going without this Thanksgiving. I am not talking about those who are without food. Of course, I pray God brings them comfort, shelter and nourishment for their bodies. However, I am talking about those who are lonely and without inner peace, the kind of peace that comes from knowing Christ. This Thanksgiving I pray that they may be made aware of the tremendous gift God has given them in life. I also pray that they may use every moment to worship Him and be open to His mercy.

May Christ the King bring us all joy and the knowledge that He is the King with whom we strive to be with in heaven. May we also thank Him for all that we have in our lives.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

All Souls Day...

It is All Souls Day.
Let us remember the dead and ask God to bless them and keep them close to His merciful heart.

Stephen H. Banas
Thomas W. Shanahan
Jeanne K. Shanahan
Frank Mignano
Amelia Lewandowski
Adam Lewandowski
Theresa Mignano
Michael Mignano
Marie Mignano
Loretta Boss
Helen Zerkoski
Marie Starks
Catherine Kipp
Bernice Cokely

And for all those not listed…

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Faith through Art

I received a print of a beautiful oil painting by Sr. Mary Grace Thul, O.P. called “St Dominic and Our Lady ”.
It is a beautiful image of Mary holding baby Jesus in her left arm and together they are draping a rosary on St. Dominic, who is kneeling at the foot of them.

I have it resting on top of my desk and look at it frequently.

At times I imagine myself kneeling where St. Dominic is. I can almost feel Mary’s garment against my back and the rosary beads gently grazing me. Am I worthy of such attention by Christ and his mother? There are moments where I contemplate my sinfulness and think “No”. But then I picture myself walking in the footsteps of St. Dominic and know that I am called to the Third Order. I am not without sin but rather I strive to be without sin and walk in the way of the Dominicans so that I can better serve God.

In this image I see the rosary as a reminder of the prayer life in which I am called to have. The nurturing nature of Mother Mary reminds me that I am constantly under her protection. Seeing the Christ child allows me to contemplate Christ’s life from birth and how I must work to have the innocence of a child. And St. Dominic represents my calling to preach and study in order to better serve God.

It is amazing how one image can lead you understand your role in the Church.

Thank you Sr. Mary Grace Thul, O.P.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hair today, gone tomorrow...

Isabella had beautiful one length hair. I even had fun putting it up, braiding it and making it look cute.

That was before. Before what, you ask?

Before my dear 4 year old decided to hack it off with child scissors.
Why wouldn't she cut it now? She has school pictures next week and she will be in a wedding next week too.

Didn't St. Catherine of Siena cut off her hair? Maybe Isabella was just trying to be holy.

I was pretty upset when I first saw it. I guess I should work on the virtue of patience and detachment.

I will save her hair for when she is older. I will show it to her when she asks why my hair is grey.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I hope you know what you are doing Mr. President...

Harriet Miers. Who exactly is Harriet Miers?

One thing is certain, no one can put her in one category, and that is exactly why President Bush has nominated her for the Supreme Court. How can you be against a judge when 1) They have never been a judge and 2) They have no rulings to examine?

One thing is certain; the Republicans have the opportunity to nominate a justice who was conservative. With the issues surrounding our increasing “culture of death” these nominations are of prime importance. We have the opportunity to protect the innocent from Abortion, Euthanasia and Embryonic stem cell research. We also have the opportunity to keep justices from legislating from the bench.

There is hope. Leonard Leo, of the Federalist Society states that "She has been a forceful advocate of conservative legal principles and judicial restraint throughout her career." I certainly hope so.

I have faith in the Constitution of the United States of America. Why? The men who wrote it had God in mind and those principles, if interpreted in a fair and non-partisan manner, will win out in the end.

Hopefully, that will mean protection for the innocent and keep us protected from left wing pandering to social extremist groups.

President Bush, I pray for you. I hope you know what you are doing.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Healthy Addiction?

Hi, my name is "Mom for Truth" and I have an addiction. (All: Hi Mom!)

It is sad to say, but true. It is called the Catholic Answers Forums.

I wake up in the morning and I realize it is time to check the forum. My palms sweat and my heart races, as I quietly make my way to my computer. I think to myself “Did anyone respond to my post while I was sleeping?”

What is Catholic Answers Forum you ask? Imagine an online Catholic Community and that is what it is. You can learn all about our faith, what we believe, why we practice, etc. We discuss secular news from our Christian perspective. We hang out in the “Water Cooler” and discuss who our favorite Saint is or maybe play a “virtual scavenger hunt” game. We discuss apologetics, Moral Theology, Liturgy and the Sacraments and Biblical texts. You can ask questions or post your answer. One of my favorite forums is the Family Life thread. You can discuss ways to help raise your kids or how to keep sane as a Stay at Home Mom.

Why is this forum so important to me? I have many reasons but my biggest is that I love the thought of being actively involved in a Catholic community which discusses issues pertaining to the Church and how it can be applied to my daily life. I don’t have all the answers, but many of the members offer very good advice. In addition to personal experiences from forum members there are professional apologists and clergy who can answer questions with the knowledge that we need to keep us on the right path. Thankfully there are also staff members who moderate the forums so no inappropriate discussions take place. They will even warn people if the conversations get a little too heated or uncharitable. These moderators or as I call them “The forum conscience” will lock threads if they get out of hand. It is like having Mom or Dad there to protect their children from getting into trouble.

Veritas. Truth. That is the motto I try to live by. I find that on the forum. I also find the opportunity to minister to those who are suffering or need advice. (Warning-free advice is sometimes worth what you pay for it.) But I have also learned humility by reading posts of those who are struggling. And a lot of the time I find joyful conversation with those who read the same books as I do, need advice of how to handle finances or want to just chat with a fellow Christians.

So is Catholic Forums right for you?

Yes. It is open to everyone, of all religious backgrounds. We just ask that you are charitable toward other members.

And did I mention it is free? Yes, there is no cost, no obligation.

You will make friends with members from all over the world. People are honest and have what is best for your soul in mind, so don’t be surprised if you face the truth and it is difficult. But isn’t that part of the journey?

But I will make one warning: It is addictive. After 48 hours without Catholic Answers Forums you may develop nausea, shakiness, heart palpitations and dry mouth.

The Truth is addictive; once you get a taste you will want more.

Here is the link


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Summa for Dummies...

St. Thomas Aquinas, how could he ever be named “The Dumb Ox”?

I can sit down and read his works for 5 minutes and my mind becomes numb. True, I do have 2 children (which has significantly lowered my I.Q.) but have I lost all capacity for intelligent thought? The answer is, probably not.

I have been intimidated, yet intrigued, by the writings of St. Thomas. I bought my husband the Summa Theologia as an engagement present. Nope, can’t read it. I am definitely not ready for that. I looked through A Shorter Summa and found that I am not quite there either. So, I have settled on Kreeft’s A Shorter Summa. Granted this is more of an explanation of St. Thomas’ work in the beginning, but a person has to start somewhere.

One of the things I love about being a Third Order Dominican is how they focus on feeding our intellect and our soul. Saying rosaries and Liturgy of the Hours is a wonderful way to focus on our Lord. Sometimes I feel like I am taking the easy road. I haven’t pushed myself to understand our faith the way I need to, the way I want to. Studying the writings of the Church Fathers, Doctors, and the Bible stretches our minds and challenges our previously held notions of the Church. Is it easy? No, it is not. Is it worth it? I think it may be.

So now, I am going to start reading. Maybe I am overzealous to start with “The Dumb Ox”. (How I wish I had one morsel of understanding that this man did.)

If only they had a Summa, of the Summa, of the Summa, of the Summa. Or maybe a Summa for Dummies.

Yup, you have to start somewhere.


SPAM-Not just for dinner anymore...

Well, the devil is at work yet again.

Somehow my blog has some visitors who decide to leave graphic links in the feedback section. I will try to monitor this as closely as I can, and delete the offending post. However, in the mean time, please do not click any links from those who leave feedback. Usually it is a pretty general response.

Why do people, via computers or too much time on their hands, feel they need to mess with the souls of people who come to visit my site? Seriously, if we wanted sinful sites I am sure we can find them, we don't need them shoved in our face.

So there it is. I think I need to write more on my blog, I sense I am ready tio hop on my computer a bit more for a little journaling on life. In the meantime...


Tuesday, September 20, 2005

How could they?

Imagine my shock that the former priest, Charles Curran, is slated for a special speaking engagement in Rochester, New York. I am disappointed, stunned and quite angry at this recent action by members of this diocese.

Charles Curran dissented in 1968 in his very public, and hurtful, statements against the Catholic Church and the writings in the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Apparently the Church’s teaching, in its roots from the Bible, hasn’t convinced Curran that premarital sex, masturbation, contraception, abortion, homosexuality, divorce, euthanasia, and in virtro fertilization are not morally permissible. In addition, he continues to proclaim the Gospel in the name of Christianity? Is that what Christ would have said? “Oh, but this is the 21st Century so disregard my previous directions. You go ahead and live anyway you like, my Father will understand.”

I don’t think so.

There are so many speakers out there that can fill the hearts of the Catholic community with the Gospel, Sacramental guidance and the promotion of human dignity. Why then are we wasting time with an ex-priest who holds nothing but contempt for the Church? Is it in the interest of creating controversy? If that indeed is the reason then I say we are not biting. We are too smart to let the ideas of this man enter our head and tempt us with a lifestyle that is not fit for any Christian man or women.

The journey to our Lord is difficult; He never said it would be easy. To accept Curran’s so called teachings is to take the easy road. Curran’s road may lead us to fill our “desires” but not to live out the will of God.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

31 years young...

So, I am 31 years old now.
No fighting it anymore.
It is a reality I will have to live with.
I am getting older.

On a positive note, the presents are getting even better. :o)

My very thoughtful husband got the whole family to chip in a buy me a Kitchen Aid mixer. Oh yes, my dream present for 5 years. An Almond Cream, 5 qt. mixer with 3 attachments. This thing is so fancy you could ride it to town.

I love to cook, but mostly I like to bake. Cookies, pies, breads, you name it! And now I have this wonderful mixer to help me on my way.

Then I got thinking. Was this gift completely altruistic? I don't think so. It occurred to me that I hear the following comments often "Aunt Lynnie, you make the best Apple Pie ever!", "Gee Lynn, I think this cake was even better than the last one.", "Hey Lynn are you making Christmas cookies this year, or maybe a Black Bottom Pie?". Altruistic my foot! The "Lewandowski Bakery" has already gotten several requests.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

I also got the most beautiful gold necklace from my parents. My father hand picked it out and it has Our Lady of the Brown Scapular on one side and the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the other. I've never owned a piece of jewelry that will allow me to witness to my faith just by wearing it. (Of course, I have to limit how I wear it. Stephen, now 9 months old, is grabbing for everything.) The fact that my father picked it out tells me two things: He has incredible taste and he knew what gift would be so precious to me.

We celebrated with the entire family, minus my sis who lives in NYC (boo hoo, sniff), and it was so wonderful for my everyone to be together. My in laws, my parents, my husband and kiddos and my oldest sis and her family.

What a way to usher in my 31st year. I am blessed. Not worthy, but blessed.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Learning about detachment through preschool

Today was Isabella’s first day of preschool.
Last year I was a basket case, this year I am just reflective. She is now going 3 days a week (instead of 2) and this morning has been very interesting.

I listened to the radio quietly. I didn’t have to compete with the “Princess Tea” audio tape.
I cleaned my kitchen until it is sparkling clean.
I even washed the floor and there are still no little footprints on it.
I had a 20 minute phone conversation without one “Mom, Mom, Mom, EXCUSE ME! MOM!”
Baby Stephen and I had one on one play time together. I spoiled him with my attention and he seems to really like it.
I am actually posting to my Blog, which I haven’t done in weeks.
I am showered, relaxed and the baby is sleeping soundly.

But something is definitely missing. God has put my beautiful daughter in my life and when she isn’t near I know something is not right. As a mother I cherish each moment with her but it has taken her absence for me to realize how special my days with her are. Her constant singing can rival that of an angels choir (although I don’t know if they sing about Beauty and the Beast in Heaven). Her bouncing around makes me dizzy but at least there is laughter in my day. The constant hugs are a feast for the spirit.

I am grateful that she is in preschool, meeting new friends and playing. (And at least the teachers get to clean up the mess of paints for a change.) But I have to admit, I am looking forward to her coming home.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A real job…

I went to college. And boy did I go to college! I was in college on and off for 8 years, more on than off.

I have several sheepskins to be proud of, including a Masters of Education specializing in Agency and Community Counseling. It was a long haul, studying, counseling, working, and at the end of the day I usually have cheerios in my hair.

Can I just tell you how many people really get annoyed with this? Many get upset, especially women. I had the opportunity to go to college, get good grades and a career that makes a difference. How dare I stay at home while women are needed in the workplace? How dare I be a “sell out” on my dream of being a career woman?

Simple, my dream changed. It changed the moment my daughter came into this world. As soon as I heard that raspy cry I knew where I needed to be, at home with her. I didn't lose my education and it doesn't go to waste.

Unfortunately my new job didn’t have a training course. I don’t get paid vacations or a 401K. I do get job reviews, they usually come in the form of “Mommy, you make the best Peanut Butter and Jelly EVER!” or “When I grow up I want to be a mommy like you.”. Not bad. I don’t get paid but my benefits include nighttime visits to sick kiddos or doing a few hundred load of laundry. My workplace pep talks consist of my hubby telling me to go take a bubble bath and relax or a smooch and a blessing before he goes to work.

You see, it isn’t about recognition or pay. I could go outside the home to work, (although New York State licensure laws really whomp). But, no matter where I was, if I wasn’t at home with the kids I wouldn’t feel like I was doing what I was meant to do. It is a personal decision but one I am very sensitive to.

The next time you see a stay at home mom who “once used to work” please be kind. Don't lecture us on our lost potential. Don't assume that you had a higher GPA than us. Don't underestimate us. Several years from now, when our children are grown, we could be your boss.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Welcome to my Pity Party

Warning: Today I am going to rant, after all a blog can have multiple purposes. No promises of wisdom or reflection.

Today really whomped.

Definition of whomp: To stink. To have something miserable happen. To have bad luck.
A general feeling of suckiness.
I am 30 years old, and what does the doctor tell me? I have Rheumatoid arthritis.

How do I feel? Well, I am sad, mad, confused, nervous, and wary. Well, you name it and I think it pretty much fits into my day.

So, I have been having pain and numbness and, for the amount of time I am on the computer, I just figured it was carpel tunnel syndrome. Well, I was wrong and now I have a little black rain cloud over my head.

Yes, maybe I am feeling a little sorry for myself. Yes, I cried today. No, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of words to comfort me. (My pastor did however comfort me when he gave me the Anointing of the Sick today.) Is that okay? Yes, I think it is, because that is where I am at the moment.

What upset me most of all? The vision of older people bent in pain, suffering from years of arthritis. It upsets me that having more children could make it worse. It bothers me that the same medicine used to treat me could also cause serious repercussions.

My pastor told me a story about an elderly woman who suffers from the same problem and she is so joyful and wants to help others all the time. I say, God Bless her. I am not there yet. Maybe I need to be joyful in the suffering the Lord has given me. Maybe I should just focus on the positive. Or maybe, maybe I just need to deal with the reality of what this is right now. It is a disease I don’t understand.

I pray that God gives me the strength to be joyful in the future. Right now I am not even sure what to focus on. I am just a little too overwhelmed.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Back for just a moment...

I have been remiss in my blog duties.
A lot has been going on right now, more of which I will discuss later.
My husband passed on a fantastic article to me. I thought I would include it here today.
It is about remorse. I don't want to comment to much on it because I don't want to taint any personal gain one might get out of it. Needless to say it made an impact on me. I hope it does the same for you.

NEVER GIVE IN (By Karl Keating)

Dear Friend of Catholic Answers:

"Not to fall into remorse."That line sounds Pascalian but is not from Pascal. It is my formulation, and it encapsulates what a holy priest once said during his homily to the Catholic Answers staff. Do not mistake remorse for sorrow, he admonished. They are not the same thing. Sorrow is salutary, but remorse is a drag on the soul. It will drag you into a spiritual pit.

Sorrow is regret for what you have done or failed to do--for having sinned. The guilt associated with your sin is washed away in confession. At that point you should put that sin behind you and resolve to move upward in your spiritual journey.

Remorse, in contrast, is a useless pining for what might have been. "Why didn't I do this? What if I had done that?" You cannot change the past, and you cannot know what might have been. If you dwell unhealthily on your life's might-have-beens, you will make no spiritual progress. In fact, you will go backwards because remorse paralyzes the soul.

The priest's remarks were brought to my mind as I read Samuel Johnson a few nights ago. I have been working my way through his "Rambler" essays. In number 47, written in August 1750, he said this:

"[Remorse] is properly that state of the mind in which our desires are fixed upon the past, without looking forward to the future, an incessant wish that something were otherwise than it has been, a tormenting and harassing want of some enjoyment or possession which we have lost, which no endeavours can possibly regain.

"In this passage Johnson actually uses the term "sorrow," and I have substituted in brackets "remorse."
So has English usage changed in two and a half centuries. Back then, "sorrow" had a wider meaning and covered what we now call "sorrow" and "remorse."

In the next sentence Johnson gives examples:

"Into such anguish many have sunk upon some sudden diminution of their fortune, an unexpected blast of their reputation, or the loss of children or of friends.

"Perhaps you have been there yourself: If only I had not given my assets to that incompetent financial advisor! If only I had been alert and not allowed my name to be besmirched that way! If only I had brought up my children more diligently, so that they would not now have abandoned me!

Johnson summarizes what happens when people fall into a preoccupation with regret:

"They have suffered all sensibility of pleasure to be destroyed by a single blow, have given up for ever the hopes of substituting any other object in the room of that which they lament, resigned their lives to gloom and despondency, and worn themselves out in unavailing misery.

"Remorse does not fix whatever happened in the past. That is bad enough, but remorse also closes you off to present and future happiness because it occupies your whole mind. It even closes you off to spiritual advancement. You do not find examples of anyone achieving sanctity through remorse, but you find countless examples of people who achieve sanctity through sorrow.

Who has not committed blunders? I could spend all day cataloguing mistakes I have made--not even sins, just mistakes, innocent errors of choice (or at least they seemed innocent at the time). Each of those mistakes transformed my life, as did each of the wise decisions I made.

I spent twelve years practicing law and was grateful to leave that line of work. It turned out to be something I was not especially suited for, or perhaps it was not suited to me. I ended up entering a line of work I much enjoy, one that I imagine I have some facility at.

Were those twelve years wasted? It would be easy enough to say that they were and to bemoan my having devoted about a sixth of my expected life-span to a profession I now would not have chosen.

But what would I have chosen in place of law? Not, when I was 26, the practice of apologetics. That field was not yet in my sight--back then, it did not exist as a career choice at all--nor was I then equipped to enter it. (Some will say I was not equipped for it even much later, but we will not pursue that digression.)

So I could spend my time kicking myself for not having followed Robert Frost's dictum more assiduously. I could complain that I should have followed "The Road Not Taken" instead of following everyone else to law school. (And it did seem like everyone was going there: When I left the practice, there were 8,000 attorneys in San Diego alone.)

You probably have a past over which you could fall into remorse: the person you might have married, the career you might have chosen, the place you might have visited, the comment you might have had the wits not to say aloud. You can spend your time pining over what might have been, or you can move ahead. You cannot do both.

"Not to fall into remorse.

"If we were archangels instead of men we would not have this temptation. Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael do not mope around, fussing about wrong turns taken.

But each of us has made plenty of wrong turns. Some of us have made more wrong turns than right turns. What matters is where we look: behind or ahead. Looking behind guarantees that we will stumble off the path. Looking ahead means we have some prospect of reaching our goal.

Let us be sorrowful over the sins we have committed, grateful for the forgiveness we have received, and resolved to do better in the future, but let us not dwell fruitlessly on a past that daily slips further from us.

That is a true waste.

Until next time,

Monday, July 18, 2005

The World Has Gone Crazy

I just can’t watch the news or read it online anymore.
I find myself saying too many prayers to overcome fear. The world seems like it has gone out of control.

Terrorist attacks
Daily assaults on the pre-born
Power Blackouts Hit Rome

France faces locusts
FamineDrought tightens its deadly grip in Europe
Countries threatening nuclear actions

This is to name a few of the recent headlines in the last week.

Isn’t it interesting that the crazier the world is getting, the more people are trying to push God out of it?

I don’t want to hear stories of personal revelations. I don’t want to hear the varied stories of which day the Lord is coming. I did that once and the only thing that happened was that I was an emotional mess and it distracted me from my relationship with the Lord.

How do I deal with my fear? Psalm 27. It does a soul good.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?
When evildoers come at me to devour my flesh, These my enemies and foes themselves stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart does not fear; Though war be waged against me, even then do I trust.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD'S house all the days of my life, To gaze on the LORD'S beauty, to visit his temple.
For God will hide me in his shelter in time of trouble, Will conceal me in the cover of his tent; and set me high upon a rock.
Even now my head is held high above my enemies on every side! I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and chant praise to the LORD.
I Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
"Come," says my heart, "seek God's face"; your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide your face from me; do not repel your servant in anger. You are my help; do not cast me off; do not forsake me, God my savior!
Even if my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me in.
LORD, show me your way; lead me on a level path because of my enemies.
Do not abandon me to the will of my foes; malicious and lying witnesses have risen against me.
But I believe I shall enjoy the LORD'S goodness in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the LORD!
Dear Lord make us strong. May we always find hope and love in you.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

And They're Off...

Stephen started crawling.
I am trying to locate my roller-skates.

Oh good and gentle Jesus, please help me to keep up with my 7 month old son.

I never understood the phrase “Youth is wasted on the young”. Now, I’m starting to understand a bit more.

Isabella jumped on my back and all I could hear was a loud “Ouff!” Then, I realized it came out of my own mouth. I used to be able to handle kiddos climbing on me like monkeys on a tree. Sure, they can still do it but I will be hooked up to a morphine drip the next morning to dull the pain.

Still, I am so grateful to God for allowing me to be aware of my changing body.

Yes, I am not a size 8 anymore. No, I can’t eat pints of ice cream without consequences. I now buy the value size bottles of Tylenol, mostly because Isabella plays her Princess Tea cassette tape over and over and over and over again. I get somewhat winded when I am carrying a basket of laundry up the stairs.

What does this all mean? I think it is God’s way of telling me “Hey Lynn, you’re an adult now.” And, quite frankly, it has put a bit of pressure on me to take better care of myself. (Heck, I just bought moisturizer with SPF in it for the first time. Of course I didn’t care about wrinkles 10 years ago; I wouldn’t have guessed that at some point they would actually appear!)

It isn’t about vanity though. It is about keeping up with the pace of my family. It would be easy to take naps and take the easy way out by WATCHING the kids have fun. And to be honest, I want to have fun WITH them.

For now I will have to start with roller-skating, it is the only way to keep up with a 3 year old and a crawling baby.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Letter to London

Upon hearing the news of your great tragedy, we offer our condolences.

It is hard to believe it has been almost 4 years since our own country was struck with fear and tragedy. Our countrymen came together with great compassion for its fellow citizens while reflecting on hope in the midst of such horror.

The war on terrorism is far from over. Our enemy is intent on striking fear and harm on those who cherish freedom and goodness. They hate us and they hate our God.

Let us not respond with hate but love and justice.

What will make them even more frustrated?
They will see neighbors helping neighbors.
They will see men and women kneeling in prayer and gratitude for the lives that have been spared and praying for the souls that have been taken.
Politicians will put aside differences to combat the common evil and celebrate the common good.

Please do not feel we Americans are indifferent. It is not sympathy we feel, but empathy. We know the sorrow and fear you experienced on this day. We wish to offer you our prayers and condolences, as well as the hope that good will always overcome evil.

May God bless you, your governmental leaders and we pray that you find comfort in Christ’s Merciful heart.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Taking a Bite out of the Big Apple

I forgot to bring an extra pair of feet with me to New York City.

I am the youngest of three girls and my “big” sister and I and traveled to the Big Apple to visit our middle sister-the aspiring and talented fashion designer. She has bravely decided to pursue her dream in such a large and loud city, something I don’t think I could have done.

This wasn’t my first trip, it was my third actually, but it was an eye opener. I got to see where my sister lived, her routes of travel and essentially her life in the “Big City”. I have admired her for years but to see her in her surroundings allowed me to understand her way of life and the challenges she faces.

From the moment she met us at the Air Train it was non-stop walking, walking and more walking. There are no such things as comfortable shoes in New York City. I brought 4 pairs of my most comfy shoes and not one could do the job. I should have bought stock in “Band-Aids” before I left.

This weekend was truly a blessing. As I walked with my big sisters my senses were overloaded with the smells, sounds and touches of this city. As I walked side by side with them I came to understand a little about life and the delicate balance of the human nature. We were three women exploring, no longer young girls. Each of us has followed their vocation, going where we think God wishes for us to be. And in this city everyone goes about their life, not knowing what kind of effect they will have on the person next to them. But how we live our life most assuredly impacts those around us.

There are several things I noticed while visiting. It is a dirty place. It may not look dirty but the hot and humid weekend left a layer of yuck on me. The subway rides made me feel like a mole person and the sheer number of homeless left me somewhat sad. As we past newsstands I tried to avert my gaze due to the prominent displays of pornographic magazines. And of course, there was the Gay “Pride” parade of which we were in the middle of, by accident of course. There was no lack of stereotypes there. Gay men flaunted their body glitter and effeminate gaits. Masculine “womyn” were everywhere to be seen. This is strictly an observation.

But what spoke to me the most was the hopeful nature of New York City.

The big beautiful Churches were astonishing. I was able to visit two which knocked my socks off. Our visits to Our Lady of Good Counsel on the Upper East Side and St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington were a feast for the soul.

I saw a man helping a stranger with her groceries, cross the street.

I saw children being lovingly guided by their smiling parents.

New York City firefighters and police officers rushed to help those in need, even if it was to offer directions to tourists.

The men who were working their sidewalk carts endured blazing temperatures to make a living. What difficult work that must be.

One of my favorite moments happened in the Subway terminal. I woman was playing a saw, as in the carpentry tool. It wasn’t that she was playing the saw that was interesting; it was the fact that she was playing the Ave Maria. It was quite beautiful.

Then there were the Protestant faithful who gathered to see Billy Graham, many of them were smiling as they made their pilgrimage to see this man of faith. I couldn’t help but to notice the irony that Grahams Crusade fell on the same day as the Gay Pride parade.

There is so much more to write about my trip to New York, which I will do in the coming days. Unfortunately I have to go and put my feet up. Two days later, my feet are still sore.

I should have brought an extra pair of feet.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I haven’t had much time to work in the garden this year.

The first year living in our house my garden had everything you could imagine. We had corn, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, snapdragons, petunias and so much more. I spent hours tending to each with gratitude and pleasure, seeing each transform from tiny little plants into fresh vegetables for summer dinners or flower filled vases.

Then came a summer of which I was pregnant. My stomach didn’t allow me to get down and dirty in the garden. And an unfortunate mix up with weed killer left my vegetable plants as black as coal. I killed all my vegetables, herbs and flowers. I figured that was God’s way of telling me to slow down and take care of my unborn son.

This year, I looked at the weeds in my garden and figure if God wanted vegetables in my garden, He would have put them there. After all, I thought, now with two kiddos I don’t really have time.

I have reconsidered my position. Gardening is a lot like my life. In order to enjoy the fruits (or vegetables, flowers, etc.) it requires hard work, self discipline and love. It isn’t always easy to go through all the weeds and pluck them out, but if I don’t it will choke the flower.

The same goes for my prayer life. I really want to feel close to the Lord all the time. But sometimes it is difficult. Upon further inspection I have found a lot more weeds in my spiritual “garden”, making holiness a challenge.

What are the weeds in your spiritual garden?

Watching sitcoms of no intellectual, spiritual or moral value?
Lack of quiet time? (Is the music, television or radio always on?)
Poor use of time?
Loss of temper?

These are just a few examples. But what a difference it makes. It always starts off small (like a little weed) and suddenly you realize your spiritual priorities have been taken over by the things you value the least.

I really want a beautiful garden this year. I don’t know if it will include vegetables or flowers.

But, I do know I want to have a beautiful and prosperous soul.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Happy Father's Day

It is Father’s Day.

I have a wonderful father.

My first memory of my father is resting my head on his tummy while we watched Sesame Street together. I remembered that, when he laughed with me, my head would bounce up and down which would make me laugh even more.

I am thankful to him for so many reasons. Many of which I probably don’t say often enough. Today I want to honor him and let him know why I am thankful for him.

When Daddy laughs, he turns beet red and laughs showing his mouthful of teeth, barely able to catch his breath.

Daddy taught me how to use tools. All those weekends of: “Hey, Lynn, come over here and hold this (ladder, nail, hammer, etc.).” It paid off; I am quite the Mrs. Fix-it around the house.

My Dad told me to listen to my mother. I understand now, as a mother, why this was so important. My parents were a united front.

All the boyfriends my Dad told me weren’t good enough, well he was right. They weren’t good enough. And when the one came around who was good enough, he supported me and walked me down the aisle.

I am thankful my father was a soldier. I know that he loved his family (even though we weren’t born yet) so much that he wanted to defend freedom even if that meant risking his health and life.

I have said harsh words to my father, and I am thankful that he forgave me. He has taught me forgiveness many, many times.

I have known a comfortable life. My father taught me a work ethic. He worked non stop for the good of his family. Long business trips, family moves and late nights all showed us he was willing to sacrifice so much for us.

He let me make mistakes. These lessons were bittersweet for me. For him, they must have been heartbreaking.

Even though my mom (and most women by their nature) was more involved in our spiritual training, I know my Dad felt this was so important. I am grateful for this gift of Faith.

It wasn’t until the last few years that I have seen my father in a very special light. I not only see him just as a father, but as a man: A devoted husband, father, son, uncle, brother, friend, veteran, and father-in-law.

For him I thank God. And I am thankful for my husband who embodies so many of the characteristics (as a father) that I love in my own Dad. Finally, I ask our Heavenly Father to continue to bless all those who have given the gift of life to children.

Happy Father’s Day.

Friday, June 10, 2005

A Chance to make a Difference

New York State Senate Higher Education Committee currently has a Bill (S3661) awaiting a vote. It has already been approved in the Assembly.

Bill Summary:
"Authorizes nurses and pharmacists to dispense emergency contraception upon the prescription and order of a
non-patient specific regimen by a licensed physician, certified nurse practitioner, or licensed midwife; enacts the "unintended pregnancy prevention act"."

What a sorry State to live in. I'm embarrassed to be from New York.

I beg you, for the safety of women, for the protection of the unborn, contact your New York State Senator as soon as possible.

The New York State Catholic Conference has put together a list of Ten Reasons to Oppose Unregulated Access to “The Morning-After Pill”

1. The Health of Women Will Be Put At Risk. Pharmacist distribution of emergency contraception (EC) exposes women to mega-doses of potentially dangerous hormonal medication without a medical exam or physician oversight.

2. Families Will Be Undermined. Pharmacist distribution of EC would enable a 13-year-old girl to obtain these high doses of hormones without her parents knowledge or her doctor’s guidance. The State should not be placing vulnerable young women at risk.

3. Doctors are a Necessary Part of Medical Treatment. If every possible pregnancy is an emergency, then so is every possible heart attack and seizure. If we don’t bypass doctors in those instances, we shouldn’t carve out an exception for pregnancy. This is common sense.

4. EC Pills Can Be Dangerous. According to the FDA:“The effect of repeated use of emergency contraceptive pills (more than once in a menstrual cycle or in multiple cycles) is unknown.” Emergency contraceptive pills can cause heart attacks, strokes, and disabling or fatal blood clots.

5. Women Do Not Deserve to be Guinea Pigs. “Collaborative agreements” between a physician and pharmacists do not exist for any other type of prescription medication in New York State. Regular doses of birth control pills -- containing much lower doses of hormones -- require a physician visit and prescription for every patient who obtains them.

6. Patients Deserve Safety. New York State regulates weight loss pills, dietary supplements and body-building aids. It is considering additional restrictions on simple fever thermometers and the free dispensing of sample drugs by physicians. Eliminating regulations on complex chemicals like EC, made of the same hormones found to increase risk of several serious diseases, flies in the face of patient safety.

7. Women Deserve the Truth. EC pills can work by delaying ovulation and preventing conception, acting as a true contraceptive. But EC pills can also work by preventing implantation of a developing embryo, thereby causing the abortion of a human being. Simply labeling EC “contraception” does not make it so. Women have the right to know the truth about these powerful drugs, and the state should not deny them the facts.

8. Pharmacies are Not Medical Clinics. Pharmacists are currently dealing with growing and burdensome workloads as well as compliance with new state counseling requirements and new federal privacy regulations. Can pharmacists be expected to provide patient evaluation, patient education and direct provision of EC? Will pharmacists be expected to recognize and report suspected cases of sexual abuse? Are pharmacies appropriate environments for sexual health counseling?

9. Potential for Misuse is Great. The potential for routine, even frivolous use of EC exists, and has been confirmed by a United Kingdom study that found “high levels of repeat use” among all age groups.* Moreover, since Great Britain deregulated EC in 1999, there has been an explosion of sexually transmitted diseases, especially among the young. The Public Health Laboratory Service details large increases in syphilis, Chlamydia, herpes and gonorrhea cases.

10. EC is All About Politics, Not Women’s Health. Family planning proponents admit that “EC is more expensive than other routinely used contraceptives, it is significantly less effective, and its use is associated with greater discomfort,” yet they strive to eliminate all common sense regulations on these powerful drugs. Jane Bogess, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, May/June 2002

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

On the mend...

I received a couple of emails asking where I have been.

Well, it has been a wonderful week of being humbled.

From two broken cars, a broken water heater and a lovely bout of bronchitis, I do believe God is telling me to slow down. So, slow down I have.

I shall be back next week feeling positive and regrouped! At the very least, hopefully not feeling sorry for myself. :)
I have so much to be grateful for.

Speaking of which, here are my top 10 things I am thankful for this week:

10. Getting my new Dominican Torch magazine in the mail-instead of junk mail.

9. Taking a short break from work

8. Antibiotics

7. Baby Stephen's bottom teeth are in-no more screaming! Wahoo!

6. Having my fancy fashion design sister 'home' with us for a few days

5. An auto repair shop which can actually be trusted.

4. Having my mom help me watch the kids at a 2 hour Mass while Hubby sang in the choir for the last time (until next year).

3. Being able to watch all Star Wars episodes on the couch while I have bronchitis

2. Watching Cinderella with my little girl for the first time together, giggling, cuddling and having a treat!

1. My family. From my husband to my kiddos, my parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, in-laws, all of them!

I am very grateful, what a nice week it has been.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Trinity Sunday

Happy Trinity Sunday!

We sat down to dinner this evening and discussed, with Isabella (age 3), the persons of the Trinity.

Baby Stephen just listened while playing with his toes.

We went back to the discussion about St. Patrick and how he explained the Trinity to non-believers. Three persons, one God-just like a shamrock-one shamrock, three leaves.

I then asked Isabella if she had any questions about God.

She said no.

I asked again, thinking she must have something to ask.

Again, she said "Nope".

Even when it comes to one of the greatest mysteries of the Faith, a child has no questions. Could it be that we make things more complicated than they need be?

I pray for the innocence and complete trust of a child.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The President is coming to town...

The President is coming to town.

And I can’t go see him.

Darn it!

I am frustrated because I like President Bush. I respect him. He has had to make decisions I can’t even begin to understand. And he is the leader of the country I love. I am a proud American. But I digress; my frustration is because the leader of our country isn’t even able to have open audiences that we can know where he will be on a certain day. I understand security and fear of attacks, etc. But, I feel such a strong desire to see him and I feel like I am always on the outside looking in.

My three year old loves President Bush. She prays for him each night and is sure to point to him when he is on the television. Unfortunately, when he is a mere 10 minutes from us we still don’t know where he will be in order to catch a glimpse. I would love to see the look on my daughter’s face as she saw him in person. Seeing the President of the United States is an opportunity that has the potential to teach and mold her.

When I heard the news that he would be here I got so excited. It isn’t every day that the President of the United States comes in town. With the exception of painting a flag on my rooftop, hoping Air Force One will pass over it, how can I let this man know my family supports him and the office he holds? But over the last few hours my excitement has withered because I know I will be setting myself up for disappointment. He needs to be protected and there are many other families who want to see him too, not just mine.

How far have we come as Americans that our own leader is like a fish in a fishbowl? We can look but there is a barrier between us. We always know what he is saying but we don’t get the opportunity to experience this firsthand.
I hope he has a good trip to Rochester but as I am watching my television next week, as the reporters tell of his visit I will probably feel a bit detached. Okay, and maybe a little selfish and disappointed.

Whether he is 10 minutes or 10 hours away-he will look the same on television.

Dear God, please bless and protect our President. May he fight for life, at all stages, and the freedom which God intended for mankind. God Bless America.

Rediscovering your faith

What does it mean to “rediscover” your faith?

I was baptized Catholic when I was a baby and was brought up with all of the Church teachings by my parents. I attended Catholic school until about 5th grade and went to bible school too.

There came a time when I “stalled”. It wasn’t that I didn’t accept the Church and the laws Christ set forth, but I didn’t do any work myself. I accepted the teachings without understanding why. I think part of it was laziness, I expected to grow in my faith without doing anything about it.

Right, like sitting on the couch with a bag of Cheetos ever got anyone to heaven.

I remember being in college and I was very, very sad. I cried on my bed feeling alone and confused about my direction. At that very moment I just “saw” myself with my head in Christ’s arms (on his lap) and Him stroking my hair, comforting me. I am not saying I had a vision, just a strong feeling.

At that moment I knew I wasn’t alone and I felt a new connection with Christ. I began to be more involved at Church, and actively pursued the truth of the Faith. Instead of getting by with the standard “I don’t know why I believe it but a nun once told me I should” I yearned to have a deeper understanding. And my life hasn’t been the same since.

I go through “dry” periods of my faith when it is hard to pay attention during the Mass or in my daily prayer. But in those times I try to remember that this is common for many people. There are also moments where I am so on fire with the faith that I feel like I could take on the world. This is also very common to others. But it is perseverance, fortitude, which gives me strength on my journey.

I also thank God for my husband and children. By knowing my vocation as a wife and mother I am completely invested in learning more about Christ’s teachings for the sake of myself, but also for them. How can I be a good mother and wife if I don’t know Christ? Also, how can I answer my child’s questions if I am not aware of the laws that Christ set forth in the Church? I have enough trouble answering my daughter when she asks me “Mommy, how can God be here and in heaven?”.

Rediscovering your faith means just that, looking at from a different point of view. For instance, I have prayed the rosary my whole life. But did I really understand that it was a meditation of Christ’s life, taken directly from scripture? I didn’t know, until last year, that every word of the Holy Mass is scriptural. I was taught the Catechism when I was a child but I am no longer a child and need to look at it through the eyes of an adult.

I desire to take what I have learned as a young girl and understand it in a different and deeper manner. It also is difficult at times. But, it is a constant journey but one that isn’t done alone.

For one, Christ is always by your side.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A lesson in Envy...

To all you moms who make it look easy…

I don’t like you very much.

How is it that you can attend daily Mass, recite the Rosary afterward, take your kiddos to school, go shopping, have a perfectly clean house, play outside, take your kids to 5 different activities, serve a 4 course dinner (with all the food groups equally represented) and then sit leisurely with your husband and watch a movie. To top it off you do so without wrinkling your clothes and your hair looks great.

Envy. I think I suffer from envy.

The problem with envy is that it creeps up on you-well, me. It hit me when I went to the mall the other week. I could have spent hundreds of dollars on stuff to make me look put together. But, I didn’t feel put together and THAT was the problem.

The Bible Says:

You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor's. . . . You shall not desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor's. Ex 20:17; Deut 5:21.

2535: The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves; but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)

2540: Envy represents a form of sadness and therefore a refusal of charity; the baptized person should struggle against it by exercising good will. Envy often comes from pride; the baptized person should train himself to live in humility: (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)

So I think the answer is an examination of conscience on a daily basis. I don’t want to be uncharitable or sad as a result of keeping score of what others have. We also have the beautiful Sacrament of Confession-to help us keep our souls clean as a whistle.

The moms who seem to have it together are blessed and maybe God put them in my path for me to work harder in some areas of my life. And no, it isn't that I don't like you, maybe it is just awe. I see qualities of value, providing services to your family in an efficient manner.

The toughest thing right now for me to let go of? It is how these moms don't wrinkle during the day.
Me? I look like a steam roller paid a quick visit to my house by 5:30 PM.

I am still convinced that these ladies have an iron in their car. A cordless maybe?


Monday, May 02, 2005

Conversations with a 3 year old

Isabella: Mommy, I want to be a Bride when I grow up
Me: That's great, who are going to marry?
Isabella: Daddy!.....
(Daddy and Mommy chuckle)
Isabella: And when Stephen (baby) grows up he's going to be a Broom.

Broom...Groom.... it's the same thing, I guess.

What joy children bring to their parents. I guess this is what keeps us sane.
My only regret? That they grow up so fast.
I think I need to start praying now for detachment, so that when they accept their vocation I will be able to let go.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

My letter to the Editor

A letter to the Editor of a local paper...
Joyful, not wary, over Benedict XVI
Democrat and Chronicle, Saturday April 30, 2005

Regarding Denise-Marie Santiago's April 22 column, "Some women feel deep wariness toward pope":

Count me among the millions of women who are not only not wary of the election of Benedict XVI, but joyful as well. He is now the leader of the church I love, and I believe he must be given the respect that is due.

I am concerned about the characterization that the pope, in some way, has the power or the intention to change Catholic Church teaching.

It is truly unfortunate that the writer has acquaintances who feel slighted by the church. However, while the needs of society are many, we may find comfort in the Catholic Church's ministering to those in need, while doing so in a manner that does not undermine the laws that Christ set forth.

I, too, pray that Pope Benedict XVI may be a uniting force in the church. However, unlike Ms. Santiago, I will not choose which areas of the church I wish to be addressed. I will leave that up to the Holy Spirit.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The 21st Century Stay at Home Mom

When I was a young girl I looked to my mother as the provider of warmth and security. She supplied us snacks after a long day swimming in the desert sun. We would attend Mass together, a mother and her little girls, and all seemed right with the world. We weren’t always angels but there was a sense of wellbeing and an ease of which my mom performed her vocation as a mother. She, and Daddy, worked as a team and from a young child’s eyes it looked rather uncomplicated.

Now the torch has been passed, and I realize the complexity of the role of which I have joyfully agreed to take on. But how have the changes in the world affected what I do in my day versus what she did? I have the perfect example:

My daughter is in a Hop-A-Thon. What mother wouldn’t be excited by thinking of her preschooler in a gymnasium jumping up and down with 20 other kiddos? I can almost see each of them soaring, laughing and experiencing the “in the moment” joy only an innocent child can know.

My involvement of this event should end there, right? Write a check to sponsor my little leaping “frog” and then wait to see how the events of the day unfolded. But, it isn’t that easy. The “charity” in which she is raising money for is known for their involvement with stem cell research. This is the point where my role as mom changes from chief cookie-maker to internet researcher and advocate for the preborn. But it doesn’t end there.

I spend many hours on the internet searching the local sex offenders databases, to make sure our children are safe.
I write companies to complain about their near pornographic advertising, displayed prominently in the windows at the mall.
I mail letters to the editor of the local paper in order to defend the Church from some journalist’s emotional (and false) accusations.

It all comes down to the dignity of human life. Society has decided to loosen its value of sexual morality and has failed to come to the defense of the helpless. It has trickled down in every aspect of our lives and who will stand up for morality, Truth and life? I contend that it is the parent, especially the stay at home mother. We are not a voiceless group. During the day we have numerous opportunities to touch the world through sociopolitical change.

It would be nice to spend every moment playing with the kids, though the reality is that I can't. But I will show my children my love, 21st Century style. I will protect them from the ugliness that is out there in this world, while pointing out the great blessings God has given us. I don’t doubt my mother had to do the same when I was a child. But that is what made her successful at what she did, she allowed me to enjoy my innocence, while she shielded me from harm.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Here I am Lord….

You know the hymn: Here I am Lord. Is it I Lord? I have heard You, calling in the night…

The reality of the matter is that it doesn’t seem that the Lord is calling me in the night. It is usually a 4 month old screaming wanting to be fed or a 3 year old calling me to get her 9th glass of water for the evening. It is hard to see these two little monkeys as the face of Jesus in the wee hours of the night. They don’t preach the Gospel to me or perform miracles, or do they?
In Matthew 25:34-36 Jesus taught us:
Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'
I sometimes fail to recognize the importance of my work as a mother, it seems tedious at times. I do the same things over and over again and I take for granted the opportunity to serve God.

Anyone who changes the diaper of a wiggly baby has the opportunity to meditate on Patience.
Being asked 10 times “Mom, but WHY can’t you be a bus driver when you grow up?” can learn Fortitude.
Having your daughter tell visitors exactly how much weight Mommy lost on her diet can teach Humility.

The struggle is to stop and recognize these opportunities. I am still trying to match up my daily life with the teaching of the Gospel. It is easier to recognize that I am serving Christ as I give my daughter and Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich. But visiting those is prison? Maybe next time she is in time-out I can keep her company.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bringing children to Mass

I arrived at Sunday Mass five minutes late.

Isabella’s sandal was missing and once found I was buckling it while securing her into her car seat. And we were off to Mass!

I made the humiliating walk down the center aisle of church during the beginning of the first reading. (I like to sit up front because there is less distraction for Isabella) So there I was sitting six pews from the front when a lady in the pew ahead of me gave me “the look”. Any parent with young children knows that look. It is the look that says ‘Oh great, a little Neanderthal child who is going to fuss, cry and ruin my Mass.” I smiled at her to reassure her that we would behave (please God, let Isabella behave!).

Three minutes later, while she was playing quietly with her Crucifix and her books of the Saints, the woman in front of us huffed loudly in disgust, looked at us and stood up during the reading to go sit somewhere else. To say I was embarrassed would be an understatement. I pray for the woman, who was in front of us, maybe she just had a bad day. I was late to Mass, and I accept responsibility for that. But to make my child feel unwelcome in the house of God was unacceptable.

So I began to think ‘When did it become unacceptable to bring children to Mass’ and ‘Why are parishioners so openly rude to parents with young children?’.

It isn’t easy to bring children to Mass. My husband sings in the 11:30 choir at church and he stays home with our colicky son so I can take our daughter to 8:00 AM Mass. Having a toddler washed, dressed and fed to leave the house by 7:45 can raise issues but I believe she has just as much right to be there as anyone else.
I have heard the objection ‘Go sit in the crying room/children’s chapel’. My answer: Why?

Why should I have to be exposed to a crying room filled with sick children, screaming children and parents who don’t understand that a crying room is not a social gathering room? You don’t discuss your children’s favorite activities when Mass is being celebrated! So, I sit in the main church. This is not to say that we don’t have our rough days. Sometimes the kiddos don’t use their “indoor” voice or fidget. But when that happens we act accordingly, and take them to the back of church.

I returned home after this recent incident, frazzled and upset. This is when my husband made a really good point. “Is Isabella’s Baptism any less valid than that woman’s?” He made a good point.
Looking at the Gospel of Mark (10:13-16), we can see how Christ would react:

And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it." Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

We are called to be the Disciples of Christ. But, let’s not be like those who rebuked those who brought their children to Him. God is happy to see children in His house, even if they are missing a sandal.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Looking for a Mom(ent) of Truth

The truth of the matter is that I love the Catholic Church. I love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit with my whole heart. However, in my vocation as a wife and mother it seems that I do not get to discuss the faith with many people in the way my heart yearns to. I have two children and loving husband. That requires me to do a lot of tasks which may not require a lot of brain power: changing diapers, windexing my perpetually streaked windows and laundry...endless loads of laundry...

There are so many issues pertaining to the Church, Catholic families and society these days. And frankly I am a little cranky about the bad press the Church gets. If you want to hear about how miserable the Catholic Church is, well, you may want to go elsewhere. If you want to read the ramblings of a joyful mom who is rediscovering the beauty of her faith and tradition, well read on.

So my goal is to discuss the Church, the vocation of being a Catholic mom, children, marriage, feminism. At this point hundreds of topics come to mind.

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