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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