Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Phil 4:6-7



Thursday, January 04, 2018

The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents


It's been a long time since I've posted anything, as I'm living life with an infant again, and if you don't remember those days, well, there's just not a moment to spare. But I just put the little lamb down to nap and since I've intended to post this here for several days, I decided to take a moment. My brother Jeff is in the deaconate program and is at a little parish in Maryland where he helps the parish priest a lot. He and my sister-in-law, Jane, recently went on a pilgrimage with the parish priest to the Holy Land and he brought back a lot of photos and probably just as many deep thoughts. I share this piece that he wrote because it clearly resonated with me, and I have a feeling it will resonate with you as well.




DANIELE da Volterra
The Massacre of the Innocents
1557



The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents

by Jeff Johnson



         
The above pictures were taken on separate days with the pictures on the outside being taken in Caesarea while the one in the middle was taken at the Church of the Visitation.  I know the two seem totally unrelated, but they weren’t in my mind.  As I viewed what was an architectural wonder of its time, the port of Caesarea and the theatre which was built adjacent it, I wondered how Herod the Great, responsible for this achievement, could then be so misguided as to order the murder of dozens of children in Bethlehem to kill the child who was to become the Messiah.  This was the same sentence that Pharaoh, fearful of the growth of the Israelites, had ordered on newborn Jewish boys around the time of Moses’ birth.  It is amazing (and frightening) the actions that these monarchs were willing to take for the sake of preserving their thrones.  A personal thought on this for me is that Jesus Christ is more important than anything else in the secular world.  When I remember to put him before “everything else”, “everything else” amazingly (or not so amazingly) falls into place.  But back to the Innocents.  
For the longest time, I never knew that the Christmas song “Coventry Carol” chronicled the murder of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem.  But the lyrics make it clear –
“Herod the King
In his raging
Charged he hath this day
His men of might
In his own sight
All children young to slay
Then woe is me
Poor child for thee
And ever mourn and say
For thy parting
Not say nor sing
Bye bye lullay lullay
Lullay lullay
My little tiny child
Bye bye lullay lullay”
Saint Quodvultdeus, a father of the Church and former bishop gave an excellent commentary on the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.  He noted “The children die for Christ, though they do not know it.  The parents mourn for the death of martyrs.  The child makes of those as yet unable to speak fit witnesses to himself.  See the kind of kingdom that is his, coming as he did in order to be this kind of king.  See how the deliverer is already working deliverance, the saviour already working salvation.    But you, Herod, do not know this and are disturbed and furious.  While you vent your fury against the child, you are already paying him homage, and do not know it.    How great a gift of grace is here! To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory?  They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory.”  This event was foretold in Jeremiah 31:15 wherein the prophet said “A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”
As a child, I can still remember my reaction when I learned of this awful killing.  I was shocked and in disbelief that anyone could order the death of innocent children.  But, times were different then – no?  The answer is of course, apparently not.  I could not help but think about the wanton disregard for the sanctity of life that exists in our current age as I pondered Herod’s crime.  It’s not as if this was “a sign of the times”.  The Didache, an important first century document that provided guidance for early Christians instructed “Thou shalt not slay thy child by abortion, nor kill that which is begotten".  Jewish historian Josephus Flavius, who chronicled the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 wrote “The law, moreover enjoins us to bring up all our offspring, and forbids women to cause abortion of what is begotten, or to destroy it afterward; and if any woman appears to have so done, she will be a murderer of her child, by destroying a living creature, and diminishing humankind."  How can it be that the Church understood this better almost two millennia ago then it is understood in society today?  

I know that definitions (of when life begins) and relativism have played an important role in confusing this issue.  For many years, there has been debate about when life begins - at conception, when a fetus is formed, at birth, etc.  I have never quite understood this debate.  Life clearly begins at conception because any point after that requires intervention to stop the growth of that life.  Ultrasounds conducted early in pregnancy show a life that is growing.  Thanks to modern medicine, we all understand that from the moment of fertilization a life has been spawned that will be born in about nine months.  There can be no debate on this issue of definitions.  I also cannot understand relativist arguments on choice.  Truth is not relative.  A relativist view of “it’s not for me but I don’t want to choose for others” is an enormous cop out.  We either believe in the sanctity of life, or we do not.  There is no choice – we choose life, or we choose against it.  Now, the debate on what to do about unwanted pregnancies is more complicated than this piece alone - there needs to be compassionate means to provide for the life of the child.  But, if we can get past preserving the life, I think we can work through the other aspects as well.  We MUST work through it.  For all the revulsion against Herod over the killing of the Bethlehem babies, we are allowing a more heinous crime to occur legally across the US – (one every 30 seconds counting only surgical and medical abortions).  

I ask, brothers and sisters, as we begin a new year, that you join me in prayer to ask God to show us how he wants us to help end abortion.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.  




Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday Daybook


In the great outdoors...
...though the date says it's almost mid-October, the weather is still in Indian Summer. We're having highs in the low 80s and the lows aren't even cool enough to turn off the air. Josh, Taylor and the baby are in the master bedroom, which is over the garage, which makes it the warmest room in the summer, so the air keeps cranking. 
Our electric bill -- ugh!
Autumn, please come!


I'm thinking about...
...31 days of blogging just isn't going to happen! Sorry Ana Maria -- I guess going from not blogging at all, to blogging for 31 days straight is just more than I can manage.

I'm freshly astonished at how much work a new baby is. Add to that a 15yo teenage girl (truly a handful all by herself), a husband who works from home, and three adult children under the roof. It sounds like there should be plenty of people to manage one baby, but there is some peace-keeping thrown in there, lots of hushing, a washer and drier that never stop, meals to cook, and hassling about homework and cell phone policing. Just this morning either Doug or Faith let the dog out when they left for school and didn't tell me. The poor dog was on the porch for 30 minutes before I realized she wasn't in the house. 

I frequently say that my family is not the family I imagined. Not that I imagined a perfect family (whatever that is), but I never imagined the spread in age that we have, I never imagined these grown kids, and I never imagined a grown married couple and a baby living with us again. Not that it's not all good, because it is, and I love it, but I just never imagined back when I was planning my life -- hahaha!


I am wearing...
...a denim skirt, a pink t-shirt and sandals -- summer weather clothes! 


I am reading....
...nothing at the moment. I am waiting on a book I reserved at the library -- We Are the Lucky Ones


I am creating...
...I have just the finishing touches (weaving ends) and blocking to do on the Baptismal blanket I made for Max. I started it back when Taylor was pregnant and worked on it off and on when I was at work (when I had nothing to do but wait for the phone to ring), but, of course, it came down to the week of the Baptism for me to finish it. I'll be sure to take a photo of Max with the blanket on Sunday

In the kitchen...
...tonight chicken tacos are on the menu, but I have started preparing some of the food for the Baptismal party Sunday. 


Around the house...
...lots of baby stuff -- baby stuff in every room. How can such a little person make such a huge change in a house? I have a high chair in my kitchen again (it's nice -- it tilts back so it acts like a baby seat on tall legs), a swing and play mat in my family room, a changing pad on my dining room table, and a cradle that holds not a baby, but his bathtub, cloth diapers, towels and a Boppy! Even my echo dot almost always plays lullaby music.


Plans for the rest of the week...
...Today and tomorrow I'll be cleaning and doing laundry and making what food I can make ahead (mostly just cupcakes). I'm debating about making cookies, but I don't have a shell cookie cutter. I could do Madeleines but they always seem so bland to me -- just thinking out loud. On Friday I'm going for a flu shot -- something I have avoided for years, but I really don't want to get the flu while I'm caring for a baby.


A few of my favorite things...
...Max is definitely one of my favorite things. He is such a happy baby, and so smart. At 12 weeks he is talking up a storm and rolling from tummy to back as soon as you put him down. His parents are very fortunate that he started sleeping through the night two weeks ago. Yesterday he slept almost 12 hours straight! 
...making rosaries -- hopefully soon I will have a little more time to work on some  creative work. Right now I'm just keeping up with orders.
...autumn -- if it would just get here
...This Is Us (do you watch?)


Prayers sent heavenward...
...for my husband and children, to do God's will every day
...for contracts for my husband's business

...for my sweet little Max, and a smooth transition for Taylor back to work full-time and for Max and I to have a smooth transition in his care
...for all priests and religious
...all babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion, for a change of heart
...for friends who have asked for prayers


Photo of the day...
Uncle Noah is getting pretty good with a camera. He did a wedding this past weekend and did a really good job. He also did a shoot with Max and got some cute shots. Maggie kept photo bombing, so we let her in one shot -- she licked Max's ear when she had to opportunity.








Friday, October 06, 2017

No News But Cute Pics


Yesterday I was feeling a little under the weather (anxiety reared its head) and today I'm busy with my little man. I forgot how much work babies are! There's not a spare moment in the day while he's still taking cat naps and needing lots of love during the day.

But we took some photos today while he was happy and alert, and looking pretty cute in his little yllow and gray outfit.

So, for today, that's all I have. Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow.






Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Busy in Love


Today was crazy busy, partly with Max, and meeting my former co-workers for a birthday lunch downtown, picking Faith up from school, and making dinner. Mixed in was going on a walk with Max and Taylor, doing laundry, and washing diapers.

It was the boring kind of busy, mostly, but busy, and I don't have a coherent thought for you here.

But, I do have a favor to ask any of my friends who are experts at cloth diapering. I purchased 10 EcoAble diapers, which I really love, but I wanted to check with the experts about washing. I usually run the messy ones through a warm rinse cycle, followed by a warm wash and extra rinse (if poopy diapers are mixed in, I use detergent for the first and second wash -- Tide Free), followed by a hot wash/cold rinse and extra rinse, also with detergent. I want to make sure I'm not over washing, but I want to make sure they are really clean. I usually wash them every day.

In exchange for your advice, I'm sharing a photo of my little dumpling with his Godfather, my youngest son, Noah. (If you're on FB, you've already seen this probably, but I love it so.)


Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Setting the Table


Today's writing prompt for 31 Days is "your favorite family tradition." This 31-day exercise may seriously challenge my memory in other ways, but I know my favorite family tradition. It's exclusively mine, and I can't say that about much in my house. No one participates in this tradition until it's time to sit down to a holiday meal, because my favorite tradition is setting the table.

I don't have any problem with people who choose to use paper plates and napkins to make holiday meals easier (the dishwashers at my house might just prefer I did). But the joy in serving meals to others, for me, is 40% good food and 60% beautiful tables.








Ever since my mother moved to a condo, all of the family meals take place at my house. At some holidays, Thanksgiving for example, we have at least 18 people, depending on who brings a girlfriend or boyfriend, which can make table-setting a challenge. But we have three large tables, and lots of chairs, and no one cares if the plates are mixed colors and the flatware doesn't match if there are lit candles and flowers and cloth napkins, and then good food.







As the holiday approaches I start polishing silver, choosing serving dishes, ironing tablecloths that have been in storage for months, dusting the plates, and washing the crystal. I plan the centerpieces and even place cards. All the good stuff gets used and some of the everyday stuff -- which I have had to buy more of just to accommodate a large crowd. I plan the centerpieces and even place cards. We have no "kids' table" at our house any more, or at least not yet, so everyone just mixes and sometimes the young adults end up together and sometimes the teens and the elders end up together. To me, seeing my family enjoying a meal at a table that has been set with love, in the best family tradition.




"All great change in America
 begins at the dinner table." 

Ronald Reagan

Monday, October 02, 2017

Little Me


Today's writing prompt is "What you were like as a child." This is another tough prompt for me because, again, bad memory.

Also, does anyone really know what he or she was like as a child? I have memories of what I think I was like, and I have stories that have been told about me, but I don't know that I was "like" anything.

I remember being very shy. I am the oldest child in my family -- the only girl with three younger brothers. We were two sets of Irish twins, however, with only 15 months between each set, so I wasn't much older than they were. I played with my brothers almost exclusively when I was under about age seven. In our neighborhood I had two girlfriends, one with whom I went to school, and the another who went to the public school.




As I became a little older I was a book worm. I liked school, but I wasn't terribly bright. I liked to read, but I wasn't very good in math, and I didn't have a memory for science or social studies. I could spell very well, and English came pretty easy. I should have taken note of these facts when I later failed at getting through college with a degree in zoology so that I could go to veterinarian school. My degree in journalism was clearly more suited to my skill set.

I was very close with my brothers and we didn't have a lot of money, so mostly we just played outdoors together until I was a teen. Even then I think I spent most of my time doing gymnastics outdoors because we lived in Florida then (though I was born in Cincinnati) and we played outdoors all year long. We lived simply, and we were innocent. I thank God that I was raised at a time when we didn't even have much to watch on television.

I had a happy childhood, and that, I think, is one of the greatest gifts a person can have. As an adult, I now know all the things that could have made my childhood miserable, even scarring. But, I didn't have a care in the world, and for that I am very grateful.


"If you've had a happy childhood, nobody can take that away from you." Agatha Christie





Sunday, October 01, 2017

A New Start


Ebb and flow, ebb and flow. Those two words have been on my heart for weeks now. I thought this blog was finished. My life was too full to talk about it, at least too full to sit down and have a complete thought, to write a coherent sentence.

A few weeks ago, however, I learned I would not be continuing my job part time. When I started working in the spring, our plans were that I would watch baby part time and work part time, but as things turned out, part time was not enough -- baby needs all of me.

But, I guess I should back up because the last time I posted here, a baby had not yet been born, and that is the subject of today's post.

A dear friend nudged me back into writing. She challenged me to Write for 31 Days. Each day has a prompt that I can use or not, as I so desire. Today's prompt is "Your Most Memorable Moment." Well, my memory is garbage -- I don't have very vivid memories of a lot of my life, just flashes like a slideshow on fast forward. Of course, I remember my wedding, the birth of each child, and some other events, some of which are very sad. But my most recent "Most Memorable Moment" was the day my very first grandchild was born, on July 21.

When the time for the baby to be born came close we decided not to wait at the hospital while our daughter-in-law labored, rather wait until they were settled and had caught their collective breath. We knew, however, that our daughter-in-law was in labor when we went to bed on July 20. Early in the morning on July 21 we got a phone call from my son saying, "I can see his head! Come now!"

We woke Faith, dressed and drove to the hospital, getting a phone call (I think we were on the road) saying he had been born, our sweet Maximilian Paul (named after St. Maximilian Kolbe). We arrived at the waiting room and after our daughter-in-law's mother saw her daughter and baby Max, my son came to bring me to the room -- only one person at a time in labor and delivery. When I entered the room the nurse was getting my daughter-in-law ready to move to her post-partum room, but my son lifted his son from his mother's arms and placed him in mine and I experienced the most magnificent love one can experience on this earth.

I had been told by other grandparents, for at least the nine months of the pregnancy, how wonderful it would be to be a grandmother, and I believed it, but I was completely unprepared for the overpowering love I felt for that baby the moment he was placed in my arms. Here in my arms was my son's son, my first grandchild -- something my own father never lived long enough to experience. I was overwhelmed by the tremendously deep and immediate love I felt for him. What a joy! What a gift from God!

There is a Welsh saying, "Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild."

That saying is so true. 

I have always loved my children with unconditional love, but this love, this love is so different. It is deep and wide and I often feel as if my heart could truly just burst for love of this darling boy. I know I will love all of my grandchildren the same, but the memory of the birth of this first will never fade, because it began with love.





Maximilian Paul
Born July 21, 2017







Thursday, April 20, 2017

Blessings


Every day for the past two weeks I have been filled with gratitude to God for finally revealing His plan to me, or at least my part in it. I have a wonderfully kind boss, and friendly, fun co-workers. My job is not taxing, but I see I can growth in it. I am so thankful for all of God's many blessings.

Today my boss was standing in front of my desk and we were talking about blessings (I have no idea how we got to the topic, but we did) and she asked if I had noticed something she was pointing to on the inside of the door. I got up to see what she was pointing at (the glare made it hard to make out) and was shocked to see the same Epiphany Blessing I have over the door of my own house. I can't think of many attorney's offices with that blessing over the door, but I'm glad I found one that does.







Thursday, April 13, 2017

At Long Last Daybook







In the great outdoors...
...tulips! The sun came out in February, the crocuses came up, and then it snowed. Then the sun came out  in March, and the daffodils came up, and then it snowed. I had hope for the tulips and in April we have tulips! These are my favorite -- purple tulips just in time for the end of Lent. 




I'm thinking about...
...at long last -- at long, long last -- I feel our period of adversity, is possibly ending (knock wood), or at least easing to a point at which we can breathe. And the timing is not lost on me as we started Lent last year in this state and we end our Lent this year in a new state.




The last time I blogged I was starting a new job in retail. Life was crazy, my friends, working retail, at all hours of the day and night, and my home life suffered. The manager was scheduling me to close 3-4 days a week (that's 5 to 9:30 or 10 p.m.) and that was hard being away from my family, leaving dinner for them to eat without me, Faith needing help with homework, but me not able to receive most texts in the mall, much lest help with homework remotely (not to mention getting up at six and working that late, and being on my feet for an entire shift).


I had just decided to quit, and then second-guessed myself and decided to stay, but not as a lead sales associate, just one day every other week, in case I needed to ask for more hours. Within a week, a paralegal who works in the office across the hall from where my mom works popped her head in the door to say they were looking for an administrative assistant and to ask if my mom knew anyone "just like her." She told them my situation, they called, I interviewed last Tuesday, and I started Monday (which, considering today's news -- again, thank the Lord!). I work four days a week from 8:30 to 3, so I leave after Faith leaves and I'm home before she comes home. I get off in time to pick her up if I need to, and when our grandbaby comes, I will go down to three days a week so I can keep baby two days a week as we already planned. There are two attorneys and a paralegal, all women, all incredibly kind and very flexible. I feel so grateful to have landed in a soft place, after a very bumpy ride.

Doug has another client now -- another church doing a campaign restoration -- and he is busy every day. And so, though life is nothing like it was before last February, it's looking up incredibly. 

I am amazed at the changes we've made in a year. We went from comfortably homeschooling one child, one at home in college, one married, one doing well on his own, to being unemployed, unsure of anything, and fearing the future. I can see God's hand in what we've gone through, but, of course, will never know why until the veil is lifted. Doug started going to weekly adoration and became a daily Communicant. I responded to a request to be a regular lector at our parish. Would our lives have taken the same path had we not made the choices we did to rely on him completely? I doubt it. Only God knows. And now a grandson on the way and our two children moving in with us so we can enjoy him so much more.


I am reading....


I am creating...
...a baby blanket, what else?




In the kitchen...

...we had Balsamic Browned Butter Tortellini and Asparagus Spears for dinner. The tortellini for the crown of thorns, the vinegar for the vinegar-soaked sponge given in Our Lord's response to "I thirst," and the asparagus spears for the spear that pierced His side after death. A simple, but potentially symbolic meal.




Around the house...
...playing catch-up to get ready for Easter. Low expectations this year!


Plans for the rest of the week...
...Good Friday service, the Easter Vigil (pray for me -- I have two readings), and Easter morning Mass.


A few of my favorite things...
...Holy Week
...my view from my new desk -- no windows but a fish tank with Dori and Nemo.






Prayers sent heavenward...

...for my husband and children, to do God's will every day

...for my prayer warriors -- you know who you are and I am so grateful for you. You helped bring us through this past year and I will never forget the gift of your prayers!

...for my new job and wonderful trusting (and Catholic) employers

...for that sweet little grand baby

...for all priests and religious
...all babies whose mothers are contemplating abortion, for a change of heart
...for friends who have asked for prayers