Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Civility Week 9:Feb 27,2012

We have a choice about how we behave, and that means we have the choice to opt for civility and grace.”~ Dwight Currie
   With Lent in full swing, it seems like a good time bump up the notch on my civility self training. It can have a two-fold purpose in not only making me a better person overall, but in becoming a Lenten practice. It’s a two for one thing, which I always think is nice!
   The quote today has one of my favorite words in it. Grace. Growing up, the last adjective someone would have described me with would have been grace, at least not in the physical sense! First off, I was left handed, that means doing everything from learning how to write, to tying my shoes to learning to iron meant everything was backward for me. It was extremely awkward for me to iron clothes especially when Mom left the ironing board up. I tried to imitate her but the small end and the large end were always at odds with my left hand moving the iron. That is until I figured out I could just switch sides and things got a little better. But these were the days before they put the cords in the middle of the iron and that stupid cord was always getting caught under the iron. I actually melted a couple of them when I didn’t watch out where I was setting it down on the board!
   I was long legged and clumsy, my hair was long and hung down over my eyes (it was the sixties, everyone wore their hair like that!) and I loved to wear bell bottoms which got in everything from slamming doors to bicycle chains! On top of all that, the only way I did things was fast.  Run through the house, run outside, run to the swings, run to the kitchen table. I still run up and down the stairs at work to the fluster of my co-workers.  And in the midst of all that running, I had my run-ins with chairs,  tripped over dogs and cats, feet caught in the carpeting. My knees were always in a state of scabs, cuts, band aids.
   In other words, grace was definitely NOT my middle name.
   I admired people like Princess Grace of Monaco who just seemed to flow with grace, Audrey Hepburn who had style AND grace and my grandmothers who didn’t really appreciate the fact that I could jump three stairs and make it to breakfast in record time.  “Do we have a herd of elephants in the house?”
   So it is really pushing it for me to look at this quote and think grace will have to be a partner with my civility. At 53 I don’t think I can totally change my whole physical personality and become Princess Grace.
   But perhaps in my way of thinking I can be graceful. In the way I look at other drivers on the road, or the people who come to the office door looking for help, or my choir students who laugh and giggle their way through choir practice. Grace would mean I could l look my students in the eye, without getting mad at their behavior and still correct them. Grace would mean I would welcome anyone to the door with a smile and send them in the right direction without sighing at the interruption. Grace would mean I would smile at other drivers, slow down myself and see the world through their eyes.
   Perhaps I’ve given myself the excuse to not be graceful in my civility because I’ve never thought of myself as graceful.  Well, guess this year will be the time to change that line of thinking.  Just because I am a physical person doesn’t mean I can’t do everything with grace. I lift lumber, move furniture, lift my 45 pound dog into my car (his legs are really short!) climb ladders, work in attics, spar in martial arts. All of those things can be done with more grace than I already do. There’s always room for improvement.
   I’ve always envied women who could do physical work and hardly show they have broken sweat. I get dirty, nasty, but I have fun doing it. Maybe grace isn’t so much how you look. There has to be a way to still be physical, still run up and down the stairs with grace and yet look like Grace Kelly doing it!
   But for now, I’ll be working on the mental side of grace, grace in my manners, how I treat interruptions. And I'll let you know how becoming more graceful physically goes too! It's Lent after all, why not got for the gold?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lenten 15

It's Lent! Time to begin your Lenten 15.
Lenten 15 is 15 minutes you spend EACH and EVERY day, in silent prayer, meditation, reading from your Bible or other spiritual reading, time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament, time spent sitting outside on a sunny day just letting God talk to your heart.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Civility Week 8: Feb 20, 2012

Did you know there are books on Civility? I ran across one today called, “Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct” by Dr. P. M. Forni. Dr. Forni is a professor of Italian Literature at Johns Hopkins University.  In 2000 he founded the Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins and teaches courses on the theory and history of manners.
I haven’t read his book yet, but from the reviews I was reading it seems like an interesting read. Some of the chapter titles include:

Pay Attention!

Acknowledge others

Think the best


Be inclusive

Speak kindly

Don’t speak ill

Accept and give praise

Respect even a subtle “no”

Respect other’s opinions

Mind your body

Be agreeable

Keep it down (and rediscover silence)

Respect other people’s time

Respect other people’s space

Apologize earnestly

Assert yourself

Avoid personal questions

Care for your guests

Be a considerate guest

Think twice before asking for favors

Refrain from idle complaints

Accept and give constructive criticism

Respect the environment and be gentle

Don’t shift responsibility and blame.

 Wow, this sounds like the things I nag my kids about! Which means, hmmm….these must be pretty general, basic sound ideas for how to raise a child to become a civil adult.

Congrats Cardinal Dolan!

The down to earth priest from St. Louis is now a cardinal! Read the article about him here:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Does The Cross Surprise Us?

   My hubs and I are reading Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s book “To Whom Shall We Go?
Wow, it’s a really good book. Archbishop, who is actually Cardinal –Elect now, really writes in a way you love reading and can easily understand.  I know I’m prejudiced because he’s from the St. Louis area and so am I, but he just writes in such a conversational way that you really understand what he’s getting at.

   Right now I’m reading the chapter on Embracing the Cross. It couldn’t come at a better time. You know how it seems like even though you are trying to do things right in your life, everything is going wrong?
   Just yesterday I was musing to God, kind of like Tevye in Fiddler On The Roof does. You know, complaining to God, asking why everything has to keep going wrong all the time, why can’t I get a break. Then I sit down to read some of Archbishop Dolan’s book and begin the Cross chapter.

   That darn golden two-by-four as my hubs calls it, hit me in the head when I read this: “Our Lord could not be more forthright in telling us that the Cross has to be part of discipleship. Why are we so surprised then, when it comes?”
   Ouch, he was right. Why am I so surprised when my cross really gets heavy or seems to increase into several crosses. I read further;

Jesus told us it would come. As a matter of fact, when the Cross comes into your life, I propose that it means you’re doing something right. You’re on the right track. You’re actually following our Lord, because He told us the Cross would come.”
   Now I am picking myself up off the floor because I had just been crabbing at God about how He treats His friends and I thought I was a friend. Here Archbishop is telling me, duh, why do you think you HAVE this cross?  Because you ARE friends. “ All of our complaints, our distresses are just different words for the Cross.” Then, lest we think, “Well, it would just be easier if I didn’t follow Christ, if I just kind of forgot I knew about the Church and the sacraments, “ he goes on to say,

                The Cross comes to everybody, whether they are disciples of Christ or not. Everyone experiences the Cross in the simple, ordinary adversities of life.
   So, I guess I had better stay friends with Jesus because at least I know he listens and give me comfort through the words of scripture and the sacraments. I always feel better when I’ve gone to confession and confessed being grumpy with the Lord about my cross!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Civility- Week 7 Feb. 13, 2012

Civility costs nothing, and buys everything. - Mary Wortley Montagu, English writer

   Wow, week seven into this new year.  Doesn’t it seem longer than that? I guess I am so ready for spring, I think it should be week 20 something already and the fact that my life seems to have had way to much stuff going on in it to only be week 7.

   The Civility Experiment as my children are now calling it, because experiments aren’t supposed to last long and they know me well enough to know being the mercurial creature I am at times, my attempts at always being civil are going to fail at times, was not going well for me this week.

   Yesterday was one of those times. I was not feeling well, which should have been my first clue to not engage in any activity that you could add the adjectives stressful, tense or even slow. Despite knowing this, I decided to try pricing dishwashers on the internet.

   Our poor dishwasher has been on the fritz for the last year. It’s about 10 years old which to me means it should have at least another 10 years to go before conking out. But I still believe the Maytag Repairman commercials too.

   For the last year our dishwasher has been offering up as supposedly washed dishes, dishes that have scum on them, particles of food, and rust and streaks all over the plates.  I’ve tried everything from gallons of Rinso agents, to that paint you use to cover up the rust, to those special “dishwasher cleaners” you can buy.  No dice.  Ours was making horrible ka-thump sounds and only with a wailing at the end of each cycle, gives forth dishes that still look like the dog licked them clean with a muddy tongue. So I was on the computer pricing them at a very slow pace because our internet was dragging. Then the prices were astronomical because we have to have an unusually small sized dishwasher to fit under our cabinets, when you add shipping you might as well be booking a ride to the moon.

   Maybe if I had used more civility, the above quote would have worked for me.

   But in my state of mind, it wasn’t going to happen and of course using Civility wasn’t going to pay for a new dishwasher.  But then neither was screaming and yelling at my nonfunctioning dishwasher and slow internet buying me anything except more wrinkles, gray hair and additional time in the confessional.

   So, poor example that I was to my daughter of how to be civil when exasperated, I gave up the search for a new dishwasher and decided to make washing dishes my Lenten offering this year since Ash Wednesday is already next week.

   Failing as a parent to show a good example of behaving civilly is nothing new to me of course. But each time I drop the ball it hurts and I am reminded of how very human and crabby I am. And of course I run the whole gamut of wondering why God and my family don’t just give up on me.

   Sitting in church looking at Jesus on the cross, and at the Stations of the Cross finally reminds me that Jesus fell three times. Why?  Of course he was tired, exhausted, beaten to the point of death. But wasn’t it more than that?  Maybe it was to show that when all else fails, you still get back up. At least that’s how I look at his example. If of all people, Jesus fell down with his cross…isn’t it okay that I fall down with my cross of my bad temper, and lack of patience? Doesn’t it matter that when I screw up, I get back up again and try to do better?

   I hope so. Because I have fallen more times than that lady in the Life Alert commercial. I keep getting back up, time after time, working on my civility. At week seven I am wondering if it will ever kick in.
   How many weeks does it take to create a new better habit? I forget, but I’m pretty sure it’s more than 7. So I guess I’ll keep trying. Hope you are sticking with me, cause it’s a lonely journey sometimes.  But then I guess I’d better watch my mouth better if you are coming along, huh?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Just What Kind of Woman Are You?

With all this garbage about making women equal by giving them abortion drugs and sterilization procedures I’ve been skimming back over my copy of "Women, Sex and the Catholic Church". I love this book. I would encourage everyone to get a copy and read it. What's it about? It's about how the Catholic Church has helped PROMOTE women for the last 2000 years. Yes, I said promote! Not only that, but the Catholic Church has helped protect, serve and encourage women in the Catholic faith to help the Church.

If you don't believe me then you need to read the book:
"Women, Sex and the Catholic Church - A Case for Catholic Teaching" edited by Erika Bachiochi.

Erika has brought together a panel of women experts who through their years of research, teaching, experience have found out that yes, truly, the Catholic Church is not the sexist, biased organization that the media and the pro-choice feminists of today say it is.

Do you hear a "so there!" attitude in my voice?

Good!  Because I am sick and tired of being told by feminists, the media, our government and others that women are being mistreated by the Catholic Church, the ONLY church who upholds the Blessed Virgin Mary - a woman, as a role model for all of us.

In Chapter 3, "The Fullness of Sexuality: Church Teaching on Premarital Sex," Cassandra Hough who is the Executive Director of the Love & Fidelity Network writes: "Contrary to secular (and some dissident Catholic) feminist arguments, the Catholic Church does not encourage women’s chastity in order to subject her to male domination. The fact is, if women’s purity receives any more attention than men’s purity, it is out of an acknowledgement of the powerful influence women naturally have on men. Women have the profound ability to rouse both the best and worst in the opposite sex. When women lose their concept of purity, men lose their motivation to be respectful.   When women maintain their purity with confidence, love and faith, they inspire awe, respect and admiration from their male counterparts. When women have high standards, men will respond accordingly….The joy of being a Catholic woman is that we have these safeguards and moral standards outlined in our faith. And even more, we have the sacramental grace to aid us in our commitment to them.”

Well said!! Even in the old west, men knew they needed the influence of “church-going women” to establish order and civility to the towns. Nary a western territory in the union would have become a state without the civilizing effect of womenfolk!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Are You Catholic? Part 1: The Precepts of the Church

During Confirmation we are reminded that there are certain Precepts of the Church that all Catholics must adhere to. In addition to the 10 Commandments, these Precepts are our responsibilities to the Church of the future generations as well as ourselves getting to Heaven. If we don’t do our part, our children can’t do their part and pass along the faith.
   These precepts have guided the community of the church for two thousand years and provide a basis for all Christians to follow the Lord. It’s especially helpful to parents and families to raise their children in the faith.

1. Keep holy the Day of the Lord’s Resurrection by participating in Mass, EVERY Sunday, holy day of obligation, avoiding unnecessary work, shopping or other activities which don’t remind you that it’s the Lord you should be honoring this day.

   Funny how we make a special effort to not miss the Super bowl, World Series or other special event, but miss Mass? Well, we can do that every week,  so where’s the harm in skipping every now and then?
   But the harm is showing our kids that thanking God is a low priority in our life. Sure we can say, “Gee thanks God for this meal or when we wake up in the morning.” But  preparing for Sunday Mass, EVERY week is the respectful and loving way to show God we appreciate His gifts of faith, our lives, our children’s lives, our jobs, our world, and everything else He has given us. Shouldn’t He get that at LEAST?
2. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation at LEAST once a year. I don’t know about you but I would have a hard time remembering 365 days worth of sins going just once a year.
More often would be better, and make it a family event!

3. Receive Holy Communion at least once a year.  I love chocolate. It would really stink if I could only get chocolate once a year.   I love Jesus too, and I think it would stink to only receive Jesus once a year…
(not comparing Jesus to chocolate okay? Just making a point!)

 4. Study Catholic teaching in preparation for Confirmation,
Learning about the Catholic faith doesn’t stop with Confirmation. And if you haven’t been Confirmed are you really convinced you want to be Catholic? Why haven't you made that Sacrament of Commitment to the Church? Adults can be confirmed too—just ask!

5. Observe the marriage laws of the Church. Okay this is where people can get really messed up. The marriage laws state: Catholics must get married in the Catholic church. Unless you get permission from your pastor/bishop to marry in a protestant church, your marriage is not VALID unless it’s done in the Catholic church which means you’ve met with the priest, attended pre-Cana classes and married in the Church.   You can marry a non-Catholic, in the Church, and that is still a VALID marriage.

But if you marry outside of Church by a Justice of the Peace or any other minister besides a priest, it’s not VALID and you cannot receive Communion until you go to confession.

Sorry, but it’s the rule. Catholic marriages are considered a Sacrament.  It’s not unfair, it’s just how it is. Ballgames have rules, airlines have rules, governments have rules.

The other part of # 5 is: Give religious training to your children by word and your example, and use parish schools,, and religious education programs.

Again, just getting your child baptized isn’t enough. Baptism isn’t magic. You don’t do it because Grandma said so. It’s because you want your child to share in the Catholic faith and share in the salvation  of Heaven.

6.  Strengthen and support the Church by tithing. We give money and support to everything important in our lives. We keep the faith going by helping build our church buildings, fund religious programs so EACH generation will have the faith.  Support your parish and priests, the worldwide Church and Holy Father.  We show our love and appreciation to others by gifts of our time, money and our talents. So too we show God we love Him by sharing our time, money and talents to Him.

7.   Do penance regularly including abstaining from meat and fasting on the appointed days.  Do we forget why we fast from food on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday or abstain from meat on all Fridays during Lent? So we can tell everyone we’re Catholic?  Not hardly. Fasting has long been a tradition in the Church to ask forgiveness for our sins, to tell our bodies who’s boss, to cleanse our body and help it rely on God and not on worldly things.  Fasting shows our desire to give thanks to God for sending Jesus to die for our sins. We don’t literally walk the way of the cross like Jesus. Making our stomachs hurt on those days is just a reminder of how much we love God and are grateful for everything He does for us.

8.  Join the missionary spirit and apostolate of the Church. Go out and be fishers of men! Evangelize! You don’t have to preach on a street corner. Do you act like a Christian at work? Do people think of you as a good person, an honest person?  Do we listen to people who need help or advice? Or do we shy away from religious talk so we don’t get labeled a Holy Roller. Even worse, do WE label people who are excited about their faith as too holy or fanatical? Do we judge? Are we prejudiced?

   Living our faith is our way of showing the world that the God who made this world is important to us and should be respected and honored. The way we give example to others, most importantly our children, is what spreads the faith.
    Our children learn about faith from what they see and hear at home. If the television or internet is on too much that is where they will learn about God—which means they won’t learn anything about God.
   Parents are given a huge responsibility to raise children, keep them healthy both physically and spiritually. The Church is here to help you teach your children about our loving God and how to get to Heaven.
    By obeying the Precepts of the Church we give importance to God, the Church he gave us to help us get to heaven and His loving Son.
   As parents we always want what’s best for our children. Shouldn’t we do everything in our power to give them the means of salvation?   If we don’t believe we need salvation, how will we teach it to our kids?  It’s not rocket science—it’s just giving back to God and loving Him.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Civility Week 6- Feb 6, 2012

Civility means a great deal more than just being nice to one another. It is complex and encompasses learning how to connect successfully and live well with others, developing thoughtfulness, and fostering effective self-expression and communication. Civility includes courtesy, politeness, mutual respect, fairness, good manners, as well as a matter of good health. Taking an active interest in the well-being of our community and concern for the health of our society is also involved in civility.” ~       P. M. Forn

   Six weeks into the year…and believe it or not I am still remembering I’m supposed to be working on civility. Usually I have trouble remembering my New Year’s Resolution by this date, so writing on this every week seems to be helping me!
   Wow, what a weekend to behave civilly! Daughter #2 and I donated some time, money and goose bumps for charity when we participated in the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge at our state park.
   The goal was to raise money for the Special Olympics. The challenge was to jump into the freezing cold lake, wade out 35-40 feet and come back to the beach.  We were the last ones to register and so were in the last heat. Groups of 10-12 people are in each heat.  Lots of people wear costumes and really get into the spirit of the day. Some people are a little too spirited, or should I say, drink too many spirits and thus dampen the spirits of everyone around them.

   The group ahead of us was one of those groups, young, painted, costumed, some in pretty scanty clothing, and literally falling down drunk.  Ok, I try to tell myself, they are doing this for charity, cut them some slack although it’s only 2:00 in the afternoon.  After waiting in line for over an hour, we finally get started.  The line begins moving toward the beach, where each group will have their turn in the water.

   About midway, the group in front of us gets off the main path toward the beach and into the mud. That was a bad idea. It was like watching five year olds discovering mud all over again. They fell down in the mud, began throwing mud balls at each other. One of the extremely loud obnoxious guys is trying to catch mud balls in his mouth.  People on either side of them in line moved back not wanting to get smacked in the head with a mud ball.

   As we moved closer to the starting line and the groups at the head of the line were already getting their dunking in and running out, the group in front of us move off the path completely and begin fighting in the mud, the guys AND the girls. Costume parts are falling off.  The situation is bordering on the obscene. One of the guys is picking up one of the girls over his shoulder and falling in the mud with her. Some of the crowd begins to laugh which of course eggs them on.  I am getting extremely embarrassed by the sight of all this. Looking the other way is not an option. My 20 year daughter is with me. Why doesn’t somebody do something?  Why don’t I have the guts to Mom it up and tell them in my best mom voice to stop these antics and behave? Was it because I was the only person in line over the age of 30 and there were 12 of them and only 1 of me? Yes! Do I hate speaking up in public? Yes!   Would you have said something? If so what? I was desperately trying to figure out what to say or do when suddenly a little voice inside my head said “pray.”

     “Pray? I ask.  What good is that going to do? We need some major bar bouncers out here! Where’s law enforcement?"  But since I was totally inept at what to do about all this, I began saying the  St. Michael prayer. 
   I am not kidding you when I tell you what happened next.  I felt a sudden presence, like something giant had  landed on top of all of us. I don’t know how else to describe it.  It was heavy, but not crushing, not scary, but made me catch my breath. I looked back at the drunk group, and they had calmed down, gotten back on the path and quit most of the horseplay.  For the rest of the time until they dunked into the water, they had quit most of the obscene stuff and the mud play.

   I began talking to my daughter, hoping it all wouldn’t start up again. We talked with the other people around us.  The feeling of the presence passed.  Finally it was our turn to run into the lake.  The other group dispersed, loud still,  but most of the antics had stopped.
   What happened? I still don’t know and haven’t even said anything to my daughter about it yet. I don’t usually feel such things happen. But all I know is it happened the moment I began the St. Michael prayer. Everyone became more civil then.

   I’ve heard of such occurences before. But why me, why then? Did St. Michael have pity on me because I didn’t have the nerve to speak up and tell them to stop it?    I still feel lost as to what I should have done to end it.  Haven't we all gotten caught in a situation where we felt that, “it’s not my business, my kid, my property,that’s being assaulted or attacked.  And yet, it was! It my eyes, ears and propriety that was being attacked as well as my daughters and everyone else around me. And I felt powerless to do anything!  I thank my Guardian Angel for whispering to me that day.  He got me to finally do something, knowing how timid I was feeling.
   So, my civility was assaulted that day to the max as was my ego.  I have the feeling I’m getting pulled to learn another lesson about learning how to speak up and not cave in to fear and shyness.  Rats, I hate speaking up, I hate drawing attention to myself or being jeered at. But apparently sometimes we don’t have a choice, do we?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Civility: End of Week 5

So here it is, the feast of St. Blaise and the blessing of throats. As someone who used to be so prone to losing my voice quite frequently, I always loved this blessing!  Today, our pastor, Fr. Tom brought up an interesting thought. As we got our throats blessed, maybe we could remember that not only were we getting a blessing from colds and disease of the throat, but maybe it would remind us to watch our language, and what we say about other people.
Wow, that was a really inspired thought. And it worked too. As I went over to the office after Mass, I had the opportunity to "remember" my speech when I encountered a situation that normally would have called for me to say something uncharitable. Thanks to Fr. Tom, I stopped and realized I should pray at that moment instead.
Thank you!

I'm A Catholic Blogging Mom Too!

I just read a blogging piece that said there are no Catholic Blogging Moms in the "Top Mom Blogs of 2011.
Really? I am missing the boat!
Maybe it's hard for moms, Catholic or otherwise to tell everyone they blog...seems like bragging? But gosh I love reading a good Catholic blog, especially by other moms.  The only bad thing is that all seem to be new moms, much younger than I am...
But us older moms have a lot of experience to offer...and we can be funny too. We don't have all the cute pictures of our little ones...well I could scan in the "old fashioned" ones and use those, they just wouldn't be uptodate...my oldest is 25 now and would just love having a picture of him in his diaper and superman cape all over the internet!
But, hey, give me a comment...what do you think? More funny mature mom thoughts - could they make it on the internet??? What do you think?????