Advent in Rome
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Gift of light, the unremitting dawn
Horizons - Recently, I've been avoiding a variety of things for some reason: Christmas card writing, cleaning out the refrigerator, paying bills, even getting a haircut. What's up with the delay, I ask myself? 
A Tale of Two Snow Days
  It was Monday morning, and I breathed a sigh of relief as my boys boarded the school bus. After pouring myself a cup of coffee, I wrote a to do list for my day; work, a quick trip to the gym, errands, meal prep, more work.   “Go, me! I’m so organized and efficient!” […] The post A Tale of Two Snow Days appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Why do Catholics go to church every week?
Alternate title: Aw mom, again?! This past weekend we had a double whammy of obligatory worship: a holy day of obligation on a Saturday and then the regular Sunday obligation of Mass the next day. My kids whined and squirmed and demanded to know whyyyyy we had to go baaaaack when we had just been there the previous morning. There were some sniffles and a lingering hacking cough, involved, too, so, in total, we actually ended up attending 4(!) separate(!) masses(!) to get all the healthy-ish people where they needed to be. I was thinking about the feat we accomplished and the juggling required, and grateful that we both have jobs that don’t typically require weekend work and free us up to attend pretty much whatever Mass time works for us. We also live in a major city and have a laundry list of different times and locations to choose from, which is a luxury I don’t take for granted. I explained that having to go to Mass is a privilege and a gift, not a drudgery and a drag. I also admitted that yeah, it’s not always entertaining. That even adults struggle to pay attention and to sit still, and that I don’t leap out of bed with joyful expectation on Sunday mornings and run to Jesus. Still, the reason we go has less to do with God commanding us and more to do with God giving us what we need to flourish. God gives us our Sunday obligation to meet our needs, not His. He gives us Himself in the Eucharist to sustain us. While it’s true that our obligation to participate in communion, receiving the Lord in His Body and Blood, is only annual according to canon (,), our presence with Him at Mass is required on a weekly basis. (And if we are in a state of grace and properly disposed to receive Him –  recently confessed/not in a state of mortal sin – then He gives Himself to us willingly, over and over again. This is what is known as the Sunday Obligation, and it requires a Catholic to attend Holy Mass every week, either as a vigil Mass on Saturday night, or on Sunday itself. Missing Sunday Mass intentionally with full knowledge of the gravity of doing so is actually itself a mortal sin. Crazy, right? Of course, there are circumstances beyond our control that might keep us from church: sick kids, a serious injury, a deployment, a career as a first responder requiring shifts that would all of Saturday and Sunday sometimes, etc. But to miss Mass intentionally for a soccer tournament, while on vacation, or out of a desire to sleep in or hit up Home Depot bright and early? Nope. Not sufficiently grave reason to excuse the Sunday obligation. What a demanding God we Catholics worship. Couldn’t He lighten up a bit and given the frenetic pace of most modern family’s lives? Let me put it another way. I feed my children every night. I am richly blessed to be able to do so, and I want to nourish them as well as I am able. (Some nights the level of nourishment is more apparent than others, but for our purposes here, the analogy is sufficient.) I invite them to the table and fill their plates every night because I love them and because I care about their health and wellbeing. I could feed them less frequently, but it wouldn’t be best for them. I could also excuse them from sitting down at the family table and toss a granola bar their way while they engaged in some other activity, but it wouldn’t serve them well long term. It wouldn’t build our family relationship the way a meal around the table does (or is meant to, anyway. Fingers crossed for better behavior from the preschool set at some point, eventually) They need real food that nourishes their bodies, and real connection as a family to nourish their hearts. God didn’t have to leave us a tangible, fleshly reminder of His presence. Didn’t have to pour Himself out, literally, as physical food and drink to be consumed. But He did. He chose to give us more than could be reasonably expected. He lavishes us with the physical gift of Himself because He knows it will meet our needs – physical and spiritual – more completely than anything else in this world. Even if we don’t fully understand it. Heck, even if we don’t fully believe it. Even if we feel utterly unworthy to approach it. There is a reason we recite the words of the Roman Centurion just before we approach to receive Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.” There can be any number of reasons for our unworthiness. Doubt, fear, anger towards God, apathy, lack of faith…the list is as endless as the number of faithful in the pews. But He still comes. And because He knows how good it is for us, He requires us to come back again and again, every week, for as long as we draw breath. God doesn’t need our worship. But we need to worship God. We are created beings, externally oriented toward the Creator. We can turn away from Him, of course, and we do so over and over again, sometimes permanently. But it hurts. We were made to be in relationship with Him and with one another. When we turn away from that for which we have been made, we fracture something essential to our happiness, to our wholeness. This imperfect nugget of “why” is something I’m trying to give to my kids. Trying to help them frame their understanding of God as lavish Father, not demanding dictator.
Motherhood + Holiday Magic
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God Has a Purpose for You
We traded the truth for a lie. We traded love for lust. We traded masculinity for weakness. We traded femininity for masculinity. We traded humility for pride. We traded grace for evil. We traded chastity for perversion. We traded kindness for anger. We traded serving for being served. We traded happiness for anxiety. We traded […] The post God Has a Purpose for You appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Beginning Advent
Hello and welcome! Friday, I went to the IBEW Hall in Dorchester for the Labor Guild’s annual Cushing-Gavin Awards Dinner.We are very proud of the work that has been done by the Labor Guild, which is one of the very important initiatives begun by Cardinal Cushing. Historically, the Church in the United States, since the time of Cardinal James Gibbons, has been very supportive of our labor unions and the right of workers to collective bargaining. In these days of apparent prosperity in our country, income inequality continues to grow. Part of this is because workers do not have a strong voice in their economic future. This is where unions can play such an important role. Each year at the dinner, the Guild recognizes four individuals for service in labor-management relations: a member of the labor community, a member of the management community, a labor mediator and a labor attorney. This year, the honorees were Stephen Finnigan, Stephen Coyle, Attorney Sarah Kerr Garraty and Attorney Anne Sills. With Guild Chaplain Father Bryan Hehir and awardees Stephen Finnigan, Anne Sills, Sarah Kerr Garraty and Stephen Coyle That evening, I went to St. Mary’s in Waltham for a meeting with the local members of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Also with us was Father Eric Cadin of our Vocations Office, who is overseeing our campus ministry. The FOCUS missionaries are recent college graduates who, after a time of training, work with the Catholic campus ministry at a university to encourage the students to be involved in their programs and to develop a personal relationship with Christ. Currently in Boston, we have missionaries working at Harvard, MIT and Boston University, and hope they will be able to expand their presence here in the future. The dinner was an opportunity for us to hear about their experiences ministering here in the archdiocese. Being an archdiocese with nearly 70 colleges and universities and nearly 400,000 students, this is a very important ministry for us. We are very grateful for all that FOCUS does here in our archdiocese and throughout the country. Sunday, I went to Quincy to celebrate Mass with Mother Olga and her community, the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth. Their presence is a great blessing for us and I am so pleased to see that they continue to have young women interested in joining their community. Sunday was the Feast of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and his is one of the charisms that has inspired the Daughters. So, I was happy to celebrate Mass with the Sisters on this special feast day. That evening, I gathered with the members of the Boston Area Order of Malta for their annual Advent celebration at St. John’s Seminary. We began our gathering with a Mass celebrated in the seminary chapel. During the Mass, they honored Jack MacKinnon with the Bishop Fitzpatrick Award, which I presented to him. Following the Mass, we gathered for a dinner in the refectory. There, we heard a talk by Father Stephen Salocks, the interim rector of the seminary, on the history and mission of St. John’s. I also offered remarks, in which I reflected on the meaning of this season of Advent and the ways in which the Order of Malta puts into practice Christ’s call for us to love and serve one another. Damien DeVasto is concluding his time of service as the Boston Area Chair and he is being succeeded by Nancy and Craig Gibson. So, at the end of our gathering, we took some time to recognize him and a number of members of the Order offered words of thanks for his exemplary leadership and many accomplishments during his time as Area Chair. On behalf of the Order, I presented Damien with a lovely crystal bowl as a sign of their appreciation. Sunday morning, we had our Annual Catholic Appeal Appreciation Mass at the Pastoral Center. We hold this Mass each year as an opportunity to thank the people for their support of the Appeal. We are grateful for all that they do in helping to advance the mission of the Church in Boston. Sunday evening, I gathered for dinner with several members of the Neocatechumenal Way in Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in East Boston. They actually came to the Cathedral and prepared a nice dinner for me. We had a lovely meal together, during which they shared their personal witness of the work of God’s grace in their lives and their families’ lives. It was a wonderful encounter. Tuesday I met with Father Timothy Kesicki, who is the President of the Jesuit Conference of the U.S. and Canada along with Father Michael Boughton, the rector of St. Peter Faber Jesuit Community in Brighton and Father Tom Stegman, the Dean of the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. With Fathers Boughton, Stegman and Kesicki It was good to hear about the many Jesuits in formation at the Faber Community and the Jesuit priests residing there while pursuing advanced studies at the B.C. School of Theology and Ministry.  I thanked them for the presence of their young priests, who are helping out in so many of our parishes and ethnic ministries. I know their presence is so greatly appreciated by the priests and people of the archdiocese. Father Kesicki has significant responsibilities as president of the U.S./Canada Jesuit Conference and shared with us reports of the good work that is being done by the Jesuits in many dioceses throughout the U.S. and Canada. Wednesday, I met with Jim Towey, the president of Ave Maria University in Florida. I am on the board of the university and he wanted to update me on some of their activities and projects. One of those projects is a special institute on Mother Teresa. As part of that, they take students to Calcutta and many different places in the world so they can work with Mother Teresa’s sisters. I understand it has been a wonderful experience for them. That afternoon, we had one of our regular meetings of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. The meetings bring together the ordinaries of the four dioceses of Massachusetts and members of their staffs to discuss issues of common concern. It was a very good meeting in which we discussed ways to help people understand what the response to the crisis in the Church has been in the four dioceses of Massachusetts since 2002. We will certainly be speaking more about that in the future. And finally, that day I also met Eustace Mita, who is the president of the Papal Foundation, of which I am now the chairman. He came to meet with me about the Foundation but also to discuss the work of his men’s conference Man Up Philly. He has been very successful in creating this conference and helping to initiate it in different parts of the country and offered to help us if we wanted to start another men’s conference here the Archdiocese of Boston. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Coffee clicks: viral illnesses, a keto update, visiting fortune tellers, and the Immaculate Conception
Ciao to my internet people. I’ve missed you guys. 9 days of stomach flu + fevers + a side of croup for the baby, and it feels like we’re crawling to the finish line of this week. We had a miraculous 30 hour window this past Friday sans barf during which my younger sister (one of 5 girls, only 1 single sissy to go!) got married to the man of her dreams in a beautiful church on a perfectly cold November afternoon. Their reception was in an honest to goodness log cabin – well, lodge – and it was lovely and sparkling with Christmas lights and good cheer and the best part of it, aside from their beautiful sacrament, is that nobody barfed for 12 hours on either side of the blessed event. (If you’re reading this mom, hi, sorry we kept it from you. You didn’t really need more stress last week though.) Suffice it to say the house is kind of wrecked and Advent has been nice and penance-y so far, without my having to do too much extra in order to achieve it. Oddly enough, I’ve been relatively calm. This time last year, if you’ll recall, I was 59 weeks pregnant and everyone was barfing and I spent all of December wildly swinging between despair and nonsensical anger at, I don’t know, germ theory, I guess. And toddler hygiene. For a keto update, things are moving along, albeit slowly. I only lost a couple pounds in November (cough Thanksgiving cough) but I’m still trucking along and still feeling really great when I stay away from sugar and carbs. But especially sugar. I’ve also been doing a fun barre class (without a lick of yoga in it, happily) at the gym down the street on Saturday mornings and it is so fun and hard. So maybe I’ve gained like 6 ounces of muscle and that’s slowing down the weight loss?I’m going with that. But enough about me: onward and upward to your good clicks for the weekend: I really admire this lady’s spunk. And I have to wonder whether her mobile home park is somehow miraculously free from all inflatable holiday decorations? Otherwise I’m not sure the property management company has much of a case against her. And I mean at least we know who painted her, right? Viva la virgen! This was fascinating, heartbreaking, and really informative. How many researchers and people responsible for crafting public health policy are asking these kind of smart, necessary questions? I will probably write my own thing in response to this one. I completely agree that raising kids is a major sunk cost; and I also completely disagree that said cost is a reason to avoid having them. Our civilization is perishing for lack of courage/selflessness/delayed gratification/a bunch of other things CS Lewis would smack us upside our heads for. What kind of financial security does a young person expect to achieve before they have children? How about owning a home? The ability to travel? The capacity to finance braces for each kid? A new car that comfortably fits everybody? An all organic diet? The freedom to pursue a career outside the home which necessitates expensive daycare? I could list many more. These are all examples of extreme privilege, to be sure. But they are also some of the most common things that people cite to me in public encounters over the size of our family. “We could never afford x,y, or z for more than 2 kids” Well, lady at Costco, neither can we. But there’s no gospel imperative to ensure your kids get a college education, which I tend to hear shades of frequently in many Christian personal finance circles. Have you ever visited a fortune teller? Watched a performance by a medium claiming to be communicating with the dead? Guess what: the reason the Church forbids us from dabbling in the occult is because some people who claim a knack for clairvoyance really are communicating with someone, and it sure as hell isn’t someone you want to be chatting with. Are you listening to CNA’s new podcast yet? Here’s a teaser for the latest episode: Starbucks, Disney Princesses, and porn. Hey, don’t forget to go to Mass tomorrow for the Immaculate Conception! Or tonight, if you’re lucky enough to find an anticipatory celebration. No Mary, no Jesus. It’s no wonder He would point us frequently to His mother during the Advent and Christmas season.
The peacemaking monks of Tibhirine
Horizons - I first became aware of the Monks of Tibhirine, as they are commonly known, in the mid-2000s from a friend who was familiar with their story. Most striking to me was their commitment to building bridges between Christianity and Islam and their commitment to understanding the faith, traditions and lives of their neighbors.
Advent Within Me: Waiting on my Baby… and the Messiah
I’m really bummed I’m not having a baby in time for Christmas. Well, knock on wood.  I’ll be 35 weeks at Christmas.  Which is a feasible time to have a baby, I think.  The better part of me, the part that is maternal and protective, wants the baby to make it to her due date […] The post Advent Within Me: Waiting on my Baby… and the Messiah appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
REVIEW: Stay Connected – Journals for Catholic Women
the day I received this book, I grabbed my water bottle, my snack, my unopened mail packages, and a notepad and pen. Once I got settled into the car rider line, I popped open both packages, and inside was Allison's book, Stay Connected. The post REVIEW: Stay Connected – Journals for Catholic Women appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Great gifts for Catholic kids {gift guide}
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Advent Traditions–The Jesse Tree
Our parish priest despises the Jesse Tree. Sadly it is for good reason. As a seminarian, the liturgy director absolutely forbid Christmas decorations, music, etc. during Advent. They were allowed a Jesse Tree, a particularly ugly one at that, and that was the extent of their decor for the season. I feel for those poor […] The post Advent Traditions–The Jesse Tree appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
When the Kids are Gone: Tips for Single Parents
Being a single mother is stressful. It’s challenging and chaotic. It’s so easy to be stretched too thin and exhausted. What’s even harder, though, is the time away from them. That was so hard for me and to be honest, for years I dealt with our separations the wrong way. The pain can be intense […] The post When the Kids are Gone: Tips for Single Parents appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Presenting our Cheverus Awards
Hello and welcome! Saturday I went to our Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Brookline to celebrate the Rite of Candidacy of two seminarians. We celebrated the Vigil Mass of Christ the King at which Eric Gonzalez and Fernando Vivas were admitted to candidacy. At the conclusion of the Mass, we carried the Blessed Sacrament to the new sanctuary of the word, which we then blessed. It is a beautiful chapel with the Sacrament in reserve, but also a place where the seminarians spend time in prayer and reflection on the Scriptures. The seminarians themselves made the pews for the chapel. I was very pleased with how the chapel turned out. It really is stunning. Sunday morning, I celebrated Mass for the Feast of Christ the King for the Spanish community at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. There, we also marked Father Pablo Gomez’s birthday. Sunday, I went to Immaculate Conception Church in Malden for the presentation of our annual Cheverus Award Medals. Traditionally, the celebration is held in the Cathedral but, because the Cathedral is still undergoing renovations, we moved it to Malden this year. We initiated the Cheverus Award in 2008, the archdiocese’s bicentennial year, as a way to recognize the unsung heroes and heroines of our parishes and ministries and publicly thank them on behalf of the whole Catholic community. This year, we presented 125 people with the Cheverus Medal. We were particularly happy that we were able to hold the ceremony on the very Feast of Christ the King, which was also Thanksgiving weekend. In my homily, I said that this was an occasion to give thanks to God for these brothers and sisters and their generous service to the Church. I also spoke about the fact that it was the Feast of Christ the King, and that we extend Christ’s kingdom by the witness of our lives and that the awardees are people who have given a great witness through their faith and generosity. Some have given many, many decades of service to the Church, and their deep commitment and hard work have been the motor force that keeps our parishes and ministries running. So, this was such a wonderful opportunity to say thank you to God and thank you to them. It is always very uplifting to see the enthusiasm of our Catholic community for the celebration. In addition to the relatives and friends of the honorees, people come together from all the parishes to accompany them on this very important occasion for the Church, in which we celebrate the gifts and the talents of our people who generously put those gifts at the service of God and Church. Monday, I went to Central Catholic High School in Lawrence for a Mass with the school community. The high school is flourishing. We are so grateful to the Marist Brothers for the wonderful job that they have done there, and their Marist charism is still very much part of the school. We are also so grateful for Central Catholic’s president¸ Christopher Sullivan, and their principal, Doreen Keller, for the fine leadership they give. We celebrated Mass in the gymnasium. It was a Mass of the Holy Spirit, which we celebrate to open the school year, but there was also the theme of Thanksgiving for the gift of Catholic education. At the end of Mass, they presented me with some lovely gifts. While I was at Central Catholic, I was intrigued by this very unusual stained-glass window in the chapel. It depicts the Crowning of St. Joseph. I had never seen something like that before, but am told it is an image sometimes used in French churches. Tuesday, we had one of our periodic St. Andrew Dinners for young men considering a vocation to the priesthood. It was held at Sacred Heart Church in Watertown, where Father Kevin Sepe is the pastor and Father Matt Conley is the vicar. This time, we had a very good group of about 50 young men join us. As we typically do, we began our gathering with Evening Prayer and dinner, followed by a time of conversation. Three of our seminarians — David Campo, Paul Born and Peter Schirripa — gave a witness talks about their vocations. Then I addressed the group. Wednesday, I attended a reception sponsored by St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children to honor recently retired Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. It was an occasion to express their gratitude for his service as police commissioner and his support of St. Mary’s Center. He has always been a very strong supporter of St. Mary’s Center and recently been named to the board. The event was co-chaired by Mayor Walsh and Lorrie Higgins and was held to benefit St. Mary’s new Community Resource Center. There were many officials from the state legislature as well as the City of Boston and the Boston Police Department with us to honor the former commissioner. A number of people spoke about his work on behalf of the people of the City of Boston as police commissioner, including Rev. Mark Scott of the Azusa Christian community. They noted that he always tried to be very present in our communities and promote good relationships between law enforcement and the local community. They also spoke about how he was always very present to people in times of crisis. There is great admiration for his integrity and spirit of service, and everyone wished him well in his new position at Boston College. Mayor Walsh quipped that he was going to “that crime-ridden university” — but I am sure that it will be a much less demanding task for him and I know that he is very happy to be working at Boston College. He has always given a wonderful testimony of his own Catholic formation and upbringing as being very important contributors to his life of service. So, I was very happy to be a part of this evening to honor him. Finally, yesterday evening, I went to the Greek Orthodox Metropolis in Brookline to join in their celebration of the Feast of St. Andrew. St. Andrew is the patron of the Eastern Church just as St. Peter is the patron of Rome. In a very significant practice that was initiated by St. Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father and Ecumenical Patriarch in Constantinople exchange delegations for the Feast of St. Andrew and the Feast of St. Peter, who were brothers. So, in that same spirit of fraternity, we have continued that tradition here locally. The five loaves are a symbol of St. Andrew because, at the Multiplication of the Loaves, it was he who told Jesus, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Afterwards, there was a lovely reception. I presented the Metropolitan with a print depicting the Last Supper which comes from the 15th-century missal that is housed in the Vatican library. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
The “smaller church” is already here
Yesterday morning over coffee I sat down and read a news analysis piece published on our site, and a report from the National Catholic Register. Both left me with a roiling stomach and an aching head. I fired off a message to a coworker thanking him for his excellent reporting and also confessing that I would very much like to commit murder after reading it. Just when I think I can’t be shocked any further by the level of depravity and corruption within some leaders of the institutional Church – within the human soul – I am naively shocked anew. I was raging about this to my husband this morning at the breakfast table and he asked me, kindly but frankly, “did you really not think this existed? Does this really surprise you?” No. And yes. And each time I read about another child’s life destroyed and another diocese or parish deceived by and forced to endure a predator in their midst, the rage bubbles up anew. “You have to understand,” I began frustratedly, “that for an almost pathologically self-disclosing choleric like me, this level of duplicity is unfathomable.” I made the point that to live a similar level of deception would involve, for example, my obtaining regular secret abortions and having an IUD while continuing to publicly blog about the sanctity of life and the immorality of contraception. “Give me,” I said dramatically, “all the gay pride marchers in the Tenderloin over a single, closeted gay bishop committing child abuse or sodomizing seminarians. At least they’re living in reality.” How someone can preach the Gospel on Sunday and destroy a young boy’s life on Monday is beyond comprehension. I feel such impotent maternal rage. Dave made the comparison to Mary Magdalene; I snapped back that she wasn’t masquerading as a Pharisee while making her living as a prostitute. Give me all the St. Mary Magdalenes throughout all of history over a single Judas. (Also, aren’t you glad you’re not living in a household headed by two adults who both work for or around the Church right now?) I have no idea the point I’m making here, just that every time I read a new report or hear about another facet of the scandal, the rage boils anew. I made my long-suffering husband list off with me the number of good and holy bishops we knew personally. Maybe there are lots more, we don’t know all that many in the larger scheme of things. It was a modest list. For all my adult life I’ve imagined that then-Cardinal Ratzinger’s infamous line about “a smaller, holier Church” would involve social collapse and government persecution. Now I feel quite certain that here, in the US at least, the smaller Church has already arrived. It consists of Catholics who profess, believe, and live out the teachings of the Catholic Church. And who get their asses to Confession when they fall short, again and again. Clergy and laity alike. It’s tempting to stay here, in a self righteous pique of rage. Every time I read another story of a cover up, a failure to act, a man who was entrusted with representing the fatherhood of God acting like another satan instead, I want to throw in the towel. I won’t. Especially considering this: that even within the embrace of holy Mother Church, I am still basically a miserable human being. I would be dead without the grace of the Sacraments. Spiritually, yes, but possibly physically too. I was reflecting on this as I was alone in my car yesterday afternoon, a rare moment of solitude. I turned off the radio and forced myself to reflect in the silence; there is precious little of it in my life in this present season. I’m being a hypocrite. I was Catholic in name only in college. I was a miserable, wretched, pharisaical sinner. I’m still a sinner. But back then, if somebody held me and my selfish, sinful, degenerate lifestyle up as a model of what Christians are like, my God, they’d lose their faith in an instant. It’s not a perfect comparison. I never took vows of chastity or poverty or obedience. I wasn’t presenting myself as the public face of the Church. Not institutionally, at least. But I was, just the same, a public witness to the person of Christ. What would someone who encountered Jenny of 2003 think of Catholicism? Of Jesus? Of His Church? It makes me acutely nauseous to consider. And yet in my wretched poverty, He didn’t turn His back on me. People within the Church who were pursuing lives of holiness and integrity welcomed me with open arms and refused to be scandalized by my sin. Who am I to judge now, then? (And I’m not saying that the sinful and illegal actions in each of these cases should not be judged and prosecuted when they do come to light – just that perhaps it’s not my particular job to do so.) I have to put aside my natural rage and the deep, deep desire for justice to be served and submit these impulses over and over again to Christ. Everything I’ve dragged to the confessional for months now has been this, and almost only this: that I cannot stomach another abuse report, cannot stand to read about one more instance of inaction from Rome, struggle mightily to rein in my imagination from making leaps to judgement. But I must not leave. We must stand firm no matter how dark the days become. And I do believe they will become much, much darker. I read this piece from Elizabeth Scalia this morning with tears springing to my eyes in public, hardly caring if the guy on the treadmill next to me saw. Yes, Lord. It felt like I was reading words from the depths of my own heart, spilled out in someone else’s words. Strengthen my faith, Lord. Don’t let me turn away when it becomes even darker. Maranatha, Lord Jesus.
Widening circles of community
Horizons - This experience of sharing community at the Catholic Worker house with people from different spiritualities, different professions and trades, different races and ages, different gender expressions and personalities: It got under my skin.
How Our Advent Tree Came To Life
In today’s world, we find Christmas decorations fighting with Halloween items for space on the store shelves. It is easy to succumb to the temptation of putting up the decorations and tree in time for Thanksgiving. Turkey day may or may not end up being the same weekend as the first Sunday in Advent. This […] The post How Our Advent Tree Came To Life appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Do the Thing You Hate for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
Like, if you EVER - and I mean E-VAH - saw me doing this, you should probably look for the four horsemen of the apocalypse because some serious you know what is going down and you should probably start praying...NOW. The post Do the Thing You Hate for the Holy Souls in Purgatory appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Screens, tweens, and teens {guest post}
Last summer I reached out to my internet buddy and running-mom extraordinaire Colleen Martin and beseeched her to impart some of her wisdom as a seasoned boy mom in the tech era. She’s not super seasoned as in old, mind you, but she is super seasoned as in holy 6 boys, batman! And one sweet girl sandwiched in the middle. I’m bookmarking my own blog here to reference in a few short years when my kids reach phone hankering age (let’s be honest though, despite attending a low tech classical Catholic school with zero screens permitted among the student body, our 8 year old is already badgering us for a phone. Oy.) Colleen, thanks so much for sharing how your family handles screens: Jenny asked me to write this post awhile ago, before summer had even started, but I think having waited this long and made it through another summer (aka screen season) has given me more food for thought to write this now. So I guess procrastination does pay off sometimes! But not when it comes to family rules about screen times. It’s never too early to discuss expectations, set rules, and enforce them even if it means being the mean parent. I recently came across this quote: Scary, isn’t it? These times we live in are full of screens. (Screen time, just to clarify, for us, is tv, movies, video games, tablets, computers and phones…anything with a screen.) It’s called social media because it’s literally how kids (and adults) have social lives. Gone are the days of bike riding through the neighborhood and ending up sleeping over at some friend’s house. We may feel like we can’t let our kids be kids like we were because of all the terrible and disgusting stories of abuse we hear from the people we trust most, that we have to keep them safe and a lot of time that means indoors … and if your kids are anything like mine, indoors = boredom = asking for screens. That’s the hardest part about summer, I think, the perpetual boredom unless we take them somewhere to do something. So we are a little more lax on the amount of time our children can be on screens, as long as they have been active for most of the day. Phil and I like to relax at the end of a long, busy day by watching a little TV, and I’m fine with my kids doing the same. We all need some downtime, ya know? We have some great (pretty strict) screen rules during the school year for our kids: Any school-aged kid gets ZERO screen time during the school week. On weekends, they can have individual screen time during the baby’s nap time and then at night, we will let them watch a movie/tv show together. The little preschool guys get a half hour show each evening, after dinner and bath time, and it’s something completely preschool appropriate. The bigger kids can usually be found watching this with the little kids, but I’m cool with letting them all sit together if they want to see the same episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for the 17th time. We always say it’s time for a “little kid show” and make sure it’s nothing any of the school-aged kids would ever choose for themselves, though I often hear them trying to convince the 2 year old to pick Spongebob or Power Rangers. Umm, no, but nice try! We are not monsters and do allow exceptions to every rule when it comes to things like important sports games on tv, etc. The kids know what the standard rule is and enjoy the occasional treat. Little kids are easy to deal with when it comes to screens. Just don’t give them free access to it. Be in control and get them into a good routine. Decide what you want to do for your family and that becomes the norm. There are going to be seasons in family life when the kids have more screen time due to whatever else is going on at home (illness, sports schedules, travelling, new baby, etc.) and as much as I have wanted the ideal screen time rules, flexibility is key to not feeling discouraged. There’s not one right way for every family, and little kids = little problems so they are a good “trial run” for what comes ahead. Tweens and Teens, that’s what comes ahead. (And they are awesome!) The hard part of policing screens in our house comes when they are tweens and teens. Our kids all go to school and are involved in tons of sports and lessons (which is also helpful in keeping them active and off screens). Because of this busy family life we lead, once a child reaches the age of 13, they become a babysitter. Since we have no home phone, this also means the 13 year old gets their own cell phone. With this phone comes a whole new set of rules (I swear we are fun parents, we just are really trying to get these kids to heaven!) We buy them an inexpensive smartphone but then make it dumb. Ha! We want our kids to be able to call, text, and have some apps on their phone, but we don’t give them any data so that they can only have internet access while at home on Wifi and we don’t give them our Wifi password. We also make all phones “live” on the kitchen counter, and they are never allowed to bring their phones upstairs. My kids are far from perfect (like their mother) and get their phones taken away for any violations. The removal of individual screen time is actually a go-to punishment in our house, that way the kids lose the choice of what to watch/play but the parents aren’t punished because we can still put on a family movie when everybody just needs some chill time and forced family bonding. Once our kids go to the Catholic high school, they are required to have a laptop because most of their books are electronic now. So not only are they reading textbooks online, but they are also writing their papers online, using Google Classroom, taking notes in class on their laptops, and communicating with teachers via the internet. It’s a whole new world and a whole new set of worries for parents. I can’t say “You’ve been on your laptop for three hours, get off!” because he is just doing his homework and studying. (But also fooling around and watching a dumb youtube video here, googling a sports score there, you get it.) As it is with adults, it’s hard for teens to stay focused on the task at hand (homework) when you have the whole wide world at your fingertips. So how do we try to watch everything they’re doing online? I’ve written about why we started using Covenant Eyes before, but it has been a real lifesaver for us. It’s a tool that allows parents oversee what their children (and each other if desired) are doing online without actually having to stand over their shoulders. t’s a tool that opens the door for communication and also blocks dangerous sites. Kids just log in to Covenant Eyes before they can get online, and it tracks their usage, and sends a weekly report to the account user (the parents). Sometimes I dread opening the report on Tuesday morning to find out my teen has been watching dumb YouTube videos at 9 pm when he said he was studying, but honestly I’d rather know about his mistakes then have no clue what he’s doing online. At least this way, he knows he’s being checked in on, and that alone is an easy way for him to avoid temptation. I definitely dragged my feet on this for too long, not wanting yet another issue to have to think about, but when one of our tweenage kids googled an inappropriate word on the iPad, we knew it was time to take the plunge. The monthly subscription for a family is $15.99, and even less for an individual or couple. It’s so much easier to never get hooked on pornography than to try and break the habit, and we want to give them their best chance at fighting that battle. Covenant Eyes gives them the freedom to be online while also helping them make good choices, and that’s priceless once you have kids on screens so often. Perhaps I should work in their Sales Department because I love them so much! I feel that just like every parent, we are constantly trying to evaluate the new social media tools and keep up with current internet trends while also helping our kids get to Heaven. We don’t allow a few things that we feel can easily cause trouble, like sleepovers, hanging out at people’s homes we don’t know, and being online without supervision. We’re just doing our best to keep them safe and happy and holy, and our screen rules are part of the process. Like I said before, starting with screen rules when they’re young is easy, but it’s important, because it sets ground rules for the rest of their lives. Will they binge on video games while at a cousin’s house? Yup. Will they find disturbing images online when they’re at college. Of course. I can’t worry about all the possible scenarios that might occur, I’d go crazy. I know they are human and all I can do is try to make them the best humans I can while they are under my roof. Lots of love and fun and freedom comes alongside rules and chores and boundaries. Communication is key and the ability to have fun together is huge as well. We try to be Yes parents whenever we can, so that our Nos are serious enough to be understood. You need to decide what is important in your home, and start setting the ground rules now. Don’t be afraid to go against the culture if it means raising quality adults, that’s literally our job. Screens aren’t evil, so find a system that works for you and hopefully I’ve been able to share some good tips and tricks. I don’t have all the answers (I haven’t even had a college kid yet!) and I don’t pretend to. I’m just over here trying to raise good kids to survive this present world and to one day make it to heaven in the next, same as you.