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OK, that may be an overstatement since I think The Sopranos is the best EVER.  But we saw a movie last night that will make you think of The Sopranos and will not disappoint.  What?  The Godfather?  Goodfellas?  Married to the Mob?  Nyet, nyet, and nyet.  Saint Rita is the movie of the night.

This is put out by Ignatius Press, and we got it through Netflix.  It took us three nights to watch it because it IS long, as any good, involved, Italian mafia movie should be.  The boys loved, loved, loved it.  It had a huge chunk of violence, vendetta, soap opera, and, oh yes, a fantastic message of a very faith-filled life and trust in God.

Rita did not lead a charmed life.  Going by the movie, she closely resembled Michelle Pfeiffer, and attracted a very handsome husband in Paolo Mancini.  Very handsome.  She went against all social convention of the time and became a regular wifely nag until she convinced her husband to put down his sword forever.  I won’t ruin the story for anyone interested, but I will say that her victory did not make her life easy.  She lost everything and gained everything.

After the movie, I looked into Rita’s biography, and the movie held fairly close to the real story.  The boys loved all the medieval European details, especially pertaining the The Plague and swordplay, but they also “got” the points of the story:

  • Forgiveness
  • Peace-seeking
  • compassion
  • love 

I hope everyone is having a great week!

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Most days, I read a little of Blessed Mother Teresa’s book Total Surrender.  I read just enough to give me something to think about.  Yesterday, I read about silence and how good it is.  What got me to thinking is that she wasn’t just talking about silence of having the TV or music off, or even the silence of just shutting my mouth for once.  But instead she wrote about other silences, ones I hadn’t even considered before.

Silence of the eyes: to not be judgemental with what you see, to see the good and not the bad.  To use the eyes to express love only.

Silence of the ears: to close one’s ears to gossip and negative words.

Silence of the heart: to shut out things that keep you from God like inward complaints, judgements of others, etc.

It so happens that since the weather has recently been so wintry, I just haven’t been out of my own house to mix with others much at all, and so opportunities for gossip, judgements, negative thoughts about others haven’t presented themselves for me.  And what I find is that this kind of thinking is habit-forming.  The more I do this kind of thing, the more I tend to do it.  Due to the weather, I’ve really been away from those temptations of the eyes and ears, and so my heart has also been quieter.

And I am happier. 

Also, I’m a little stir-crazy.  Now that we have sunshine, we’ll be out and about more, and my challenge for myself is to continue the good I have inadvertently done.  It’s like when you’re trying to lose weight and struggling, and then a stomach bug hits and you lose 5 pounds, and that impetus really gets you going.  I hope and pray, now that I have a glimmer of the benefits of silence, that I can keep it up.

1. Change the cloth of our family altar to purple.  It took me until last week to get Ordinary Time green back on , and now it’s time to switch.  I WILL do this in a timely manner!

2. Help Cool Guy make his crown of thorns tonight.  I am borrowing this idea from Faith at Two-Thirds Unschooling.  Thanks Faith!  Cool Guy is going to use brown clay and mold a circle, and then he’s going to stick in 40 toothpicks.  We’ll put it on a tray with a Thorn Discard Bowl nearby.  Every time Cool Guy makes a sacrifice or does a kind and loving deed, he removes a thorn. 

3. Get a Lent playlist ready.  Some of my choices will be St. Matthew’s Passion, Bob Rice “I Shall Be Healed,” Matt Maher “Litany and Kyrie Eleison,” and Don McLean “Babylon.”  I have gleaned these from various recommendations.  Anyone have other recommendations?  Music is so important to me and really gets my reflection juices flowing.

4. Get my heart ready.  This includes reconcilliation of course, but also just prayer, reading, reflection, and setting little goals for myself each day.  30 minutes of patience is doable.  Then I can tackle the next 30 minutes, and so on.  I’m pretty good on the reading and reflecting, but weak on prayer.  Or perhaps I should say that I do a lot of praying defined as saying what I want to say but do very little listening.  I need to work on keeping still a whole lot more.

5. Giving up: Besides meat on Friday, I’m still discerning this.  

I would love to hear what others are doing for Lent.

“Fidelity to small things will lead you to Christ.  Infidelity to small things will lead you to sin.” – Blessed Mother Teresa

There are so many small things I could do better daily.  Like smile more.  Like help Cool Guy look for his glasses for the 10th time in a day and refrain from saying anything about being responsible and glasses not growing on trees.  Like remember to thank God for all the many, many blessings I have.  Like really, truly listen when Encyclopedia is on a 15 minute explanation of a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.  Like remember to ask Burt how his day was before telling him about the trials and tribulations of mine.  Or maybe just keeping that stuff to myself.

As Scarlett O’Hara always said, “Tomorrow is another day.”  God love her, she’s my kind of gal.

Love it.  Because……

  1. It’s 25 minutes long (for Cool Guy)
  2. Way less stimulation (for Cool Guy)
  3. Any struggle/grief/affliciton of the soul can be endured between two daily Masses

I am a cantor at my parish.  This is something that I struggle with.  I have been cantoring for a couple of years now and for most of that time, I have been a bundle of nerves.  My legs shake uncontrollably, my voice quavers when it shouldn’t, and I’m sure I have looked pretty miserable up there.  Why in the world would I do it?  Because I can sing.  I’m not any Maria Callas, mind you, but I do have a clear soprano voice, and can sing on pitch and in time.

But I’ve always hated singing in front of others.  I am vain, and I think that I wanted to “wow” the congregation.  It has always been about me, me, me, and how great or how terrible I would sound.  I know this about myself and I struggle with it.  Lately, I’ve been working on this a little more pro-actively.  Before Mass, I pray.  Specifically, I pray that my singing is not for the glory of ME, but for the glory of GOD.  I pray that my singing will aid the worship, and if God wills, it will move someone.  And if not, at least it won’t be distracting.

And ya know?  My butterflies have disappeared.  This isn’t parlor games, as in “I’ll pray and then I’ll sing better.”  No, I really mean it.  I DON’T want to be up there as me, I just want to cantor and do as good a job as I can do, but only insofar as it aids the worship.  It has been a huge step forward for me, taking the “me” out of the ministry, and it is cool.

I bet it works for other stuff, too, and as my journey continues, I hope that I can have other breakthroughs.

Last night I returned from the Christ Renews His Parish weekend.  To say that it was fantastic would be the understatement of the year.  It was so neat to see that something that my team had worked on for a year had such a great impact on so many women.  These are busy women – women with jobs, family, lots of things going on, not a lot of extra time to spare, and yet, they are excited to keep the renewal going, despite the time commitment involved. 

We are so blessed.

My prayer for today is for my team, #29, that we can keep our excitement about Christ in our lives, that despite the daily grind (there is a patron saint for that) we will remember to put God first.

I am participating in my parish’s Christ Renews His Parish this weekend, and I ask for your prayers.  My team, #29, has been in formation for over a year.  We have been through so much together and have grown so in our journey that I can only thank God for this opportunity to give it to the next group of women.

Please pray for my team and also, or and especially, for the women who will be experiencing the weekend.  I pray that each participant will benefit greatly.

Happy New Year!  Right now, I’m writing to absolutely no one, since I have zero views so far.  Writing a blog is easy; it’s all the other stuff that is time-consuming to learn how to do.  So, though I’m going to tackle New Year’s Resolutions in a minute here, I’ll start by saying that making a decent looking blog is a goal of mine for the New Year.

I have always looked forward to New Year’s Day.  For me, an endless optimist, it is a time to evaluate my life and decide on some changes.  Most of the time, I actually make some positive headway in my resolutions, also.  My husband, who wishes to be known as Burt on the blog, feels completely the opposite.  He doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.  So one day is over, and another has begun.  Big deal.  He doesn’t care for New Year’s Eve parties, and doesn’t like making resolutions.  New Year’s Day is for bowl games.  Period.

So every year, pad and pen in hand, I chase down Burt and the boys and try to extract some resolutions from them and meet with resistance all around.  For me, it’s a fun game and a fun way to approach some self-improvement.  To them, it looks suspiciously like a to-do list.

This year, I’m trying something different.  Sure, I can say “I’ll eat better, exercise more, and become more organized,” which I’ll work on anyway, but since I say that all the other 364 days of the year, it has lost some of its zest.  Today, I’m going to download a list of saints from this site, cut the list into individual slips of paper for each saint, and put them in a bowl.  We will take this bowl to our family altar, pray, and then each of us will remove a slip of paper.  The tradition goes that instead of our choosing a saint, the saint chooses us.  Then it is up to us to learn about and pray to that saint during this year.  Wow.  So much more meaningful that getting into my old jeans or shaping up the basement.

I once heard that we should make friends with the saints, that they are the best friends to have.  I’m hoping that this is a way that will help each of us in our family make a new friend this new year.

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"People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable. Be honest and transparent anyway. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway. People who really want help may attack you if you help them. Help them anyway. Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt. Give the world your best anyway." - Blessed Mother Teresa