Sunday, March 27, 2011

Planning Way Ahead

On the way to church yesterday, we drove down a street where several houses sported "for sale" signs. Seeing these, Little Brother commented, "I wonder where I'll live when I grow up."

"I thought you wanted to be a priest, so I guess you'll live at the house that goes with your church," I replied.

"But Mom, priests can't have all 7 sacraments. I want to be a deacon. Do you think Deacon B and Deacon D have received all 7 sacraments?"

"Maybe they have," I told him. "The only one I can't be sure about is Anointing of the Sick. But after church tonight, you can ask whichever deacon is there."

(Such are the advantages of having 2 wonderful deacons in our parish, both of whom know my kids, both of whom are dads and granddads and willing to talk to kids and answer questions about how many sacraments they've received.)

After Mass, Little Brother waited his turn and when Deacon B was done speaking to a group of adults, Little Brother asked if he had received all 7 sacraments. They wound up in a good discussion about being a deacon, Holy Orders, and how old you have to be to become a deacon. And Deacon B promised to be there, if he could, when Little Brother receives that sacrament.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'll Take My Chances

High-fructose corn syrup is no longer the latest scapegoat when it comes to American obesity. According to a study conducted at Northwestern University, Bible study can make you fat.

Researchers mention "the sedentary nature of prayer" as a possible culprit.

There's always The Rosary Workout.

Parents, pray that your kids don't pay attention to the "news." This story is all over the place today. If they see it, they'll have more ammo in the "But church is so boooooooooooring" battle. Now they'll tell you that it'll make them fat.

I'll take that risk. And I think my kids will be better for it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Pleasure

I had the pleasure of helping to serve dinner to 150 students, staff members, and future students at Middle Sister's high school tonight. Along with about 12 other parents and grandparents, I made iced tea, kept the baked ziti and meatballs hot, set up the dessert tray and spooned out salad.

The kids made it all worthwhile. Not one went through the line without thanking us many times over: for handing them a cup of iced tea or water, for extra scoops of baked ziti, for the delicious meal. Some kids even came back through the line to compliment the parents on the dinner. And before they all headed to the auditorium for rehearsal, they gave us a standing ovation.

The kids were happy, polite, and friendly. Truly a credit to the school--and their parents.

Grace Before Meals

I'm a big fan of Father Leo Patalinghug's website and his cookbook (worth the purchase price to get that "secret" fajita recipe).

I have the feeling that someone at my daughter's high school has also been influenced by Father Leo. Either that, or great minds think alike.

Tonight is the first night of "Tech Week" as the kids get ready for the spring musical. For seven nights of "Tech Week" (each weekday this week, as well as Monday & Tuesday of next week), a group of parents will arrive at school at 4 PM to cook and serve dinner to the 150 students participating in the play, stage crew and orchestra. It's a way to make sure that these very busy kids get a good meal before rehearsal, rather than a fast-food sandwich. But it's also a way to help the kids bond as they work toward a common goal.

I'll be there to cook, serve and clean up on four of the seven nights, and I'm really looking forward to it. I think this will be a wonderful experience for all the "play kids"--and the parents as well.

And when the play is over, I'll look forward to having the whole family back around my dining-room table again. But if the kids can't be here, I'm glad they'll be there.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Sporting Chance

Little Brother receives a subscription to Magnifikid! magazine. This is one of those things that I wish had existed when my Big Kids were younger. Once a child can read, this magazine is perfect. He can follow along through the whole Mass, and there are special activities to keep a wiggly kid busy during the homily, a weekly comic, and parent resources. (Need a First Communion gift idea? Look no further.)

TheDad is taking Little Brother to an earlier Mass than usual today, and as they headed out the door I called out, "Little Brother! Don't forget your magazine!"

"Sports Illustrated for Kids?" he replied eagerly.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


I was a substitute teacher today. I've done this several times this school year. I only sub for the school librarian (so far) which is fine with me. I know the routine, and I only have any particular group of kids for 30 to 45 minutes at a time.

Twice this year, I have had the fourth and fifth graders come through the library during my sub time. They share two teachers who have divided up the subject areas between them. Each time, the same teacher is dropping the kids off. When she leaves, she gets this concerned look on her face and asks me, "Will you be all right?"

(I'm sure she's unaware that I am a certified teacher with a Master's degree, but I'm still a little insulted).

After the first time I taught these two groups I had the kids' number. And we've done just fine, thankyouverymuch. They're not bad. They're just 10- and 11-year-olds.

And each time the teacher comes back to pick up the kids, she's surprised that they're being good. This afternoon when she retrieved the fifth graders, she was amazed to find them sitting at tables, all reading their library books quietly.

I guess I'm wondering if I should be insulted by all this. She doesn't seem to think I am capable of handling these classes, though I have proven otherwise. Or am I just paranoid?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catholic Media Promotion Day: My Turn

Here's where I get to share my VERY favorite Catholic websites, blogs, podcasts, apps and more with you. Today's the day when Catholic bloggers, facebookers and tweeters are telling the world about their favorite Catholic New Media resources. These are my own personal "go-to" resources. Your mileage may vary, but I'm a big fan of the ones listed below.  These are in no particular order.

Divine Office.  Learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and take it on the go with their app!  At this writing, it's $14.99, but well worth it for the portability and completeness of this app.  Web version of daily prayer is free, but with the app you can download a few days' worth and take it with you even if you don't have Wi-Fi access.

iPieta.  $2.99 and SO worth it!   This is a big app, full of complete versions of Catholic documents, teachings, spiritual writings, prayers and calendars.

Stations of the Cross.  For Lent or anytime!  This version is based on the meditation book by Michael Dubriel and Amy Welborn, published by Ave Maria Press.  FREE.

Quantum Theology, hosted by Michelle--a chemistry professor and columnist for the Philadelphia Archdiocese's Catholic Standard & Times.

Just Another Day of Catholic Pondering, hosted by Sarah Reinhard.  Her reflections are mature beyond her years, and her devotion to the Blessed Mother is inspiring.

Praying for Grace, hosted by Barbara.  She's got spinoff blogs as well, related to her rosary-making business and her love of cooking.  This one, her main site, shows a day in the life of a homeschooling, cooking, knitting, rosary-making, reading, praying mom with a generous heart and gentle spirit.

Catholic Mom, hosted by Lisa Hendey.

Grace Before Meals, hosted by Father Leo Patalinghug.  Great recipes and a huge helping of encouragement for Catholic families.

Among Women Podcast, hosted by Pat Gohn.

Faith & Family Live Podcast, hosted by the Faith & Family bloggers.  Great support for Catholic moms.

Fr. Charles, also of A Minor Friar blog.  His description:  "Tweeting the sublime hilarity and the hilarious sublimity of life and learning as a Capuchin Franciscan friar."

American Papist for all kinds of Catholic news, views and humor. 

Danielle Bean, whose work I've been following (in some form or other) since 2005.  Her tweets lead you to great articles, both her own and those by other writers.

Ave Maria Press:  info about their latest titles and more.  During Lent:  40 Days of Soup feature!

Our Sunday Visitor:  links to articles about current events from their website and print edition.

The Rosary Workout:  author's page by Peggy Bowes.

Family-Centered Press, home of excellent cottage-industry Catholic planners.

National Catholic Register, online edition.  Articles, blogs and more.  Subscribe to the online edition for access to all print-edition content.  Many features are FREE but the subscription is worth it!

Catholic News Agency.  All the latest current events in the church and in the world.

RADIO SHOW (OK, that's not exactly "new" media, but it is satellite radio. So I say it counts):
The Catholics Next Door, hosted by Greg & Jennifer Willits, on The Catholic Channel (Sirius 159, XM 117). I bought an "all access pass" for Sirius/XM so I can listen to this show at home OR in my car. They have great guests, fun games, and a huge touch of reality--they are a real family, kids, pets and all, just trying to live out their vocation as Catholics in the real world. There's even a weekly podcast!

Be sure to check the Catholic New Media Promotion Day page on facebook to see everyone else's favorites! My guess is that it will be a gold mine of great resources.

Monday, March 14, 2011

I Wish I Could Have Been There

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw them walk into church yesterday before Mass. There was a mom and four young children, probably between the ages of 8 and 2 1/2 or 3. The two little ones were boys and appeared to be quite close in age. Everyone was nicely dressed, neatly combed, and extremely cute.

I've only seen this family once or twice before. They sat in just about the same spot. After I set my guitar down and turned the page of my music, I turned to sit down myself and saw the little boys snuggling up against their mom in the pew as Father started the homily.

How can you see that and not smile?

Father had a good homily, but it wasn't a short one. There was a little whispering and wiggling from the young family sitting near me. Of course there was! They're little kids. Then I saw the mom get up and lead everyone out. Jackets and all.

I was so, so tempted to run out after her. I wanted to let her know that it was OK. Maybe next week they'll last 5 more minutes. And really, her kids were not that bad. They weren't eating or playing with Matchbox cars or Game Boys or crayons. They weren't screaming or running up the aisle.

I hope and pray that this mom will not get discouraged, that she will continue the very tough task of bringing four young children to Mass on Sundays. For the rest of the Mass, I prayed for that mom. I was hoping that she had not gone home all upset and angry and embarrassed. Been there, done that.

But I still wish I'd slipped out after her and offered a little encouragement. And if I see them again, I just might do that.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The First Temptation

Our associate pastor has a page in the bulletin each week. Lately he has been using this page to offer a reflection on the Sunday Gospel. It's always worth a read, but I was particularly intrigued by Father H's comments on the three temptations that Christ faced when he encountered Satan in the desert.

The first temptation. The tempter says: If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread. Jesus answers: One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Jesus’ hunger is the occasion for the first temptation. That word ‘bread’ refers to everything that is essential to live. It refers to that astounding array of possessions that feed, clothe, shelter, sustain, transport, and amuse us. But these very things can distract us from giving God His due. Jesus says that the full meaning of life cannot be reduced to what is visible, edible, tangible, or collectible. The core of being human lies elsewhere: in every Word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus says that God’s desires for humanity and not those of the tempter, will define His life and mission. We may ask: who are those who live by bread alone? We may also wonder if the story of how we may have lost touch with our sacred traditions, the great yet-to-be-told story of our Church? Lent may be a good time to recover the meaning of these sacred traditions.

What an excellent question to ask during Lent. Do I live by bread alone? For that matter, do I nourish my family by bread alone? Sure, I provide for physical needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. And then there's all the "stuff." But really, all that is bread alone. Have I nourished my family in other ways--not just the physical ways? Have I nourished myself and my family in spiritual ways?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Foiled Again

It's a good thing we only live a mile or so from Middle Sister's high school, because I use quite a bit of time (and gas) going back and forth.

On a typical day, she catches the bus in the morning, but misses the afternoon bus because of track practice. Sometime between 4:30 and 5:15 (depending on the length of the day's workout, which varies) she calls for a ride home. Then I have to have her (and sometimes Little Brother) back there at 6:30 for play practice. If he's done earlier than she is, I have to pick them up separately. That's three or four runs to the school on a daily basis.

And then you have her tendency to miss the school bus. Sometimes it's her fault, sometimes it isn't. While you could set a clock by the bus driver Big Brother had in high school, who retired earlier this year, this new driver is not so punctual. He and Middle Sister seem to be on opposite schedules. On the days when she's running a bit late, he's at the corner by 7:35. Today she was out there with time to spare--and I wound up picking her up at the corner at 7:47. The bus was nowhere in sight. That's almost a 15-minute window, which is a long time to stand on the corner when the weather's not fantastic.

Sure, I could make her walk to school if she misses the bus. But I don't do that in bad weather (it's threatening to pour rain any second now) and I won't do that if she misses the bus through no fault of her own. Today was not her fault.

So, today, I drove her to school for the third time this week. (Two of those were her fault.)

I joked yesterday that she had given up missing the bus for Lent. Apparently, though, the bus driver had other ideas.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Coming Soon: Catholic Media Promotion Day

Here's where I say that I hope you didn't give up facebook for Lent!

You see, Greg and Jennifer Willits of my favorite Catholic radio show, The Catholics Next Door on Sirius/XM radio, have proposed that next Tuesday, March 15, be dedicated to sharing our favorite Catholic media resources: blogs, podcasts, websites and more.

Visit the facebook page and "Like" it so you'll receive all the details. If you've got a blog, post about YOUR favorite Catholic media resources--but don't post that info until March 15. Here's the instructions:
On March 15, 2011, everyone with a blog, podcast, or Facebook page should list their favorite 3 blogs, 3 podcasts, 3 other media, 3 random Catholic things online, and their own projects. Then, post the link to your list on the Catholic Media Promotion Day facebook page on March 15th. Additionally, to help get the word out, press are asked to write articles and press releases for this day. Lastly, on March 15th, go to iTunes and leave at least 3 positive written reviews for various Catholic podcasts and 3 positive written reviews for Catholic mobile applications.

Spread the word--and share your favorites! It's not a contest, just a way to get the word out about some great Catholic new media resources.

And after you share them on Tuesday, keep on sharing them! Our parish bulletin prints a link each week, in a regular "Links of Faith" feature. Why not ask your pastor if you can supply a list of new media resources to be published in your parish bulletin and shared with your whole community?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

A Man of Few Words

After dinner tonight, Little Brother got busy with a few phone calls. In the past couple of days, he has received a couple of birthday cards containing gifts, and he needed to express his thanks.

His first call was to my uncle, who happens to be a Franciscan priest (Franciscan runs in the family). My uncle lives by the motto "Brevity is the soul of wit." If you're not into long homilies, visit his parish. He says what has to be said and gets it done in under five minutes.

I can only guess at what my uncle said during this phone call, which probably took no longer than 90 seconds. But I heard Little Brother's end of it, so I'm reconstructing the other side:

Uncle: Hello.

Little Brother: Hi, Uncle. This is Little Brother. Thank you for the birthday card.

Uncle: You're welcome! Happy birthday!

Little Brother: Thanks. I hope you're feeling better. (My uncle has pneumonia).

Uncle: Thanks.

Little Brother: Bye.

Uncle: Bye.

I'm not going to have to worry about this kid tying up the phone lines.

Nine is Fine

Little Brother is nine today.
Photo credit:  Middle Sister
Here we are as he gets his Bear Scout patch at last weekend's Blue and Gold Dinner. (Pardon my apron; I was still "working" at this point in the evening.)

His nickname has been "Monkey" ever since he was a baby. Lately, he's been embarrassed to have me call him that in public. But then he snagged a part in the high school's spring musical: The Wizard of Oz. He and Middle Sister will both be multitasking as Munchkins and Flying Monkeys.

I get to call him "Monkey" all I want now.

Happy Birthday to my Bear Scout, my soccer player, my basketball star, my fellow Notre Dame sports fan, my reading buddy, my runner, my singer, my enthusiastic, dramatic, exasperating, energetic, crazy-haired NINE-YEAR-OLD!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

What's Your Favorite Bible Verse?

Do you listen to the Among Women podcast? You don't have to have an iPod to listen in! You can download the files to your computer or even listen online. But this weekly podcast, hosted by Pat Gohn, is definitely worth your time.

I like to download this always-enlightening podcast and play it back when I've got some kitchen or household chores that will take a decent amount of time but not a lot of mental energy. Listening to Pat and her fascinating guests helps the time fly by--and I multitask by learning as I work!

Right now, Pat is preparing a special edition of Among Women, and she's looking for audience participation. New listeners can join in as well! Here are the details:

Dear Among Women listeners,

Please consider this an open invitation to submit your favorite Bible verses to me, and tell me why they "speak" to you, or are special to you. I'm preparing another Among Women "Special Edition" podcast and want to highlight the Bible and its role in our lives.

I'd like to know what Book, Chapter and verse the reading comes from, your name and city/state, and why you love those verses.

There are two ways to share your submissions:

1. Call and record your thoughts on our feedback line at: 206-203-2024. I love this option because it puts YOUR VOICE on the podcast.... and don't worry if you make a mistake, I can edit out little muffs or glitches! But do it! I'd love to hear from you. You can also send me a file recorded on your mobile phone, or on your computer. I can take wave files, mp3's and m4a's.

2. Send your feedback to me via email, or send it via Facebook.

Looking forward to learning what scripture verses are meaningful to you! Let's share God's Word with one another.

Your intentions remain in my prayers.

Pat Gohn

host, Among Women
Pat Gohn
Among Women Blog

Why not give Pat a helping hand and share your favorite Bible verse with the Among Women listeners? I'll be calling in with mine!