Grace in Pink Blossoms

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This year after a tremendous amount of rainfall, the Texas landscape has managed to remain green all the way into the month of July. And not just green, either. Pink and yellow and fiery orange. Around every corner I spot crepe myrtles absolutely brimming with blossoms.

I call to mind the winds and rains, torrential flooding. Wet, black soil full of nutrients and kisses of sunshine, meetings with earthworms in the dark. The tree accepted all that it was given and burst forth into exuberant, abundant blossoms as if to proclaim the glory of God. It produces its flowers in a single specialized color and style. Even if it could elude its own nature and squeeze out flowers of a different color by sheer force of will and gargantuan effort, nothing would be more beautiful than those which it was created to effortlessly produce.

I keep trying to think of my life in terms of crepe myrtle. What’s my pink blossom? When I receive all as if straight from the hand of the Father, how to I proclaim his glory and my joy? What should be my focus?

In true melancholic fashion, I have been considering this question for over a month and I don’t have a solid answer. I am possibly overthinking the question, also in true melancholic fashion.

”Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” – St. Catherine of Siena

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Oratory Update and Printable

oratoryupdateandprintableDaily prayer with toddler and baby has been going surprisingly well. I’ve been getting the little pebbles together every morning after breakfast. We gather around the little oratory, pass around the rosaries and light our Candlemas candle. We pray. I promise toddler that she can blow the candle out. No one’s long, silky hair has caught on fire yet. We try to keep the fighting to a minimum. I consider it a win. The whole process takes us about five to ten minutes. We keep it simple at Casa Stone.

The surprising thing that I’ve noticed so far is the extent to which Lillian enjoys the ritual. She likes things done in the same way every time, and everyone has to have the same rosary. She can almost make the sign of the cross.

One thing I’ve struggled with is figuring out which prayers I want to pray daily. I knew I wanted to pray the morning offering, but I couldn’t remember the words…so I created a little printable cheat sheet for myself! I meant it to be printed as a 4×6 so that I could use it as a prayer card to keep tucked away and then nipped out when I needed it.

To print a copy for yourself, just click on the image to view the full size and then right click to save the image. Enjoy!

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Why I Remain Catholic

Can I tell you something private?

Living in an unequally yoked marriage is hard, y’all. Really, really hard. When you don’t agree with your spouse about what’s most important in life? Yeah. Hard.

There have been many times in the bleak loneliness in which I’ve thought that it would be easier to throw off my Catholicism and resume living secular life. I wasn’t raised Catholic; I spent years of my life espousing Wiccan, Pagan and Deist ideas. My parents aren’t religious. My spouse isn’t religious. You wanna know what keeps me Catholic?

I believe that the claims of the Catholic Church are true.

And my troubles? They’re nothing in comparison to the gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

towhomsmall

Grounded in the Eucharist

Linking up today with Blessed Is She!

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My eyes bore into the wood grain on the table while my fingers trace the edges of the stray bottlecap from my open Fat Tire brew.

My father-in-law had gone into his familiar speech about why nearly every Christian in the world had misinterpreted Scripture because of a pesky little mistranslation of the word, “aionios”. If only people could understand their mistake then Christianity would become a very different thing. A correctly translated “aionios” read with simple reliance on the Holy Spirit free from denominational lenses would lead people to clearly see that there is no eternal Hell and no eternal Heaven, but only states of being that are endured for a time before giving way to other, non-defined states of being.

My father-in-law sounds very authoritative when he gives this speech. We listen dutifully. Oliver, the agnostic, has taken up care of the dishes and I have taken up the task of boring holes in the table with my eyes. I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable. Always an avoider of conflict, I am usually quick to agree with someone as soon as I possibly can. The eternity of Hell? Yeah, maybe I could waver on that.

An icy realization hits me. What if the Church is wrong, and our entire dogma is based on a series of biased mistranslations? What if everything I believe is off-kilter and I’ve just been a damn fool? I imagine my life turned upside down as I shed my denominational loyalty as a snake sheds its skin. Perhaps it should be just me n’ Jesus, as the Protestants say it should be.

I run through a mental checklist of everything that’s important to me and stop short as this Scripture emerges and trumps everything else:

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John 6:53

The Eucharist.

As Catholics we believe that when we take the consecrated host into our bodies at Mass, we literally ingest the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Lord of Heaven and Earth, always meek and humble of heart, gives us the gift of not only forgiveness of sins and adoption as children of God, but his actual flesh and blood to eat as we are united in his one body through the bread of life.

In comparison to the issue of the reality of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, every other issue falls by the wayside. What use is conjecturing about the end times or the nature of the afterlife when there are more pressing issues at stake? When I encounter doubt, my love and belief in the Eucharist keeps me grounded and faithful to the teachings of the (nearly) only church which offers it.

We also have really cool Marian Apparitions, but that’s an issue for another time!

towhomsmall

On the Absence of Dad

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Happy Easter! With eyes that say, “hurry up and take the damn picture so I can let go of this kid’s arm!”

I was nervous about going to Mass this Easter with my littles in tow.

I usually go to a specific Mass, sit in my designated spot right next to a pillar (otherwise known as a toddler blockade). I go to this particular Mass because it’s typically not crowded and I sit behind a kind family always willing to grab my rambunctious toddler and hold on to her while I wrestle with the baby. I go to Mass alone, yes, but not always without help.

This Easter I had to attend Mass alone and with no helpers. I recall one moment in which Baby Cara was strapped to my chest and Lillian bumped her head on the pew as a result of a certain level of mischievousness and started screaming, suddenly in dire need of being picked up and comforted. I had a baby on my chest, a toddler on my hip and sweat on my brow. Other parishioners couldn’t help but observing, “you have your hands full, don’t you?” My reply, “Yeah, it would be a great time for my husband to convert!”

There are occasions at Mass when I see families attending together and my heart aches. At moments like that it’s helpful to remember how lucky I am to be at Mass a baptized Catholic.

God spent years tending to little seeds planted in my bitter heart to bring me to this place. The fact that kneel before the blessed Sacrament and sing Alleluia every week without a hint of cynicism or irony while earnestly trying to quiet babies and occasionally hissing at a toddler through clenched teeth is a blessed miracle!

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