Sunday, October 25, 2009

Christ Our King

Traditional Catholics who follow the old calendar celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King today. Pius XI established this feast on December 11, 1925 and commanded it to be celebrated on the last Sunday of October, immediately before the celebration of All Saints. We are blessed to have the Tridentine Mass at our parish every Thursday evening and Sunday morning. Although I did not grow up with this Mass, I have come to love it and have found a richness within the liturgy and traditions of old that I am only just now discovering.

When I entered Church this morning, I noticed that the main altar was draped in gold-signifying the celebration of a high feast. But it wasn't until Father pointed it out in his homily that I realized the statue of the Sacred Heart which is centered on the side right altar, was draped in the same rich, gold, priestly vestments which our pastor wore. This caught me a bit off guard as I had never seen such a practice before. However, it visually drove home the significance and meaning of the feast we are celebrating-Christ our Lord and King. What a beautiful, lost tradition! Now many Catholics and non-Catholics alike may find this confusing and maybe even offensive. It is important to understand that this is not an idolatrous practice but rather a tangible reminder to us all of the dominion that Christ is to have in our lives and throughout the world. We know that this statue is not Christ, and we do not worship it. A picture is worth a thousand words however when it comes to expressing a belief and teaching of the Church.

I feel as if I am constantly discovering old traditions and devotions tied to the old calendar and liturgy. It makes me wonder why so much was discontinued after Vatican II-we have lost so much depth and knowledge for the sake of simplicity! As a result, I fear most Catholics know less of their faith than ever and hold less reverence and awe for its greatness. May the Holy Spirit continue to lead us to reclaim the fullness of our Catholic heritage!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Return of Daddy

Brian has been away these past several days at the Catholic Medical Association's Annual Conference in Springfield IL. During his absence, I have come to realize how much I hate being alone. Perhaps it is because I come from a large family, and it was a rare thing to be the only one at home, but I think I know where Joseph gets his need for constant companionship. Granted, I haven't been completely forsaken with my little buddy around, but he's not quite of the age to be able to hold and intelligible conversation yet.

As much as I don't like being lonely, it has turned me more towards seeking the Lord's company through spontaneous prayer. What a comfort to know I have Him by my side to protect me and be with me. I have also come to a greater appreciation for the Lord's wisdom in knowing that man was not meant to be alone, nor are children meant to be raised by one parent. There are so many unique ways that Brian relates to Joseph that I can't replicate (and vice versa of course!) but even at 9 months it is so obvious to me that he NEEDS his Daddy too.

So we are clinging a little more tightly to each other for now as we await the return of Daddy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Delicious Lentil Soup Recipe

Brian and I love to cook. So much so, that we always joke that if medical school doesn't work out, we will open a restaurant. One of the few things we watch on TV are cooking shows and we have learned a lot from them. Anyways, I am always looking for some new recipes at the beginning of each new season and I came across this one. It is definitely a keeper for us. Not only did it have fabulous flavor, it was also ridiculously simple, fast and another recipe I can fall back on for Friday night dinners, which we always keep meatless. So I thought I would share. I did add two chopped carrots to for some extra flavor and color. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Mother’s Holy Hour

I wrote this reflection a few months ago over the summer and wanted to share it since I haven't posted anything in a few days...
Ever since my son’s birth five months ago, I have experienced the dramatic change that occurs in one’s prayer life with the dawn of motherhood. Recently, I had the privilege of taking my mother’s weekly adoration hour while my parents were out of town for a wedding. The silence of an adoration chapel poses a particular challenge for mothers of vocal, young babies who do not yet understand the meaning of quiet.  For that reason, I had not stayed long in adoration with my baby. But this opportunity was different. My old home parish is a small country church in a little village and it is rare for someone not scheduled to stop by during adoration.  It was the perfect chance for me to bring my son without worrying about him being a distraction to others. I was excited to get some “real” prayer time in.
I settled Joseph onto a blanket on the floor and began a rosary. Joseph was having the time of his life looking at all the stained glass windows and the lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Then he tilted his head back and seemed to notice the monstrance. “Ooooo! Haaaawoooo!” I couldn’t help laughing as he seemed to be greeting the Lord in his own little voice. He rolled his legs over and started his trademark head scoot towards the steps of the altar. While scrambling to grab him before he got too far, I lost track of where I was in my decade and so had to guess. I closed my eyes, trying to refocus on the meditation of the mystery. Not a minute later, my boy started showing signs of hunger, so I scooped him up to nurse him. I finished that decade and decided to take a break and try to do some spiritual reading while he was busy. I fished it out of my diaper bag and opened to the first page. I soon realized I was not destined to read much as Joseph began whacking the book in my hands, trying to pull it towards him.  “How on earth am I supposed to be able to pray?” I despaired.  This was not going well at all. I was hoping to get a rosary in and a chapter or two of reading.  As a single person, this would have been easily accomplished.  I was finally snapped out of my lamentations by the squirms of my baby as he had filled his belly and was ready to get back down.
He immediately resumed his cooing as I apologized to our Lord for being so distracted. Suddenly, as if he knew what I was thinking, Joseph looked at me and gave me one of his knock-out smiles and I had a revelation.  Here he was, in the presence of our Lord, just being himself and unconcerned about what to do or say. I realized I was approaching my prayer time as a to-do list, the quality of which I would judge by the number of things checked off in the end. In that little country church, the Lord showed me that he understood the desire of my heart to adore him, and through Joseph, I came to understand that the Lord just desires us to be ourselves and to speak to him in our own simple language. He transformed my task-oriented approach to prayer to one of sincerity by turning the actions of my vocation into praise.  I may not have finished all five decades of my rosary, or read more than a page of spiritual reflection, but nevertheless, I had talked with the Lord. As I smiled back at my little one, my heart filled with gratitude for the blessing that he has been in my life and I turned to the Lord with thanksgiving for my beautiful son and the powerful lesson that he taught me.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ironing Things Out

I hate ironing. Out of all the household tasks I tackle as a housewife, that is the only one I really mind. I would rather do dishes, laundry, mop floors or even scrub the toilets before I would iron. For that reason, I always seem to be behind on it and have a constant pile lurking in the living room, waiting for my attention. This drives my husband crazy, as it seems to be inevitable that whatever he was planning to wear is in the ironing pile. Monday morning was one of those days. He had been planning on wearing one of his blue shirts and they were ALL in the ironing pile. A bit irritated, he didn't exactly accuse me of being a lazy housekeeper, but he did get his point across that he would like me to step it up a bit on the ironing front.

I realize this aversion to ironing doesn't really affect me personally. Perhaps this all came about sub-consciously, but I don't own a single item of clothing that I iron. My dislike of blouses, which I had always attributed to the  five years I was forced to wear one as part of my Catholic school uniform, has kept me from ever purchasing one and over the years, I have made a particular effort never to buy any skirts, dresses or pants of a material that needs to be ironed, no matter how cute they may be.

So until I was married, I was pretty successful at avoiding this chore altogether. Knowing God's sense of humor and His desire to help me grow in virtue, He would set me up with someone like Brian whose wardrobe is full of ironables. He likes to wear a dress shirt and pants everyday, and although I admire his style and find it professional and attractive, it adds up to A LOT of ironing.

When we first married, I was eager to change this by using my new wifely influence and pouring out abundant compliments whenever he wore one of the few polos that he owned. I also encouraged family members to give him polos whenever they needed a gift suggestion. In my mind, polo shirts were the answer as he looked just as dashing and professional with the added benefit that they required NO IRONING! Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful in eliminating ironables from Brian's wardrobe and am working on trying to accept this reality. Spending an hour last night tackling the most recent pile was a grueling reminder. Brian could see I was exhausted and asked me to stop for the night, but I had said that I was going to iron that day and by George, I was going to finish it. Stubbornness is sometimes the only way to plow through a task that we find unpleasant. I'm glad I wasn't born in my grandmother's generation, when they ironed all their sheets, tablecloths, napkins and handkerchiefs. What a miserable housewife I would have been indeed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sweet Somethings

The other night Brian and I were playing with our son, trying to wear him out for bed. We built blocks, had crawling races, tickle wars and finally wound down with some dancing. We used to dance a lot before we were married and were laughing at how different it was holding a baby between us. I teased Brian about how he used to whisper sweet nothings in my ear, to which he responded by whispering "sweet nothing, sweet nothing, sweet nothing" over and over again. I'm glad our sense of humor hasn't left us.

Later, while doing dishes, I was reflecting on this and how indeed so many of those little romantic gestures that used to make me thrill when we were first dating and engaged are no longer such a big deal. Now instead, I am wooed by the ordinary acts Brian performs for me out of love. When he volunteers to change a dirty diaper, (and we cloth diaper!) cooks me breakfast or watches Joseph so I can enjoy my shower, his love for me speaks louder than any other time, as within those actions is a sacrificial love reflective of the love of Christ.

Marriage hasn't killed the romance in our relationship , but rather changed the definition from an emotion into  a love with meaning which isn't simply proclaimed in "sweet nothings", but also proven by our actions which become "sweet somethings".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Bon Bons and Soap Operas

When my husband and I meet someone for the first time, we are inevitably asked what we do for a living. When Brian replies that he is in medical school and an officer in the United States Navy, they are most definitely impressed. Then they turn to me, and when I answer that I’m a full time mom and homemaker, they give me a blank stare and ask “so what do you do all day?”
I quickly crush the temptation to reply with sarcasm that I sit on the couch and eat bon bons while watching soap operas. Most people sympathize with Brian, being in medical school with a family, and wonder how he ever makes time to be with us while maintaining his high marks. What they don’t realize is that I play the supporting role to his vocation as medical student. We are a team; his job is to study and do well, mine is to take care of things at home so that he has time to regularly spend with us. So while caring for our son, managing our budget, preparing our meals, cleaning our home, washing our clothes and running our errands does not have a direct influence on his formation as a doctor; it does provide a stable, loving environment in our home. Taking care of the everyday necessities reduces the amount of stress he is under, thereby resulting in more fruitful study.
But my job does not stop there. As a Catholic student in a secular school, my husband is constantly under attack for his beliefs and defense of the truth.  Although he thrives on the challenge of apologetics, there are days when the battle is especially difficult, and the moral support and encouragement he receives from home is essential for him to be able to recharge his batteries for another day. In order to avoid burnout, we have found it crucial to surround ourselves with likeminded people who share our values. As a couple, we enjoy entertaining and have found it to be a sort of ministry in which we both can participate. Most medical students are single and away from home, so we try to host gatherings on a regular basis to foster community and times of fellowship. In a sense, I have become one of their instructors through my witness as a wife and mother, seeking to cultivate the culture of life and love by the ways I care for my husband and son. Many evenings I have found myself the only non-student present, and although I may not be able to share in the details of their classes, they often turn to me for a personal perspective on issues regarding women’s health, breastfeeding, NFP, and vaccinations to name a few.
They watched as I went through my first pregnancy and now delight with us as Joseph reaches his developmental milestones. I explained to them the reasons I desired a natural birth, and the difference in the philosophies of midwives and obstetricians. For many, I have been the first breastfeeding mother they have known personally and the one to introduce them to the attachment parenting style. I have utilized my theology degree by tag -teaming with my husband on the Church’s teachings on the dignity of the human person, marriage, human sexuality, plenary indulgences, purgatory, end of life issues, suffering, and the family as the domestic church. Through these discussions, these medical students are receiving formation more valuable than any secular ethics course would provide, as they are being equipped with moral values according to the natural law, rather than the whims of society.
Over time, I think the people who initially wondered what I do all day have begun to get an idea that I keep pretty busy. However, I know that most will never truly understand the importance nor the greatness of full time motherhood until they have travelled that road themselves.  Life as the wife of a medical student is not one that many will experience, but for those who do, I pray that they may find joy in their vocation and remember that behind most every successful man is a good woman-how blessed we are to be those wonderful women.