Gathering My Thoughts, Too

Jesus Presentation
The Presentation of Our Lord
Candlemas
Feast of Candlemas
Eastertide
Preparing for the coming of Eastertide

Yesterday we acknowledged the end of Catholic Schools week by having the children attending school at our parish do the readings and participate in the choir. It was very nostalgic for me to see the boys and girls enter the church wearing their uniforms. My first thought was of how privileged we (I and my childhood friends) were to go to a Catholic parochial school and, yet, privileged is not the correct word to describe that time in economical history — blessed is. Many of the families whose children were my classmates, were not well-off.  Ours was a working class neighborhood in Detroit.  Big families, working fathers, stay-at-home mothers, multiple generations under one roof. Many of the homes were two-family structures, where grandparents and adult children lived one above the other. Sometimes siblings shared these homes and cousins grew up together in the equivalent of a stacked duplex, or two-flat home.

It was indeed a blessing to learn under the umbrella of our denomination; having nuns (in full habit) teaching you and attending daily &/or weekly mass together. Intimately sharing the body and blood of Christ as a cohesive unit daily, supporting each other in line at the confessional each week, seeking and scouting out your classmates at Sunday mass, and participating in all the Holy Days and Feast Days that unfolded during the liturgical year.

It is a blessing that I had wished our own daughters and grandchildren could experience. Sadly, Catholic parishes with schools do not pepper the neighborhoods of Southern California like they did, and perhaps still do, in urban cities like Detroit.  And, although they offer alternative ways of paying for such an education, the tuition to send one’s children to a parochial school nowadays is excessively steep for today’s working class. Mamas have to work outside of the home to help sustain the family with even the most basic of needs and, while there are those Mamas who sacrifice added income to stay at home, homeschooling is a much more viable options if they do not wish to enroll their offspring in a public school.

And while I totally understand that times have changed and matters like inflation, the messed-up housing market, and national budget problems have dwindled both individual and corporate accounts — it doesn’t stop me from wondering why, especially here in America, the blessing of a Catholic or parochial education has morphed into a privilege. That’s not to say that it’s a privilege without sacrifice. However, it is a privilege that few, especially families already sacrificing so much, can afford.

:: living the liturgy

Living the liturgy. Some may wonder what, exactly, does that mean. I wish I could say that it means to be in prayer and live each moment of each day as the Christians we are expected to be. That would be an unrealistic expectation though. So, living the liturgy, well, it’s in the knowing. Recognizing that we’ve failed, again. Replaying the words said, or behavior displayed, and zoning in on the, “Why?” Remembering that, while we won’t be stoned for our sins, we are to go forth and “sin no more.” Renewing our committment to live His Word. It’s the opposite of the lights being on and nobody is home; it’s turning the dimmer-switch to high because, “Jesus is in the House!”

Last Sunday’s homily focused on Christ’s baptism. More importantly, how his cousin, John the Baptist, greeted Him, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” The sacrificial lamb. Our lamb.

Next Sunday is The Presentation of Our Lord, concluding 40 days of Christmastide and the start of preparations for the upcoming Lenten season. It is also Candlemas, where we bring candles to be blessed. Candles we will light on Sundays, Holy Days and Feast Days, as well as on days of sorrow, sickness, or storms {literally and figuratively}.

Sacrificial Lamb of Christ

Mary with Jesus and Lamb

Last night offered an opportunity to watch The Passion of the Christ with our eldest grandson. At 14 1/2 years old, he is now at an age where he can begin to understand the breadth and depth of the sacrifice made for him by Him. In all its brutality and heartbreak, this visual retelling of The Passion, is, perhaps, the closest we can come to truly understanding that the sacrifice was made by Christ, human like us. It is, in its gut-wrenching and tissue-reaching two hours, the emotional dagger of a mother’s sorrow at seeing the flesh-of-her-flesh battered, beaten, and bloodied knowing that she can not take away His pain and suffering.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

So living the liturgy, right now, means that when Sunday comes and brings with it Groundhog Day and the Super Bowl, I must remember the Babe in His mother’s arms and the Lamb who willingly walks towards slaughter so that I may live.

:: giving thanks

For adult daughters and sons-in-law who continue to place importance on raising their children to know God. For grandchildren who actually like to hang out with their grandparents on both sides of their family trees. For a creative community that bolsters my confidence and supports my attempts at all forms of art. For friends who serendipitously connect with you in creative ventures.

Countess

For a husband who attends mass with me and enjoys watching “Downton Abbey” as much as I do.

rosary

:: praying for

My sister and brother-in-law that they may be good stewards of the recent financial blessing that God has given them. Ernie and I to be good stewards of that which we have as well.

For the families and friends of two co-workers who recently died of cancer. Although I did not know them personally, they were known and loved by many who work on the university campus with me.

For friends near and far who are going through times of stress and sadness.

For a neighbor and friend whose daughter is planning a wedding, so that she will find moments filled with the joy of being the mother-of-the-bride.

And for those in the mid-west and back east who are bravely battling the bitter cold and still finding the beautiful in Winter.

How may I pray for you this week?

:: watching

Sherlock Holmes and being totally fascinated by the wit embedded in the dialogue by the writers and the sharp chemistry between the characters displayed by the actors in the title roles. Wondering when, exactly, I was swept away by British Broadcasting and why it didn’t happen sooner.

And cats sleeping in the yard outside our sliding glass doors.

:: reading

Nearly finished with A little Salty to cut the Sweet {Sophie “BooMama” Hudson} and Bread & Wine  {Shauna Niequist}. Chewing on The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours {Daria Sockey} and 23 pages into Winter’s Tale {Mark Helprin}. Still grappling with Les Miserable {hoping to finish by this summer}. Note to self: Don’t see the movie before you read the book, especially when you’re reading a classic tome. {No, really, do not!}

:: loving the moments

Of mid-afternoon dancing the sun does with light and shadow through the windows in the livingroom.

:: looking forward to

Completing the putting up of our every day decor so that our home looks finished by January’s end.

My first art lesson this week.

Having our Liquid Amber and Pine trees trimmed on Friday {before any pending winds or rains appear}.

Super Bowl Sunday — not sure where we’ll be watching the game, but I’d love to try out some new appetizer and tailgate recipes.  Ernie’s favorite team, The Denver Broncos, should be able to hear him from wherever we are, I’m sure.  Do you have any Super Bowl recipes or traditions you revisit every year?

:: listening to

The wind chimes.

~ Blessings for a wonderful last week of January, dear readers

One comment

  1. Love it. I love how you speak out on what you are grateful for. It makes it seem like I am there with you and knowing you and them. I love how I learn Catholic “things”….being a fairly “new” Catholic I didn’t know what Candlemas was! What am I grateful for? I’m grateful that we have reconnected. I am grateful that you made it through the dark times into such a warm, loving, and large family. I am grateful that you are there to “talk” to and that you are there praying for me. Love you old friend……

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