Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Making a List

Once upon a time, I was a time management fanatic, of sorts. I had a planner; I prioritized; I checked off the items that were completed, and forwarded the ones that weren’t.

I haven’t done that in a long, long time.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally had to make a “to-do” list. Not only did I have a list of things to do, I had categories. I think that might be the “too many irons in the fire” routine. At any rate, I had my list separated into “house”, “chapel”, Altarations orders, wedding stuff, autistic step-grandchild-to-be stuff, and “other”. To be honest, not too many items have been checked as completed, but at least I have a more organized view of what needs to be done.

When unpacked, the volume of fabric and
trim is overwhelming!
The orders…wow…I haven’t ever had so many orders to complete at one time. There are three orders for rose antependia. There’s one for a black antependium. There was a pending order for a violet antependium, which I have completed, as of two days ago. There are a couple of miscellaneous other smaller items.

Despite the list, I still have had trouble falling asleep a couple of nights, as I mull over the things I must get done, and when I must complete them. My brain starts spinning out of control, with a thought process along these lines: “Gotta get a copy of the wedding rite. Ash Wednesday is sooner than I thought. When can I deliver that violet antependium? St. Stephen's tabernacle veil...ugh, that's hard. Oh...need a long linen cloth to go over the violet antependium. I know which readings I want for the wedding; should I push the issue? What are we gonna do with our little autistic guy at the wedding? Wait, how long is that other altar? Oh, wait! I have to help my friend pick up his new motorcycle on Tuesday! How do I get myself into these things?"

A casualty of the snow load...
And in the midst of that semi-organized chaos that has become my life, my husband wanted me to take him to the ER the other night. He will need hernia surgery, but it turned out that we weren’t facing an emergency situation after all, thanks be to God! But as for his daily chore of cleaning the horse stall, which is full of giant puddles, melting snow, and patches of ice, he’s out of commission; and that means I take over. I don’t mind doing it for his health, of course, but it is just one more thing to work into my schedule.

That schedule, of course, is comprised largely of liturgical prayer and private devotions, and all the other stuff has to fit into the cracks of time in between praying the hours of the Divine Office. The temptation is to cut short the prayer time in order to get a little more work done on any particular project. Actually, the temptation more often goes the other way: extend the time working on a project, and then end up having to cut the prayer time short. Once I am working on a project, I sometimes find it difficult to stop. Ora et labora, yes...but it is sometimes difficult to strike the balance between the two!

At least the snow is melting!
Surely, this is Satan’s joy: to see a person who is striving to maintain her spiritual life become distracted with more worldly concerns. Lent is almost upon us, of course, and while I usually look forward to that penitential season, this year I have some apprehensions. The Lenten practices I have adopted are not easy for me, and the more stressed I am with worldly concerns, the less inclined I am to do the hard stuff. But I will make an additional effort to keep my Rule.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Stresses of Life

Well, it’s official…or at least 99.99% official. My daughter is getting married on May 20, 2017. That’s one of my stresses (which includes a multitude of small ones within it!)

Seriously? She's getting married?!
Frankly, I didn’t think this whole get-the-daughter-married process would be so stressful. The annulment process, of course, is always stressful, and I can speak from experience here. But even once The FiancĂ©’s previous marriage was declared invalid, a further restriction was placed upon his ability to marry in the Church. I can’t even remember whether I wrote about this. The restriction was that he not marry within one year of the official decree of nullity, and that he be properly instructed as to the permanence of and the procreative purpose of marriage. The FiancĂ© met with the bishop, and everything has been moving along since then, but the final signed document is not yet in hand. The Judicial Vicar said the couple could plan on May 20 for their wedding, but still, the bishop needs to provide the final documentation.  My daughter says she’s sending out the invitations, though.

Then there’s the wedding planning itself. My daughter has actually been planning her wedding since she was about 9 years old, and shorter-range planning had begun prior to the glitches in the annulment process. She has most of it under control. But I am the mom, after all, and I find myself stressing over the details. Did she remember this? Did she remember that? How much is this going to cost? Where the heck will we find the money?!

We got the dress, though! That was a load off my mind. My daughter was having a recurring dream in which she found herself on the day before her wedding with no wedding dress. We decided to risk a trip to Boise for the shopping expedition. I say “risk” because of the intense winter weather we’ve had here. In the last few weeks, the freeway between here and Boise has been closed multiple times for extended periods (hours at a time, even up to a full day) due to blowing snow, ice, and vehicle accidents. I watched the weather forecast all week, hoping the predicted snow would not fall and that the trip-cams would show clear pavement all the way there.  I prayed to my guardian angel for guidance in making the decision. In the end, we went, although it was snowing in our town when we left, and the trip-cams were not as promising as they had been. But it wasn’t bad, and it was better on the way home, so the trip was made in a standard amount of time. Besides that, the dress was a reasonable price, and that made me extra happy.

The photographer, though…I wasn’t happy with the contract the young woman had provided to my daughter. The photographer wanted the full payment a month in advance of the wedding, and she stated in several places that there would be “no refunds.” Well. I wasn’t happy about a big chunk of money going out to someone I’d never met, who offered no refunds! What if something unforeseen happened that prevented her from even making it to the wedding? Would we be required to pay for a product never received? So we met with the photographer, and I thought we had things ironed out, but then she emailed my daughter and said it was her contract or nothing. So…nothing. We’re on the hunt for a different photographer.

And then there’s the snow. My goodness. That day we went to Boise and back, safely, with little snow on the road, I came home to find another few inches of snow had fallen, and another 3 or 4 fell that evening! That meant another 3-4 hours of snow removal and relocation the next day. (What ARE we going to do with all this snow!?!) I have definitely been feeling claustrophobic here, as the snow has grown deeper and deeper. Plus, the piles of snow we’ve made from shoveling the roofs have become as tall as the buildings themselves!
Looking from the chapel toward the house.
 But now it’s melting. Finally we have above-freezing temps, and the snow is settling and melting. Another stress. Is my chapel going to be flooded?! Time will tell. I have sand bags! And lots of prayers.

There are other stresses. But of course, you know that; we all have them!

I keep reminding myself to trust in God. And I pray that He helps me to do that! He does, of course. And I have all those angels and saints to help me, too. I really don’t know how people get through life without them!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Wonderland

Well, it's been snowing. And snowing. And snowing some more. This is the most snow we've seen since we moved here almost 13 years ago. The "old-timers" here say that it used to be this way every winter. 

My husband and I have been shoveling now off roofs - the barn, the house, the chapel.  In some ways all that shoveling makes me think I'm getting too old for this type of physical labor, but on the other hand, it feels good to get that tired...sort of! As long as there's Motrin, I guess.

Anyway, about all I have energy for at this point, as far as putting a post on this blog goes, is to post some photos! I am doing this from my phone, as my computer is being temperamental, so captions will be added some other time.


The entrance to our house

The chapel - front

The back door/emergency exit of
the chapel. My husband kept the
door clear as he scraped snow off the roof,
but I started to worry about flooding into the
chapel once all that snow starts to melt. I started moving the snow. It will take some
time, but we don't expect the spring thaw to happen
for a few months yet!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Starting the New Year

As a combination Christmas and birthday give, I bought for myself the full set of The Liturgical Year (15 volumes) by Dom Proper Gueranger. What a treasure trove of wisdom and instruction! I have read through much of his commentary on the feasts following Christmas, and am finding my investment quite worthwhile already.

For today’s feast of the Circumcision, Dom Gueranger makes note of the epistle, which is from the letter to Titus:

Dearly beloved: The grace of God our Savior has appeared to all men, instructing us, in order that, rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly and piously in this world; looking for the blessed hope and glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from all iniquity and cleanse for Himself an acceptable people, pursuing good works. These things speak and exhort, in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Titus 2:11-14)

Here is Gueranger’s expounds on this passage, giving a New Year’s message to us!

These counsels of our great Apostle, who warns the faithful of the obligation they are under of making a good use of the present life, are most appropriate to the first day of January, which is now the beginning of the new civil year. Let us, therefore, renounce all worldly desires; let us live soberly, justly, and piously, and permit nothing to distract us from the expectation of that blessedness, which is our hope. The great God and Savior Jesus Christ, Who shows Himself to us in these days of His mercy in order to instruct us, will come to us in a second manner in order to give us our reward. The beginning of a new year tells us plainly enough that this Last Day is fast approaching; let us cleanse ourselves from all iniquity, and become a people acceptable to our Redeemer, a people doing good works.

I thought that was a very good thought for the first day of the 2017.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas is Coming...

The snow keeps on comin'!
I vacillate between great joy and a bit of depression and sadness.

I love Advent and the sense of anticipation it engenders in me. The readings at Vigils are beautiful and powerful. The prayers at Mass are exceptionally rich, it seems. I love having the Advent wreath on our table and lighting the candles at dinner time. 

And then there's the liturgical life of our parish...which is impoverished. 

This year, there will be no night-time Mass. Not at midnight, not even at 10pm, not even at 8 pm. Nope. Just the 4:30pm Mass on Christmas Eve, which in past years has been billed as the "Children's Mass". I don't think it is called that now, but I also don't think it has changed any. That Mass is usually packed, and I'm sure there are quite a few "Christmas-and-Easter" Catholics in attendance, as well as non-Catholics from the local community who like a little entertainment on Christmas Eve.

Our choices for Mass, then, are the 4:30 Mass (Nooooooo. I cannot bring myself to attend.), or the Sunday morning 9:30 Mass. That one will include plenty of guitar-strumming, though one can always hope the tambourine will remain silent.  The bishop will be at the Sunday morning Mass for sure, and probably the 4:30 as well, though I don't know for sure. 

That leaves us with the 11:30am Christmas Mass at the mission church. Well, maybe they won't be playing CD's this time; in the past, they have just sung standard Christmas carols. But I'm telling you, if they break into "Feliz Navidad" (because the Hispanics, ya know), I will be this close to walking out. Though I probably won't. Or if I do, I'll return when they are done.

Maybe I sound like Scrooge. Bah, humbug! Well, if you have a lovely Christmas Mass to attend - hopefully one in the extraordinary form - then please say a little prayer for me! I will sing the Office in my little chapel and try to focus on that. I will also sing the propers for the Christmas Masses, just because I can, even if there is no Mass to go along with them. Singing Gregorian chant almost always lifts my spirit!

Well, maybe things will be different next year.  But for this year, Merry Christmas to all of you who read this! 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Monday, December 12, 2016

An Anniversary in Advent

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the anniversary date of my profession of my  
personal private vow. This year was my 10th anniversary of that vow. However, since the vow is personal and private, the celebration of its anniversary is also private - but still significant, I think! 

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception is the Marian feast on which I usually renew my De Montfort consecration to Mary, as well. I first made that consecration before I was even Catholic! A friend recommended the devotion to me, lo, these 15 years ago. And that means that next Easter will be my 15th anniversary of being received into the Church. 

Even though I've renewed the Marian consecration every year, I must admit that some years I am perhaps a bit lackadaisical in keeping up with the readings and prayers over the 33 days of preparation. This year, probably because it was in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of my vow, I was determined to pray and read with extra effort at attention, reverence and devotion.  And I was given a great consolation in the form of a deepening of my devotion to and appreciation of Our Blessed Mother.

We've had quite a bit of snow here
 in the last week.
This photo is from a few days ago...
there's more now. But you get the idea.
Another great consolation came to me in my own vocation as mother: my daughter went to confession last Saturday! I was so relieved, as she has missed Sunday Mass a few times with no excuse whatsoever, and I had been nudging her toward confession for months. We also went to Mass together that night, at with some additional urging, she received Holy Communion...for the first time in I don't know when. She was so reluctant, though...and I said, "It's not supposed to be torture!" But to her, she said, it was, because she feels angry and resentful towards our parish priest. Well, I can relate to that!  In the end, she overcame her distaste of the minister in order to receive the sacrament, and I am sure it did her good! I noticed that the next day her mood was the best it's been in a long, long time.

This whole escapade with my daughter made me sad, too. I'm sad that I didn't do a better job of catechizing her...but you can only give what you have, I didn't have as much to give her when she was young as I do now. She is not as willing to receive it now, though; I hope that will change. I am also sad that our Church doesn't do more to catechize all of us. Everything is so watered down. Our faith happens on Sunday, for most people, it seems; even in my own family! Case in point: since I was out of town and didn't give reminders to my husband and daughter, they both completely forgot about going to Mass on December 8! My husband was pretty embarrassed by his omission, but both husband and daughter defensively justified their mistake by saying "I didn't mean to". My spiritual director pointed out to me, though, that there is a "sin of negligence". The more we are attuned to the liturgical rhythm of our life in Christ, the less likely we are to forget a holy day of obligation, it seems to me.

And...the private pizza with which we celebrated the anniversary of the private vow:


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Happy Advent!

I like Advent! There are many parts of the Divine Office that I love - like singing "Conditor alme siderum" at Vespers, and just having a whole different set of antiphons for each Sunday. Then there are the readings at Vigils, and the constant message that "He is coming!" And when we get to the O Antiphons...O! O! O! I love those! 

I'm off for an overdue retreat this week. Oh...and by the way, I have gone to the Saturday night Mass the last two weeks, and it is much more bearable! Last night, I actually could pray.

Happy Second Sunday of Advent from my chapel to yours!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!