Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our Children's Happiness

Parents generally want the best for their children. We want them to be healthy and happy, to live productive lives…and to get to Heaven, although you don’t see that last one in any of the mainstream sort of parenting manuals.

Even though I have thought long and hard about getting my children to Heaven, it is still difficult to embrace the thought of them having trials and tribulations here on earth that will help them grow in holiness. I am still tempted to want to make everything easy and pleasant for them, to protect them from the rough times.
I realized this especially just recently, because my daughter has now become officially engaged to the man I’ve mentioned before. I am happy for her, because it’s what she wants, the two seem well-suited to each other, and I think he will be a good husband – at least in an earthly sense.

But he’s not Catholic, and he was civilly married and divorced. That means that they will need a declaration of nullity of that previous marriage if they are to be married in the Church (which is the only option that I will participate in!). I told them six months ago that they’d better go see the priest and put the wheels in motion, because there’s no telling how long it might take. My nagging did not have the desired effect.
So now, they are engaged, and they want to get married in October, but they have still not started the annulment process. My daughter, feeling a little more motivated, went online to find more info about the annulment process (specifically, how long it takes), and texted me in disbelief: “An annulment can take up to 18 months?!” She probably now understands the reason for my previous nagging, but it doesn’t change anything.

She’s trying hard to get an appointment with the pastor of our parish, but they have been playing phone and email tag all week. She’s anxious to find out how long the process might take (and we are all assuming a declaration of nullity will be forthcoming), because she wants to set the date for the wedding. She also knows that there is a good possibility that the whole process will do nothing to impress her fiancĂ© where the Church is concerned. “You might as well forget any possibility of him becoming Catholic any time soon,” she told me glumly.
I was there. My husband and I both had prior marriages and divorces, and I was not Catholic. I resented the very idea that the Catholic Church would presume to declare whether or not my non-Catholic marriages were valid or not! It wasn’t until years later, after I became Catholic, that I understood. But I did become Catholic, despite my disenchantment with the annulment process.  You just have to understand that the Church teaches the Truth, even though Her ministers may fall short of their duties and responsibilities.

But…back to my main point in writing all of this: I want to pray for a swift resolution concerning the annulment. And I do pray for that, but every time I do, I am compelled to add “but Your will be done, Lord, not mine.” Because perhaps it is for my daughter’s good that the annulment take “too long”; perhaps God has something for her to learn from all of this – something that is not pleasant, but something that is necessary for her growth in holiness, for her eventual admittance to Heaven. I would not want an easy solution to be something that interferes with the ultimate good for her soul.
And yet, the earthly mom in me still wants it to be quick; I still want them to be able to get married in October. Then the more spiritual mom comes forward and says, “But what if God has a better plan.” Of course, His plan will be best.

There’s something for me to learn in all of this, too, of course. I am trying very hard to learn NOT to pray, “You will be done…but…”

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Puppy Love

 Do puppies have a spiritual life?! I sincerely doubt it! They are, however, extremely cute. 

The German Shepherd puppy to the left is a new addition to our family. 

I have been saying for a number of years that we would not add any more dogs to our "pack". We were down to three, and that seemed quite enough. My husband, however, has been wanting another German Shepherd ever since our previous one died about 5 years ago. 

And so, out of the blue, it occurred to me that for my husband's birthday, I could make him (which is actually tomorrow) really happy by surprising him with the puppy of his dreams. So I began a search...these dogs are not readily available in our area, so I knew some travel would be involved. In addition, I found out how expensive they have become!

My husband hits the big 7-0 tomorrow, and I figured there's nothing like a puppy to make you feel young again. Or the case may be. But really, it was the thought of just how thrilled he would be that made me carry through with the plan. I knew how much it would mean to him.

I found a puppy, then prevailed upon my husband's three adult sons to help pay for it, and then enlisted my daughter to accompany me on the 5-hour one-way drive to pick him up. Then it was 5 hours back, with a 9-week-old puppy who'd never been in a car... He lost his lunch - and everything else! - in the first 20 minutes or so, and continued to wretch pitifully for much of the trip. But we made it!

That was last Wednesday. My husband was teaching a class for the reserve officer police academy of which he is the director, and we planned to surprise him with the puppy at the beginning of the class. The puppy was introduced as "your new recruit", and my husband was appropriately and satisfyingly surprised and overwhelmed.

For myself, this was an incredibly rewarding experience. I've never enjoyed giving a gift as much as I enjoyed giving this one. I knew he would want the puppy, and I knew he would enjoy receiving the gift in the presence of his reserve officer students. I gave this gift freely, knowing that, even though I enjoy puppies, it would be a sacrifice for me because I would have to do most of the work for the time being. It was truly a gift of love - the mature love that comes with years of marriage, and which means you really understand your spouse. There are times when we drive each other crazy, but in the end, we know we are together for the long haul, and we each do what we can to make the other happy. Sometimes we hit the jackpot!

The other three dogs are taking it in stride, and everyone seems to be getting along fine. 

Our puppy probably doesn't have a spiritual life, but he's had an impact on mine - for better (as in helping me to realize how much my husband means to me), and for worse, as sometimes the hours of the Divine Office have gone by the wayside due to the necessities of caring for a puppy. But this too shall pass, and very quickly. Things will be back to normal soon.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.