Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fat Tuesday, Lent and St. Patrick's Day

We are well into our second week of Lent.  This year, in particular, I anticipated the arrival of Lent with great expectations. You see, almost every year during the month of January and part of February, I experience a kind of spiritual desert.  Maybe it has to do with our long winters and shorter amounts of sunlight, but there are days when it feels as if I am just going through the motions in my prayer life.  I feel sort of "dried up" on the inside.  This year was no exception and I welcomed the season of Lent to really focus on spending more time in prayer, scripture and other spiritual reading.  I also want to say that it is during this desert experience that I am eternally grateful to my parents for instilling within me a spiritual discipline; one that I rely on to carry me through, until I once again am renewed and refreshed.   


What has become our tradition on Fat Tuesday, is to order this beauty above.  It is so good that we couldn't even wait to eat it before taking a picture.

Monkey used to work at a local pizza joint, and often after his shift, he would bring over a "Top of the Line with Sauerkraut."  I was hesitant to even try it at first, as I am a traditional pizza girl.  I like "normal" toppings and I avoid "specialty" pizza (i.e. taco, cheeseburger, etc).  One bite of this baby, however, and I was completely hooked.  Totally delicious and totally worth eating it on Fat Tuesday.  Because it is an indulgence, we really only eat it this one time of year.

During supper, we discussed the sacrifices each person would make during Lent, in preparation for Easter. Some are giving up their video games, some are giving up sweets, one is giving up "being mean" (???), and Pumpkin is giving up orange soda.  For the record, I don't buy soda for the kids and I can probably count on one hand the number of times Pumpkin has drank orange soda in the last year, but whatever.  She considers it a sacrifice and that is what is important.

I have given up my phone for uses other than phone calls.  I have had some really successful days, and then there are days when I have forgotten and I find myself checking my e-mails or Facebook.  On a positive note, my kids have noticed me putting my phone down, which tells me that it is a practice I need to continue well after Lent is over.

This is our new centerpiece for the season.  It contains a Crown of Thorns, a Rosary, Sacrifice Beads, a Rice Bowl, and a prayer card.  Each candle represents one Sunday in Lent.  The pink candle is for Laetare Sunday, and the red candle is for Passion Sunday.


The Love Bugs look forward to St. Patrick's Day each year.  We don't have a bit of Irish in our blood, but we still take the time to celebrate with exuberance.  They get a non-uniform day (which they consider a treat) and dress in green.

The girls insisted on a funny picture.  The boys wanted nothing to do with this!

After work, Monkey cooked supper for us; corned beef, cabbage and rice, Chamorro style.  We had planned on our usual Shamrock Shakes, however the youth from our parish were hosting a fundraiser at the Dairy Queen, so we settle for Dilly Bars instead (well, I actually got a Blizzard - shhhhhh).  I promised the Love Bugs we would get the Shamrock Shakes this weekend.

So that's it for my little update.  Lent is off to a great start and today is the first day of Spring.  The sun is shining, the snow is melting and I'm putting away all of my winter/snowman decor.  

I wish you all a very blessed Lenten season, one that draws you closer to Jesus and springs forth light and love in your heart!

Monday, March 3, 2014

St. Anthony's Workin' Overtime

For the last three years, our family has adopted a patron saint.  A few days leading up to New Year's Eve, we begin discussing which saints are in the running for becoming our Family Patron Saint in the coming year. Then, after Mass on New Year's Eve, we come home to narrow down our choice and vote.  In 2012, we selected St. Cecilia - the patron of musicians.  We have a home budding with young musicians, so St. Cecelia was a great choice.  Before piano recitals and school concerts, we would invoke St. Cecelia for her prayers to calm nerves.  St. Sebastian, the patron of athletes, was our family saint for 2013.  He was called upon more than once for our swimmers, gymnasts, football and basketball players.  This year, we chose St. Anthony, the patron of lost things.  As Sweet Potato argued before the voting, "He should win because we lose things ALL. THE. TIME."

Everyday, someone in our household misplaces something; hats, mittens/gloves, snow pants, boot liners, homework, backpacks, toys, keys - you get the idea.  I try, really hard, to keep everyone organized.  I make it painfully simple, or so I think.  Regardless, time each and everyday is spent searching for something. St. Anthony is beckoned often.  We ask for his prayers in finding the lost and restoring some sort of order. When the lost is found we give a prayer of thanksgiving.

Earlier today, Pumpkin and I were at Walmart.  I had a list of things I needed to purchase, and since it was really cold outside, I wanted a one-stop shopping experience.  We were at the photo center, getting some pictures developed.  I ordered what I needed and then told Pumpkin to follow me over to the scanner to pick up our pictures.  I assumed she was behind me.  I scanned my ticket, waited for my pictures to print, collected my photos and then turned to tell Pumpkin it was time to go.  That is when I realized she wasn't behind me.  I quickly looked around the photo area, trying to search out her pink coat and her pink, piggy hat.  She wasn't there.  I yelled her name, to which the other shoppers turned to look at me.  My face turned red and my stomach knotted up.  I ran out into the main aisle and looked left and then right.

I didn't see her.

I pushed my cart to the side and prayed, first to Jesus to be with her, and then to St. Anthony to lead me to my baby.  I pleaded that I would find her quickly.

I ran back to the main aisle.  And then I heard her cry.  I looked to my left and saw her pink, piggy hat headed towards the automotive center.  I ran in her direction, yelling her name.  She saw me and came running into my arms.  We were both crying.  At that moment, my fear turned into relief and then into disappointment.  I was disappointed the Pumpkin had wandered off and disappointed in myself for not keeping closer tabs on my child.

I firmly held her hand for the rest of our shopping trip.

Thank you Jesus for your protection, and thank you St. Anthony for your prayers.

The following are excerpts about the saints from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

956   The intercession of the saints. “Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness.... [T]hey do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus.... So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.”495 (13702683)

957   Communion with the saints. “It is not merely by the title of example that we cherish the memory of those in heaven; we seek, rather, that by this devotion to the exercise of fraternal charity the union of the whole Church in the Spirit may be strengthened. Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself”498: (1173)
We worship Christ as God’s Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord’s disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master. May we also be their companions and fellow disciples!499
958   Communion with the dead. “In full consciousness of this communion of the whole Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, the Church in its pilgrim members, from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her suffrages for them.”500 Our prayer for them is capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective. (137110321689)
959   In the one family of God. “For if we continue to love one another and to join in praising the Most Holy Trinity—all of us who are sons of God and form one family in Christ—we will be faithful to the deepest vocation of the Church.”501 (1027)

495 LG 49; cf. 1 Tim 2:5.
498 LG 50; cf. Eph 4:1-6.
499 Martyrium Polycarpi, 17: Apostolic Fathers II/3, 396.
500 LG 50; cf. 2 Macc 12:45.
501 LG 51; cf. Heb 3:6.