NCRegister Blog: Love of Neighbor, Like Zeal for Our Tradition, Should Burn Hot in Our Hearts

Rigidity. Pope Francis seems to talk about that a lot. And the instance that struck home for me most recently was from a recently released interview he gave in 2007 in which he spoke of the rigidity of young traditionalists. I am a recovering rigid traditionalist. Before that I was a rigid charismatic. I have experienced firsthand what is it like to be rigid, standing in cold judgment of a perceived wrong way of doing things, and I have encountered firsthand what is it like to be snubbed by the rigid, seeking to be understood and finding no sympathy.

Read the rest at the NCRegister…

Seven Quick Takes–Sept 20

1. Some days a second massive cup of coffee is necessary. Some days it must be made with two packets of hot cocoa powder (as opposed to my usual black). I am not sure why I am so tired, but I am. Plus, my feet are cold. I probably should go put my slippers on.

2. This is the life, let me tell you. At 11:30 AM on a cool Fall morning, we are up, dressed, fed, have been to morning Mass, vacuumed the usable part of the house, the baby took a good nap, and the older girls and I did school, coloring, and played Blokus. Now they are running around outside in jackets and the baby is cheerfully playing on the floor with an empty purple cup. And I might actually write quick takes on a Friday.

3. Saga of the Leaky Pipe Update: Not much to say here, except for the questionable plumbing work done my the previous owner has been replaced with professional work (this was Monday). Our project manager is coming on Monday with carpet and paint samples for me to pick out!!! Does anyone think that light yellow walls with a grayish carpet will look bad? Please say something before I make the choice!! The walls should be done while we are visiting all the awesome people of Buffalo next week.

4. Hot-Cocoa-Coffee is amazing, and a lot less expensive and effort than running out to a coffee shop with three kids.

5. If the kids are still happy when the quick takes are done, I am going to read the Papal interview that everyone is talking about. But there is always quiet time for that, though I am trying to hash out a blog post in my mind so the too goods will be competing for attention.

6. M and I restarted doing something that we should have done months ago. You see, we live one mile from a perpetual adoration chapel. This means that when our kids are all in bed at 8pm, we have no excuse for one of us not to go to the chapel at least once a week. So, we started taking turns again last week. It is really good for us to do and maybe I will be more focused in prayer in general because of it.

7. And for some practice in ethics, I leave you with the Trolley Problem game.

For more quick takes, head over to Jen’s Conversion Diary Blog. 🙂

The Simplicity of Pope Francis

Pope Francis in his simple ways reminds me a lot of my grandparents generation, those born during the thirties. I think we have all heard about a friend buying him new shoes as he headed out for the conclave. And his refusal to take on traditional parts of the papal dress, such as the mozzetta, and the fact that he would rather walk places than take a car a couple of blocks. These things remind me of how my grandfather will eat all of an apple, I mean all of it, until there is nothing but the stem remaining, and how he has simple, plain but healthy meals everyday of his life. And his shoes; I am not sure if I have ever seen him wear a new looking shoe in my life. He must buy new ones at some point. In this simplicity, there is a desire to not be wasteful with one’s possessions and to use each possession until it is no longer usable.
Wouldn’t it be interesting if Pope Francis let the papal fleet become a group of well maintained old cars? The simple lifestyle is not just using things until they are no longer useful, but it is also about being a good steward of what one does have. This simplicity is inspiring. Another aspect of his self-imposed simplicity is the fact that Jesuits take a vow of poverty; being pope does not make him no longer a Jesuit or exempt from his vows. Though I do not really know the tradition of how Jesuits lave lived their vow of poverty. And now the pope has decided to not live in the papal apartments. His simplicity in his personal life is inspiring (though I wish he would take his simple personal life and contrast it to worshiping God in beautiful liturgies full of splendor). I think we have a lot to learn from our new pope.
In the first-world, we do live in a wealth that was unimaginable to people even 100 years ago. We have machines for washing just about everything we own, indoor plumbing, electricity, the internet, and our material needs are always met. And when you look at the pictures of the pope’s suite in the Vatican “hotel,” his furniture is still super nice. St. Francis de Sales in Introduction to the Devout Life (I can’t stop referencing him, because he is so good!) talks about poverty of spirit in he midst of wealth. He says:
“ ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.’ (Matthew 5:3)…[Y]our heart be open only to heaven and impenetrable to riches and earthly things; if you possess them preserve your heart from loving them; let it rise above them, and be poor in the midst of wealth, and the master of its riches. Beware of losing the spirit of holiness in the good things of the world, but let your hearts always be the superior, not in them but above them.”
This is exactly is what Pope Francis is aspiring to. He realizes the dangers of being attached to the worldly goods that are so accessible to him and is opening his heart to the riches of Heaven. He has shown us that he is so open to the riches of Heaven in God’s mercy, but also in God in other people. I think he is trying to teach us that what matters more than anything is loving God and loving others. Our worldly possessions should not get in the way of loving others and a way of being detached from them is by having things be simple.
He said in his homily on Palm Sunday, “Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy that comes from having many possessions, but it comes from having encountered a Person, Jesus, who is among us.” I think Pope Francis is trying to show the Church and the whole world that we can have joy by living simply and loving others. I hope that he continues to embody and hold strong to his simplicity as his papacy continues; and is he persists he will have more of an impact on the world than he has in these first few weeks.

Seven Quick Takes-Friday March 22

1. In case you have not heard it is Spring. But I guess that is not something we have in Minnesota. So all of you who have Spring, please enjoy it for me. However, today is sunny and 31°F so I went for a walk once the kids were down for naps and M was doing some grading at home.

2. G had a well visit today up at the family clinic that we have been frequenting way too much this winter. The doctor suggested we do a food allergy and celiac panel on her. She was awesome through the blood draw (it kind of stinks for kids that they have to draw as much blood as they draw out of adults for these tests). She did not even cry. So, we should find out next week if she has any other food intolerances. Apparently asthma, allergies, and eczema are commonly linked in family genetics; all things which are common at least on my side of the family. I’d like to think that intellectual prowess us also included in the DNA.

New vacuum and L’s little foot.

3. Our vacuum died last week, and after the birthday festivities and relatives went home I started to search for a new one. Using the resources available to me I looked at Consumer Reports and asked the advice of my Facebook friends. There was a lot of pressure to buy the Shark Navigator Lift-Away, so I did some research and found out that I could get the professional model at Bed, Bath, and Beyond (with a 20% off coupon) for Amazon’s list price on the basic one. The professional has a hard floor attachment which I am excited to try in the new house. I tried it out as soon as I got it home and it picked up so much hair and dust that I am disgusted at the amount of filth we had been living in… well it was not that bad, but it was a lot.

4. The kids have been really into having a new pope. They have a duplo train that has a smoke stack and I overheard them the other day exclaiming that there was smoke coming out of it and that we had a new pope.

When G and I were driving to the doctor’s this morning she noticed a building with white smoke pouring out of it. She said: “White smoke! It is like having a new pope!” I then explained to her about the special chimney on the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican and that was the one that announced the new pope. So, we then talked about what the Vatican was and also the Vatican flag. When we were at our awesome Catholic doctor’s office there was a book with St. Peter’s Basilica on the cover. G saw it and said: “Look! It is where the pope lives!”

5. Tonight M and I are going to watch the last show of season three of Downton Abbey. We were using the awesome free PBS app to watch it until they took down all the episodes. Now we are spending 1.99 an episode to watch them from Amazon. I suppose that is not so bad considering how much money we save by not going out on Friday nights due to having kids. Unfortunately, my Facebook friends enthusiasm for the show already spoiled the main event in this last episode, but maybe I misread their status (M tells me that status is the plural of status) and it won’t be so bad after all?

6. The underwriter has approved us and we are set to close on April 22! Then we will officially be paying a bank to live in a house instead of paying a landlord, and in 30 years, no one! And to clarify my post about doing things on the house. We are not moving until the end of May since our lease in our current home will not be up yet.

7. Finally, if you have not done so yet and want to easily follow my blog on Facebook. Please “like” it by using the handy little box to the right. 🙂

Read more Quick Takes at Jen’s blog

Habemus Papam: A Week Later

G and the white smoke.

Can you believe it has been a week since that emotional Wednesday that we got a new pope? I think it is finally starting to sink in. I might be able to say something about it now. I decided to stream EWTN that morning to see if maybe we could catch the smoke. I am normally getting the kids down for nap around 1pm ct, so the smoke was really pushing it. The baby was hungry, so everything else got put on hold and I sat and nursed her while watching the chimney. It was then that the smoke came pouring out. I starting tearing up, almost full our crying, and told the kids to watch the smoke. G came over and was happy to watch asking if we had a new pope. L had decided that this was a boring thing to watch and was on her pre-nap prowl around the house. The photo above I took with the iPad while nursing the baby. Yeah, I have skills, though I am pretty sure the baby was not happy about the position I put her in to get this shot. While we waited a few minutes for the new pope to come out I realized that L would not really care and that it was going to be awhile. I had G stand guard at the computer and put L in her room for her nap. Then when L continued to come out of her room, I decided to get G to her quiet time. (It sounds simple, but really imagine me running around herding the kids to their nap/quiettime rooms and glancing every two seconds at the screen to see what is going on.) Then the baby decided she was tired. I decided to bring the computer into the room and prop it on the bed with the sound off. L had finally decided to go to sleep, and G was content downstairs. I sat in the quiet of my room, nursing my baby, when the cardinal came out and announced who our new pope was. Well, I did not hear it, but I saw it… Once the baby was asleep I got left the room and called M and tried to figure out what this new pope would be about.

We have been trying to process Pope Francis for a week. Like many tradionally minded Catholics we are a little nervous about what he might do in regards to the allowance of the Extraordinary Form, but it is out of our control really. He seems to be a good, humble man, who loves his people the Church. I would love for him to kiss my baby (as I saw in a picture on Facebook today), and I am interested to see what he will do as pope. I also will pray for him that he will be open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and lead us well.

I am still reading Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, and St. Catherine had a lot of influence on the papacy in her day (she influenced just about everyone she met). If you do not know her story, she is the one who convinced Pope Gregory XI to bring the papacy back to Rome from Avignon, and supported Pope Urban VI through the chaos of multiple popes when the French cardinals come not handle having an Italian pope. For some reason I had thought that the papacy had lost its political influence that it had in the Middle Ages, but this conclave has made me realize that the pope’s position is as political as it ever was. The political leadership and influence should not take away from the spiritual leadership, but ideally it shows us how to live in the world and not of it. We in the Church are all sinners, and there has never been a perfect pope. Yet, this is what Christ intended for His Church, and we can trust that the papacy is divinely guided in the statements made ex cathedra, We can hope that the popes other decisions are in line with God’s will as well, and for this we pray.

Waiting Week

Four years ago today I was 9+ months pregnant with G. M was on Spring Break his first year in graduate school for his PhD. G was due on March 7 and that was the first day of his break. The idea was for the baby to come at the beginning of the week and then him to have a whole week off for us to adjust to the new life of being parents. That did not happen. Four years ago today my sister went into labor and had her second child and daughter who is also my Goddaughter. We were due the same day. G decided to wait until her father’s birthday to kick me into labor. I made his birthday dinner with some friends over. The contractions got stronger and stronger and closer together as we ate dinner, had cake, and chatted. Our friends suggested playing a board game as we often did after our dinner parties. “Actually,” I said, “I am pretty sure I am in labor.” They got really excited and said they would go home. They could not wait to hear our news. M and I started practicing our Bradley relaxation techniques, called the doctor, called family and finally decided to go to the hospital around midnight. G was born 5 hours later on the Ides of March. Now she is about to be four, and is a sweet, pretty, intelligent, and pious little girl who either wants to be a princess, nun, or marry her three year old friend who she has playdates with…

Photo by bk1bennett.

This year we are waiting for the white smoke. Today it was black. I should the girls the closing of the Sistine Chapel on the live broadcast by EWTN, and am now finally an EWTN watcher. (I love when TV that is worth watching is available online since we do not have a TV.) The girls seem unable to distinguish between baseball Cardinals and Church cardinals, since after seeing the doors close, L requested to see Fredbird. At any rate we have been telling them about praying for the conclave and for the new pope. Maybe they will be able to see some live smoke streaming. This is the first time in their lives I will let them watch live television. Pope TV is probably the best that TV can be.

Here we are waiting. Maybe it will be the Ides, and that is not a bad thing for the next pope unless he picks the name Caesar I which would be just wrong… But I know of a sweet little girl born on the Ides and she is just fine.

Thank You, Pope Benedict XVI!

Here is a photo of M, me, and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in November 2005.

I feel somewhat obliged to comment on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI today. I read his final general audience yesterday and this part of it stood out to me:

“I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their heart and let me feel their affection, which is born of our being together in Christ Jesus, in the church. These people do not write me as one might write, for example, to a prince or a great figure one does not know. They write as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, with the sense of very affectionate family ties. Here, one can touch what the church is – not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but a living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the body of Jesus Christ, who unites us all. To experience the church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of his truth and his love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline.”

It is a wonderful description of what it is like to be Catholic. Now having lived in four cities, I know that there are good, faithful Catholics in all parts of the country and world. When I meet a new person who I know is Catholic, there is an instant common bond and that is the community of brothers and sisters Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke of yesterday.

And I do feel about him and Blessed Pope John Paul II before him a sense of familial connection and affection. I am thankful to him for being our Pope the past eight years and for the three Apostolic blessings M and I were given on the occasion of our marriage (I will take all the blessings I can get!).

As for the future of the Church, all I can do myself is to trust in God. I know that Church politics do not always make choosing the right pope easy. I only hope that with the rest of the world against preserving traditions that the new pope will continue to protect them within the Church and continue to bring back the old ones that were lost during many of the post-Vatican II changes.

I will conclude with this:

Novena prayer for a conclave:

Heavenly Father, We, the people of God, gathered in solidarity as did the disciples in the Upper Room, pray for the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the cardinals who will be in conclave for the election of the next Vicar of our Lord Jesus Christ. May the hearts of our cardinals be open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, beyond any human judgment, to elect the candidate most pleasing to you, Heavenly Father, and who will guide the Church at this momentous time in history and the beginning of the Third Millenium.
We invoke our Mother Mary, united in prayer with the disciples in the Upper Room, to intercede for our cardinals to select the next Holy Father in docility to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, her divine Spouse. With Mary, Mother of God and of the Church, we entrust this conclave to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, and offer these prayers for your guidance and protection over the choosing of the next Vicar of your Son.

1 Our Father
1 Hail Mary
1 Glory Be

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us!