Sunday, April 6, 2014

Forever Connected, On Purpose

Back in 2012 I wrote a quick blog post, called Forever Connected, about a concept that I think about quite often. You can read it yourself, but to sum up I told the story of how an “accident” of time and place meant that I was in close proximity to a man, (a husband, father, police officer) at the moment that he died. I did not see him or know it was happening at the time. But the incident affected my life in a small way that day. And I felt that I had been given a responsibility to pray for him and his wife and kids. I have tried to remember that responsibility often, along with the other people whose deaths I recall but are not family members. 

"None of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself."Rom 14:7.

This morning we (Jim, the kids and I) were talking about the Scrutinies, those rites that happen during Lent and are part of the RCIA process*. (Stay with me…this is connected, I promise). And we decided to look up what the “Scrutinies” actually were. So we read aloud from the rite itself. There were intercessory prayers and prayers of exorcism. Through those prayers we learned that the Scrutinies are meant to be moments of cleansing and conversion for those people who are coming into the Church. They are meant to reflect on their sins and weaknesses and any remaining obstacles to following Christ with their whole being. The rest of the parish is also called to reflect in the same way on our own life with Christ. 

Our discussion then turned to the fact that these people really need prayer during this time, and wouldn’t it be nice if we knew who they were so we could pray for them by name. 

The Children of Fatima
Their story is another influence in our reflection, as a family, on the power of prayer and value of simply offering our little, everyday crosses as a sacrifice and a prayer for those who cannot or will not pray for themselves. 

This reminded me of something I recently did on impulse. One day we were at a weekday Mass, probably a Monday, and in the pew was a small program leaflet from a wedding that took place over the weekend. I started reading it, curious if I could tell anything about the couple from the program. I was searching it for signs that they were tuned into their faith and really understanding what they were being called too in this sacrament. But I really couldn’t tell either way. 

It occurred to me that I should say a prayer for them. And I did. 

Then, when Mass was over, I spontaneously folded the little program and stuck it in my Magnificat. For the rest of the week, whenever I opened my Magnificat at Mass I saw their names on the front of their pink and black program: Kimberly and Myles. I continued to offer little prayers for them. When the next month’s Magnificat came, I moved the program into that one too. 

I think perhaps I am called to pray for them…forever. A lifetime commitment to a pair of total strangers. 

"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Cor 12:26-27.

And now to the idea. I have no sense of whether or not this is a common practice in any parish. Maybe it is an old idea. But we thought it was needed, and a 
ministry that a quiet little, uninvolved, not very socially inclined family like our own could participate in easily. 

What if we had a ministry of prayer for some of the people in the midst of life-altering moments such as marriage, conversion to the Catholic faith, and the Baptism of their first child. 

What if parish members were encouraged to adopt a couple who is married in their parish and commit to praying for them for as long as they can, or for a set amount of time, or for the rest of their lives. The commitment could be put in writing, in some sort of notebook. Or not. 

You could even take an extra step and connect each couple to an adoptive family who would host them for dinner several times over their first year, sharing their family’s life and commitment to Christ with this newly launched family. This would be good for both the just-married and for couples who are bringing their first child for baptism, another threshold moment. 

This sort of ministry would, of course, be helpful for new Catholics during the RCIA process as well as during that Neophyte year (the first year after initiation) and beyond. Those folks would benefit from both specific prayer commitments (anonymous or not) and from various connections to families throughout the parish. 

Focus on the core, what Blessed John Paul II called “the primordial sacrament”, marriage. 

One way to do this is to take advantage of threshold moments by making personal connections and providing support, social contexts and educational opportunities. 

And, may I add now, prayer

Of course, this doesn’t need to be an organized ministry. Anyone can consult the banns of marriage in their parish bulletin (do they do that in all parishes?) and pick a couple to pray for. I also know many parishes post pictures and or names of the adults who are coming into the Church, so you could choose one for whom to pray. 

But a more formal approach might give more parishioners a real, tangible way to participate in parish ministries when life affords little time, energy, or inclination to do so in the usual ways. 

Of course, the real reason to do this is because prayer works and these people need all the prayers they can get. 

There are moments in life in which we are faced with clear choices, moments when we have a chance to make a fresh start on a path that may be the difference between a life of discipleship or a life of luke-warm faith. Three of those moments that are easily identified by a parish are marriage, the baptism of your child (especially the first), and conversion to the Catholic Faith. 

Here is a way to influence those folks in the right direction--and it costs zero money (unless you buy a notebook to write it in), takes up zero facility space (except the space to store the notebook), and anyone can do it (from the youngest to the oldest, the least talented to the most, the extreme introvert to the social animal). 

What do you think? Does your parish do anything like this? Am I just re-inventing the wheel? 

*RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and is the way that non-Catholic adults become Catholic. The Scrutinies are prayers and such done at Mass for three Sundays leading up to the Easter Vigil when those folks receive the sacraments and are formally grafted onto the Catholic Family tree. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Everything's Better With Bluebonnets On It

No, I haven't moved again. Nor am I taking a computer break for Lent, though I have to admit I am trying to be a bit more detached from the internet world these days. 

So, the real reason I haven't blogged is.....OH! LOOK AT ALL THE PRETTY PICTURES ON MARY'S BLOG!!!

Seriously, go look. It is proof we are still alive.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

{p,h,f,r} She Did It!

What a beautifully perfect day! But, phew! I am so glad the day is over.

The dress she wore was the flower girl dress from her Uncle Matt and Aunt Mary Lou's wedding two years ago. 

Tuesday was the second First Communion Day for the Kennedy Family, since the first First Communion Day was a Twofer.

And they were both alike in their simplicity: daily Mass with little fanfare.

But the run up to the day couldn't have been more different. As I wrote four years ago, we had about a week to prepare for the celebration of M's and D's day (not that we hadn't been preparing them since birth! But that last part all happened so fast.)

However, with A the proximate preparation began almost two years ago with registration in the parish homeschool religious ed program for last year, and then the Sacramental Prep program for this year. And the stress began with the first Sac Prep meeting.

A has always been a bit shy. Even as a baby she was likely to burst into tears when a stranger (like a waiter or waitress) or seldom seen friend or family spoke to her or even looked at her. And that characteristic has been at least under the surface for her whole life. But this last fall, when she sprained her ankle and had to use crutches and at the same time began attending meetings for her First Sacraments she became acutely aware of "attracting attention". She didn't want anyone looking at her and would actually burst into tears, or at least growl and turn away when she got what she thought was undue attention.

She was amazingly calm beforehand and willing to pose for pictures. 

And so the worrying about her First Communion began. She remembered the little girl that received her first Communion at 9am Mass over a year ago and began to worry that Father would "make a big deal over it" (I don't remember Father doing anything but mentioning it during his homily and right before communion.) She didn't want anyone even knowing it was her First Communion and Father wasn't to mention anything and she didn't even want to go up first to Communion or ANYTHING!

We spent lots of bedtimes fretting about it: "I don't want to receive my First Holy Communion. I don't want anyone looking at me. I don't even want to have a celebration. It is too much attention."

There were lots of ideas floating around about how best to go about it, and ultimately she came up with the one that we went with.

She really wanted to ride a horse for her Baptismal Day outing. This was the best I could do without spending and arm and a leg. I didn't think it was worth $5. She did, though. 

We chose to have it on her Baptismal Day, at daily Mass. We would talk to Father first about how she didn't want a big deal to be made. It was to be just like any other Mass.

Of course the draw of the white dress was strong. And, of course a little tiara. And the cute white shoes.

At some point along the way she accepted that those things might cause people to actually talk to her and say nice things about how pretty she looked. And on that day, she was confident and "in the moment".

She wanted to talk to Father before Mass and she explained what she wanted. He agree not to draw attention to her. Then she sat down with her new First Communion Missal open to a page with a picture of the Child Jesus holding a chalice and a Host. Just before Mass started she told me she wanted to "have some alone-time with the Blessed Mother" and she went over to the statue to pray for a moment. She was a little upset about the flash of the camera when we took a picture of her. She came back with a worried look "Mama, someone is taking pictures of me!"
Father had told her to pray for her family on her First Communion Day. She decided to go to the Blessed Mother before Mass because she was afraid she would forget after Communion.

We assured her it was Papa and no one else was paying attention (though actually half the church was charmed by her). And then Mass began.

She went up with a grin on her face, received her Lord and Savior in Holy Communion and came back to her sit all smiley and full of joy.

After Mass she was mobbed by well wishers and she stood shocked and shy, but got through it.

And here we are.

The other night as I was saying good night, she said "Now I am worried about my Confirmation!".


round button chicken

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Excuse me while I commune with myself and subdue my feelings....

A few quotes from our reading...

The Family That Overtook Christ  by M. Raymond

"Man was made to know....that means that the intellect must be developed: for man was made to know both here and hereafter. In fact that is Christ's description of heaven..."This is eternal life, that they may know..." pg. 222

"...those who speak most glibly of intellectual pride are usually bogged down and almost inextricably mired in intellectual sloth." pg. 223

I am still in the middle of this book, but I highly recommend it. There are so many other great quotes, but these were from today's reading.

The Story of Church by Rev. B. N. Forner, C.S.B.  (this is an old Church history text I got someplace I can't recall)
I have not read this whole book that I can remember. But I was looking up something about Abelard and Bernard of Clairveaux and I found this:

"There were parish schools which taught reading, writing, arithmetic and grammar, but they were not very numerous unit the end of the twelfth century. Prior to that time, the average boy received his primary instruction from his parents or from private tutors. At the Cathedral School, he entered upon his secondary education and was introduced to the liberal arts. These consisted of grammar, rhetoric, and logic which were called the Trivium; and arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music which were called the Quadrivium."

The reason I liked this quote was because it confirmed to me that the liberal arts were originally part of secondary education. And primary, or elementary education was for basic skills like reading, writing and arithmetic, no to mention the work of children: play.

And, the source of this blog post's title, from our current bedtime read aloud: The Children of the New Forest by Captain Marryat.

"Your intelligence [as in"what you just told me"] has so astounded me that I can listen to nothing else till I have had a little while to commune with myself and subdue my feelings."

I am practicing this line to use in everyday life.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

8th Annual Kennedy Girl Birthday Weekend

Eight years ago today, I was just coming home from the hospital with my second redheaded little girl in my arms. 
And my first little girl was turning four without even a cake (though she really didn't notice, not being a calendar checker yet).
 All that came a few days later when I was a little more together.

For the second time, A picked horses as her theme.
See the little wild horses running around all over her cake? Trust me, they are there. 

But I remember the conversations about how birthdays would go in the future. We decided that we didn't want to have them share a birthday just because two in a row might be a little crazy and inconvenient. We hoped that they would not feel rushed through their special day or short shrifted in the celebration.

Green for the grass...these themes are elaborate, huh?

Apparently, there was no need to fret. Of course, it is all they have ever known, but I like to think they would choose it if they could. Each girl has her day, with her own theme (which means themed table decorations and cake and presents). I make one boxed cake mix and split it into two pans. It requires some quick changes in table decorations and double cake decorating, but it really has not been too bad. 

M's theme...Chelsea Soccer. GOAL!!!!!
They love celebrating together and D has never felt left out--he just loves to be in on the planning. 
I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Kennedy McMuffins-A New Favorite Recipe

I am sure this one has been around for awhile, but we have recently discovered it's easy, convenient, yumminess.

The last few Sundays I have made a about a dozen "McMuffin" eggs and we each had one for breakfast and saved the rest for the week. Jim has brought them to work and the kids have made their own breakfast with them during the week.

Here is the basic recipe:


  • something to grease the muffin pans with (I have used spray and butter)
  • eggs (enough for each muffin section)
  • sliced ham (Or not. Apparently you can use spinach in this spot too, but we haven't.)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • grated cheese (optional)
  • Thomas's English Muffins (I am tempted to say that these are ABSOLUTELY crucial. But you really don't need any bread, or you can use your favorite toasting bread.)

Heat oven to 350.
Spray or otherwise grease muffin tins.
Line each muffin spot (what do you call that?) with a slice of ham. If your ham is too thick just chop it up and drop it into each spot.
Crack an egg into each spot. I use my handy-dandy-too-small-for-gravy-gravy-boat to pour each one in. (see picture)
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, give or take.
Eat with toasted English Muffin with real butter on it. Or not.
Let the extra's cool and put them in the fridge in your choice of container for easy reheating (1 minute  microwave, or a little longer in the oven) and have them all week.

See how easy? And that is at least one more breakfast for the following week. Or not.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Shopping With The Boy

Just under the is 8pm here and I am determined to get a blog post in today!

He is proud of his Lincoln Logs creations. 

I spent the day shopping with this boy. What a delight! He is my get-things-done partner. We had to run all over town doing last minute errands before Girl Birthday Weekend begins. A's birthday is tomorrow and M's is Saturday. 

Our errand running routine is to bring a lunch (though I forgot mine) and head out the door as soon as the sitter arrives for the girls. He made himself a peanut butter sandwich "with everything on it"---by that he means strawberry jam, honey and marmalade. Some of that ended up on his pants and seatbelt. We usually listen to an audio book—today it was Seabiscuit by Ralph Moody, narrated by Jim Weiss (I recommend it). 

When we are not listening to the story he is talking. He has a lot to say, lots of ideas of how to make his sister’s birthdays special. Lots of interesting soccer tidbits (his latest love). He likes to hear stories from my childhood. I wish I could remember more of them. 

After we got home, he came up and gave me a cute, little boy, side hug and said he had a really nice time with me today. 

I am the luckiest Mama in the whole world! Just sayin'.