July 20, 2012

The Nuclear Melt Down

Hey, remember that bit I just wrote yesterday about gratitude?

Yeah.  Well.  It's didn't even last 24 hours around here.

And remember that bit I wrote about being on the warpath?  Well that did take off, and in rare form around here today.  Because, at last, it happened.

The Super Colossal Nuclear Melt Down.

It was priceless.  There was kicking, screaming, crying, yelling, sobbing, railing, and even the proverbial weeping and gnashing of teeth.  It wasn't pretty.

And that was just me.

I couldn't take it anymore.

I never really had a total collapse like that.  Never.  In twelve years of poopy diapers and sleepless nights (yes, I realize a lot of you out there have several more years on me in this), this was my first, good ole-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out, blow it out your ear, heel-drumming, exhaustive, temper tantrum.  I literally was sitting on the floor gasping for breath by the time I was finished.

Afterward, there was a tiny part of me that physically felt great.  It actually was cathartic to release all the frustrations that had been fermenting inside me for who knows how long.

Mostly though.....it felt awful.  And, oh how embarrassing.

My first thought was how I surely had just scarred my kids for life.  My son found me, came up to me, knelt down, and gave me a hug.

"Are you okay, Mom?" he asked softly against my back.

I shook my head and turned to hug him fiercely.  "Oh honey," I whispered.  "I.  Am.  So.  Sorry!"

"For what?" he asked, genuinely puzzled.

Ah.  I had hope.

I know you'll find this incredible, but we have seen temper tantrums from the Lilliputians in our house.  The only puzzlement to my son was what had caused this particular one.  And why me.

After mopping myself up, apologizing to my kids, and taking a few minutes to privately pray and review my actions, the most amazing thing happened.

I learned something.

And not just anything.

1).  I learned that I cannot be a disgruntled servant to my children.  I must raise, train, and shape their lives with joy, so they grow up as a people of joy.

2).  I learned that I cannot "do it all".  The world will not stop spinning on its axis if my To Do List, School List, Chore List, Thank You Notes List, Errand List, or any other threatening list remains unchecked at the end of the day.  I must focus on what God did want me to accomplish that day, however unplanned or small (e.g. - everyone got fed today, yippee!), and acknowledge His gift of my ability to do so.

3).  I learned that I still believe the value of excessive "Me Time" is a myth (more on that in an upcoming post).  I must focus on our whole family's simple well-being, which happily does include (notably without guilt) moments for my own prayer, eating, sleeping, and other mundane but nourishing endeavors.

4).  Most of all, I learned that, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

I was never so utterly, totally, and completely humiliated and mortified in my entire life as I was to have had that temper tantrum before God.  In retrospect, it seemed to me just that -- a spoiled, pampered, unruly, ungrateful child's temper tantrum, drumming her heels about her perceived "problems."

But then I remembered that sometimes we do get overwhelmed with our responsibilities in life.  Everyone's cross at every moment is different.

And then I remembered something I learned earlier in life:  In times of trial, don't ask God, "Why me?"  Instead ask God, "What are You trying to teach me?"

And then I remembered that verse from second Chronicles.  Thankfully, God is a much more forgiving parent than we are!

Each of us specifically was created to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.  Regardless of the responsibilities, joys, trials, or endeavors He permits us in this life, He still wants us to be our best self and ultimately be with Him in heaven.  Even when we screw things up, if we humble ourselves and seek His face and turn from our self-centered ways, He will forgive us and help us restore what He created.

God accepts us as we are, but He doesn't expect us to stagnate and stay that way.  If we allow Him to do so, He will use our every endeavor, whether good or ill, proud or embarrassing, to help us grow and be lead ever closer to Him.

Thus, as they say, most of all I learned....that I still have a lot to learn!

July 19, 2012

On Gratitude

Sometimes we forget just how amazing our lives are!  We live in a time and place in history which enjoys the greatest physical wealth, technological advancement, creature comforts, and freedom of every kind that ever has been known to the human race in all of human history.

Wow!  I mean really.  WOW!

I thought of this today as I was loading my clothes washing machine.  "Wow," I thought.  "I put my filthy wrinkled clothes in this magic hole, add some pixie dust, press a button, leave and do something else for 45 minutes, aaaaaand.....*Ta-Da!*  My clothes all have been cleaned!"


I thought of this as I filled all the kids' cups with fresh water from the faucet.  Running, cool, clear, free water.  I used to work for an organization that helped people in third world countries who had to walk as much as four miles, one way, to obtain potable water.  And that was just for whatever they could carry back home on their heads.

Not me.  I use the energy it takes to raise my little finger, aaaaaand..... *Ta-Da!*  Water (hot OR cold!) endlessly pours from this magic spring right inside my very own home!


Okay, so you get the idea.

Sometimes, however, it's hard to maintain our sense of gratitude when the laundry (although we are grateful for its modern facilities) litters several rooms in small mountains, and seems positively endless.  And the kids (although we are grateful for the blessing that they are) are like a pack of piranhas, whose needs seem positively insatiable.

It's easy on days like this to get bogged down in the hectic pace and multiple responsibilities of our lives.  It's easy to forget the great comforts, privileges, and graces that we enjoy every day.  It's easy to grumble about it (in the immortal words of Jimmy Buffett) when "the doggies were a-yellin', the children were a-bitin'!"

It's easy to forget to be grateful.

I'm not suggesting that any of us can be a perpetual Pollyanna of gratitude.  (Just ask my kids -- I seem to have been on the warpath lately.)  However, just the fact that you REALIZE you should be grateful, is the beginning of an act of humility and gratitude.

The solution?

When your life or your schedule is an absolute whirlwind, which can be draining on anyone in any situation, take a moment -- just one, quiet moment -- to pray in your heart, several times throughout the day, a "thank you" for some of the most mundane things you have (e.g. - "Thank you, Lord, for running water in the house," "Thank you, Lord, for the freedom to practice our religion without fearing for our lives," "Thank you, Lord, that my adventurous son did not necessitate yet another trip to the emergency room today," etc.).

Pick anything!  You soon will find yourself well on your way to LIVING gratitude, and having a cushion of thanksgiving to fall back upon when things get hectic and tough!

July 17, 2012

Treasures of the Church

Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ellicott City is featuring an enormous exposition of over 150 first class relics, (including Sts. Catherine of Siena, Francis de Sales, Francis of Assisi, Margaret of Scotland, Teresa of Avila, Thomas Aquinas, a piece of the manger, a piece of the true cross, a piece of a veil belonging to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and many, many more!) this Sunday, July 22nd at 12:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. (each showing is after the 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Masses, respectively).

Visit http://treasuresofthechurch.com/ for more information on the relics being presented.

Visit http://www.olphparish.org/relics for more information on the exposition.

Visit http://treasuresofthechurch.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=11 for a complete list of the 164 relics being presented.

Don't miss this unique opportunity to be in the presence of some of the greatest saints of the church!

Encouragement for Mothers

Enjoy some spiritual encouragement for mothers over at http://sarahmae.com/category/motherhood/!

July 16, 2012

Where to Buy a Veil

Some of you have asked about wearing a veil for Mass and in the Eucharistic presence of Jesus.  A wonderful lady at my parish made mine, but you can find one equally lovely at the following website:


And although mine is black (so it blends against my dark hair), the aforementioned website DOES have veils in other colors, like ivory, gold, or champagne (or, as my one friend asked for it, "Dirty Blonde"!).  :-)

Happy shopping, for the love of the Eucharistic presence of Jesus!

July 15, 2012

On Children

"If you bungle raising your children, nothing else much matters in life."

(Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy)

Common Sense

"Common sense is so uncommon today, it's a super power!"

(Dale Beauchamp, Jr.)

July 13, 2012

More from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Padre Pio on The Eucharist

In an earlier post, I mentioned the late Mr. William Carrigan, a major donor to Mount de Sales Academy during a critical time in the school's survival in the 1980s.  Mr. Carrigan happened to be a close associate of St. Padre Pio during World War II, as Mr. Carrigan's service as a Red Cross Field Agent found him in Italy at San Giovanni Rotundo at that time.

As he neared the end of his stay and was preparing to return to the United States, Mr. Carrigan again one day was enjoying lunch with the saint.

"Padre Pio," he asked.  "What do you want me to say?  What should I tell the people of America?"

Padre Pio was silent and thoughtful.  Then, he reached across the table and gently pushed some bread and a small glass of wine toward Mr. Carrigan.

"With these," Padre Pio said, "you will never want."

These.  Bread and wine.  The Eucharist.  ....Him.

"Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Deuteronomy 8:3, Mattew 4:4)

Bread.  But, not by bread alone.  By every word.  The Word.  ....Him.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."  (John 1:1)

God.  The Word.  The Word was God.  ....Him.

"With these, you will never want."

Him.  The Eucharist.  Bread and wine.  Him.  The Word.  God.

"With these, you will never want."

That hardened piece of bread and the small thick drinking glass still remain on display in a glass case at Mount de Sales Academy, a humble, silent, yet eloquent reminder from a saint for all those who frequent that Catholic school, that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Faith.

The Eucharist.  ....Him.

Really, what else is there?  Who else is there?

We are put on this earth to know, love, and serve God in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

To know Him.
To love Him.
To serve Him.
To be happy with Him.


Him.  HIM.  HIM!  Almighty God.  Yahweh.  Abba.  Father.  Emmanuel.  Wonderful Counselor.  Jesus.  Lord of Light.  Prince of Peace.  The Christ.  Holy One.

One.  The One.  Him.

"The Lord our God, the Lord is One." (Deuteronomy 6:4)

One.  Him.  Jesus.

With Him, you will never want.

Go find Him!  Seek Him!  And see Him in those around you.  Because with Him, you will never want.

July 11, 2012

Warning! Be Careful What You Put In Writing!

From our friends at The Great Courses:

"Great writing begins -- and ends -- with the sentence.  Whether two words ("Jesus wept," John 11:35) or 1,287 words (a sentence in William Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom!), sentences have the power to captivate, motivate, educate, and, most importantly, delight."

Writing is power (you're reading this written blog, aren't you?).  And YOU have that power!  Whether it's a condolence or thank you note to a friend, a letter to your congressman or local newspaper, or a short story submitted for publication, the written word -- your written word -- has the potential power to live on for eternity and affect people in ways you might never even have imagined.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I shared the following true story with a friend:

Once upon a time, when I was gainfully employed, I had the privilege of serving in an official fund raising capacity for my high school alma mater, Mount de Sales Academy, a magnificent, all-girls, Visitation, Catholic school, now run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.  Over time, I became close with a major donor, Mr. William Carrigan, who quite literally and figuratively "saved" the school, along with others, during the 1980s, a critical time in the academy's survival.  This humble man had been a close associate of Padre Pio during World War II, and I initially had type-written Mr. Carrigan a perfunctory thank you note on school stationery, to express my appreciation after one of our first-ever meetings.

Many summer afternoons, many years, many dinners, many hand-written thank you notes, many laughs, and finally many tears later, I happened to meet this fine gentleman's grown nephew from out-of-state, who had been charged with dispatching Mr. Carrigan's estate and cleaning out his house.

"I know you!" he gasped, as he pointed at me one day after Mass.  I froze, panicked, quickly scrolling through the mental rolodex of my recent misdeeds.  He smiled broadly, reached out, introduced himself, and enthusiastically pumped my hand in a warm handshake.  "You're Maria!"

Forced to admit that it was I, I then found myself deeply humbled by his next words.

In cleaning out the house of his deceased uncle, who in his old age had been quite an accomplished accumulator, they had found among the (literally) mountains of papers my letter, my original, de rigueur, formal letter, with its hand-written, fountain pen, post-script at the bottom (which one signs and writes in genuine ink to prove to the recipient this is not a machined correspondence -- there's your Free Fund Raising Tip Of The Day).

"You know, Uncle Bill kept that letter," his nephew said, which I found unsurprising and of little merit to me, as I had been in Mr. Carrigan's house enough times to know that (unfortunately, like me) he probably kept everything.  But his nephew went on to relate that the place where his uncle had kept it, as well as other things I had sent him throughout the years, had inspired them to pack the letter away carefully with a small selection of his uncle's things, which they had decided to keep.

Obviously, their primary motivation was Mr. Carrigan's deep love for Mount de Sales, exemplified through his gifts, among other things, of a whole new roof and The Padre Pio Library.  But, I immediately was struck by the lasting impact that had been made over a decade later by a single sheet, compulsory letter which, to be honest, was one of hundreds I had written during my career.

How deeply, deeply humbling to think that some simple words I had written, certainly in earnest at the time, would resurface to affect someone else's life, unintentionally, years later!

The lesson for us all here, I think, is to remember that everything we send forth from ourselves -- be it words, deeds, acts of service, kindnesses, or sadly even transgressions -- is like a pebble thrown into the pond.  It will have some lasting effect.  There will be concentric and ever expanding spheres of influence affected by your action.

You might not see or know of it at the time, or ever, but your action might have changed the course or focus of someone's life, even if only for a moment.

How amazing is that!?

How utterly powerful, and what an enormous responsibility, it is to recognize that our every interaction with those around us might change them in some way.

Haven't you heard the axiom, "People might not remember exactly what you did or said, but they'll always remember how you made them feel,"?  Or this one, "Always leave a person or place better than when you found it,"?

As a mother of wee folk, I am sharply aware of this, particularly when I am having a fabulous day!  ....or a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  I might quickly forget what I just said or did on Thursday, but for the other person or child involved, I might -- for good or for ill -- have just created a lasting memory!

I think Mother Teresa mastered this.  She is quoted everywhere and in hundreds of ways as stating that she always focused on the person before her as Christ incarnate.


Am I that generous?


Do I really see the image and likeness of God before me when I stumble upon my two year old merrily flooding the hardwood kitchen floor with an inch of water from the sink sprayer (no, I am not kidding)?  Am I really working to know, love, and serve God in this world when I am complaining about my kids and facetiously calling them, "my little near occasions of sin"?

God has put us on this earth and enabled us with many powers, not the least of which is our free will.  And when we exercise our free will in writing -- whether screen-based or by hand -- we can bring someone lasting consolation or lasting pain.

Resolve today to make your next written correspondence one of good cheer, faith-filled encouragement, or Scriptural inspiration.  Surprise someone with a bit 'o love in his or her mailbox.  Take all of five minutes -- truly, that's all you'll need!  Some of you sit at stoplights that long! -- to write someone something positive, something cheerful, something that will bring a smile.

You don't have to be witty nor brilliant.  You don't have to be Shakespeare.  Just grab a pen, scratch out two or three sentences of your own thoughts, then slap a stamp on it and let the United States Postal Service do the rest!

(Plus, when you live out in the country, our mail lady brings things like candy and homegrown zucchini, too!)

Remember Who made you: God made you.  Why did God make you?  God made you to know, love, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.

So, go make someone else happy and perhaps, just perhaps, inspire that person to want to come along with you on a journey to heaven, too!

July 6, 2012

The New Chivalry

 At last!  A new tradition to dispel the detestable old one of divesting the bride of her undergarments at the reception!


May we all be so lovingly humble to our spouse!

July 2, 2012

Summertime Modesty in Church - Third Amendment

This sign was brought to my attention by a friend, who saw it on the blog, "The Canterbury Tales" (http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2012/06/dress-code-for-vatican-should-it-be.html).  It is posted outside the entrance to the Vatican -- you know, St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City?  In Rome?  Italy?  The mother church for all Catholics?

Look.  Truly.  I'm not trying to be "unwelcoming" or "exclusive" to people who might be dressing differently for Mass, because, say, they cannot afford fancy clothes, or they are on their way to work as a ditch digger, or they are off to change bed pans for the elderly at the hospital immediately after church.  I get it that we can't all dress to the nines every Sunday, because of occasional extenuating circumstances.

But, lemme tell ya, some people haven't got the sense God gave a chicken when it comes to dressing for Mass.

If the dress code on this sign is good enough for the Vatican, then it is good enough for me.  I don't think it's excessive to ask people to cover up their general nakedness during Mass in order to eliminate what can become an intense distraction, especially to those present who are of an age with, um, raging hormones (*cough*).

And don't tell me, "But, it's hooooooot out!"


Is Mass being held outside in the parking lot today?

Or is it simply too much suffering for me to go from my air conditioned house to my air conditioned car to my air conditioned church, just to visit The Crucified One?

In this instance, you really gotta hand it to the Protestants on zeal.  Have you ever SEEN the dress code for some African American Protestant churches on Sunday?  "Sunday best" would be considered dress down for these fine folks.  The men are in suits and the women are in their prettiest dresses and, often, hats, too.

Why can't we just accord Our Lord the same visual respect we would give a visiting dignitary or prospective employer?

July 1, 2012

Pool Noodle Rosary

'Tis the season to jump in the pool!  And even then you can celebrate your faith in action!  Last year, Lacy over at CatholicIcing.com posted a marvelous summertime craft for turning pool noodles into a rosary.  You can click here for a quick, one page, MSWord, summary that I created from her instructions.  (My apologies about the images.  I have no idea what Figures 9-12 keep jumping off center.)

When you're finished, you'll have a unique sacramental and another opportunity to imbue your child's life with the beauty and mystery of the rosary!  Thank you, Lacy!  Enjoy!