Thursday, September 21, 2017

Choosing the greater part

Today is the feast of Holy St. Matthew. 

I always consider him the saint who battled and overcame the sin of "hob knobbery" desire to only mix with the rich and influential. Matthew was Jewish and the Jews in his city were poor, some probably illiterate, badly dressed, and perhaps smelling of fish as many were hard working fishermen. Matthew probably liked beauty: beautiful clothes, good food, lovely surroundings. The Romans were well dressed, glib, dined only on the best food, smelled of perfumed oil, were pleasant to be around in a surface sort of way. So, he made it his purpose to be one of the only way he could.....a tax collector. He probably got what he wanted. Romans probably came for dinner, drank fine wine with him, and laughed languidly with him over the exploits of the rabble fishermen who came to Matthew's collection house door. At their drollness and bumpkin ways. And in this smooth, languid way Matthew betrayed his brother Jews and their faith. Hob Knobbery, Status Seeking, Social climbing. These things have led quite pleasantly and graciously to the greatest sins both then and in our time. We all still need to carefully examine our intentions when, for example, we choose to belong to the best prep it just for the status? the right parishes with all the "programs" and the coolest youth group. Are we doing them just to see and be seen? Do we help poor parishes with an attitude of condescension never really recognizing the real dignity and brave holiness of the people who live and work there? It insinuates, it creeps in, this sin, almost secretly. Under the guise of beautiful things. But true beauty doesn't lie there. It lies in the Gospel message that Jesus brought to the counting house one fateful day. And Matthew - feeling the overwhelming emptiness of status - left all and followed Jesus instantly, returned to his brother Jews, and wrote for them the magnificent Gospel of the true and lasting beauty of their Messiah, their King. St. Matthew, pray that we may be as brave as you!!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

If Leaves Could Talk

The Sanguine/Phlegmatic Tree

Sanguine Leaf:  Woo Hoo, it's fall!  Let's go!

Phlegmatic Leaf:  Gosh, I don't know.  It's only September.  Maybe we should wait for October.  

Sanguine Leaf:  But the sky is so blue, and, look we get to wear ORANGE!  Come on! It'll be fun.

Phlegmatic Leaf:  (holding her Chlorophyll closer)Yes, that's true...the sky is blue.....but gosh, I don't know........change.. and all...sigh...

Sanguine Leaf:  Change is great. Change is good. And did I mention we get to wear ORANGE.

Phlegmatic Leaf:  oooohh, but then Chlorophyll needs to pack up and move out and the Carotenoids move in and unpack, what a mess! I am tired just thinking of it.   And you know....change..sigh

Sanguine Leaf:  What have you got to lose?  What could possibly happen?  Woo Hoo, look at me!

Phlegmatic Leaf:  Well...then we fall off the tree.  

Sanguine Leaf:  Oh.  yeah. Huh.

Phlegmatic Leaf:  (Blinks)

Sanguine Leaf:  BUT....we get to wear ORANGE!!   Woo Hoo!

Phlegmatic Leaf:  Blink. Blink. Sigh.   

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Seek peace, and follow after it

I've been thinking about last Saturday's Mass readings for the past few days. From St. Paul to the Thessalonians:

"....we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs,and to work with you own hands, as we instructed you."

I am attracted to these words because they are so straightforward. 

First, we need to live a tranquil life. The way I read this is not to dive into activism and belong to a lot of "groups" that take you away from home and make you FEEL "like you are doing something". The habits of a good life really are learned in a tranquil environment. I watched how my mom cooked, did laundry, showed me how to put my babies on a feeding schedule, made our home full of peace by little things - beautiful tables at Easter and Christmas, little shrines to Our Lady and Jesus around the house - nothing elaborate. But they fill my memory. My Dad, who was a very busy M.D. always tried very hard to say a family rosary every night. He didn't always manage to do this perfectly but he always strove to make it a habit. And I tried to go and do likewise in my own home because I knew it was of Christ. We learn peace by watching and dwelling in peace. Tranquil people and environments are so highly attractive - like a magnet. I think that is what St. Paul is saying. And this tranquility isn't some esoteric "floatiness", for lack of a better expression. Peace is hard won. Peace in a home takes effort, both physical and emotional. It takes perseverance and guts and acquired practical skills to make home a priority in this world of ours. But You can radiate Christ's life without saying a word. And you can pass tranquility and "the work of your own hands" down to your children. Activism? I don't think it really accomplishes anything except yelling and squabbles. But the habits of prayer, making a peaceful environment for your children to live in - that's where habits are formed and love for the beautiful is learned. We won't always succeed perfectly. It is the striving that matters.
And, in the end, I would rather be near a contented mom putting dinner together than be at a rally. I really think kids learn more about Christ by watching her. This is how I read St. Paul today.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Delicious Autumn

Delicious Autumn!

My very soul is wedded to it.

And if I were a bird

I'd fly about the earth 

Seeking the successive autumns!

- George Eliot


Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Sweep of Seasons


                                                By all these lovely tokens
September days are here, 
With summer's best of weather
And autumn's best of cheer! 
-Helen Hunt Jackson

I love having four seasons. Just like I prefer an analogue clock to a digital one.

 They physically show the sweep of time. Mums appear, the fall mugs come out, the last of the corn on the cob is eaten, and sometimes the mornings in early September tingle a bit with the promise of fall.

 The great wilting and thick smells of August begin to fade. And school books appear and desks are cleared for the year ahead.

 It's a comfort and joy to witness the beginning and end of each season as they pass in time. Like a natural analogue clock.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Confirmation Saint you always needed

Morning walk on the  feast of Good St. Monica. Little did I know when I was my carefree, highly sanguine, third grade self, that in picking her as my Confirmation saint I was doing it with GRACE. I don't know exactly why I chose her then...but I know why she was given to me. I can almost hear God chuckling and saying, "Perfect!" 

St. Monica has taught me two important things over the years. 
 1. That sometimes a vocation is very simple. There is no need to add any interesting or exciting embellishments of your own. St. Monica existed solely to pray for the conversion of her son. That was the focus of all her perseverance, constancy, and fortitude. To get one man into sanctity. Now, granted it was the amazing St. Augustine. But he wasn't ALWAYS amazing. He was a proud, little, passionate peacock for a very long while. And no doubt he laughed at her for praying, or wanted her to get lost so he wouldn't be bothered, or any number of highly attractive things we do to our parents when we are young and stupid. But she kept on praying. and praying. and praying. She never said, "Welp, it's not working. Maybe I am being called to something else...something more exciting perhaps." No, she was born to pray for him and she stayed the course. As a sanguine, I stand in AWE of that, as fortitude is not a sanguine's strong suit. But she has helped me by her kind prayers to become a little more constant and more fixed in my gaze as a mother and not to run after something more exciting than that.

2. She has taught me not to be surprised by thorns. And more importantly, not to run from them when I find them. (Sanguines love those Alleluias...thorns not so much) But if you can dwell among the thorns and not leave, you will be rewarded with roses. They are growing the whole time among those thorns. You just have to persevere until they bloom....and you get a rose like St. Augustine or even greater than St. Augustine.
Good St. Monica, pray for us!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Many thanks to a Pancake House

Uncle Bill's - the pride of the Sou'side! This place has won "Best Breakfast" for the last 22 years in a local food critic's column. 

It boasts unlimited coffee, eggs any way, and the best hashbrowns in the universe. The menu has stayed the same for as long as I have lived here.

 Josh has ordered Hawaiian pancakes when we go here, for most of his life ...covered in that unnaturally red syrup that no one can seem to identify but is crazy good! 

The waitresses have worked here for years and have names like Betty, Margie, and Jo. They banter with teens and call them all sweetie.

 This is the place of after prom pancakes, the raucous midnight breakfasts where a whole play cast takes over the back room and revels in a successful performance together. This is the place of the affordable, close to home, Tuesday date night when Tony and I got away for an hour to talk over cups of coffee before we went back to our toddler brood. We decided we wanted to adopt at one of those tables one night. Today we were having breakfast together before Thomas gets in his truck for another run to Utah.Our family dynamic has changed - everyone is older and doing different things. But Betty, Margie and Jo are still there. I find it a beautiful thing.