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Monthly Archives: October 2015

These last few hours

 

a lovely poem in my OB’s office

 
I’m not a very patient person by nature. That’s why being fewer than 24 hours from delivering this baby is a big deal. It’s finally here…and it’s wonderful and weird and strange and delightful all at the same time. 

Being able to schedule a delivery is a relatively new phenomenon for the human species, and I don’t take that for granted. In my mind, there is something risky and magical and greatly rewarding about waiting to go into labor, but in my three pregnancies, I have not had that privilege. (For the story of our journey to Caesarian, check out the post I wrote shortly after our second child was born, Diary of a Wimpy Mom.) 

I don’t know if I will be able to sleep tonight. I can’t wait to meet our daughter. The thoughts of anesthesia are fear-inducing, so I will probably be praying a lot trough that tonight. Life is such a risky thing, but as the adage says, “El que no arriesga no cruce la mar.” That means, “She who never takes a risk never crosses the sea.” 

That’s kind of our philosophy with having kids…it’s a risk to have kids. It’s a risk to be in any kind of relationship. But it is so very rewarding. 

As you go into your day tomorrow, will you pray for me and for baby Lucy’s entrance into the world outside? And while you’re at it, know that I am praying for you to take that next big risk. 

~Amanda

The Perks of Liturgy with Kids

Having your kids in church with you every Sunday is challenging. There is no way around it…it is exhausting when you have a 3.5-year-old daughter, an almost-2-year-old son, and are 38 weeks pregnant.

My kids getting dirty, as they are apt to do

My kids getting dirty, as they are apt to do

I know such a practice is not for everyone, but here are some things that I have experienced in the past few weeks that make me remember the perks to having my kids in a liturgical setting, week in and week out.

Today at the park, my almost-2-year-old dipped his hand in the fountain, touched his head in his version of making the sign of the cross on himself, and said, “Holy Spirit.”

A few weeks ago, when the priest genuflected (kneeled) before the blessed Sacrament during communion and disappeared briefly behind the altar, my 3-year-old said loudly, “Where did he go?”

Any time we see a statue of Mary, my kids want to take a closer look at it and touch it.

My 3-year-old has the Lord’s prayer written on her heart already and joins in when the congregation prays it.

My son loves to pass the peace during Mass. If anyone mentions the word ‘peace,’ he turns to every member of our family, extends his hand for a shake, and says, “Peace.” Repeatedly. And now my kids give each other peace across the back seat in the car.

My daughter heard the bells from our church while we were playing at the city park last week and recognized them.

Our new priest, a native of Northern Ireland, made a joke about not being told that East Texas was full of dry counties, prompting laughter from the whole congregation. My daughter laughed along and continued to laugh loudly.

Most touching to me, though, was something that happened about two months ago. I was having a horrible day. I was exhausted from parenting and incubating a baby human. I had just finished a glass of water and it was sitting on the coffee table. My daughter picked it up and brought it to me, made the sign of the cross on my head, and had me take a pretend sip. As she offered the cup, she said, “The Body of Christ.” And then she walked over to the kitchen and said, “Mommy, come here!” And I approached her and she gave me the cup again and offered the words, “The Body of Christ.” She invited her little brother to come and she blessed him by making the sign of the cross on his forehead and offering the cup of salvation.

I cried. My heart was softened to the presence of Jesus in my daughter. And I knew that the exhausting journey of parenting is not in vain, though sometimes it feels that way. My children are learning, absorbing the drama of the Cross and the Resurrection. They are learning to respect the Holy Scriptures when we stand to read them weekly. They are learning to pray with their brothers and sisters. They are passing the peace of Christ. They are laughing with their community. They are feasting on the presence of Christ, even though they are too young to partake of His Body and Blood through the Eucharist.

These little ones, the weak ones in the eyes of the world, are shaming the strong ones around them. And through their testimony, their humor, and their natural humility, I am invited to be a weak and small child in faith once more, running to sit on Jesus’s lap because I know He won’t turn me away.

It is worth the struggle. Press on.

Something about Mary

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a recent convert to Catholicism is, “So, what do you do with Mary?”

Detail from El Greco's The Holy Family with St. Anne

Detail from El Greco’s The Holy Family with St. Anne

I completely understand the question because I have asked it myself many times. My last defenses against becoming Catholic had to do with Mary’s role in salvation and the popular practices of Marian devotion that I had observed in the Catholic Church.

One of those big things was the Hail Mary. No, I’m not talking about the last-ditch effort football pass (although, those are exhilarating…you can watch the purported “Top Ten Hail Mary Plays All Time” here). Of course I’m talking about the prayer that makes up the bulk of the Rosary.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of they womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Can I just tell you now how much I love the Hail Mary?

Why, you wonder? I’m so glad you asked.

For starters, the first sentence comes straight from Scripture. Take a look at Luke 1:26-38. Gabriel greets Mary heartily and assures her that she has found favor with God and that God himself is with her. He delivers her the most powerful invitation that has ever been offered—to be the mother of the Son of God.

It is so precious to me that God decided to make himself known as a baby, carried by a woman. How much dignity does that bring to women? I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the mindset that women weren’t quite as called as men when it came to ministry. But how much more called can you be than Mary is? God basically asks her this: “Will you bear my son for nine months, birth him, and raise him in your own family?” How much trust and confidence does God have in a woman! It blows my mind, in a really good way. This may sound strange, but the way God honors Mary in choosing her shows me how much he values me. She has a ‘yes’ in her heart that I want to embrace in my own heart toward God.

Secondly, we echo Elizabeth’s greeting to her young cousin. Elizabeth has already experienced the power and promise of God in her own journey (in her old age she is with child), and when she encounters Mary, she exclaims, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (See Luke 1:39-45.) Elizabeth has a special revelation of Mary as the Mother of the Lord, which is a huge deal. Here God goes again, revealing things to women! I can’t tell you how huge it was (is) to me that God does not reserve prophecy or revelation for men alone.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Maybe this part of the Hail Mary weirds you out a little.

Holy Mary? Does that means she’s sinless? That is what the Catholic Church teaches. But regardless of where you fall on that issue, isn’t it true that she is in heaven, purified by the blood of the Lamb, and holy before God because of Jesus?

Mother of God? Well, if Jesus is God, then there is no way around Mary being his mother. It is the humility of God that he has entered into our human family and forever is linked with us through the flesh.

Pray for us sinners? This may be a stretch for you, but think about this: If death is not the end for Christians, if we live in heaven with God after our earthly life ends, what are we doing up there? Yes, worshiping the Holy Trinity! But I have no doubt that the saints in heaven are joining Jesus in his constant intercession for us. They are alive, a great cloud of witnesses. I need all the prayer support from my brothers and sisters, on this side of Jordan or the other, now and at the hour of my death.

~

In my journey to understand how Mary ‘fits’ in the Gospel, my deep prayer has been this: “Jesus, teach me to love your Mother like you love her.” And He has answered and is continuing to answer my prayer.

Over the past year, Jesus has brought to my heart a deeper love for and honor for Mary. Mary is a figure or a type of the Church, or the People of God. She is holy because He is holy, not by her own merit. She, a woman, is the first to have the Good News: you will bear the Son of God and He will save the world. As Christians, we hold the promises of Mary and we walk to the cross with Mary. We wait for the Resurrection with her, view the Ascension with her. Because she faithfully bears, raises, and follows Jesus, her testimony is to be trusted. Her life is a picture of what awaits the Church.

When I say the Hail Mary, I bask in the favor that the Father shows Mary, because I truly believe it is my portion, too. A woman—a human within the fallen created order—is asked to bear the God-man within her body, making a home for Him in a hostile world. Because she says yes, I know that I can, too. In this she is my mother, and I need her wisdom. She raised the Son of God and the Son of Man and never left His side. She actively participates in His ministry (think of her intercession at the Cana wedding), and this makes me bold to ask Him for great things. It makes perfect sense to me that she is still actively involved in His kingdom work through her intercession.

When, in the Hail Mary, I ask Mary to pray for me at the hour of my death, I can earnestly do it…because she prayed for Jesus at the cross, the hour of His death. She didn’t leave, even when her heart was breaking. What depths of consolation of the Holy Spirit she has tasted! What wisdom does she have on loving to the end? If the Great Tribulation is coming and we will be called upon to live and die for the name of Jesus, I need her wisdom, her example, her prayers that I may be faithful to Jesus in the utter darkness.

She, like John the Baptist, is a forerunner of the Church. She goes ahead of me with a willing heart, a joy-filled experience of the crucified and risen and ascended Jesus.

~Amanda