Monday, November 28, 2011

Children’s Adoration–How To and Resources

Our local homeschool group decided that we wanted to offer Children’s Adoration at our home parish. We began and it has been a hit! Several friends were interested in it and in how we got started so I am going to try to put all of the information that I have in one place – this place – to make it easier to navigate.
This is basically what I wrote on Facebook previously but updated (see # 5):

So, here's some concrete steps to take.
1. Ask for a meeting with your pastor and tell him about your idea and choose a regular time. A priest will need to be around to expose and put the Blessed Sacrament back in the tabernacle but my pastor does not stay for the adoration.
2. Create a handout. Mine is linked at the bottom of the post. I wrote out literally EVERY word that I say – it may sound a little canned but it’s a stress reliever for me and also anyone can step in and lead with no notice at all. I tried to go for a combination of traditional prayers and then music and "guided silence" to give Christ and the kids a chance at having a more personal encounter. A lot of the people, kids and adults, have never been to adoration before. So guiding their mental prayer is critical for them to learn how to do it on their own. I think it was JPII who called for parishes to become "schools of prayer" and this is a great way to answer the call!
3. We do the guided prayer (following the handout) for the first 30 minutes of adoration. For the second half I bring a big pile of religious kids books and the families stay for different amounts of time. I play praise and worship music in the background to help cover up some of the kid-noise.
4. I bring my iPad (an iPod or even a boombox would work) and a small wireless speaker and play music from it.
5. We have the kids kneel/sit in a semi-circle around the Eucharist on the floor. Toddlers are usually wandering around, climbing up and down on the pews and babies are being babies. ALL families should be made to feel comfortable, especially those with so many littles that going out is a big chore most of the time. This is one of the rare experiences where the kids have the church to themselves and know that, as our pastor put it, “the House of God is their House also.” It’s beautiful – and sometimes a little chaotic. We try but our pastor says that “decorum will come with time.” So nobody needs to feel stressed or embarrassed. The more comfortable you are the more comfortable everyone will be.
6. We promoted it through the parish bulletin, the local homeschool group and the local Catholic school. We do ours at 4 pm, once a month (every week during Advent and Lent) and get a lot of school families, which is awesome! And of course the homeschoolers are out in force too.

The following are links to the materials we are using. There is also an Advent Handout that is brand-new – just finished today!
Ordinary Time Handout
I usually print the handout using the “Booklet” option in Print- Properties – Page layout.
All the music that we use during Ordinary Time is from The Praise Baby Collection’s God of Wonders - I think is "kiddy" enough to be appropriate but I really, really like it myself. In fact I listened to it for Cecilia's labor. It's the perfect blend of praise music but a little softer - which is good for adoration.
Advent Handout
Advent Music:
Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel
Mary, Did You Know?
Abide – from the album Held by Love
His Name Will Be Called – from the album Taken By Love

OK, that about wraps it up. I’ll update this post as we near to Lent and post a Lenten handout and music selections.
If you feel like you may be interested in starting this at your Church then DO prayerfully consider it. It’s such a concrete way to “bring Jesus” to people. Most of us bring Christ to the world in indirect ways through our daily life and of course, nothing can replace that- but this is directly bring Him to His children (both young and old). It’s kind of amazing, really. If you are thinking of it then I encourage you to “put out into the deep” and take that leap of faith! There’s no greater honor then bringing Christ into people’s lives and people into Christ’s life.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holidays–here we come!

We have had a wonderful Thanksgiving break and are now jumping into Advent, excited and full of energy! Well, the energy part is limited to particular members of the household but that is no big change. The weather and break conspired to make a perfect yard work weekend. And after a full year of the weather conspiring against me (wet and cold spring – hot and dry summer – Fall started out wet but is ending lovely) I feel like the seasons may actually be worth paying attention to again. DSC_0790

A surprising harvest – seeds accidentally spilled by Rosie gave us some very cool looking carrots.


Yes, this is a broccoli plant that is significantly taller then Anthony.


Babes in wheelbarrows. Too sweet.


And less cute - we have the Guillotine version.


Good night garden…see you again in March!

Today we brought up the Christmas books, advent wreathe, and cr̬che scene. We MADE our candles from a kit that a dear friend gave to us. It was really special. The kids jammed out to Jingle Bells and Joy to the World via the electric keyboard as we purpled the place up Рvery klassy.
Rosie and Thomas ended the evening up taking Christmas into their own hands since I had to break the news that Santa was not coming tonight.


Here you see Rosie dressed up as a Christmas Tree and Thomas donning a lady’s red blouse and a doll diaper-bag upside down on his head placing “gifts” under the “tree”.
But my favorite part of the night by far was when a stray Christmas stocking migrated up with the Advent things and Thomas saw it and exclaimed, “Look! It’s a Treat-Sock!”
Rosie immediately corrected him but the rest of us are doing our best to correct the correction. We need to milk these things as long as possible – Christmas always makes me realize how quickly this part of life is passing us by. So Treat-Sock it is!
Hope that you are also having a great start to the Holidays!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bad Days, Thankful Days

This story begins with tacking on an extra 60 miles to a 30 mile trip, continues with my brakes braking (or NOT braking to be accurate) and ends with me sending a rotisserie chicken skidding across the grocery store floor.
On Saturday I started working on applesauce at 10 am and finally sat down again at 10 pm, having eaten almost nothing that day. On top of that the week had been full of anxiety due to interpersonal drama, in spite of it being No Drama November. So on Sunday I woke up in a bad place physotionally (physically+emotionally). Just sort of a mess. Desperately needing a Sabbath.
And then I found out that my perfectly planned and balanced day was going to be anything but that because we had a 45 minute misunderstanding about the start of the Mass we had to go to for John’s Carmelite thing. I did not handle the news well.
“I’m just a little black rain cloud, hovering over my family.” Except a lot less cute. After lots of mommy-bluster we drove the 30 miles down there and I realized that I had forgotten my iPad. The iPad that had my shopping list for Costco and Aldis on it. The one I had worked on for over an hour. The one that I needed to get my home back into milk and bread and Thanksgiving food – the one I could not live without.
Due to the mistaken timing I had more then enough time to drive back up to the Burg and return in time for Mass (John had to be dropped off quite a bit early). So I drove the 60 extra miles seething and furious.
I returned to the area of the church and promptly lost myself. But I didn’t realize this at first because there are a lot of churches all very close together. I got the kids out, clothed them all again (anyone else’s kids shed more clothes the farther you drive?) and plastered a fake smile on my face as we walked up to…the Wesleyan church. Oops. We were already out of the car so we kept walking and I sent Anthony up ahead as a scout. After about 10 minutes we returned to the car beaten and now 20 minutes late.
I started to turn the car around, heard a clink, pressed down on the brake and…kept rolling forward. Not that this was completely out of the blue, we KNEW that the brakes were bad but our mechanic couldn’t take us till Wednesday and we thought the van was still drivable. Well, I flipped out. Losing control of the brakes is a big fear of mine, I have regular nightmares about it. Granted, my nightmares usually involve me hurtling down the highway into oncoming traffic, but remember, I was a physotional disaster. So turning around in a side street caused me to hyperventilate similarly to the way that I would in my highway nightmares. In my defense, there was significantly less screeching from me then there is in my nightmares, usually.
The brakes stayed more broke then they had been but came back sufficiently for me to edge my way slowly and carefully towards the Catholic church- where mass was now 30 minutes in process. I roll-stopped in front of the church, got out and tried to get John to come outside while also keeping Thomas and CeCe from playing King of the Hill on the 200 year old cornerstone of the original church and getting Rosie to “JUST SHUTUP about those petals!!!” which made her cry and me feel like I wasn’t just a crazy woman – I was a crazy cad. Anthony was smart enough to not “mess with Texas (or Alexis in this case)”. Lucky him.
After John took control of the situation - much to everyone’s relief - he decided to drive (carefully) home as far as he was able because towing it would cost a small fortune. The entire way home I would start to panic and hyperventilate anytime a car came within 150 feet of us. It was not helpful. So John had to “fish slap” me a few times to bring me back to reality (he did not actually slap me, it was more like shouting at me to get a grip – but coming from him it was a fish slap).
As we got closer to home it was clear that the brakes were indeed going to get us home and so we decided to stop at a grocery store and get food since we really didn’t have any milk, eggs, bread, pasta, chocolate – no basics at all. With our one car heading into the shop I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of making several wagon trips to the local grocery store to keep us fed. So we did a big stop and loaded up with victuals. The kids were not too bad in the store and I was starting to feel a little saner and more in control again when I headed over to the deli area to grab a rotisserie chicken for dinner and grab it I did. Until the lid popped off and the chicken flew out of the container and went skidding many feet across the floor, leaving a trail of chicken-juice behind it. 
Just in case I started to get cocky, I suppose.
Our mechanic took the car the next morning, fixed it immediately and I have never been more grateful for the smell of cigarette smoke then I was when I climbed into my former death-trap of a van and smelled Keith’s residual scent lingering on my upholstery. It’s still not completely gone but I’m glad because it reminds me of how grateful I am that Sunday is over.
It was not the Sabbath that I needed but it certainly makes me grateful this Thanksgiving for all those little things like calipers, rotors, brake pads, dirty rotisserie chickens and fish-slaps.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Reason, Boundaries, Truth, and Heroic Virtue

Truth and Love

So seriously: how do these four things come together into one action? I have recently wrestled with the problem and consequently found peace and freedom and deeper love. I’ll start with the fundamental problem I was running into.
I would like to be a saint, as we are all called to be. I would like to practice heroic virtue as that is the way to be transformed into a saint capable of beholding the beatific vision. This is the starting point.
The problem creeps up when I am in a situation where my reason is telling me one thing (“this person is not healthy and you should limit the role that they play in your life”) and my understanding of heroic virtue is telling me another (“this person is not healthy and you should go out of your way to reach out and be a source of healing-reach out and take them into you heart. Yes it is risky but didn’t Jesus risk it all?”).
In a nutshell: Heroic Virtue is loving past all reason.
I have always had that definition in the back of my mind for some unknown reason. But God did not design a fatal flaw into the process of becoming holier. Heroic Virtue is never unreasonable. We all know that faith never contradicts reason, as they have the same Source. “Fides et ratio!” we all chant loudly to the world. If we hold to that then we must also accept that Love never contradicts reason (nor Hope for that matter but that’s a post for a later time and probably from somebody else). Once this is an accepted point what we need to to see is what this looks like in a particular action.
Before my recent tussle with this quandary I would always land on the story of St. Therese where she was SO nice to this mean, crotchety old nun -who she did not (she herself makes clear) like at all- that the mean lady came up to her eventually and said, “My dear sister Therese, tell me what attraction you find in me? Because whenever we meet you greet me with such a sweet smile.” THIS was the example that I was haunted by…thinking that even though my reason told me to protect my dignity against the meanness and brokenness of another person Therese had given us this anecdote to turn us in the opposite direction and tell us to give until it hurts. Until we are wounded by love.
But the whole time my gut knew that something was wrong here…my reason, my common sense, was screaming out to me to not be an idiot and risk my dignity and be vulnerable again to someone who has proven their incapacity to be a true friend (there being no signs of change or interest in changing, of course. Genuine repentance is a completely different scenario). “Do not throw your pearls before swine”. Some people, through their own fault or their brokenness in response to other’s sins, are just not “safe.” It is what it is…a fallen world where some people are so messed up that a healthy relationship is impossible outside of a miracle or years of therapy. In fact that broken person can be toxic and instead of your healthiness spreading and transforming them the tentacles of their unhappiness spread into your healthy world and take over until suddenly you look around realize that you are the one transformed. You have been sucked into their own unhappy brokenness. And NOW whose going to lead you both out? The blind can’t lead the blind. You have to remain healthy for the sake of all concerned.
But then there’s that d*mn St. Therese and her annoying example of Heroic Virtue. That thing that you are shooting for. Not just “healthy” by the worlds standards but heroically good – that’s the action that you “want” to take. Maybe you are just SOOOO far from being heroically virtuous that your reason is mistaken too. So you ask your husband, a Carmelophile and a Moral Theologian, and he takes your dilemma and turns it on it’s head bringing the disparate parts together into an exciting and liberating whole!
St. Therese, he explains, did NOT befriend Mean Nun. She did not open herself up to her and lay bare her true feelings. She was not open and honest with her. There was no sit down for coffee where Therese revealed, “You know Mean Nun, lately I’ve really been struggling with your negativity. It feels like you are pulling me down.” That is something that true friends do – they are open and vulnerable and forgiving and humble. Therefore Therese was surprised that Mean Nun thought they were friends! She wasn’t out to manipulate or trick Mean Nun into thinking that they were friends, she was just being kind.
She smiled at Mean Nun. She was polite and showed concern but she drew the line at exposing her heart to this woman. She knew Mean Nun would not treat her with dignity if she opened up like that and she knew that God doesn’t want us to be treated badly. We are his creations and he doesn’t want us foolishly exposing ourselves to ridicule and scorn – nor does he want us putting other people in the position of being able to do that to us – it’s not good for the perpetrator either! This is not just about protecting our thin skins it’s also about not being a near occasion of sin for the “Mean Nun” in your life.
Being a doormat for someone will eventually trip up the person who is walking all over you – they will fall. If you weren’t lying there then that would be one less fall that they have. For the good of all we must stand up to the unhealthy relationships in our life and that may mean walking away from them to some degree.
That is where truth comes in. Truth is neither mean nor uncharitable. It is simple and accessible. Mean Nun is Mean. For x,y or z reason (though we can never really know). She treats me poorly. She tries to entangle me in her web. She jeopardizes my relationships with others. This is the truth. It may also be true that her mother criticized her. That her boyfriend beat her. That she stubbed her toe on my front step last winter. All are true. Her reasons for her present meanness/brokenness do not change the current state of things. Regardless of her past she is currently a person that I need to take precautions against. And that will mean drawing a boundary. There’s a huge spectrum of levels of boundaries. Facing the truth about the people in our life help us find the right boundary to set.
For Therese the boundary was something like, “I will show genuine kindness and concern for her.” Notice that there’s no obligation to do more then is truthful. Therese was not out to manipulate her into thinking that she was really a bosom buddy. The other side of Therese’ boundary coin is something like, “I will not seek her out to have lunch and dish with her about the new hymnal. I will not throw a party for her with a cake that says ‘BFF!’.” Therese was at the point where she could be genuinely concerned for and kind to Mean Nun. It wasn’t a farce. We should be truthful in our relationships. And sometimes that means not having the confrontation that would “air out” your grievance with someone but instead being polite and kind and recognizing that a full-blown friendship with that person is not a healthy choice. At least for now. Your boundary drawing could even be the impetus they need to get help from someone who can really do something.
Truth gets the raw deal too often when dealing with tricky relationships and conflict. But reason, boundaries, and truth are all tied up together in Heroic Virtue. The path to holiness is not full of contradictions. God is Love, He is also Truth. One without the other is smoke screen. Truth deepens Love and Love makes the Truth shine in the darkness. And being wounded by Love is quite different then being wounded by brokenness and lies.