Drunks and Monks

I learned about this book by mention on the Jennifer Fulweiler’s show.   It caught my attention because it had to do with addiction and recovery.

Once I started reading it, I was hooked.  It’s a raw memoir from John Carmichael. He recounts his life from childhood through finding his way out of addiction by becoming a Catholic.  It struck a chord with me because I too came from an upbringing of alcoholism.

DrunksMonksIn his book, he speaks about his rise to a successful career, finding his wife, until he becomes an addict and destroys all around him. His Mom was a hard core alcoholic.  Morning, day, night. Even though he saw the reckoning, he could not find himself out of it.  Much of the effects of what would cause him to drink, did come from his relationship with his Mom and love not received by either of his parents.

He describes his environment in sunny So Cal – Orange county. The pull of the riches and struggle with letting go. I pictured well where his life took place because I’m so familiar with this area since I have visited these neck of the woods since I was a child.

One spot in particular is San Juan Capistrano Mission where he first begins his attempt in finding God. First taking back by the beauty of the Chapel where Mass is recited in Latin. Then his courage to reaching out to a monastic priest who then becomes his confessor.  And even though he made these strides he shares his very real battle working out his faith through temptation and relapse. What I appreciated is how the San Juan Capistrano community, supported him and invited him to the faith. An example for all parishes to follow.  He felt so welcomed, he even became a part of the choir.

Even though most understand, that even when one follows the Catholic Church punch card, it doesn’t mean that all will be easy going. In Carmichael’s case, the timing of his initial prep in the faith became his strength when his Mom’s struggle with alcoholism became its worst and then her diagnosis of terminal cancer.

His style of writing was as if you were experiencing it yourself.  Truly can understand his battles and his journey through faith.

If you like reads like I do like this, pick this book up!

 

 

Chapel relic

My parish, St. Timothy, installed a relics chapel.  We are blessed to have it.  I don’t know any other parish who has one.

At first when I hard they were installing one, I thought well it’s probably going to have all the big players – St Timothy, St Paul, probably some from St. Francis, St. Therese of Lisieux. So it came to a big surprise to me when I visited it the first time, and found a bone fragment relic from St. Catherine of Siena.

It’s beautifully encased in a monstrance.  It is very small to make out it is a bone fragment, but that does not lessen my time praying with her.

Now after Mass, I like to go to the chapel, stop in and say hello!  It’s funny because as soon as you walk into the chapel you’re surrounded by many Saints, so I like to say, “Good morning, Everyone!”

My prayer lately has been for courage.  I’ve been asking for St Catherine’s intercessory prayer that I have courage to do what God wills me to do.  When I pray to St Catherine, I do feel a sense like I’m in another space in time. I’ve read on her so I know she can relate to my prayer.

I hope that my parish never gets rid of this chapel.  If I’m receiving much from it, I know it has to be for others too.

 

 

 

I am Woman and I can roar too!

There is something I would like to share, but feel a little concerned on how to express it.  Quite frankly, I don’t even know what to call it. It has to do with married women with children and all other women.

With social media as the daily recognition, you can’t help but view stories or pictures of Mother’s and their children, or images of babies or children in their discoveries each day.  Which before I go any further or come up sounding bitter, SHOULD BE FILLED WITH.  What joy! What forum for mothers to relate to other mothers!

But what about the women without children, like myself, who seek a connection or validation?

For example, there are many times where I have enthusiasm on something new I learned or want to share and it doesn’t get the same response as lets say a picture of kids.  I don’t have kid pictures to post.  I mean I could share pics of my nephews and nieces, but feel that would be odd since they are not my children.

It’s not that I’m sad, or feel neglected, or desperate for attention.  That’s not it at all. But it does have to do with valuing women at any stage or journey in their life.  You come to know women’s situations – career women, middle aged unwed women, divorced women, senior women, widowed women, women without children, college aged women, women married without children, married women with children.

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So at times, I feel like input isn’t as highly praised or sought out like married women with children from our Church.  Why is that?

I even notice it at my parish in its ministries. For a while now, I’ve thought of contacting our pastors and asking them if a group could open up for ALL women who can relate.  But for whatever reason, it hasn’t happened.

I do appreciate many Catholic Women organizations like Blessed is She, Catholic Women, Made in His Image, etc.  I do think they try to call all of us into a ministry, but the interaction directly outside of them seems like to lack a connection.

It would do us all better if we cheer others on when it appears a woman is seeming cheery.  It would do us all better if even though a woman’s despair she shared would be sympathized even if it seems like you’ve gone through worse.

I think more women who are married and are blessed with children living out their faith, could reach out and relate to other women who do not mirror their lives by just relating to all women in any degree.   There a many women I encounter who feel like they’re dangling out there and don’t fit in to what the example image is of a woman in the Church.  Let’s find them and grab them by the hand and pull them in.

There is much going on with women who don’t visibly show the Church life with kids but are in the trenches doing work for the kingdom as well. Their fruits may not be shown with a gift like a child, but their vocation is just as important!

Thanks to God, the bible is filled with stories of women living very different lives who find faith in God and who then uniquely demonstrate their journeys.  Jesus meets us where we are at and shows us the way.  Let us not forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Somber

From October through first week of January I had been on a roll baking and cooking. I am a fan of cooking shows and love finding recipes on Pinterest.

This Fall/Winter I decided to bake new recipes that were based on the holiday or religious observance.

Here are my creations:

For Dia de los Muertos.  A holiday I’ve never celebrated because I had the wrong education on what the day is about.  I had thought it was about laying out food for past loved ones in your home in an altar format so that their souls could come to it and grab a bite to eat.  Food they were fond of.  This would throw me off because the Church never spoke of souls returning from heaven or anywhere else after death.

However, this is not the tradition.  Tradition is that your deceased loved ones are remembered on All Souls Day by creating an altar with pictures, flowers, and their favorite foods. The favorite foods are eaten by family or friends who knew them. This I had done for years not knowing I was somewhat participating in Dia de Los Muertos. My Dad passed away in 2006, and so on his anniversary I would eat a pastry or have a root beer float.

For this time around, I was excited to observe it and went all out.  I not only made an altar, but also made this delicious bread called ‘Pan de muerto’. It’s a fragrant, tasty bread.  Main flavors are orange, anise, and much butter. It made our home smell so good. The recipe too was enough to feed about 18-20 people.  I think next year I’ll make it in smaller loaves.

Here are some pics of the altar and bread.

IMG_5042 I have to mention as I was building this altar, a flood of memories hit me and the tears flowed.  I appreciate this tradition and do plan on doing one each year.

This past Christmas, my family and I made Tamales. The first time where my family of women gathered in our home to make red chile tamales.  Mom, my sister, niece and I spent a Saturday making almost 18 dozen tamales.  We didn’t just make them, we shared laughter, conversation, and created memories.  My hope is that we will do this every year.  The recipe for these tamales was a bit trial and error, but most of the direction came from my Mom, especially her recipe for red chile.  The flavor is deep.  It can work for several recipes like chili con carne (chuck roast cooked for hours with a red chile sauce).

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For the Epiphany, which is celebrated on January 6, commemorates the Feast of the Three Kings.  The Kings presented the gifts of gold (kingship), frankincense (deity), and myrrh (death) to Jesus at his birth.

Many cultures throughout the world use this Feast to celebrate in what I found in common ways. Most traditional is baking a bread that includes a plastic baby symbolizing Jesus.  If you Google it, you’ll find a slew of recipes from all over the world.

I chose to do this recipe: Rosca de Reyes (King’s cake)

The cake to me seemed similar to the Pan de Muerto I made for Dia de los Muertos, minus anise.  However, I felt like I could decorate this bread more with my own taste.  You can design it how you want.  I went by a few pictures on Pinterest.

I enjoyed the reflection while baking. And including my family to enjoy a bite and too think more about the feast being celebrated.

Shifting Gears

Around the time of Thanksgiving, I felt a shift surrounding my husband and I. Like the age we are set in, my husband is 52 and I just turned 47, has reached something but I don’t know what. And also like the root of our marriage was set deeper.

I’m trying my best to explain how it felt. And this feeling, the effect it had, is no longer with me. It’s something I just understood happened for me to know enough that it did.

Since that moment on, I’ve had this peace in knowing my husband knows how much I love him and where we are in marriage is clear. Is sort of what this feels like.

I feel like we just truly know each other now. Grateful all these years, God have us good training on communication. We are both open and honest whether relating to each other or to those around us.

At this point in our 22 years, we know each other well. I’m not glossing over it all. I mean we do have our spats about this and that, but it’s less work to get to the core issue and resolve.

Another thing I noticed is all the fuss I would carry towards our families, is no more. Always being overly concerned they know where I stand with them. After all these years, I think they should know. And if they don’t, I can’t carry the weight or burden. That might’ve been something I could’ve accepted sooner but I am where I am.

I guess it’s stability. Not a stability as in we forget where we are in our faith in that all of this is temporary and we still need to grow. But that it’s a gift to recognize and appreciate where we are in life.

I look and love my husband more deeply, if that makes any sense.

It’s also like whatever I do, I do with all my energy and with purpose.

For whatever that was I felt, I’m grateful I experienced it.

I wonder more what this all means and trust in God, He will show me.

Bonds in Your Care

My sorrow, my sorrow

Oh my God, why

It seems more often

These veils of illusion

Come to wreck our ties

And why Dear Lord

As much effort that I give

Trickery, deceit, confusion play to strive

For the one who should’ve known better

Allowed the doubt to thrive

So now I ask you Lord, punctured and bruised

and this time with shout

May Your Mighty Power and Truth burn upon this matter and throughout

Is it too late for Advent?

November to December 2017. I couldn’t be more grateful.

I thought that once I started to write about the holidays, I would begin by saying a few complaints, resentments, wish I shoulda’s, and so on.  Reason is that I think this time it was the fastest paced holiday season my husband and I experienced. Yet, we were able to keep pace minus a cold that had me down for a little over a week.

We celebrated Thanksgiving in Tucson.  Hometown for most of our families.  Out of courtesy, we didn’t host Thanksgiving, which over the years I’ve grown to love to do.  Instead, we shuffled ourselves to the Old Pueblo, to have it at my sister’s so that the family could easily enjoy it and head into work early next day ‘Black Friday’.

It had been years since we were all together. It was wonderful to hear our laughter all under one roof.  Our time was short as we quickly came back home the next day to set up our home in Christmas decor before we ventured ourselves to New York!  My crazy ideas.  Yes, let us press our limits and do all we can to decorate so that when we return a week later, we can relish in it.  My husband is so patient no matter my nutty antics.

Our trip to New York was a treat! We’ve never been in New York City for the Christmas season.  As soon as we landed, we felt the excitement in the air.  I’ve never been anywhere else for the Christmas season besides Arizona and Las Vegas.  So, I really didn’t know what to expect other than what you see on TV for holiday specials at Rockefeller or Christmas shows.  However, Christmas was definitely everywhere.  I mean everywhere.  It’s like the Mayor must’ve told all to exude it or be fired.  From the cabs, to the shops, to carolers on the street corners, to the decor, Christmas trees everywhere.  Places to grab a hot cocoa or warm pastry. Adults were like children. And yes, the shopper frenzy was full force. I know my husband and I were taken by it all. The store windows blew us away with their Christmas spirit.  Truly, it was magical. Better than Disneyland. Over and over.  Well, I’m not really a fan of Disney, but you get what I’m saying.

We also couldn’t have planned it better to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral during the first Sunday of Advent.  It was the highlight for sure. Capped off why we were there in NYC to everything else. And to boot, Cardinal Dolan celebrated the Mass. It was perfect!

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So coming back from this trip, set us on the right foot. So I thought.

Came back with a bad cold. My ears hurt so much, but thanks to God, no infection.  Just the pressure of the flights back caused pain like I didn’t know could happen.  Had I known, I would’ve tried to prepare myself better.  It took over a week to get fully well.  Because of this, I missed out on some opportunities to things I wanted to be a part of for the Advent season, but what could I do.  Once I got full steam again, I tried to accommodate the time I missed leading up to Christmas. That only caused my reflection and time with Jesus to get squeezed out.

We spent Christmas in Tucson.  It was already planned in November that we journey down there.  But my husband and I shared our sentiments, in that, we just wanted to stay home and take in these next blessed days.  Well, no chance, and so we put on the game face and headed south back to Tucson. Over Christmas eve and day, we traveled here and there to visit all we could and came back home exhausted.  I think something should be said.  That all family members participate in this exercise so that everyone knows what it is like to have to do this.  When we were younger, it was not a big deal. It’s exhausting now.  Ok, I know, move on.

Once we returned home, is when I feel Advent kicked in for me. The week in between Christmas and New Year’s Day. All the readings, encounters with relatives, unity, love, came to me like a rush. I had an energy and peace that I couldn’t get myself to pay attention to. And even though throughout Advent, I did try to stay connected in various ways, what I had planned to do (extra reading, extra Mass attendance, lessons, charity), I couldn’t get to. I would insert short prayers throughout this hectic time. Our Lord knew what I was seeking. He knew my intention of spending more time. He knew I was pushing myself to help make a Christmas for others. He knew there was restlessness in my heart over a matter I needed desperately to be resolved. And so it happened. Our Lord gave me a Christmas with the most clarity I have ever had. Not because I didn’t need to do any of that obedient nurturing, but to show me, I do need that obedient nurturing and to live it out now. I have to fine tune the engine again. Always a good reminder and lesson.

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Thank you Holy Spirit! Thank you Magnificat! Thank you Advent handbook! Thank you strangers who I would have lengthy conversations with out of the blue! Thank you Lord God for the countless blessings you helped us witness during this time. +++

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