There’s something about October

There’s something about October.

Here it is again!

The start of its splendor.

Rises to our recollection of what once been.

The heart wrenched news.

Their suffering dues.

All come reminding, their last days here.

Like dying leaves surrounding, our hearts go onto longing, their lives in many ways.

Why is it Dear Lord these souls ached or perished at the time of these orange skies?

How much they are missed.

Til we see them next, please keep them ever by your side.

I believe

For almost these past two months, there has been increase in news exposing the darkness in the Catholic Church. It feels like each week, there is more news to prove, it’s worse than what we thought the day before.  Personally, I receive the bulk of my news through Twitter. The national news isn’t even reporting in the speed Twitter is feeding it.  The news sources I cover are reputable Catholic news agencies, along with Catholic reporters/journalists, theologians, speakers, public figures, etc.

At this point, I feel like where I’m at in information, is a bit numbing.  I’m stunned and shocked.  But as I pointed out earlier in a previous blog, the aid of reading from St Catherine of Siena’s writings to Catholic bloggers, experts of the faith, have channeled me with direction.  Attentiveness to the daily Mass readings, and thanks to God, the rosary for reparation for the Church that began a novena on the Queenship of Mary, have been key to me in clarity.

However, I felt the need to write about some of my feelings on particular responses I’ve read from the ‘faithful’.  A part of me is a little apprehensive about sharing my thoughts because I don’t want to come off as one who thinks I have attained all faith and knowledge. I clearly have not!  But the other side of me, is well…getting a little fed up with Catholic folk on sharing their voices about their Catholicism.

For example, and I mainly see it on Twitter, are comments shared by celebrities, writers, politicians, etc, who express they have just had it with the Papacy, Cardinals, and just think the whole tie to identifying oneself Catholic is questionable.  That the disgust, mistrust, no firing of the Cardinals is quick enough, Pope Francis isn’t stepping down, is all enough to leave the Church.

There are people blurting out all these things to the faithful not ever recognizing their responsibility to them.  I’ve written a few responses to them saying, bluntly, stop feeling so victimized and get out there and fight.  Fight for those who are victims of priest sex abuse, for those who only have faith because of where/how they live is dire, for the good priests having to push through it all and be everything to everyone right now, for the bad priests who cannot see past “self love” and are not aware to ask for God’s mercy, for the faithful at your parish who are family, for the Catholic Church as a whole who is the Body of Christ. You, me, everyone. We need to be strong!

It blows me away and I have to be careful about this thought, and I know we are all at different stages of our faith, but besides that, those who are vocal about their indecision are not 4th graders. They’re educated. They’re intellectuals. They should recall all those scriptures covered in Mass that they have attended and know what they are supposed to do!  All those readings are life and guidance!

I mean, even if you did not have all the knowledge, why wouldn’t you seek answers by what you have been taught and why you are Catholic in the first place??  That’s all I’m saying. The Eucharist is the number one reason. The number one very big reason. How is it that easy to walk away?

In no means, am I perfect at my faith. I do not know everything. I’m a 47 year old woman.  I practice and seek each day. But for something as so sacred as our faith in which Jesus entrusted to the Apostles by the Holy Spirit to the Church to be given to us, how can we all sound so flaky about our response when we deal with crises.

Multiple scripture verses come to mind:

Luke 9:23 – Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

Ephesians 6:10-12 – Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.

1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.fResist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.

1 Corinthians 12: 27-31 – Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds?Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

 

Recite the Nicene Creed.  You don’t follow men. You follow Jesus and the Church He gave us! Fight!

I speak LOVE and you?

Let me begin by saying that this issue I’m about to speak of, I have expressed about before and have fumbled over it many times. I’ve also come to know that I am not the only one who has trouble with it.  It has to do with “LOVE LANGUAGE”.

Sometime ago, I heard on Jennifer Fulwiler’s radio show, speak about love language on her program.  I can’t remember who she was speaking with, but the topic was about being frustrated, down in the dumps about people’s behaviors towards oneself. Where you try to go the extra mile with certain people in your life so that they may revere you in the same way.  Where you share yourself with them the same way as you do with everyone else, but these individuals don’t bite.  This topic I come to again and find more and more lately, I am not the only one in this black hole.

Coming across others who experience the same thing, I tend to find the same characteristics.  Usually, the one who seemingly goes out of their way to engage with others, repeats the same tactics, feels like there is progress, and then find themselves right back where they started.  The lasting notion is that it is all very exhausting.

Going back to Jen Fulwiler’s talk, they hit on the answer well.  It has to do with people each having different love languages. What might be a way for you in how you engage your love is not the same for someone else.  This hit me like a ton of bricks!  I’m sure it is something I have heard before, but didn’t pay attention to. However, this time when I reflected on it, it gave me a whole new outlook.

Over and over again, I would find myself being squeezed into these situations.  It would feel like I’m running with a basket of love, carrying it here, there, over here, backwards, then running towards a doorway trying to not let it spill so they can receive it fully as I come towards a doorway that turns into a pinhole of their acceptance.  Most of the time, feeling like I just went from 20 yards ahead to 10 feet back! Never feeling the love I hoped for returned back in the way I was sending it.

This idea of love language allows me to focus on not tiring myself out in trying to appease, but to give what I normally do, and then let it go. It doesn’t exhaust me and I stop fretting over whether I did something right.

I also would like to touch on something that we heard in Sunday mass a couple of weeks ago and it goes with this scripture:

Cure of a Crippled Beggar. Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.”

Fr. John at our parish spoke about that in our lives of faith sharing…we give what we have whatever form that may be.  If it’s our time, we give our time, if we can financially share, then we share, if we are a good baker or a handy person, then we give in those forms.  You get the picture. So when I think about how I have a giving a heart, I just do that…give.  And with my love for writing or expressing my faith walk, then I do that by writing on this blog.  Care for my husband and my mom in best way.  Being accessible to family and friends, when they look to me for a listening ear.

We give what we are given.  What God has graced us with.  It’s not about waiting for the best time to do it because we are measuring what we think is most valued, but instead giving in what we have today!! It’s not about gaining more of the world just so we can float on by in this life, but to share what we know and have.  Our love and time are free.  Whether faith filled knowledge, church knowledge, love, care giving, helping someone by preparing a meal or driving someone who needs a ride, etc.  It doesn’t have to big on a big scale.  It doesn’t need much prepping.  It doesn’t have to look like someone else’s gifts.  We each have it. Our Lord has given it and the more we pass it on, the more grace He will fill us up with to give again.

STOP looking for things not in your basket and START reaching in it and share the gifts that are in it.

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On Mom’s time

My Mom has a rare condition where she has a naturally grown shunt in her liver. The doctor said she was born with it. But over time and at her senior age, her body is beginning to work against it. This means her ammonia levels are always high. Now after, four years of pretty much the same treatment, the medicine (at times) is not enough.

This year, my sister and I, see her struggling more. There is a fine line on whether her behavior is all due to the ammonia or could be mental issues like a decline in her cognitive skills.

On a recent trip, my mom, sister, and I shared, she showed signs that concerned us. Signs that we were thinking could be dementia. Thanks to God on our return from trip, Mom had an appointment lined up with her neurologist. At this time, after an MRI, it has been ruled out.

Now that we know her condition is all due to the ammonia, we’ve been told to keep an eye on her different than before. When she hits those high levels, she’s unaware it’s happening. Life has changed once again. My sister and I no longer feel comfortable in leaving her alone. We also know the control we somewhat had in our day with her has taken another twist. Days, like I’m about to describe, made time stop.

First let me rewind a bit and describe our typical day. We would do some routine errands like going to Walmart. What typically would take 30 minutes would run into an hour or so. Trying to get her to do what she needed quicker time was my aim. I would lose my patience since it would take a while for her to decide what she was looking for or her physical movement would slow her. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about helping her do what she wanted or needed to do, it’s just that I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture.

Now turning to this more recent outing, we had already been in the store for some time. Her focus was off as she would drift in thought of why she was there. We were coming down a main aisle and approached a display of artificial flowers. These were no where on her list, but she wanted to suddenly get some for her room. As I see her reaching to grab some, it just hit me. The distance from me to her changed. I felt a pull in my heart. The conviction came in strong. That I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. That these flowers were the only thing that mattered. And my whole vision by the grace of God showed me its importance.

I don’t care anymore. I don’t care how long it takes to do routine things with my mom. I don’t care that she asks me the same questions every time we go there or anywhere. “Should I buy this?” “Should I take my sweater?” “Do you think it’s cold in there?” “Have you checked the mail?”

I’m grateful too my sister and I are honest with her with this all. Explaining what the doctor found and what we’re seeing in her. She acknowledged she’s glad too even though we know she may not fully comprehend what it means.

My prayer now to Our Lord is that He will grace her with better health and that her condition does not get worse. That my family and I can be attentive to make her live the rest of her life with comfort and peace. And if my life, my sister’s life, family’s life is just to respond to her – that we push ours aside for her well being, then we do. I know we just want her to be cared for and safe.

I thank my husband and thank God a million times more because He knew how much I would need Ruben. Not just for the sake of my soul, but for this time in my life. My mom too.

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” – John 21:18

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Help us Lord! Help us draw nearer to you. +++

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!

 

 

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.