“…Accept Children and Bring Them Up According to the Law of Christ…” Part 2

This second part posted at Worthy of Agape last week, but I was out of town and unable to share and link it until today. Enjoy!

 

I last talked about accepting children in marriage in part 1

9658613409_76d52d0d49_b…and now I’m back to keep talking at you about raising those children!

The first few years are easy, right? Get married, have babies, enjoy the bundles of sweetness in the midst of sleepless nights and piles of laundry… And then the sweet little souls God’s blessed your family with are old enough for school and an education.

This education is where “bringing them up according to the law of Christ” enters the equation. It is not enough to send your child to the parish Sunday School program, or even to a Catholic elementary school. Oh no, my friends. There is so much more to raising our children in the faith. Not all parish schools are teaching the truths of the faith as strongly as we’d hope, not all Sunday School programs are going to hook your kids and guide them well. Many do, but it is NOT the job of the schools to be the primary–ie first, most important, best–teachers of your children, especially in the faith. That is OUR job, as parents, to be the “first school” of the faith.

Continue at Worth of Agape!

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“…Accept Children and Bring Them Up According to the Law of Christ…” Part 1

  I’m so delighted to be guest-posting on my dear friend Amanda’s blog while she’s honeymooning! Her series on the questions of intent and marriage vows is lovely, and writing this post to share has been fun. We do, after all, have some experience in this topic. 😉

 

Marriage isn’t just something to do when you love someone and think they’d be swell to live with for the rest of your life. Not even close! I’ll let you know, I love my husband. He is swell. But we don’t always get along, we don’t always have the same ideas about how to raise our family, we don’t always speak the same language, we don’t organize things the same way. Marriage is not always swell! But it is worth it. Marriage just so happens to be one of the various vocations to which a person can be called. It’s a vocation, because it’s a call from God on how best to live our lives and serve Him in this world. Do it well, and we hope for a place in Heaven alongside our spouse (and kids!) for the grand feast and perfect joy that comes with being united finally with God.

The Church has a few things to say about marriage and what is important. She teaches these things because, well, Jesus gave us the Church to guide us. The “rules” are in place to guide us, teach us, help us as we learn to live in the love of Christ.

It’s a big deal. And so, the things which a couple must understand and consent to–the things the Church has to say about marriage–are also a big deal.

One of them has to do with children.

Read the rest on Amanda’s blog!

 

Currently {3}

Thinking about:

Just exactly how do I figure out, and then follow, God’s plans for the day to day details. You know, staying joyfully on top of housework, handing on the faith to my little brood of children, getting yummy and wholesome meals on the table before 6:30pm meltdowns… All while staying somewhat on top of laundry, sweeping, lunches, diapers, homeschool lessons, showers, time to talk with Fence, lift a few weights here and there (who am I kidding?! The most workout I’ve had in weeks was a half mile run to the park with the kids yesterday)…You get the idea. I’m thinking how to be the best *me* in the life God has given me.

Reading:

I’m always reading Lisa Hendey’s “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms”, “Something Other than God” came last week and I’ve started it, and the blog Simply Convivial has me hooked at the moment. She has started a sweet new series about happy housekeeping. It sure fits with what’s on my mind lately!

Listening to: 

I’ve pretty much been listening to Fence’s crazy mix of tunes, since I haven’t been turning on my own playlist. He has classic rock, 80s, Christian pop, rap…it’s interesting.

Watching:

bloop…bloop…bloop…

“24” is back on (starting last night). We actually had the kids in bed in time to watch it. My verdict? Meh. The first hour didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. When it finished, we watched “The Time of the Doctor”, which is the final Matt Smith as The Doctor episode. Doctor Who is just so fun to watch, and even though it was *so weird* at the beginning of the new series (those first few Christopher Eccleston episodes–weird), Fence and I have really enjoyed it together. I’m always a little sad when the Doctor changes. They’re each so clever and witty and fun!

Thankful for:

Health. I believe we are finally, finally on the way to everyone being healthy.

Wishing: (goals for the week)

We have a First Communion at the end of week, and family will be here to visit! So many goals with this: get the house ready, menu prepped, decorations finished…but more importantly, I hope we’ll all be in a joyful mood to celebrate with and support Sweet Pea on her special day. Her godparents might even make the visit! Her godmother is pregnant with their 3rd baby, so depending on how she is feeling, they’ll make the hour-drive down to support Sweet Pea. That would be *so* special for her! 20060723baptismgodparents

I can’t believe it has been almost 8 years since her baptism! Our baby girl is growing up into a beautiful daughter of the King, with such a sweet heart and soul, and honest questions. It’s been a delight to be by her side this year as we prepped for her First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.

Also, Mother’s Day is this weekend, so I need to finish up the special things for my mom and my mother-in-law. It will be a lovely, joyful weekend!

A Mama Collective

John Paul II Stories: a link-up

Are you getting excited yet? We are just days away from the canonization of two holy and amazing men, Blessed John XXII and Blessed John Paul II. I have a personal goal to learn about John XXIII on my own this year, but I have a special place in my heart for JPII. I’ve seen him up-close. (not as awesome as meeting him or shaking his hand, but still awesome!) Whenever I think about his canonization, I start to get that really excited feeling like I could squeal and clap and act like a school girl again. And sometimes I do act like it. My kids likely think I’m a bit nuts.

(I am nuts, by the way, so they’d be right).

But just think about it: for any of you reading this blog, JPII was pope for a good chunk of your life! He may have visited your hometown. He’s certainly visited your country, as he visited over 100 countries during his papacy. (For the US: Denver World Youth Day 1993! JPII even visited my alma mater, but that was long before I even knew it would be my alma mater.) Just think! What a great many ways Blessed John Paul II has influenced the lives of millions of people.

As you may know, the kids and I have been reading about JPII this month, to get ready for his canonization. I’m going to dig out my pictures from World Youth Day to show them how close I was to him, we’re going to look at all kinds of images online of him enjoying life, we’re going to learn even more about him from a list of awesome facts we probably don’t already know about him. We’re going to listen to stories, read quotes, memorize some of his impactful words.

“True happiness lies in giving ourselves in love to our brothers and sisters.” How’s that for impact on a large family? We are going to have this as a new motto, I’m pretty sure. 😉

I’m getting so excited!

So, join the excitement which is soon to bubble over. Share your stories with us! Link up all week with Mama Needs Coffee and through the weekend, and we’ll have ourselves an online canonization party. Don’t forget the perogies and Papal cream cake for Sunday!

Celebrating a Soon-to-be Saint: JPII

I was 16 when I found myself in a hot, dusty, over-crowded arena outside Paris, surrounded by people from all over the world. On my way back to my group’s camping spot from using one of the 15 total potties (only a slight exaggeration), the large aisles were blocked off and people were no longer able to cross through the sections. I was not able to get back to my group. (in hind-sight, why was I not with a buddy? It probably would have helped me feel less lonely and would have been safer overall…but that was 17 years ago and I was a teen…what was I thinking?) I was hot. Tired. Dehydrated. All I wanted was to be back with my group, to settle in for the evening, and get something to eat.

But the aisles were blocked off.

I didn’t know why, so I was upset.

 

Funny thing about God, is that He makes things happen for the good. Even annoying things like not being able to rejoin a group at World Youth Day.

After some time passed, there was a bit of commotion from behind…and wouldn’t you know, I was trapped just before the Pope Mobile was about to come down the aisle.

Where there is a Pope Mobile, there is a Pope.

 

I was surrounded by a group of Lebanese pilgrims at World Youth Day 1997, in Paris, France…about to be less than 10 feet away from Pope John Paul II. Talk about not only good, but AMAZING.

I am a pretty short girl, so I was standing on tip-toes trying to see as the Pope Mobile slowly made its way down the aisle. A sweet, dear man who was in the group around me, from Lebanon, motioned to me that I could sit on his shoulders. I did. I was on top of the world, sitting on that man’s shoulders…and I saw Pope John Paul II for the first time that day. It was deeply moving; I was overcome with joy and emotion.

 (I wish I had pictures, but 1997 was before camera phones, ya’ll. It was before I owned a digital camera. And since I was on my way back from the bathroom break, I didn’t have my camera with me. Sorry for no images!)

Since then, I saw JPII in person, from less than 15 away, again, in St. Peter’s Square. It was another moving experience. He was a powerful, loving, joyful, wise man. His influence reached beyond the Catholic Church. JPII was loved by many, admired and respected by people of all faiths.

 

This month, he will be canonized an official saint in the Catholic Church! We are very excited about this, and will be spending this month reading about him and preparing to celebrate his canonization. As a special patron of our family, I think it will turn into an annual celebration! My husband asks for Blessed John Paul II’s intercession each night during our family prayers, and our children have grown to love him this year since we took up skiing as a family activity. JPII loved the mountains and used to ski!

I want to share our plans, so that if your family would also like to celebrate JPII this month, you can find inspiration in my ideas.

 

What we’re reading:

Untitled
“Blessed John Paul II: Be Not Afraid” by Susan Helen Wallace, FSP
“My Dear Young Friends”, a collection of words from Bl. JPII to teens on life, love, and courage
“For the Children: Words of Love and Inspiration from His Holiness Pope John Paul II”

Copywork of favorite quotes:
(will vary, depending on how much we choose, but this one taken from the “For the Children” book will definitely be done)
“True happiness lies in giving ourselves in love to our brothers and sisters.”

“Be not afraid.”

“If you follow Jesus’ advice and pray to God constantly, then you will learn to pray well. God himself will teach you.”

What we’re listening to:
The Glory Stories edition on Bl. John Paul II

What we’ll be eating:
Have you heard of Papal Cream Cake? It sounds amazingly delicious. Not originally called “Papal”, this cream cake was a favorite of Bl. John Paul II, and has been renamed because of his fondness for it! The cream custard filling between layers of flaky dough looks so tasty…

Also, apparently Bl. John Paul II enjoyed a certain risotto which was prepared for him, with spring vegetables. I’ll be making both dishes for our family to eat in his honor.

What’s on the “big screen”:

There are a few different movies to choose from about his life. Since we recently gave up Netflix, we’ll have to see which our library has available for borrowing.

 

For more about Bl. John Paul II, visit these sites:

EWTN on JPII

A miracle story is featured on Catholic Exchange

I am so excited about this month, and celebrating this soon-to-be saint! If you have ideas to share, please do! The more, the merrier!

A Bigger Deal than the First Day of School: First Holy Communion

Any of you have young ones preparing to receive their First Holy Communion this spring? Are you excited, or dreading, the shopping for white dresses and nice suits? Wondering if you should buy shoes now, or wait a month just in case feet grow? Planning the party? Making invitations?

Are you preparing your child at home, or sending them to the parish program to prepare? Are you praying together at home? Planning a family trip to the sacrament of Confession a few times before the Big Day?

Are you anticipating the day with excitement and letting the excitement rub off on your child, or grumbling that you won’t be able to sit close enough for good pictures?

Yes, that was a lot of questions! I don’t often play 20-questions…but these all seem important to be asking ourselves (myself).

I have a daughter preparing for First Holy Communion, and each day my excitement for her grows. M is our 2nd child to prepare for the sacrament, but she’s the first one I have prepared at home. We are part of a great parish, and our children are enrolled in the parish RE program, but they have left sacrament preparation up to the parents. They do provide books and support if needed, as well as a sort of retreat and interview at the end of the preparation time. The books they’ve provided are good–true to the official Church teachings, and child-friendly, but when I read through the books last fall for Penance, I just felt there had to be something better. In other words, this homeschool mama and former RE director just doesn’t love the books they gave us.

I polled some other experienced homeschool moms, and decided to look into the materials provided by Catholic Heritage Curricula. They are just fabulous. My daughter and I have been having great discussions about the Mass while she assembles a Mass book with prayer cards. I read to her from one or two books, which talk about the sacrifice of the Mass, the importance of the Eucharist, and how we can best prepare now for First Holy Communion, and be prepared for every Mass.

Like I said, my excitement grows each day. As I teach my daughter, my love for the Mass and Eucharist grows. Our Savior comes to us, physically present and full of life-giving Love at every single Mass! Imagine! No matter how we’ve been acting, no matter how distant we’ve become, no matter if it is our 1st, 78th, or 1,000th Communion, Jesus is anticipating being with us, with open arms, just waiting for us to welcome him with open arms and heart. As a parent, I know the joy and anticipation of being welcomed by a child when I arrive home after being away…I know the joy of being welcomed by my parents when we visit…just think–how much more does Jesus anticipate us, and how much more joy and love He has to share with us when we receive Him (worthily!) in the Eucharist!

If only our longing for Him equaled His longing for us.

It dawned on me the other day, that there are many important “growing up” and “coming of age” days which we plan for, anticipate, and celebrate in our children’s lives. Pinterest is a great tool for things like birthdays and first days of school…and yet, it can also be a burden. How much time we mothers can spend searching for the perfect table-scape, perfect decor, perfect food…for these passing days which are fun and great to celebrate, but aren’t nearly as BIG as First Holy Communion.

I mean…WOW. Being united with our God, our Savior, the One who loves us more than we can ever know, more than any person on earth can ever dream of loving us…for the first time! Take a second and just *try* wrap your head around it.

First Holy Communion is a much bigger deal than a first birthday or first day of school.

I say we take back the importance and celebration, and make it worthwhile! Let’s spend time, first of all, praying for and with our children preparing for this great sacrament, and joyfully look forward to it with them. Read about the Mass together, talk about what the Eucharist is, and share any stories you have of profound experiences in Adoration or at Mass. Go to daily Mass together if you can. Go at least once to the sacrament of Confession as a family, before First Holy Communion. Talk about (or learn together) Eucharistic miracles. Then, don’t feel guilty spending time planning a great celebration for your child! Of course, this isn’t all about the party after Mass…but the party should be a continuation of the joy of being in Communion with Christ.

Overwhelmed? Here are some of my favorites for First Communion.

first communion faves

1-For gifts from Mom and Dad before the event, how about a lovely new hair clip from Lilla Rose? They come in many sizes for little girls, fine or thicker hair, and moms, too. (Link is for a blogger friend’s website)

2-Or, a new custom rosary for your son or daughter? I just love the combinations Allison has, and the many options for cross and holy medals! For girls, you can also ask about rosary bracelets.

3-To read before First Holy Communion, as a family, “The King of the Golden City”. We are reading this right now, as a read-aloud a few times each morning. It is a lovely story about a little girl and her relationship with the King (Jesus), who guides her on the journey to The Golden City (Heaven).

4-Also a good read before First Holy Communion, the “Little Catechism on the Eucharist” explains details of the faith, the sacrament, and has stories of Eucharistic miracles, too.

5-Dresses can be hard to find in local stores, as I found when we were shopping for Miss T two years ago. Then we found the website flowergirldressesforless.com. Two years ago, and again this year (just tonight!) we found lovely dresses for a reasonable price. Be sure to follow their measuring guidelines!! My girls are on the petite side, but not so petite that at age 7 they regularly wear a size 4 dress. But, following their measuring guides and sizing guides, that is the size of dress we ordered. It worked out perfectly two years ago. There are enough options for all kinds of budgets and styles, so take a look! They also have veils and headbands.

I could go on and on. Check back soon for more, I hope to share some other things we are doing to prepare spiritually, and to plan a simple, yet meaningful celebration for such a special event!

{linking with Moxie Wife for 5 Favorites!}

You Can Return, You Can Ask Questions

Lent begins today in the Roman Catholic Church. It is a great time to reevaluate our relationship with Christ, who gave it all so we could return to the Father’s love, and live in his love, to hopefully one day gain life in Heaven.

“…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

All the faithful are invited to spend Lent returning to a deeper relationship. It seems also a wonderful time for anyone seeking to return to the Church, or learn more about the Church and the Catholic faith, to seek the answers to the questions in the mind and on their hearts.

 

An open letter to women who have left the Catholic Church:
We want to invite you to come talk with us, and we are excited to meet you! Just like you, we are daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers; students, professionals, and stay-at-home moms. We are teenagers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and beyond. We are from many walks of life and from diverse backgrounds, but we share a common faith – one we want to invite you to revisit.
Some of us have been away from the Church, and by one way or another we’ve come back. Some of us never left – but that doesn’t mean we’ve never questioned nor been confused. Some of us were raised outside of the Church, and made the decision to join as adults. In one way or another, each one of us has come to know and love Christ in the Catholic Church – and in keeping with Pope Francis’ request we want to share that love and joy with you.
 

 

Being Catholic isn’t easy, and we’ll be the first to tell you that we aren’t perfect; we have many planks in our own eyes to worry about. Our faith embraces paradoxes, challenges our culture’s values, and makes us feel uncomfortable when we are called to examine our actions and our motivations. But – as you already know – just because something is challenging does not mean it is not worthwhile.

 

We know that you are intelligent and capable. We believe that you deserve answers to your questions, and explanations for the teachings with which you’re struggling. We’ve all struggled with various aspects of our faith, but we aren’t here to judge or condemn you. We simply want to listen to what you’re feeling. We want to understand what is making you uncertain about being part of our Catholic faith. We want to help you find the answers and explanations that helped bring us home. We want to meet you, we want to hear about your experience, and most importantly, we want to invite you back.

 

Feel free to email any of us with questions or concerns you may have about the Church, her teachings, or what reversion means. If you’re not ready to bare your soul to complete strangers, we’d love to direct you to sites that helped us (and still help us) as we discerned our calling in life.
Wherever you are, whatever you believe, know that we are praying for you. You are our sister – another woman navigating a challenging world. We look forward to talking with you!
In The Peace and Love of Christ,

The members of #cathsorority