Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Comparing apples and oranges

Gus's moment of greatness.

Our newly appointed bishop, Bishop Burbidge, was stopping by Jack and Gus's school for a school Mass, a tour of the school, and lunch with the staff. Gus came came home last week and announced that for the Mass, he would be processing in with the Bishop holding a bouquet of flowers.

Gus: (sullenly) I was picked to carry the flowers for the bishop at Mass.

Jack: (brightly) Oh, Gus, you are so lucky to get to do such a special job!

Gus just grunted and scowled at the thought of having to bring up smelly "girl" flowers. To add insult to injury, he had to process in with, get this, A GIRL from the other kindergarten class. (The horror of it all!) He practiced with the teachers and the other children who had special parts in the Mass a few days before the Mass. I'd asked him how the rehearsal went, but Gus said it was "soooo borring!" Chris and I encouraged our little "crumudgeon" child and reminded him of what an honor it is to be selected for such a special event. "Not everyone gets to have such a special part" I said. After awhile, Gus began to like the idea of this job.

The morning of the big event, Gus dressed up in his best white and blue, slipped on his tennis shoes and ran off to the carpool. Chris, Henry and I drove down to the church and sat in the pew waiting for Mass to begin. I peeked over to the entrance of the church and saw Gus standing there proudly with an arrangement of yellow and green flowers (school colors). As the music began, Gus was directed to walk down the aisle. Sensing that hundreds of people were staring at him and his "girl" flowers, he rushed down the aisle, head downturned, and quickly set his arrangement down on the altar. Gus's sweet female classmate did the same, with much grace and drama, and the two of them turned to face the altar. They were clearly supposed to bow, but not knowing for sure, Gus instead rolled his eyes at the girl, shrugged his shoulders, and trudged his way back to his pew. I just laughed to myself and shook my head not knowing if I should be embarrassed or touched by the whole display.

After Mass, Gus beamed and waved excitedly at me from across the church, proud as punch of his accomplishment. I waved back, smiled and loved my son with every fiber in my being. I was the proud one.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Friday, January 26, 2007


I've just come across a wonderful BLOG by George Paprocki who has been a pastoral associate for 25 years and is currently teaching 8th grade faith development. His insight on passing on the faith to youth is wonderful and his list of websites and books are very helpful for families or catechists.

A colleague passed on this website to me. It's created by Loyola Press and has many great ideas to deepen the faith of your family as well as any youth you are teaching. Browse around to find some fantastic ideas for the upcoming Lenten season.

Want a great multi-media stations of the cross for children? Check out
this website and follow along.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The moment I knew I could never be anything but Catholic.

Last week I attended the funeral of a woman who died unexpectedly at the age of 49 in a tragic car accident. She was a wonderful woman; always helping me with youth ministry events when her kids moved through the program a few years ago. And while we were not the best of friends, I knew she was one person I could always call upon for help with anything. She will be missed.

The funeral was somber; filled with many people who knew her from town, friends of her kids, church folk and lots of Italian family members from New York State. The congregation filled the pews in a sea of black clothing and white tissues. Tears where shed freely when her daughter, husband and nephew approached the ambo to give her mom a goodbye tribute. It felt good to cry for their loss, but at the same time the thought of this family having to live without this woman was hard to bear. Fr. John's homily was comforting, the music was beautiful (May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs come to welcome you....) and the liturgy was deeply moving. Catholics really know how to send people off to their resting place in style. But it was at this funeral that I realized JUST HOW CATHOLIC I WAS. I know that I love being Catholic, the tradition, the beauty, scripture translation, music and all, but I surprised myself when I did something I thought I would NEVER do.

As with most funerals (and weddings for that matter), not everyone attending is Catholic, so our church tries to be helpful by including a small paragraph in the program stating that if you are not Catholic, to please refrain from receiving the body and blood. Instead, visitors are invited to approach the priest for a blessing instead, with arms crossed in front of them. OK. Fair enough. Many Catholics know that we believe in the REAL PRESENCE of Jesus in the Eucharist and therefore those who do not share that central belief should not receive until they learn and believe what it is exactly they are receiving: Jesus, flesh and blood. After I received communion, I took my place back in the pew and watched as others came forward to receive. I happened to notice a group of young men around the ages of 17 or 18 coming forward to communion. Their posture was relaxed. They were goofing off with each other in the communion line and were pretty much being dis-respectful by looking around and not paying attention to what was going on around them. One of them went up to the Eucharistic minister and awkwardly opened his mouth, only to quickly close it and grab the Eucharist from the woman's hand. It was clear he did not know what to do with it. He looked at his buddy behind him, waved the host in his face and laughed. He moved up to receive the wine, and again, awkwardly tried to dip it into the cup only to realize that he was to drink from it. He refused and walked past the minister with the host in his hand. I could feel my face getting HOT and I felt like I needed to get a drink of water. I didn't. Instead I watched that young boy walk past me with the host still in his hand, waving it around like it was some sort of souvenir. I turned and watched him enter the pew about 10 rows behind mine. He was standing there, giggling and taking little bites out of the host as if it were some sort of taste test. His friends were laughing at him. At that point, I was NOT happy. I darted out of my pew, walked around to the back of his pew and got his attention. Instinctively, I wanted to just grab the host out of his hand and take it away from him...I wanted to wrestle the kid to the ground and force feed it to him if I had to. But by golly...that kid needed to DO something with that host or I was going to. "Eat it.", I whispered. He looked at me and said, "I don't know what to do with it." and laughed. "You need to eat it or I will." He looked at me as if I had four heads and ate the host. "Thank you", I said sweetly without making any disturbance. Ahhh, I felt much better.

As I returned to my pew, my girlfriend asked if I was doing OK....assuming that I had left due to an uncontrollable urge to wail at the sadness of the this woman's death. "Oh, I'm fine now." I told her.

I realized at this funeral, just how important the Eucharist is to me and if others don't want a part of it, that is totally fine..but...

Don't mess with my Jesus. I'll fight you for him.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In my inbox...

Two Beggars in Rome - One Catholic - One Jewish - are sitting side by
side on a street in Rome. One has a cross in front of him; the other one the
Star of David.

Many people go by and look at both beggars, but only put money into the
hat of the beggar sitting behind the cross.

A priest comes by, stops and watches throngs of people giving money to
the beggar behind the cross, but none give to the beggar behind the Star of

Finally, the priest goes over to the beggar behind the Star of David
and says, "My poor fellow, don't you understand? This is a Catholic
country; this city is the seat of Catholicism. People aren't going to give
you money if you sit there with a Star of David in front of you, especially when
you're sitting beside a beggar who has a cross. In fact, they would
probably give to him just out of spite."

The beggar behind the Star of David listened to the priest, turned to
the other beggar with the cross and said: "Moishe, look who's trying to
teach the Goldstein brothers about marketing?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Never forget

Today marks the anniversary of the infamous Roe V. Wade court case which legalized abortion. Kudos to the organizers of the annual March for Life in Washington DC who refuse to let us forget the magnitude of this day and of the millions of babies killed since that dark day in 1973. Join the thousands in DC today by praying for women who are considering an abortion as a viable solution to their situation. Pray that they find support, resources and caring individuals that will help them carry their baby full term. My daughter is in DC today at her first march. She just called a few minutes ago and is having a great time!

For those of you who have never see the movie "Silent Scream", the first anti-abortion film showing a live abortion, you can go HERE to view it. It's grizzly, but a good reminder of what is done in our "clinics of compassion".
If you are a victim of abortion there is HOPE at the Project Rachael Website. While there, read some of the touching stories of women who went though the heartache of abortion and how they are coping.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wouldn't that be scandalous!

As we finished our bedtime prayers, I asked Jack and Gus the following questions:

Me: Guys. What is the name of our Pope?

Jack: Benedict

Me: Very good. Now here's the harder question: What is the name of our newly appointed bishop?

Gus: (excitedly) ooh. I know it! It's Bishop BOURBON!

Me: Ha. Very close Gus.....its not Bourbon, it's Burbidge!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Fight Club

Sometimes boys fight.

There comes a time in a boys life where he has to stand up for himself, for what is right, or he is in danger of living a mediocre life where he waffles from one thing to the next not really standing up for anything. Nicholas had that fight today and while I am never one to condone violence; I do believe it is sometimes necessary. Here's the full story:

About one month ago, my 10-year-old son Nick was playing football with some of his neighborhood buds at the home of a friend. This neighborhood home is a place where most of the boys gather to spend time together and share good times like only boys do. Now, one of these boys, (we'll call him Joe..he's in 7th grade and is over 6ft tall.) happens to be a bully. Joe has had issues with anger, discipline and authority for the seven years we have known him. Anytime Joe comes over, you can bet there is going to be some sort of argument or tussle. He antagonizes, taunts, and teases anyone who comes his way and for the most part; the kids stay out of his way so as not to get in trouble with their parents. Overall, I think Joe has a good heart and tries to control himself but for some reason...he can't. The school has tried to help him after many fights there, his parents have tried, even good-hearted neighbors have attempted to guide Joe in the right direction with no real luck. He's a tough case.

Anyway, back to football: When Nick was playing football with his buds, Joe came over and joined in. Long story short, a tussle ensued and Joe ended up punching Nick in the face for blocking his run into the end zone. Nick did not fight back, he just held in his anger in, walked home and bawled in my arms as he explained the injustice of it all.

Nick: MOM! I should of hit him back. He SO deserved it!! He humiliated me and I didn't fight back!!! I didn't fight baaaack!!

Me: Well Nick. I know you were trying to do the right thing, and I think you did. It was hard, I know, but think of what Jesus would think of you hitting a kid like that? (Inside I was thinking to myself that Nick should have taught that boy a lesson and punched him right back, but I didn't want Nick to think that he could have free reign to pummel the guy next time he saw him.) You know your father and I are proud of you for turning the other cheek. Next time, just tell another adult and they can talk to him.

Nick: That NEVER works and you KNOW that mom!! Joe never listens to anyone!! (I knew Nick was right.)

After we had the conversation, I made Nick some cookies and let him cool off in front of the television. (Arthur is a great show for that.) In no time my Nick was back to his happy-go-lucky self and forgot all about it (for a while). I felt sorry for our first son. I was conflicted inside myself on what he should have one told me how hard it is to straddle the line of right and wrong and how explain that to a child. At dinner, Nick told his sad story to my husband.

Chris: Nick. You must never, ever start a fight. BUT. If you are in situation where you have to defend yourself and you did not throw the first punch, THEN you fight. Got it?

Nick: Yeah, I got it.

Fast forward to today. It was a gorgeous morning. The first snow of the year and the schools were closed because of weather. All the kids in the neighborhood were out playing in the wet, soggy snow. As usual, the boys gathered in the open space of the neighborhood..about 17 boys in total...having a massive snowball fight. I watched the fun from my window and enjoyed hearing the squeals of delight as the kids dodged snowball and ran to protective bases. Joe was in the mix of boys and was playing with everyone for about 5 minutes when a scuffle ensued. Here is the story as 5 of the boys relayed it to me ( I did not see it)

As the snowball fight progressed, a boy named Matt threw a snowball at Joe's back and it apparently hit hard. Joe got really angry and started pushing Matt to the ground. Nick and a couple of other boys told Joe to back off Matt... Joe got off Matt got up to Nick's face and responded, "You got a problem with that? " He proceeded to PUNCH Nick in the face and turned to punch little Jack and Gus. Well, dear readers, you must be able to guess what happened next. (sigh) Yes, Nick punched back, and punched back with a vengeance. My first-born pummeled that 7th grader as hard as he could. Joe slipped to the ground and continued to punch at Nick's side. At that point it was an all-out punch fest with a pile of boys on Joe. Even Jack and Gus piled on top of the heap. An adult came out to break things up and make sure tempers did not flare up at Joe again. Joe stood up and huffed to the side of the road and glared at Nick.

Knowing that Joe may come back after him at any time, Nick came into the house crying.

Me: Nick! Are you OK?

Nick: (tearfully) Mom, at first I was crying 'cause I was mad. But now I am crying because I'm so happy! I punched Joe, mom! I punched him. He was bullying Matt and I couldn't stand seeing it, so I punched him.

Me: Nick, did he hit you first?

Nick: Yes, he hit Matt first and then me. I'm not going back outside 'cause I'm afraid Joe will come back after me.

Me: (mumbling) Over my dead body.

Nick: (smiling) I punched him mom. Finally. Finally he got what he deserved.

After about 5 minutes, a beaming Nick went back outside and our friend, Joe, decided that he'd had enough and walked back home. I called some of the boys to my kitchen to tell me their versions of the story. I asked who threw the first punch and how many were involved. They all eagerly told the story where Nick, tried to defend Matt and in doing so had to fight back at Joe the bully. I thanked them for the information and was happy that Nick had relayed the truth. As soon as Chris came home this evening, Nick relayed the story...blow by blow....(no pun intended) to his dad.

Chris: Was there blood?

Nick: No

Chris: (jokingly) Well then you didn't hit him hard enough.

Hopefully Joe has learned his lesson not to hit kids, but I'm sure he'll be back for more. Meanwhile, Nick feels a whole lot better. As he said to me tonight before he went to bed: Mom, this was the best day of my life! I'm sure it was Nick, I'm sure it was.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

photo credit :Chad McCall

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Gus's joke for today....

Gus: Mom, I have a really funny joke for you today.

Me: OK Gus, lets hear it.

Gus: OK. See there are these two guys on a boat. One guy's name was Pete and the other guy's name was Repeat. Pete fell out of the boat. Who was left?

Me: Repeat

Gus: OK. See there are these two guys on a boat. One guy's name was Pete and the otherr guy's name was Repeat. Pete fell out of the boat. Who was left?

Me: Repeat

Gus: OK. See there.........

Being the brilliant readers that you all are, I think you get the idea of this joke...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I love

your teeny nails
your grey-blue eyes
your little hand dimples
the way you study my face
the way you clutch my hands so tightly
the way you smile under your pacifier
the layers of fat on your thighs
your cries for company
your coos and goos
your belly laugh
your belly

that you are mine

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Oh, no. Here we go again....

Nick: Mom, Gus is coughing like a machine gun.

20+C+M+B+07 Christ bless this house

The magi's coming to Jerusalem...shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations. Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning toward the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.

CCC 528

OK, its official! You may NOW take down your Christmas tree; the Christmas season is over with the feast of the Epiphany. Many of you know that in the Catholic Christian liturgical calendar, Christmas actually starts at sundown on Dec. 24th and always traditionally ends on January 6 (The 12 days of Christmas). For the feast day of Epiphany, the Roman church commemorates the visit by the 3 kings, Christ's baptism by John the Baptist and the miracle at Cana (where we get the sacrament of marriage, Jesus' first miracle). Now what you may NOT know is that the names of the wise men cannot be found in the bible. In addition to the fact that we really have no evidence of how many kings there actually were. Tradition tells us that there were 3 kings and that their names are Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar. Another interesting misconception shows that the Magi are present at the Nativity, but in actuality, the book of Matthew 2:11 says that the wise men visited Jesus as a child maybe 1 or 2 years old. Interesting....

76 Trombones Led The Competition

Rebecca is off to complete for the All-District Band today. It's the first time she competes on the high school level and is very nervous. Results will be posted tomorrow at an unknown time. The waiting will be painful for the child since she is deperately hoping to make the band. Please keep her in your prayers as she plays this morning.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year Resolutions

A few desires for the new year here at Four (Five) Crying Out Loud: Drumroll please:

1. Cooking more and eating out less: I admit that I love a good burger or Chick-fil-a sandwich, but since Henry has been born, its been increasingly difficult to cook a well-balanced, well thought out dinner than ever before. I've succumbed to the ease of pizza delivery or a quick stop at Wendy's more often than I would like to admit these past few months. Sure the kids love it when I give in to the temptations of the fast food gods, but deep down I recognize that its much better to eat something lovingly made by mom than by the burly guy behind the counter at Burger King. (oh, but the fries are soooo good!) So I will try more new recipes and shop more in bulk these days so that we can get the most out of family dinners.

2. More prayer or meditation: Since I work at a church, I tend to get this repetitive thought in my mind that goes somthing like this: I'm doing the Lord's work with the youth; he'll understand that I'm too busy to pray today. Or at times its a thought like this: I have many children to care for today; God will see my efforts and realize that he can't expect me to do it all. I need to break myself of this lazy conversation with God and remember that in Luke 10:38-42, Jesus reminded Martha that while all her attempts to serve him were good, the one thing most important was developing a growing relationship with Jesus. I will remember that ultimately it is not always about my church work or my large family. Ultimately it’s about developing a growing relationship with Jesus.

3. Being more understanding of my husband's work schedule: Oh, now THIS is my biggest challenge. My husband is an extremely hard worker both at home and at work. And there are many times when he has to bring work home and lately it has been ALOT! Still, he is, for the most part, very good at balancing what he needs to accomplish at home with family and kid time. Seeing him attached to the computer for numerous hours a night finishing a project makes me, um, well, let's say a little impatient. The last thing the man needs is his wife breathing down his neck, complaining about why he's always on the computer. Instead of impatience, I need to understand that it's a necessary part of his job and to additionally thank God for the wonderful job that he has. My husband is a good provider, I just need to let him go and complete his responsibilities. It does not last forever.

4. I will be a cheerleader. In a world full of negative attitudes and criticism, I will demonstrate Christ’s love by celebrating the accomplishments of others. There are so many wonderful people out there doing great things. Give them a T-H-A-N-K Y-O-U!!

OK, that's about it. It's a tall order, but I like to aim for the moon and will be satisfied to land among the stars...if I'm able.

Happy New Year Everyone!!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

We are ALL homeschoolers....

Below is an excerpt from an article written by Leon Suprenent for Catholic Exchange. You can read the full story


"We're all homeschoolers. Twenty years ago, I taught a seventh-grade CCD class composed of public school kids. The class met one hour per week during the school year. After one or two classes, it became abundantly clear to me that there were a couple of kids who were being trained well at home and this class merely supplemented and enriched what they already had learned. The rest were religiously illiterate and not getting much out of the class. Upon some inquiry, I found that most of them were not even taken to Mass on Sunday or in any meaningful way catechized at home."

Let's recommit ourselves into teaching our children the faith in the new year!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Full Circle

Well, well, well. It DOES pay off to be a youth minister from time to time after you've been doing it for awhile. (smile)

Of course, I'm not looking for any kind of "pay-off" for anything that I do with youth, but there are times when God blesses you with a special moment or event that reminds you of WHY you are involved in youth ministry in the first place. In my case, God has placed me in a parish with a very large population of youth between the grades of 6-12. 400 to be exact. It's big, it's fun and it's blessed. There are some really wonderful families raising some very special young people in tis parish and I have the privilege of getting to know quite a few of these families very well. A good many of these families have helped to move me forward in my own faith as well as become a better mom to my children.

I direct the jr. high youth program at our parish and it involves many duties such as: curriculum selection, teacher training, retreat planning and implementation, nose wiping, chair stacking, human traffic cone organization (or dis-organization as the case may be), classroom inspection, shoulder to cry on duty, service project coordination, walk quietly and carry a big stick duty, prayer and worship planning, disciplining, and the always popular toilet flushing after all youth have left the building. All this and much more for as little you would pay a substitute teacher. Yes, well, it's all alot of fun and to top it all, I get to be readily active in my children's faith development.

But tonight I was blessed with an extra-special treat: DINNER. A wonderful dinner prepared for me and my family by a youth who has graduated and moved on to greener pastures in college. This wonderful young man was home for Christmas break and called to take me to dinner but quickly changed his mind to offering to prepare an italian feast for the entire family and his girlfriend. Sweet. So. Sweet. He arrived with parsley, garlic, pasta in one hand, and non-alcoholic champagne in the other. His girlfriend (another youth ministry grad) came along and sat in the living room with me. We talked and entertained the kids while the chef in my kitchen created his feast. We laughed, prayed, ate, laughed some more, talked of the future and ended the night with some great chocolate dessert!! (I provided that!)

There are many, many moments of beauty in youth ministry. But none more beautiful than when you get to see one or more of the youth develop into a person of purpose, honesty, humility and faith. I thank God for the opportunity to watch this life grow in faith.

Happy New Year to all and may we commit to serving the church in a manner that is pleasing to God.