Monday, January 28, 2008

First Snow (last week!)


I made myself a snowball
As perfect as could be.
I thought I'd keep it as a pet
And let it sleep with me.
I made it some pajamas
And a pillow for its head.
Then last night it ran away,
But first it wet the bed.

-- Shel Silverstein

Friday, January 25, 2008

March for Life-Thoughts

As you all know, a group of youth and adults traveled in the darkness of the early morning to attend the 35th annual March for Life event in Washington D.C. this past Tuesday, January 22nd (the anniversary of Roe v Wade). A caravan of at least 8 buses left from the Diocese of Raleigh to march with thousands of others from around the country to march against the destruction of life at any age or stage. There were many amazing things that I saw and heard that day which will stay with me forever, but there were a couple of things which surprised me that I would like to share with you.

Bishop Burbidge addresses the North Carolina contingency of marchers on the front steps of the National Shrine.

1. It was so Catholic! In my years at the University of Texas during the early 90’s, my husband and I were active in organizing the Austin Right to Life Rallies at the state capital. In those days, there were many religious faiths represented: Lutherans, Muslims, Evangelicals, Catholics, and the list goes on. What I was struck by 20 years later was that Catholics are seemingly the only ones left keeping this issue at the front of today’s political and social landscape. Now I am sure that there were more than just Catholics marching on Tuesday, but I did not see any evidence of it. I did see hundreds of nuns, priests, seminarians, catholic school kids, catholic college groups,groups praying the rosary, Knights of Columbus members…and the list goes on, and on. It was a great big Catholic gathering! It made me proud to be part of such a caring, socially active group.

2. It was so YOUNG! Again, back in Austin, the participants marching were of a variety of ages. But what I saw in Washington D.C. were our YOUTH! Youth groups were everywhere; holding banners from many schools and colleges from around the country as well as from local schools. I read that the entire student and staff population of Christendom College came to march.

Nicholas holds his sign. Enough said.

10:30am North Carolinian Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Over 1000 North Carolinian Catholics posing for a picture on the steps of the National Shrine. (Rebecca can be found on the far right in black sweatshirt and red jacket. Do you see her?)

As I marched down Pennsylvania avenue with my group, I thought of past marches and protests. Whereas the youth of the 60’s marched for civil rights, and the youth of the 70’s marched against the Vietnam war. Both groups were arguably successful in their efforts. In the same light, it seems as if the cause of today’s youth is: Life. And the respecting of it. I have great hopes that THIS generation of youth…the ones most hurt by abortion (having 1 out of every 4 peers lost to abortion)…will be the generation that will change hearts and minds of others to eradicate what Pope John Paul calls “The culture of death”. Whether through marching, helping an unwed mother, eliminating poverty, prayer, or counseling; all of it makes a difference in someone’s LIFE.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

In my inbox

A group of graduates, well established in their careers, were talking at
a reunion and decided to go visit their old university professor, now

During their visit, the conversation turned to complaints about stress in
their work and lives. Offering his guests hot chocolate, the professor
went into the kitchen and returned with a large pot of hot chocolate and
an assortment of cups - porcelain, glass, crystal, some plain looking,
some expensive, some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the
hot chocolate.

When they all had a cup of hot chocolate in hand, the professor said,
'Notice that all the nice looking, expensive cups were taken, leaving
behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only
the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.
The cup that you're drinking from adds nothing to the quality of the hot
chocolate. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even
hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was hot chocolate, not
the cup; but you consciously went for the best cups...and then you began
eyeing each other's cups.

Now consider this: Life is the hot chocolate; your job, money and
position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain
life. The cup you have does not define, nor change the quality of life you
have. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the
hot chocolate God has provided us. God makes the hot chocolate, man
chooses the cups.

The happiest people don't have the best of everything.
They just make the best of everything that they have.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Marching for Life

Members of the youth group, including two of my children and I, are off to Washington D.C. for the annual March for Life event. We leave at the ungodly hour of 3:30am and are scheduled to arrive at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for a Mass specifically for the North Carolina contingency of Catholics at 10:30 am. Our very own Bishop Burbidge will preside along with Bishop Jugis from the Diocese of Charlotte.

The March begins at noon with a rally on the Mall followed by a march to Capitol Hill and the Supreme Court. Over 100,000 are expected to march in cold temperatures which are predicted to be in the 20's and 30's with snow and rain possible. There are at least 500 people traveling from North Carolina to D.C. along with priests, seminarians and members of the Knights of Columbus.

Are we crazy for doing this? Um. Yeah!! We are! Super crazy! But is there any better reason to march under such conditions than to remind the world and our politicians on the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade that there are Americans who still value the sanctity of human life? Enough of all the death and despair. Let's pray for all women forced to undergo an abortion, the abortionists, our society that quietly approves, our politicians, and for all the unborn souls.

"Any country that accepts abortion is the poorest of the poor"
-Mother Teresa

Friday, January 18, 2008

A politician honing his skills...

Nicholas scored surprisingly high on a test he took this week, and he was feeling pretty good about it.

Nick: Mom. I got all my smart genes from dad.

Me: (appalled, and showing it) Nick, you don't think you got any intelligence genes from your mom?

Nick: I did (putting his arm around me) , but I mostly got my good looks and singing talent from you.

Me: Nice recovery Nick. You'll make a good politician.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Now THAT is so sweet....

President George W. Bush pauses for a photo opportunity with nuns at the Church of the Beatitudes Friday, Jan. 11, 2008, during his last stop in Israel. White House photo by Eric Draper

HT: The White House Web Site

Goodbye Christmas, Hello Ordinary Time

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Marks the end of the Christmas season.)

Seeing as Christ himself was baptized, it is a great time to focus on your-; own baptism or your children's baptism. Many people know the DAY they were born, but not many know the day they were BAPTIZED as a Christian in our Catholic Family! It's a big deal and one that should be celebrated! Have a big feast in your home and invite your child's godparents (if they live close), pull out your child's baptismal candle and certificate and relay what the day was like; tell your family members WHY you chose the godparents you chose and what qualities they had. Talk about what a GIFT baptism is (as one of our sacraments of initiation) and how we are called as baptized Christians to love God as he loves us. It gives me great comfort that while Jesus probably did not need to be baptized, he saw the importance of it and was baptized as an example for all of us to follow. God moves among the water and moves within us! Let's celebrate that!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Henry is feeling fine!

silver lining

After our recent return from our trip to Texas, baby Henry decided to "baptize" Rebecca in a very unique way. So as not to gross anyone out with the details, we can just suffice it to say that she was covered in what seemed like a gallon of curdled milk. Not 24 hours later, Gus complained of tummy troubles and "baptized" the kitchen floor with what seemed like 2 gallons of curdled milk. And yes, yet another 24 hours later (with a friend sleeping over, no less) Nicholas had a nice friendly conversation with the toilet bowl.

It has now been two days without anyone pewking in this house, but it's like waiting for the inevitable. There are still two other children who have not awakened in the middle of the night with the stomach bug. When will it hit? I wonder. Meanwhile, there are a few "bright" things to be thankful for:

1. No fever associated with this bug.
2. Gus baptized the hardwood and NOT the carpet.
3. Nick actually made it to the bathroom and used the proper facility.
4. The steam cleaner (and it's operator) are at the ready.
5. All school aged children were well enough to attend school on Monday.
6. Gatoraide is GOOOOOD!
7. Thank God for washing machines
8. ONLY 24 hours
9. Diapers can hold alot!
10. My helpmate, Chris.

All the best to those who are feeling my pain!

Friday, January 04, 2008

If the Clemens boys ever get another baby brother...

they would like to place an order with God for this guy. I wonder why?

Midnight with the Clemens Family

Christmas '07 began with the Clemens family preparing for midnight mass with four exuberant kids and one pajama clad baby. Henry appeared to be sleepy before we entered the church, but perked up completely once inside..visiting with parishioners in pews in front of us and in back. "Hi,hi, hi", he slurred. We all perked up. The church was beautifully decorated, the music..a mix of Mozart and traditional hymns stirred up memories of Christmas past. The Christmas trees sparkled while the congregation sat in anticipation of the Incarnation. I closed my eyes and soaked it all in. After all, Christmas only comes once a year.

One of the best things about being Catholic is midnight mass. How many other denominations actually expect their congregations to come out at midnight during the busiest time of the year? Not many. But you can be sure the Catholics are there. My Jewish neighbors think were are an odd group. "How can you get all five of your kids dressed for a midnight mass?" they asked me on Christmas Eve. I laughed and agreed that it's not for the weak. But in my mind I thought, what better way to impart the importance of Christmas to your child than by dragging them out of their pajamas and hoofing it though the night chill to await Christ's coming. It's a big deal which deserves extra effort.

Midnight mass had a big impact on me as a young child,although I did not recognize it at the time. Looking back, I knew it was different than any other Mass simply because of the time. It's quiet, still and filled with anticipation. Yea, I wanted my presents and the big Christmas dinner, but I knew that Jesus and His Mass came first. As I got older, Midnight Mass was the place where I could count on meeting up with my long-lost siblings after months of busy college classes or work schedules. We all found ourselves at home on Christmas Eve getting dressed for Midnight Mass. No one questioned it. We just knew Midnight Mass was part of our lives. It was our tradition.

I hope to impart the Midnight Mass tradition with my children. It not only connects us to Christ in an extra special way, it connects us with our familial past. Oh, Holy Night.

(Henry is appearing to look sleepy. No luck. He was awake for most of the Mass.)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Brotherly competition

Jack: I'm the smartest in my class.

Gus: Oh yeah? I'm the best at playing "mercy" in my class. I can beat everyone.