The St. Francis of Birdies and Kittens, or the Real Thing?

Pooor St. Francis. He's either relegated to the barnyard, or dancing around in a field, praising the sun. But that's not who he really was. He was a man madly in love with Christ, and wanted others to know that love.

I wanted to draw your attention to two new books about St. Francis that look as if they are worthy of our time. (I haven't read 'em yet, so I'm not endorsing them!) However, they seem to take the saint seriously. We don't do God or his saints any justice by sentimentalizing them.

Tuesday Afternoon Musings, Because: Lazy

Why is this baby smiling? She didn't have to clean the grout!
1. Really, sheer laziness.

2. We are getting some long-overdue work done on our house. Hurray! I decided to get a head start by recoloring some grout. I thought it would be a simple, one-day project for the holiday weekend. I don't know why I thought that....

3. Spent the rest of the weekend making bridal shower and wedding plans (all via social media!). A small wedding requires just as much planning as a big one. Don't let anyone tell you differently. I am not complaining; I think  having a wedding planner takes a lot of fun out of it!

4. Finally met both the "in-laws." We had met mom, but not dad (they are now living out-of-state.) I now know why my daughter has such a lovely young man as her espoused.

5. We were kidless this weekend. Dark-haired daughter went camping for most of the weekend. It was a little weird rambling around in the house by ourselves. But maybe we could get used to it....

6. Is it bad that we set our Sunday Mass attendance around soccer? Dear Husband's "team" was in the finals...

Monday Morning Musings

1. Given the Gospel this weekend, I was sort of hoping our pastor would whip out a rattlesnake and give us some Appalachian Gospel. He stuck to the homily routine though.

2. I am struggling with hope. I am trying to discern the differences and ties between theological hope - the virtue - and the hope of anticipating good here and now. I can't seem to bring myself to hope for anything good, because every time I do, I get slammed to the ground by a 2x4 to the head as I round a blind corner. This past week was an excellent example - huge problem with one of the kids that I thought was on the right track.

3. When you have a mentally ill adult child, you have to learn that he/she must manage their illness. You can't. You also have to put up with all the people who think you are being a bad parent by not stepping in and managing something that A) they don't understand and B) you can't do anything about anyway.

4. General thought: it must suck to be a meter reader in the city. You do your job and ruin someone's day.

5. I'm tired. Really tired. For someone with depression, this is not good. I'm trying to drag myself out of the cycle of doing just what I need to do to get by and then sleeping. No fun.

A Citizen of the Nation of Chaos

No, Chaos is not one of the cities in a dystopian youth novel. It is a very real place.

There are a lot of people who live in the nation of Chaos. For some, their citizenship is earned because of a loved one's addiction. They never know if they are going to get Nice Dad or Angry Dad, if Mom will be making dinner when they get home or passed out cold.

In Chaos, we pray our children are safe ... not doing something that could get them arrested. If they do get arrested, we feel a sense of relief, because we know that at least they are safe. And then we feel guilty for feeling that relief.

In Chaos, mental illness is a familiar address. Whether it's the creeping darkness of depression, the sleepless, exuberant nights of mania, or the sinister voices in the mind only one person hears, mental illness makes itself right at home in Chaos.

It's hard to make plans in Chaos. A family might get ready for a vacation, and then someone goes off the rails. A car accident - once - makes one forever leery of driving ... even though it's necessary. If the family does manage to get off on vacation, that one kid in the family will likely have a very public fit that makes everyone else in the family wish they had never left home.

Living in Chaos means that faith, hope and love are always quite tentative. You know they are there, but they always seem just out of reach. It's like those stupid claw games that kids feed quarters into, aiming to get a cheap stuffed animal. You are manipulating the claw closer and closer to faith or hope or love ... and then you drop it, or miss completely. And of course, you don't have any more quarters to feed the machine.

Being a citizen of Chaos means you have your own pledge of allegiance. You pledge allegiance to sticking it out, no matter what, but you know that the nation of Chaos offers no protection in return. There is no military standing at the ready to fight your battles - you are on your own. The nation is easily divisible, as it is often every man, woman and child for themselves. You learn not to count on people who are not fellow citizens too much, as they get very weary of dealing with you and your "issues."

On the other hand, when you find another fellow citizen of Chaos, you don't need to explain much. They know. They know the humiliation, the sadness, the lack of looking forward to anything because you know it probably will just get mucked up anyway. They are fellow citizens, and companions on the way.

Once you become a citizen of Chaos, you are always a citizen. You can move away, but you still belong to that place, and it is always a part of you. Everything about who you are and what you do is tainted by Chaos.

In Chaos, there is faith, but you have to carry it around in your very heavy bag. It gets crushed down to the bottom, underneath the water and tissues and medication and snack bars and car keys and phone numbers to every mental health professional in the country. But every once in awhile,  you clean out your bag, and you find it. And it gets you through.

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. - Philip. 4:6-7

Mother's Day Monday Musings

1. One of my dearest friends spent her Mother's Day making funeral arrangements for her daughter. Her daughter had battled many health issues since birth, but had made great strides in the past few years: living on her own, getting her degree, landing a job. After a recent surgery, an infection took hold and she just did not have the strength to fight it. Please keep them in your prayers this week.

2. I got a Happy Mother's Day from 3 of my 5 kids. Those are pretty decent odds, given our family.

3. Spent a lovely weekend with Dear Husband doing stuff we love to do: antique shopping, wine-tasting, playing cribbage. Yes, we are dull people, but we are OUR dull people.

4. Our pastor, when he gave the blessings for the mothers at the end of Mass yesterday, reminded women who had conceived and lost a child to miscarriage that they should stand as well. Life begins at conception, he reminded us, and all women who have conceived are mothers. A lovely reminder.

Eternal Rest, O Lord

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) -- Grand Rapids police have identified a body found in the Grand River Tuesday evening.
The body of Terry Douglas Bailey was found around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday near the river's east bank under the Fulton Street bridge.
Bailey, 51, was released from the Kent County Jail on Friday after serving four days for possessing open intoxicants in a city park.
He listed his address as Mel Trotter Mission on Commerce Avenue SW, about a half-mile from where his body was recovered.
Bailey has more than a hundred arrests for misdemeanor charges dating back to 2008, including consuming alcohol in public, disorderly panhandling and trespassing. A cause of death remains undetermined, pending the results of an autopsy.

I don't know this man. I see a lot of men like him every day.

This was one of the saddest things I've read in a long time. I pass no judgement on this man, for I do not know his story. However, he died a sad and lonely death, in what appeared to be a sad and lonely life. No one should go "unprayed" for at their death.

Eternal rest, grant unto him, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon him.

News Flash: Catholic Church Hates Women!

At least, that's what New York Times writer Frank Bruni says. Oh, he loves Pope Francis, and was overjoyed to hear the pope call for "equal pay for equal work" (which, in the US, is mandated by federal law), but it really doesn't count if women don't get to be priests.

Pay isn’t the primary issue when the symbolism, rituals and vocabulary of an institution exalt men over women and when challenges to that imbalance are met with the insistence that what was must always be — that habit trumps enlightenment and good sense.
Let’s be clear. For all the remarkable service that the Catholic Church performs, it is one of the world’s dominant and most unshakable patriarchies, with tenets that don’t abet equality.

Uh. I'm not sure what to say to Bruni. Oh, wait: I do.

You are wrong.

And you are wrong on many levels.

First, this pope did not decide women can't be priests. In fact, no pope did. Jesus did. If you want to pick a fight with Him, go ahead, but keep in mind that he is the Son of God, the Almighty. But, whatever.

Bruni also claims that
Male clergy are typically called “father,” which connotes authority. Women in religious orders are usually called “sister,” which doesn’t.
Duh. First of all, calling someone "sister" is not an insult. (I hope Bruni has a sister himself to bonk him over the head.) And many women's religious orders elevate their members to "mother" - a woman who guides, prays for, walks with, instructs, nourishes. Yeah, what an insult.

Bruni charges that doors are closed to women in the Church. I don't know what church he's looking at, but it's not my church. I myself have taught children in the faith from kindergarten through high school. I've instructed people who wish to join the church through RCIA. I've helped parents prepare as they get ready to baptize their children. I've taught children and adults who wish to be confirmed. I've helped people with special needs gain better access to the sacraments and to parish life. I lead a congregation in worship as cantor. I am graciously allowed to read the Word of God aloud in Mass.

I am heir to St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Therese of Lisieux, and Hildegard of Bingen - all Doctors of the Church.

I have had the luxury and awesome blessing of receiving spiritual direction from the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, and I am so honored to call these women "Sister" and "Mother" for they truly are.

My role model is Mary, the humble and obedient servant of God, Mother of Christ Almightly, whose entire existence can be summed up in her Fiat: May it be done to be according to Your will.

Women in the Church can't catch a break, Mr. Bruni? You are running in the wrong circles. Come meet my Church - the women here are incredible!

Monday Morning Musings

Bangkok, Thailand
1. Highlight of the weekend? (Besides the fact that Michigan is finally warm....) Our pastor's homily. So much great stuff to ponder for the whole week. Isn't that what a homily is supposed to be?

2. I'm thinking weddings. Got a bunch of 'em this year, including my own daughter's. Much to celebrate, much to do!

3. I'm hoping to go to Thailand next year, to help out human trafficking survivors and do research for my next book. If you are of the mind to help, you can!

4. Mother's Day is this weekend! And I get to go away with my husband! We've been ships passing in the night lately, what with his work, coaching soccer and my schedule.

5. From Magnificat, Fr. John Tauler, OP: And now let us consider the true way, and the shortest way leading into the very focus of this heavenly light. Briefly, it is unfeigned self-denial joined to boundless love of God - one's own self in not a single particular and God's honor in all things. Very much worth pondering.

Always Faithful

We went to Mass last night, and had an older priest. In his homily, he exhorted us to "semper paratus:" Be prepared. The Gospel,...