If Dogs could Talk
I love being alone with nature. And when I say “nature,” I mean that in the loosest of terms. With two young kids at home, getting out in nature for me nowadays means walking to the mailbox at the end of our street or to the horse stables around the corner from our neighborhood and admiring the things I notice along the way: the leaves on the ground, the mountains in the distance, the birds flying overhead.  The post If Dogs could Talk appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
The reopening of the cathedral
Hello and welcome! As I do each year for Holy Week, I am posting my blog a bit earlier than usual to leave myself free to participate in the events and liturgies of the Paschal Triduum. I want to begin this week by noting, even as we were celebrating the dedication of our newly renovated Cathedral of the Holy Cross, how saddened we were to learn about the devastating fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, one of the most important churches of Christendom. I have visited Notre Dame on a number of occasions. One of the most memorable was the beatification of Frederic Ozanam, the founder of the St. Vincent de Paul Society by Pope St. John Paul II during World Youth Day in 1997. At that time, I was accompanied by a delegation from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and young people from Massachusetts. There have been churches on that spot since about the year 400, and the present Cathedral was dedicated by Pope Alexander III in the Middle Ages. It has been said that, on the beams of the ceiling, you could see the names of the workers who carved their names there 800 years ago. When one thinks of how many wars, revolutions and catastrophes that cathedral has survived, to see it now suffer such a terrible tragedy is just devastating.However, we were glad to learn that the towers and the walls of the nave seem to have been spared and we look forward to the reconstruction of this Cathedral, which is one of the most visited buildings in the world. I was also very touched to hear the story of the priest fire chaplain who courageously went into the burning cathedral to rescue the Blessed Sacrament and the Crown of Thorns. In fact, I was once able to be present for the veneration of the Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame. St. Louis IX brought the Crown along with other relics from the Holy Land and built the Sainte-Chapelle to house them. However, after the French Revolution, the crown was moved into the cathedral itself. We pray that the people of France will be able to restore that very important sacred site. As I mentioned, this weekend we had the joy of celebrating the reopening of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross after two years of extensive renovation. Saturday, we celebrated a special Mass for the Dedication of the Altar, to which we invited the workers, benefactors, public officials and others who had been involved in the restoration. The Marian Chapel of the cathedral was previously somewhat obscured because of the lift and other things that were in the way, but now it is opened up, and it is such an extraordinarily beautiful space for prayer. On the altar are some of the hundred roses that someone sent us to place there. The first reading of the Mass was taken from the Book of Maccabees and told of the rededication of the altar in the Second Temple. As I said in my homily, that was, in fact, what we were doing that day — we were dedicating the altar of the Second Temple — the second Holy Cross Cathedral. Holy Cross Church was built on Franklin Street, near today’s Downtown Crossing, over 200 years ago by Father Cheverus and Father Matignon. With help from the local Protestant community, they raised about $18,000 to construct that first Catholic church in Boston. Prior to that, they had celebrated Mass in rented spaces. When Father Cheverus was made the first Bishop of Boston, Holy Cross Church became the first cathedral. Sixty years later, particularly after the Great Famine in Ireland, so many Irish came to Boston that one-third of the population of Boston was Irish immigrants. So, Archbishop Williams decided they needed a larger cathedral. He was able to raise $1.5 million, which at that time was just an incredible sum of money, and there were over 30,000 people present for the laying of the cornerstone. The church was built to be the largest cathedral in the United States — almost the same size as Notre Dame in Paris, St. Sophia in Constantinople or St. John Lateran in Rome. In Europe and Latin America, the cathedrals were always the center of civilization, culture, education and religious life but also the civic life of people. Our own Cathedral of the Holy Cross has been such an important part of the life of the church in the United States and our history here in Boston. The cathedral, with its schools, has provided education for thousands of children. The first school was in the lower church and, eventually, Cathedral Grammar School and Cathedral High School were built. The cathedral has always done so much in the way of housing, with the Rollins Square housing development and St. Helena’s House and the Ave Maria House, which provide shelter for the homeless and low income families. Our Cathedral Cares program helps meet the medical needs of the poor, and our food pantry supplies food for the needy. It has always been an immigrant parish, and today we have immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia. For all of us, it was a great moment of joy to be able to rededicate this cathedral, which has been so important in the history of the Catholic Church in New England. The refurbished church, with all of its beauty, is a great sign of hope to the Catholics of the archdiocese. We were very happy to be joined at the Mass by David Manfredi from the architectural firm of Elkus/Manfredi and John Fish of Suffolk Construction, who oversaw the work. I was also very happy to see that so many of the workers on the project came to the Mass. During the Mass, we asked them to stand to receive a round of applause. We are also very grateful to Father Kevin O’Leary for all of his work, and to all those who have been involved in the Capital Campaign. It has been the Capital Campaign that has given us the courage to be able to embark on such an ambitious project as the renovation of the cathedral. We are grateful to all those involved in that effort, particularly the pastors and parishioners who are carrying on the work in their parishes to support the Capital Campaign. Later that day, I also had a wedding at the Seaport Shrine. It was the first time that I had seen the new stenciling on the walls, and so I want to share this photo of that with you. Sunday was, of course, Palm Sunday and it was the first time that most of our cathedral parishioners were coming to see the renovations. Because Palm Sunday also coincided with Patriots’ Day Weekend this year, at the conclusion of Mass we had our traditional Blessing of the Runners for those participating in the Boston Marathon. Sunday afternoon, Father Alejandro Lopez-Cardinale, Father Carlos Suarez and Father Michael Nolan came with youth groups from several Hispanic communities to visit the cathedral and to venerate the relic of the Holy Cross. We prayed together and sang hymns, and I also gave each of the groups of a brief talk. This visit of Hispanic youth groups on Palm Sunday has become something of a tradition in recent years, so we are very happy to be able to once again welcome them at the cathedral. Monday was, of course, Patriots’ Day, the day that the Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus holds their annual Lantern Award Dinner. We are very pleased that one of our diocesan priests, Father Matt Wescott, who is a Marine chaplain and has been a Knight since his college days, was this year’s Lantern Award recipient. There was a great crowd for the dinner, including all the bishops of the state, with the exception of Bishop Rozanski, who was having his Chrism Mass that day. Of course, the State Chaplain for the Knights is Bishop Robert Hennessey, and they always have a birthday cake for him because his birthday falls on or near Patriots’ Day each year. Tuesday, we celebrated our annual Chrism Mass at the cathedral. Since, in addition to the blessing of the Holy Oils, the Chrism Mass is an occasion for us to celebrate priestly fraternity and renew our priestly vows, we always have a large number of priests join us for the Mass. This year there was an even larger number than usual. I have heard estimates that there were as many as 500 priests with us. Once again, this was an opportunity for many of the priests to see the cathedral for the first time. At the end of the Mass, I thanked Father Kevin O’Leary and announced that the Holy Father had made him a monsignor. I said that, besides his talent for fixing broken down buildings, he is an extraordinary pastor. He is a man who, uncomplainingly, will go to visit the sick in the middle of the night, minister to the homeless and attend his parishioners’ pastoral needs, no matter what country they are from or what language they speak. I also mentioned his great devotion and care for our religious women and said what a joy it is to live with him, because he is so considerate and thoughtful. I know the priests are very happy that he was named a monsignor because they recognize the great service that he has given to the whole archdiocese. Wednesday evening, we had our Holy Week service of Tenebrae. The liturgical books call for the public recitation of the Divine Office during Holy Week, and so we take advantage of that by having a Tenebrae service. This year, I invited the permanent deacons of the archdiocese to come to renew their vows, just as the priests do at the Chrism Mass. I invited Deacon Chris Connelly to give the homily, after which I led the deacons in renewing their ordination promises. Finally, tonight we begin the Easter Triduum. We invite everyone to participate in the liturgical celebrations, which put us in touch with the central mysteries of our faith — the great gift of the Eucharist, and the passion, death and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We look forward to celebrating the Triduum in the newly renovated Cathedral and pray that, just as the cathedral has been renewed and beautified, this will be an invitation for all of us to renew our own commitment to our baptismal vows and deepen our own conversion to a life of discipleship. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Too Much Information: The Race to Learn the Faith
We do need to know about our faith in order to live it and spread it. It’s a great idea to devote some time each week for that purpose– just don’t make the same mistakes I did! The post Too Much Information: The Race to Learn the Faith appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Accepting Holy Week
Lent can be a strange liturgical season for mothers. There is much wisdom and tradition to impart, and also it’s pretty much impossible to make it to stations of the cross, because 7 PM is a time of day which renders most preschoolers what the French call les incompetent. I entered into Lent this year with some trepidation, mindful of years past spent crashing and burning, having bitten off a choking mouthful of penances only to end up with a month-long plague of rotavirus ripping through the house and an angry, under caffeinated mother overseeing triage. Taking a page from Servant of God Dorothy Day, who was reported to have finally abandoned her repeated attempts at giving up smoking for Lent after members of her community begged her to stop trying, so unpleasant did nicotine withdrawal render her, I made no grand efforts this year. Don’t canonize me yet; though I did give up social media, which I mostly stuck to until Monday of this week, at which point the Notre Dame blaze tempted me into a Twitter binge that lasted almost 24 hours. Applying a little mindfulness to how I felt after said binge, sitting on the couch last night having read perhaps my dozenth hot take on the previous day’s events in France, I felt almost as sick as if I’d taken down a half gallon of ice cream solo. Not that I have any idea what that feels like, mind you. Maybe Twitter is too toxic for me to consume, I mused, closing my laptop with a disgusted thud. This morning I was awakened by an excited 8 year old whose nose, inches from mine, fairly quivered in excitement at having an unexpected, citywide day off from school. “A crazy lady wants to do bad things to schools, so we have a day off! Can I go check if (neighbor kid) is home today, too?” I mumbled something incoherent about not bothering the neighbors before 7 am and rubbed sleep from my eyes as I contemplated what he’d said. And I wished my 8 year old wasn’t growing up in a post-Columbine world. Just a few minutes ago my phone lit up with a stream of messages: ‘suspect is apprehended. Suspect is dead.’ Eternal rest unto that troubled soul, I mumbled, texting as much to my fellow school moms. Self-inflicted gunshot wounds. A chilling conclusion to a bizarre saga. This Holy Week has been heavy with uncontrolled circumstances, the weariness and tragedy of the world seeping in and disrupting my optimistic plans for marking the most important week of the Christian year as something remarkable to my kids. Having a house full of excited children home on what was meant to be my big spring cleaning day, the calm before the storm of Triduum, has largely derailed those plans. Now I’m fumbling through my to do list distracted, anxious, looking at my phone every few minutes and wondering if we’ve done enough, if I’ve done anything, truly, to impress the solemness and meaning of this week, of this season, of the Christian life. Nothing puts me into melancholic introspective mode more effectively – or reliably – than major holidays. Are we showing the kids a different life? A more excellent way? Do they get that it’s more than what the culture tells them, more than candy and presents and imaginary customs? Do they know Jesus through me? Days like this, I think not. Grateful that parenting is a season comprised of hundreds of ordinary days, thousands of unremarkable moments, I push aside my fears and holiday anxieties and ask for the grace of acceptance, of being willing to take the week I’ve been given and not pine for the one I imagined. God is in reality. God suffered and died in battered human flesh. He is not confounded by my weakness and He is not repulsed by my failures to Get it Right. Silly me, I tend to forget that this week – this universe – hinges on a Savior. I must need Him, still. We all must. We all do.
REVIEW: Elegant and Modern Stele Golden Crucifix
I was intrigued. I was intrigued because I am a huge fan of high quality religious products to begin with, having had to replace many items over the years due to...yep, the endless stream of toddler and threenager shenanigans. The post REVIEW: Elegant and Modern Stele Golden Crucifix appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Loving My Husband
Welcome to the next installment of The Ask – a series devoted to taking your questions rooted in Catholic living and providing solid, orthodox advice you can use in your everyday. How does it work? We take questions from you, our readers, and Krista marries the spiritual and practical to give you ways to apply the […] The post Loving My Husband appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
The Art of Letting Go
I find myself frequently bringing my feelings of fear and sadness to God over this process of letting go. I know that He will give me consolation and help me work through all of my conflicting emotions. The post The Art of Letting Go appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Remembering Marshall Sloane
Hello and welcome, Yesterday, the four diocesan bishops of Massachusetts issued a joint statement on the proposal to expand abortion in the Commonwealth. The statement is part of our efforts to raise awareness of the extreme aspects of this attempt to enshrine late-term abortion and other radical provisions into state law. I invite you to read our statement and share it with others: The Massachusetts State Legislature will consider passing into law two deeply troubling bills this legislative session. They are identical in text but differ slightly in their titles. The first, (HB 3320) is “An Act removing obstacles and expanding access to women’s reproductive health”. The second, (SB 1209) is “An Act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access”. Combined they share the same acronym – ROE. The supporters of these bills argue the proposed changes to Massachusetts law are simply intended to protect a woman’s right to an abortion in the event the United States Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. However, in reality these bills would create a significant expansion of current Massachusetts state law. More specifically, ROE would: 1) Allow abortions during the nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason. 2) Eliminate any requirements that abortions be performed in a hospital. 3) Eliminate the requirement that provides medical care to a child who survives an abortion attempt. 4) Eliminate the requirement that a minor under the age of 18 have the consent of a parent, guardian, or the courts. 5) Provide state funding for women who cannot afford the procedure. In order to understand the serious moral questions raised concerning the protection of human life, the specific wording of the bills must be examined closely. For example, that examination is particularly significant while considering the language that would allow for an abortion in the third trimester of a pregnancy. The two bills state in part: “A physician, acting within their lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when, according to the physician’s best medical judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case, the patient is beyond twenty- four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy and the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or physical or mental health, or in cases of lethal fetal anomalies, or where the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside the uterus. Medical judgement may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the person’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient.” In just these two sentences, the bills would make extreme changes to Massachusetts law. In addition to aborting infants with fetal anomalies or where the fetus is incompatible with sustained life outside of the uterus, it allows physicians to perform abortions up until birth for a myriad of undefined reasons (ie: physical, emotional, psychological, familial, age) to protect a woman’s life, physical health or mental health. The result would become abortion on demand for the full term of pregnancy. The Catholic Church has always upheld the dignity of human life and spoken out against abortion at all stages of pregnancy. As Bishops we are encouraged by the most recent statistics which clearly indicate that the rate of abortions in both this state and across the country has significantly decreased over the past 40 years. In fact, the rates today are 50% lower than the rates in 1980. However, at a time when the overall number of abortions have decreased, society cannot now accept such an egregious attack on human life as these bills would provide. Therefore, we, the Roman Catholic Bishops of the four Dioceses of Massachusetts, call on our elected officials to carefully consider the consequences that these bills would bring to the lives of infants, parents, families and the citizens of the Commonwealth. We urge all people of good will, regardless of what faith they practice, to vigorously oppose these extreme measures. His Eminence Seán P. O’Malley, OFM, Cap., Archbishop of Boston Most Reverend Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester Most Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield Most Reverent Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV, Bishop of Fall River As regular readers will remember, I arrived in Rome late last week for meetings of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and of the Council of Cardinals advising the Holy Father. The commission met Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and there were other meetings with a number of different dicasteries, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Religious. We also met with Archbishop Scicluna to talk about the aftermath the February meeting of the heads of bishops conferences around the world. At that meeting, Archbishop Scicluna gave us a report on what has been done for the vademecum and other kinds of legislation. One of our members, Prof. Benyam Mezmur, also met with the Secretary of State regarding the plans for the 30th anniversary of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Vatican was one of the first signers of that convention, which was ratified in November 1989. We are also planning a meeting in Colombia this spring on safeguarding, which will include the members of CELAM and CLAR, which is the conference of religious in Latin America. On Sunday, I was very happy to celebrate a Mass for the members of the Pontifical Commission at St. Peter’s Basilica. The Mass was celebrated in the Irish Chapel, which is one of the underground chapels very close to the tomb of St. Peter. The mosaic you see behind the altar depicts St. Columban and the Irish monks, who were great missionaries. On Sunday evening, we had a birthday dinner for Msgr. Bob Oliver. Joining us were Father Andrew Small, Msgr. Richard Gyhra and Archbishop Silvano Tomasi. Archbishop Tomasi was the nuncio to Ethiopia and later the Permanent Observer of Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva. He is a Scalabrinian Father whom I knew many years ago in Washington D.C. when he worked at the Bishops Conference in the immigration department and was also the pastor of Holy Rosary Parish. I also had an opportunity to have dinner with the seminarians and priests of Boston who are stationed in Rome. It is always very good to be able to see them and catch up. Monday through Wednesday, we had our meetings of the Council of Cardinals. The apostolic constitution for the governance of the Roman Curia we have been working on is now ready to be distributed among bishops and others for review and suggestions. We will work on reviewing the suggestions before presenting a new draft to the Holy Father by the end of this year. I returned from Rome on Wednesday to be able to attend the Shiva, the time of mourning after death, for our very dear friend Marshall Sloane, which was held at his bank in Medford on Thursday. Barry Sloane asked me to address the people there, and I was able to tender my condolences and speak a little bit about the extraordinary contribution that Marshall Sloane has made to the whole community. He was a Papal Knight of St. Gregory and a man who was not just a great philanthropist but a person who always worked with such integrity, as a man of faith, for the common good of the community. He was a great supporter of Catholic Charities and our Catholic schools in the archdiocese. He had a long and beautiful life that touched many people and it was very gratifying to see the throngs of people turning out to for the Shiva observance. I am very grateful to have been able to be a part of it. Finally, we are busy planning for the dedication and reopening of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. We look forward to the 11:30 Mass on Sunday, which will be a sort of unveiling of the renovations. As it turns out, this year Palm Sunday coincides with Patriots’ Day weekend so, the Mass will conclude with our annual blessing of the runners of the Boston Marathon. The upper church of the Cathedral has been closed for nearly two years and we have been using the lower church and the blessed sacrament Chapel. The Cathedral is 150 years old, and this is the most extensive renovation it has ever undergone. It was very important to be able to do it at this time, so that we would continue to have our Cathedral. The wiring and other basic systems of the Cathedral were in very bad repair and in dire need of replacement. At the same time, the renovation afforded us the opportunity to completely transform the interior of the Cathedral with a new sanctuary, new lighting, new flooring and refinished pews. In our Catholic tradition, the cathedral has always been an important center of faith and culture — a place where the local church gathers for very significant events — and our cathedral has a very glorious history. We remain grateful to the immigrant population who, with great sacrifice, built this cathedral 150 years ago and now it is our responsibility to make sure that future generations will be able to have this beautiful temple available to be a part of their spiritual patrimony as Catholics. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Coffee clicks: Passiontide
I can hardly believe we’re a week out from the Triduum. I was rattling off my liturgical wish list to Dave the other night saying how I really wanted to go to the Easter Vigil but, alas, so many wiggling children who make even regular Sunday Mass a hardship right now (cough cough Zelie) that he’s not sold. Not in the least. Frankly, I think we may have depleted his entire “taking kids to ornate and spectacular and endless liturgies” tank back when we lived in Rome. I wonder if it will all feel a bit more doable once we have a balance of offspring which tips above the age of reason rather than below it. I also know families who regularly make things like Midnight Mass and Friday night stations of the cross work even with tons of kids, so it might just be that we’re wusses. 1. I bought a clutch of second hand easter baskets at Arc the other day, along with perhaps my most spectacular kid’s book haul to date. $13 for a haul of chapter books that will last Joey a solid month, I hope. I’ve found our growing children’s library of chapter books to be one place where I am less of a minimalist. It’s more of a curated and generous minimalism, since I want to own books that will delight and enrich my kids, but also am too lazy to take them to the library to too irresponsible to get them back on time. So thrift stores it is. 2. I haven’t given a ton of thought into what will go into those easter baskets yet, but I do know I need this year to be very, very sugar mellow because we’re celebrating with my side of the family in the afternoon, and my mom has already texted us teaser shots of her shopping cart “getting ready for the big hunt!” and it’s literally a bonfire of high fructose corn syrup and red dye. Which, whatever, it’s a holiday! But the bunny definitely does not need to bring any sugar to our home in the morning. Trying to decide how cheaply and sneakily I can get away with things that are causally not candy without dashing hopes and breaking hearts. I know a few kids who would swoon over eggs containing these guys; one child would die of happiness if I included these; these will probably end up in Luke’s mouth if I’m not careful how I package them; Joey and John Paul got this book as a gift last month and got really into it; I’ve been wanting to buy this series for Joey anyway; all 5 kids received these JPII quote pillow cases from one of their godfathers and I love them. 3. This read gave me real pause. I do wonder if the writer is actually a 14 year old, because she seems awfully self possessed and mature for being a middle schooler. Then again, given the position she’s taken on social media, perhaps it’s only natural. I’m going to have to do some soul searching over this one. I’ve definitely pulled back a lot in terms of what I share about the kids, but when I think about my archives I do cringe a little. 4. Did you read the letter published by Pope emeritus Benedict earlier this week? Full text here. Feels strange to even type those words again. Archbishop Chaput’s take on it was quite good. CNA’s own analysis of it is well worth your time. 5. Still thinking about this piece and a great conversation we had over dinner with a friend last week. What is your parish life like? Do you attend and participate in the life of your geographical parish? If so, what age group do you fall into? Hope you have a lovely weekend. We’re throwing a small joint birthday party for my mother in law and John Paul (almost 7! how?!) and have a flurry of swim lessons and birthday parties to knock off the list. I’m also dying to show you our almost-finished front hall closet-turned mudroom, which Dave absolutely slayed DIYing, if he doesn’t mind my saying so. A guy who doesn’t seem to mind. Here’s a little sneak peek: Praying for the grace to really unplug and enter into Holy Week well.  
When Healing Hurts: How I Almost Lost My Faith.
I rejoice in a God who loves me. God humbles and challenges me through unanswered prayers for miraculous healing. Yet despite the lack of answers, I cannot use it as an excuse to deny God’s provision. I pray that all those living with a disability can also find peace. The post When Healing Hurts: How I Almost Lost My Faith. appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Not too tidy: joy and holiness
Horizons - The sacred spaces of our lives, after all, are spaces that have always just been waiting for us to enter. It is not our presence that sanctifies them. Each moment is holy. Our recognition of the Sacred in our midst, though, opens up a space to receive the sacred deep within us. 
She Wasn’t Invisible
It has been said the eyes are the windows to the soul. I only held her gaze for less than a minute, but the look in her eyes could have written a novel. I will never know her story, The post She Wasn’t Invisible appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
The ache of the oldest child
This morning I took the 3 younger kids to Mass, and it was neither our best nor worst performance to date. Zelie squirmed and screamed and needed to be escorted out a couple times, and Luke too, but it was nothing out of the ordinary. I remembered being a younger mom with same-aged kids, but struggled to recall some of the details. Did I have to take Joey out this often? Was Evie as loud and screamy as Zelie is at 15 months? Did I sometimes make it to daily Mass when the big kids were smaller? I’m sure I did, but there is a filmy haze of sleep deprivation and a sort of rosy glow beginning to slip over the past as I cross into my second decade of parenting. It’s hard to grasp that amount of time – 9 years – while I bounce a different baby on my lap, correcting homework written in cursive and answering questions about life and death and Nerf ammo and digital special effects. Weren’t you just a baby, home with me all day? Didn’t you just learn how to read? How are you old enough to ride your bike to the park? To ask questions about death? I don’t know if it’s because I am myself the oldest child, but I’ve always had a deeply melancholic love for Joey, our firstborn. I think about his babyhood and I could weep, because it was already so long ago, but also, wasn’t it just yesterday that we could not, for any amount of bribery, get him to give up his pacifier? I look at him now, gangling legs that, while not long, are beginning to take on the knobby proportions of a kid, no trace of baby fat remaining anywhere. His mouth is full of more gaps than teeth, and his top bunk is overflowing with Nerf artillery and chapter books. The kid I nearly came to blows with over “Teach your Child to read in 100 easy steps” has read 3 dozen chapter books since Christmas, tearing through the “Chronicles of Narnia,” the “Indian in the Cupboard” series, and more recently, grudgingly making his way through the ancient pile of “Bobbsey Twins” volumes I dumped on his desk. Not enough action, apparently. Last night while lying inexplicably awake at nearly midnight, I started to do some mental math and came to a startling conclusion: I’ve already spent as many years with him under our roof as there are ahead of us. Put another way, I’m exactly at the halfway mark between “it’s a boy” and “Joseph Kolbe Uebbing, class of 2028.” And like a weirdo, I already feel sad about that. What is it about parenthood that insists on a continual tension between near fatal levels of exhaustion and also sneaking into your children’s rooms at 11 pm to stare at them while they’re sleeping? Having kids has been a study in grief over original sin. I’m never more convinced that human beings were created for eternal life then when my heart is breaking over some small piece of discarded baby clothing that fell behind the washing machine. Why should the passage of time cause any grief? And yet, that the little boy who used to fit this tiny striped t-shirt is out in the front yard, unattended and hammering nails into scraps of wood for his latest invention, it breaks my heart for some reason. We’re all speeding towards death, in a sense. The moment your first baby is placed in your arms, you’re already preparing for the long goodbye. A decades-long process of first steps and last public displays of (willing) affection; of diapers and braces and essays and baseball games and ten thousand bedtimes, in between, some harder than others. I don’t know what it is about this kid, but he just makes me feel all the feels. He’s breaking trail for his younger siblings, all of whom I love just as fiercely but whose existences have, thus far, not sent me into midnight fits of existential arithmetic. Maybe when the baby is in high school I’ll be an even bigger wreck! I don’t mean to imply that I think overly much about death, either, just that the passage of time  – as measured by melting deposits of baby fat giving way to lean, boyish muscle – causes a simultaneous swelling of pride and grief. And I don’t know why I should feel grief except that death is unnatural, and separation a horror. As such, nothing motivates me to advance in the spiritual life quite like this future-focused grief over the passage of time, the peculiar agony of a mother’s heart. I am investing in a future I will not see, helping shape a character whose life only partially overlaps with my own. How magnificent. And also, how difficult. It’s the stretching kind of love for sure, pulling at muscles that are tight and reluctant. I know this world is not my home, but my heart is still a little broken over it. And each of the short people who we share our home with have broken it open a little more. Hopefully for the purpose of being reconstructed, and rightly ordered. But man, is it tempting to hold it tightly closed.
Across the Miles
Pulling up those roots was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do...our friends threw us a lovely going away party and as a parting gift... The post Across the Miles appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
The Triduum for the Win
Easter circa 1977 consisted of a new floral print dress, a cute hat, and lots of candy.  I have vague recollections of frozen fish sticks on Fridays and at least one failed attempts to give up candy for Lent, and the rice bowls collection boxes we brought home, constructed, but never filled.  Super holy, huh! […] The post The Triduum for the Win appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
An interfaith meeting on the ROE Act
Hello and welcome! We were very pleased this week to learn that the Holy Father has appointed Archbishop Wilton Gregory as the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. While the news was welcome, it was not a great surprise, as many of us were hoping for him to be named to that post. Archbishop Gregory is an extraordinary archbishop. He was the guest of honor at this year’s Bishop James Augustine Healy Award Dinner hosted by our Office of Black Catholic Ministries, and I have had the pleasure of being at his Eucharistic Congress in Atlanta twice. Of course, during his time as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he led us through the meetings that led to the passing of the Dallas Charter and then did an extraordinary job responding to the sexual abuse crisis. Having him in Washington, where he will be the archbishop of one of the largest black Catholic communities in the United States, is also a great blessing and I am sure it will be a great source of pride for the people of Washington. We wish him well, though we know will be hard for him to leave Atlanta after so many years of successful ministry there, but we know that the Archdiocese of Washington needs him. We accompany him with our prayers and best wishes as he responds to this latest call of the Church to serve as a shepherd. This week we had also an appointment of our own here in the Archdiocese of Boston, with the naming of Thomas Carroll as our new Superintendent of Catholic Schools. We are very grateful to the search committee, headed by John Regan, which did an extraordinary job in bringing forth the names of very worthy candidates. In the end, it was a difficult decision because there were so many fine choices. Tom Carroll brings a great deal of expertise and experience to his new position and has a great record of working for education tax credits, which would be a very valuable contribution to Catholic education in the Commonwealth. He also has a strong sense of the importance of Catholic identity and excellence in our Catholic schools. So, we look forward to working with him. We are also very grateful to Kathy Mears, who did such a great job as superintendent. We wish her Godspeed as she returns to her native Indianapolis. This week I had dinner gatherings with two groups of our seminarians, one on Friday and the other on Sunday. I regularly get together with different classes of seminarians to pray Vespers and share a meal with them. It is an opportunity to get to know the seminarians better and to listen to their concerns and aspirations. On both occasions, it was an opportunity to give them a sneak preview of the cathedral renovations. One of the details of the cathedral that you may not have seen before it is this plaque, which is in the vestibule. It commemorates the dedication of the cathedral on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Then, in the four corners are the photos of the four bishops of Boston who had served up until the time the plaque was erected. I am always uplifted by these gatherings, and we are very blessed with the caliber of the men we have studying for the priesthood here in the Archdiocese of Boston. We are very grateful to our Vocation Director, Father Daniel Hennessey, who organizes these dinners for us. Among the many different aspects of our outreach to victim/survivors of clergy sexual abuse is an annual Mass for victim/survivors and their families, which we celebrated Saturday in the Pastoral Center Chapel. It is an opportunity for many people to reconnect with the Church after having stepped away and is a very important part of our efforts to bring healing and reconciliation to those who were harmed. We are so grateful to Vivian Soper and all of those in our office of Pastoral Support and Outreach who do so much to organize this important Mass. Monday, we hosted a gathering of Boston-area faith leaders at the Pastoral Center to discuss the ramifications of legislation being considered on Beacon Hill known as the Act to Remove Obstacles and Expand Abortion Access, or ROE Act. I addressed the meeting, and we also heard from George Cronin, Father Bryan Hehir, Fran Hogan, and Marianne Luthin.This legislation is being touted as a means of preserving present abortion access at the state level, but it really goes far beyond that. It would do away with the requirement that a minor receive parental or judicial consent for an abortion, open the way for full access to late-term abortions and does not demand that a child who is born alive as a result of failed abortion be cared for. It would also allow funds in a program intended to reduce infant mortality to be used to help pay for abortions. So, we were anxious to bring together the leaders of various faith communities to discuss this issue. I was very gratified by the quick response of the interfaith and ecumenical community. Joining us were leaders of Protestant, Jewish, Muslim and Mormon communities who came together to discuss how we can let our people know about this legislation. Our fear is that people will not know this is even being considered until it is too late. Polls indicate that this is not what the vast majority of Americans want. I think we need to remind legislators that, while many Americans are in favor of legal abortion, that does not translate to the kinds of radical and extreme provisions that are included in this proposed legislation. We are so grateful to Vito Nicastro and Father David Michael of our Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs for their work in helping to organize this event, which came together on such short notice. That evening, I left for Rome, where on Tuesday we had meetings of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and on Wednesday there was a joint meeting of the Congregation for Consecrated Life and the Congregation for Bishops. At that meeting, I was together with a number of Capuchin bishops. In this photo you see Bishop Paolo Martinelli, OFM Cap., an auxiliary Bishop of Milan, giving one of the addresses. Milan is perhaps one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the world and, consequently, they have a huge number of priests and religious. His responsibility as an auxiliary is to deal with the religious of Milan. We also heard from Sister Mary Melone, the Franciscan Sister who is the head of the Antonianum, the Franciscan University in Rome. That afternoon, I had a meeting with the Holy Father at the Apostolic Palace about the ongoing work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Leaving the meeting, I ran into the monks of the Taize Community, who were also there to see the Holy Father. The Taize Community has a very interesting history. It is an international, ecumenical community based in France that brings Protestants and Catholics together to live in a monastic community. They have quite a ministry to young people, promoting evangelization and ecumenism with their songs and prayers. Their current prior, Brother Alois, is a Catholic. With the whole group It was wonderful to have a chance to meet them. Until next week, Cardinal Seán
Humor, the Holy Spirit made me do it
Horizons - In reading about our community's founder, Mother Theodore, what I observe in her interplay of real risk and humor is a lightness and freedom of heart that only comes from deep faith. I've come to the conclusion that we may need humor in these times more than ever.
Of Note – April 2019
Let’s face it, we are all busy, modern women and we just don’t have the time or the energy to vet or read everything the Catholic blogosphere has to offer. We have streamlined that for you and offer you the most worthy, relevant reads that will keep you informed and in-tune without wasting your precious time. Each month, on the first Friday, you can find Of Note filled with posts that are inspiring, knowledgeable, cover current events, and liturgical living. The post Of Note – April 2019 appeared first on Catholic Sistas. Catholic Sistas - perspective from the neck
Prayers for students as they face the future
From A Nun's Life podcasts - In this random nun clip, Sister Maxine and Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon are joined by special guests: freshmen and sophomore students.
Has motherhood changed your sense of style?
I just needed one thing from Whole Foods. I never go there for more than one thing; even with the Amazon subsidies, it’s still never the best price for anything. Except these wonderful/horrible grain free, dairy free, paleo, vegan “tortilla chips” that taste remarkably like this specific kind of pizza al taglio near our old apartment in Rome, just a plain square of salty pizza dough slathered in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and a smear of the brightest tasting San Marzano tomato sauce. These weird chips (the nacho flavor, for the record) taste exactly like this specific Roman thing for which I was homesick, and so into Whole Foods we trooped, me and only the younger three. Just as we’d crossed through the overpriced produce section, the tiny baby hair elastic I’d been using to corral my erstwhile fourth day locks snapped, my greased tresses tumbling free onto my shoulders. Normally this would not be a thing, but since I happened to be walking past a full length mirror near a display of hemp yoga tights, I was slapped with the full knowledge of precisely how my hair looked. Frowning at my reflection which, truth be told, I am much, much less apt to do these days, I ducked my head and began scrounging through my purse for something, anything, with which to assemble a messy bun. Nada. Eyes passing over both daughter’s heads, I wondered if I could swipe a loaner until we got through checkout. Alas, both were sporting the same crappy single use elastics which had just ricocheted off my head. Now fully into the beauty section of the store, I reoriented myself towards the hair products and wondered, just maybe…yes, a whole bottle of dry shampoo wearing a ‘TESTER’ sticker in all caps. Unfortunately, Whole Foods aspires to a level of consistency that leaves mere mortals forever falling short, and so the all natural non toxic non polluting non confrontational dry shampoo which I turned enthusiastically upside down over my own head whilst giving a hearty squeeze turned out to be a $13 dollar bottle of peppermint scented cornstarch and dried clay which came out very, very fast. The short summary is that I strode briskly about the store collecting my bags of crack chips sporting a sort of reverse balayage (all natural!) comprised of grease and baking ingredients, looking like George Washington after a tipsy wig-powder touch up. And I cared a little, but not a lot. This weekend I walked into Mass and remembered just as I was crossing the vestibule that it was my turn to lector. I set a child free from each hand, bid Dave good luck, and reversed course into the sacristy to check in. (Just kidding, I helped by tossing two kids into the nursery and then sprinted to my perch front pew.) Luckily I’d applied some makeup in the passenger seat on our way over, and they say a well penciled brow covers a multitude of crows feet. Or something. My hair though? Basically as bad as the Whole Foods situation, and I was getting ready to get up in front of a not insignificant crowd to proclaim the word of God. My state of mind, however? More or less indifferent. Sure I wished I’d had time to peek in a mirror, but it seemed more critical that I get the Pitch Perfect twins signed into the nursery before Mass started, so I’d made the call. Moms have to make the call a hundred times a day, in ways big and small. Do I cut my prayer time or workout short because someone is screaming a need? Probably. Do I step freezing out of a 4 minute shower because the baby is awake, even though I haven’t conditioned yet? Most likely. Do I take the extra 10 minutes of sleep instead of staying up to do a quick HIIT workout on my phone. Almost every time. When I was a really new mom I remember feeling overwhelmed with getting into anything other than workout clothes for day to day garb. Running shorts and a ponytail seemed like my only options, and so I reached for them over and over again. But as the oldest babies aged and the newer babies arrived with similar demands, I think I realized that if I didn’t start wearing real clothes again on a regular basis, I was going to spend the next decade looking like the volunteer Cross Country coach at the high school. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with wearing your workout clothes around town every now and then, don’t get me wrong! It sure helps that they’re usually stretchy and come in 50 shades of forgiving black. But I have found that as my face begins to show my age, my desire to elevate the daily momiform increases. And it’s not because I feel bad about myself or because I’m struggling with “mom” being my primary identity these days, quite the contrary. It’s only as I’ve begun to deeply settle into this current state of life that I’ve been willing to concede the hastily thrown together athleisure + running shoe combo as my signature look. Now I get dressed most days in “real” clothes because this is my real job. And If I do make it to the gym, I’ll still swap out my workout gear for a sweater/jeans/flats combo afterwards, even though it makes more laundry. I’ve figured out that it actually feels good to feel put together, and that “put together” is a pretty fluid concept. For me it’s the aforementioned sartorial trio, maybe swapped for shorts/sandals/blouse in the hottest part of summer. In my initial forays back into real dressing, I wasn’t totally confident of my personal style. It took a lot of hits and misses at Old Navy and Goodwill, a lot of hours invested in reading personal style blogs and clicking on Instagram accounts or Pinterest (remember that place?) images that caught my eye. Eventually I figured out the cuts and colors that worked for me, and suddenly it became easy – fun, even – to walk into a store and immediately filter out 85% of the inventory because I already knew what I liked, and what worked for me. Emboldened by the nascent superpower of dressing myself, I starting reaching more frequently for tried and true combos, eschewing the regrets-only section of my closet for the dozen or so pieces of clothing I actually wore. Eventually, having ingested enough glowing feature pieces on Steve Jobs and the brave woman who wore $300 pants to work every day for a month and nobody cared, or something, I took the plunge and committed, bagging up the unworn losers on the back of the rack and declaring myself a clothing minimalist. Who cares if I wear the same 2 dresses to church, on alternating Sundays, for 5 months at a time? Nobody, it turns out. And I think I can safely attribute my newfound willingness to get completely dressed and apply makeup to one area where I’ve scaled way, way down on decision fatigue. To shower or not to shower? That, it turns out, is still the real question. What about you, my fellow mamas? Do you find joy in repping the athleisure all day, erryday and forgoing the exhausting process of blow drying and mascara application altogether? Are you currently in trenches so deep that even getting out of pajama pants feels like a major feat? Do you live somewhere where it’s less culturally acceptable to “dress down” (read: basically anywhere outside of Colorado or, I’m guessing, the Australian Outback) and does it impact your daily style? Do you find yourself wishing you had a daily style nailed down? I’m always so curious about what other women think in this area, and whether they do think of style and other people’s perceptions and all that. I suspect I’m an incredible overthinker in this as in most areas, and so perhaps you guys are going to tell me, Jenny, this is super weird and shallow! Sorry, I can’t help it! I’m off all social media for Lent and my superficial thoughts have nowhere to lay their weary heads, so bear with me, haha. An oldie but a goodie of a baldy baby Zay