Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quick Review: The Sadness of Christ by St. Thomas More

The Sadness of Christ (Yale University Press Translation)The Sadness of Christ by Thomas More

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is a collection of writings from St. Thomas More during his imprisonment in the Tower of London before he was executed. The main text is "The Sadness of Christ," a spiritual reflection on the gospel accounts of Jesus and his apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He died. Also included are a collection of scriptural quotes and reflections, Imploring Divine Help Against Temptation, How to Treat Those Who Wrong Us, On Saving One's Life, A Meditation on Detachment, and A Prayer Before Dying.

I read this book as spiritual reading for the end of Lent, that is, during Holy Week. I found it very inspirational and instructive. More has very down to earth advice on prayer and is quite emphatic on prayer's importance in resisting temptation and fulfilling God's Will. The need for focus is brought out in the contrast between the sleepy apostles who want to do good but don't follow through and Judas who wants to do an evil and is quite focused and ready. More points out that this is a constant problem in the history of the church. The good clergy (bishops and priests) don't act with fervor and determination while those who want to bring the Church down are focused and energized. Luckily, with Jesus's example, the good people can overcome the lethargy to which they are tempted by using prayer and accepting of God's will. More brings this out quite well by noting how Jesus turns from His fearful prayer for this cup to pass to His astounding the crowd of armed men so much with His courage that they fall back away from Him.

There are lots of great spiritual nuggets in here. I will be reading this again next year for Holy Week!

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XXXIX

He is risen! He is truly risen! Happy and Blessed Easter to all! We were eager to get to church on time this week. Early showers and a quick breakfast meant we could make it to the 8 a.m. Mass at St. Louis. We even arrived five or ten minutes early, so Jacob could go potty before anything started. Granny is visiting and saved us some seats in front of the musicians. We sat upstairs in the main body of the church until the homily, when we finally gave in to Jacob's requests to go to the children's chapel. He did a good job whispering in church for which we are grateful.

Since today is Easter, they opened up the back wall of the chapel and doubled the seating capacity. We easily had double the number of people for the 8 a.m. Mass, so it worked out well. Jacob and Lucy's behavior was pretty subdued. They read books and wandered around, occasionally asking to go potty. Lucy did make friends with one other little girl, mostly by staring at each other.

At the offertory, an usher came in for the collection, which is unusual for the 8 a.m. Mass. Clearly he was unfamiliar because as he went to leave, he opened the bathroom door, said "whoops!" and went to the exit door. At first, we thought he was collecting most thoroughly--not even the bathroom was safe from the collection basket! Then we realized he probably mistook the bathroom door for the exit. Good thing nobody was in there!

During the sign of peace, we all shook a bunch of hands. Once the singing of the "Lamb of God" started, Jacob told someone it was too late to shake hands! Such liturgical fastidiousness comes from my side of the family, I think.

We headed up early for communion to give Jacob a chance to go potty before it was time for us to receive. Angie hatched the brilliant scheme--one of us would receive communion early and make it back to take care of the kids, just in case Jacob or Lucy had another meltdown in the communion line. This plan almost worked well. Angie didn't quite make it back in time. Lucy came in with me and Jacob stayed with Granny, so there were no problems this week. Hopefully the kinks will be worked out for next week.

Lucy did get to put a lot of coins in the poor box while we waited to go to communion, just like last week. She even got another child in on the act, again like last week. She also was just as ecstatic as last time. I'll have to get more pocket change for next week!

We didn't get back together after communion. Jacob and Angie headed straight for the children's chapel before Lucy and I came back. I thought they were in the upstairs potty, so we waited around upstairs. We wished Special Bryan (an usher who is our friend, but not our regular friend Brian) a Happy Easter. We also got to see our old friends Timmy, Luke, and Kim and wish them a Happy Easter. Finally, Lucy and I headed downstairs to get our stuff and we ran into Angie and Jacob.

Once Mass was over, Jacob decided to go potty one last time. Then we went upstairs to light some candles. Jacob and Lucy both enjoyed that. We're thinking of using candle lighting as a reward for good behavior in church.

The homily seemed brief. Maybe that's because we were in transit to the children's chapel. Maybe father wanted to give extra time for communion and such. I've listened to some comments from Vatican Radio and read some blog commentary and from a book as well, so today's reflections on the gospel are all jumbled up in my head. I don't remember what father said specifically about the gospel. I'll write my next chronicle before I take in all those other resources.

Blessed Easter to all!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XXXVIII

We had another slow morning which meant we thought we had plenty of time to make it to the 9:30 Mass. Somehow the time got away from us and we didn't drive down the driveway until 9:22. So we were late. Today is Palm Sunday, so by the time we got into the building they were already reading the gospel, the Passion narrative from Matthew's Gospel.

At first, we tried to take the children into the main church. No seating for four seemed available. Lucy and I scouted ahead and didn't find anything on the side. By the time we returned to the back of the church Mommy and Jacob were gone. But where?

Naturally, Jacob wanted to go potty before going to the children's chapel. Angie convinced him to use the facilities in the chapel where we caught up with them. He did so; Lucy protested that she wanted to go potty too. I told her it was occupied and she'd have to wait her turn. She sat in my lap and waited. Once Jacob came out, Lucy piped up, "Lucy's turn!" She and I walked over. She decided she wanted Mommy to change her, so I took Jacob back to our chairs. He promptly wandered over to the bookshelf and began reading.

The room had three other families. Seating was tight. It looked like some chairs were missing. Things progressed fairly normally. After the collection, Jacob wanted to go to the upstairs potty. I took him. Lucy followed closely on our heals so she could get in on the action too. We wound up in the vestibule after the potty break. We were there till after communion.

Lucy decided she wanted to fill the poor box. Anticipating her desire, my pocket was full of change. She took the first coin, wandered off and sauntered back. By the fourth coin, she was running back and forth gleefully. Another young boy got his mommy to give him coins to put in the poor box. He was just as enthusiastic as Lucy. They'd take turns putting the money in and giggle on their ways back to their respective parents. Eventually I ran out of coins, but Lucy was so happy she didn't mind.

Jacob, sensing Lucy's overdraft from the bank of happiness, decided to have a melt down just before it was time to receive communion. He did not want to go into the church. He laid down and protested that he wanted to go home. Angie finally picked him up and carried him in, in spite of his protests. That was a big downer for us. Afterwards, we returned to the children's chapel for the final prayers and hymn.

Jacob asked to light a candle, so we returned to the church as people were still filing out. It was a bit like swimming upstream. We finally lit two candles, one for Jacob (whose intention was better behavior in Mass) and one for Lucy (whose intention was for our family).

It was cold and windy, so no time was spent at the playground. Also, with the extra-long gospel, no time was spent on a homily. We're looking forward to the Easter Triduum this week!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XXXVII

This morning was another sleep-in for Lucy since she woke up at 3:30 a.m. for a bottle. So we planned to go to 9:30 Mass. What we didn't plan for (but was quite delightful) was to see our friends Amy and her son Colin at Mass. We had gone to their house last night and left Lucy's booster seat. So Amy called to see what our church attendance plans were and we met up!

We got there with two or three minutes to spare. Jacob and Lucy went to the potty right away, Jacob choosing to go in Mommy's bathroom. While I waited outside, Amy and Colin came in and headed downstairs to the children's chapel. The opening hymn was already going by the time we headed downstairs ourselves. [Editor's Note: Lucy did not actually go potty, she just went into the bathroom]

In the chapel were two other families aside from Amy and Colin. After a while, Colin decided he liked being in the main church better than watching on TV, so they headed upstairs. Once the homily came around, Jacob wanted to go upstairs because they had  raised up the big screen from behind the altar. Jacob is always excited by big screens. We were upstairs till communion time.

Jacob and Lucy did pretty well in the church with minimal scrambling around and talking. Jacob was much better about whispering than Lucy was; Lucy was better at just sitting or standing than Jacob was. The offertory went well but Jacob was not interested in the sign of peace. In fact, he had to be taken out by Mommy just before communion for being a little too antsy and uncooperative. Otherwise, things went well.

After Mass was over, Amy and Collin found us and we headed out to the playground, where a good time was had by all. Jacob is somewhat recovered from his broken collar bone and climbed most of his usual climbs. I followed him around like his shadow (which is tough on a cloudy day) and made sure he didn't do anything too dangerous. Things are looking up for him.

Usually, I give a summary of the sermon at this point. As I mentioned earlier, the projection screen for the church was up and running. The pastor came out to talk to us about new developments for the church. Specifically, building a new pastoral center in the next couple of years. So there wasn't really a sermon, though the celebrant of the Mass said at the end, "The screen rose up just like Lazarus did!" It got a laugh, but that was all the commentary we got about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Just when the kids were distracted and I could pay attention, too! Oh well, maybe next time.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XXXVI

This week we decided to go to the 4 p.m. vigil Mass at St. Louis. We arrived with a few minutes to spare, only to find the parking lot jam packed. We had to park at the far end of the parking lot.

This weekend is the monthly food drive for the poor, so we had an overstuffed bag of groceries to donate. I do not use the word "overstuffed" to brag about our generosity; rather, it explains why the bag ripped when it fell over on a sharp turn going to church. We had a canvas shopping bag in the car which took half the groceries. The remains of the original bag carried the rest. Naturally, this also slowed us down in actually walking into church. By the time we were inside, the first reading was already being read.

We went downstairs to the children's chapel after dropping off the groceries. Jacob made a beeline for the bathroom. Lucy followed suit with her cry, "Diaper change! Diaper change!" We didn't get properly settled till well into the Gospel reading.

I realized that this Mass was a Children's Mass: the readers and choir were all children and Father invited all the good children to come up to the foot of the altar for the sermon. He asked them about the purpose of Lent and how we can unite our offerings up with Christ's suffering. Then he asked about the joy of Easter and got the eventual mention of the Easter bunny, which he laughed off. Not a whole lot of depth which is okay for a Children's Mass.

The rest of Mass was pretty calm for us. Jacob did a lot of book reading. Lucy wandered a bit and read a bit. She also checked out the other people in the children's chapel. One boy was smaller than Lucy. She kept pointing him out as "There's baby!" No one came to collect the offertory, which was disappointing. During the consecration, Jacob told me he wanted to go to the upstairs potty. We went and returned just in time for the sign of peace. Communion was also uneventful. Jacob and Mommy stayed to watch the choir sing the last hymns. Jacob went potty again just before we left.

All in all, it was a pretty good Sunday Mass (even if it was Saturday afternoon). Maybe the kids will wake up early from afternoon naps and we can go again soon.