Monday, May 30, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XLIII

Sorry I didn't post yesterday, the weekend has been busy with many things going on--family visiting, preparing for the move to England, sleepless children, etc.

We went with Grandpa to the 9:30 a.m. Mass at St. Louis. We arrived pretty early leaving plenty of time for going to the potty before Mass started. Jacob tried to convince Grandpa to go with him but to no avail. He went with me. Lucy went with Mommy in the ladies' room for a diaper change because she had to do what Jacob did.

Since we were early, we found the pew in front of the choir and musicians open. Jacob asked if he could light a candle. Mass was still five minutes from starting, so I took him over. Lucy soon followed with Grandpa in tow. Jacob lit a candle and prayed for Auntie Rosemary; Lucy lit hers and prayed for "Heaven." As we walked back to the pew, the first hymn started. Jacob and Lucy were locked on to the choir for quite a while.

Jacob was pretty low key during Mass, sitting in Mommy's lap most of the time. He didn't get the usual amount of sleep the night before due to some bad dreams. We stayed upstairs through the homily. Then the collection came and both the children put in something from Daddy's wallet. By the time of the consecration, Lucy was getting antsy. Grandpa took her out to the vestibule while we three stayed on. The Our Father came and so did the Sign of Peace. Jacob still had no enthusiasm for it or for going to the children's chapel. We received communion and finished out the entire Mass in the sanctuary. We left at the end and found Grandpa and Lucy waiting for us. A quick trip to the playground finished off a great day at church! I hope we can have more days in the church for the whole Mass.

Quick Review: Listen My Son

Listen My Son: St. Benedict for FathersListen My Son: St. Benedict for Fathers by Dwight Longenecker

This is a book of daily meditations, a style I usually don't like because of the daily commitment and the typical brevity of the reflections in such books. I'm not good with finding a regular time in the day for the reading (which is a little ridiculous since it takes no more than five minutes) and in other books I've found the reflections either too vague or too insipid. Someone recommended this book to me, so I am giving it a go. I'm about a month into it and find it delightful and edifying.

The author uses the Rule of St. Benedict, a 1500 year old book written by the founder of western monasticism, to draw a parallel between being the head of a monastery and the head of a family. Each day, he quotes a paragraph or two of St. Benedict and then comments on the writing and how it applies to fathers of families today. The content is refreshingly concrete and inspiring.

For example, early on Benedict discusses the four types of monks: those who live in community in a monastery under an abbot, those who live alone as a hermit after preparation in a monastery, those who live on their own under their own spiritual direction (really bad), and those who wander from monastery to monastery submitting to no rule but their own will (even worse). The author applies this to a father's life by looking at how most people need to be part of a community that nurtures them in faith, even when it might seem boring or rote. He also discusses how "church shopping" is really destructive of genuine faith, because one's own judgment becomes the measure of what's best and the form of worship becomes more important than the content.

The meditations last for about four months, with recommended starting dates of May 2, September 1 or January 1. I'll probably complete this review in September.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XLII

Everyone got up early today, so we went to 8 a.m. Mass. We made it there just barely in time. Jacob wanted Daddy to take him to the potty, so off we went as the entrance hymn was sung. Jacob took his time finishing. By the time we left the bathroom, we heard the Gloria being sung. We headed downstairs to the children's chapel at Jacob's request.

We were the first ones there, but our friends James, Collin, little sibling, and their parents came in shortly afterward. After about five minutes, Jacob decided he needed a diaper because he was about to poop. So he went into the chapel bathroom with Mommy. When he came out Lucy insisted she needed a diaper change from Mommy, so they both went back in.

Jacob was very low energy today, mostly from getting up too early. He stood by me and then cuddled with Mommy once she came back out. Lucy was bouncing around as usual, handing out and then collecting rosaries and books.

Mass was pretty uneventful for us. No ushers came to collect the offertory. Jacob did pray the Our Father with us and both children gave the sign of peace. Lucy was reluctant to shake hands with the other boys (maybe playing hard to get?) and was very ready to head upstairs for communion. Jacob kept asking to go outside. Mommy figured it would be a good weekend to go to communion separately. She got in line immediately once we were upstairs while I handed coins to Jacob and Lucy for the poor box. Unfortunately, most of the coins went in the book shelf box. Oh well!

After communion, we did see our friend Special Bryan who ushers at the early Mass. Catching up with him was fun. Jacob finally pooped and insisted on Mommy changing the diaper upstairs. Lucy and I went back to the children's chapel to get our diaper bag. Once he was all clean, Mass was long over. We wound up taking a secret back way to the playground. Again, we forgot to light candles at the end of Mass! I'll take the kids during the week for a special visit.

Father started the homily off with the announcement that the world did not end yesterday. Nor would it end today or next week--the Mass schedule is completely unaffected. From there, he talked about the idea of predestination, where God already knows who is going to make it to Heaven. Therefore, He knows who won't make it. John Calvin and similar Protestants assumed if you can figure out how to be in the "saved" group, then you don't have to worry. Calvin's solution was to say there's no way to achieve salvation by any action or choice, because God has predetermined through His mercy who will be saved. If you believe what Calvin does (i.e. you are in Calvin's church) you're most likely saved. The problem with this system is that we do have the free will to accept or reject the mercy of the Lord. And our actions and behavior are signs of that mercy and His grace working through us. God does foresee (being eternal and omniscient) who will accept His grace and mercy, but He doesn't cause their choices in life. Help us to always choose according to Your will, Lord!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother's Day Delayed Pictures

I took the kids to JCPenney for Mother's Day photos, which was a lot of fun. Jacob and Lucy were pretty well behaved and actually did what the photographer asked! She asked Jacob to get on the floor and Lucy immediately copied that with any prompting. The only bad thing was the pictures weren't available until May 9, the day after Mother's Day. Oh well, you can't have everything in life.

We bought a new scanner, so I've been trying it out on the pictures we did purchase. I'm also testing out uploading pictures to Picasa Web Albums, part of the Google/Blogger suite of products. Here's the pictures we bought:

Jacob and Lucy in their 2011 Easter outfits!

Am I cute?

No, I'm cute!

Didn't crop this one quite right!

Lovey dovey siblings (I can't believe I just wrote that!)

Lucy had cute shoes but wouldn't wear them!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XLI

Today we got up early enough for the 8 a.m. Mass, except for me. If I'd gotten up when Lucy did, I'm sure we would have had a fighting chance. As it was, we had a leisurely French Toast breakfast followed by some non-leisurely efforts to keep the kids occupied, get ready for church, and get a meal in the slow cooker. We made it out of the house in plenty of time for the 9:30 Mass, so I guess it went well enough.

We parked in the best spot ever--right in front of the church. Jacob asked to take the "short cut" by the parish office door. Lucy initially wanted to go too but fell down along the way. She was upset and asked to go the regular way. I picked her up and headed up the main steps. She almost immediately changed her mind and told me she wanted the "short cut" so we went through the office doors about 30 seconds after Jacob and Mommy.

Jacob made a beeline for the upstairs potty with Mommy while Lucy and I found seats in front of the choir. Things went pretty well during Mass. Jacob even sang the Gloria! After that, Jacob asked for a diaper. He and Mommy headed off again, to which Lucy responded, "I need diaper change!" She clearly didn't, so we waited patiently for them to come back. Lucy managed to prove her point by the time Mommy came back, so Mommy had to turn around again during the gospel for Lucy's change.

Jacob and I waited patiently. He finally let me know that he was pooping. Just as the homily finished he finished. Mommy hadn't come back. I assumed she had gone to the children's chapel, so Jacob and I headed out, giving to the collection on the way. We finally found them downstairs and I changed his diaper in the chapel's potty.

The children did their usual wandering around. Jacob sat in a chair during the sign of peace and couldn't be bothered to get up and shake hands with anyone, including his family. Lucy was much more enthusiastic. We headed upstairs for communion where Lucy put most of my pocket change into the poor box. Jacob put a few coins in the poor box and a few in the book shelf box. We forgot to try last time's scheme where one parent goes to communion early so the other parent could receive communion later without bringing the kids in. It worked out okay anyway. Jacob and Lucy were cooperative in line. Lucy was with me and received a special blessing from the priest.

Mass ended as usual. We forgot to light candles but did go to the playground for a bit. All in all it was a pretty good week. I'm sorry there wasn't a chronicle last week--Mommy and I went to separate Masses without the children! It was good for worshiping but not for family unity or chronicling.

As I said, Jacob and I stayed during the homily. Jacob was a little distracting but I did manage to hear this gem: This week's gospel has Jesus telling His listeners about the good shepherd who guards and guides his sheep; they know his voice and follow him. Father said that we are like the sheep in that we don't know our destiny and will wander off in any direction. We need to listen to the shepherd's voice to find our way lest we run into peril. Lord help us to listen to you and trust in Your way!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles XL

No, this is not an extra-large edition of the chronicles, it's number 40!

Lucy woke up at 5 a.m., took a bottle and went back to sleep, so we had no chance to make it to the 8 a.m. Mass. After a leisurely breakfast, we headed out for the 9:30 Mass. We left later than we planned but early enough to get to church with seven minutes to spare, so Jacob could go potty with Mommy while Lucy and I saved some seats in front of the choir.

Mass went pretty smoothly. The kids did some crawling around but were mostly behaved right up to the sermon. Jacob decided he wanted to go downstairs then, so we acquiesced. As we were heading out, Monseigneur said to the congregation, "I have a special treat for you today. I'm not giving the homily. Instead, we have one of the seminarians for the archdiocese with us and he's from our parish..."

When we got to the children's chapel, it was fairly full. Lucy wanted a diaper change from Mommy. While they were in the bathroom, Jacob decided he wanted a drink. The water fountain was just outside, so I took him out for a sip. It must have been a mighty sip, because when we came back in he wanted to go potty. Lucy came out, Jacob went in.

The offertory came and the kids dutifully put money in. They were well behaved through the rest of Mass. Lucy was unusually reluctant at the sign of peace. I helped her shake hands. She regained her enthusiasm when we went upstairs for communion and got to put coins in the poor box. Jacob deposited two or three coins but mostly focused on wandering aimlessly. My wife went to communion early while I watched the kids. When she made it back, I went in. This system is probably going to work very well for us.

The rest of Mass was uneventful. We lit candles afterward. Jacob prayed for protection from bugs; Lucy prayed for "Heaven." They even knelt down for a bit on the kneeler by the candles, a good sign of things to come. After a stop at the playground and Dunkin Donuts, we came home quite happy.

The seminarian's sermon was to thank us for our support of the seminary. He asked for continued prayers and continues to keep us in his prayers. He also talked about Divine Mercy Sunday (today) which John Paul II* began during his pontificate. He gave this beautiful image: even if your sins are as innumerable as the grains of sand by the sea, Divine Mercy will swallow them up all in an ocean of love. So he exhorted any of us who needed it to come to confession. Monseigneur said afterward that there are 30 seminarians for the archdiocese and five of them are from St. Louis! Something must be going right here.

*Yay for his beatification today!!!