Sunday, October 30, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles LXI

This is Day Light Savings Sunday, Fall Edition. You'd think with the extra hour in the morning we'd get to church in plenty of time, but that was not what happened. We brought snacks for the car and a shopping list, both of which required extra trips back to the kitchen. We were just slow enough that we made it to church right on time for the 9 a.m. Mass.

Jacob wanted to walk into church and pick out the pew before going potty. He chose the extreme right side of the church, where the pews are big enough for three adults, which meant a cosy squeeze for two adults and two children. He headed across the street with Mommy as the pre-Mass announcements were being made.

Jacob was quite a handful this week. He became frustrated when he couldn't get to the "right" page in the hymnal when we sang parts of the Mass, like the gospel alleluia. We were done singing before he'd be ready. By the Our Father, he was ready to go home. We coaxed him into staying, but had to keep on coaxing him for the rest of Mass.

Lucy was okay. She wanted to wander out into the aisle a few times. She also wanted cuddling with Mommy when Jacob wanted comforting, which was a little bit of overload for her.

We did light candles after Mass and go to tea and cakes before crossing the big street to grocery store. The only cakes were little chocolate covered cookies for which Jacob had little enthusiasm. We finally gave an extra-generous donation to make up for three weeks ago when we had no money. Also, a nice lady named Susan was in the front room selling religious items, including Christmas items. We picked up an Advent calendar and a book for the children. As I was chatting with her, Jacob came to get me. She understood. Hopefully we'll run into her again. Maybe I'll forget her name after a few weeks. Then I'll think, "I wrote it on the blog! If only I had a smart phone, I could look it up. Oh well..."

Today's gospel was about doing what the pharisees said and not what they did. Father started his sermon with a story about a bird some missionaries had brought to Africa. One day, they let the bird out of the cage. The bird flew to a branch outside where its brilliant yellow could be truly appreciated against the deep green of the trees; its pleasant song blended in wonderfully with the jungle sounds. He segued into talking about how important it is to have freedom. So many people are fettered by situations or expectations from others, much like the pharisees and other leaders who used their authority for personal power and prestige. Authority should be used for the benefit of those governed, even to the point of the leaders sacrificing their own interests in favor of those under their authority. If only all leaders felt that way. And if only all people had that expectation, he lamented. May all of us who lead others (including parents) have the right spirit!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quick Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way ComesSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ray Bradbury was the favorite author of my youth. I discovered The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 when I was eight or ten and started working my way through everything the library had by Bradbury. This book struck me especially vividly. Perhaps I was just the right age though I never lived in a small town or went to a carnival. The story is so vividly told and so jam packed with wonder and poetry and joy and horror and amazement. Rereading it now some thirty years later, it still thrills and delights. Lasting through time is surely a sign of greatness.

The story is about two boys, Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade, who are best friends in a small Illinois town. One day in late October a lightning rod salesman comes, warns them of a coming storm and gives them a rod to protect Jim's house. That night a mysterious train brings Cooger and Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show to town. It seems like a benign carnival come far too late in the season, with Halloween approaching. Evil things are afoot as the boys discover the more sinister side of the side shows.

The book is more than an adventure story. It's more than a coming of age story. It's more than a fantastical horror novel. It deals with old age--Will's dad is also a major character who comes to blows with his advanced years (or so he thinks of the 54 he's had) in the same way the boys confront their looming manhood and soon-to-be-lost freedom of boyhood. The story looks at temptation in many forms and the importance of joy in overcoming evil. It is a rich and full novel that definitely rewards multiple readings. I can't wait to share it with my son when he is old enough.

View all my reviews

Also, check out the commentary on A Good Story is Hard To Find

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles LX

Going to church this week was a little bit of a different experience. My wife wasn't feeling well and wanted to go separately so she wouldn't have to wrestle with the kids in the pew. So Jacob and I went without Mommy and Lucy to our usual 9 a.m. Mass.

We arrived early and went potty as usual. Walking into church, I grabbed the crayon box for Jacob. He decided he didn't want a crayon but did take a hymnal. We sat mid-way up in the church.

Jacob did a great job during Mass. He sat quietly. He tried to sing along with the hymns, none of which were familiar to us. So he did a mixture of making stuff up and imitating the real lyrics a beat late (after he heard the rest of us singing it). He knelt at the appropriate times. He prayed the Our Father. He put money in the collection. He didn't shake hands at the sign of peace, however. When we went to communion, he walked behind me as if he was going to communion himself. He did not want to hold my hand or walk beside me. He really wants to be an adult, I think. Or at least behave like his parents in church.

We did light candles after Mass and made up for our lack of cash last week. Jacob prayed for me, which was touching. We headed home after that to check on Mommy and make sure Lucy didn't drive her crazy. We'll have to make it up to the tea and treats after next week's Mass.

The sermon was quite good. The gospel was the famous scene of people trying to trip up Jesus by asking about paying taxes to Caesar. Father brought out a different aspect of the reading than the usual relation of church and state issues. He emphasized the importance of being honest with the Lord. The Lord's inquisitors slyly fawn over Him as a wise and learned man who shows no partiality. Then they try to get Him to show partiality that will cause trouble one way or the other. He has none of it and famously answers with "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." We too need to take care that we approach the Lord with humility and sincerity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles LIX

We followed our usual routine today--9 a.m. Mass at our local parish with a potty stop before for Jacob. As Jacob and I came back into the church, we didn't see Mommy and Lucy in the back few pews on either side. We discovered them four or five rows back from the front! These seats were the closest we'd ever been. I forgot to ask why we were sitting so close.

Mass started as usual. When the priest announced the children's liturgy, Lucy decided not to go. She changed her mind during the gospel reading. We thought it was too late to go, so we made her stay. Turns out later during the tea and cakes, the lady who usually covers the tots room came by to ask where Lucy was. We made our explanation and said we'd probably be back next week. She said it was okay to come late if Lucy changed her mind.

At the offertory, we discovered we had almost no UK cash on us. The church got our last 26 pence of pocket change. We'll do better next week, we swear! Also, we lit candles with the promise of paying at least double next week. We better not miss Mass or go somewhere else next week. Or have no money on us again.

Other parts of the Mass went well. Jacob and Lucy were very quiet and well behaved. Jacob tried to sing along with songs, doing quite well with the gospel alleluia. Lucy did sneak out into the aisle a few times. The first couple of times she just stood there holding my hand. I thought it wasn't too disruptive so I let her do it. After communion, she tried to get back in the aisle while people were still in line to receive (since we were in pew four, there was lots of church behind us). Eventually the line finished. Lucy was back out in a flash. Then, apropos of nothing, she started jumping up and down. I thought that might be too disruptive, so I reeled her back into the pew.

The sermon was quite excellent today. The gospel was Jesus's parable of the king who holds a wedding feast. The invited guests don't show up so he sends out a couple of reminders. When the guests kill his messengers, he gets furious and wipes out their town. He then invites others from all over. One fellow doesn't wear the appropriate wedding garb and gets thrown out. Father explained that royal weddings at the time were as much politically motivated as anything else. Such were opportunities for the king to make alliances and promote peace and unity. The actions of the guests in the parable are quite terrible indeed. We too are invited to God's banquet at Mass. We too need to have the appropriate mindset and attire when we come to God's feast that promotes peace among all and the unity that is the Mystical Body of Christ. Also, father said that the king's question of the inappropriately dressed person, "Friend, what are you doing?" is very much like what Jesus says to Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cry Room Chronicles LVIII

We were back at our usual haunt, the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Robert's. The new addition was Auntie Gayle, who is visiting us for a week. We arrived early as usual, allowing Jacob to get a potty run in before Mass started.

Mass started with "Amazing Grace," which is the song that we are singing before dinner. Jacob and Lucy sang along, which made us very happy. Then father taught us to sing some parts of the newly translated Mass, including the Gospel Alleluia, the Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lamb of God, and other parts.

Lucy decided to go to the children's liturgy of the word across the street with Auntie Gayle and Mommy. Jacob and I stayed in church. Jacob was very well behaved, for which I was grateful. He sat quietly and did sing along with other parts and did his best with the Creed. He did spend a last part of Mass trying to shush Lucy, who had a little too much volume when she talked. They both put money in the collection, shook hands, and said some of the Our Father.

After Mass was over, we lit candles as is our custom. Jacob prayed for Lucy; I'm not sure what Lucy said she prayed for. We went back across the street for tea and snacks. The lady who led the pre-school liturgy of the word came over and talked to Lucy, who apparently did a great job and colored in a lion. I have the picture now. Too bad our fridge isn't metal on the outside, otherwise we'd hang it up.

Father's sermon built off of the gospel, Jesus's parable about a vineyard owner who rents out his land to tenants who abuse and kill the landowner's servants when they come to collect at harvest time. He finally sends his son whom they kill, figuring on taking his inheritance. Jesus asked the elders and chief priests who were listening what they thought. They said the landowner should come back and put the tenants to a wretched end and then rent the vineyard out to others who will pay at the proper time. Jesus then tells them, "the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit."

Father interpreted this parable as a call to take proper care of the Earth. We need to be good stewards of the creation given to us, especially in taking care of the poor and others who do not have what they need to live. I thought this was okay but missed the mark for what Jesus was saying. In addition to material reality, we need to be good stewards of the faith given to us, being fruitful and offering our work to Him.