Praying for Kim M.

Woke up to find an email about a woman named “Kay M.”, from Pennsylvania, who died suddenly on Saturday. She’d become ill on Thursday, nausea and vomiting, had gone to the emergency room, been stabilized and sent home – her husband got sick on Friday – Saturday she told him she was very weak, and he called the rescue squad, but she died in his arms before they arrived. I’ve emailed the friend who sent me the email, asking if it was flu.

“Kay” and her husband have eight children, three in college and five being homeschooled at home. The youngest is only six years old.  As you may imagine, the entire family and all their friends are in complete shock. Please hold everyone in your prayers.

Just a thought –

Non-Catholics, and especially the anti-religious secular liberals among us, think our values and ideals are ridiculous, and they ridicule us for holding them. But – when we compromise, when we blow it, when we fail to take those standards seriously, they note it, and they regard us with outright contempt for not taking our own professed religion seriously.

I was sharing this observation with Angie, and she said, “Years ago i got called out by an evangi for saying, as a supposed catholic, that i picked what i liked and left the rest…which is an AA principle –
she was 100% correct!”

Yep. It’s another reason to hold firm to the Faith that was transmitted to us: the nonbelievers WANT us to prove them wrong! They WANT us to love our Faith enough to be true to it.

Hard lessons learned

1. It isn’t being loved, but loving, that turns us right-side out and sets us on our feet.

2. Loving entitles us to nothing – except maybe disappointment and suffering. We have to love anyway.

3. Some things you just can’t fix, no matter how hard you try – because it isn’t yours to fix.

4. After our salvation, the greatest gift God gives us is our autonomy, our free will. That gift must be guarded in ourselves and respected in others.

5. Being happy is highly desirable, to be sure – but it’s hardship and suffering that cultivate sanctity within us… if we allow it.

6. Self-pity accomplishes absolutely nothing, and sabotages a lot of good.

I’d like to buy a… Rosemary!

makethumbTwo young women, surely no more than their mid-20s, came into the shop. “We have a friend, she’s Catholic, and she’s got a birthday coming up. We’d like to get her a… ummm… a rosemary!”

And so began one of the most delightful visits with customers I’ve had in a long time. You’ve got to be touched by the discovery of two evangelical-fundamentalist Christians, weaned on anti-Catholic preaching, buying something so alien as a rosary for a friend. That’s affection, my dear readers!

We chatted for the better part of an hour. One of them told me she’d gone to a Bible college. “I was always told that Catholics look at the Pope as God,” she admitted – and I got to share with her the biblical foundations of our Tradition of Apostolic Succession, from Peter’s being given the Keys of the Kingdom (an allusion to Isaiah 22:22), then Paul’s reminders to Timothy about the authority given to him by the laying on of hands, to a small bit of basic Church history.

We talked about Mary, and I assured them that Catholics do not worship her, but honor her as the mother of her Son. I shared with them how we love her as the ultimate example of Christian discipleship; how Solomon, a typology for Christ, provided a throne to his mother and gave her full authority in his kingdom (I Kings 2:19); and how we, as “sons of adoption and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:15-17) also have Mary as our adoptive Mother, since she is the Mother of the True Son.

At one point in our conversation, they looked at each other, and both of them blurted out, simultaneously, “ooooh, I’ve got goose bumps!”

The Holy Spirit was truly moving among us in that lovely conversation.

And, by the way, they didn’t just buy a lovely “rosemary” for their Catholic friend, one of them bought one for herself, as well. I’ve invited her to come back to the store, so we can pray it together. Yes, I gave her a booklet on the rosary, but it’s easier to learn when you pray it with someone else a time or two, don’t you think?

Passages from Favorite Authors: Rosamunde Pilcher

I love the novels of Rosamunde Pilcher. She has such a way of incorporating lovely domestic detail into the lives of her characters that I find homey and gracious. Rosamunde herself is a gracious lady; retired from writing and living in Scotland now, she still takes time to respond to fan letters – I have a charming note from her pinned to my bulletin board as I type this.

Here’s a passage from her novel, The Shell Seekers (orig. published St. Martin’s Press, also available as a Dell paperback, which is what I have) –

Richard was gone. Penelope learned to live without him, because there was no alternative. You couldn’t say, “I can’t bear it,” because if you didn’t bear it, the only other thing to do was to stop the world and get off, and there did not seem to be any practical way to do this. To fill the void and occupy her hands and mind, she did what women under stress and in times of anxiety have been doing for centuries: immersed herself in domesticity and family life. Physical activity proved a mundane but comforting therapy. She cleaned the house from attic to cellar, washed blankets, dug the garden. It did not stop her from wanting Richard, but at least, at the end of it, she had a shining, sweet-smelling house and two rows of freshly planted young cabbages.

Update Sept 22, 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time: A friend emailed to tell me that she thinks this passage is maudlin – but I love it! It always makes me want to sweep the cobwebs out of remote corners of my home, and to go out and plant cabbages, no matter what time of year it is.

Flying solo, again

Hi. This has become my only blog again. I resigned from Deliberate Engagement a week ago. I hope you’ll continue to support Matt in his apostolate. I’m so proud to have worked with him in it, and I still maintain that his essay, “How to Debate,” is one of the best around on engaging the culture in honest discussion while avoiding alienating people who operate out of a different paradigm with Bible-thumping they find ridiculous and too alien to take seriously. Matt’s the best of men, the best of friends, and I wish him and his newly-engaged intended all possible happiness.

I’m doing well. Busy.  I’ve been managing a small store since late January. Business is slow over the summer, but it’s allowed me some time to work on DE and to write and to study. A friend has been urging me for several months to do more writing on the experience of having been married to a homosexual; I’m giving that one some serious consideration right now.

I have a lot of thoughts about political and social realities, but I don’t want to blog about them here – I need a place where I can be more cheerful and upbeat; the battle with the world becomes consuming at times, and we all need a respite. This blog must be mine, please.

I bought my sewing machine last week, and if I’m really smart and get my housework done before my Tylenol PM kicks in and makes me very drowsy this evening, I’m going to work on a kitchen curtain or two.

It’s been a Purgatorial couple of weeks, really. I’ve faced a series of disappointments and setbacks, and very unpleasantly have had to face some truths about myself that I’ve done a pretty darn good job of hiding from for a while. It’s necessary I should face these self-deceptions and deal with them, but it’s very unpleasant.

Yet at the same time, it’s a season of renewal and new beginnings. The hot summer weather drained me of energy – physical and mental – and now that cooler weather has returned, I’m feeling energized and highly motivated to do my Fall Cleaning (desperately needed!) and to renew my spiritual life.

I’ve been appointed Lay Leader of a new Benedictine Oblate group in our area and will be formally received as an oblate novice in either October or November. Discovering the disciplines of praying the Divine Office and the Rule of Benedict is a great help becoming anchored and better balanced. Balance – something I always have a hard time maintaining. Do others find it such a fragile thing to achieve?

And the lovely thing about working at the store is that it is also a ministry, an apostolate. People who wouldn’t darken the door of a Church or a church office will come into this store and strike up conversations. I’ve had some wonderful experiences sharing the Faith with men and women – clearing up misconceptions, showing the biblical foundations for a lot of our beliefs, teaching a couple of people to pray the rosary, etc. The days when this happens make the drudgery of bookkeeping and inventory maintenance worthwhile, believe me!

So – that’s it from here. I’m going to go fix a cup of tea (Earl Grey) and finish the kitchen for the evening, then tidy my bookshelves. I’m about overdue adding another 3′ shelving unit to the ones already on hand.

Thanks, Sinead, for the email today – please follow up as soon as possible. The rest of you, I’ll be visiting others’ blogs more regularly now, I believe, so I’ll see you at your place soon!

God bless you!

Help needed?

I’ve already exchanged emails with a couple of girlfriends about this, but want other input wherever I can get it.

I’m buying a sewing machine, a 2d-hand Janome that I’m picking up from a dealer in Cary this coming week, when I drive up for Chorale rehearsal. I’d never heard of this brand until it came recommended to me this past week – well-made, sturdy, long-lasting.

I have tried sewing before, and hated it for being fidgety nerve-wracking work. But in the past year and a half I’ve discovered pleasure in a number of activities that annoyed me, before, so I think it’s time to pick this up and try it again.  I’m going to start out by stitching up the fabric I have for my kitchen curtains, then I’m going to make a couple of half-slips and nightgowns for myself.

Do any of you have recommendations for sewing instruction books you’ve found useful and UNDERSTANDABLE over the years? Ideas for storing and organizing supplies? My sewing stuff will have to share space in a general-purpose workroom which is also my library, study, and craft-and-mend room.

I’m actually looking forward to this…