Sunday, August 31, 2008

Cats, Dogs and TV

It's been such a lazy Sunday. Today's family picnic got canceled due to inclement weather, which was good as I was in an inclement mood. For some reason, I've been sleepy all day.

I'm vegging on the couch, watching National Treasure, which I haven't seen before. I'm actually enjoying it. It's a fun movie, a bit far fetched but definitely worth watching and entertaining.

I was going to ramble about the election but I think I'll save that for another post. I'm trying really hard to avoid all political commentary in any of my blogs, I'm avoiding reading most of it online and hope that the next 64 days or so go by really, really fast.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fr Jim Martin on Prayer

Finally updated with my thoughts below.

I won't deny that I've had trouble finding the words, the time or the impetus to sit down to pray. I've struggled with the whole process. I need something structured, formal, ritualized. I find the idea of just sitting quietly in a room, making up something as I go along quite difficult. Taking my priest's advice I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I pretty much do morning and evening prayer every day. It's structured and makes me relax, breathe and focus on God. It's still a bit strange to me to be praying because I never really did it much beyond church but I believe this is a good start.

And of course, Father Martin's suggestions are wise and worthwhile as well. He's been updating his video blogging about prayer. His second video blog was about the Ignatian Contemplation, which is something I find totally intriguing, and his third, which I just watched, was about lectio divina. This third type of prayer I find intriguing. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for this style of prayer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Playing Pretend

Nice post over at WDTPRS about boys "playing Mass". The picture is a vocations poster for the Diocese of Raleigh. It's been seen everywhere, but it makes me wonder how many little boys who play priest as young boys will be discouraged from entering the priesthood. I wonder how many priests, pretended to play priest as boys? I know career counselors often say when you don't know what to be when you grow up, you should think back to the things that you did as a kid, usually that's a good indicator of what you like to do and should do. So, this makes me wonder. The priest at my parish knew he wanted to be a priest when he was 10. One of the priests in town entered the seminary at 12. I wonder if either of them played priest?

Makes me wonder if in my story, I should have Andrew "play" Mass as a child. Or maybe Christopher?

I had older cousins play "nuns" when they were little. Neither of them became nuns. One isn't even Catholic anymore.

I always played "bride", "reporter","house" and "school". I think I even played grocery store. But "bride" was the most fun. My mom had blue plastic daisies which I used as my bridal bouquet, I'd do the whole ceremony and I used my first communion veil as my bridal veil. Too bad none of the neighborhood boys would play the part of the groom or the priest who would marry us. I'm not sure if I put on a white dress, but in my world I married a handsome man who swept me off my feet. I'm still waiting.

Fantasies are always fun. Maybe that's why I like writing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Requiescat In Pace

Today is the 15th Anniversary of my grandmother's death, and I've been thinking about her today. I had too many intentions to get to a church to say a prayer or a rosary today, but the closest I came was a trip into town with my mother to look at the new statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We went into the old Santuario and I lit a candle and said a quiet prayer. I wasn't really sure what to say in my prayer but it was a little quiet moment today.

My grandma was born in 1898 and died in 1993. She was feisty, strong, mischievous and oh so smart. She was a devout Catholic, she loved poker, she raised six children and a granddaughter. She spoiled her grandchildren and always had a piece of candy or a sweet treat waiting for us when we'd come visit.

She married late for her generation-- in her late 20s. She was a school teacher and an amazing seamstress. I think all the creative talent in my family comes through my grandmother and great-grandfather, who was a woodworker.

On Friday, I paid for a Mass for her anniversary. I think I'll try to make my trip to the cemetery then. I've invited all my relatives and we'll have dinner afterward. For some reason, I've been thinking about my grandparents a whole lot and I'm curious to know more about them. I know it's too late to get some answers-- but there are things I still can learn and hope to in the near future.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Woman Clothed with the Sun and the Moon Under Her Feet

Today we celebrate Mary's Assumption into heaven, body and soul. For me, today was one of those days when I had a lot to do, but didn't get anything done. I was originally going to go to Mass at noon at my parish, but had to go help my mother do something and didn't want to rush back to change, just to go to Mass. I was then going to go into the office to meet my office mate, have tea and then come home for Mass tonight. But, then Mom told me about the goings on in town and we considered going. Dad then put a hitch in my plans, when he had to go to the doctor and Mom wasn't feeling well, so... I never got to the office. Grr.

However I did make it to Mass. I didn't go to my parish church, but to the Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, with roughly a thousand (maybe more?) people. It was the first time I attended an outdoor Mass. It had all the elements that make Mass wonderful, lovely music, incense, reverence, a strong homily by the archbishop, but there was rain, too many distractions (road side traffic, people talking, confusion during communion) that I am glad it is over. There were probably far too many people to fit in the church today. The Mass was behind the churches (both the old church and the new church) and just underneath the new statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was unveiled just after Mass and she really is beautiful. What a testament to the faith of the people in this community.

There were speeches, presentations, and declarations before she was unveiled, but it was all worth it. Native American dancers performed earlier in the day, as did some local mariachis (I missed them) and I believe there was a reception afterward. As it isn't my parish, I didn't really know what else was happening. I just wanted to make my obligation and see the statue. I've been waiting for weeks.

Once the sun peeked out from the thick, heavy rain clouds, you could see her splendor as she stood there surrounded by the faithful.

See my pictures here. I'm just playing with making slide shows. I suspect that on the official site of the journey, there are much better pictures and a more complete wrap up of the day's events. This post is also rather scattered, so I'll come back and revise it later.

Mooses + Water= Adorable.

Watch. It's ok to tune out the music. it's a bit sappy.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Inside You The Time Moves and She Don't Fade

So... my novel is driving me crazy. I know I don't spend a lot of time rambling on about it in here. How did a fictionalized account about my broken heart end up becoming some epic saga about Isabel and the men in her life, her eventual return to the church and now the possible conversion of her somewhat agnostic boyfriend? It's about more than just that, but if I keep on going at the pace I'm going, it will be a thousand pages long and be so far off from my original idea, I don't know what I'll have.

Speaking of reading, writing and characters, I saw a book at Borders that caught my eye a few months ago. Usually, after Mass I usually go for coffee with a good friend of mine and my mom sometimes comes along. I buy lots and lots of books, mostly in the genre that I write, sometimes historical fiction and I've read a few biblical fiction books. There was one fictionalized story about Mary Magdalen that I really disliked but I read it all-- it was like 800 pages. In lieu of reading fiction, I buy and read non-fiction. Lately, a lot of spiritual stuff. Anyway, on that particular Sunday, I picked up a book with characters that sounded similar to mine. The main character a single woman (younger than Isabel) living with her boyfriend, and a brother who is a priest. I decided not to buy it for those reasons. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I went on a book buying spree and I bought this particular book. It was nicely written, though I thought the characters were a bit flat and the plot wasn't bad or overly original, it was an easy read. I don't think the story will stick with me.

Regarding plots, honestly, there aren't that many overly original plots in fiction-- they're all re-tellings of the same basic plots in fiction. I have an email I should repost with the basic fiction plots. I'll save it for the writing journal, but I digress.

This story was more about characters who happened to be Catholic, than anything really exploring Catholicism in fiction, which apparently mine does. While there was a sister with a brother as a priest relationship, it isn't like mine. Whew. Thank goodness. I don't like what she did with her priest character-- but that was her choice-- my gripe will wait for my post about priests in portrayed in pop culture. It's still in draft mode. The life my character lives in my story will be very different.

Reading this book isn't going to change how I write my story or influence it by any means. I just realized that my approach with similar sorts of characters, relationships and themes are going to be done very differently.

My stories are more character driven than plot driven. Believe me... I don't even know what my plot is. Well... I do... but it doesn't follow a simple path or outline. The working title of my first novel is called "Unmarked Paths" which is quite fitting.

One of my fears is that it's far too Catholic for a mainstream audience. That's actually trumping my fear that it is too Hispanic. And then on top of that... all the other characters are talking to me and I have a whole future story churning around in my head. I wish I knew how to shut it all down at night.

Eeek. I spotted a mouse. At least I think it was a mouse. It might have been a big, black spider that ran really fast. Ohh... a centipede perhaps. Ewww. I hate those more than mice. You'd think after spending an afternoon washing floors, no vermin would want to come into my house-- no crumbs, no mess, nothing to find on the floors. I guess not. Anyway, I'm now in my bedroom, hopefully far, far away from any unwelcome creatures.

Falling Over You Is The News of the Day

Not that I know anything about what's going on in Missouri, though two of my dearest friends do live there, but I've heard the about the conflicts between the former Archbishop Burke and the St. Stanislaus Parish and it's pastor. I hadn't really paid too much attention, well... because it's news that is happening in another Archdiocese. Anyway, over at The Deacon's Bench, another blog I've been reading lately, there was this post-- follow the link at the end to read the whole article and then read the comments from the natives.

My neighbor, a Methodist, who was once a Catholic, says in her church they have a board who appoints the pastor and whom she must answer to. I just can't imagine it happening like that in the Catholic Church, but does it happen?I don't now how it works in my Archdiocese but I don't think there is a board that appoints pastors. I have always thought that the pastor of a parish is appointed by the (Arch)Bishop and that's pretty much that. Sure, we have had fights between parishioners and their pastors. In some small towns, the people in the pews think (sometimes accurately) that they have all the power and manage to drive out the priests despite how they got there in the first place.

Anyway, just something interesting I thought I'd share. I may come back and add more tidbits from the news later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Office Reading...

James 4:11 - 12 ©
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who slanders a brother, or condemns him, is speaking against the Law and condemning the Law. But if you condemn the Law, you have stopped keeping it and become a judge over it. There is only one lawgiver and he is the only judge and has the power to acquit or to sentence. Who are you to give a verdict on your neighbour?

This was the Office reading from today. It hit me over the head that day as I had been gossiping and speaking badly of another with my neighbor and it was making me feel pretty bad. I didn't like the situation I was in and I summed up the courage to actually tell her and we no longer discuss the situation or the other party.

I realize I was the sounding board for her to vent and work things through that was going on in her own faith community. I didn't know people involved, but I was getting uncomfortable.

I often allow myself to get caught up in the middle of drama and other people's gossip or mitote as we say around here and most of the time it's wrong, it can be sinful and it can come back to bite you on the ass, so I try not to get caught up in gossip, spreading slander but as I'm human, it happens. Anyway, I told my friend that I didn't want to have to seek out a priest for Confession, so we better stop talking about the drama. ;-)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Went to the Movies...

I guess I really haven't turned in my Fangirl Card because I snuck away to see the new X-Files movie, "I Want To Believe". First off, I didn't expect a huge, blow-em-up kind of movie. I had hoped for some resolve with what happened when the show ended, and yes there was some of that and I knew going into it had gotten mixed reviews. Secondly, as a fan of the show and a former fangirl, I had to see the movie. I knew nothing of the plot, but I had heard it was an exploration of faith.

Wasn't overly happy to find out the priest character played by Billy Connolly was a defrocked, pedophile priest who was living in a half-way, self-policed rehab type house. He was seeing visions. Scully was a doctor at a Catholic hospital with a dying kid and Mulder was Mulder, alebit a bit less idealistic and a bit jaded.

So, the plot was about missing women, evil scientists, trading in body parts and other typical X-files drama, intrigue and weirdities. We see Skinner and by the end, all is well with the world, at least for a little while. But, there was an underlying questioning of faith, and exactly just how far one should go to save another human being. What is ethical and right and just where does science cross the line and how much does faith, God and religion figure into the equation.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

I'm finally going to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours. I think I'm going to muddle my way through them for a while and maybe I will be able to find a community which prays them, just so I can experience praying them in common once or twice. I'll probably write more about this, and how I got to the point where I've come to praying the Psalms.

Tomorrow is the memorial of Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin, Martyr, known more commonly as Edith Stein. A Jewish convert to Catholicism, a Carmelite nun, a scholar and a victim of the Nazi Holocaust. She apparently converted to Catholicism sometime after reading about the life of St. Teresa of Avila. I don't know much about her, but I find the lives of saints intriguing, most especially saints of the modern era.

As Catholics, we're taught, once a Catholic always a Catholic. I believe that's also a common belief in Judaism. Both faiths have much to say about the consequences of apostasy, and throughout history there have people converting from one faith to the other many times. Some, very likely were forced and some were by choice. This is an interesting opinion about St. Edith Stein and her connection to her Jewishness. It was written just after her Canonization to Sainthood by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

Some thoughts taken from the article.

A convert is "born again," which also means that from God’s perspective he or she has retroactively always been in the community. An apostate, conversely, does not quit the community existentially; he or she is only absent without leave.Excommunication bars a sinful Catholic from receiving the sacraments, not from the Church herself, just as herem, the ban of ostracism, does not mean that a Jew is no longer a Jew. So Jews regard Edith Stein as a Jewish apostate, but always a Jew nonetheless. And she agreed with us about her Jewish identity; it is about her apostasy that she obviously had a different opinion. We cannot avoid the question of apostasy because it brings us face to face with the rival truth claims our two communities make—to ourselves, to each other, and to the world.

I must digest it again before I even attempt to make any commentary, but I thought it was an interesting reflection for the day.

picture of St. Edith Stein via wikipedia.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Quickie update. A couple of posts ago I linked to the news about Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish's new statue of the Blessed Mother and its journey to Santa Fe. A couple of Sundays ago the New Mexican ran a news story about it and put up a slide show. These are photos taken by the photographer from the blog I linked to, but they're complied in a nice show so I thought I'd add a link to it.

A couple of weekends ago, my mom and I went to the Spanish Market. I had hoped to get a picture of the statue to put up in the blog, but it was covered, as it's not going to be official unveiled for another week, I think on the Feast of the Assumption, which is also the birthday of a former best friend of mine, but I won't go into why she's a former friend, but if I wanted to forget her birthday I couldn't. I'll say an extra prayer just for her at Mass next week anyway. So... no pictures of my own till then.

Back to the Spanish Market, some years I've found some lovely artwork that calls me to buy it. Some years, I haven't. Sometimes a retablo of a special saint just calls out to me, some years, I'm looking for a specific saint, and those years I usually don't find the one I'l seeking out. Last year I saw a lovely La Conquistadora-- but it was at least $800 over my budget. I'd also stumbled upon an Infant Jesus of Prague, but that was a bit pricey, so last year I went away without spending any money. This year, I stopped by the booth of an artist whose work I like. I have a St. Therese of Lisieux he painted from about four years ago. He had a lovely Infant Jesus of Prague and I ended up bringing him home. The artist's name is Arturo Olivas and his work can be found here. So, check it out for a lovely example of New Mexico Spanish Colonial Art.

Save Me From Myself.

Blogging has been a bit slow. Funny thing was over at the LJ I posted that I was thinking of taking a hiatus from LJ-land. There are a few communities which I read and participate in, plus there are many real life people that the days I only connect with online via LJ. I thought I'd probably move most of my blogging here, but haven't done that yet either. I go in spurts.

I have some definite thoughts I want to share about writing, religion and women's ordinations- not- ordinations. I've been thinking about prayer lately.

Last week I was down for the count with Stomach Flu. Not the SFFH,(Stomach Flu From Hell) which I had last fall, where I threw up a lot. This wasn't a bad stomach flu where I was throwing up all the time, but it was bad enough that it kept me from doing much. I had a lower backache from hell for about five days. Finally, I think I've gotten over it. I had a so-so workout at the gym and it helped. While I'm of the mentality that exercise is good-- yet my back aches--then I don't exercise and it still aches. I hate that. Anyway, that's where I've been lately.