Catholicism, Life, religion

Getting past the ‘downs’

That phrase ‘down in the dumps’ is apt. You feel  down, deep down, that life is paralysing. You feel the darkness of Frodo, carrying the weight of the one ring.

“No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.”  The Return of the King.

I have been there.

How is it that we move past this ‘down’?

In my case, it was the keeping on. Keeping on doing. Keeping on being. Keeping up with exercise. Keeping up with prayer. And the sacraments. And sacramentals. Especially sacramentals, those misunderstood things. Clutching a blessed rosary. Holding a medal. Remembering what and Who it is they signify.

The keeping on eventually lit a teeny tiny glow of light in the darkness of downs.

The glow gave warmth and light and a sliver of hope. Maybe the downs are not forever? Maybe all else does not fade.

Making little changes helped to pierce the veil of downs. Reading more fiction forced memories. Reading spiritual works and even self-help books removed some of the nakedness of the darkness.

The twinge of fear about enjoying any positive times was removed. You know that fear, that life has taught you well. That whenever things go well and are good, be aware. The good cannot last but will be punctured by the bad. Yet again.

That fear was lifted. By getting past the downs and a surprising notion that came after months of down-ness. The notion that maybe it is not that good times will be punctured by bad times, so don’t enjoy the good, just-in-case. The notion that instead, maybe it is the good times that illuminate the bad, and the bad , the downs, are the small interludes and not the main fare of life.

Ah. Getting past the downs to enjoy the good is not life. Enjoying the good, alongside some downs, is the stuff.

wollongong                No fear. The good is good. And the downs don’t have to last.

 

 

Catholicism, Life

Leaving out God?

Listened to a few homilies recently. Really listened .

And heard a lot of good stuff about politics and Australia and economics and indigenous peoples and multiculturalism.

Good stuff. Well, maybe “okay” stuff.

But nothing about God.

Doesn’t it seem strange to you, that in exhortations to be kind and just and equitable , that God is not mentioned? In church?

Indeed, it not just strange but sad. Sad because this may be the only time in a week that the faithful hear about Christ and all of life reflected in Christ and His teaching,

And it’s not just me who thinks this is sad, sad and wrong. It’s the Church. In Redemptionis Sacramentum

“[67.] Particular care is to be taken so that the homily is firmly based upon the mysteries of salvation, expounding the mysteries of the Faith and the norms of Christian life from the biblical readings and liturgical texts throughout the course of the liturgical year and providing commentary on the texts of the Ordinary or the Proper of the Mass, or of some other rite of the Church. It is clear that all interpretations of Sacred Scripture are to be referred back to Christ himself as the one upon whom the entire economy of salvation hinges, though this should be done in light of the specific context of the liturgical celebration. In the homily to be given, care is to be taken so that the light of Christ may shine upon life’s events. Even so, this is to be done so as not to obscure the true and unadulterated word of God: for instance, treating only of politics or profane subjects, or drawing upon notions derived from contemporary pseudo-religious currents as a source.

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Catholicism, Life, religion, Unschooling

Filling that page

Sitting in Mass on a Saturday in January. Reading the reflection provided by Father.

With what shall I fill the page of my life, my year?

With whatever it is that God wants.

“I think of this new year as a white page given to me by Your Father on which He will write, day by day, whatever His Divine good pleasure has planned. I shall now write at the top of the page with complete confidence Dominie, fac de me sic it vis, Lord, do with me what you will, and at the bottom I already write my Amen to all the proposals of your Divine will.” Sr. Carmela of the Holy Spirit.

That is the excitement of a new year. The not-knowing.

It can be frightening, I know. Yet it can also be freeing. Being open to His will, and being open to serendipity, can mean that our lives, and the lives of our family, are strewed with possibility.

In prayer and contemplation I like to think of adding something to our lives. Many resolutions at this time of year are riddled with don’ts or I won’ts or I musts (eat more vegetables, drink less alcohol, give up carbs, not be grumpy or angry or despairing..). It is freeing, however, to give these don’ts or wants in prayer and to think of things to add to our lives.

Turn on music. Hire some DVDs. Go to the library for new books. Declutter and see what amazing new-to-you, once forgotten, discoveries you make.

Dance. Sing. Cook. Enjoy a home-cooked meal or salad, eaten slowly, with family or with friends or even on your own with a good book.

Find movements that make you smile, that make you feel like a child. That makes you feel tough and cool and oh so athletic.

Start a family journal or scrapbook or blog or animoto or iMovie.

This is not the year for shoulds and musts and don’ts. This is the year of being with Him and of where that takes you and of, in the meantime, strewing your life and the life of your family with interesting things.

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Catholicism, Life, Unschooling

The darker side

We always post the bright side of our lives, don’t we?

Bright, happy homeschooling families.

And rightly so. Because memories are made of this.Because there can be so much sadness in the world, so much negativity, that we want to show the positives of our families, our homeschooling, our lives.

But I wonder sometimes if we do ourselves a disservice.

Maybe sometimes we should post a little about the darker side. The days, months, years even, that things don’t go the way we want. The way they should.

When we are in this dark side, it seems as though nothing can help. Not bright words, not prayer offered as a simple panacea, not cheery positive thoughts, not gratitude lists, not self-help books, not inspirational stories, not sympathy, not people ignoring your plight.

What does help, then?

Time and inner, deep prayer. A cry out. A cry. Tears. Out of the depths I cry to You, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice.De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine. Psalm 130.

Yes, even Christian homeschooling families, suffer upsets, dysfunction, worries, depression.

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A bright day

But you know what? There is a brighter side to the darkness. One day, the cloud doesn’t seem so dark. The burden seems lighter. You reach for that prayer book on your bedside table.

That self-help book you disdainfully tossed aside just a short while ago now seems to offer hope. Your perception changes. You heal. You tell yourself you can do this.

In the end, by telling about the dark side, by sharing the way through, we model for our children, and for others, the true strength of Christ and the value of homeschool, through thick and thin.

Preparation for life? Heck, no, it is life.

Catholicism, Life, religion

Liturgy

Not again, I hear you moan. She has only just returned to blogging and we get another complaint , centred on banal liturgy.

But not today. Today, instead, I look at my breviary during recess break and I think about a way to celebrate feast days this week. Mass and a cake and a Marian table display for the Presentation of Our Lady (November 21)? And it occurs to me that here is the great wisdom of the Church, in celebrating the liturgical year. For each week the solemnities and saints days drag me out of the busyness of my life, make me contemplate the sacred mysteries and this life of Faith, make me take a break and bring the life of Faith to the fore of everydayness.

I am reminded of this quote from “In This House of Brede” by Rumer Godden, a book I read again every few years:

“‘Don’t you see, it’s like a pageant. Our Cardinal has said the liturgy entertains as well as feeds us…Yes, we’re not angels but humans,’ said Dame Clare, ‘and human nature is made so that it needs variety. The Church is like a wise mother and has given us this great cycle of the liturgical year with its different words and colours. You’ll see how you will learn to welcome the feast days and the saints’ days as they come round, each with a different story and, as it were, a different aspect; they grow very dear, though still exacting.’”

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Catholicism, religion

Do you read parish bulletins?

I must admit that mostly I don’t. Don’t read parish bulletins that is. (I often wonder if some parish priests also do not read the bulletin. Especially the pre-written piece copied onto the front page. You know, the related-to-today’s-Gospel bit.)

My sons, however, do read parish bulletins.

And one pointed out to me some interesting sections in a parish bulletin recently. (No, not my parish’s bulletin.)

I thought I’d share.

“May it be too bold to suggest that a successor of St Peter is to preach the resurrection with Pentecostal power and effect, that he too must be propelled into the world by a Spirit-filled gathering of female and male disciples. Why can’t the conclave of electors in the Sistine Chapel include women?”

Oh my.

Simple answer? Because it can’t. The Church has spoken elsewhere on the priesthood and on the role of women. How many times does this need to be re-iterated?:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (para. 1577) states:

“Only a baptized man (vir) validly receives sacred ordination.” The Lord Jesus chose men (viri) to form the college of the twelve apostles, and the apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry. The college of bishops, with whom the priests are united in the priesthood, makes the college of the twelve an ever-present and ever-active reality until Christ’s return. The Church recognizes herself to be bound by this choice made by the Lord himself. For this reason the ordination of women is not possible.”

And seriously, does this preclude a Pope from preaching “the resurrection with Pentecostal power and effect?”There seems no relevance , no connection between these two thoughts. The Pope preaches with the fire of the Holy Spirit,in the light of the Gospel and Tradition; he preaches to all with love for the common good; the sex of the electors in the conclave is a moot point. Really.

This bulletin passage denies the equality and differences of the sexes. Equality because we are all called to preach the Gospel in our daily lives; different because we bring our differences to the forefront in doing so. I do  not have to emulate a male to share God’s love; indeed, the world becomes a poorer place when we value the strengths of one sex over another, when we denounce the self giving love of women. For in giving of self, we women must first have a self to give; we must nurture and educate ourselves in prayer and in our vocations rather than seek to emulate others.

The bulletin continues..

“There is no single sacred language. All languages, all vernaculars, are capable of hearing and expressing what God wants to inspire, to breathe into human hearts.”

Oh my again. Does this writer possess even a glimmer of logic? For again the obvious must be stated.

Of course all languages can hear and express the Good News. There is no discussion, not now, not ever, about the ability of one language over another to share the Gospel.

This, however, has nothing to do with the use of a sacred language in liturgy. Sacred means set apart. And a language that is set apart and used in sacred liturgy, as Latin may be, is a language that is not open to many different interpretations and confusion. It is a language of unity. Set apart. Sacred. While also allowing the Gospel to be shared and breathed into our hearts.

I thanked my son for pointing out this bulletin piece. And I know now why it is a good thing that many of us do not read the bulletin.

We are saved from logical fallacies  in the form of theological reflection.