Holy Week Hash

A little of this, a little of that.  Write it up and you get Holy Week Hash! 

  • The last time I posted, my family and I were eagerly awaiting the election of our new pope.  Since then, we’ve not only learned the name of our new pope, we’ve also begun to learn a bit about the man and what his papacy might look like over time.  Personally, I’m really getting excited about Pope Francis.  The more I learn about him and the more I see of his papacy, the more I admire his integrity, humility, compassion, and mercy.  On top of all that, I like what I see of his leadership style-simple, straightforward, kind, and consistent.  Over the last few weeks there has been more than once when I’ve thought, “Yes!  That’s what we need!”  So, Pope Francis, I give you my blessing and ask you to continue to bless our Church with your faithful leadership.
  • Well, things have been rough at my house since I last posted.  My husband left the country on business and, of course, all hell broke loose while he was gone.  Not only did the house rebel in his absence (light bulbs in very high places going out, mysterious smells in the house, appliances not working correctly), but two of our three children had traumatic or dramatic weeks (ex: a week-long migraine that wouldn’t go away with Tylenol with codeine!).  I can’t say that all is calm now that my hubby is back but, the migraines are under control and I’m calmer (he has that effect on me 🙂 )so we’ll call it progress.
  • Due to my rough patch last week, I fell off my Lenten wagon, so to speak.  My plan this Lent was to keep it simple and doable –go to Eucharistic Adoration once a week and say one Rosary each week.  Things had been going well but…Why is it that the times I need to pray the most are the times when it gets pushed to the side?  At least I’m consistent, I do the same with eating well and exercising.  When I’m under stress and really need to eat right and exercise is when I’m sitting on the couch and eating fast food.  Spoiler Alert:  I’m not perfect.  (I know!  It’s news to me too!  😉 )
  • Despite all the drama and trauma in our lives lately, there have been some bright spots and fun moments.  I’ve been entertaining myself with a new frugal and green project that will be part of an upcoming post.  So stayed tuned for some household science projects that will save you money and, perhaps, the earth!
  • This weekend will be filled with cooking, egg coloring, prayer, and time with family.  If I can squeeze a nap in there too, it might just be the perfect weekend!

May the spirit of the Resurrection fill you with hope and faith in the love of God!
Easter Blessings,
Laura

The Easy Life

Lately, I’ve become jealous of Priests, Sisters, and other vowed Religious.  In my eyes, they’ve got it easy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know that the path they’ve chosen is difficult and has challenges of it’s own.  But, in a way, their life is a luxury.  Not in a material way, mind you, but in a spiritual way.  When a man or woman takes a vow of chastity and dedicates their life to serving God and others, they become free to focus their lives on prayer and service.  The things I try to cram into my daily life, their lives revolve around.  Let me explain. 

On a typical day, a husband and wife may work at a paying job, care for children or parents, do laundry, dishes, make doctor’s appointments, plan for college savings, plan and cook meals, spend quality time with their children, parents, friends and each other, and try to find time for prayer and service.  On the other hand, Priests and Religious work, care for aging parents, and have the same housework and health demands that we do but, by design, their lives aren’t centered on those things.  Their lives are centered on prayer and service.  Everything else has to be worked around those two things.  Most lay people’s lives are structured just the opposite way; with all the activities of daily life taking priority and prayer and service being squeezed in when possible.

Eight years ago I started working part-time at our parish preschool as the Music Director.  It was the first time I had worked for pay since my daughter was born which, at that time, was about nine years.  While I was initially overwhelmed at the prospect of all that I had to learn and do at my new job, it still felt easier than staying home with my children every day.  Why?  Because all I had to concentrate one thing when I was there-teaching.  At work all I did was teach.  I didn’t have to flit from one thing to another to keep things running smoothly like I did at home.  I didn’t have to decide how to divide my time between my children and how to meet their needs.  My day was determined by the daily school schedule which ran like a well-oiled machine.  Going to work felt (and still feels) like a luxury to me.

So that’s why I’m jealous.  Because I want my life to be centered on prayer and service too.  I want to feel like I’m focused without distraction on what’s really important.  I want that fresh-from-a-retreat feeling.  Do I have to give up on that desire because of my vocation?

In short, no.  As I write this I’m beginning to realize how two-dimensional my view of religious and married life is.  Priests and religious are as human as the rest of us.  They deal with the challenges of distraction, the business of daily life, and, at times, loneliness to top it off.  And, married life is a life full of service-service to your husband or wife and, if you’ve been so blessed, service to your children.  As for prayer, my ability to focus on prayer is not limited by my life, it’s only limited by my mind.  In fact, being a wife and mother has pushed me to rely on the graces God grants through prayer more than it ever did as a single person.

I still wish my life was focused entirely on prayer and service but now, I realize that if it isn’t, it’s no one’s fault but my own. 

Year of Prayer – Month 2

November is here and it’s time for me to focus on a different form of prayer for the month.  But first, a quick analysis of how my Rosary October went.

I started off October full of goals and enthusiasm to pray five decades of the Rosary everyday but midway through the first week I was already falling short of that goal.  Since I didn’t want to fall into my all-too-common perfection-or-inaction M.O., I tried not to overreact.  Instead, I reminded myself that even a decade of a Rosary is better than none at all and I pushed forward.  I utilized several different resources to help me along my way including my Rosary CD and the Laudate app for my smart phone.  I found that, while my Rosary CD was very helpful, if I listened while I was driving, I was often too distracted by traffic (silly me) to focus on my prayer as much as I would’ve liked.  Evidently, I’m old school because the tools that were the biggest help to me last month were the Rosary beads I received at my First Communion and a Rosary booklet I got at a Catholic bookstore many years ago for about $2! 

By the end of the month, even though I fell far short of perfection, I found myself going to the Rosary more and more as part of my daily routine.  I had established a habit, of sorts, which was a big goal of my Year of Prayer.  Making prayer a part of my daily life instead of just a part of desperate times and letting that regular prayer draw me closer into communion and communication with my Lord was my goal.  So, I’m calling Month One of my Year of Prayer a success. 

I know this journey has only just begun but I think I’m on the right track and that’s a good thing!

Now, on to November-

As the holidays start to ramp up, prayer will be even more important to help me maintain focus and sanity.  At the same time, I need to be realistic about the demands on my time.  So, because November is a time to focus on gratitude for our blessings, I’m going to spend this month thanking God for all I’ve been given.  I’m going to try to dial back my prayer requests (with the exception of intercessory prayer for friends and family) and focus on the abundance of what I already have.  I’ll be using a mixture of formal prayers and spontaneous prayers throughout the month.  Here are a few lovely prayers of thanksgiving I found at AmericanCatholic.org that I’ll be using.  If you have any prayers you want to share with me, drop me a line and tell me about them.  Once again, I would love to have you join me on this spiritual journey.  In fact, I would be most thankful.  (See, it’s working already!)

Check out more of my thoughts on gratitude and the environment in my November column on CatholicMom.com today around 10 am Pacific Time.  Hope to see you there!

Blessings,
Laura

Ready, Set, Pray!

Well today the Year of Faith officially began.  This is the year that our Holy Father has declared to be a year of learning more about our faith and growing closer in relationship to Jesus.  For my observance of the Year of Faith, I’m focusing on prayer.  This month the focus is the Rosary and so far, not so good.

My pray-the-Rosary-everyday plan has not been without flaws.  Many flaws.  Really, the plan isn’t the problem.  The flaws are entirely mine.    I’m embarrassed to admit how many times this month I’ve realized that I didn’t even say a decade of the Rosary the day before.  And it’s only the eleventh day of the month!

Why is it so hard for me to be consistent in my prayer life?  Why are my plans for prayer so often spoiled by my reality?  I would love to hear your ideas or tips for a richer prayer life.  Hopefully, this upcoming year will help me to grow in my prayer life.  The bad news is-I’m starting this year off on unsure footing.  The good news is-there’s no where to go but up (I pray!)

The week I’m going to try out a Scriptural Rosary to mix it up a bit.  Give it a try with me and let me know what you think.