Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Triduum begins: Reflections on Lent 2013

And so the Paschal Triduum begins, and another Lent comes to an end. This is one of my very favorite times in the liturgical year. I'd love to go to the Holy Thursday Mass tonight, but I doubt that will happen with my needy daughter. However, tomorrow I am off from work and I have 3 Good Friday liturgies/activities to choose from at our parish: Morning prayer, the traditional 3 pm service, and/or Stations of the Cross. Right now, I'm thinking the 3 pm service. And then I can do stations privately later with Henry.

So, how did everyone's Lent go this year? I will give a recounting of mine here.

I had a beautiful Lent. I'll be honest: the Liturgy of the Hours got the best of me again. I love, LOVE this prayer, but dragging the thick books with me every morning and evening to and from work meant that sometimes I forgot them. And often evening prayer didn't happen just based on family needs of my time. So, once again I started off strong with this resolution, and petered out. I did, however, reignite my old subscription to Magnificat to try this out again. Magnificat does not include the official morning and evening prayers from the LOTH, but it does have an informal morning/evening prayer included, and it's small enough to tuck into my purse. I also always loved the daily saint stories they include, and it includes all the Mass readings and other devotions. I signed up for a 6 month subscription so that I can try it out. If I use it, then I'll renew for a much longer period. So, in the end, I think I reached a happy place in adding to my daily prayer life. My first issue will be for May.

Here are some other positives from Lent 2013: I was much more prayerful this Lent. I appreciated and recited my rosary with vigor each day. I'm currently praying a novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots and enjoying the heck out of it. I'm going to pray the Divine Mercy novena that will begin on Good Friday as well. Also, Henry and I kept up our resolution to pray a decade of the rosary together each night *extremely* well. The only days we missed were the few times I wasn't home at his bedtime. And on some of those (Mike and I out on a date night) my mom did the rosary with him. He enjoyed it so much that he told me he wants to continue doing it even once Lent is over, so we're going to keep going. I may see if he wants to up it to 2 decades a night. Right now, we do 1 decade and then we each choose a prayer to recite from his little St. Joseph prayer book. We'll see. I really love this new tradition we've established and I'm looking forward to adding Anne in when she's older.

As well, this was a momentous Lent, with Benedict XVI resigning and Pope Francis being elected. Lots of prayer time involved there. And I kept up with EWTN, watching various liturgies, that I otherwise wouldn't have invested the time in. Due to the Conclave, I established a very happy Catholic home on Twitter and am still keeping up with that daily.

This has been a very blessed Lent, and I'm so, SO looking forward to the Easter season!

I'll blog again on Easter Monday with a full recounting. We'll all attend Mass at 8 am Sunday morning, and we're having our parents and my grandmother over for dinner that evening. I'm looking forward, and I hope that you all have a prayerful Triduum and a beautiful Easter Sunday!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Mommy, the Easter Bunny doesn't leave me the basket right? That really looks like a guy in a costume."

So, I knew this day was coming. It was a lot more difficult to spin the Santa story this past Christmas, and Mike and I discussed how to proceed. Interestingly, I didn't want to introduce Santa to begin with, way back in the day. I didn't want Hank to worry that since we told him white lies about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, that maybe we did that with God too. Although we clearly invest a heck of a lot more time on the God thing. But Mike was really in favor of Santa, seeing it as a beloved and enjoyable childhood tradition, so I acquiesced. And now, Mike was ready to blow Santa in ASAP while I wanted to wait another year before we potentially broke Hank's heart. He's only 7.

I remember when I learned that there was no Santa. It was just before Christmas and I was *devastated*. I didn't want to do that to my kid. So we agreed that we would wait until a time far, far removed from the Christmas season, and if the topic came up, we would be honest.

In the home of the Catholic Librarian last night:

"Mommy, does the Easter Bunny really leave me the gifts that come in my basket? Because he really looks just like a guy in a costume."

Uh oh.

I bit the bullet.

"No Honey, we leave you those gifts."


Notice I didn't say anything about the *chocolate*, just the small gifts. I mean, it's very obvious that the Easter Bunny isn't crocheting him a stuffed crab, so that had to be said, but I was leaving myself just a wee bit of wiggle room...

Mike jumps in.

"Yeah Hank, we leave you the candy and gifts in your basket."

Well, there blows that wiggle room, but it was for the best. Right?

"Oh. I thought maybe the person in the costume did leave me the chocolate."

SEE!! I had a good theory going. Blast. But really, it's fine. I mean, a giant rabbit visiting our house to hide baskets really isn't a workable story by any stretch of the imagination. He was clearly skeptical, and the opportunity was there.

"So...there's no Easter Bunny?"

I couldn't say it, but Mike had no compunction.

"No Hank, there isn't."

"But...what about Santa? Is he real"


I *knew* he was going to ask that! And I wasn't ready, I just wasn't ready!!


But once again, Mike bravely wades in.

"No, Hank, he isn't, and you're old enough to know that now."

I felt stricken. But when I looked at Henry, he didn't look upset. He just looked very curious, and kind of: AH HA!! I *knew* it!

"So you leave me all the gifts? And eat the cookies?"


"But Hank, Santa is a tradition that is based on a real person, St. Nicholas. And we can read about him this year and celebrate his feast day in addition to Christmas. We'll get you that set of books that includes a profile of every single saint, like I've been talking about."

That was my contribution, in case there was any doubt about that. :)

"We still celebrate the same thing at Christmas that we always have, the traditions are the same. Christmas is still wonderful, for all the right reasons."

Honestly, he didn't look disturbed at all.

"Cameron told me at school that he doesn't believe in Santa. He knows too."

"But Hank, it's very important that you not ruin it for the other kids at school, and for your sister. Let them enjoy Santa and find out on their own."

"Ok....Do you want to look at my new library book with me?"

And that was that. I felt like something incredibly momentous had happened, and Hank was acting like the conversation hadn't even taken place.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Easter baskets are ready...

...and this little guy is ready to hop in. I crocheted him for Anne's basket, and his pattern is available for free.

At the last minute, I also ordered Magnificat's new stations of the cross book for children, The Way of the Cross. Henry had just asked me to get him a stations of the cross book, so it was fortuitous timing when it showed up on my Facebook feed. I don't know that it will come before Easter, but I'm excited to get it when it does come.

In other news, I'm slowly draining (gosh that sounds gross, sorry about that). My nasal congestion is MUCH better today, although the coughing situation is about the same. My sore abdominal muscle is still quite bad, so I'm hoping that heals soon. I don't have dance this week since we're off while our teacher decorates the new studio and gets it ready, and that timing works out well. I don't want to pull anything that is already in tenuous shape. And certainly, belly dancers use their bellies. :)

Just trying to hang in there, as each day I should be getting better and better...

Monday, March 25, 2013

A meaningful Palm Sunday, and an encounter with an anti-Catholic element...

I  thought already having been sick within the past 4 weeks would make me exempt from the current virus malevolently making its way though our house, but that my friend, is a very, very naive assumption. The little petri dishes that live in my house, aka *my children*, continue to rain germs down like there is no tomorrow and the entire family is now sick. Mike was sick last week and is clearly getting better. *jealous*  Henry just has a lingering cough like he always does, afflicted as the poor child is with asthma. Poor Anne has been sick for some time and it's just taking her forever to shake it, but she can't blow her nose, so that certainly doesn't help her cause. I was only a little sick but worsened over the weekend, so much so that I was fearful that I was too ill to attend Palm Sunday Mass. My cough resulted in a very sore muscle in my lower abs, my nose was a travesty, and I generally felt like you could knock me over with a feather. But I just couldn't imagine starting Holy Week without the benefit of Palm Sunday Mass and the Eucharist. So, things went down thusly:

Sunday morning I awaken, clearly feeling worse than I did on Saturday. I figure eating and some coffee will help me. It does, but by 9 am I was wondering if my strength just wasn't going to be up to it. I knew that I could watch Mass on tv if I was sick, but that just isn't the same. I didn't feel horrible, just worn down. My options were:

(1) Everybody stays home from Mass; or

(2) I go and bring Henry (who is no trouble at Mass these days) but leave Anne home, since she is clearly the source of most of my exhaustion at Mass.

I pick option (2). I really wanted to go, I just knew I wasn't up to a lot of wrangling. I get dressed and ready to head out.

The instant Anne realizes that I'm going to church without her, she begins to howl and cry, begging me to put her shoes on and take her with me. I immediately feel terribly guilty. Despite Mike's protests that Anne will be fine at home, I pack her up and take her with me, grabbing a sippy cup of milk, some goldfish crackers, her toddler Bible, and her favorite stuffed Ernie toy. I feel confident that somehow I'll make it through.

We arrive at the church as Mass is starting, which I hate, but sometimes when you have small kids those are the breaks. I was worried about getting a parking spot so I said a prayer to St. Anthony to find one for us, and as we pulled into the lot I easily found one in the back. St. Anthony is good to us.

I hurry the kids into the church and put Henry in charge of getting our palms. Anne and I hustle into a pew over by the music ensemble as Henry approaches with nothing shy of a half dozen palms. We settle in.

Anne quietly eats goldfish crackers on my lap until the Gospel. During the reading of the Passion, she explored our pew a bit, which was fine. I couldn't find Henry's Magnifikid, so I set him up with the regular missal and he did great with it. At some point around the time Peter denies Jesus 3 times, Anne started to get a bit unruly. Giving her a palm to hold was a complete disaster, and she began to go out into the aisle. While I was fine with it as long as she stayed right next to our pew and was quiet, she began to travel and "visit" with some of her fellow parishoners. :) Thus, I picked her up. Big mistake.

Head is thrown back, body goes limp! Fantastic.

I can feel the squawking coming on, so I hustle her to the side vestibule. Wherein she spots a snow shovel resting against the wall and the rest is history. She didn't want to go back to the pew because that was too far from her beloved shovel. I don't know why, but the child is obsessed with shovels. The doors are glass so I could see Henry in our pew, halo perched firmly on his head, following along with his missal. He really comes through sometimes.

I refused to put Anne down since Mass is not playtime, but she was content to stay in my arms and look around the vestibule. We were able to get back out to our pew just before communion, and then after receiving she seemed tired and I held her in the pew. Although not relaxing, I'm so glad that I was able to get to Mass.  Palm Sunday's beautiful imagery and decor really sets the mood for the rest of Holy Week. Plus, I got our parish bulletin and can see other Holy Week liturgies that I'd like to attend this week. I'm taking Good Friday off, so I'll have lots of time then.

I managed to get everyone's coats on and off we set back to our car. Several regulars greeted us and complimented the kids. I love our parish.

As I approached the parking lot I saw something that I recognized immediately but have rarely experienced:

Those little anti-Catholic pamphlets with a cartoon demonstrating a particular theological point. They were on the windshields of all of the cars in the parking lot that I could see. Somebody had obviously come and put them there specifically during a Mass, and via my unhappy laser beam eyes I could see that the topic was the papacy, something like "Why do you need a pope?" I was incensed.

I didn't say anything to the kids and hurried them to the car. Amazingly, when I scanned my windshield, I could see that my car didn't have a tract on it. I almost felt offended. How dare they wrest the opportunity from me to tear it up and declare it garbage?!

I looked around the parking lot. The cars that were facing in (so those with easiest access to the windshields from the main part of the parking lot) all had a tract on them. The ones facing out, like mine, did not. Perhaps the responsible party was running low on time. Didn't want to risk running into some of us scary Catholics.

First thought to run through my head: Should I go and take them off the windshields of those that hadn't yet exited the church?! The temptation was there, but I thought that might make me look freakish. I didn't want to be associated with those tracts at all, I was just worried that some of my fellow parishoners might be upset by them, or worse, persuaded by them.

Second thought to enter my head: WHERE IS THE OFFENDING PARTY?! I looked around, eagle-eyed, but saw nobody suspicious. People were beginning to drive out of the parking lot, Chick tracks still stuck to their wiper blades about to blow off, ha!

I let it go, but boy was I mad. I've read about Chick Tracks many times in my Catholic apologetics reading, but the only other time I'd ever seen one was in a bookstore many years ago. I was browsing and pulled down a title about Mother Teresa. Inside the book was an infamous Chick Track titled "The Death Cookie" about the Eucharist. Somebody had deliberately left it in there rightly assuming that people looking at that book were likely to be Catholic. I didn't end up buying the book but I took the tract and threw it in the garbage.

We live in an area filled with churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic, but none jump out at me as being anti-Catholic, so I can't help but wonder where these people crawled out from. 

Anyway, I prayed the rosary all the harder during my short ride home, and the the instant I arrived I alerted Mike to the situation, and he was all wide-eyed. I'm trying to let it go, but next time I'm going around and taking them off the cars, I swear it. I am the epitome of a non-confrontational person, but DO NOT mess with me about something that I am passionate about. 

Interestingly, later that afternoon I was at my grandmother's apartment dropping off some chili to her since she had surgery this past week. She was raised Catholic and raised her kids Catholic, but left the Church many years ago for an Assembly of God church. Her faith is very important to her, and the way she lives her faith is an inspiration to me, but if I'm being honest her church does strike me as a tad anti-Catholic. But at any rate, yesterday she asked me if I had gone to Mass, and if I had gotten a palm. I told her that I had.

"Oh yeah? Your mother usually saves me a little palm. I like to put one with the cross that I hang in my bedroom."

That made me smile. You can never fully take the Catholic out of a person. :) She obviously is still attached to the traditional Palm Sunday of her youth. I'll make sure my mom got her a palm this year, because if she forgot, my grandmother can have one of the *6* that my children commandeered. 

It does feel good to be Catholic, especially during Holy Week.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Holy Week plans

Big news:

My Easter crafting is done. I know that you were just as concerned about that as I was.


Anne's chick looks *fabulous*. I'll photograph him this weekend and post on Monday. I've now started on some baby knitting for a shower I've been invited to in mid-April. I'm making an Elizabeth Zimmerman "Baby Surprise Jacket", a coordinating hat, and a teddy bear, if all goes according to plan. Which it sometimes doesn't.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend. My NCAA tournament bracket is currently doing well, but as is often the case, that could change any SECOND. Every year I threaten to not fill out a bracket (Mike hosts a pool every year) because I invest all this energy into filling it out despite the fact that I know nothing about college basketball, get all emotionally invested, and then throw swear words around left and right when inevitably the upsets that I picked don't upset and other upsets that I didn't pick take out my Sweet 16 selections one by one. BUT THEN. There will be renewed hope due to a myriad of factors, I will re-invest my energy, only for it to be killed in the Final 4. I will swear off filling out a bracket ever again because I never win money, but I will repeat the pattern 12 months later. It's a sickness.

So, besides basketball, I'm looking forward to Palm Sunday Mass on Sunday. I'm bringing both children, so please pray for me.

I'm also starting a novena to Mary Undoer of Knots beginning tomorrow. Anybody want to join? It'll wrap up on Easter Sunday. See the link for the full prayers.

I'm looking forward to our first Holy Week with Pope Francis, and I see that EWTN will air his Palm Sunday Mass several times. I'm loving all of this Catholic coverage, Ive been in a super happy Catholic bubble lately.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Another quick plug for My First Pictures of Easter...

My order from Magnificat came yesterday. I ordered it Friday, and it came in well under a week via Priority mail (and I only paid $1 shipping!). The book is BEAUTIFUL! It starts with Palm Sunday and progresses through Holy Week to Easter, each page containing a large picture of the occasion mirrored on the next page by tiny photos with descriptions of some of the important items in the scene. The last page is the Easter vigil, with a photo of the congregation lighting their candles from the big Easter flame outside the church! One of the little photos for that page is "the waters of baptism" and other descriptions of the Easter sacraments. I LOVE it!!

I definitely recommend ordering this for the toddler in your life, and there is still enough time to get a copy before Easter!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great, now my throat is sore, but some Easter crafting...


I was feeling worn out all night long, and that has persisted into the morning. I felt that insidious tickle in my throat as I was getting ready for bed last night, which can't possibly be a good sign. Mike is feeling chilled, achey and miserable. Henry is coughing. Anne didn't sleep for more than an hour or two at a time last night and has a persistently gunky nose.

It's all fun and games at my house right now.

But I did curl up with Anne and watch some of the inaugural Mass last night on EWTN. We saw the pope praying at the tomb of St. Peter and the procession of all the cardinals outside. After the kids were in bed, I peeked back in to see part of the pope's homily. I enjoyed.

I'm hoping that the household recovers quickly, but I have been able to work on my knitting and crocheting in the evenings, and here are a few of my creations.

An Easter shrug that I knit for myself:

And the crab Henry's been wanting, for his Easter basket:

The other things that I've been working on are birthday gifts that I can not as yet reveal, but will at a later date. :)

And here is a cute picture of the kids, because I haven't posted any recent ones in awhile:

From a moment when Henry is actually tolerating Anne.

We're hanging in there.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The pope's big day

Well, I planned this big post surrounding Pope Francis's inaugural Mass, and I haven't seen it yet, so I can't really comment on it like I had planned. :) As soon as I woke up this morning I put on EWTN, but they were just ending their broadcast by that time. They are re-airing it, so I'll be tuning in this evening to watch it.

But I've certainly read a lot about it today and it sounds like people were very enthusiastic about it. I'm looking forward to vegging with the coverage later.

In other news, I'm exhausted. Some insidious cold virus is making its way through our house and I fear that I am next. Anne was Patient Zero and she's been licking things, so the infestation is hardly localized.


Monday, March 18, 2013

A break from the pope talk to discuss my other favorite subject: dance...

The pope's installation Mass is tomorrow, so I'm certain I'll have lots to talk about then. I enjoyed hearing his name included in the Eucharistic Prayer for the first time when I attended the vigil Mass on Saturday, and I read about his vigorous schedule all weekend long. I've been in a very happy Catholic bubble. :)

But I realized that it's been a while since I wrote about belly dance, and I actually have a few events coming up that have been on my mind, so I thought this would be a good time to write about them and figure out how I want to approach one in particular.

I haven't performed since December, which is hard to believe, time has flown! And usually, we have more performances than that. Shortly before Christmas, my troupe performed at a yoga studio's holiday party, and it was a resounding success. They loved us (it's nice to be loved :)). I always appreciate when people squeeze into a room to watch the dancers despite not having anywhere comfortable to sit. Even if  few of them were drunk.

But since then, things have been quiet. We've been busy, to be sure. After dispensing with several cane dances, we have what we're all hoping is the Definitive Cane Choreography. 

Choreographies with props push the qualities of a troupe to it's very limits. At any given performance, there will inevitably be at least one member who cannot be there. When props are in the mix, missing members can have a large impact on the aesthetics of the choreography and hence the other group members need to be flexible enough to adjust the routine accordingly at the last moment. Several of our cane choreographies have been casualties of this phenomenon.

We learned one that I loved back when I was pregnant with Anne, but there was a partner section that went to pieces if even one person was out, so we didn't keep it in the rotation. Then we learned another one for last spring's hafla and that one suffered from a malady that we all can spot but have a hard time pinpointing why: it just didn't work. None of us could remember the steps with any consistency, certain parts resulted in cane-related head injuries during practice and had to be changed, and we all hated it, even Claire. I think that oftentimes the Saidi music that you use for a cane piece has a consistent beat with few "signals" in the rhythm to divide it up easily, so it was difficult for the group to remain synchronized, and for whatever reason, the combinations were difficult to memorize in the context of the music. We had to change certain combinations so many times that my brain got scrambled trying to remember from week to week what we had changed it to and I wasn't the only one having that problem. After that hafla, we never spoke of that cane piece again.

"Claire, are we going to do that cane..."


So we now have a brand new cane piece, and we just finished it Friday. It's a lovely number, quite long and capable of being divided up for different situations and time slots. The first half is veil, we learned that back in the fall. There is a point at which we tie our veils around our waists, which was quite challenging to do gracefully at first, but we've all gotten a lot better at it. Then there is a taqsim (slow) section, followed by the cane. We have a final crescendo with half the group wielding double canes and the other half (myself included) untying our veils and re-swooping them around. It all sounds very dangerous but it looks awesome.

SO, with that in place we finally have some gigs coming up. We're doing a charity event in April that necessitates us dancing on a modeling runway that I have to admit makes me just a mite nervous. Your Catholic Librarian has been known to trip quite easily and dancing on something that is only marginally stable and is raised off the ground brings out the paranoia. It goes without saying that we're not swinging canes around on the runway. We're doing the veil portion of the new number plus a drum choreography that we all know so well we could do it even if comatose. Drum = staying in one place a lot.

After that, Claire is moving to a new (gloriously larger) studio and is having a grand re-opening hafla. We'll be debuting the new cane (can you imagine the cane accidents in the tiny studio we dance in now? I assure you, they're not pretty) plus anybody can solo that wants to. As is usually the case, I want to, but yet I'm terrified all at the same time.

And so this begs the question: what type of solo should I do? In the fall, I chose to do a drum solo because I love those and I think that haflas are friendly, informal environments in which you should do what makes you happy. And drums make me happy. But I just did that, so I need to find something different.

My first thought was sword. I do love dancing with my sword, but performing with my sword is a whole 'nother animal, as is evidenced from the "Professional Debut" post on the sidebar if you haven't read that one already. It's amusing, to be sure. There may be a lot of people that I know in town for this hafla, so I'll be extra nervous. Is that a good combination with the sword? Inquiring minds want to know.

Another option is veil. My veil and I don't always love each other, so we'll put veil solo into the Challenging category. Challenging oneself is good, but it isn't always *fun* and I do want it to be fun.

The other option is to dance without a prop to either an upbeat modern tune or perhaps even a classical Middle Eastern piece. I tend to choose more contemporary music, so I could branch out in the classical realm. Hum...

Opinions? :)

Friday, March 15, 2013

A toddler Easter gift

Via my new friendship with Magnificat magazine on Facebook and Twitter (I recently reignited my old subscription with them; they like me :)) I saw this morning that they have out a new board  book for toddlers that would be perfect for their Easter baskets: My First Pictures of Easter.

Anne owns the Christmas version of this book and she loves it. Amazon has this book for $6.49, but I just placed an order there for the rest of the Easter stuff I wanted, and Magnificat's price is only $6.99. If you order just the book, shipping is only $1! So I just ordered the book from them. I'm very excited to put it in Anne's Easter basket.

I just love this guy

The more I read about the new pope, the more I love him. He cracks jokes. He prays at Marian shrines. He hurried out to the balcony right after he was elected when others wanted him to delay because it was raining and he didn't want to keep the people outside waiting. He rides the bus rather than go in a private car. He pays his own hotel bill.


So far, so good. I think we got a good one. I really believe that Pope Francis was the Holy Spirit's choice.

I'm terribly excited for his installation Mass coming up Tuesday. In the mean time, I have a LOT of crocheting to do to prepare for Easter. Sigh. I always take too much on. This year, I did well for Christmas, but I overextended for Easter. Henry's crab is almost done, but I want to make Anne a chick which I haven't even started yet. I'm also still working on spring birthday gifts and a shrug that I want to wear on Easter day.


I have all next week, then it's Holy Week (!) so I *should* get everything done. I hope.

This weekend, we're going to do a nice St. Patrick's Day meal on Sunday and make a green cake. It should be a good one. And I'm staying riveted to EWTN watching new pope coverage.

Life is good.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I'm a John Paul II Generation Catholic: the papacy in the life of your Catholic Librarian

Last night I couldn't sleep very well. It's been like that for several nights now. I wake and think about what time it is in Rome (5 hours ahead of me) and what is going on there. Last night, I was thinking that the sweet new pope was likely not getting a wink of shut eye. How could you after the evening he had? You'd be on an adrenaline high for days.

Anyway, I then started thinking about how the papacy has played out over the course of my life, and if you're interested, here it is:

When I was born, Paul VI was still pope, though I do not remember him. The infamous "birth control encyclical pope," interestingly enough. I was 3 years old when he died, and this my friends, was a crucial point in the life of the Church. The original Pope John Paul was elected, and 33 days later he died. At the time, that had to seem jarring. Why did the Holy Spirit lead the cardinals to select someone who would die so soon thereafter? Well, it seems very clear to me. :) If that hadn't happened, we would never have gotten John Paul II. Because of John Paul I's death, the cardinal electors were suddenly open to somebody young and non-Italian, a completely different direction for the papacy. Somebody who could lead the Church for a long time with his youth and vitality, his strong intellect and sense of morality in a time when society's morals were getting much looser . And the whole world was changed as a result.

There will never be another John Paul II. My husband characterized him last night as "a superstar." He was a pope for the ages. I got emotional thinking about him again last night. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for 8 years already. He was the pope of my childhood, young adulthood, and entry into mature adult life. I do not think of myself as being in "Generation X;" I am a John Paul II generation girl.

I was devastated when he died. I remember watching his funeral, the period of mourning. During that Conclave, I was of course extremely interested in how it would come out, but I was not involved like I was yesterday. I was still mourning John Paul II and couldn't fathom anybody else as pope. When the Conclave started, I was watching for news, but I didn't feel a part of things. I remember being on the reference desk on the second day of the Conclave. A colleague came out to tell me that she heard there was a new pope. Desperate for news, I navigated to one of the big news sites. I read that there had been white smoke. Then a patron came to the desk.


Not only did a patron come to the desk, she wanted me to help her interpret a chemistry reference source that was in German.

*long suffering sigh*

I remember being in the reference stacks with her, feeling like I had ants in my pants because I wanted so badly to get back to the desk and check the news. Finally, I was freed. I went right to CNN's web site.

Ratzinger!! I remember feeling triumphant. So many people were saying the "Church needs to change, yadda, yadda" thing, like they always do, and I was happy that we had a pope who clearly would keep with John Paul II's vision. It was jarring to see him in the papal vestments, but it felt right. It was like I was shocked and yet not surprised at the same time. It just made so much sense.

The years passed. Then we came to his resignation. And the first Conclave of the social media generation. I kept up with everything via my podcasts and Facebook, and then Twitter (which I have come to love over the past 2 days; Facebook has been annoying me for a long time, and Twitter has a totally different feel).

Yesterday, I was watching the chimney cam. I was keeping up minute-by-minute with Twitter. I saw the white smoke *live* the instant it appeared above the Sistine Chapel. I shared it with my sisters, who both live in different states from me. It was wonderful.

I was hopping up and down in my seat waiting for the announcement and for the new pope to come out onto the balcony. I saw the bands come into St. Peter's Square and play the anthem. I didn't see ANY of that before.

When the announcement came, I missed it because my Vatican Radio video feed had frozen due to overuse. When I tuned back in, all I could hear was Latin that I couldn't even come close to interpreting since I came in right in the middle. But I was immediately brought up to speed by my sister and Twitter.

An Argentine! A Jesuit! Taking a name never before used by a pope, Francis!


And I *adored* his first speech and blessing, so sweet! He seems very humble, very serene, VERY prayerful. He asked for *our* prayers and extended his blessing to those watching over television and Internet. I was impressed.

And I learned that this morning he was up early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, go go pray at the basilica of St. Mary Major and ask for her intercession for the people of Rome. I just love this guy.

I've been watching some beautiful coverage on EWTN, thank the good Lord for saving me from the secular media. I do watch secular coverage as well, but it's nice to have an alternative. EWTN had on a documentary about the papacy the other night that was awesome. It would have been even better if I could *hear* it without Henry talking through it, but you can't have everything I suppose.

Oh! And I'm reading an ebook right now that I'm adoring. It's Jimmy Akin's Pope Names. Granted, we now have a pope that chose a unique name, but I'm still fascinated. And it's only $2.99 for Kindle, a bargain. He discusses the history of pope's taking new names and trends in the names they choose. Good stuff.

Anyway, back to our pope. I'm very excited for his installation Mass, which I hear will be this coming Tuesday, March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph. And I'm SO excited that we will have him for all of the Holy Week and Easter liturgies. God is good!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I'm overwhelmed

If this is how I feel, I can't even imagine how the new pope feels.

Wow. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Buenos Aires, now Pope Francis. The first Jesuit pope in history. 

I got tears in my eyes when I first spotted him on the balcony, after saying several *very bad* words because my feed had just frozen. I will have you know that I recovered quickly from my free fall into panic mode. How could my feed freeze THEN?!

My first impression: he seems very humble and prayerful. From popular surmise, he is very doctrinally orthodox. He's older than I thought he would be, but that's no matter.

I like him very much. It's hard to compare anybody to my beloved John Paul II, but I have a good feeling about this pope. A very good feeling.

Could the delay in the smoke... due to scaring up all of these bands?

I think so.

My goodness. I didn't get to see ANY of this last time. What a beautiful moment to be a part of the universal Church! I'm so grateful that due to modern technology and social networking I got to experience this. Just so grateful.

Habemus Papam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am in tears. I saw the white smoke and now I'm listening to the bells. Now to wait for the big reveal!! I can't stand it, I'm so anxious!!

On smoke watch again...

This could be the one. I'm watching a live stream via right now, real good focus right on the chimney. Biting nails!!!

Our wait continues...

I was awake at the early hour of 6 am EDT fumbling with my remote to tune in to Chimney Watch 2013. If you are not following @ConclaveChimney over on Twitter you are seriously missing out, let me tell you. That thing cracks me up.

Anyway, I digress. Happily, EWTN had a live camera on the chimney that it was displaying in a corner over the top of it's regular programming. I watched some woman play the organ while staring at the chimney cam. Soon, I had to get Henry up and on his way to getting dressed or that child would never drag himself out of bed.

I did so, and as I returned to begin dressing the big moment came: Gray smoke. Gray?! Wha... Oh, it's black, yes, very black. I wasn't surprised. In fact, I think it's better that they take more time. The soonest I expect while smoke is in the afternoon votes today, so no biggie. You can get I'll be at my computer nearly peeing my pants this afternoon.

I also heard about (thanks Amy!) and signed up to receive a text message when white smoke appears above the Sistine Chapel, on the off chance that I'm not acting all stalkerish on my computer when the Big Moment comes.

This afternoon is an important vote. I believe this was the time in the last Conclave that Pope Benedict XVI was elected. I think it's fine if the smoke is still black, but it'll be hard to wait yet another day for more results. The humanity!


Tuesday, March 12, 2013



That is the question of the day, to be sure. But seriously, how can I not be? THIS IS HISTORIC, PEOPLE. I'm writing a book review in between my stalking, I promise.

I went for my knitting lunch at 1 pm, and was anxious to return to smoke watch an hour later. 
I was simultaneously tweeting and wrestling with Vatican tv when word came in that black smoke was rising from our precious chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. Smoke?! How could I not have a live feed?!

This is going to be a problem. It took several attempts before I forced the Vatican feed to allow me to see the shot of the chimney. Apparently the cardinals didn't want to leave anything to chance this year: people were reporting a voluminous cloud of black smoke coating St. Peter's Square, and the chimney was having to defend itself against some people tweeting about pollution, lol. Suddenly, I love Twitter.

Ok, so the word on the street is that the morning ballot will take place at approximately 4:30 am EDT and we can expect smoke sometime after 7 am here on the east coast. I'll still be at home inevitably packing my lunch and reading to Anne then so she's going to have to live with watching something, anything, that will show us the chimney cam. Maybe EWTN will come to our rescue? I'd think the cable news networks are going to just cut away and show us once the smoke appears. I don't know, BUT I'LL BE STALKING, rest assured.

Just in case you didn't know already: I AM SO EXCITED.

The doors are closed!

I'm so excited I can hardly type. I just watched the entire procession and oath taking ceremony live from the Sistine Chapel. I'm burning up my Twitter feed after lying dormant for something like 2 years. @ConclaveChimney is hard at work reporting in.

I found a Vatican tv feed to watch. Is it just me, or is the Vatican web site not all that easy to navigate? I watched it on a third party site. Right now Vatican Radio looks like the place to be for streaming.

I also just adopted a cardinal to pray for. PRECIOUSNESS!! You can too by going here.

I don't know what to do with myself right now. Right. I should be working.

Big day

Today is the BIG DAY. I know that it is highly unlikely that a new pope will be elected today, but I'm super excited all the same since it is the official beginning of the Conclave. I love that my campus is on spring break so I have lots of extra time to stalk the places via which I'll be monitoring coverage. So, what am I doing?

(1) Keeping up with that precious Fr. Roderick. His Twitter handle is @FatherRoderick and I follow him on Facebook. As well, I'm awaiting each installment of his Catholic Insider podcast with baited breath.

(2) Apparently, #HabemusPapam is the hashtag to search for on Twitter to keep up on minute-by-minute coverage. There is also a #Conclave hashtag.

(3) I am also now following @Raymond Arroyo now (from EWTN) and @ConclaveChimney. Isn't that just the cutest thing? The first Tweet I saw from the chimney read "Guys, I'm stuck up here on this roof..." I just about died laughing. He's re-Tweeting some good stuff.

(4) I'm keeping my eyes peeled on the Vatican's web site, which does has a live stream of St. Peter's Square. I'm hoping that they will have a "chimney cam" going once the cardinals begin voting.

I don't have a Smartphone, but for those that do, I know there is that fabulous new Pope App, and for once, I'm very jealous of those that have access to this.

I'm just trying to keep up and trying to stay prayerful. As soon as something happens, I'll be on here chattering about it.


Monday, March 11, 2013

First confession weekend

On Saturday, Mike and I accompanied Henry to his First Confession celebration, which was just precious. The weather was simply gorgeous for it this weekend. I love spring. I actually don't love summer, but sunny spring days are fabulous. The air is just so fresh and crisp. We left Anne with her grandparents to just give Henry our attention on his big day and arrived at the church just before the 11 am start time.

There were a lot of people there, and a buzz of excitement and anxiety permeated the sanctuary. :) Henry sat with us as things got started with a hymn. Then the children were called up by name to the altar and the priest spent some time with them talking about Jesus the Good Shepherd. The kids sang a few songs (this was Henry's dreaded time, but he did just fine). The whole time, I felt giddy. The parish we were at for the ceremony actually isn't the one I belong to, it's the one affiliated with Henry's school. And I feel very close to my parish family. Here, however, I felt close to the universal Church. In countless other parishes around the world, children are making their First Confession in a ceremony just like this one, and have done so for generations. It was a Power Catholic moment, and I just felt so happy and proud to be part of the Church.

When the songs were done, we were given instructions for how the actual confessing would proceed. Four priests were present to hear confessions, and they wanted to meet each child, so confession would be face-to-face (Henry also wasn't crazy about this, but I told him it was no big deal, he could use the screen after that whenever he wanted). A parent could accompany their child up to the confessional to meet the priest, then the child would go in for confession. After that, they all had a cotton ball lamb with their name on it to affix to a tapestry on the altar (couldn't you just die?!) and would receive their certificate of First Reconciliation.

I agreed to go with Hank, and he wanted to go to one of the priests near the front of the church. We headed right up, me feeling excited that we would be one of the first in line. As we were waiting, we made a discovery: this particular priest wasn't using the confessional; he had set up 2 chairs outside of the small side altar and was doing the confessions right there in the open. None of us could hear anything since we were tucked back, but Henry was freaked out.


Sigh, so we lost our place in line and proceeded to a line for a priest in the regular confessional. We waited. And waited. I don't think the 7 year olds were taking that long to confess their sins, I think the priest were just spending extra time with them, since it was their first confession. We fidgeted. Finally, it was Henry's turn. The confessional door opens and out comes this ancient priest. He held the door open with wobbly countenance and we approached. He asked Henry his name and introduced himself to both of us. Then he carefully shepherded Henry inside and that was that. It was quite adorable. Mike and I set up shop in a pew nearby awaiting Henry's return.

About five minutes later our patience was rewarded. Henry came out, beaming. I hustled him over and asked about his penance. He said that the priest told him to say one Hail Mary for the priests electing the next pope this week in the Conclave. Love! We said the prayer together, then he went up to affix his lamb.

We received a very nice certificate noting the date and location of his First Reconciliation. I have all of the kids sacramental paperwork in a folder that we keep with other important papers. After that was all done, we took Henry out to lunch.

It was a really, really nice afternoon. And now I'm about ready to jump out of my skin with excited anticipation of the Conclave.

Friday, March 8, 2013

CONCLAVE! And, Henry's first confession

I got the breaking news while I was on the reference desk that the Conclave has been officially set to begin on Tuesday. I immediately wanted to navigate over here to this blog, but imagine this, I was commandeered by an absolute *onslaught* of panicking students needing things to take home with them over spring break. That and a community patron who had an index card full of chicken scratch that he wanted me to painstakingly interpret with him for about 30 minutes.

*long suffering sigh*

I was *dying* to read the Catholic news and get to my blog. So here I am. What a perfect week, spring break! Things will be quieter at work and I can stalk Sistine Chapel chimney web cams and pertinent Twitter feeds. SO EXCITED.

In related Catholic news, tomorrow Henry receives the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time. :) Mike and I are both accompanying him to the church, and we're taking him out for lunch afterwards.

He already has his new rosary that I got him partly in commemoration of this event, I gave them to him on the eve of Lent so that he could pray with them each night and so far we've made every single night except when I'm out of the house at his bedtime, usually Friday night belly dance class. He's been very cute about it. His Act of Contrition is all memorized and we've talked about the how-to's and why's of confession several times. We even looked at a confessional together one day after Mass.

He still seems a bit nervous about the whole thing, and insists that the teacher told him at "confession practice" that they had to use the face-to-face side, not the screen, which I find somewhat hard to believe, but we'll see tomorrow I suppose. The kids are apparently also presenting an opening program in which they sing a few sacred songs, a piece of the puzzle that Henry is not very happy about.

"I can't sing good, Mommy."

Well, neither can I, so I sympathize with that. Our family is not blessed with vocal abilities.

So, it's a very nice occasion and I'm looking forward to it. It's the first sacrament either of our children will have received other than baptism. I wish they still did First Communion in second grade, like when I was a little girl, but that's changed, at least in this diocese. We made our first confession right aorund now, like Henry is, but then we did First Communion right in May of the same year. Henry won't make his First Communion until a year from May. A pity. It's actually tough to bring him with me in the communion line now because he looks old enough to receive and the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion keep trying to give it to him. I have to intervene each time. :)

So, a big sacrament day for Henry tomorrow. I'm just hoping to have a restful and non-tantrum filled weekend. Yes, that would be referring to Anne not myself, but I confess that sometimes in the middle of the night I have weak moments. Last night was epic, but I'm actually in a pretty good mood despite that. We'll get there.

Next week is going to be major. Let us all catch our breath now.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Still somewhat dying

In an unforeseen twist, I am still not completely recovered from whatever nefarious virus I acquired this week. I was not aided by our daughter waking us at 3 am and thereafter refusing to go back to sleep. Whereupon, when we blearily got up for the day at 6:30, she acted crabby and miserable because SHE WAS TIRED. Ugh.

But food still barely looks tolerable to me. I'm losing the last few pounds that I've held onto since I weaned Anne, but I don't really advise not eating as a weight loss method.

So I'm just trying to hang in there. Mike is going to hang with his guy philosophy professor friends tonight, so I think I'm going to watch Julie and Julia and crochet. Hopefully, I'll still be conscious when he returns. My poor body just feels so beaten down.

Here's hoping for a conclave-date-revelation-Friday. :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


It's pretty unusual for me to go a working day without posting, and yesterday's reason was thusly:

Monday night Mike and I get into bed. As he arranges the covers and otherwise jostles the bed, I crankily ask him if he could keep it down since all the movement was making me nauseous.

"Are you not feeling good? This shouldn't be making you nauseous."

Hum. Hank had been under the weather all weekend and come to think, I did feel a twinge of nausea, even while lying still. I pledged that I hoped all would be well come morning, and that I thought I was fine.

Two hours later I awake, chilled to the bone and shivering uncontrollably.

This is bad.

I try a number of different positions to stay warmer. All fail miserably. Finally, I get out of bed and huffily tug on a pair of yoga pants under my nightgown to warm my legs. I feel dizzy the entire time.

This is really bad.

For the next hour or so I toss. And I turn. I toss and turn. My muscles all ache. Eventually, my soft moaning wakes Mike.

"Are you ok?"

"I'm really sick."

"Do you need anything?"

"No, not right now."

"Ok, well wake me if you do."

An hour later I awaken, my body ABLAZE. Great. It takes renewed dizzy effort to wrench off the yoga pants plus my socks. The effort results in me feeling as though I may vomit, but I know that my unsteadiness on my feet means that I'll never make it to the bathroom. I stumble to the trash can but manage to stave it off. I have been known to stave off vomiting by sheer strength of will in the past. I'm not saying that this is in fact a good thing, it just is what it is.

I stumble back to bed. Suddenly I realize that I am thirsty, VERY THIRSTY. I think about my chilled aluminum bottle of water in the refrigerator. It's so...crisp and cold and wonderful. Going downstairs to get it is absolutely out of the question, however.

"Honey? Honey are you awake..."

*soft snore*

Well, there goes that idea. I know he said to wake him, but I feel too guilty. Morning is what? Only 4 hours away.


I lie there and actually *fantasize* about water. Springs of living water. Waterfalls, pools. I think about oases in the desert, like when we watched Lawrence of Arabia a few weeks back. I toss and turn fitfully for the rest of the night.

Come morning, I know that the chances of me getting to work are 0%. I call in sick (a rarity for me) and spend the day on the couch and up in bed. No easy feat with my daughter around, but we managed. All food looked repulsive. I just drank and drank and drank. Water, orange juice, tea.

By evening, I was somewhat functional again. I was able to take a shower, and when the kids went to bed, I took out my crafting. Sadly, even that didn't hold the appeal it usually does. I'm crocheting a cupcake, and it wasn't turning out the way I wanted. The top was just pointier than it should be. It looked kind of like a nipple, but I couldn't bring myself to admit it. Mike wanders into the living room.

"Does this cupcake look all right to you?"

"It looks like a boob."

So there you have it. Although the day ended with the boob cupcake in the trash, I could feel myself on the mend, so all was well. And it was nice to be home with Mike and the kids.

This morning, I could tell that I felt a lot better. Food still isn't looking all that appealing, and I have a horrifying rash from the fever breaking (lovely, I know) but I feel fairly normal.

I'm getting anxious about the conclave, but if the cardinals aren't anxious, why should I be?

I'm glad to be back at work where I can obsessively check the news every hour on the hour.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Distracting myself while we await the conclave...

It was an emotional weekend for me, as I'm sure it was for all of you. I listened to a bunch of podcasts as I went about errands from The Catholic Insider, aka Fr. Roderick (I just adore him). I subscribe to The Break, one of his other shows, and have for some time, but I just discovered The Catholic Insider. And I loved listening to him reporting in right from St. Peter's Square on Thursday, it made me feel like I was there and a part of everything as well. I'm anxiously awaiting more installments as this historic story unfolds.

I'm poring over the newspaper each morning and constantly sticking my nose in my Facebook news feed eagerly awaiting more information, but in the meantime I've been distracting myself with marathon crafting sessions. Easter is approaching, and in case you didn't already know this (snort!), this is my most inspired crafting time of the year. Did you know that March is National Crochet Month? Well. Now you know. :)

Henry and I were at JoAnn's yesterday for their Coupon Commotion to gather some supplies and away I went. I've got a whole horde of secret birthday gifts tucked into my at-home knitting bag that I'm very excited about, photos to be revealed at a later date. I'm also working on stuff for the kids' Easter baskets.

Henry has been asking me to make him a stuffed crab since Christmas, so I'm working on that now for him. Anne is getting a little crocheted chick. I also want to make Anne an Easter sweater, we'll see if that happens or not, time dependent. I also just ordered Anne a set of saint peg dolls from Cam's shop, because she loves hers that I got her for Christmas. She will be getting the Our Lady of Fatima collection complete with all 3 children. I have an Amazon order planned for my next pay period with books for both kids and a movie for Henry.

I have found that I love crocheting toys. I don't mind knitting them as well, but crochet is my absolute favorite for this. The projects are cute, quick and easy. In case we need inspiration, this is the chick that I'm going to be making:

I just love Easter.

BTW, I love this designer's work. This chick is a free pattern on Ravelry and on her blog. She also offers a Thanksgiving turkey, a bluebird, and a puppy for free. I bought her wolf pattern and am eyeing up a teddy bear and a bunny. Her patterns are well written, detailed (with lots of instructions on assembly, something that can be woefully lacking in other amigurumi patterns) and adorable. I've been having a great time with them. When I'm not obsessing about the papacy. You know how that goes.

Friday, March 1, 2013


I wasn't prepared for how awful I felt watching Pope Benedict's helicopter fly out over Rome yesterday. It wasn't yet 2 pm EST, so I wasn't expecting it, and the emptiness that I felt startled me.

I remember Blessed John Paul's final illness and death like it was yesterday. I was about 8 weeks pregnant with Henry, which was a great comfort to me, and of course we had all known that John Paul's death was coming. Although Paul VI was pope when I was born, he and John Paul I died when I was far too young to remember. So, John Paul II was the only pope that I'd ever known, and I LOVED him. I mean, LOVED him. It was the great goal of my life to meet him in person, and I was never able to. Mike and I do have a papal blessing from him when we married 3 months prior to his death, which is of course very special to us.

So, John Paul II's long decline was hard on me, but it just seemed to me like he would live forever. It just didn't seem possible for me to imagine the Church without him. But toward the end there I could see the writing on the wall, and I prepared myself. The new life growing within me felt even more poignant as John Paul passed away.

I remember the mourning period, the funeral, the conclave. I still felt numb. And when Benedict was elected, I was thrilled, because I knew how close he was to John Paul, and I felt confident in his ability to lead the Church.

Now, with his resignation, it all feels so different. I'm glad that he's still here with us, praying for us all. But him stepping down feels very jarring to me, and having the Church without a pope really scares me.

I hear that Monday the cardinals will meet to set a date for the conclave, that'll be good. I remember the last interregnum and this one feels both the same and different, if that makes any sense. It's so strange, it's so exciting, it's so sad, all in one.

I hope that we have a new pope soon, and that he is spectacular. I keep reading in the newspaper about how "Pope Benedict leaves a church in crisis, his successor will have so much to deal with." Well yes, but isn't that always the case? Is the Church (indeed, the world) ever NOT in crisis in some form or another? I think that the media is just trying to stir the pot.

Yesterday evening after our takeout, we put on BBC World News for a spell, and their coverage wasn't too objectionable. There was the inevitable speculation about "papal favorites" which is completely pointless, but there you have it. After that segment was over,  I put on EWTN, which was airing a Mass for Benedict at the National Shrine in Washington DC. It was lovely.

It comforted me to pray our Lenten rosary decade with Henry before he went to bed. He's *adorable* with his new rosary beads, and he keeps pleading with me to pray the entire rosary. Given that it takes us at least 10 minutes just to get through a single decade I've been reluctant (at least before bed) but I love that he's enjoying it so much. I'm very blessed to have him; I think he's going to grow up to be a kind and wonderful person and (please God!) a great Catholic.

These are historic and important days that we're experiencing, and I'm so glad to be sharing it with all of you. Let's all aim for a prayerful weekend, and I'll check back in, as ever, on Monday. :)