Friday, June 30, 2017

{SQT} The End-of-School Year Edition

1. Godparents

Chris and I are godparents again! Welcome to the holy Mother Church, Ruth Alice!

Proxies stood in for us since the baptism was occurring about 1,500 miles away from us. Our dear friends, the U-----s, have had a number of their six children within weeks of our six children, which is pretty fun! Eight more weeks to go for me . . .

2. Walking the Cul-de-Sac

My exercise regime hit what felt like a wall a couple of weeks ago. I really was pretty darned strong through the first and second trimesters, working out vigorously for an hour each morning faithfully. Well, now I'm 32 weeks and feel like my body is made of lead and I can barely move it.

This week, I began walking the cul-de-sac, which I resorted to in the last pregnancy as well. At a point, I really don't want to walk the neighborhood anymore because it's too uncomfortable to be three-quarters of a mile from the house, contractions squeezing me like a vice, feeling dizzy, and needing to visit the ladies' room yet again and immediately.

Solution: I take the kids to the cul-de-sac a couple of houses down the street and I walk loops around it for half an hour while they ride bikes, run races, climb trees, and poke red ant piles.

During pregnancy #5, I became a familiar installment at the cul-de-sac and one neighbor in particular kept tabs on me: "Have that baby yet?!" When Chris began showing up for walks with four kids and no mama, she knew I'd had that baby!

3. Cute Thomas Moments

Parents know that individual children respond differently to mommies and daddies. Thomas (23 months) has been under Chris' care during Mass for months, and he responds by sitting silently in Daddy's lap--sitting in the pew--until he falls asleep. Last Sunday, I don't even know why, we decided that I would try taking Thomas while Chris took some other kids.

I confidently walked into church and sat in the same area of pews in which Chris sits with Thomas. I put him on my lap.

The screaming began. He thrashed in my lap, he screamed loudly in anger. I tried to hold out, telling myself that surely this was louder to me than it was to others. But, no, in the otherwise silent church, Thomas was screaming, so after a couple of minutes, I made my exit.

I proceeded to spent the next 45 minutes trying everything I could: I held him pinned on my lap in the narthex: he screamed. I put him in the stroller and walked him around outside: he played, laughed, and tried to climb out. By now, my pregnant self, which can no longer handle the heat, was slumped in a chair outside, half asleep, pushing the stroller back and forth a couple of feet, praying the toddler asleep when who should show up but Chris, come to check on me.

"Hey, I got Joseph (4) asleep in the pew. Want me to take Thomas?"

"Yes, please . . . "

Chris proceeded to walk inside with Thomas, sit in that pew, Thomas in his lap with not one single peep, and the toddler fell asleep within about two minutes, whereupon Chris easily transferred him to the stroller for a nap (as if he'd ever transfer for me!), which lasted well over an hour, during the post-Mass social time and all the noise and ruckus.

Nap during Mass

I was teaching Composition one day when I noticed that Thomas had retrieved the bin of alphabet blocks, opened them at my feet, and was quietly building towers. Awwww . . .

I received a lavender-scented candle for Mother's Day, but the candle has basically become Thomas's. Somehow we discovered that Thomas really enjoys the scent and smelling it will, in fact, stop a temper tantrum or injury tears in their tracks. If Thomas is wailing in my arms, a kid will run and retrieve the candle, hand it to Thomas, and the tears usually cease.

So, imagine the darling moment when Thomas took his favorite stuffed cat, with whom he sleeps every night, to let Meow-Meow smell the candle. He walked around, kitty under his arm, candle in his hand, letting the kitty's nose smell the candle and himself making sniffing sounds.

Kitty smelling the candle

4. Last Week of Official School

It's official . . . let the last week of June mark the end of our 2016-17 school year! Read my blog post all about it.

5. Fr. Cassian Folsom Visits

Fr. Cassian Folsom of the Monastery of St. Benedict in Norcia visited our little parish halfway around the world to hold a fund raising reception, share some of his beer, tell us of the devastating earthquake that destroyed the 1,500-year-old monastery, and pray vespers with the ten priests and the laypeople.

Chris took our two oldest children to this evening event and I chuckled when farming these photos off of a friend's Facebook feed to see that my children were sitting in the front row as usual.

John and Mary, front and center

6. The Over-Intellectualization of the Catholic Faith

If you're me (with my particular faults), there is no such thing as too much use of intelligence, so when my husband told me that "The Over-Intellectualization of the Catholic Faith" by Fr. David Nix was a "must read," I certainly wondered where he was going with it.

I highly recommend everyone read this article: Catholics, Protestants, those who attend the Novus Ordo, those who attend the traditional Latin Mass. I read it as a Catholic who exclusively attends the traditional Latin Mass (aka Extraordinary Form): this article explains very well how this was the Mass that created saints and sustained the faith in its same form from about the 300s till 1967: saints even among the illiterate, the simple, the distracted mothers with 12 children.

Just a few nights ago, prior to our reading this article, I was reading our book on Bishop Simon Brute to John and Mary, and something sparked a question about the Mass. We shot off on a 20-minute conversation about the Novus Ordo Mass (which we definitely teach is valid). As an example I gave, the children were agog when I explained the Sign of Peace, which John (10) knows in detail as the brief, subdued moment between priests or between priest and deacon in the TLM. When I described how it is performed by lay people in most N.O. Masses and that it is done after the Consecration, so Jesus is really lying there on the altar while laypeople move about in their pews or in the entire sanctuary, chit chatting, asking after the wife and kids, giving each other hugs and kisses, Mary (8) shouted, "No way!" and they just could hardly believe it. The children might not be able to describe it in intellectual detail, but they know something is profoundly wrong with doing anything but paying strict attention while kneeling to Jesus already consecrated in the host. If Jesus came down from heaven and walked into the room, would that be the time for us to strike up conversation with a pal and ignore God made Man?

Just lately, I've been appreciating some fictional looks at this matter of transmitting the faith: what kind of faith would Jesus have left us if it required the greatest of intellectual minds, scores of books, literacy, and years of study to maintain it? This week, I read yet one more time Willa Cather's "Shadows on the Rock" (about Quebec in the late 1600s) and just began yet again her "Death Comes for the Archbishop" (about the founding and first bishop of the New Mexican diocese, when the USA acquired the Southwest). Also, Chris watched Martin Scorcese's "Silence," which is a beautiful Catholic movie overall with a serious, heretical flaw (you can Google it). We talked about those Japanese who went 200 years without a priest, and how they maintained their underground faith under threat of death and could recognize a priest when he returned: none of that was with deep intellectualism, but was with baptizing their babies and honoring icons. A similar situation occurred after the Spanish missionaries left the Southwest, which then went several hundred years without much priestly contact, but faith was maintained as best they could. We read in "Shadows on the Rock" about the old bishop and the new, and how the old bishop maintains the faith for his whole, isolated outpost of people by his simple actions, such as how he wakes the town before dawn daily with his Angelus bell.

Of course, Mother Church has always benefited from intellectualization: see St. Thomas Aquinas among so many others! But the day-to-day transmission of the faith was accomplished by simpler means than that: more actions, fewer words. More kneeling!

7. Readying for Summer Camp

John (10) is heading off to his first summer camp and the whole thing is becoming real to me real fast! Please pray for this mama's heart! Add in some pregnancy hormones and I feel like a mess.

Labeling clothing for camp

For more 7 Quick Takes Friday, check out This Ain't the Lyceum.


  1. John is going to have SO much fun at Summer Camp! Last year was the first year we let Emma go, and I was really quite nervous (it was the longest she's ever been away from us), but she came home so exhilarated. She goes again in a couple weeks. Jamie will be heading to overnight camp in a few weeks too, but Jason is going with him. Such big milestones!

  2. I read "The Over-Intellectualization of the Catholic Faith" with much interest. My parents were raised in rural 1940s and 1950s Ireland extremely poor with mostly illiterate parents and neighbors. They themselves had only a basic education. They always spoke of the Latin Mass as something they never comprehended and felt that they were not supposed to understand. (Implying that they felt they were taught to have more reverence for the priests than for the Mass). As a result, they never exposed us children to the Latin Mass as they felt it was exclusive and only for the most highly educated. I am extremely grateful for our parish offering a reverent Mass in both forms, which we happily expose our children to. I feel reverence is the most vital aspect, especially during a child's formation. However, my father in law, has pointed out that "Jesus shows up whether you like the priest or not, whether the church is beautiful or not, whether the homily is good or not and that is all that matters, its about Him not you!" That was me told!

  3. I'm reading your blog post and not only are all of our children entering the same grades, but I'm literally wearing the exact same blue maternity top as I type this that you're wearing in the photo! Wow!