Author Archives: ymkbird

Thank You NFL & Fox…

The Super Bowl was truly a family experience at our house this year.  At 4:30 or so, we grabbed snacks and gathered in the living room to pick the teams we wanted to win.

Hubby and I are both fans of Peyton Manning –  what a class act – so we chose the Broncos.  Our 9 year old picked the Seahawks because he’s contrary like that.   The 6 year old picked the Broncos because she wants a pony.  The 4 year old was rooting for “the ones with the green shoes.”

The older kids discussed (not for the first time since their playoff loss) why the Packers aren’t in the Super Bowl this year, and my husband and I explained that this is the exact opposite of every other football game we’ve watched all year.  They can talk as much as they want during the game itself, they have to be quiet during the commercials.

Then – kickoff.  Each time the game went to commercial I sat, perched on the edge of my seat, remote in hand, ready to punch the off button or turn the channel at any sign of scantily clad and objectified women, wardrobe malfunctions, twerking, or even crude innuendo.

Surprisingly, I didn’t need to use it.  From the positive family messages in the Cheerios spot

to the ad activism of Bank of America and Chevy,

the crude jokes, sexual innuendo and scantily clad women were kept to a minimum.

Then, the halftime show.  Now, my kids do not know who Bruno Mars or the Red Hot Chili Peppers are (though my 6 year old said she recognized “Give It Away Now”), but they bought the pre-game and in-game hype 100%.

“The greatest concert of the year?! I can’t wait!” my son shouted at the 2 minute warning.

We tried to prepare them for the inevitable disappointment that goes with the Super Bowl Halftime show.  My husband explained that while it *may* be the greatest concert of the year, the year has only had 33 days in it so far – so there’s not a lot of competition.  I remembered the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” that had mothers screeching in horror everywhere and wondered if I should tell my son to cover his eyes just in case.

Lo and behold – it wasn’t all bad.  Bruno and his gold lamé jacket squad were more Motown classy than pop star sassy.  Boy does that kid have moves!  The Red Hot Chili Peppers were in their head-banging glory and Anthony Kiedis (lead singer) even broke out his dress shorts for the occasion.

Both bands did what they do best, did it spectacularly, and didn’t need anything outrageous or controversial to put on one of the best halftime shows I’ve seen since U2’s 9/11 tribute and heart-shaped stage in 2009.

I know that many people complained that the ads and halftime show were as sad, pathetic, and boring as the game itself (that one touchdown the Broncos scored felt like an awful lot like pity points).  But this mom is grateful that I did not have to answer any awkward questions from my young children.

It wasn’t perfect…Since when do threesomes save troubled marriages Butterfinger?  And why is Uncle Jesse about to use your yogurt to trick a girl into oral sex Oikos?   Oh and Sodastream…I’m sorry but using seductive straws won’t get me to buy your soda? Fortunately the worst offenders were after halftime and after my kids were in bed.

Despite a few hiccups, I want to issue a huge thank you to the NFL and Fox for a family-friendly Super Bowl experience!

thankyousuperbowl

Two Wrongs CAN Make a Right…

Family

My husband and I are both passionate about raising loving, respectful kids whose strong relationships with Christ and His Church are lived out in their relationships and community.  Sometimes, though, we disagree on our approach and I wonder if our different backgrounds have put us on completely different pages when it comes to reaching our parenting goals.

I’ve got advanced education in Pastoral Studies, Theology, and Teaching. My husband has advanced education in Administration, Teaching, and Social Studies.

I’m a cradle, Catholic-school girl Catholic.  My husband is a convert.

There are times when I seriously challenge my husband to become more comfortable with and better understand the words, signs, and gestures of our faith.  Sometimes he makes himself talk about (or listen to me talk with friends about) theology, Church doctrine, and what it means to be Catholic because I’ve shown him it’s an important conversation.

There are times when my husband seriously challenges me to remember that all those words, signs, and gestures mean nothing if we do not live as Christians in the real world.  Sometimes I make myself to stop talking about theology, Church doctrine, and what it means to be Catholic because he’s shown me that it’s important to just be a Christian interacting with our world instead of talking about how Christianity interacts with our world.

There are lots of times I’m convinced he’s wrong.  There are at least as many times he’s convinced that I’m wrong.  Then there are those moments – those oh-so-precious moments when I’m missing the mark and he’s missing the mark, but together we are exactly right.

This week our 1st grade daughter was asked by her principal to represent her school by leading the pledge at the City Council meeting.

My response:  I’m so proud of you! Because you are so kind and loving and respectful, you are showing people what it means to be a good Christian in our community, how to show Jesus’ love to everyone around you, and they are obviously noticing!  What a great job!

My husband’s response:  I’m so proud of you!  Because you are so kind and loving and respectful, you are showing people what it means to be a good citizen in our community, how to make our world better, and they are obviously noticing!  What a great job!

My daughter, who claims she wants to be either a teacher or a singer when she grows us, was instantly petrified.  She didn’t want to do it – she was too nervous because she doesn’t think she knows the pledge well enough, she doesn’t know these people, and she doesn’t know what it’s going to be like.

I responded by telling her I think we should take a few days to pray about it first. I told her that sometimes doing good things and being a role model isn’t easy.  We talked about how Mary said “yes” when God asked her to do something big even though she didn’t know a lot about what it was going to be.

So…she went to her dad and told him all the reasons she didn’t want to do it

My husband responded by telling her she should take a few days to think about it first.  He told her that it would be a great chance for her to be an example for other kids in her school and that it would give the city leaders hope to see someone her age doing something so big.  They talked about Rosa Parks and how little people can do big things that make them nervous if they do them by thinking about others instead of themselves.

My response wouldn’t have been right on its own – neither was my husband’s.    But both of them together?  We brought Church, State, and family together and I think all of us got a lesson from the ‘school of deeper humanity’…

2 wrong people + God = the right family.

Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation.

There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion: hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life.

But, at the same time, every family is called by the God of peace to have the joyous and renewing experience of “reconciliation,” that is, communion reestablished, unity restored.

Familiaris Consortio #21

(Listen, I know that comparing standing up in front of the 6 people on our city council and reciting the pledge to Rosa Parks or, you know, the Mother of God is a little heavy handed and over the top, but it’s a pretty big deal to her! Plus, I am an English major and hyperbole is a legitimate way to prove a point!)

Epiphany Home Blessing

What is a blessing?

Blessing a home recognizes God’s goodness in providing for us a home to live in, invites God to be present within our home, and dedicates our home to God.  A blessing isn’t a magic formula that makes our homes holy; our homes become holy because of how we act inside them. Rather, it asks for God’s protection over the mind, body, and soul of those who live there.  This kind of blessings bestows what the Church calls actual grace — the divine energy which the soul needs in the countless emergencies and difficulties of our daily struggle with the devil, sin, and our own fallen nature.*

Having our home blessed helps draw us closer to God, to Whom it is dedicated; and acknowledges that our home does more than just benefit our bodies by providing the tangible things like warmth, heat, shelter, etc.  A blessed home can benefit our souls as well.

Epiphany Home Blessing

The Feast of the Epiphany has, for centuries, been a traditional time for families to bless their homes.  This tradition likely came about because the Three Wise Men visited the home that the Holy Family had established in Bethlehem (before the flight to Egypt – after which they settled in Nazareth).  The visit from the Wise Men blessed the home of the Holy Family because they came in humility to honor and pay homage to the Christ Child and because they were the first to not only seek Jesus, but also to recognize Him as the Messiah.

The Epiphany home blessing tradition has been more popular in Europe than in the US, but many American Catholics have taken up the practice as well.

What you’ll need:

  • Blessed Chalk**
  • Your Home
  • A person with spiritual authority over your home to lead***
  • Incense (optional – frankincense would be ideal!)

How to do it:

  1. If you are choosing to use it, light the incense as a reminder of the gifts offered by the Three Wise Men.
  2. The leader should say the blessing.  There are a variety of Epiphany home blessing ritual prayers available (here, here and here).  Choose whichever one you like.
  3. Once the prayer is complete, the leader should use the chalk to write the following on the door (or door frame or lintel):

20 + C + M + B + 14

The three letters stand for the three kings who were traditionally known as Caspar, Melchoir, and Baltassar. (The initials, C, M, B, can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat” which means “Christ bless this house”.) The numbers are for the year.

  1. Go through the home and write the blessing formula over each door within the home – especially the threshold, the dining room, and the bedrooms.
  1. Gather as a family and discuss ways that you can seek and recognize God’s presence in your family and your home throughout the coming year!

Luke 10:5


* from: The Priestly Power to Bless by Ernest Graf, O.S.B.

** Chalk is customarily blessed on January 6, the feast of the Epiphany.  Your parish (or another parish in town) may provide blessed chalk after Masses this weekend.  If not, you can always ask a priest to bless some chalk.  The blessing can be found here.

*** Just as there is a spiritual hierarchy within the heavens (choirs of angels) and a spiritual hierarchy within the Church, there is a spiritual hierarchy within your home. Top down it would be:  A priest or deacon of the parish you belong to, another priest or deacon, the father of the home, the mother of the home.

Wise Men Still Seek Him…

Wise Men Still Seek Him

When I was a child, the magi’s story captured my imagination.  I remember my parents drawing out the Christmas season through the Feast of the Epiphany.  Presents stayed under the tree, decorations stayed up, the Christ candle at the center of the Advent wreath was lit, and even Christmas music echoed in the halls of our home all the way through January 5.  Without fail on the day after Christmas, the wise men would begin their journey from the far east (sofa table) traveling a little each night while we slept as they made their way to Bethlehem (next to the fireplace).

20140103_105709

One nativity in our house this year – with wise men, wise Calico Critters, wise ninja turtles, wise Batman, and wise Peter Pan… all seeking Him.

My adult imagination was sparked in a whole new way as I read how the early Church fathers interpreted the magi story in light of Old Testament prophecy:

Justin Martyr

Justin cites Isaiah 8:4, where the prophet predicts that “before the child knows how to call ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria will be carried away by the king of Assyria.” For Justin, the magi were priests of an eastern cult and practitioners of magic and astrology. The wealth of Damascus and spoils of Samaria represented the sorcery and idol-worship that the pagan magi gave up when they worshiped Jesus. The magi’s visit to the crib was thus their moment of conversion and the renunciation of their misguided, idolatrous practices.*

Origen

According to Origen, after the star appeared to the magi, they noticed that their magic spells faltered and their power was sapped.  Consulting their books, they discovered the prophecy of the oracle-reader Balaam, who saw a rising star “com[ing] out of Jacob” (Numbers 24:17) that indicated the advent of a great ruler of Israel. The magi thus conjectured that this ruler had entered the world. So, the magi traveled to Judea to find this ruler, and based on their reading of Balaam’s prophecy, the appearance of the comet and their loss of strength, they determined that he must be superior to any ordinary human—that his nature must be both human and divine.*

Irenaeus of Lyons

According to Irenaeus, the magi offered Jesus myrrh (used for anointing corpses) to indicate that he was to die and be buried for the sake of mortal humans, gold because he was a king of an eternal kingdom, and frankincense (burnt on altars as divine offerings) because he was a god.  As the first visitors to recognize who this newborn child was, and what his birth would mean to the whole world, the witness of the magi was not insignificant to these controversies. Their three gifts seemed to demonstrate their understanding of the three distinct persons who shared a single “nature” within the Trinity.*

The wise men did not simply seek Him, they were the first to recognize Jesus as messiah.

As the Magi strove to find the newborn king, may the Feast of the Epiphany find us not only seeking out Christ each day of our life, but actually recognizing Him as Priest, Prophet, King, and Messiah.

As the Magi renounced their magical idolatrous practices in the infant face of God incarnate, may we renounce whatever worldly idols have thickened the veil between us and Christ.

As the Magi blessed the Holy Family with their humility and homage, may our families be blessed humility and may we keep the adoration of Christ at the center of everything we do this year.

Epiphany Prayer


* From: The Magi in Art and Literature by Robin M. Jensen

The Condescension of Christmas

I want to be clear about something: I love Christmas.  Everything to do with Christmas.  I don’t care that the stores put out Christmas decorations in October because just seeing those aisles start to fill with twinkling lights, sparkling ornaments, and scented pine cones reminds me that my favorite time of year is approaching.  I listen to Christmas music as soon as Thanksgiving is over because – hey, it takes me more than 4 weeks to prepare for the joy of the Incarnation, okay?

recipe

I need you to understand how much I love Christmas because then you can understand what a problem I’ve had this year.

My Christmas Spirit is two sizes two small.

Deep down this year, my heart just hasn’t been in it.  Christmas has felt more like a to-do list than a celebration – a mental exercise requiring so much effort.

“The language of the Lord is the language of love and tenderness, of whispers and extreme simplicity…Usually, Christmas seems like a very noisy feast, but we can use a bit of silence to hear these words of love, closeness and tenderness.” – Pope Francis

Reflecting on that quote, I realized that my Christmas needs more softness and tenderness, more heart and less head, more ‘being’ and less ‘doing.’

Yesterday, snow covered roads meant my normally half hour commute home from work took an hour and a half.  I had Christmas music on in the car and noticed lyrics to a one carol I had never noticed before:

Raise, raise the son on high
The virgin sings her lullaby
Joy, joy for Christ is born
The babe, the son of Mary

The First Christmas was a pretty noisy feast.  Travel, crowds, gifts, visitors, animals, death threats, angels, dreams, songs, shepherds, even a drum set!

Yet, in the midst of it, there is a moment – just a moment – when all is calm.  Mary and Joseph look lovingly over the sweet soft head of the newborn child.  She sings a lullaby showering the soft baby skin in kisses.  He gazes in adoration and awe at the gift and responsibility in front of him.

Mary kissing baby jesus, dark-haired

The night is silent, and before the choirs of angels, visiting shepherds, adoring Magi, and flight to Egypt, there is just the Holy Family hearing in the depths of their souls “the language of the Lord…the language of love and tenderness, of whispers and extreme simplicity.”

joseph-baby-jesus-mary-in-a-manger

What Child is this?  This, this is Christ the King.  The King of Kings salvation brings.  This is the God of the Universe who condescends in the greatest act of humility to be bound by human form.  This is the Incarnation.  The moment when God’s very Word – the same Word that, booming across the chaos, speaks creation into being – becomes tenderness, gentleness, and simplicity.

While the truth and holiness of God always remains intact, the marvelous ‘condescension’ of eternal wisdom is clearly shown, “that we may learn the gentle kindness of God, which words cannot express, and how far He has gone in adapting His language with thoughtful concern for our weak human nature.” (Dei Verbum, 13)

What Child is this?  This is the Child who wants to be born again into our hearts this Christmas.  My prayer for all of us is that we can find a moment of silence.  Between the travels and visitors, the gifts and the music, let us all find a moment when all is calm and our hearts are bright with the love and tenderness of God’s great condescension.

baby-jesus-mary-joseph-by-dewey

What Child is this?  This is Christ the Lord who desires to be born into the softest area of your heart this Christmas.  May you find a moment of silence to ponder this mystery, holding all these things in your heart rather than your head.  May your loving heart enthrone him.

Merry Christmas

I like Christmas Jesus best…

Music with Morgan, Billy, and Ylvis

My kids have now reached the age at which we start having music fights in the car.  Our travel playlist has become quite eclectic.  For example, tonight we spent an hour in the car and our selections included:

  1. This summer’s VBS theme song (Stand Strong)
  2. Bon Jovi
  3. Billy Joel
  4. One Direction
  5. The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme Song
  6. Matt Maher
  7. Elton John
  8. Hakuna Matata
  9. Kenny Chesney
  10. Sidewalk Prophets, and
  11. What Does the Fox Say

One particular song that hit our playlist tonight was Billy Joel’s Summer, Highland Falls.  The lyrics of this song are so moving and beautiful that when I was studying poetry in college, I wrote Billy Joel a letter thanking him for the way he was able to evoke such emotion by pairing beautiful imagery with haunting melodies.

“It was by music that the ancient kings gave elegant expression to their joy. By their armies and axes they gave the same to their anger.” – Confucius

Just to give you a brief example:

We are forced to recognize our inhumanity
Our reason co-exists with our insanity
And though we choose between reality and madness,
it’s either sadness or euphoria.

You can listen to the whole song here:

I suppose it’s no wonder that I started thinking about lyrics considering that tonight’s playlist moved us from Billy Joel’s poetic genius immediately into One Direction’s Best Song Ever.

The refrain to that song?

I think it went oh, oh, oh / I think it went yeah, yeah, yeah / I think it goes oh

To say that One Direction is no poetic genius is putting it mildly.

To be fair, I must admit that  I sang the “oh, oh, oh” and “yeah, yeah, yeah” with just as much gusto as I did Summer, Highland Falls – and with significantly more dancing.  By the time we got to What Does the Fox Say, I had hopped down from my mental soapbox and forgotten all about my concern for modern song lyrics.  It could be that I was just too busy trying to make my kids laugh by imitating the CGI fox dance moves at the end of the song without sacrificing my driving.

“Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Then, I got home and found this gem on my Facebook feed:

I listened to these classic actors, with their rich voices, reciting such banal…well…crap… and I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Hearing One Direction (and Miley, and that idiotic Chinese Food song) in that context brought the point slamming home again.

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.” – Shinichi Suzuki

The songs whose lyrics are recited in that video (along with a thousand other modern pop and rock songs) make me want to laugh, dance, sing along, and bop my head.  But while that makes those songs entertainment, I don’t know that it makes them music in the idealist sense.

“[Music is] the exaltation of the mind derived from things eternal bursting forth in sound.”  -St. Thomas Aquinas

Truly good music has been a soundtrack of my life.  From the heart swell that begins with the opening bars to “Over the Rainbow” to the short story revealed in Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” to the mind bending insanity of “Bohemian Rhapsody” to the tears that well up each time I hear the “Ave Maria” – in its purest and most ideal form, music evokes emotion.

I can’t say I get much emotion out of

“You a stupid hoe / You a / You a stupid hoe / (stupid, stupid)”

unless you count dismissive condescension as an emotion? (That was Nicki Minaj, btw.)

Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents. – Ludwig van Beethoven

Maybe (probably) I’m over thinking it – and I’m still going to sing along with “What Does the Fox Say” – but every time I do, I’m going to imagine Morgan Freeman…

You're Kidding

I’m also going to try to be a little more deliberate about including some truly great music in the car’s playlist.

Remembering 9/11: Sharing & Praying with My Children

No adult can forget where they were or the emotional turmoil of September 11, 2001. Even if the frequency of our prayers or the urgency of our commitment to peace has wavered over the past 12 years, each September 11, we remember, we pray for our country, those who were lost, and those who mourn, and we recommit to working for peace in our homes, our families, and our world.

I sometimes find it hard to believe that while the emotions and images of that day are seared into my memory, my children will only read about it in textbooks and hear the stories second, third, and fourth hand. For them, September 11, 2001 will be like the Pearl Harbor bombing or the WWII concentration camps were for my generation – something understood intellectually, but not experienced emotionally.

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There’s a part of me that is okay with that. I don’t necessarily want my children to experience the frightening emotions of that day and the weeks the followed. I don’t necessarily want my children to know the shock of watching the attack on our country happening live on TV or sorrow of watching people fall from building sides and hearing the death toll continue to rise. I don’t necessarily want my children to feel the bitter emptiness of the New York skyline. There’s a part of me that wants to protect them from all of that.

However, if I engage only in an emotionless dissection of the September 11 event, my children will also never know the hope and unity that, if only for a short while, overshadowed the fear, sorrow, and brokenness of those days. I do want them to know the feelings of comfort we got from gathering as communities to pray together. I do want them to experience the unity of “one nation under God” that we were at that time. I do want them to know that divisiveness and partisanship have not always been the name of the game in Washington. I do want them to feel the peace and hope that came from the stories of ordinary people demonstrating extraordinary heroism and compassion.

So, I will remember 9/11 with my children – not with clinical facts, but with all of the emotion those memories raise in me. I will be honest with them about what it was like to witness evil that day, and I will delight in sharing with them the many, many ways we saw good overcome evil, light overcome darkness, and hope overcome fear.

9-11-cross-prayer

My grandfather was a POW who recorded interviews and about his horrific experiences in the German camps in WWII, and he presented me the model of how I plan to remember these events with my children. He never forgot the evil of that time in his life, but each time he shared a dark or frightening story, he followed it up with a story about goodness, about the human capacity for compassion and generosity, about the power of prayer, and about how he managed to find moments of true joy in the midst of tortuous pain and overwhelming fear.

Tonight and each year on this date, I’ll spend time remembering and sharing with my children the story of how we witnessed the Paschal Mystery of suffering and death leading to resurrection – of many tiny individual acts of good triumphing over a few big acts of evil. And then we’ll pray together – for those who were lost, for those who mourn, for those who still suffer from acts of terrorism, for our country, and for peace in our world.

Father,

We pray for all of the people who lost loved ones on September 11, 2001. Comfort them and continue to guide them in your hope. Help us to honor the lives of those who died, through our thoughts and our actions, and grant them the happiness and joy of heaven with You. Fill us with love and forgiveness, and help us to live peacefully with each other.

As we see pictures and hear memories of the suffering and confusion of September 11, help us to remember all the good that you have put in Your world. Help us, most of all, to share Your love and promises with those we meet that are suffering and confused.

Amen.

adapted from
Peaceful Remembrance of September 11, 2001
Forty Days of Prayer for Children

(download PDF)

Do you talk about the events of 9/11 with your children?  Why or why not?  If so, how do you remember that day with them?

September11Children

Memes and Miley: a Modern Day Parable

The last thing I want to do is get dragged into the Miley Cyrus / Robin Thicke VMA fiasco.  There is plenty of intelligent commentary on Miley’s fall from grace, Robin’s equal blame, and our society’s return to a post-modern prudity.  But the intelligent commentary is, unfortunately, in the minority.  For the most part, the Internet responded as the Internet does these days – in 140 characters and memes.

I want you to know that I tried, really truly tried (as in – spent far too many hours Googling every variation of “Miley Cyrus VMA meme” I could think of) to find a few of those memes that I could post here that would be funny but that wouldn’t subject you to gratuitous sex or tempt you to objectify these people more than they have objectified themselves.

I couldn’t find one.  Not. A. Single. One.

All of them were offensive, some of them were funny, and a few even gave me hope that we’re not as depraved a society as people think we are.

Celebrity reactions during VMA performance.  Dear Hollywood:  there IS a line.

Meme: Celebrity reactions during VMA performance.
Message: “Dear Hollywood: There IS a line – this crosses it.”

But there was one in particular that made me, well, sad.

billy-ray-cyrus-i-should-have-pulled-out

I understand that both Miley and Robin chose to act in a way that indicates they’d prefer to simply chew up, spit out, and take a big ol’ crap on their human dignity.  That makes me sad for them.  This meme makes me sad for us.  Just because they chose to act that way does not give the rest of us permission to forget that the individuals involved in this circus (Miley, her parents, her friends, her fiance, Robin, his parents, his friends, his wife, etc) are people with dignity and worth.

Whereas the memes using still shots of the performance are, for the most part, a commentary on reality (the performance happened, and that’s what it looked like), this one is not at all based on reality – it’s based on our discomfort.

Billy Ray Cyrus has not indicated that because his daughter made what he believes to be a terrible mistake, he wishes she had never been born.  Say what you will about his parenting failures, he has never indicated that Miley only exists to make him look good or feel good.  In fact, throughout Miley’s fall from cute Disney star to…whatever the heck she was Sunday night, Billy Ray has indicated that she is first and foremost his daughter.

We, however, as a society have indicated that Miley (and others like her) exist only insofar as they can provide entertainment for us, make us feel good about ourselves, or give us fodder for our sexual fantasies.  This meme indicates that we’re done with Miley. She embarrassed us because even we can’t believe that we have created a society where anyone would consider that performance acceptable.  She made us question our societal insistence that sexualizing women is the way to women’s liberty, that pornography is harmless, and that sexual morality is old fashioned.  Because she embarrassed us and convicted us, we think it would be better if she hadn’t been born.

After the VMAs Billy Ray Cyrus didn’t say “I should have pulled out.”  He said,

“She’s still my little girl, and I’m still her dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out. I love her unconditionally and that will never change.”

This is an unconditional love that truly honors Miley’s dignity and worth at a time when we all most need to be reminded of it.  It’s a love that refuses to objectify her or try to profit from her.

It’s also a love that does not condone the behavior.  Billy Ray sits on the Parents Television Council with its mission to ‘protect children from graphic and gratuitous programming and to restore responsibility to the entertainment industry.’ The same Council who issued a harsh statement condemning the performance.

It’s not all that different from the love another Father has for His daughter Miley, for His children killed in the chemical weapons attack in Syria, for His son who walked into a Georgia elementary school with an assault rifle, for each one of us.

I seem to remember Jesus telling a story a lot like this one.  The father in that story didn’t say “I should have pulled out” either.

And the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation…

Never mind - found one.

Scripture + Pop Music + Meme = Blog WIN!

Shoot, looks like I let myself get dragged in after all…

Assumption of Mary: Reflections for You & Your Family

Assumption

Although it is not mentioned in Scripture, the Assumption of Mary has been a solidly held belief of our faith since apostolic times, and has been officially celebrated by the Catholic Church since 6th century AD.

The Assumption of Mary was declared a dogma of the Catholic Church by Pope Pius XII in 1950: “The Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heaven.” (Munificentissimus Deus)

The Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a holy day of obligation for Catholics – meaning you need to get to Mass today!

A few reflections to help you enter more fully into today’s feast:

From Pope Francis’ Assumption Homily:

“At the end of its Constitution on the Church, the Second Vatican Council left us a very beautiful meditation on Mary Most Holy. Let me just recall the words referring to the mystery we celebrate today: “the immaculate Virgin preserved free from all stain of original sin, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things” (no. 59). Then towards the end, there is: “the Mother of Jesus in the glory which she possesses in body and soul in heaven is the image and the beginning of the church as it is to be perfected in the world to come. Likewise, she shines forth on earth, until the day of the Lord shall come” (no. 68). In the light of this most beautiful image of our Mother, we are able to see the message of the biblical readings that we have just heard. We can focus on three key words: struggle, resurrection, hope.

From St. Josemaria Escriva:

“Joy overtakes both angels and men. Why is it that we feel today this intimate delight, with our heart brimming over, with our soul full of peace? Because we are celebrating the glorification of our mother, and it is only natural that we her children rejoice in a special way upon seeing how the most Blessed Trinity honors her.”

From St. Bernard of Clairvaux:

“And with regard to ourselves, how deservedly do we keep the feast of the Assumption with all solemnity. What reasons for rejoicing, what motives for exultation have we on this most beautiful day! The presence of Mary illumines the entire world so that even the holy city above has now a more dazzling splendor from the light of this virginal Lamp. With good reason thanksgiving and the voice of praise resound today throughout the courts of Heaven…let us not complain for here we do not have a lasting city, but we seek one that is to come, the same which the blessed Mary entered today.”

From Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB:

We celebrate three great moments of Mary’s life knowing that they represent all of our lives…God was present and moving in Mary’s life from the earliest moments. God’s grace is greater than sin; it overpowers sin and death. Through her Immaculate Conception, Mary was called for a special mission.

The second moment of Mary’s life is the Incarnation. Through the virginal birth of Jesus we are reminded that God moves powerfully in our lives too. Our response to that movement must be one of recognition, gratitude, humility, openness and welcome. Through the Incarnation, Mary was gifted with the Word made Flesh.

The Church celebrates Mary’s final journey into the fullness of God’s Kingdom with the dogma of the Assumption promulgated by Pius XII in 1950. As with her beginnings, so too, with the end of her life, God fulfilled in her all of the promises that he has given to us. We, too, shall be raised up into heaven as she was. In Mary we have an image of humanity and divinity at home. God is indeed comfortable in our presence and we in God’s. Through her Assumption, Mary was chosen to have a special place of honor in the Godhead.”

Share this feast with your children:

  • Women for Faith & Family has some suggested activities including placing flowers around a statue of Mary in your home or church.
  • Catholic Mom has an idea for an art project reminiscent of a pop up book.
  • Catholic Culture suggests having a tea party in honor of the Assumption.
  • Take them to Mass!
  • Pray the Glorious mysteries and focus specifically on the Mystery of the Assumption.

Any other suggestions? How are you helping your children understand this important feast day? Other than going to Mass, how will you celebrate this feast?

Television and Faith Through the Eyes of A Child

26763f8c00f811e3b88d22000a1fd1dd_7-aAbout a month ago I had a conversation with my 8 year old son that went something like this:

Son:  Mom, I know what the most important thing in the world is.

Me:  Yeah?  What is it?

Son: God

He didn’t say “duh,” but it was implied.  At this point, I’m feeling pretty good about my Catholic parenting skills.

Me: Absolutely!

Son:  Do you know what the least important thing in the world is?

Me:  What?

Son:  I don’t know, I thought maybe you could tell me.

My, how quickly those good feelings are replaced with much more familiar feeling that I am blindly groping through this whole raising children thing.

Me: Ummm…well…what do you think it is?

Let’s be honest:  This is a classic parenting technique that should be known as “I have no idea, but am hoping you will talk some more so I can have time to think up a good answer.”

Son:  Maybe money?  But…even if money shouldn’t be the most important, it still is kind of important because we need it to buy food and gas and our house and stuff.

At this point, still floundering for an answer, I’m just grateful he didn’t include video games or Legos on the list of things we need money for.

Son (continuing):  For a while I thought maybe the Devil was the least important…

Wait?!  He’s been thinking about this “for a while?”

Son:  …but even if he’s bad, he’s still important.  I mean, he shouldn’t be important – we should just be able to ignore him all the time.  But, we can’t, and we have to watch out for him – so I guess that means he’s kind of important too.

At this point in the conversation, I’ve ceased trying to come up with a good answer and am just soaking up the kid’s theological wisdom (and wondering why I paid so much for a Master’s degree in Theology when I’m getting totally owned by my 8 year old in a theological debate I wasn’t prepared for).  I really don’t want him to stop, so I make an intelligent response intended to encourage him to continue and affirm the thinking he’s done so far. Read the rest of this entry

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