Monday, September 28, 2015

Pope Francis - my thoughts

Pope Francis waves to the crowd at the end of Mass at Madison Square Garden in New York Sept. 25. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The Catholic Guy said "What you take away from this week with the Pope says more about you than it does about Pope Francis."

Well, if that's true, then I'm not sure what to think about myself exactly.

First of all, I really wanted to pay attention more this past week. I wanted to listen to the mass where Father Junipero Serra (now St Junipero Serra) was canonized. But I missed it.

I really wanted to hear his address to congress. But I only read it online.

I didn't even know he was addressing the United Nations!

And I only just caught the end of his homily at his last mass, as well as his final blessing, before leaving the United States.

Put all that together, and the phrase that comes to mind is the one about "good intentions".  (And a road. That doesn't go anywhere particularly nice.) Maybe that's why I have been close to tears all day.

It started this morning in mass. The "spitfire" was actually doing quite well - she sat with us (mostly) and minded us (mostly). But during the "Our Father" both her and her brother started acting up: he, by pulling on my earrings and trying to make out with my chin (The slobber!!); she, with the incessant coughing and dropping her Duplo blocks on the tile floor. (Note to self: Even 4 Duplo blocks are too many for a toddler in a church with tile floors.) We got to the part about forgiving trespasses and I just about lost it laughing. We had to look ridiculous - what with me getting my ear yanked off, and the husband reaching down four times in a row to confiscate each noisy block that had "fallen". I giggled the rest of the way through the prayer (my saving grace being that we were singing the prayer today so no one could me).

But then, during the celebration of the Eucharist, we sang a song that brought me to tears. I had never heard it before yet the melody so perfectly fit the words, that I had it in my heart for the rest of the day: "I know there will be a day of peace... for this, let us all work and pray." It was this thought of working and praying for the day of peace that we know will come... it so beautifully evoked the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus spoke about as both "present" and "not yet". As I held my little girl, my heart was filled with longing for this day to be realized for her sake. The song became my prayer and my tears (I hope) baptized it.

I think it fit in well with Pope Francis' message while he was here. It seemed that with every speech and action, he communicated volumes on the dignity and worthiness of each human life. Every baby kissed, inmate spoken with, political figure greeted, 'common joe' waved at - it all said the same thing: "I see you! I *want* to see you! We only have a moment... may we bless each other in it!" I have no doubt that his care and smiles and blessings and exhortations were genuine. This, I believe, is what moved me to tears as he pronouced his final blessing at the mass yesterday- I felt loved and humbled and encouraged to love better.

And then, he was gone! Well, from American soil that is. And that was when I nearly cried again. This time I was on my way to the grocery store and listening to "Pope Radio's" sign off (Sirius XM's Catholic Channel coverage of His Holiness's week in the US). One of the hosts, Jennifer Fulwiler, shared that she was also teary eyed at that moment, so I felt in good company. But I was surprised at myself. Like I said, I didn't pay attention to his visit nearly as much as I had intended (or, one could argue, barely at all) - so why I should have felt so much emotion at his departure baffled me at first.  But now, after a bit of processing, I can see that it's love. I love this man of God who has such a heart of compassion! I'm so grateful that he came to the U.S. and said the things he said, and did the things he did. He has blessed us and exhorted us to continue in the work that he is also doing: to love all, especially the poor, and to work for that "day of peace". I think that is good and true and right and I hope I will be able to live into that example that he left.

And... Lord willing, I also hope to see him in Dublin in 2018!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Blessings - Edible and Otherwise

You may have noticed I've alluded a couple times now to my husband having a surgery earlier in the summer - but out of respect for him, I've never gone into any detail about it. And.... I still won't. (ha! This must definitely be breaking a blogger rule somewhere. "Don't bring it up if you don't want to talk about it." Or something like that.)

But suffice it to say his surgery kept him out of commission for quite a while, and during that time wrangling the 2 kiddos became my 24/7 responsibility. I was so nervous about this that prior to the surgery that I solicted anyone and everyone's prayers: for my hubby's recovery and adjustment, for my wee ones to have extra grace with Daddy, and strength, endurance and *joy* for me.

One of the first places I took these requests was to my friends and family. (OK, I first took them to God... but after that, then I took them to friends and family). I was so humbled to immediately receive those prayers and then some! (More on that in a minute).

But I also did something I never had before - I shared them with folks on a website: Right before his surgery, the folks at PrayMoreNovenas announced that their next novena would be to St. Anne - the mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus. She is often asked (by single women) for help in finding a spouse, but she has also been known to intercede for people in need of healing.  In addition to this, the novena was perfectly (miraculously?) timed to go for the 9 days prior to my husband's surgery. Well, this sounded like more than just a coincidence to me so I logged on and typed in my prayer requests, and hit "Publish".

I have to admit: praying novenas, especially to saints, is still very new to me. Because it's so new, my senses are heightened and I'm paying close attention to everything I say and do. Well, come to find out I have some phrases that I use in prayer that come out, just on auto-pilot, that are really not appropriate in a prayer to a saint (like St Anne for instance).  Like, I say "Lord". A. Lot. If anyone else were to be listening to me pray they would think that I have either forgotten who I was talking to, or that I think Jesus has nodded off and needs to be snapped back to attention. It's bad.  So I learned I have to really pay attention to what I'm saying.

In any case, praying this novena to St. Anne was a great consolation to me. As was having my friends pray for us as well! They loved on us with prayers and food - and I can say with certainty - our bodies and souls were blessed. My husband especially loved our friend Monica's chicken bites that he had to have the recipe - which he doesn't often say things like that! So you can trust that this one is a keeper.
Print Recipe

Monica's Breaded Chicken Bites

Course: Main Course
Serves: 4


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 24 Ritz crackers (Original, whole wheat or a combination)
  • 12 cup grated parmesan
  • 12 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp thyme scant
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 12 cup butter melted (or avocado oil or EVOO)


  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put crackers, salt, thyme and basil into a gallon ziploc bag. Close bag and crush crackers into crumbs.
  3. Add parmesan to bag and mix thoroughly.
  4. Cut chicken into strips and coat in butter (or oil).
  5. Toss 5-6 strips into the bag and shake to coat. Remove and place on baking sheet.
  6. Repeat till all strips of chicken are used.
  7. Bake 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is done.

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Oh, and the best part? Our prayers were answered!! Praise be to our Lord and Savior for hearing the prayers of His saints.

Monday, September 7, 2015

All the things.

So many times over this last month I have thought to myself, "I should write a post about that...." But of course, as so often is the case with me, I find other things to do (or they find me - ahem, I'm looking at you little ones)
Who... us??
So here, in the order that they are coming out of my head (not necessarily in any particular order) are those things:

1. Blessed Brunch - Bezerkley style

...which means no brunch - just afternoon coffee break. :) However there was some super delicious quiche that I should have either gone back for seconds of, or asked the recipe for, but I digress.
I had emailed the BIS-folks back in July about hosting a brunch up here in Northern California - however, once my hubs scheduled his surgery, that went out the window. Blessedly (for reals) another lovely lady stepped up - 2 actually! - and I was so glad to go to her house on Saturday 8/8. I really didn't know what to expect, but since starting this blog and (before then) returning to the Catholic church, I was so hungry to get to know other women who really take this faith seriously. (Translation: I don't know what I'm doing, and really need some mentors/role models!*)

It did not disappoint.

We prayed, we ate, we introduced ourselves, we shared... really, for a bunch of women who for the most part, only met through a Catholic devotional on the internet, I could not have asked for a more beautiful time with such lovely people. And yes, I did learn some things! For instance, there's a Montessori-style bible study for kids - I just love this. And I remember a lot of the women saying they prayed (or at least wanted to pray) the Liturgy of the Hours. Maybe I will too, someday...

2. Our Littles were Baptized!

I mentioned earlier how I'm not always aware of appropriate behavior in church, so as the date for the wee ones baptism approached, I got more and more worried that I wouldn't be doing it right. In fact, it was only 1 week before the baptism that I learned the chilluns should be dressed in white. (Seeing all of Kendra's pictures obviously didn't teach me anything.) Ack! Where do I find white baptism outfits that aren't going to cost me an arm and leg in less than 7 days? to the rescue!!
Not bad, eh? :)
Both children did much better than I expected them to - our little guy only cried a tiny bit and even "the spitfire" cried up until the water hit her head and then she stopped. (Given her lifelong dislike of the water, I did not see that coming!) I was touched by all the parts of the ceremony - and the smell of the chrism lived up to the hype. But it was the prayers for the mother and father that got me crying. I don't even know if I can say what exactly it was that made me tear up.  I just felt so blessed and grateful - and hopeful! So much grace was poured out on them, and me, that I am sure we will be changed for the good because of it.

The baptism was followed by some family pictures - which was really just a front for getting my sister to her 40th birthday surprise.
It worked spectacularly :)
I don't want to make this post toooo long, so more to come soon...!

*This needing a mentor even extends into my French baking attempts... I tried making madeleines for the Blessed Coffee Break and well... um...
Madeleines these are not. We shall call them "madel-ain'ts!"
At least they were delicious!