Call Me Catholic

It’s Sexagesima Sunday

Yep, this Sunday is Sexagesima Sunday, in the Old Calendar.  Kind of a funny name, no?  It means that we’re on the threshold of Lent.  Are you ready?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent, and they have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  This next Sunday, we’ll be at Sexagesima.  Clear as mud?

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  Let’s start preparing.

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

During these fore-lenten Sundays, my husband and I like to begin preparing for Lent.  We take a look at the classic 3 pillars of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Below I’ll offer a few thoughts for you all to consider.

Prayer:

  1. Do you set aside a time to pray, every single day?  If not, what’s stopping you?
  2. For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?
  3. Or how about praying Compline in the evenings?  (There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.)
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a family rosary?
  6. Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?
  7. And finally, go to confession!  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every week or so.
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Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting:

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small  Give up one meal a week.

If you’re accustomed to weekly fasting, try two days a week.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.  And tithe that bonus too.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

Have you ever wondered what it was like for most Catholics throughout the history of our Church to pray the Mass?  I mean, what was it like for St. Catherine of Siena to receive the Eucharist?    Or which Mass inspired the great writings of St. Thomas Aquinas?  Or the great missionaries?

For nearly 2000 years Catholics have been worshipping the same way at the Latin Mass, and if you’ve got one near you, check it out.  Don’t worry about not understanding everything.  Most places have hand missals, if you’d like to follow along.  (But you don’t have to.)

If you live around here, we’ve got one this Sunday at Christ the King Church in Mandan at 11:30.  I’d love to see you there.

Motherhood & Parenting

Mom Hours: My Son Suffers Migraines

I’ve been putting in a lot of Mom Hours lately.  You know, days when one doesn’t even get a solid fifteen minute break.  (Not to say anything of the night.)

Of course it’s been busier than usual with the selling of our home and the purchasing of another, but it’s more than that.  It’s the start of a new school year with many new elements thrown in.  For example, two of our children are now attending a brick and mortar school, which requires more driving.  And I am still homeschooling three others with a Toddler and a Baby bouncing along in the background.

And somebody has to make sure there’s food on the table.

Now I like doing all these things.  But I don’t like that my 9-year-old son suffers from migraines.  This throws me for a loop every time.  I can always sense when one is coming on because I find him sitting on the couch, not moving.  Then, there’s a glassy look in his eyes.  Then, he doesn’t want to eat, which is a constant worry for me because he only weighs 60 pounds to begin with.  And finally, within an hour of that, it’s an all-out migraine.

His migraines last anywhere from 4-10 hours.  And they almost always end in vomiting.  Last week, as he was throwing up in the toilet, I was moved to tears.  He was so weak that when he finished, he simply slumped to the floor and lay there.

I felt helpless.  I finished scrubbing the toilet and turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting.  I wish I could take it away.”  Then he got up and looked at me with his big, sunken-in eyes and said quietly, “Mom, you are not meant to suffer migraines.  I am.  It is God’s will.”  And he slowly walked back to the couch.

It is God’s will.

He’s right, and I have a lot to learn from him.  Even while he was clutching the toilet, he was praying for my cousin who suffers from alcoholism.  Surely God hears the prayers of the little suffering children.  It was painfully beautiful to witness.

If only I would remember to pray during my hardships – my sleepless nights of insomnia, for example.  For the Office of Compline reminds me:

In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord.

And again in Psalm 91,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

My God, in whom I trust.  To whom would I rather go?

It is God’s will that my son suffers migraines, and it is my lot to care for him.  It is also God’s will that I suffer from insomnia.  And yes, it means putting in long Mom Hours.  This is no 9-5 vocation after all, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer.

Motherhood & Parenting

Insomnia Bites

I was asked the other day if I suffer from insomnia?  Uh, yes.  From time-to-time anyway, and it’s terrible.  I’d say that it sucks, but that’s not proper language for a sophisticated blog.  So I’ll just say that it’s terrible.

I never used to have a problem sleeping.  Anybody remember those college days of setting the alarm clock for 10am?  And sleeping all the way through the night, until 10am?  Yeah, that’s a little pathetic, but you get the idea.

Then I got married and started having children.  Like a lot of children.  And the older I get, the less sleep I get, and not just because the baby wants to nurse and the 5-year-old wet the bed and the 2-year-old just feels like screaming.  Nope, with this last pregnancy especially, I was just plain wide awake at all hours of the dark, dark night.

There is nothing more frustrating than getting all the children asleep and realizing that one has only a few precious hours wherein to sleep and then not being able to sleep. Oh, the agony!

If any of you find yourself in this situation, I’ll give you a few ideas that seem to work for me.  But remember, everyone is different, so these tips may or may not work for you.  (Shoot, they don’t always work for me either.)

4 Tips for Surviving Insomnia

1. Watch what you’re doing those two hours before bedtime.

If I’m stressed out, running around, or worrying about everything I didn’t get done, you bet I’m going to be wide awake at night.  This is why it’s very important for me to relax in the evening.  I need to forget about the load of laundry sitting in the dryer and the sticky mess on my kitchen floor.  Rather, it’s time for me to sit down, have a glass of wine, and play a hand of Gin Rummy with my husband.

2.  Eat well.

I always feel better when I’ve attempted to eat well during the day.  You know, like pass on the potato chips and have a bowl of plain yogurt with blueberries instead.

3.  Exercise.

Every day I try to get outside and go for a walk or a run.  It’s amazing what just 20 minutes will do for a gal.  And yes I said outside, even in the cold, cold North.  Bundle up!  The reason I prefer outside to a machine indoors is because of the quiet.  Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking down the road outside by myself.  And I always feel better at the end of the day knowing my body moved around a bit.

4.  Just get out of bed and go pray or read.

This one is so difficult for me, but when I do it, I almost always come back to bed and fall asleep.  Instead of lying in bed, staring at the clock, and thinking Oh, I just need to sleep!  The baby’s going to wake up in 45 minutes, and I have so much to do tomorrow.  Why, oh why can’t I just fall asleep!  I just get up and go tell Jesus about it.  I grab my robe, stumble out to the living room, and sit before our icon of the Sacred Heart and pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I don’t turn any lights on either.

I also have a couple favorite Psalms that I like to pray, which come from the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)  From Psalm 134, “In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord!”  And from Psalm 91, “Night holds no terrors for me sleeping under God’s wings.”

In the end though, Jesus knows, and he cares.  Really.  And this too shall pass, or so I tell myself.

Call Me Catholic, Life is Worth Living

A Day in the Life of a Crazy Fool: Part 8

This is it.  The final part of this series and my day.  If you’ve missed the earlier parts, look to my sidebar under “Tags,” and click on A Day in the Life Series.

7pm Rosary

Around 7pm, my husband calls all the children to Rosary Time.  Now I would love to paint a pretty picture of this.  You know, with all the children gleefully running to pray as a peaceful, harmonious family, but that would be a Big Fat Lie.

No, I must be honest.  Generally at least one child is grumbling about it all.  “NO!  I want to play legos!”  Or, in a really whiny voice, “Aw, Daaaad, I just sat down to read this book.”  Or, even better yet, utter disregard and aloofness–the children ignore us and go on wrestling.

Sigh.  But we keep at it.  After all, it’s worth it.

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Here’s where the day began with Morning Prayer, and here’s where it ends with Rosary and Compline.

In any case, the five older children each lead a decade while I hold the baby and the toddler roams around the room, distracting everyone.  (She is really cute and hard not to look at.)  And we trust that Mary understands.

After the rosary, the children retire to the basement to pick up their toys and get ready for bed, and my husband and I pray the Office of Compline.  (Click HERE for a look at what we use.  It’s excellent.)  When we’re finished with this, it’s usually around 8pm, and my husband ventures downstairs to give the children blessings.

8pm “Bedtime”

Now I do not put the children to bed.  I’ve been around them all day, and I’m done.  When my husband gives them blessings, that’s it.  We do not make this a great production.  For we’re not about to waste our whole evening cajoling and persuading our children to be quiet and go to bed.  Nope.  No bedtime stories, no lying in bed with them, no nothing.  They’ve been read to and sang to and attended to all day long.

So, they’ve taken it upon themselves to tell nighttime stories and sing songs and all the rest.  It’s really quite sweet.  And we don’t care if they’re all snuggled up on the Eldest’s bed, listening to her tell a Tall Tale, so long as they don’t come upstairs.

This may sound harsh to some, but it’s what works for us.

My husband and I enjoy this time from about 8pm to 10pm as a time for us to be together.  Many nights we enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail and play a game of Gin Rummy or Cribbage.  Sometimes we just talk.  Sometimes we read aloud to one another.  Sometimes we watch a movie.

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Tonight it’s cocktails.  Manhattan on the left.  Cosmopolitan on the right.

Life is just too short to not enjoy your spouse.  If you’ve been in the habit of staring at your technology and ignoring your spouse, quit it!  And find time to be together.

For as the Venerable Fulton Sheen reminds us, “Life is worth living.”