Monday, October 15, 2007

St. Teresa

I thought this image from EWTN was so beautiful, I just wanted to share it. And oddly appropriate....


For many years I have been able to have a very generous chunk of prayer time each morning. During that time I have prayed, attempeted meditation and studied topics that I felt called to examine in order to strengthen my faith and better know God. Even after the birth of my second little one, I made sure to structure my day so that I could start it with prayer.

Now, life has changed and I find I am unable to have my morning prayer time right now. I have started working several nights a week at a book store. I love this job for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons is that I am such a valued employee they will give me whatever schedule I want. So I am able to go to work around 6:00 almost every shift. This means that I can get my children ready for bed and since they go to bed early, sometimes even put them down for sleep before I leave. It also means that we do no have to hire as sitter, Monkey either comes home early or at the same time he would normally. It is a huge gift.

It is also a challenge. I never leave work earlier than 10:30p.m. We live close by so sometimes I am home before 11:00p.m. but ususally not since there is a teenage girl who closes with me almost every night that I feel obligated to drive home. She lives about 10 minutes west of us and really, would you want your teenage daughter on the bus at that time of night? No of course not. So I drive her home partially out of this sense of duty, but also in obligation and gratitude for all the people who gave me rides for the many years that I did not drive or have a vehicle.

All that to say, I cannot get up and pray at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning when I do not get to sleep sometimes until midnight or later. I have to dash into the shower at 6:00 as it is in order to bathe before the tots are up and the Monkey gets their breakfast. But the years have taught me that daily prayer is essential and so I am training myself to use the children's nap time as a prayer time. I am less focused and need a little help, so I am using the blog for writing and I have been using EWTN for help with prayer and meditation.

Every day at noon they have a prayer called The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, that this new Catholic had never experienced. It is a lot like the rosary, but simpler and frankly a little quicker. It uses the rosary though, so I get the meditative benefits that the rosary brings me. And it is a prayer to Jesus directly, an area of my faith that has been weak. I have no problem praying to God or even to Mary, or even some of the saints. But coming from the Bible belt of fundamentalism left a mark on me that seperated me for too long from God and has continued to plague me in my relationship with Jesus. Saying this prayer is beginning to heal that relationship. It is softening the edges of my resistance to Him and allowing me to hear him occaisionally as He graciously and patiently continues to connect with me.

Gerald May, in his book "The Dark Night of the Soul" best summarizes my reaction to all this.

"...I must confess that I am no longer very good at telling the difference between good things and bad things...from the standpoint of inner individual experience the distinction has become blurred for me. Some things start out looking great but wind up terribly, while other things seem bad in the beginning but turn out to be blessings in disguise...At some point I gave up trying to decide what's ultimately good or bad. I truly do not know."

Exactly. Who knew that not being able to pray at one's usual time would lead to a greater connection with Jesus? So much mystery....

Sunday, October 14, 2007


From the Gospel:

"Stand up and go;your faith has saved you."


In our house we have a small landing on our staircase. It's large enough to do something small but not large enough for anything too detailed. At first I had a vision of a tiny, customized table that could be designed to fit in the space. I imagined that it would hold special pictures of important family moments i.e. wedding, baptism etc... I abandoned that prospect when I realized that our toddler's wedding pictures would be ready for framing before I found/designed/created a table that would perfectly fit that space, especially since what would really work there would be a mantle.

It was Advent that defined the space. During the Advent Season I placed a miniature Christmas tree on a crate covered in a festive cloth on the landing. It was one of those little lighted trees, very simple but beautiful at night with it's glow warming our foyer. Because I loved it so much, I kept it there until Lent. At that time two things happened. First, it seemed gauche to have such a celebratory icon gracing our home during such a solemn season. Second, it was revealed to me at that time that the space could serve as a reflection of the liturgical calendar - our family's physical representation of the changing rhythms of the Christian calendar. I began to get excited about that. The idea of the home being the domestic church and place of Christian education (as opposed to leaving it all up to the one hour of church our children get once a week) for our family has appealed to me before our children even were born. I feel and have felt called into that ministry to our family and am always thinking of ways to lead my family in that direction.

When Lent and Easter were over, I was challenged by how our famiy's sacred space would evolve. It seemed easy for it to represent the obivious seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter. How would we observe Ordinary Time in our home? I set up an alter with an obligatory candle, cloth, and water pitcher. The cloth for ascethics, the candle for times when we are praying beyond our normal daily prayer, and the pitcher as a reminder of water and all it symbolizes in our faith. On the wall behind the alter are pieces of paper with our prayer requests for our friends and family written on them. I use green ink as green is the color for ordinary time, symbolizing hope and growth.

In addition, I have been trying to keep up with what week we are in and what the scripture for each week is. I say trying because life is full and I am not as disciplined as I would like. YET. The good news is I pass this space many times a day and many times a day I am reminded it is not quite what I feel God is calling me to make it to be. Eventually the tots will be old enough to help contribute and the Monkey Man also has contributions but as the pastor of this domestic church, it is my responsibility to maintain the sacred center of our home. So God gently nudges me (or is it Jesus? or Mary? or all of them (it takes a village to raise a domestic minister)) each time I run up and down the steps. "When are you going to update your alter?"

As with many things, I need routine and systems to keep things maintained. So of course I logically thought that having one more thing to maintain would help me keep the alter maintained and that is what brings me to this point. While it might seem counterintuitive, I am hoping it will work. I have been wanting to blog for a while and have tried a couple of times. I hope this blog will help me keep myself educated, invite feedback from others, educate others and give me a system to keep our sacred center, well really sacred and meaningful.