Categories
Current Events Fruits of the Holy Spirit Hannah Ink Slingers Year of Faith

Come Holy Spirit, Give Us Goodness

This is the sixth of a 12-part, once-a-month series on the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. This month’s fruit is Goodness. Be sure to see previous posts beginning with CHARITY and check back next month as another contributor explores the fruit of LONG-SUFFERING.

When tragedy strikes, people often ask the question “Where is God?” While God does not cause tragedy – He is after all, all good – He does permit it to happen. I believe He does this that we might see His Goodness.

A tornado touched down in Moore, OK last week and left lasting devastation. At least 24 people died, including 9 children. As with any tragic event, the beauty – the goodness – of God comes through in the aftermath. People will do good things; they will provide clothing and shelter, they will comfort the grieving, and they will care for the sick and wounded. All of these things give us a glimmer of the goodness of God.

Goodness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and it seems like it should be a hard one to pin down. In a world rife with disease, violence and apathy it can be difficult to see goodness, especially goodness of a supernatural sort. Mother Theresa is probably the most widely known figure who embodied this fruit. She cared for the lowest of the low, the sick, weak, and dying. In reality, every EMT, Nurse, Doctor, First Responder and volunteer on-site in Moore is ripe with goodness. Something as simple as bringing a meal to a grieving family is a way to feed the hungry.

Goodness, as a fruit of the Spirit can be seen in the Corporal Acts of Mercy:

To feed the hungry.

To give drink to the thirsty.

To clothe the naked.

To shelter the homeless.

To visit the sick.

To visit the imprisoned (formerly known as “to ransom the captive”)

To bury the dead.

The works of mercy come from Matthew 25:31-40

And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.

Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

It is easier than we think to share the fruit of goodness. I know that the Acts of Mercy my family received in the days, months and years following our infant daughter’s death were – and are! – glimmering beacons of God’s love for me in a time where my life seemed covered in darkness. While not all of us are able to perform Corporal Acts of Mercy for the suffering in Moore, we can find people in our everyday lives who are in need of goodness and we can always remember the suffering in our prayers as we perform the seventh Spiritual Act of Mercy: Pray for the living and the dead.

Categories
Domestic Church Hannah Homeschool Ink Slingers Motherhood Parenting Vocations

Will You Be My Friend?

I moved across the country in December 2011 and have had a very difficult time making friends.  To those who know me this seems laughable.  How could I possibly have trouble making friends?  I can get a brick wall to open up and chat.  Well, I moved to New England where the locals are not known for their warm welcoming ways. I had one friend waiting for me.  We’d met through an online mom’s group. The lovely Jeanne is also one of the Inkslingers here at Catholic Sistas. We lived an hour apart and saw each other every 4-6 weeks.

In that time period I was very lonely.  I was beginning my life as a stay-at-home-wife/soon to be mother.  I prayed for friends. Since then I’ve made some big leaps in the friend department, moved considerably closer to Jeanne and have come to realize that the year of ‘fasting’ has made me appreciate my need for a social life much more keenly.

When we left Indiana, we left behind a vibrant community of young catholic families.  Moms and kids got together on a weekly basis to pray the rosary and play, moms (and nursing babies) got together every other week for a book club or just a night of socializing.  We also had regular family events: an Epiphany party, All Saints Day Celebration. We arrived in Massachusetts to find very few catholic families in the pews and – within a month of arriving – a positive pregnancy test.

I took a good look at what was available and sought out opportunities to spend time with other adults. I started with a sewing class. I met my second friend in that class and it was a moment of Divine Providence for she too is catholic!

Having secured two solid friendships, I became emboldened in my search for community. Whenever I would meet another mom I would offer or request contact information.  I have yet to have anyone refuse and say they’d rather not spend time with me. I’ve met women at parish picnics, on-line, at La Leche League meetings (especially helpful for a nursing mama) and at coffee hours/potlucks to name a few.

Most recently, I met another mom who has two little girls, the second of whom is 4 days older than my little boy. I asked her if she wanted to exchange contact info and she lit up like a Christmas tree. We’ve bonded over lack of sleep, a desire to homeschool, love of traditional food preparation (ever made homemade sauerkraut?) and shared faith.

I recently decided I would try and bring these varied friendships together.  I’m planning on hosting an evening once a month for moms and nurslings where we can visit, socialize and enjoy some grown-up times. My husband suggested we also plan on having a Saturday each month with the families where we have a potluck meal and play games. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

It is much easier to be joyful on my journey when I can share it with kindred spirits.

Do you have a good community of friendship and support? If not, don’t hesitate to extend an offer a friendship.  You never know when you might be the answer to someone’s prayer for friends!

Categories
Domestic Church Hannah Meatless Fridays Recipes

Add a Little Spice to Your Love Life – Dinner Date on the Deck

 

If presentation is half the grade I’ll surely lose points for my drinking jar with blue plastic “ice cubes” but what’s a very thirsty, very pregnant lady to do?

 

My husband and I are foodies.  More accurately I suppose, am a foodie and he is along for the ride!  I love to cook, he loves to eat and when we were dating and engaged (all long distance with many hours over the phone) my mother would often say “I’ve never heard anyone talk about food as much as you two!”  The past 18 months have been an extra adventure with food because we’ve been “going gazelle” a-la Dave Ramsey in order to get out of debt.  As a result, we have some of our dinner dates at home.  Our most recent favourite is my featured recipe today.  Spicy Shrimp with Caesar Salad.

Yummy, yummy – Fresh, crisp Romaine tossed with garlicky Caesar dressing. We left out the Bacon bits as this was a Friday night date.

Caesar Dressing

2 cloves garlic, mashed
2 ½ anchovy fillets (optional)
1 tsp dried mustard
1 ½ Tbsp Red wine vinegar
1 coddled egg yolk
1 Tbsp lemon juice (½ a lemon)
4 Tbsp Olive Oil (or less)

Mix everything but the oil in the blender.  Once it’s smooth, slowly incorporate the oil until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise consistency.  Mixture will be thicker or thinner depending on your blender.  Add salt if you do not use anchovies or use capers instead.


Shrimp

1 Tbsp Chili garlic sauce
1 large clove garlic
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp cumin
S&P
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Blend and marinate 1-2 lbs shrimp, raw & peeled

Put on skewers and grill 1-2 minutes per side (depending on size of shrimp).  We used 26/30 shrimp per lb and about 90 seconds on each side on a very hot grill.  Another option would be to toss all the shrimp and marinade into a foil pocket and grill, flipping once for a total of about 5-8 minutes.

Doesn’t he looked like a man with a pleasantly filled belly?

Salad

1-2 heads Romaine lettuce, washed and sliced or torn
½ bag croutons
Fresh parmesan cheese
Caesar dressing
Spicy grilled shrimp

Wash and dry the lettuce.  Toss it with dressing.   Add the cheese and croutons (you can toss them or leave them on top for presentation when you serve).  Serve the shrimp on skewers or loosely piled on a plate.  Most of all, enjoy.  We certainly did!Dinner on the Deck was followed by dessert – fresh churned ice cream from a local creamery.  Delicious!
Cranberry Bog on the left – Creamy ice cream with Craisins, chocolate chunks and walnut pieces. Mocha Peanut Butter Cup on the right – it’s all in the name!

 

Categories
Books Hannah Ink Slingers Reviews

A Good Man – Book Review

I was recently given the opportunity to do a book review. Within hours of agreeing the book, A Good Man by Mark K Shriver, showed up on my doorstep.

 

A biography of Sargent Shriver – the man who created the Peace Corps – is first and foremost a love story told by one of his sons. It focuses on the love he shared with his father, the love between his parents and his father’s love affair with God.

When reading, you can see the aspects of his Faith in his life. Sargent Shriver did what he did out of Faith, Hope and Love. In 1968 at the Winter Convocation at Wilberforce University he said “Without love, which really is respect for your fellow man, there can be no faith in ourselves, or in others. Without faith, there can be no hope; without hope, there’s no future…” A few years earlier at the 1963 National conference on Religion and Race: “Inspire us with the faith that God is above us and with us and that He will help us if we will do what is right. Stir our consciences. Strengthen our will. Inspire and challenge us to take our principles into the toughest walks of life and make them work.” He lived those words.

There are many things we as Catholics can take from Shriver’s life definite habits worth emulating. He took kindness to the top level. It didn’t matter if you were the Queen of England, his cab driver or a young child. If you were there with him you had his full attention and he was interested in you. We all need to look beyond the package and see Jesus in every person, every interaction we have.

He truly believed that service of others was the key to happiness, the key to peace. He created the Peace Corps to give privileged Americans the chance to serve in the poorest regions of the world knowing that that service would allow them to grow in kindness and understanding.

He believed that love was the answer. He loved with his whole being. He knew that love started at home and needed nourishment in order to flourish and grow. Given the stories Mark recounts about his parents it is obvious that love was the center of their home and it flowed into the way he remembers his dad. Shriver wrote regular notes to his children. No matter his other feelings at any time, pride, disappointment, he loved his children with an unconditional love that most of us only hope to emulate.

I believe that much of his strength and goodness came from his insistence on daily Mass. Mark recounts that no matter where they were in the world, one of the first questions his dad would ask when checking into the Hotel was “Do you have a Mass schedule?” Every morning, sometime between 7 and 9, he could be found at Mass somewhere. We receive such graces from every Mass we attend. They give us what we need to follow God’s will for our lives, to be a shining beacon of His love.

The latter part of the book focuses on Shriver’s fight with Alzheimer’s – a battle with an inevitable ending. He never became a combative angry man. He remained calm and kind even as the disease ate away at him. When we focus our lives on God we can only hope that we will have a similar end, that God’s goodness will be reflected all the days of our life.

Categories
Faith Formation Hannah Ink Slingers Loss Motherhood Respect Life Saints Vocations

Sometimes Moms Need Their Mother, Too

Some 2000 years ago a young woman gave her yes to God.  With that yes came great joy, because when you truly follow God’s will for your life you are inevitably joyful – not to be confused with the modern notion of happiness.  That yes, however, came with a price-tag of great suffering.

Mary has a servant’s heart.  As a young woman, newly pregnant, she walked 80-90 miles to help her aging cousin Elizabeth.  Not an easy task while pregnant.  She then had to undertake her own long journey to Bethlehem with Joseph, at which point she was heavily pregnant, and they were unable to secure a room.  They found shelter in a stable.  By today’s standards that would be tragic, but that hardship was tempered with joy because that stable became the birthplace of Jesus!

When you look at Mary’s life overall, those physical trials can seem trivial since it was not long after Jesus’ birth that the first of her Sorrows came to pass.  In Luke 2: 22-35, we read about the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple and Simeon’s prophecy.  He foretold that Mary’s soul would be pierced by a sword, saying, “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; and thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”

Simeon’s prophecy was the first of the Seven Sorrows that are a traditional devotion to Mary.  The traditional Sorrows are:  Presentation in the Temple, Flight into Egypt, Loss of Jesus for three days, Way to Calvary, Crucifixion, Descent from the Cross, and Burial of Jesus.  Given my own experience with loss, I can see another facet of sorrow that would have come hand-in-hand for Mary during the flight into Egypt:  Herod’s order to slaughter the children we know as the Holy Innocents.  While the flight into Egypt and the difficulties of starting over in a country where they had no friends and didn’t speak the language would have been difficult, the lives of those children, slaughtered because her Son was born, would weigh heavily on her.  When they were finally able return to Nazareth, the lack of children within a year or two of Jesus’ age would be painfully obvious.

We don’t hear much about their lives until the next Sorrow-  Losing the Child Jesus at the Temple.  How they must have panicked when they realized that Jesus was not in the group with which they were travelling.  Again, this suffering was tempered by the joy of finding him, but I’m sure any parent can attest that that moment of sheer terror never completely leaves you.  This Sorrow is the last of the ‘easy’ trials.  In a few years Mary’s world will be turned upside down.

In a short period of time, Mary would experience the pain and loss that make her the most excellent intercessor for women, especially those who have lost children or who have had to deal with the diagnosis of an incurable disease that will affect their child’s entire life.

Mary would have heard Pilate’s sentence: scourging, crown of thorns, and finally crucifixion.  I’m sure that those words, that moment, burned into her brain, just as hearing the doctor say my daughter’s heart was slowly giving out is a moment I cannot forget.

While she may not have been present for the actual scourging and crowning of thorns, we know that Jesus met with her on the Road to Calvary and she would’ve seen the damage done to his body – suffering from which she couldn’t protect Him.  How difficult it is for a mother to see her child suffer – and how much more so when the innocent suffers for the misdeeds of others.

Mary was at the foot of the Cross where she would’ve been witness to the cruelty of the soldiers and the jeering crowd.  It was from that vantage point that she watched her baby die.  I was blessed in that I was able to hold my daughter, to sing to her as she left us, but, Mary did not even have that comfort. She could do nothing but watch helplessly.

The sixth Sorrow is the Descent from the Cross.  Mary was finally able to hold Jesus in her arms and say her goodbyes.  She must have wept bitterly.

The final Sorrow in many ways is the hardest to handle: the Burial of Jesus.  There is a finality to burial that is difficult to bear.  You can no longer hope that there’s been a mistake…you know you will never see your living child again in this world, and Heaven is a long way from your mind when you are saying that final goodbye to your baby.

For Mary, all of her Sorrows were tempered and balanced by joy.  The sad stable became the joyous location of our Savior’s birth. She lost and then found Jesus in the Temple.  Even the sorrow of the crucifixion and burial are swiftly followed by the Resurrection.

I have had many dark moments in the days since my daughter died.  Today would’ve been my daughter’s second birthday; Memorial Day will mark two years since she left us.  Mary has been my constant companion on this journey even when I’m not aware of it.  I realized while writing this that the due date for my current pregnancy is the Feast of the Sorrows of Mary, September 15th.   Mary is uniquely qualified to walk with us mothers through our joys and sorrows.  Her mission is always to bring us to her Son, Jesus, and by uniting our sorrows with hers, we are transported to the foot of the Cross.

*******

The Blessed Virgin Mary grants seven graces to the souls who honor her daily by meditating on her tears and sorrows. This devotion was passed on by St. Bridget.

The Seven Graces:

  1. I will grant peace to their families.
  2. They will be enlightened about the divine mysteries.
  3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.
  4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.
  5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.
  6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their Mother.
  7. I have obtained (This Grace) from my divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken directly from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.

The Seven Sorrows:

  1. The prophecy of Simeon. (St. Luke 2: 34, 35)
  2. The flight into Egypt. (St. Matthew 2:13,14)
  3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple. (St. Luke 2: 43-45)
  4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.
  5. The Crucifixion and Death of Jesus.
  6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.
  7. The burial of Jesus.

(Say one Hail Mary while meditating on each Sorrow)
The Hail Mary: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen