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Woman, Why Are You Weeping?

“Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” asks Jesus of Mary Magdalen at the tomb.

How often in my life has Jesus asked this very question of me? Woman, why are you weeping? Grieving is necessary and appropriate. If I have not grieved, I would question the authenticity of my passion for a project or an idea or my love of a person or friendship. Grief is needed to process real disappointments and losses. There have been, however, seasons or situations in my life when I have experienced a grief that turned into something else entirely. At times I have gotten quite comfortable with sadness allowing it to cover me, tucking me in for a long nap. And this grief, while keeping me company in the mourning, has in time turned to pity. Pity is dark, cold and slippery. Pity easily gave me permission to wallow in the injustice of my disappointment turning it rapidly into discouragement. Self-pity has taken my sorrow or my suffering, turning it to depression and eventually despair.  I have experienced all these emotions in varying degrees at times in my life. I have had to work hard through therapy and counseling, prayer and proper self-care to better manage my emotions and thoughts. “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” It is difficult to know how often I have been unable to see Jesus standing with me in the mess. I am unsure of how many times I have been unable to hear Him asking me, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  

Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!

How often I wonder where God is when I am overwhelmed or suffering. Why God have you allowed this thing to happen to me? Why God does it seem You are not answering my prayers? Why God are You allowing so much suffering to go on? Recently it occurred to me that maybe it isn’t in the why but the how. In imitation of Mary, Our Blessed Mother, maybe I should be asking how is it that I am to carry on Lord. How Lord can I serve you in the suffering? How Lord can I find you in the sorrow? How Lord can I join my sorrows to yours? Because isn’t it true that it is not if I experience tribulations but when? When I find myself asking Lord, where are You, am I not already consumed by my distress? Fear takes over, peace is absent. Where is my Lord? Where has He gone? “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” I am weeping for a variety of reasons; many of them have to do with my perception of what life should look like or feel like in any given situation on any day of the week. I am a perfectionist working on recovery. Messy. Chaotic. Disordered. All of the stuff that is a part of being alive and caring for others is hard on me.  People are messy. Relationships can be as disordered as my emotions. Family life, well, ours can be a rollercoaster ride. And, far too often I forget to remember that this life is not without suffering. This life, if I am trying to live with my heart wide open, is not without pain. This beautiful gift, along with the people God has placed in it, is meant to shape me, refine me, teach me and mold me into the best version of myself God created me to be. “Whom, am I looking for?” Like Mary Magdalen, in the sorrows or frustrations of my everyday life, I want to be looking for Jesus? Am I seeking Him to be my teacher, my guide for this earthly journey? When the reality of life is harsh and heartbreaking I know I need to be running to Him for solace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. -John 14:27

I have found these four practices to be essential to keeping me centered and at peace. They have become incorporated into the routine of my life. In regularly participating in these four practices I have encountered Christ, and I have grown closer to Him. I have become more confident in His promises.  He is with us. Always and all ways.

Daily Morning Prayer. Every morning I get up. Make a cup of coffee and grab my prayer journal along with the daily readings. I open them up and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to me in the readings. And, He does! All I must do is show up and pray. This has really changed my relationship with God.

Mass. I try to go daily. I need this to ground me for the day and to feed my spirit. It is what has healed me and sustained me through many a difficult time.

Confession. I know. I have a love-hate thing with this Sacrament. It is so hard to get myself there oftentimes but once there it is such a beautiful healing mercy.

Adoration. The most important regularly scheduled appointment I have on my calendar. Once a week for one hour I sit in front of the Blessed Sacrament in quiet. I drop all my stuff right there at the altar. I just leave it and pray, listening for the Comfort of my soul.

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures he makes me lie down;
to still waters he leads me;
he restores my soul.
He guides me along right paths
for the sake of his name.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff comfort me.

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We have all been there – sitting in Mass with our children and just waiting for that moment when we may have to step in and distract, redirect, step out, or pray the moment passes where they feel like being loud at the most inopportune time.  It always gives me a chuckle because as a parent, you just know.  You know that moment when one of the kids might be reaching their threshold. 

For us, that “moment” is basically constant with one of our children much beyond the usual expected toddler shenanigans.   Our 5th daughter as you know was born with some congenital brain issues.  This always makes Mass interesting.  Don’t get me wrong, actually, she loves Mass.  But she also doesn’t realize how to whisper, or be quiet on command all the time, control her brain overload, manage her physical limitations, or even acclimate to the environment…even though we are there weekly. 

Hosanna - The Power of PrayerOne Sunday at Mass we were  doing the usual “holding our breath.”  We were doing so more than usual because she had complained of her head hurting the night before (this is never a good sign with Meagan because it can mean something is wrong requiring a hospital stay or surgery).  When she woke up, she still complained.  I had offered to stay with her at home but then Meagan told me she needed to go to Mass.  Of course I obliged and off we all went  She laid on my lap in the pew and seemed to calm down. I remember thinking I hope her head pain was going away.  As the choir started to sing the “Holy Holy,” all of a sudden out of nowhere Meagan sat up and  belted out at the top of her lungs, “Hosanna! Hosanna!”  I started to say “shhh” (while also thinking – wow, she remembered some of the words!).  She continued to belt out “Hosanna” numerous times during the song….. and after. And I continued to hush and try to distract her.  We luckily finished Mass as a family, and Meagan seemed to calm and handle the rest of her day well.

As we left Mass that day, I was surprised Meagan not only remembered the words, but also knew when to sing it.  I also started to think about my initial knee jerk reaction – to say “shhh.”  It wasn’t punative by any means, but why was that my first reaction to my child praising God? To the words finally coming to her lips?  It really got me thinking about kids and prayer- if that stuck with Meagan, what else was swirling around in her head? What other parts of the Mass or parts of prayers was she retaining even if not repeating them out loud? What else was she hearing that maybe we weren’t?

The last few weeks haven’t been great regarding the news in our world.  Unfortunately, we keep hearing about this tragedy and that conflict and these sad events…and the list goes on made much easier to repeat with all the instant access to information.  Some of my older children approached me and expressed concern about some of the things going on.  I understood their concern; it is so hard to balance.  We want to be informed and aware, but how do we balance that with staying focused on God and the good in our lives? And what about all the good in the world? (That does exist by the way despite never hearing much about it…)  Then I thought of Meagan’s “Hosanna” and remembered… prayer! I told the girls the story of Mr. Rogers and how his mother always said to look for the helpers in bad situations – because there is always good in bad.  Light in darkness.  Then I understood what my kids were asking – it wasn’t so much fear as much as they felt helpless.  And they wanted to feel like they were doing something.  Again, prayer came to mind. 

That very night we had a long talk about prayer and how God hears all our prayers, especially those of children.  We talked about the power of prayer and how important it is.  We talked about how it brings peace and love and strengthens our connection with God – and yes, sometimes, even brings about action to help good overcome.  The girls felt much better.  At that moment, the four older ones got their rosaries, knelt by the beds, and started to say the rosary.  It was late so I told them if they wanted to do one decade they could.  And they did….but then they continued.  And so my girls knelt there praying the Rosary and the whole room was calm.  I could feel their fears and worries lift away, and when they were finished, I could hear their voices so much lighter and happy.  They went to bed just fine and woke up with a new sense of calm and strength.


Hosanna - The Power of Prayer
Four sisters praying the Rosary together


I heard a great homily recently that offered insights and perspectives on why we go to Mass.  The priest related it to the greatest prayer.  He talked about how for that moment, for that one moment at Mass where the Eucharist becomes Jesus Himself, we can free ourselves of our daily worries.  The strife.  The fear.  The responsibilities.  For that beautiful moment at Mass, we are free with Him as He comes to be present in the Eucharist and nourish us at Communion.  The priest continued by saying that by us participating in the Mass and receiving Jesus, we are participating in the greatest prayer; we allow Jesus Himself to be within us to guide our words and our actions for the following week… and bring us peace from within as we go back to navigating our daily worries.  The strife.  The fear.  The …. well, you get the point.

I think it is really hard to navigate tough times with children.  They want so badly to feel action – that they are doing something or helping the situation or taking control of their circumstances.  And so often, they just can’t.  I’m so glad I was able to be reminded of the importance of prayer  for our children.  It is not only a way to talk to God, but it is in fact a way to take action! Prayer is something we DO – it’s an active communication with God, an active plea for peace and calm, and an active way to teach our kids to not just pray “for,” but pray “to accept.”  We ultimately pray for His Will to be done.  To teach this to our children is priceless. 

It wasn’t too long after my mini reflections on prayer with our kids that we were back at Mass another Sunday.  As soon as the Holy Holy started, sure enough it happened again. “HOSANNA!!!HOSANNA!” Meagan just as loud and proud as could be kept saying “Hosanna!” But this time I just thanked God for the “do over.”  I looked at Meagan and instead of saying “shhh,” I whispered in her ear “That’s right! Sing!”  So she did.  And I’m sure God heard her prayer.

Hosanna - The Power of Prayer

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The Catholic Mom’s Guide to Moving to a New Town Without Losing Your Mind

Since marrying my wonderful amazing husband (are you reading this, honey?) in 2010, we have lived in three states, four towns, four apartments, and two houses. As an added wonderful bonus, we’ve also had three children in that span.  I learned quickly how to adapt to a new town and become plugged into the community, at least a little relatively quickly, mainly through trial and error and my husband’s past experiences with moving around frequently.

So, when you are knee deep (scratch that. OVER YOUR HEAD) in boxes, wearing sweatpants because it’s a day that ends in “y,” and you’ve eaten takeout off paper plates with plastic forks four days in a row, how on EARTH do you start to adjust yourself to a new town, let alone grow friendships and find a solid parish community?

Before You Move

  • Pack a box that has kid toys and kid bedding in it, and make sure you either bring it yourself, or that it will be the first thing unloaded off the truck. The last thing you want to deal with when you face moving day is not having materials for your children to play and nap. Tired and bored kids make for a cranky mom. And well, you know what they say: When Mom ain’t happy, no one is! Bonus points if you do this early so that the toys are exciting.
  • Prep your kids. This is helpful more for the over 2.5 year old crowd. Kids like to know what is going on. Get them excited about the new place and all the cool things they will get to see in the new town. If you have kids of an age where they will have to say goodbye to friends, have a sendoff party or gathering (ideally at a park!) so that they can have one last fun time, say goodbye, and exchange contact info to try to keep in touch.
  • Research parishes. It’s easy now to research parishes before you ever move to an area. We found one great way to research what parishes in our future hometown might be a good fit for us was to look up their Sunday bulletins. In many areas, these are available online. They can give a good picture as to the Church’s financial situation (many post their financial summary right there in the bulletin), their priorities, their activities, and even often stats about them like how many parishioners they have. I gravitate towards a parish with lots of young and large families, and I have tended to see that more in parishes that have a focus on pro-life causes and lots of activities for a range of age groups. Mass times and confession times are a big deal to me. We aren’t 8am churchgoers (10am is difficult to get to for us!), but I love a parish with frequent confession availability rather than the usual Saturday 3-4pm slot.
  • Research Catholic mom groups within the parishes and on Facebook. Get added into applicable facebook groups and check out their events listed. RSVP to one that is reasonable (a mom’s night where you can bring the kids to play in the church playroom, for example). Do this BEFORE you move so that you have something to get plugged into quickly.


Day of the Move

  • Track down that toy and bedding box and set up a corner for play and nap time.
  • Lower expectations. Things might break, kids might go nuts, and no matter how hard you try, you will not get time to wipe everything down before your stuff ends up there. Roll with it. You will get time soon enough to deal with it all. The lower your expectations, the less crazy the upheavel will affect you.

    Full boxes stacked neatly in a corner--about as clutter-free as a move can get!
    Full boxes stacked neatly in a corner–about as clutter-free as a move can get!
  • Eat out or eat takeout the first night. Maybe you are super organized and prepacked a meal. If so, bless you, you are more organized than I! For the rest of you busy moms, just do takeout. It’s easy, and no dishes. Who wants to do dishes on their first night? Amiright?
  • Track down the disinfectant. I know, I know. I talked about lowering expectations. But since my kids threw up on everything our first night in our new house, I have to just put it out there: know where it is.
  • Unpack only plates, cutlery/silverware, cups, a frying pan, the beds, and bath stuff first. The rest is all a bonus. When you’re childless, generally you have so much less in the way of belongings that it makes lots of sense to follow the old advice of unpacking your bed last so that it forces everything else to be put in order, but for those with families and especially little kids, it’s not practical.

After the Move

  • Go to that RSVPed event. The house is a wreck. There are at least fifty unopened boxes (or worse, they’re all unpacked as a cluttered mess calling your name). Just go. Not only will going to an event/mom’s night invigorate you, but it very quickly gets you over the nervous introductions. And, as an added benefit, you will meet some undoubtedly nice people for whom it is fun to tell you all about town. When people find out you are new to town, they are much more welcoming and interested in talking to you than if you’ve been around for a year. So get out there, introduce yourself and take that very uncomfortable first plunge into meeting new people. A good goal is to meet at least one person with whom you exchange contact information with to schedule a future playdate.
  • Keep going out to things, as you are able to. Just don’t invite anyone over for a month while you get your house in order (people will totally understand!).
  • Be sure to contact that person you met to schedule that playdate!
  • As quickly as you can, swing back into routines. It will make your soul feel good to be back to a normal schedule.

With any luck, these tips should help you to have a solid strategy for moving to a new town and adjusting to your new settings.