Veterans Day

I went to Catholic schools for ten years. Right after daily Mass we would line up for assembly and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by prayers and announcements. Sometimes we would sing the National Anthem. Devotion to country was placed right after devotion to God. Maybe that’s why I choke up when I sing the Star Spangled Banner and blink through tears when I think about the sacrifices that have bought my freedom to be complacent. Like the sacrifice that bought my hope for entry into heaven.


My jaw drops when I encounter people who were born and educated in this country who do not know the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. They are so entwined with the Sign of the Cross and the Our Father in my psyche, that I cannot comprehend the level of ignorance and arrogance this represents. My five year old son recites the Pledge, the Sign of the Cross and Our Father daily. He sings his own rendition of Star Spangled, which inexplicably contains some reference to “Obama’s red light”. He is homeschooled. It seems to me that now that we’ve taken God out of our public schools, our devotion to our country is failing as well. On that point I am glad to be proved wrong.

The American Legion Post is the hub of activity in our small town. This year they organized our 1st Annual Veteran’s Day parade. While bigger cities were closing off main thoroughfares for large, well attended events, our boys lined the town’s two one-way streets with American Flags, then lined up at the Legion for the trek around town. Our vets led the parade, proudly carrying the flags, followed by the high school cheerleading squad, the historical society and the county sheriff. The only thing missing was the high school band, but that’s because we don’t currently have one. The country folk drove in and honked and hooted as the parade passed by, and the town people stood in their front yards waving and cheering. Children delighted in the candy thrown by the Historical Society and the Sheriff. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the Post for coffee and donuts.The great thing about a small town is that when we get together for something like this, prejudices and fueds fall away in the interest of something bigger. It doesn’t take a natural disaster to bring people together and nurture unity – if only we would do this more often. Our little Catholic mission is also planning some public processions for the Christmas season. Sometimes it seems like we’re two factions – the whites and the hispanics. But when we come together, to process around town, singing and carrying the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12th, we will be united. We will celebrate the Mass and share a dinner in the hall. We will watch the children reenact the scene with Our Lady and Juan Diego. We will be one church – if only we would do this more often…

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What is Pilgrimage?

“A journey to a holy place, undertaken for religious reasons; a journey to a place with special significance.”
To the above definition, which was taken from the dictionary, we might add, “to reunite a person with their center of being and help to restore their relationship with their Creator.”
Sometimes just getting out of the routine for a few days or a few weeks can help us re-center and kindle or rekindle the fire of a passionate life devoted to love. Catholic Traveller’s mission is to inspire busy people to take time out now and then for retreat and pilgrimage – to allow the Spirit to enter and heal and renew us, so that we return to our everyday lives better able to see and serve Jesus and Mary in all those around us.
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WWJD?

September 17, 2008

Summer has flown by and I have not been a very consistent blogger. I shall blame a lovely two week train vacation on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight, from Los Angeles, CA to Tacoma, WA and back, and also the start of a new homeschooling year. But really we all know it’s just my own lack of organization. There’s always an excuse. The truth is, I have to stop on a regular basis and clear out the clutter in my life. I have always been one to try to overachieve, and with that comes the inevitable burnout and lack of achieving anything. I find myself stopping in the middle of doing something these days and asking, “how important is this? Is this just busywork that I’ve created for myself, or am I in some way contributing toward my livelihood and the work God has for me to do today?”

Which begs the question, “What is the work God has for me to do today?” The best I have been able to come up with is to do what’s in front of me with love. Take care of what God has graciously given me – my family, home, animals. Help and share in the community in which I live. Try to attract others to Him by the way I live – there’s the rub. Smile, speak in a positive and uplifting way. Dress modestly and behave modestly. Softly admonish the child who is poking along when we’re late for an appointment and I really feel like screaming. Don’t kick and cuss at the cow who broke through the fence – again. It’s a tall order. I can do it for a short while, but as the little frustrations pile up, it gets harder and harder. If I haven’t already done so, this is when I need to turn it all over to God. It’s His show anyway. I’m just an extra. Hope I can keep doing my part.

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Are You Paying Attention?

July 15, 2008

This last Sunday’s gospel focused on being receptive to Jesus word. How often do I try to impart some amazing truth, only to have my listener question me moments later, as though I had never said anything at all? I will review the day’s schedule with my son at breakfast, only to have him respond with shock and amazement when I inform him that he cannot play his game now, as we have an appointment to keep. I will absentmindedly carry on a conversation with my son, only to look up and find him staring at me, and admonishing me for not listening. We have ears but do not hear.

What causes us to behave in this manner? If we are so preoccupied with the “cares of the world” that we are unable to give our family and friends our full loving attention, how much less so Jesus, who only wants to show us how to overcome those cares and live abundantly and fully. Today I am going to take a few minutes somewhere to be fully attentive to Jesus. Whether it be in a few moments of prayer or contemplation, or the reading of a few short verses in the Bible. And I am going to take that out into the world with me – to the post office, the neighbor who calls at an inconvenient time, the client who needs to vent about frustrations in his life, the friend who lives out of the way who needs a little help with her animals, and my son, who is now paging me from the bathtub.

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So Little Time…

June 11, 2008

Busy, busy, busy. So with Tball, swim camp, summer school, running a business (or three), tending to farm chores, blah, blah, blah, how do we make any time at all for prayer and meditation? Sometimes it seems that after moving to the country and working from home I have become busier than when I had a “real” job and lived in the city. Technically I’m not, but it’s a matter of perspective. My priorities are different. I want my house to be a peaceful environment and it cannot be that way with all kinds of clutter, dirty dishes, and clothes stacked everywhere. So I need time to clean house and clean out the clutter. I want time to run my farm and benefit financially and physically from the homegrown produce, meat and dairy. This means I cannot be rushing off to every activity available to me or my son. Yet, I do want him to have social contact and enjoy activities with friends of all ages. So we try to limit activities to two days a week, besides Sundays.

Still, where do I fit prayer time into all of this? I have made a habit of beginning my day with prayer. This time is precious to me. I am thankful for working at home, because often, with a “job”, this time gets lost to me because of oversleeping and then rushing to get to work on time. I am grateful for homeschooling, because I can work to encourage this habit in my son, instead of rushing to school, etc. And yet, I still crave more. I want to stop during the day and read my Bible or say the Rosary, but frequently I feel there is too much to do, and I cannot take the 15 or 20 minute break. Not to mention that in saying the Rosary I tend to meditate myself to sleep, so it takes much longer. These are all excuses. When I take 10 or 15 minutes once or twice a day to take a prayer and meditation break, my work seems to go easier and better, my priorities become clearer. Hmmm…why can’t I get it through my head?

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