My Papa in Heaven

Jenn and Pope John Paul II - dscn1457

Today is a blessed day for a lot of reasons. First, it is Divine Mercy Sunday. Second, we are celebrating the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II. Make that Saint Pope John XXIII and Saint Pope John Paul II.

Myself, instead of being able to pray for much of the day, I will be working a 15 hour shift. A long day. But Saint JPII spoke quite a bit during his papacy about the dignity of human work, so perhaps this is appropriate.

On their Facebook page, Our Lady of Good Counsel asked, “What sort of impact did (Saint) John Paul have on your life before he entered into Heaven?”

I joined the Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI, in 2007, so Pope John Paul II was not “my” pope, but in a way he was.

  • He was the Pope for most of my life.
  • I clearly remember watching the days surrounding his death, funeral and the conclave electing Cardinal Ratzinger.
  • And I consider him as family.

The third point is kind of an interesting story. Growing up, we spent a lot of time visiting with my Memere (great-grandmother). She would always have tomato-rice soup simmering on the stove, mincemeat pies in the freezer, and had a toaster oven in her kitchen, which I thought was rather unique and “old-fashioned” as we had a regular toaster. In the entryway, she had a display cabinet filled with pairs of salt and pepper shakers — souvenirs. And in the living room, there were two large photographs on the wall in matching oval frames.

The twist comes from the fact that she was from Quebec and grew up speaking French. So, when I was young and visiting, I’d ask, “Who’s that?” for each of the photos. And she would reply, “Pepe,” which is similar to saying “Papa”. I assumed that both pictures were of her husband, my great-grandfather, who had passed away when I was only about a week old. They were black and white photos, which — to me — meant that they were taken A LONG TIME AGO. In both of the pictures, the man’s clothing seemed a little odd, but I just figured that people wore odd clothes way back then.

However, only one of the photos was of my Pepe. The other was a photo of Pope John Paul II.

I grew up thinking that Pope John Paul II was my great-grandfather. He was a part of my family. And, I suppose, when I was baptized, he *did* become my family. Who knows what kind of influence this happy mistake may have had on me? Perhaps it was something as little and seemingly coincidental as this which led to me becoming Catholic later in life. You never know all the subtle ways the Holy Spirit may be guiding you.

I love you, Papa. Please pray for me and those whom I love.

Give Everything to God

I admit it freely; I have fallen behind on many things that I wanted to do for Lent, but somehow, this is okay. It is okay because I realized that it isn’t a race to the finish. None of this is “over” once Easter Sunday dawns. Until God calls me home, I will always need work. I will always need to keep striving toward conforming my heart to Jesus’s heart.

This morning, I worked on reading the backlog of things in my e-mail inbox, including the messages from Saints in the Making University. The story, “The Pearl Necklace” really struck me today.

There once was a young girl who was in the check out line with her mother. It was then that she saw it; a beautiful plastic pearl necklace! She begged her mother to buy it for her, but her mother told her that if she really wanted it she would have to earn the $1.47 herself. Her mother told her that she could help with some chores around the house to earn a few bright shiny pennies, and reminded her that her birthday was coming up soon and she would surely get a new crisp dollar bill in the birthday card from her grandmother.

So the little girl worked very hard over the next few weeks and saved up all her earnings. She asked her neighbors if she could rake their leaves for ten cents and she did extra chores around the house. One day, she finally had enough money to buy the treasured necklace. She was so happy when her mom took her to the store to buy her necklace and she got to pay the woman at the check out with her very own hard earned money. The small girl wore her necklace everywhere. It made her feel so beautiful and grown up!

Now every night the little girl’s Daddy would read her a bedtime story, say nighttime prayers with her, and put her to sleep. But one night when the little girl’s Daddy was putting her to sleep he asked her a question. He asked, “Do you love me?” She replied, “Daddy, you know I love you more than anything!” Then he asked her if he could have her pearl necklace. “Oh Daddy,” said the little girl. “I can’t give you my necklace. I love it so much and it is so beautiful. But you can have my pink unicorn, the one I got for my birthday.” “That’s ok,” He said. “Daddy loves you, darling. Goodnight.” And he kissed her gently on the forehead as he left. Every night the loving father would patiently ask his daughter for the dime store necklace and every night she would refuse, offering one of her many other toys. But her father would always say it was ok, tell her how much he loved her and give her a good night kiss ever so gently on the forehead before leaving.

Then one night when her Daddy came in to put her to sleep he noticed that his little girl was crying. “What is wrong, honey?” He asked. With tears streaming down her cheeks she held out her tiny hand, and dropped her deeply treasured necklace into her father’s hand. “Here, Daddy.” She said, her voice shaking. “You can have my necklace.” To her surprise, her Father pulled out a beautiful velvet box and gave it to her. When she opened it, a beautiful genuine pearl necklace was revealed. You see, her father was just waiting for his daughter to let go of the plastic necklace, so he could reveal the real treasure he had in store for her.

What is your pearl necklace? What in this world are you so afraid to let go of? Your Father’s gifts for you are so much better. Let go of the counterfeits so your Father can give you the real thing. –Author Unknown (Reprinted with permission)

I think, especially for me, it is these things which are really hard to stop clinging to. It’s easy to give up sinful things. (Okay, no, it is not, but at least rationally, you can see *why* you should give them up.) It’s much harder to give up something which is good and not apparently causing you to sin. Our vision is narrow, and we can’t see beyond the good to the potential greater good which God is offering to us. Instead of trusting that God is good and wants the best for us, we question why. “Why would God want to take this good thing away from me?” We don’t understand and so we hold back from God. We don’t freely give everything that we have and that we are back to Him.

I have a couple things that I cling to like this. God may not be calling me to give them up, but I have to prepare my heart and my will for the possibility that He might at some time in the future. I have to be willing to completely abandon myself to His will. And this is a struggle — at least it is for me.

P3070107

In his book, “The Gift of Faith,” Fr. Dajczer also speaks of the necessity of abandoning ourselves to God’s will. Do you *really* have faith in the goodness and generosity of God? We must trust Him in all things, great and small. This is a radical kind of faith and trust, and it is not come by easily. But, then, faith is not meant to be easy. It is wrung from us, drop by drop, collected and offered back to the Father as a complete gift of self. It is the very difficulty and completeness of the offering which makes it such a beautiful and precious gift. The best image that I have for this is the blood that Jesus sweat during His agony in the garden of Gethsemane. He was perfectly obedient to the Father and had perfect trust in Him, yet clearly it cost Him a great deal to endure what He endured for our sake. And this is why His gift to us — of His entire self, being poured out drop by drop in the garden, at the pillar, and on the cross — is such an incredible gift. And also why our response needs to be so great in return.

Cross-posted to OLGCBlog.com.

Palm Sunday

Our Lady of Lourdes with Palm - dscn9905

Holy week. Probably my favorite week of the year. I love the excitement and celebration surrounding Jesus’s triumphant return to Jerusalem. I love the promise of life that those green branches hold, especially after a long, cold winter. I love the bright red color on the altar and in the priests’ vestments. I love the procession in. In past years, I have celebrated Palm Sunday at St. Anastasia, where the procession includes kids and catechumens with loud clappers and everyone in the church waving their palm fronds. This Palm Sunday, I celebrated right after work at OLGC, at the 5 pm Mass. No one in church had any palms, and the only procession was made by the altar servers, Deacon Chris, and Fr. Clement. It felt like I was waiting for the Kings of Kings to pass me by.

But this week isn’t a week of all happy feelings. And this liturgy wasn’t all about being joyful. It was an emotional rollercoaster, to tell you the truth. Fr. Clement told us to pay particular attention to the Gospel today, lengthy though it was, and see what aspects of the story spoke to you. They wanted the parish to speak the part of the crowd during the reading of the Gospel.

I didn’t want to.

I didn’t want to choose Barabbas over Jesus. I didn’t want to call for his crucifixion. But I am obedient, and so I participate. But in my heart, as I was saying, “Crucify Him!” I was also saying, “Please, don’t!”

But then, I thought of how I do this all the time. I am constantly choosing something evil over Him. I am constantly scourging Him and putting Him on the cross, and then asking Him to forgive me my sins. It was such a poignantly sad moment, being a part of this Gospel reading and realizing how very much a part of the crowd I was… am.

There was no music for the recessional. The altar servers, deacon, and priest left quietly. Many people, perhaps unaware that they were supposed to wait for the recessional, began leaving while they were still gathering at the foot of the sanctuary. Not quite realizing the full import of what was occurring. How often do *I* realize the full import of the Mass or what Jesus did for me? Not nearly as often as I’d like to think.

So, quietly, I stood and watched as the procession passed by, reflecting on the joy, the sorrow, and the sober realization of my own failings, but with the hope and knowledge that something incredible is going to happen in a few short days.

National Siblings Day

So, I found out late about National Siblings Day. And then, I was either busy at work and when I came home I didn’t spend any time on the computer, so nothing got uploaded or written.

But, finally, here we are:

Muddy Clint

This is my brother, Clint, from EONS ago. 🙂 It remains one of my favorite pictures.

As young as we were, I remember when this picture was taken. It had rained and there were puddles everywhere. This was before my parents had paved the driveway, so it was just packed dirt. My brother and Timmy, our neighbor on the north side of our house, were playing in the mud puddles. My dad had taken his camera out and was taking pictures of my brother. I remember asking him to take pictures of me, but he said something like, “No. We have lots of pictures of you. I’m taking pictures of your brother right now.” I was disappointed at the time, but I am so glad they were taken now. 🙂

I had this one printed out as a 4×6 and displayed in my living room, but unfortunately, back when I had cats, they knocked it down and the glass broke. I hadn’t gotten around to replacing it yet. I think that I’ll just reprint it in a larger size and put it back on display.

Here is another picture from the same day:

Timmy and Clint Playing in the Mud

I love you!

— Hatchling

Spiritually Pregnant!

If you are observant, you might have seen a tiny change to my site today.

Lilypie Maternity tickers

I got an e-mail this morning letting me know that I’m expecting! 🙂 Spiritually, that is. I have adopted a baby that may be in danger of being aborted (or some other disaster), so I will be praying during these next 9 months for the life and safe delivery of this baby.

Since today I found out about the baby and will begin praying, I’m counting this as my date of conception. I looked up when my due date would be, and that is December 31, 2014. What a perfect day! A New Year’s Eve baby! Just in time for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God!

Please support me during my “pregnancy” and help me pray for my little one. I’ll keep you updated on how we’re doing!

Walking While Catholic

Lunchtime Walk at Gallup Park

I had training at work this morning and we let out a little early. I stopped at Subway for a quick lunch, then decided to spend some of my “lunch time” taking a walk in Gallup Park along the Huron River. I confess, most of my motivation comes from the fact that I got a new Fitbit on Sunday (it’s a glorified pedometer, but I find it very useful), which challenges me to take 10,000 steps every day. It was sunny out and finally warm enough to go without a jacket — Thanks be to God!

Lunchtime Walk at Gallup Park

I got all set for the walk: I had my Fitbit on, I started the Runkeeper app on my phone, and started my walk. Just a few steps in, I decided that it was a great opportunity to pray the Rosary. I dedicated my Rosary to my dad (today’s his birthday!), Fr. Anonymous, and J (my “Lent person”). I walked until I was half-way through the Rosary, then turned around to return to the car. There was only one area where the walkway was flooded and I had to tiptoe through squishy grass — (Eeew! Mud!) — but was otherwise an enjoyable walk. I ended up walking past the part of Gallup Park where our ROTC group met semi-annually for our PFTs. It seems both so long ago, and not long ago at all.

Swans on the Huron River

Towards the end of my walk, a guy was walking past me. He thought I was waving to him, but I had just finished my Rosary and was making the Sign of the Cross. Sorry, Random Guy.

Perhaps, if he were charitable, he would decide that I was blessing him, instead of ignoring his presence. And, perhaps if I were a more Christ-like person, that scenario would have been the case…. Ah, well, Lent continues. There is still time for me to grow in conformity to Jesus!

Stolen Questions!

Kendra from Catholic All Year got a Liebster Award. I have no idea what that is, but apparently it involves tagging other bloggers and giving them questions to answer, and providing a place where your readers can link to these blogs and see how they answered your questions.

Well, Kendra broke the rules for us, and allowed anyone she didn’t tag to steal her questions and run with them. So I totally did! 🙂

MY QUESTIONS FOR YOU:

1. Where do you live? And why do you live there?

I live in Troy. I happen to live in the house that I grew up in. I left home at 17 and joined the Navy, traveling a bit, then I went to college at the University of Michigan. Eventually, I decided that buying a home was better than renting and my parents happened to be selling the house at the same time. I like my community and have lots of friends in the area, although when the weather is bad, I do wish that I didn’t have a 100-mile-per-day commute to work.

2. What are you currently watching and/or reading?

Well, according to Goodreads, I’m currently reading 52 books. I have “Command Authority” by Tom Clancy on Audible, playing in my car during my commute; I am reading “Two to the Fifth”, which is the 32nd book in the Xanth series by Piers Anthony (which I started sometime in high school); Also, “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green (who is an awesome YA novelist — if you haven’t read “The Fault in Our Stars” yet… totally do); the Bible (again, but a different version because I heard that the average Catholic home has 6.8 Bibles and I don’t want to be sub-normal); and my Anatomy and Physiology textbook — for funzies.

3. What kind of Catholic are you: cradle, or convert? (Or considering?)

I think most people consider me to be a convert. I was Atheist… Really I was nothing. So, I’m a Catholic ‘ex nihilo’ which I think should be it’s own category. 🙂

4. Can you point to one moment or experience that made you a practicing Catholic? (Or want to be?)

Haha, yes! I woke up one Saturday and said (out-loud, to myself), “I’m going to be Catholic,” and promptly Googled “Catholic church Troy.” I chose one and went to the first Mass they offered on Sunday, and went up to the usher and asked “How do I join?” If you’d like, you can read my “conversion story” as it were.

5. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

Including the ones I can’t wear anymore or should have thrown away a long time ago or that belong to someone else? Ummm… I have my running shoes that I wear daily. A sad pair of Doc Martens that I had slated to throw away years ago, but never did and now occasionally wear when I have somewhere to go to which I cannot wear my running shoes. A pair of five-inch-heel sandals that I’ve worn twice (once to my best friend’s wedding and once to the same friend’s baby shower). A pair of boots. Ice skates. Two pairs of Rollerblades. Two dressier shoes without their mate. I think that’s it. Oh, and my mom’s knock-off Crocs. She might not be getting those back. She shouldn’t have had a daughter with the same size feet as her.

6. Are you a good dancer?

If you mean my usual Norte Americano Booty Music style of dancing, then… I usually think so. Especially when I’m by myself at home. At the very least it’s enthusiastic. Although, as my disease progresses, I’m no longer able to dance the way that I’d like.

7. Who usually drives, you or your husband?

I’m single, so me. Alas, my car refuses to drive itself.

8. What’s your favorite holiday and how do you celebrate it?

Holy Thursday. I love Chrism Mass, and the annual Pub Crawl of the Altars of Repose.

9. Which is correct? Left or right?

[Images of toilet paper: Left = overhand; right = underhand]

Left. All the time.

10. Do you have any scars?

Yep! There’s a ton on my knees from being a fairly tomboyish kid, but the biggest one is from my brother. We were riding bikes and he cut me off, so I ran into (and flipped over) a mailbox. I have a long, vertical scar on my left thigh from a muscle biopsy about 3 years ago when I was diagnosed with my mitochondrial myopathy. I have 4 scars from last summer’s meningitis (I developed large blisters from the adhesive used to hold my IV down). I think that’s it?

11. What’s the most famous thing you’ve ever done?

I was asked to edit a paragraph for the English translation of a homily given by Father Cantalamessa, the preacher to the Papal Household. I was asked this because I used to be a Reactor Operator in the Navy and it concerned the behavior of neutrons and Father wanted to make sure the science was right. As it happens, Father’s books are translated into English by the wife of one of my professors in Seminary, where I’m getting my Master’s in Theology, so… My paragraph was published nearly verbatim the way I had written it, and I got an e-mail from my professor saying, “Thanks, Jenn. I thank you. My wife thanks you. Fr. Cantalamessa thanks you. The Holy Father thanks you!,” which was pretty awesome.

This is my paragraph:

We all know about the nuclear energy that is released by the fission of the atom. An atom of uranium absorbs a high energy neutron and splits in two, creating two new elements from the original; energy and more neutrons are released though this process. This begins a chain reaction. The two new elements in turn can themselves absorb neutrons and break into four new atoms, and so on to the point where the energy released in the end is enormous. It is not necessarily destructive energy because nuclear energy can be used for peaceful purposes on behalf of the human race.

You can read it in context, too. It’s on Zenit’s website: Fr. Cantalamessa’s 4th Advent Sermon from 2011.

And I’ll leave you with a gratuitous photo from last Sunday’s Mass. It was a random church that I found courtesy of Masstimes.org when I realized that I was running late:
Our Lady of Sorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows

Now, for my questions and people to tag…

QUESTIONS OF THE DAY:

1. What is the best characteristic of your spouse/best friend?

2. What is your least favorite routine task and why?

3. What part of your faith life do you think is particularly strong?

4. What is your favorite way of giving back to the community/taking care of your neighbor?

5. What was your favorite place to visit on a vacation/trip/pilgrimage and what should I not miss if I go there?

6. If you are sad, how do you cheer yourself up?

7. What book(s) do you think everyone needs to read?

8. If the Church were to canonize you, what would we remember you for?

9. What do you most look forward to in the next 5 years?

10. What do you like best about your job/daily work?

11. What questions do you have for me?

I’m tagging:

Stacy from Attached at the Heart

Shauna from Dream with Your Eyes Open

Nikita from The Unpaved Path

Jen from Far Beyond Pearls

Amy from Blessed by God

Andi from Bringing the Sunshine

Lydia from Small Town Simplicity

I don’t know if any of them read my blog, or have a pingback to know that I’ve linked them…. I guess I’ll find out! 🙂 And, of course, I’m happy to read from any of the rest of you! Link your blog post or answers in the Comment box. 🙂