Category Archives: spirituality

Prayers of the People

I try to keep a positive attitude at mass, and I’m pretty much able to do that.  The only exception, at least in my current parish, is the petitions or “prayers of the people”.

Too often they turn into either little exhortations on the issue of the day, or a kind of substitute announcement.  An example of both of these rolled into one petition(!) would be:  “For all those suffering due to abusive practices of mining companies, who pollute the ground waters in [country x] with illegal dumping of [chemical y], for which there will be a meeting of the parish’s development and peace group on Monday at 7 pm, we pray to the Lord.”

Sigh.

First of all, the Lord knows when the meeting is.  We don’t need to include it in the prayer.  And the Lord knows about company x and chemical y.  Can we not just pray for the suffering of the world?

George Weigel has an excellent column in the Denver Catholic Register, suggesting that at least at some masses, the petitions be routinized.  His formula goes like this:

For the holy Church of God throughout the world, let us pray to the Lord.

For Benedict, Bishop of Rome, and the bishops in communion with him, let us pray to the Lord.

For this local Church of [name of diocese], for [name of bishop], its chief shepherd, and for the priests and deacons of [name of diocese], let us pray to the Lord.

For this parish of [patron of other name], its pastors and its people, let us pray to the Lord.

For an abundance of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, let us pray to the Lord.

For the unity of all Christians, for the relief of those suffering persecution for their Christian faith, and for the conversion of their persecutors, let us pray to the Lord.

For the civil authorities, that we may be governed in justice and truth, let us pray to the Lord.

For those who are sick, and for all those with special needs, let us pray to the Lord.

For our beloved dead, let us pray to the Lord.

That, I suggest, covers the most important bases. Such a scheme also locates the local parish within the broader Christian community of the diocese, and locates the diocese within the ambit of the universal Church: facts about which Catholics in America often need reminding. And such a formulaic schema avoids politics while making clear that we should pray regularly that the politicos recognize both the responsibilities and limits of their power.

We pray to the Lord.

Jesus wept….

…and it wasn’t about climate change.

Unbelievable tripe in the National Post today.  I’m embarrassed to say that I attended the United Church for a few years.

Mardi Tindal, the newly elected moderator of the United Church of Canada, returned from last month’s climate change summit in Copenhagen with a deep malaise. Not a true clinical depression, but an anxious despair that reduced her to weeping.

“The difference between depression and what I was experiencing is that I wasn’t suppressing or finding myself in a place of isolation,” she said in an interview about her “lament,” and how it helped her to see “the truth about the condition of my own soul.”

She was so disappointed by the meeting’s failure to reach a binding deal that she broke down in the car one day as her husband drove toward their home church in Brantford, Ont.

“I simply wept. My tears were quiet, but I spoke through them, and I was being listened to. My husband said, ‘There is great power in what you have just said, and it is a powerful message that makes clear why you are weeping.’”

“And I said, ‘Doug, I’m weeping for the millions of lives that have been lost as a result of what did and did not happen in Copenhagen,” Ms. Tindal said. “My experience was that I had a place to go with my tears and my lament…. It’s an expression of pain for the world’s suffering.”

Don’t bother reading the rest.

Jesus wept….

…and it wasn’t about climate change.

Unbelievable tripe in the National Post today.  I’m embarrassed to say that I attended the United Church for a few years.

Mardi Tindal, the newly elected moderator of the United Church of Canada, returned from last month’s climate change summit in Copenhagen with a deep malaise. Not a true clinical depression, but an anxious despair that reduced her to weeping.

“The difference between depression and what I was experiencing is that I wasn’t suppressing or finding myself in a place of isolation,” she said in an interview about her “lament,” and how it helped her to see “the truth about the condition of my own soul.”

She was so disappointed by the meeting’s failure to reach a binding deal that she broke down in the car one day as her husband drove toward their home church in Brantford, Ont.

“I simply wept. My tears were quiet, but I spoke through them, and I was being listened to. My husband said, ‘There is great power in what you have just said, and it is a powerful message that makes clear why you are weeping.’”

“And I said, ‘Doug, I’m weeping for the millions of lives that have been lost as a result of what did and did not happen in Copenhagen,” Ms. Tindal said. “My experience was that I had a place to go with my tears and my lament…. It’s an expression of pain for the world’s suffering.”

Don’t bother reading the rest.

A secular Jew attends the Christmas Vigil Mass.

Robin of Berkeley, a self-professed “wandering Jew”, discovers the beauty of the Catholic Church.  On her first visit to a Berkeley church.  On Christmas Eve.

And in a heartbeat, I understood why leaders from Marx to Mao try to keep people away from God, and why they will always fail. I flashed to an image of those mothers who somehow find the superhuman strength to lift up a car and free their children.

Go read the whole piece.  

A secular Jew attends the Christmas Vigil Mass.

Robin of Berkeley, a self-professed “wandering Jew”, discovers the beauty of the Catholic Church.  On her first visit to a Berkeley church.  On Christmas Eve.

And in a heartbeat, I understood why leaders from Marx to Mao try to keep people away from God, and why they will always fail. I flashed to an image of those mothers who somehow find the superhuman strength to lift up a car and free their children.

Go read the whole piece.  

Virile Womanhood

Great post over at Betty Duffy today.  About the 100-100 marriage.

A snippet:

…I’ve always been the type to take charge in a vacuum. When no one else can do the job, I’ll do it, and do it well. Several years ago, my husband was out of town when two feet of snow fell. We had just sold our tractor, and everyone I knew who had a plow on their truck was cashing in on the weather to bail out the acres of Wal-mart parking lot. I had four kids at the time, and no choice but to imprison the baby in his crib, put a movie on for the kids, and go outside and dig. 

Vigdis the Viking Lady from Sigrid Undset’s “Gunnar’s Daughter.” She skied across the Nordic countryside and mountains for three days with a baby on her back, fleeing from her enemies. I think she even cut off her own finger when she suffered frostbite. Me woman. Me strong….

As I reject so many tenets of modern feminism, I’ve made the mistake of falling into a sort of feminine wimpiness that does not have roots in Christianity. What it amounts to is a sense of helplessness when my husband is around. Changing a diaper is never just changing a diaper when he’s in the room—suddenly it’s an event, requiring assistance: “Can you just hold the baby’s hands out of the way? Can you toss me the wipes?” I can’t bring in the groceries by myself. I can’t pack up the car. I can’t put the kids to bed. I can’t do anything by myself. Why? Because that wouldn’t be fair.

Head over there and read the whole thing.

Another one for the to-be-read pile.

I just added English Catholic Heroines by Joanna Bogle to my amazon.ca wishlist.  It was recently reviewed in The Catholic Herald (thanks to Alicia over at Fructus Ventris for the link).

From the review:

…It is particularly welcome in the present climate when women in general seem to have forgotten the “feminine genius” so beautifully articulated by John Paul II, and when some women are in confusion and anger over the Catholic Church’s response to the question of women’s ordination….

…As Joanna Bogle indicates in her introduction to this wonderfully heterogeneous group of women, they all found fulfilment as women in the Church without seeking a distinct hierarchical role…

The choices of women to include are wide-ranging, both in time period and charism.  As the professor in my theology class mentions often, those who we remember as saints are not necessarily those who were powerful in the normal or worldly sense of the term, but those who sought to live out their vocation with all of their gifts.  These are the people who were able to make lasting change in the world.

My mother-in-law and the Immaculate Conception

My mother-in-law, Josephine (“Mama”), arrived from Stockholm on Monday to spend a month with us here in Toronto.  I blogged about her previously, about her wisdom and all that she has taught me in the 26 years I’ve been married to her fourth child, even though we’ve been separated by an ocean most of the time.  She hasn’t visited with us for over three years, although she saw Z when he first moved to Toronto from Atlanta, before the boys and I moved up.

I am refreshing my French, as that is our common language.  She loves to tell stories about the past, and I am enjoying hearing some old ones as well as some new ones.  She is a very devout Catholic, and has experienced the hand of God throughout her life, bringing her safely through many hardships and heartbreaks.

Her parents were born in Mardin, Turkey (left) in the early part of the last century.  They were part of the forced exodus of Armenians and other Christians from Turkey between 1915 and 1917.  Her mother, Marine, was four years old when her family was expelled from the city and marched south.  Her grandmother was pregnant with her uncle at the time, and gave birth on the road.

Yesterday morning, realizing that it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I asked Mama whether she’d like to go to mass.  We’d already missed the one mass at our parish, so I had found one at another parish close by yesterday evening.  She looked at me and told me that it was very important that she go to mass, not only for the Immaculate Conception but because her mother had been born on that day in 1912, as the bells were ringing for church.  It was for that reason that she was named Marine.  Even more importantly, she died on the same feast day 86 years later.  She said that she had a lot of prayers to say, and that she very much wanted to go to church.  Z had to stay late at work, so we went together, just the two of us.

We arrived a little bit early, and she took out her handful of prayer cards, mostly in Arabic, and began her prayers.  There were 40 or 50 people at mass, mostly women.  The priest began mass with the hymn Ave Maria, and I was overjoyed to hear my mother-in-law join in on the chorus.  She has been to Lourdes a number of times, and told me that it is the song sung during processions there, with everyone singing in their own language.  .  The chorus is Latin, and she sang along with the congregation.  I wish she could have understood the homily, because the priest talked about the gifts that we are all given to assist us with our vocation, just as Mary was given the gift of sinlessness.  Mass ended with Salve Regina, and we headed back home at the beginning of the snow storm that hit us overnight.

This morning, she reported that had prayed another hour and a half at home before bed, and had slept very well, unlike her first night here.  I hope to recount some of the stories she tells me over the next month.  She is a model of holiness, a prayer warrior, a very courageous and funny woman, who has found comfort in her faith throughout her 78 years.

From left to right:  Josephine’s brother Joseph, Josephine, her paternal grandmother Meme Marro, her mother Marine, her sister Antoinette.

My mother-in-law and the Immaculate Conception

My mother-in-law, Josephine (“Mama”), arrived from Stockholm on Monday to spend a month with us here in Toronto.  I blogged about her previously, about her wisdom and all that she has taught me in the 26 years I’ve been married to her fourth child, even though we’ve been separated by an ocean most of the time.  She hasn’t visited with us for over three years, although she saw Z when he first moved to Toronto from Atlanta, before the boys and I moved up.

I am refreshing my French, as that is our common language.  She loves to tell stories about the past, and I am enjoying hearing some old ones as well as some new ones.  She is a very devout Catholic, and has experienced the hand of God throughout her life, bringing her safely through many hardships and heartbreaks.

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Her parents were born in Mardin, Turkey (left) in the early part of the last century.  They were part of the forced exodus of Armenians and other Christians from Turkey between 1915 and 1917.  Her mother, Marine, was four years old when her family was expelled from the city and marched south.  Her grandmother was pregnant with her uncle at the time, and gave birth on the road.

Yesterday morning, realizing that it was the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I asked Mama whether she’d like to go to mass.  We’d already missed the one mass at our parish, so I had found one at another parish close by yesterday evening.  She looked at me and told me that it was very important that she go to mass, not only for the Immaculate Conception but because her mother had been born on that day in 1912, as the bells were ringing for church.  It was for that reason that she was named Marine.  Even more importantly, she died on the same feast day 86 years later.  She said that she had a lot of prayers to say, and that she very much wanted to go to church.  Z had to stay late at work, so we went together, just the two of us.

We arrived a little bit early, and she took out her handful of prayer cards, mostly in Arabic, and began her prayers.  There were 40 or 50 people at mass, mostly women.  The priest began mass with the hymn Ave Maria, and I was overjoyed to hear my mother-in-law join in on the chorus.  She has been to Lourdes a number of times, and told me that it is the song sung during processions there, with everyone singing in their own language.  .  The chorus is Latin, and she sang along with the congregation.  I wish she could have understood the homily, because the priest talked about the gifts that we are all given to assist us with our vocation, just as Mary was given the gift of sinlessness.  Mass ended with Salve Regina, and we headed back home at the beginning of the snow storm that hit us overnight.

This morning, she reported that had prayed another hour and a half at home before bed, and had slept very well, unlike her first night here.  I hope to recount some of the stories she tells me over the next month.  She is a model of holiness, a prayer warrior, a very courageous and funny woman, who has found comfort in her faith throughout her 78 years.

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From left to right:  Josephine’s brother Joseph, Josephine, her paternal grandmother Meme Marro, her mother Marine, her sister Antoinette.