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mess
What a mess.

I’m a terrible baker. Actually, that might be overstating it, since I’m not a baker at all. At. All. The amount of times it occurs to me to take the trouble to bake is shamefully close to zero. I’m not sure why this is – maybe I never did it before I got married? I didn’t do well in Chemistry? I prefer a chicken leg to a piece of cake any day? My mother is an awesome baker? So many excuses, so little time.

The thing about kids – or, maybe my kids in particular – they seem to really enjoy the fruits of baking. To them, being given something freshly baked is one of the greatest acts of love they can ever imagine. I can’t wrap my mind around it. Let’s be honest: they wouldn’t sneeze at a lovely piece of Costco-bought pastry. But freshly baked? By a person that they know? Who will even let them help? And lick the bowl? And the spatula and the floor? That’s heaven on earth.

My husband bakes. And let’s the kids help. And lick things. And together they wait in front of the oven and watch the magic of baking soda and baking powder in action. I take pictures of them as they make memories together and then go away and hide.

I don’t know about you, but it’s been a tough Lent. Tough for all sorts of reasons but look:

jesus

There he is and he went through all sorts of tough and awful and heartbreaking things because he loves me so… I’m doing my best to hang in there. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. The stats are not so great.

So it occurs to me to Offer It All Up and make a Super Big Sacrifice and conjure up an Act of Love for my little people. It is Lent after all. I decide to make Banana Muffins. While the one-year old was napping of course (I’m not a saint yet – baby steps).

I toil. I lose a few years of my life stressing that the baby will wake up at the critical Spooning of the Batter into the Muffin Cups stage. I even Clean Up Afterwards. The smell of freshly baked muffins fill my house. My shoulders relax. Thank you, Jesus. I really needed that.

The school bus arrives and crew marches into my house. They smile when they notice the smell.

“MAMA! Did DADDY make muffins?!”
“No… I did.”
“Did Daddy HELP you?!”
“…”

09_sep_ladyofsorrows
Our Lady of Sorrows. I can talk to her. She understands.

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At the parish
Kudos to the St. Clement School kids and their teachers and the folks at the parish office for putting together yet another powerful tableaux-style Stations of the Cross! You guys did such a good job! My husband only had to take the one-year old to the foyer (where he continued to compete with the presentation). The bigger little kids were enough engaged and were able to stay still and watch wide-eyed as Jesus carried his cross (“Is that really heavy, Mama?”). And afterwards?

One child: That was REALLY short, Mama. That was shorter than Mass!
Another child: That was WAY longer than Mass!
Another child: Was that a Mass? (Um, no.)

At home
At home, we’ve been trying the same format that we’ve been using for the past couple of years. We can only do about seven stations (max, sometimes much less) at one go before certain individuals get the giggles and then it’s over. Then we just start from where we left of when we get a chance again. One day, everyone will be so mature that we’ll get to the stations in the double digits… in one evening!

In other news
The one-year old is learning the Sign of the Cross! Right now it resembles Tarzan thumping his chest, but it’s PROGRESS.

tarzan

10842374915_a93534d06b (1)
His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins, at the ordination of Deacon Neiman D’Souza at St. Clement Parish, October 2013.

During his homily at Deacon Neiman D’Souza’s ordination in October of last year, Cardinal Collins presented an image that has stuck with me. He spoke of being a feather on the breath of God. I don’t remember who he attributed it to, but I remember thinking That is SO COOL! A feather! Imagine being so light that you can just go where God wants you to go, when he wants you to go there.

feather
At every moment, with great ease, doing God’s will.

The thing is, most of the time, I feel more like this:

potatoes
A sack of potatoes.

If you sometimes feel the same way, take heart, my fellow sacks of potatoes. God’s breath is capable of sending even the most sluggish of us into graceful aerobatics, if that is his will. We just need to ask for help. Ask and ask and ask. God, please help. Please help, please help, please help.

Last Sunday, the first reading was from Isaiah 11: 1-10. Inspired by this beautiful passage, we present our humble photographic series entitled Isaiah 11, brought to you by the plastic animal suitcase.

isaiah_plasticanimalbin
The plastic animal suitcase.

ISAIAH 11: 1 – 10
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear;
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,

isaiah_lambsabretoothtiger
We couldn’t find a wolf, but here is a sabre-toothed lion with a lamb. Equally impressive.

and the leopard shall lie down with the kid,

isaiah_jaguarllama
Leopard: check. Kid: nope. But apparently, both goats and llamas are even-toed ungulates.

and the calf and the lion and the fatling together,

isaiah_bearlionfatling
At the time of publication, we weren’t sure what a fatling was. The octopus was the fattest animal we had.

and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

isaiah_bearcowlion
Lions and cows and bears, oh my!

8 The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.

isaiah_childsnake
Hard to believe, but there are no snakes or any snake-like animals in the plastic animal suitcase. This is as close as we could get going further afoot to the puzzles drawer.

9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.

I wish I could head over to the mall (since it’s too late for online delivery now, for those of us procrastinators) and buy these things for my family. Actually, they’re mostly for me, but I’m sure my family would really appreciate them.

  • A replacement heart for myself, of the Meek and Humble design
  • An Even More Magic Eraser than the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, the faster-than-the-speed-of-sound kind that erases harsh words in mid-air, before ear arrival
  • Or even better, a Minty Fresh Harsh Words Mouthwash (safe for daily use) that obliterates harsh words and reformats harsh tones even before they leave my mouth
  • Some sort of a Generosity Booster Energy Drink, preferrably Ice Wine or coffee-flavoured, that can leave me cheerfully able to play tic-tac-toe, lego, war, read books, and otherwise able to sit at rug-level for hours on end
  • Patience pills
  • Bulk-sized box of Smiles
  • A large, gold statement necklace and burgundy tights (Actually these can be wrapped. I’m just adding these just in case.)

mrclean
Look at him. That man can do anything.

Addendum
jesus
Actually. Here’s the man that can do anything. (Not Robert Powell, silly. Jesus.)

For the times I have shunned the presence of Christ, whether it be his sacramental presence or his presence through the people he puts in my life, Response: Come, Lord Jesus!
– from an Examination of Conscience

I usually remember to genuflect before the Tabernacle. Beautiful gold box, bright red candles: these help me remember that I truly am before the King of kings. But I’m tend to forget the presence of Jesus in the seemingly random people he puts in my life. The grumpy cashier, the tired waitress, the lonely retiree, the person sitting next to me on the bus, a toddler determined to empty all the kleenex boxes into the recycling… it’s not easy to remember. In the rush of just trying to get things done, distracted by my own thoughts, I forget that each individual before me is there for a reason: maybe just a smile or a kind word, but something. So this is my brilliant idea:


Random man walking on the sidewalk?


Not random at all!


This could really improve road rage…

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?” And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
-Matthew 25:35-40

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!

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