Thursday, February 27, 2014

Traditions Thursday

I had more fun today! I was asked to sit on a panel with 5 other women and talk about traditions of our high school years. We were from different times, graduating from 1960 to 2002. We shared memories with the high school girls and their teachers and administrators. I sat next to Sr. Helen Marie who graduated two years before me and who gave me rides to school and to basketball games since we lived across the street from one another. She was too funny and since we were from similar times, I barely had to say anything. "Ditto what the Sister said."
Back in the day, we had a week where the seniors picked one of the freshmen and surprised her for breakfast, took her to a picnic lunch in the park, decorated her locker and helped her to meet others in the school. The Freshmen would bring "blow out" eggs to school and try to get the entire Senior class to "sign their eggs" without allowing a Sophomore or a Junior, pretending to be a Senior, to sign. If a Senior saw the lower classman's name on the egg, the egg would be crushed and the Freshman would have to start over the next day. It was a challenge to learn all the girls in the Senior Class, and it was harmless fun.
This morning, I blew out an egg, signed names all over it and took it to the panel, as if it was from 1975. As we talked about the tradition, Sr. Helen Marie picked up the egg and held it up for all to see. She kept talking and as she finished I grabbed the egg and smashed it in her hands. She gasped. The crowd of girls gasped. I said, "Oh Sister!" She said, "You did it!" And then, I explained that it was a fake to the laughter of the crowd. I just could not resist.
As we continued to talk and to share, I realized just how important our traditions are in our schools and in our churches. It is so many of the traditions that I find to be beautiful; the choosing of St. Cecilia girl, the class ring ceremony, the uniforms, St. Cecilia Day celebrations, May Procession, Graduation, Class Night, etc. etc. All reminders of our School, of the good times, of learning. And in the Catholic Church; the holy water, the scapular, the rosary, the blessed candles, St. Blaise, the Advent Wreath, the Crucifix, the Miraculous medal, the San Damiano Crucifix, etc. etc. All reminders of our faith, of our life in the Church. All of the times we share with one another, all of the gifts and the talents, all of the reminders bring us together as a family, all identify us as a family of faith. The traditions we share with one another, not just in our own schools and churches but in Catholic Schools and Churches throughout the world, identify us as a people of God, as a people who believe. Traditions are fun and sharing those traditions reinforce those good times but more than that, traditions ground us. They give us a foundation and an example by which to live. When times are good or bad, we look back and we remember the rose, the candle, the laughter, the connection, the prayer, the crucifix and we are blessed. I am grateful for being asked to share our traditions. I am grateful for those who have passed these traditions down for our example. I am grateful for our Catholic Schools and Churches. I am grateful.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hand Me Down Scripture

"For if a man with gold rings and fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person with shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here, please,”
while you say to the poor one, “Stand there,” or “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges" James 2, 1-9

Happens every day.

The bookstore has been busy due to the upcoming weekend Confirmations and not-too-far-off First Communions. Thank the good Lord we still have many who believe in supporting local, small businesses  even though it may be easier to "jump on the internet". Thank you to all our awesome customers!

On a daily basis we have the opportunity to serve and we try very hard to serve well. Our children's classmates' parents come in and we wander down from our offices and chit chat and bend over backwards to get them all they want and need for their child's special day. The Sisters or Priests come in and again we make our descent to make sure they are well taken care of, after all, they are the ones who support our efforts. Our customers are the reason we are here, right? Right? Well, from what we hear today in the readings, these people are not the only ones we will serve to get us to the "next place". Of course, we need to serve them and serve them well, but they are easy to serve. They are rich in compliments and they are grateful for what we do for them. They give back to us so we can be here the next year for the next group of parents and teachers and children. The payback is obvious, material and even oftentimes spiritual, and it feeds us.

I hear the phone buzz and my daughter says, "Mom, there is a salesman down here who just happens to be in the neighborhood and would like to see you since dad is not here." Ugh. A salesman for my husband's part of the business? Don't make me. I finish the order I am working on and after about 5 minutes wander down front to see what he could possibly want. He apologizes for not having an appointment, gathers a few papers including price lists, asks about Allen and then about leaving his car in our lot to walk around Vanderbilt. I am cordial and thank him for waiting for me to come down and tell him to leave his car as long as he wants. Poor guy. All he wanted was 5 minutes and I made him wait.

Buzz. "Mom, Roy is down here and wants to talk to you." "Ya mean he wants money." "Probably." I finish everything I possibly can and wander downstairs, growling all the way. There are customers. I check on them first and then go to the man waiting. "Ms. Julie, can I have a few dollars for lunch?" He whispers because he's embarrassed that he has to ask. Don't I get that? "Let me check and see if I have anything." I get my leftovers after I set aside money for the basketball game and the volleyball match. My leftovers. Poor guy. All he wanted was a little something for food.

Buzz. "Mom, William is down here." "Oh come on. Can't you just move him along? I just sat down." "He wants you." I hurry worried he may hug a customer or ask them for something. "William, what's up?" "You got a motorcycle? A car for sale? A coke cola? Something to eat? Any tapes or records? You like music?" "No William. But I have some water. Do you want some water?" "No thanks." "Alright, you have a good day and I'll see you tomorrow." Poor guy. All he really wanted was my attention.

So easy to give to those who give back, who wear nice clothes, who come in for what I am there for. So easy to lose sight of who it really is who gives back, who wears their nicest clothes, who ask for what I am really here for. I practically fall over myself for those who do not really need me and I take my sweet time coming down for those who do need me. How many ways does Scripture have to tell me who's who for me to get the message? Lord, save me from myself. I thank God for every day being a new day and for His great Mercy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Weekend Retreat - Bethany

Bethany Retreat is run by the
St. Cecilia Dominican Sisters and is located in Dickson, TN and every chance I get, I go. Bethany has been a true blessing, hosting weekend retreats for many of the moms and dads who have children in the Dominican run schools. Since I have a daughter at St. Cecilia Academy and two children at St. Henry School and I am an alumnae of both schools, this past weekend was my 4th time to participate. Some people need to sit and to listen and to pray more than others to "get it". (But let's not point fingers.)
The first time I visited the Retreat House, I spent time in one of the rooms (sister kept referring to them as cells over the weekend, which made us all laugh), snuggling in a glider, covered in a warm, brown, fuzzy blanket, watching the snow fall and listening. The picture on the wall was of  Blessed Imelda, patroness of First Communion. At age 9 she went to live with the Dominican Sisters and longed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist but was still too young. She prayed and learned to chant the office and became friends with the saints, preparing for the day she could receive Communion. "And so Imelda continued, with the intensity of a child, to get to know Jesus more deeply, and to desire Him all the more." Since my first visit, I mentioned my desire to be in the "Blessed Imelda" room. The second visit, I was with Our Lady and than the San Damiano Crucifix. Both rooms had meaning for me at the time. But this time, as I walked up the sidewalk, Sr. Mary Ellen greeted me with a smile and "you are in the Blessed Imelda room this time, we made sure." We both laughed. As it was mentioned by the sisters in front of a few other women, I shared a little of the story and asked who was in their rooms. Little by little, reports came in of the beautiful images, reminders, on the walls in the "cells" and the devotions. (I should have asked everyone.)
The weekend was incredible. Spending time with 18 women who share the same community and similar vocations was time well spent. I did nothing but learn from moms who had as many as 8 children to moms who had 1 child. I learned from wives about relationships. Most importantly I learned about mountaintop experiences, about the scene of the Transfiguration, when Peter tells Jesus he'd like to make three tents so that they can stay. And the truth is, we all felt like we would like to stay here at Bethany, with this mountaintop experience. But we were given the tools, and we were being told we needed to go and to spread the good news to our husbands and to our family and to our community, more in the way of example, less in the way of preaching. We must get back to reality and take what we had been given and share it with others. We had spent time listening at the feet of Jesus, we hoped we had "chosen the better part" and now it was time to get back to reality.
When I arrived home, one of the first emails I opened was from a salesperson and it read:
Hi, Julie!

The guys at Tiny Saints are rolling out a "special edition" Bl. Imelda Lambertini charm for 1st Communion season.

Now I ask you, what does this mean? I'm taking it as a sign that my weekend was something I need to seriously review and take to heart, deepening my desire for Jesus. (Or, am I to leave this crazy life and run to the convent?) 

Blessed Imelda, pray for us.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Legs Are Sore

"Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick–no food, no sack, no money in their belts." Mark 6:7,8

Two by two. Today Jesus wants us to go out two by two and preach the good news of repentance. Now I don't know about you but I need all the good news I can get right now. It's miserable cold and it has been gray outside for days and quite frankly I don't know how people take multiple days of this kind of weather. It's down right depressing. But Jesus, in His infinite mercy and love, sends us out to tell the Goods News. We need nothing but Him. We are to take nothing but Him. We are to stay away from those who do not believe. He is the good news. But, today my legs are sore and I do not feel like getting out there. It's gloomy and cold and again, did I mention my legs are sore.
Ya see, my crazy sisters have signed up to walk a half marathon for St. Jude's Hospital and they just know that I want to do it with them. They have bought shoes and socks and have a schedule to train for this event. And so, before I sign up, I am walking to see if I can even walk 13 point whatever miles. Then, as if things aren't bad enough, we read that the miles have to be walked in under 4 hours and if we are off the pace, we get picked up in a cart and moved forward. Hey, now I'm thinkin' I'm waving down that cart and climbing in. But, my two strong-willed sisters say "Nooo. No way we're getting on that cart. Train faster. Walk on. We'd rather not be able to walk for weeks after but we are not getting on that cart." And, I'm sure they will hard head themselves right along, mile after mile until the bitter end, as I use the jump on, jump off method of racing. Two weeks in training and my legs are sore.
Somehow, I have got to get past all the excuses and gather strength of mind like my two sisters. There is much work to be done and no time for whining. Where does it come from? How do they make the time? Aren't they cold and tired of the gray skies and the constant pounding of the pavement? They are definitely on a mission and two by two they are moving forward. Guess I need to get on the boat or get "left behind." Times a wastin'.