Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas by Trusting in your Awkward Fiats

Christmas tree hunt 2012 069

Keeping Christ in Christmas for our family means preparing ourselves during Advent, so we are ready for Him when He comes.  We listen to Him in His Word, we seek Him in our prayers and in our extra efforts to see and attend to the needs that around us. There are so many good ways to prepare the way,  it can easily become overwhelming. My best advice is trust Him, and trust His Church to guide you to Him. He can take a little desire on your part inflame it with a passion ordered unto Himself, and you will scarcely know that anything is happening at all.  His coming is usually small, and still.

It does take a wee bit of planning.   What sort of prayers will you say? What gifts will you prepare for the Christ child?  How will you awaken the wonder of the Advent of Christ in yourself and your family? How will this Advent make His voice more recognizable to you and your children, so that you are prepared for His coming, so that you can alert others? What part of the secular celebrations will you take part in, what will you let go of? 

Mostly it takes a firm hope, that our fumbling and awkward fiats, which are all we have to offer Him, will be enough. We see through the glass darkly, it is very easy to not recognize His movements in our efforts to bring Christ into our Christmas preparations. It is too easy to convince ourselves that our efforts are not accomplishing anything.  His desire for you is greater than yours for Him.  So great He will enter into this broken humanity of ours, just for you, and just for me.

Even with this knowledge, sometime near Gaudete Sunday, if not sooner, I begin to have the creeping feeling that I am failing to do Advent right.  Because we have not done enough volunteer work, or the right kind of volunteer work.  Because our Christmas tree is up already -- or maybe it is not up yet.  Because I love Christmas music and it is already playing.  Because my children behave like this:

Naughty or Nice? Please note that Luke rarely goes about with his fly open anymore, but as for the Sass-master….well, she IS the Sass-master!

 Many nights our Advent rituals feel distracted and poorly done – what with the fire hazard and little children who are fighting over whose turn it is to blow out the candles and the older, sulky children who have piles of homework to do there are often a lot of side bars during our prayer time (which may or may not include a parent who has lost all patience and finds him or herself screeching at the children in a not so peace-on-earth way).  To top it off, all too often I feel our Advent prayer time was hastily done; the Holiday activities make for later evenings and children must be put to bed. Mom and Dad need to have a little time to chill, maybe even with a glass of wine (We do!  We really, really do need it!).

Why do I always, every year, think that I must first set up the perfect environment for Advent to truly be fruitful?  Why am I always fighting off a feeling that my efforts are hopeless, and that I am alone in my failure?  Why am I always afraid that He won’t come for me, or my children?  That we did not do it right.
Every season I have to learn and re-learn that even my fumblingChristmas fun! 047 efforts, done with love and great yearning, are all Jesus needs to come to me, and to my children.  It is my awkward, broken fiat that I offer Him. It is all I have. I yield to the structure and sacraments that Mother Church has provided, to help me and help my children order our hearts and our desires to Him.

Yes, (surprisingly) Santa will come, but the presents will not be remembered. Yet, if I ask my older children about what they remember about Christmas, they always remember that baby Jesus came, and we sang songs and prayed prayers, lighted candles and prepared the way for Him all during our Advent. They remembered that we longed for Him in the darkness and He came, and they know He will come again.  

Peace and Grace to all, Heidi

Friday, November 15, 2013

On Exploding Heads and the Kingdom of Heaven

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come,
Jesus said in reply,
“The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed,
anand no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’
For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”
Then he said to his disciples,
“The days will come when you will long to see
one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.
There will be those who will say to you,
‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’
Do not go off, do not run in pursuit.
For just as lightning flashes
and lights up the sky from one side to the other,
so will the Son of Man be in his day.
But first he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.”
Lk 17:20-25

Channel surfing last Wednesday I watched a snippet  of a History channel production that was going to reveal secrets of the Bible!!!! Not usually my thing, except that the only other acceptable option to watch was a Nova production on the JFK assassination which  had “new” facts that showed that Oswald was the only shooter. Okay.  Not being in the mood to watch Kennedy’s head explode in slow motion over and over again,  I flipped back to the  History channel…but that was a mistake,  because now it was time for my head to explode!

It was the same old and  reductionist theories about Jesus and His kingdom, which -- for those of you who are ready to take a secularized leap of faith   -- has nothing to do with a heavenly kingdom, or even  a church for that matter!  No way!  That was all added later on by misguided, power hungry, misogynistic and/or ignorant leaders of the early Christian church.  Leaders who were trying to justify their doctrines by creating a divine messiah out of an itinerant preacher/ zealot / nice dude (whichever you prefer to sell your book) therefore obscuring His true message until modern intellectuals could sort it all out. Thank heavens (by which I do not  mean  life beyond this world, no way, that would be ignorant, and anyway, where is the hope in that?)!  As for the Kingdom of God it was here in this political view or there in those subversives against that governmental system.  It might even be me, myself, and I, who knows… but it was not supernatural.

It is also not an honest and complete assessment of the message of the Gospel, which is  good news beyond your deepest desire, and  which emerges like a lightning flash even in the darkest most hellish, hopeless places in this world.  The companions of Maximilian Kolbe during their  torturous deaths glimpsed it, and I do not think the    banal theories of TV scholars could ever explain how or why their deaths differed from  the deaths the Nazi’s were hoping to give them; deaths that were supposed to be used as a horrific reminder that there was no hope for their prisoners,  either surrender your humanity or suffer horribly and die like an animal.  With the Kingdom of Heaven so powerfully present in Maximilian Kolbe, those prisoners did neither, they died with heaven overtaking them.

In the end, my husband and I gave up on TV and streamed Mystery Science Theater 3000 (which may explain the extreme heckling tone of this post).  I apologize for that, but well…my head exploded! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

My keyboard is not working!!

I don't have much time to post anything today, what with a wonky wireless keeeeeyboard (sigh) and Max hanging on my back waiting for his next trip to tttthhhhhhhhhhe (@#$&#*!)  potty chair so I am going to post a link to Monsiggnore Pope's excellent post today (long but well worrrrth it! (Stupid keyboard!!!)


And yes, I have changed the keyboards battery!

Update here are a few more links from my otherrr blog:

Larry T's reflection on yesterday's 1st reading

Deacon Paul's on the Gospel or Why you do not need "Powerful panties"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Let the Little Children Come: Be warned, we are!

Receiving the Kingdom of Heaven like a child
At the elevation of the Eucharist during a peaceful and quiet daily Mass about five years ago my then two year old son Luke yelled loudly: "Never like Jesus! NEVER, EVER NEVER!!!"  This was because of my miscalculated strategy to hush his fidgety self down by trying to redirect his attention to Jesus on the altar.  He would not have it, he was much more interested in crawling under the pew. I had to slink out of my seat, trying hard to resist the temptation to dunk him in the holy water font as we made a noisy exit out of the sanctuary. 

On another occasion a nice woman was leaning  forward from her seat in the pew just behind us to chat with Luke and he PUNCHED HER IN THE FACE!  To be fair to Luke, she did not read the pretty obvious signs that he was uncomfortable with her face in his  - I did, but I could not get to him in time, since he was about three kids away from me.  (My husband who was next to him was nicely playing his part as Mr. Oblivious.)  There was no serious harm done, since Luke was not even two, he merely knocked her glasses askew.  But yet again I was hauling a screaming child out of Mass.  I have more stories like that.   So many that I am a bit dubious of what is meant by accepting the Kingdom of Heaven like a child.  I am certain that others who happen to be seated around us are wondering as well, especially the woman who moves to another pew if we happen to sit behind her.

Even more discouraging, just across the isle is the perfect family whose five children sit ever so peacefully and - as far as I have noticed - have never needed to be removed from Mass.  Mom can even serve as an EMHC and Dad can lector, because their kids sit so nicely.  So while my youngest (which now is Max) roars like a dinosaur or grunts like a pig  (“Ha ha, I a pig Mama!”) during silent meditation time, they sit peacefully meditating – imagine that!

Stephen's 8th Grade Graduation Fam Picture

But I wouldn't trade places for a minute. Their family is beautiful in their peacefulness, ours is maybe more of an example of perseverance.  And that is okay.   Because when it comes to revealing the Kingdom in this world, it is never as neat and tidy as our sentimentalized ideals would lead us to believe.  That messiness means that we are not all meant to reveal the Lord in the same way and you have to have the humility to let God lead you and your family where you are to the very special place that He has just for you.  It means that God wants you to come to Him now as you are, not when you are perfect (then you wouldn't think that you needed him).  I need Him, my husband needs Him and my children need Him now and forever.  So even if I have the opportunity to leave my little ones at home, which I can at times, I frequently choose to bring them with me anyhow.

So, let the little children come!  The quiet, shy ones; the rambunctious, naughty ones; the fidgety ones; the distracted ones; the noisy ones and let us all trust that the Lord who desires their presence so much will shower His graces upon them, and us.

Heidi Knofczynski

However, I do wonder at times if our Lord had in mind my oinking little Max.*

Peace and grace to all!

*just to update anyone reading this Max has not oinked at Mass for the better part of three months, now we are just working on keeping him in the pew.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Writer’s block

I am a first class procrastinator.  Every morning my intention is to write at least a little, for this blog or for Journey to Wisdom.  Maybe I will publish, maybe I won’t but the goal is to just write.  The Lord know that I need the practice, my writing will not ever improve if I avoid just doing it.  But in the end I become I pillar of stony salt, just staring at the computer screen, reading other blogs and then giving up because I have already wasted enough time on the computer.  Besides, in this glorious summer time, the breezy trees are calling me to sit outside and contemplate God’s wondrous creation and take joy in my children’s play (My desktop cannot follow me outside….thank goodness!).

Photo credit: Heidi Knofczynski

In fact, the longer I procrastinate the more futile this blogging becomes to me.  I can go to a number of different places and find insightful and inspired writing, sometimes on the very subject that I had on my heart and mind.  Leave these musings to those who are more qualified, let them express what you cannot.  There is more than a little truth to that I know, but I also know that I came into this through prayer, and I will stay with it until I discern a clear direction to end it.  Yet, here I am pillar of salt, with nothing to say, just staring at the computer and fearing my own inadequacy. 

In fact, it is a lot like my prayer time.  Which should tell you that over the years my prayer life has stopped and started, stopped and started, stopped and started…especially my rosary.  If you can’t get it all in don’t bother, if you can’t meditate without endless distractions (both interior and exterior) wait until you are in the right frame of mind.  And there I am pillar of salt, knowing what I ought to be doing but frozen in my inadequacy, and refusing the difficulties of breaking through it.
To break free from this is the trick.  And to do so I need to stop thinking that these activities will always be products of affective inspiration.  Sometimes they are the duties one offers up, because the One to whom they are given can be trusted to return so much more back.  I know that I need to break free of the fear, to break free of the need to grasp at the Spirit.

“Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build.  Unless the Lord guard the city, in vain does the guard keep watch.  It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, To eat bread earned by hard toil – all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.” Psalm 127 1-2

My motivation to blog is what I am finally confronted with.  Beyond the other reasons - for pageveiws, for a creative outlet, to show off my brilliance (all of which have their terrifying flip-side i.e., failure, failure and failure) - there was a call.  And it came from Him and for Him alone I continue, trusting that the words of the Psalm above.  Because if I am doing it for any other reason than I am that pillar of salt, afraid of that terrifying flip-side and unable to move.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Journey to Wisdom: Of His Most Astounding Mercy, and Her Most Immaculate Beauty!

Today is the Solemnity of the Mother or God, It is a holy day of obligation for us.  I wanted to share a reflection that I posted for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  May the peace and comfort of the Blessed Mother of God be with all of you in this new year!

Journey to Wisdom: Of His Most Astounding Mercy, and Her Most Immaculate Beauty!