You know it’s a good day when…

A 60s song reinforces the daily Mass readings.

 

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As it turns out, I’m not an expert.

This may come as a surprise. (For me it did, anyway.) I am not an expert on marriage. Even after being married for almost 15 years. Here’s how this revelation came about.

This morning I was reading an article in the Endow magazine about freedom in commitment. The author, Katherine Meeks, spoke about how freeing it was to say, “I do,” on her wedding day. And then she hit me with a 2×4. “As I stood on the altar squeezing Matt’s hand, I promised Christ I would forever love him through this very man.” Woah…what?? How have I been married 15 years and not had this very simple, rudimentary, elementary bit of information? Of course! Of course that’s what Christian marriage is! Doesn’t Paul say something about this in his letter to the Ephesians?

So yeah. When I look at marriage that way, when I think that my husband is the man through whom I have promised to love Christ, I fall to pieces. Because I haven’t loved him. Not the way he deserves. Not the way Christ deserves. And honestly, sometimes I’ve treated my husband like sh**. So I guess I’ve treated Christ like sh**, too. That hurts. That’s humbling.

I’ve failed. Miserably. The only thing I can do is to beg forgiveness, let my Divine Lover pick me up, and love my husband and Him today the absolute best I can. Repeat tomorrow, the day after, the day after. Till death do us part. Amen.

In God I trust?

“Father Abraham, had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham…”

The story of Abraham is one long narrative about trust and surrender. God promised him a son, promised that he would be the father of many nations. Hard to believe that promise when month after month, year after year, your wife remains barren. Still, Paul tells us, “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised” (Rom. 4. 20-21).

My spiritual reading for the past few months [Into Your Hands, Father by Stinissen; The Diary of St. Faustina] has been tending this theme of trust. And so I’ve been asking myself, do I really trust Him? Am I growing strong in my faith and giving glory to God, fully convinced of His ability? Are my prayers of surrender, of proclaiming my trust in His goodness just empty words?

I say that I desire to abandon myself to Him, but I keep tight hold on the reins of control (or so I think). As soon as something happens that I didn’t plan or expect, I freak out, wondering, “What have I done wrong? Did I not cooperate with His grace? Why is this happening?” I may relegate to Him one or two paltry things. Or maybe I give Him a big thing and then won’t let go the little details. It boils down to this: I think I know what is best for me and fear that He won’t give me what I think I need. I don’t acknowledge His great love for me.

Of course, He knows this and so is trying to teach me through what I read and hear.

A couple of weeks ago, the homily at my parish focused on the idea that God, as Love itself, always wants what is best for each of us. Even the perceived bad events, God allows or wills that I may become the woman He has loved since before the world began. Stinissen says, “Is it not ridiculous to think that certain things could be lacking to us or that someone or something could put obstacles in our way? God knows exactly what we need…When we complain we usually do it because of our imaginary needs” (34).

Guilty.

He continues, “Frustration comes when we do not get what we think we need, when what we expect does not happen. Those who trust that God is guiding everything can never be frustrated. If they do not get a certain thing, they know they do not need it. If something they have waited for does not happen, they conclude that it is not meant for them” (35).

I get frustrated just reading that.

Then St. Faustina chimes in: “Nothing under the sun happens without Your will. I cannot penetrate Your secrets with regard to myself, but I press my lips to the chalice You offer me” (#1208).

Isaiah gives me a picture of God’s great love for me. “I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flame shall not consume you…Fear not, for I am with you” (43.1-2, 5). Jesus Himself teaches His apostles, “Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7.9-11).

In A Western Way of Meditation, the author states that God’s goodness and willingness to give good things is “limited only by our weaknesses, our insincerity, and our unwillingness to accept the consequences of our communication with him” (Bryan, 9).

What’s the answer? Love. He loves me. I love Him. Not nearly as much as He deserves. But in His goodness, I pray that He sees my attempts. That in His mercy, He keeps showing me, little by little, areas of my life I need to entrust to Him. My self-image. Food. Finances. Educating my children. Schedule. Personal reading. Relationship with my husband. I’m like a little toddler with my fist clenched around a little pebble. He has to peel my fingers back one by one. I wish I could just let go. Fall in His arms and just be.

Lord, teach me how to let go. How to fall. How to be. How to love You.

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Oh, and just a note. Abraham didn’t always get it right, either. So Lord, please teach me to fail. And try again.

 

Domine, non sum dignus

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Domine, non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo et sanabitur anima mea.
Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

Last Sunday, the Little Soldier got to say these words right before he received Our Lord for the first time. It was an intensely happy moment for my husband and me, but also bittersweet. He’s the last of our children to make his First Holy Communion. In plainer language, we have no more little ones. Nor does it look likely that we shall have more, unless God provides a miracle. Don’t get me wrong. I have four amazingly beautiful, healthy children and I am forever grateful for that gift. But it does make my mother’s heart ache to think that my days of nursing and cuddling a baby are probably gone forever. I thank God for my children, for the gift of life, for the gift of Himself and that the whole family can now share in the joy of receiving His Life into ourselves.

Why I write

I write in order to comprehend not to express myself
I don’t grasp anything I’m not ashamed to admit it” –Anna Kamieńska “The Lamp”

And that’s why I write this blog. To comprehend this life, my God, my Faith, myself. Forcing myself to put words on a page is hard work. It takes time and I’m a naturally impatient person. It slows me down, pulls my thoughts together, makes me dig for things that sometimes I’d rather stay buried. Even after I write I still don’t comprehend it all, but the very act of thinking, contemplating, wondering, questioning, helps to bring order at least.

 

 

Agnus Dei

“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him… the people who give you their food give you their heart.” –Caesar Chavez

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a food post. Really, any posts at all. We are at an interesting stage in our life right now, learning how to be a family again, learning how to interact with one another and with those outside our home. I won’t lie; it’s been a challenge.

One day Dear Friend came over to cook with me, to prepare a beautiful meal for our family. I have written before, or at least I intended to, about the healing power of food. My hope was that this would be a soothing balm for our family. The mission: leg of lamb, cooked to perfection.

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The night before, we injected the leg with a cup of gin. Bombay Sapphire, of course. A little G&T sounds mighty nice right about now. Be right back.

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Better. Back to the Agnus Dei.

The next afternoon, Dear Friend expertly cut slits all over the Agnus Dei, about 1.5 inches deep. Maybe less. I’m a poor estimator. I then expertly stuffed chunks of garlic into the slits, followed by a sprig of fresh rosemary. The little lamb went into the oven for heat therapy on a bed of root vegetables for an hour and a half. Maybe it was two. It’s more art than science.

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             Ready to go in the oven                                  Stepford Son doing the honors

At some point in the cooking, near the end (ok, true confessions–the G&T is NOT actually helpful when I’m trying to write), Chartreuse was applied two times. I was absent for this part because–apologies to Dear Friend–my husband had come home and brought me a new book. I left Dear Friend and Dear Husband in the kitchen to finish the lamb and went off with a glass of wine to my bed to read.

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Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. 

Ta-da! The meal was made complete by the addition of a salad with red onion and berries (does my memory serve me right, or is that the gin?) and homemade bread. Dessert: blackberries with shortcake and homemade whipped cream.

The meal was not a talisman that magically made everything better. But it didn’t hurt. Beauty may not heal all at once but does so bit by bit. Thank you, Dear Friend, for your love and all your “not pushing” pushing that helps me bring beauty to my family. Thank you, Dear Husband, for your love and supernatural patience.

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” – Oscar Wilde

And just for fun: “Always remember: If you’re alone in the kitchen and you drop the lamb, you can always just pick it up. Who’s going to know?” –Julia Child

Maybe I’ll add some Julia Child to my reading list. She might make me laugh. Or drink more.