Monday, January 31, 2011

Heading to State {Swimming Update}

Zac takes his mark at the start of the 100 butterfly at a recent dual meet.
Zac approaches his second turn in the 100 butterfly.
Zac's teammate, Tristan, competes in his second 500 freestyle race of the season, rather miraculous considering the initial diagnosis after his terrible car accident in September.  More about his recovery, his determination to help other teens, and details about his plans for the future here.

Going to State!
Zachary's been named to the traveling swim team, heading to the state meet; a goal he set for himself at the beginning of this varsity swim season.  He's an alternate at the moment, with hopes of earning a state qualifying time at the district meet in about two weeks.  In the hopes of shaving seconds off his time(s) at districts, he'll shave his head, face, arms, legs... In the meantime, he's letting his hair go rather wild... not the clean cut young man we're familiar with around here!  Perhaps a good case for St. John Bosco?

Today the Church  for St. John Bosco, patron saint of boys, youth, and Catholic publishers and editors.  Called to the priesthood from a very young age, Saint John Bosco spent his life ministering to children on the streets.  
"My sons, in my long experience very often I had to be convinced of this great truth. It is easier to become angry than to restrain oneself, and to threaten a boy than to persuade him. Yes, indeed, it is more fitting to be persistent in punishing our own impatience and pride than to correct the boys. We must be firm but kind, and be patient with them. . .
See that no one finds you motivated by impetuosity or willfulness. It is difficult to keep calm when administering punishment, but this must be done if we are to keep ourselves from showing off our authority or spilling out our anger. . .
They are our sons, and so in correcting their mistakes we must lay aside all anger and restrain it so firmly that it is extinguished entirely.
There must be no hostility in our minds, no contempt in our eyes, no insult on our lips. We must use mercy for the present and have hope for the future, as is fitting for real fathers who are eager for real correction and improvement.
In serious matters it is better to beg God humbly than to send forth a flood of words that will only offend the listeners and have no effect on those who are guilty."  ~Reading from Divine Office, Jan. 31, from a letter by St. John Bosco, priest
Saint John Bosco, you reached out to children whom no one cared for despite ridicule and insults. Help us to care less about the laughter of the world and care more about the joy of the Lord.  Amen.

Coming tomorrow: an update on Ezra's diving season...

Friday, January 28, 2011

On This Day {Triple Baptism Anniversary}

Flashback Friday
Today, Tim, Zachary and I each celebrate our baptism anniversary, on the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Did you know that each time someone is baptized in the Catholic Church, the congregation has the opportunity to renew baptismal promises?  That's right!  So although I might not remember my own baptism (since I was only two weeks old), I am continually reminded of the promises that were made on my behalf by my parents and Godparents on this day, the day I was reborn in Christ.  By my active participation in the liturgy, I am given the chance to renew these powerful promises in light of the call to be a priest, prophet and king for Christ.  I praise God every day for my parents' faith and for the best gift they every gave me, the gift of the sacrament of baptism!

V. Do you reject Satan? 
R. I do. 
V. And all his works? 
R. I do. 
V. And all his empty promises? 
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth? 
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father? 
R. I do. 
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting? 
R. I do. 
V. God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever. 
R. Amen. 

I also found a great prayer at for the renewal of baptismal promises:
Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge you as King of the universe. All creation was made for you. Exercise all your sovereign rights over me. I renew my baptismal promises, renouncing Satan and all his works and empty promises, and I promise to lead a good Christian life. I will try to bring about the recognition of the truth of God and your Church. Divine Heart of Jesus, I offer all my actions that every human heart may accept your kingship. May the kingdom of your peace be established across the world.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Childproof {or Not}

Janell with Joseph, who visited while she was teaching at church to give her a rose (Jan. 2010).
Today my dear friend Janell came over to share a daily meditation from the Magnificat by Saint Francis de Sales, whose memorial is today.  We shared the reflection, a cup of tea, and visited while four of our kids were at swimming and her three young boys played around the house.

Her three year old son, Joseph (aka the Runaway), appeared out of no where with a short sword (one of Peter's collectibles) and innocently asked, "What's this?"

"Oh Joseph, that's probably not safe for little boys, I'm sorry that wasn't put up out of your reach.  Can you show me where you found it?"  I had an inclination that there might be more where that came from.

"Right under here!" he reached under Peter and Joseph's bunk bed and pulled out a pike, "What's this?"

"Oh that's another weapon that's not safe for little boys, let's put that up too!  Look! Here's a Nerf battle axe~ it's safe to play with."

"Don't you have any guns?"

"Here's a gun, it's a marshmallow gun!"

Back to visiting with Janell when I heard a frightening question from Joseph, "Is this for bashing heads?"

"What?" I asked as I quickly walked over to his side of the room, where he was hidden from my view by a tall dining room chair.

"Is this for bashing heads?" he asked again, holding the mace I had failed to find in the boys' room on my first (late) safety inspection.

"Well, I guess that's what a soldier would use it for if he was in mortal danger.  Here, let me put that up, too."

Only a few days ago I had inspected their room, cleaned completely and vacuumed as a (belated) gift for my birthday.  I didn't see a single weapon.  But in just a matter of moments, little Joseph had spotted them all and handled them, too.  I think he's got a built in weapon-magnet, which comes free with many boys!

Why do we have all these assorted weapons/Lord of the Rings replicas in our house?
Why are they in plain reach of our three year old visitor?
I have no idea.  Ask my husband, or ask my boys...
I think it has something to do with owning two pawn shops and having boys who love to outdo each others' collections of interesting and old fashion weaponry.  Or maybe we're just crazy?

At any rate, we have a way to go to being a child-proof house!

Saint Francis de Sales, pray for us!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

March for Life {Olympia}

It all began with Jesus... in the Eucharist and in our hearts 
as we gathered in Olympia this week to pray for an end to abortion.
Archbishop Sartain celebrated a beautiful Mass for Life at Saint Michael's 
before the rally on the Washington State Capitol steps at noon.
Our day began at 5AM with a tour bus ride from Bellingham to Olympia, which was organized by my amazing husband, the Knights of Columbus and other friends for life.

Rallying and praying

Pro Life politicians addressed the crowd, several who grew up attending the March for Life as kids.

MC Noreen McEntee Hobson, sister of Josephs' and Zachary's Godmother, Aileen, and the youngest daughter of Dick & Kathy McEntee, founders of the Washington State March for Life, inspires the crowd. 
The estimated head count was between 6,000-8,000 pro life marchers*.
Second generation marchers, Peter, Peter, Joseph and Ryan at the capitol steps

First generation marchers, Aileen and me

Peter, Joseph and Peter heading back to St. Michael's for lunch after the march.

Warriors for the unborn gathered on the steps of the Washington State Capitol in Olympia Tuesday, to pray for an end to the war on the womb; to ask our lawmakers to please make sure our tax dollars are NEVER spent to fund abortion; to remember the millions of unborn children murdered here in the US since Roe V Wade legalized abortion in the US 38 years ago today.

Archbishop Sartain's homily at the Mass for Life at St. Michael's included these powerful reminders:
Every life conceived is destined for eternity.  No exceptions. 
To live is to praise God; simply by being alive I am praise to God, regardless of my ability to speak or walk.  
Only in God do we find life.  
To live is to praise, to praise is to live.  
The origin and destiny of every creature is God.  
Is abortion a matter of choice? No, it's a matter of life & death, of right and wrong.
Let's choose LIFE
Let's make the right choice... some choices are always wrong.

Saint Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

Let us not remain silent while the innocent are slaughtered.
Please pray without ceasing for an end to abortion; for the conversion of those who participate in and profit from abortion; for healing for each and every woman and man who has suffered by abortion; and for the millions of unborn babies; and for purity for our children and God's mercy upon our country.

*After a reader's comment suggested that I had intentionally mis-reported the number of attendees at the March for Life, I contacted the State March for Life board to request confirmation about the numbers for the 2011 March.  Here's the reply:
Hello there.  Your post is spot-on. The media always under reports…and we don’t really stress about it.  However, this year the media said that they interviewed someone from the March For Life who told them that we expected 7,000 but only 4,500 showed.  None of the board was interviewed about this.  We don’t comment on anticipated attendees…for just this reason.  So – the media got their information wrong.  We contacted them…haven’t seen a retraction yet.Based on the way the State Patrol has told us they calculate…when the steps are filled, that’s about 4,500 people.  Then they add w/ spill-over.  Considering we had significant spill-over on both sides, plus onto the sidewalk and into the grassy center by the flag – our conservative guess was 6,000-7,000.  We truly are amazed that so many people show up each year!We have confirmation from the State Capitol (and you can see online too) that we are the largest annual gathering there.  On occasion, there may be a larger group…but we are consistently the largest group that gathers...  Let’s be glad that we continue to have the largest gathering and will not stop until the genocide of the innocent unborn stops.  

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bryan Ochs' Ordination {Transitional Deacon}

Archbishop Sartain gives the homily at the Church of the Assumption
on the occasion of Bryan Ochs' deaconate ordination Mass.
Bryan Ochs prostrates himself before the altar at his Deaconate Ordination Mass,
as the entire assembly calls upon the angels and saints to pray for him.

By the laying on of hands, Bryan is ordained as a deacon, the first step toward his priestly ordination.

Bryan serves as deacon for the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Deacon Bryan Ochs incenses the assembly.

Zachary and Ezra greet Archbishop Sartain after Mass.

Tim, Hannah and Hope celebrate Bryan's ordination.

Bryan Ochs' ordination Mass, held at the Church of the Assumption January 16, 2011, was attended by Archbishop Sartain (who presided and ordained Bryan) as well as over twenty priests, several deacons and seminarians.  The Church was packed with the faithful, many having come a great distance to witness Bryan's ordination.  His ordination Mass was a solemn liturgy, with the ancient rite of ordination, including the laying on of hands by the bishop.  The music and environment were extraordinary, and the whole experience is one we will not soon forget.  As Bryan became a deacon, he moved from his place in the pew next to his parents to his seat with the clergy, an outward sign of his inward transformation.  As a mother, that movement is one of the most profound and touching parts of an ordination Mass.

Archbishop Sartain's heartfelt words to Bryan stressed the profound nature of his call to the priesthood and the fact that "this is not a new job" but a complete transformation.  He praised Bryan's parents for helping Bryan grow in holiness by their personal example of living the faith, and by their witness to the sanctity of marriage.  In his homily, Archbishop Sartain instructed Bryan:
"Cling to Christ with an undivided heart...You were consecrated in truth at your baptism and called from your mother's womb (to the priesthood).  Never take your eyes off the Gospel, and like Isaiah, God will make you 'a light to the nations.'
Like John the Baptist, you are to say to everyone, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"  Give up your life and take up your cross... disappear into Christ so that His Word may be proclaimed.
Show us what it means to put on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Give yourself sacrificially to the Lord and to His people.  Be ready to die to yourself minute by minute.
You will be changed forever by the grace of God.  It will be the Lord Jesus Christ in and through you. When you baptize, it will be the Lord Jesus; when you serve the poor, it will be the Lord Jesus who comes to them.
Be at peace, for just as the Lord called you from the womb, so will the grace of Holy Orders be with you for the rest of your life!"

Deacon Bryan will now continue to prepare for his priestly ordination (June, 2011) while serving as a transitional deacon.  We are truly blessed to have been able to witness his ordination to the deaconate at a packed Church of the Assumption.  What a tremendous blessing for our community to behold Bryan's transformation through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

In light Bryan's ordination, it's especially interesting to read what two ancient Christians, Ignatius of Antioch and Hippolytus, have to say about Holy Orders, to get a sense of the historical significance of this sacrament:

“In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him.”   (Letter to the Trallians 2:1–3 [A.D. 110])., 3:1–2).
“When a deacon is to be ordained, he is chosen after the fashion of those things said above, the bishop alone in like manner imposing his hands upon him as we have prescribed. In the ordaining of a deacon, this is the reason why the bishop alone is to impose his hands upon him: he is not ordained to the priesthood, but to serve the bishop and to fulfill the bishop’s command. He has no part in the council of the clergy, but is to attend to his own duties and is to acquaint the bishop with such matters as are needful. . ."  (The Apostolic Tradition 9 [A.D. 215]).

Please keep Bryan Ochs, all seminarians, and all those discerning a call to the priesthood and religious life in your prayers.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Zac Report {Junior Year Update}

At mid-point of the varsity swim season, Zachary continues to improve his times and techniques.  His goal is to qualify for and compete in the the state meet.  He's giving his all with the usual every day workouts in the pool and 3x/week 6AM 'dry land' aerobic and weights work outs.  As always, the coaching is amazing.
But by far the best news from the swim team: Tristan is back in the pool!  Considering doctors weren't sure if he would ever be able to talk or walk again after his car accident a few months ago, it's truly a miracle that he's in the pool and nearly ready to return to school.  Thank you to all of you (especially St. Pio!) who have remembered Tristan in your prayers!
Zac and Tristan in the hot tub relaxing with the swim team after a recent meet

In the mail this week...
Dear Zachary:
The Dean’s List at Whatcom Community College honors full-time students who have achieved a grade point average of at least 3.50.  Each quarter, less than 10% of the more than 5,000 WCC students enrolled for credit earn Dean’s List recognition.
Because of your outstanding performance Fall Quarter, 2010, you have earned the honor of recognition as Dean’s List Scholar.  On behalf of the entire Whatcom Community I congratulate you on this outstanding achievement.  Your success is also Whatcom’s success.
 Thank you for all you contribute to the College’s continuing commitment to excellence.
Zachary's first quarter in running start ended well, and another quarter is off to a great start.
He's in his first science class ever, and enjoys music theory 2 and a philosophy class also.  He's still studying Latin on the side, as well as theology; and continues to develop into an expert in game-ology (home made role playing games).

About Zac's Eagle Project: it's stalled...but not forgotten.  It's mired in the process of obtaining a building permit from the city.  Someday the carport at the rectory will be built!

And that, my friends, is a brief update on our first born son, Zachary.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

11th Report {Peter's Birthday}

on the
11th day 
of 2011
Pete's 11th birthday!
A Golden Moment in time...

Let the festivities begin with rough-housing in the (kiddie) pool...
Boaz, Cameron and Connor fight for the ball.

Tim and I spent the day with Peter and all the friends who came to celebrate his birthday...
Tim even got wet, led the gang in lap swimming, and raced Joseph in a 25.

Shall we call it a tie?

Judah, Boaz, Cameron, Joseph, Peter, Tim, Enoch and Connor
...and it's on to the synchronized cannonball act (or not-so-synchronized as the case may be)!

Let's try this all together now... Yes, Cameron, you can do it!

Ready, set, go!

C'mon Cameron!

Maybe next time!

Zachary instigated a high school swim team game:  snowball fights in swimming suits!

"I said a brr chicka brr!"  This is painful!

Game time followed...

Snow play continued...
...with only one ice ball to the face (Peter's face; brother's throw)

And the grand finale:
Dessert at Webelos with the whole den and leaders to sing and celebrate!

Favorite birthday moments:
Phone call from Grandpa Pete (because we share the same birthday)
Running out into the snow in our swimming suits

Least favorite moment:
Ice ball in the face

Biggest surprise:
Ice ball in the face

Peter's top 5 gifts received:
flint & steel
hobo tool (fork/knife/spoon)
2009 World Cup Soccer Wii game
bouncy ball
Nerf battle axe

Hope for this year:
Meet Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

11 on 1-11-11

Peter's 11 today!
Little Peter, crawling into mischief

Tim holds sleeping Peter

Zac, Ryan, Canon, AJ, Shannon, Joseph and Peter celebrate Peter's 3rd birthday at the pool

Great Grandma reads to Joseph and Peter (both were blankie boys) on Peter's 3rd birthday

Peter and Grandpa Pete share a birthday, and often a party, too!
Look carefully at Joseph....

Today we're celebrating Peter's 11th birthday with friends at the pool, and in the snow...
and at Webelos in the evening.
Tim took today off, so he'll get to be a part of all the fun.

Peter's dog, Rocky, is recovering from emergency exploratory surgery, so he won't be participating in the snow play.  Rather, he's relegated to the kennel wearing the cone of shame.  Poor guy.
The results of his lab tests won't be available until later this week, but he's eating and holding down food now, which is better than he was able to do most of last week.  
Thanks again to our family vets, Uncle Craig and Aunt Bethany, for their outstanding care and overtime hours to help Rocky.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gianna's Funeral Mass

Father Tom Nathe blesses Gianna's casket at her funeral Mass.

Gianna surrounded by her siblings; 
my favorite of the many beautiful photos displayed at the funeral reception

If you've been to a funeral for a child, you know how heart wrenching the experience can be.
And yet, Gianna's funeral Saturday was a great joy.

In the homily, Father Nathe brilliantly linked the joy a father would feel at handing his daughter off in marriage to her groom (knowing he was the right one for his daughter)... to the joy a father would feel at placing his daughter's casket at the foot of the altar, as Gianna's dad, Ray, had done only moments earlier.
A father, inclined to feelings of sadness, too, at the moment his daughter takes her new husband's hand, would be deeply grateful of their new union.  His solace comes from knowing that his joy will increase and multiply when new life (grandchildren) come forth as a result of his daughter's new life with her husband.
As Gianna was placed, her casket draped in the white garment (pall) which signified her baptism, her parents (though torn with grief) shared the joy of her new life with Christ and all the angels and saints.

Please keep Ann Mary and Ray and their family in your prayers.  Gianna's burial is tomorrow.

On Sunday, the day Catholics worldwide celebrated the Baptism of Jesus, I attended Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Bremerton.  Star of the Sea re-introduced a centuries-old Christmas tradition called Kindelwiegen (cradle-rocking).  A beautifully handcrafted cradle holding the infant Jesus stood at the foot of the altar, and after Mass young and old worshipers came forward to gently rock the cradle.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Heroic Parenting {Gianna}

Photo of Gianna with Pierluigi, Nov. 1957

I am profoundly humbled by the witness to heroic parenting being shown by Ann Marie and Ray Henninger in these days following the death of their baby Gianna Caeli.  Their story is chronicled in Gianna's Caring Bridge site, and I have included excerpts from their online journal below.

My husband Tim and Ann Marie were classmates at Seattle Prep, and we ran into Ann Marie at the Northwest Catholic Family Education Conference in Seattle last May.  Ann Marie had just announced their pregnancy, and I made a note of her due date and emailed her in November to inquire about how her pregnancy was coming along.  I received this reply:

Hi Bridget,
Thanks for writing.
Our baby daughter Gianna is due 12/12...and she is not expected to live long, if she lives until her birthday.  We found out on 10/15 that she has Trisomy 18.  It's been a rollercoastery few weeks, but we celebrate her life, however long or short!  More info on the link below.
I thank you for checking in.  Please keep all of us in your prayers!
Hope you and yours are well!
+ JMJ +  
Ann Marie
As it turns out, Gianna was born on Tim's birthday and went home to heaven on my birthday.  She has a very special place in our hearts, and her family is in our prayers during this time of profound suffering.
Please remember the Henningers in your prayers today, and throughout this week as they prepare for their final good-byes to Gianna's earthly body.  

We praise God for the example of Saint Gianna Molla, heroic mother, and ask her intercession for Ann Marie and Ray and family.

Jan 5:
Gianna died peacefully this morning...and as I listened to her great big heart pause more and more between beats, we all said good-bye and how much we loved her.  Just as with her birth, it was a sacred time, although it did happen quicker than we'd expected.  

My mom Marian had been holding her and noted she didn't seem to be breathing.  I took her immediately into my arms and we promptly gathered all the family.  Gianna just faded away to Glory amidst our tears.  No distress, she just quietly left us.

We are caring for Gianna's body here at home until the funeral Saturday, so if you wish to come sit vigil with us, know you are very welcome to do so.  Gianna is being kept cool to prevent deterioration of her wee body.  The children are planning to tuck notes/photos/mementos in with their sister.  She's got her St. Gianna medal, miraculous medal, and guardian angel pin, plus her monkey doll and pink bear.
Dear Lord, we praise and thank you for the gift of Gianna...thank you for choosing us to be her parents and siblings, thank you for sending her to us.  We rejoice that she is forever in the arms of Jesus,  "Let the little children come unto me.  Luke 18:16 Amen

Jan 6:
This afternoon, several people stopped by our vigil for Gianna. Her body is never alone...she is tucked into her casket wearing her most favorite outfit, laying on sweet floral cotton blankets, her body scented with lavender oil, surrounded by her stuffed toys, blessed medals, rosary, crucifix, candles, baby booties, a painting that says, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart." Jeremiah 1:5

Saturday morning, we will have a casket closing ceremony and farewell, which daughter Erin has planned.  At that time, we will have prayers, place our treasures for Gianna into the casket, and continue to thank God for the gift He has given us in Gianna Caeli. We will also place the cremains of two of Gianna's siblings in her casket with her, so they may be safely (and finally) interred with their sister.

Funeral Mass at 1:30pm Saturday at Queen of Angels Church in Port Angeles WA, 209 West 11th Street.

Jan 7:
I am so immensely thankful for the concept of a 'home funeral/vigil' as it has allowed the chance to give her a final bath and anointing, each child to hold her again as they desire, and it's given us  time to say good-bye, time to spend with her body, time to continue  mourning until the final farewell.  WHAT A GIFT!  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Great Gift {Life}

Thank you, God, for my life!
Thank you, God, for the Bread of Life!

Our plans to celebrate my birthday up on Mt. Baker appear to have been rained out!
Guess I'll have to take a rain check on it...

This special book was given to me by a very sweet Scout family...
They baked fresh bread for us last week, and shared the recipe so we could re-create the amazing artisan loaves... Now we have a whole book filled with wonderful recipes to try out!

Maybe that's how we'll spend the day...baking!

I'm sure that's how my mom spent many of my birthdays... 
since my dessert of choice was (and is) always pie (lemon meringue at the top of this list).
It's humbling to think of the devotion my mom has shown me throughout my life,
showering me with love and spiritual gifts beyond measure.  She is a treasure!
I praise God for the gift of my dad, too, who worked so hard and provided so well for our family;
for his dedication to my formation and education, his assistance to the poor, and his generous spirit.

I stand in awe at the gift of my husband~ whom God set aside for me on January 28, 1968~ the day Tim and I were baptized (he in Washington, I in California).  
What a tremendous gift to know that our Lord created us for each other!

I lift up each and every life that God has blessed us with:
and our spiritual children and Godchildren...

May I never grow weary of praising God... for His ways are perfect!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

May you rest in peace, John.
We will miss you, and your loving smile and friendly words.
Thank you for you amazing witness to the faith.  You are a true inspiration!
May God bless Michelle, and your children and grandchildren in their time of sorrow.

May the souls of the faithful departed
through the mercy of God
Rest in peace

Please pray for the Henninger family, 
whose 12th child, Gianna, (born with Trisomy 18) is dying today.

May we never fail to praise God for the gift of life, for each and every day and 
every soul he shares with us.