Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecostal Insights {7}

This flying visitor looks red-dy for Pentecost today!  It is a migrating Western Tanager.  We mark our family calendar to remind us to be on the lookout for these beautiful birds.  Our house is in their flight path in mid-May each year. 

Recognized for his soon-to-be earned AA degree with 60-some other high school 'Running Start' students, Zachary (somewhat reluctantly) took his place of honor on the stage at Whatcom Community College.  Each student had a moment in the spotlight where his academic and other successes were outlined and his plans for the future were announced.   After Zachary's introduction, a collective gasp was heard in the auditorium.  Seriously.  This kid is amazing.  May God be praised!

 If I had to guess, I would say goldfinch, the state bird here in Washington.  But maybe it is a female warbler migrating with her mate?  Ryan?  There was a time on our home school when identifying birds was very high on our to-do list.  We listened to recordings of bird calls to further assist our identification efforts. 

Time with the twins is more fun than ever, as they have grown into playing together and say many words and are better at expressing their wants and needs.  Their mom brings them to play at least once each week, and last week we even had a sleep-over.  Luke must have missed the memo about the sleep part, and he had more of a scream-over.  But Leia slept through all his hysterics and we remember well his dislike for naps and bedtime from the many months he lived with us as our foster son.  They are so dear to us, even when they are screaming.

One more funeral, bringing our total to three this week.  May Belia rest in peace.  Every moment with our pastor is a gift, especially as we prepare for his departure from our parish in one week.  I am especially grateful that we made the decision to center our home school schedule around daily worship, giving us all the chance to be students of Father Qui Thac.  His pastoral ministry, solid teaching and bringing us Jesus every day has blessed us profoundly during these past six years.  He will be missed.

As he prepares to enter the Benedictine Monastery, our pastor has gradually and continually been getting rid of all his stuff.  He will have no personal property as a monk, and therefor has no need for his things.  After the funeral on Friday, the boys helped him take his vestments to his car, to be donated to the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry Chaplain.  Father Qui Thac's emptying of his closets, drawers and shelves serves as a great reminder for us all that we can't take it with us in the end.  So there's no use being too attached to it now.  Let it go.

The second annual Iwo Jima float at our local Ski2Sea Grand Parade featured two of our boys, and two sets of brothers from our close home school and Scouting friends.  The Marine Auxiliary sponsored the float which won either 'best green float' or 'best Memorial Day themed float' (we aren't exactly sure).
The boys love being able to play military and dress up like heroes for the day again this year.  We sat along the route and cheered for them as they passed us by.  Free hamburgers grilled by the Harley Davidson shop a few blocks away made lunch a snap.  Happy Memorial Day all.

Go check out Jen's Conversion Diary next...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Lost Birds {Pigeon Wanderings}

Up on our roof, one of the boys' racing pigeons played peek-a-boo through the skylight.

Apparently the boys' new backyard pigeon loft is a destination loft.  This week a banded pigeon (probably from some one's racing fleet) landed at our loft and hung around for a few hours chatting with the captives.  Probably seeking shelter from the rain, this banded bird did not put up a fight to being captured with a fishing net and granted asylum inside the shelter.  The band number has been reported to a 4H member with connections in the racing community.  It may yet be returned to the rightful owner.

Add one bird to the mix. 
 While Peter's recent fishing expeditions were unsuccessful, the net did come in handy for capturing wayward pigeons.

Experiments in training racing pigeons; you win some, you lose some.

An eventful but slightly unsuccessful 4H experiment, the first release of Joseph's and Peter's racing pigeons from the new loft for training purposes ended in a mystery.  Seven pigeons were set free to fly approximately thirty feet to the open loft, but not one cooperated with the training plan.  One bird was apprehended a few hours later and placed in the loft.  Over the next few days, the wayward pigeons enjoyed the neighborhood and surrounds, and eventually four flew into the loft willingly.

Subtract two birds from the mix, and the plot thickens.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Farewell Father Qui Thac {Rest in Peace Marian}

 Zachary incenses Father Qui Thac at the preparation of the altar during Marian's funeral Mass.

As our Holy Universal Church enters into the celebrations of the Ascension followed by Pentecost, the selected readings recount Jesus' readying his disciples to let Him go and preparing them for life after his ascension: 
Jesus said to his disciples:d
"Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?'
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me;
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned."

~John 6: 5-11
As we hear these Words proclaimed today by our beloved pastor Father Qui Thac, they are especially meaningful.  For he, too, is going to the Father (in a manner of speaking).  Discerning a call to monastic life, our cherished priest will enter the Benedictine Monastery, St. Martin's Abbey in Lacey, WA, in July.  We celebrate his devotion to our Lord and his willingness to follow wherever God's call may take him.  What a gift for our community to witness our pastor take this plunge into discerning life as a monk, serving God in a profoundly counter-cultural priestly lifestyle at the Abbey.  We will be sad to see him go, and we shall miss him terribly.  Yet knowing that he is so faithfully following the promptings of the Holy Spirit gives us great consolation in our sorrow at saying farewell.
Listen carefully, my son, to the master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart.  - Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict
Our Holy Archbishop Peter Sartain wrote a letter which was read aloud at each of the Masses last Sunday to inform us of Father Qui Thac's departure.  Our incoming priest is Father Joseph Altenhofen, ordained June 12, 2010, serving currently at St. Joseph in Vancouver, Washington.  Fr. Altenhofen is in our daily prayers as he prepares to come lead our Sacred Heart parish and serve as the chaplain for our mission, Western Washington University's Newman Catholic Campus Ministry.  Zachary remembers Fr. Altenhofen as a well spoken, outgoing seminarian who helped lead, rally and inspire Quo Vadis campers.  Our future looks bright.

Father Qui Thac elevates Jesus, Truly Present in the Eucharist

Our friend and faithful parishioner, Marian Main, died on Mother's Day, and was buried on Ascension Thursday (yesterday).  Marian's funeral Mass may be the final funeral our boys have the privilege of serving with Father Qui Thac before his entrance into the monastery.  Over the past six years, Zachary, Joseph and Peter have served dozens of funerals with Father, and Marian's funeral was especially meaningful for many reasons.  Marian had a profound impact on those who knew her and her husband, Jerry.  Our church was packed with people from many denominations, who respectfully witnessed Benediction before the Mass of Christian Burial for Marian.  Normally the Blessed Sacrament (Jesus) is not displayed on the altar for adoration before a funeral.  But Marian's husband, Jerry, fostered a special devotion to adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament (every Saturday from 2-3AM to be exact) during her extended illness.  Jerry found profound peace and consolation in spending time with Jesus even as his heart yearned for the love of his life as dementia took Marian further and further away.

Pall bearers carry Marian's body from the church to the hearse.

Preaching with a gentle passion, Fr. Qui Thac spoke lovingly about Marian and Jerry, sharing the touching stories spoken by family and friends during the previous night's vigil service.  Preaching zealously, he called us out, exhorting all who loved Marian to follow Christ more faithfully and live in Him, in the Eucharist.  Father boldly exclaimed that anyone not moved to live their life more fully in Christ by Marian's example is simply a fool. 

Immediately following the heartfelt, impassioned sermon, a woman in the back began to complain out-loud to those near her about the (exact) number of minutes Father spent speaking. And so it goes.
Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and discipline.
~Proverbs 1:7
 Jerry thanks Father Qui Thac following the funeral Mass for Marian, his wife of 59 and three quarter years.
 Jerry sprinkles holy water, a blessing upon his wife's casket as it is loaded into the hearse.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.
He will not speak on his own,
but he will speak what he hears,
and will declare to you the things that are coming.

~ John 16:12-13

Visit Jen @ Conversion Diary

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Not Quite Lost {Missing Boys}

A foolproof plan it was not: "Take Joseph's cell phone and call me when you are ready for a ride home from the park."   Nice in theory, but putting it into practice became quite difficult without the phone.

Yes, Peter and his buddy Cam left the phone at home on their early morning fishing expedition, seriously messing with my morning serenity.  It's not that far to walk home from the fishing pond, and any other day that would have been plan A.  But as Peter is now donning a walking cast to recover from a nagging, painful ankle injury, the walk was to be avoided if at all possible.

Yet somehow I think the mix-up simply allowed for God's plan A; and if you are interested, you can read the rest of the story at Discerning Daily.

Cam and Peter head out before breakfast to do some fishing catching.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In Awe {Worlds Collide}

Archbishop Peter Sartain elevates Jesus~Truly Present in the Holy Eucharist.

Surrounded by hundreds of young adults praising God and giving Him glory by their fervent and reverent worship, our family attended Mass on the Western Washington University campus Sunday night.  The Viking Union Building's multi-purpose-room-turned-Church has sweeping views of Bellingham Bay and beyond which provided a stunning backdrop for the sacred celebration and gave us a glimpse of God's glorious creation.

The Fifth Sunday of Easter Mass was con-celebrated by our Archbishop Sartain and our pastor, Father Qui Thac Nguyen (Chaplain for the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at WWU).  In a characteristically profound and awe inspiring homily (sermon) Archbishop Sartain exhorted us to be like Barnabas and root out all that causes division in our communities/families.  He called for an end to gossip, sarcasm and hurtful speech, encouraging us to seek the peace of Christ by living in union with Him and with one another.  Such an engaging speaker, such a prayerful, holy man; we are truly blessed with Archbishop Sartain's leadership in our diocese. 

Sunset over Bellingham Bay
Archbishop Peter Sartain
Rev. Qui Thac Nguyen thanks Archbishop Sartain.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Jello Shooters Served to Minors {and other tidbits}

Logos Bible Software for Catholics continues a generous e-book give-a-way each week during the Easter season.  This local company employs a few of my favorite Catholics, and many faithful Protestant friends, and is rocking the world with holiness in e-form.  I have downloaded each of the first 3 free books, the most recent, Explanation of the Apocalypse by Venerable Bede.  (Don't be concerned when Logos checkout requires your credit card information to proceed; the give-a-way is totally FREE, it's just a mandatory step in the process.)  There are i-apps available for reading on i-devices, or you can download free Logos software for reading on your windows system.   Now if I can somehow figure out how to transfer the free books to my Kindle...
Zac and Tim up on the roof of the carport, Zachary's nearly complete Eagle Project.

Even as son #1 prepares for his first year at the University of Notre Dame, son #2 receives outside counsel to convince us to let him attend public high school.  When he stated the primary reason for our refusal to consider public high school, "My mom and dad are worried about the immoral environment," the reply, "That's just propaganda," was offered in rebuttal.  Talk about an opportunity to grow in humility:  Your home school just doesn't seem to be measuring up, does it?  Maybe your kids would be better off in the local public high school? (This caring soul has yet to approach us directly to offer this suggestion; I pray that I/we can be charitable in hearing the concerns/suggestions.)  We are convinced that even if our children's academic experience in home school should fall short, their love of learning and passion for their areas of interest will lead them to deeper knowledge in higher education.  The fact is, we are putting the primary focus on the formation of their eternal souls; we trust that all other pieces will fall into place as they should. 

Have you read Raising Pure Teens yet? 

Tucker in character
Ezra's little brother Apollo's surgery was successful, and he's home from the hospital with a new g-tube for feeding.  Apollo and his family are in our daily prayers; please pray for his ongoing medical issues and for his family.  We had the outrageously awesome opportunity to hang out with Apollo's siblings while he was in hospital, and sang happy birthday to his eight year old brother, Hezekiah.  Avi and Tucker delighted us with their costume play, and lively spirits. 

Peter and Brendan with their jello shooters on Cinco de Mayo 2012.

I'm a monkey's aunt, according to our delightful nephew, Jacob, who was in town for the day yesterday.  Peter and I had the pleasure of joining him and his brother, Brendan, and my brother Peter John for a Cinco de Mayo dinner in downtown Burlington.  Somehow the children were served jello shooters, which they had barely tasted before declaring them un-edible.  Peter John confirmed that they were alcohol-laden, and we wondered if the memo from the bar to the wait-staff somehow got lost in translation.  No harm, no foul; just lots of laughs and a few funny photos of middle school aged boys pretending to be drunk.  We love our time with cousins...
"Mom, do NOT take my picture!"
Inheriting Tim's extremely wide feet, Joseph recently endured over an hour of torture to find a pair of hiking boots at the last minute before this weekend's journey into the wild.  The poor child nearly died of embarrassment at having over 8 rejected pairs of hiking boots piled up behind him on the bench at REI.  At long last, however, a pair was found to be endurable, and we proceeded to the check out.  The cost of the boots exceeded our wildest expectations, but since they are the same size Tim wears, we consider them to be future hand-me-ups when Joseph is ready for the next size in a few (weeks?) months.
Caleb, Isaac, Christian, Zachary, Judah and Joseph at departure for a 2-night 15+mile trek in the foothills of the North Cascades.
Texting from the wildnerness while on a 2-night backpacking trek with Scouts, Zachary requested the lyrics to "Light My Fire" by the Doors.  I imagine there was some fire-side skit being hatched, or perhaps his dream of lighting a funeral pyre on a Scout outing on the shores of Baker Lake were finally realized?  In any event, I texted him the lyrics in a reply, which may or may not have arrived in time to be employed in the night's entertainment. (Yes, this is against troop policy to use electronic devices on a camp-out, shame on us!)  Zac, Tim and Joseph will arrive home tonight in time to attend 5th Sunday of Easter Mass with Archbishop Sartain on the WWU campus with the NCCM.  Yours truly shall serve as liturgical photographer...I can't wait!

Now go check out Conversion Diary!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Be Not Afraid {Sending Zachary to Notre Dame}

 Tim and me with our oldest son, Zachary (17) on the occasion of our 21st wedding anniversary; snapped after daily Mass by our groomsman, Mike, on leave from his job in Afghanistan.

It has been interesting to filter through all the responses (comments online and in person, text messages, phone calls) to our recent announcement that Zachary will be accepting an academic scholarship and attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall.  For those who bleed blue and gold~Notre Dame alums like Zac's Grandpa Pete~the reactions have been predictably ecstatic.  For many who know Zachary's academic gifts and love of learning, Notre Dame seems a perfect fit.  But from others comes a steady undercurrent of concern for Zachary's spiritual well being, considering the ways Notre Dame (and many other Catholic universities) have grievously failed to maintain and uphold an authentically Catholic campus from the top down.  However, we are not afraid to send our son to Notre Dame.  We are at peace with his decision, more so than when we allowed him to transition from our home school to begin attending classes at the local community college for running start/associate in arts degree at age 16.

Notre Dame is a Catholic university, as a visit to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart's page or to the campus ministry site reveals: daily Mass; Masses offered in the dorms; devotions; retreats; daily confession schedule; Sunday evening Vespers.  In any Catholic university, parish, or family each person can either choose to fully and actively participate or not, and we trust that Zachary will continue to place a high priority on living out his faith within the one+holy+catholic+apostolic Church.  Will he encounter Catholics who are unable or unwilling to fully give themselves over to ALL that our Church holds, teaches and professes to be true?  Yes.  Will he be exposed to the errors of moral relativism? Yes.   Will this be a new experience for him?  No.

We place our trust in God's divine providence, and in our son, whom we have raised to the best of our ability, and who continually astounds us with his intellect and his virtue.  We will joyfully help him make his way to South Bend, Indiana, in 108 days for the beginning of his new life at the University of Notre Dame.  In all fairness, I should mention that we also have a secret weapon, a personal security guard and a delightful advocate into whose loving care we continually place Zachary, our children, Godchildren, foster children, confirmation sponsees, and ourselves: Our Blessed Mother Mary, after whom the University of Notre Dame is named.
No·tre Dame [noh-truh deym, dahm, noh-ter] (noun) the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus.  Origin: French: our lady
Holy Mary, Mother of God, 
Pray for us!

My dear Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ please note~
I am not advocating praying to the dead!
  • Jesus promised eternal LIFE to all who follow Him.
  • Certainly Mary followed her Divine Son.
  • Mary LIVES with Jesus in heaven.
  • From the cross, Jesus offered Mary to us, saying, "Behold your mother."
  • We ask Mary to pray FOR us to her Son; she's an advocate within the communion of saints.
  • We do not pray TO Mary, we pray THROUGH Mary (this is an optional, though very popular Catholic devotion).