Thursday, January 31, 2013

Keep Marching {40 years = 55 million dead}

...and so does the mainstream media, in lies of omission and lies of commission
2013 marks 40 years of the legal killing of the unborn in our country.  Although the media fails to report the March for Life in our state capitol or our national capitol, it's real!  Members of our family were present at both marches (again) this year to witness for life.

Washington State March for Life, January 22, 2013, Olympia, WA
Departing Bellingham at 6AM and embarking on a 3+ hour drive, we arrived at the Mass for Life, held in the gym at St. Martin's University in Lacey.  Celebrated by Archbishop Sartain, concelebrated by dozens of priests, the Mass was offered for the unborn.  Our prayers for the healing of our culture, for the conversion of pro abortion politicians, and for healing for each person hurt by abortion were lifted up in the Mass.

We cannot accept the killing of the unborn. 
We will not accept the killing of the elderly. 
Andrew St. Hilaire, co founder of the Anti-Choice Project
The ongoing sacrifice of abortion, claiming the lives of 3,500 children each DAY in the US must be stopped.  One day's March for Life each year wasn't designed to be the only coordinated pro-life effort, but at this giant rally we alert our legislators with our numbers and join in prayer for the conversion of our killing country.
March for Life in Washington, DC, led by students from the University of Notre Dame, one of whom was our son, Zachary  {photo from}
Our commitment to protecting life from conception to natural death includes ongoing prayers and acts of penance offered for the end to abortion and for conversion and repentance for all involved in this holocaust.
 Prayer warrior and former pastor, Father Marion, in his Benedictine habit after the Mass for Life at St. Martin's University, visited briefly with a few of us before heading back to his cell at the monastery.

Photo sent by Zachary of the inside of St. Agnes Church, Washington, DC, where Father Jenkins celebrated a Mass for Life for the 600+ Notre Dame students who traveled to DC for the March for Life
Champions for Life, these McEntee sisters and their families and others faithfully carry on the Washington March for Life started by their parents Dick and Kathy McEntee (+).
Thanks for the gift of life, Mom! Thanks for Marching for Life!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Heavenly Birthday

My nephew Weston crowns me with the traditional {outlandish} hat at my birthday party January 5th.
Born on the fifth day of January, I was reborn through the waters of baptism on January 28, at St. Agnes Catholic Church in San Francisco, California, on the feast of St. Peter Nolasco, and the secondary feast of St. Agnes.  While the annual family celebrations surrounding my birthday are always festive and fun, the spiritual meaning of this day, my baptism day, have become more important to me with each passing year. 

By God's divine providence, my future spouse, Timothy, was also baptized on January 28, 1968, thousands of miles away at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Seattle, Washington ~ the same place our firstborn son, Zachary, would be baptized on January 28 (1995).  We specifically chose this date for Zachary's baptism for sentimental reasons, ignorant of the Church's teaching encouraging parents to seek baptism for their children within the first few weeks of birth. 

The new Church Calendar, introduced around 1970 following the Second Vatican Council, moved the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas from March 9 to January 28, so our baptism anniversary now shares the feast of a truly amazing, holy, and brilliant theologian from the thirteenth century.  We place ourselves under the patronage of St. Thomas Aquinas, and ask his intercession, remembering fondly our (brief) visit to the place of his elementary education, the Benedictine Monastery of Monte Cassino, Italy.

I received quite the heaven-sent birthday gift on the occasion of my 45th birthday a few weeks ago, a Douay-Rheims Bible originally given to my father-in-law, Cliff, by his parents on the occasion of his 35th birthday in 1976.  The inscription in Grandpa Tony's handwriting, laments the fact that "In this modern age it has been perfectly possible for a person to have the best Catholic religious training without ever reading a single page of the Bible... (but) it is good to retain and read Sacred Scripture."

Interestingly, this heirloom family Bible was not actually the gift Cliff and Billie originally planned to give me.  In fact their gift giving plans changed quite suddenly when Cliff found this Bible perched on top of the box where the intended birthday gift was stored inside their safe.  "Cliff was pale when he came upstairs holding the Bible," said Billie, "he said THIS is what we are giving Bridget for her birthday."  Unable to explain how the Bible, safely stored and nearly forgotten, appeared on top of an often accessed box in the safe, Cliff took it as a sign that this Bible should be mine.
Cliff explains finding the heirloom Bible in the safe.
Upon opening the package and discovering the Douay-Rheims Bible, I was overjoyed and slightly incredulous ~ before hearing Cliff tell of how it came to be my gift.  Unknown to everyone, the Douay-Rheims Bible has been perched on my (top secret) wish list for a few years.  Ever since Zachary taught me about this translation of the Bible a few years ago, I have nursed a silent hope that someday I would own a copy.  By God's grace, that day came on the occasion of my 45th birthday, and for this gift I shall be eternally grateful to Cliff and Billie, to Cliff's parents Tony and Toni, and to divine providence for placing this Bible in my possession.

Grateful for the precious gift of family gathering, with Bethany, Billie, Grandma O'D, Mom, (me) and Violet

Joseph, Zachary and Peter with Great Grandma and Grandma, visiting to celebrate my birthday; a few days before Zachary's return to the University of Notre Dame for the start of his second semester.
My gift from the boys and Tim: the promise of 100 family Rosaries, cleverly wrapped in a puzzle of parts.
In all the excitement of my birthday celebrations, we had neglected to check the mail.  The following day, I received a handmade card from a cherished priest, shedding even more grace upon what had been a very memorable and phenomenal birthday.  "I'll be praying and offering Mass for you and your intentions on your well as a rosary for you....Happy Birthday."  The icing on my heavenly birthday cake, this tremendous gift gave me yet another reason to praise God for His abundant mercy and endless love. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Art of Giving

During a top secret carving session, Peter snaps a self-portrait at my request.

Peter inherited an artistic gene from his paternal grandfather and his maternal grandmother, both exceptionally artistic and creative.  Peter's passion for art, manifest in his first attempts at drawing as a toddler, continues to this day in his carving, painting and creating.  As the recipient of one of Peter's recent masterpieces, I am in awe of his determination, motivation and creativity.

The artist at work

I knew Peter was up to something, and that his project was somehow connected to an image of our Blessed Mother Mary holding the infant Jesus.  I sensed that carving may be involved, by the noises emitting from his room when the "do not enter" sign was posted.  The bandaged finger was another clue pointing toward whittling in progress.

My hand-made gift from Peter

My handmade gift, given first thing on Christmas morning, holds a very special place in my heart.  Knowing that Peter created this lovely Madonna and Child statue from a block of wood, working for many hours to design, whittle, sand and paint it in time for Christmas, brings me great joy.  Peter asked that I have it blessed by a priest ~the final touch~ making it a truly holy, treasured gift from my son the Christian artist.

P.S. to those who may not understand Catholic teaching: 
I assure you I do not worship this statue of our Blessed Mother holding Christ.  Rather, I look upon this and other holy images for inspiration ~ just as we look fondly upon photos of our loved ones or cherish shared memories brought to mind by prints or keepsakes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Extraordinary Jaunts {Sundays in Seattle}

Ryan, Joseph, Peter and Peter enjoy baked goodies.
In this Year of Faith, our family set a goal of participating in and growing more familiar with the 'Extraordinary Form' (Latin) Mass.  This form of the Mass is not offered in our city, or county, or neighboring counties, but it is offered at North American Martyrs in Seattle, about a 90 mile drive from home.  FSSP priests pastor this technically 'homeless' parish, which worships at St. Alphonsus Church and at Holyrood Cemetery Chapel in Shoreline.  This ancient ~extraordinary~ form of our Holy Mass almost disappeared in my lifetime after rapid changes implemented following the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's.  I don't remember the 'old' Mass, nor was I taught about it in my Catholic upbringing; but I always fostered a special attraction to the enlarged, framed black and white photograph of my parents' Nuptial Mass, said in the 'old' form at Holy Rosary in West Seattle.

The 'Ordinary Form' (Novus Ordo) Mass which we know, love and attend daily at Sacred Heart follows basically the same 'order of events' but with significant differences, not the least of which is the language in which the Mass is said and the manner in which we receive our Lord in Holy Communion. Following along in the little red booklets offered at the entrance, or fumbling along with the 1962 (heirloom) Missals we have inherited, we can mostly keep up with the Mass and prayerfully worship. The solemnity with which the Latin Mass is celebrated, the profound reverence and the decorum of the congregation are awe inspiring to say the least.  The preaching is certainly not for the faint of heart!

Our special Sunday journeys to Seattle punctuate our ordinary calendar and offer us extraordinary ways to keep holy the Lord's Day. 
Peter holds his God-brother Samuel
Meeting in the middle, each family driving about an hour, we celebrated a recent Sunday in Seattle with our dear friends from Tacoma.  Aileen's family honored her wish to attend Latin Mass and we combined the main event with a tasty side-trip to a bakery a few blocks from the hospital in Ballard where Joseph was born almost 15 years ago.  'Ballard Blue,' the first house Tim and I owned happens to be just a few blocks from the Church, so we are familiar with the surrounds, though the area has certainly been further developed and more densely populated since we moved to Bellingham in 1998.
Bridget, Samuel and Aileen, together on Sunday morn
King Tut's exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, another Sunday side-trip during Zachary's Christmas break, offered a glimpse of history for about the price of a sarcophagus.  Being linguistically inclined, Zachary especially enjoyed the inscriptions on the various artifacts.  King Tut's name (or one of his names) included a sign meaning 'manifestation', which when being viewed by those of us celebrating the Epiphany (which means Manifestation) held special significance.  King Tut, you may have been a king, but you were not God. 


Brothers in Seattle
Spending time at Great Grandma's house on a Sunday afternoon included being catered to and well loved.  Grandma and I feigned interest in the Seahawks game, while the guys intently cheered for the home team, which on that day reigned victorious.  The views from her windows overlooking the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains beyond are phenomenal, but sitting in the company of my 95 year old Grandma would be a pleasure in any environment.
Guests of Great Grandma for the Seahawks playoff game; watching her double-decker TV
Peter cheering for the Seahawks in his Sunday best

Friday, January 11, 2013

Birthday Boy {Peter Turns 13}

Sorry about the broom, Mom...
Why is this birthday boy repairing a broom before breakfast on his 13th birthday?

Because he broke it jousting his older brother on their elevated back-deck ice rink after dark last night.  Go figure!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Diving In {Home Schooled Varsity Swimmer #2: Joseph}

Joseph launches into the 4x100 relay at a dual meet at home.
Participating in varsity athletics with our local high school teams is a right of passage in our Catholic home school.  This year Joseph, a freshman, joined the swim and dive team which was captained by his older brother last year and state champions four years running swimming.  The coach, in his 30-something-th year of coaching at Sehome High School, is a fantastic leader and runs a tight ship.  From the very first varsity team meeting, Joseph noticed the difference in Coach Don's 'all for one/team' focus from the 'all for me' bent of the local club swim to which he's belonged for several years as part of our home school's daily PE requirement.
Tim and another volunteer stop the clock at the conclusion of Joseph's 500 free.
As big fans of our kids' public school sports teams, whether on the sidelines or in the stands, or in this case, as timers on deck, the natural flow of casual conversations with other parents sometimes shifts dramatically when the fact that our athlete attends school at home slips out.  Recently Tim found himself defending our decision to home school to his co-timer during a home swim meet.  The baffled mother, a long-time school district employee, expressed serious concerns for our son's well being as a home school student, sharing a few worst-case scenarios from her professional point of view.  She inquired with the usual (and usually well-meaning) line of questioning we face often as the primary educators of our kids:
"What about his socialization?"
"What about his hopes for college admissions?"
"How do you make sure he's keeping up with his grade?"
Flying into action
Answering these types of questions about home schooling in the past often involved a complicated series of answers, sometimes including statistics and some personal philosophical justifications.  This time, however, Tim simply answered, "We home schooled Joseph's older brother from first grade and he was admitted to Notre Dame with an academic scholarship." 

That simple statement pretty much summed up everything Tim had to say in that moment with regard to all the "what if's" being launched at him with friendly fire.  Point taken.
Joseph holds his own in the varsity races.
Ultimately, Zachary's academic success thus-far reflects his keen mind and his strong desire to further his education and to achieve certain goals for his intellectual, personal and spiritual growth.  Anyone who knows Zachary knows that he (like his dad) has been blessed with above average intelligence.  However, his academic path to the University of Notre Dame was paved right here at home, and we trust that Joseph's (and Peter's) preparation for higher education (and life in general) will also be best -custom made- in our humble little Catholic school at home.