Thanks for all the wonderful comments on my last post! It's your words of encouragement that keep me blogging. I don't write about life issues as often as I would like, and knowing that these stories have touched you all reminds me how important it is to speak up for the defenseless. Katie asked why stories like Chrisin's aren't being told, and I often wonder the same thing. I first stumbled across Christin's story on Christina Dunigan's blog, Real Choice. Each day, Christina posts stories about real women who have died at the hands of abortionists. She includes links to each one so readers can read more about them if they wish. I don't read every post (if I did I think it would depress me), but Christin's story really touched my heart. Roe v. Wade MUST be overturned. Abortion MUST be stopped.
And about the Obama administration's recent mandate for ALL employers to cover contraception and sterilization in their insurance plans, including Catholic institutions...that one was a complete jaw-dropper. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that we have a President and HHS secretary who are, well, tyrants. You WILL do as we say or else. We don't care if you have religious objections. We're in charge and we make the rules so screw you. More on that later when I'm thinking more clearly.
You may or may not know this, but I have a second blog, Cooking Nick's Books. It's a food blog, based (mostly) on the bestselling novels by Nicholas Sparks. I've been neglecting that one lately (I tend to go back and forth, posting a lot on one blog and ignoring the other; recently I've been focusing more on this one), but the other day I updated it with some recipes and photos of some of the yummy delights we prepared on New Year's Eve (also Nicholas Sparks' birthday). I'd love for you to check it out! (I have three followers there, and eight through Networked Blogs, including myself. I'd love to have more...) My next post on that blog will be the lamb chop dinner I made that was, if I may say so, restaurant worthy. You don't want to miss that one. Tell your friends!
I made a rather long list of New Year's resolutions this year. I am hoping to keep most if not all of them, and I want to try and to focus on certain ones every month, develop those good habits gradually so that by the end of the year I'll have accomplished most--or at least some--of those goals. In January, I've been focusing on my spiritual habits; for me this seems to be the easiest one to fulfill--getting up earlier, praying more, going to Mass more, etc. On most weekdays, I've been setting my alarm for 4:30 am(!)--on the weekends I get up only slightly later since the dog doesn't let me sleep in anyway--and spending more time in prayer and even taking the time to journal a little bit. (Although, much of that prayer is in front of my computer and with my phone in my hand--I need to move away from using technology to help me pray back to a good old-fashioned quiet corner, a Bible, and a Rosary.) I'm finding that my journaling (mostly typing my thoughts into a Word document--I do have a notebook for journaling too but I don't use it much) is giving me ideas for this blog. I have gone to some extra Masses this month, including for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, which was a nice way to end the Christmas season. I went to confession early in January, and I hope to go once a month--which means I'll need to go sometime this week. I had hoped to read more--one spiritual and one secular book per month--and I have not met that goal, although I have been doing a little bit more reading.
In February I'm hoping to focus on my physical health--specifically to develop a consistent exercise routine--and more consistent housecleaning. We've started with a new system for doing household chores, and I'm hoping in February to really get into getting chores done so we can always be proud to open the door to people and not have to say, "sorry about the mess..." And Lent starts in February. I'm planning on giving up social networking, especially Twitter and Facebook. We'll see how that goes. I might pop in on Sundays to read a few blogs and check my Facebook news feed...and I might still tweet the daily updates from 40 Days for Life...maybe I'll temporarily delete the Twitter app from my iPad.
As a catechist, I'm supposed to make sure the kids memorize certain traditional Catholic prayers. Each year, they are given a booklet of prayers and ideally, they say these prayers regularly at home with their families, and a volunteer at church tests their knowledge of them by hearing the students recite them. (They are also expected to learn the ten commandments and the seven sacraments in second grade; and in third grade, the Rosary--all the mysteries, prayers, and the structure of the prayer.) For the last couple of years I haven't had a teaching assistant or a "prayer aide", so it's left up to me to assess the kids. I don't have time in class to test each child individually, so often I will give them a written fill-in-the-blank test. I gave them the Ten Commandments test last week, and laughed so hard reading some of them my children thought I was losing it:
"You shall not witness your neighbor's wife."
"You shall not hate your neighbor's wife."
"You shall not commit Murdery."
"You shall not covet your neighbor's husband."
"You shall not dare."
And my favorite: "Honor your mom and your dad."
I can tell that boy honors his.
I have some mixed feelings about requiring kids to memorize traditional prayers. As a convert, I have grown to love them, and certainly we need to encourage our children to learn them and pray them regularly, but sometimes I wonder if we might put too much pressure on some kids to memorize them. One year when I was an assistant catechist, it was my job to test the kids. One little girl was really struggling to learn them, and I knew that her parents spoke little English and that they went to Mass regularly. I asked the religious education director at the time if perhaps someone who was fluent in Spanish might be able to test her, because I suspected she did know some of those prayers--in Spanish. I was told that the kids needed to learn them in English, because that's the language we speak here. (That director has retired--she was and is a wonderful lady and I am in no way trying to criticize her; I honestly don't know if that was her rule, or the pastor's, or the diocese's, but I must admit I was a little disappointed for that little girl's sake.) I remember years ago in my pre-blogging, pre-social networking days having a conversation on a discussion forum with a woman who left the Catholic church because her sister, who had Down Syndrome, was denied confirmation because she hadn't memorized all the prayers. I responded to that as best I could, trying to assure her that the decision to deny confirmation to her sister was a bad one made my an unwise pastor, and that I think--I hope--most church leaders would show compassion and allow her sister to be confirmed, assuming she at least had a basic understanding of the Catholic faith and the love of Christ for her.
When I was growing up, my Sunday School teachers at my Baptist church used to encourage us to memorize certain Bible verses and passages, but I honestly don't think we were ever required to learn them. Perhaps this is why I'm not always so strict as a Catechist about memorizing the Hail Mary or the Act of Contrition or the Guardian Angel Prayer. If we pray them often enough, the kids will learn them. And some parents won't teach them the prayers whether it's on the report card or not.
What do you think, readers? How important is it, really, for the kids to memorize prayers in CCD? Should certain prayers be required before receiving First Communion, for example? Thoughts?
Last week I got an email from a writer for our diocesan newspaper. She explained that she was working on an article about moms in our diocese who have blogs, and she stumbled across mine and noticed pictures of my own church and wondered if she could call me. I emailed her my number and a link to Ginny's blog, Small Things (because Ginny has the best blog EVER--and I know many would agree, why else would she have over a thousand followers?), and said sure, but it makes me nervous! She did call me and we chatted for a little while (and then Ginny emailed me to give me a friendly scolding for calling out her blog--tee hee!), and to make a long story short, the article will hopefully be printed in next week's edition. I'm kind of excited and nervous about it at the same time; there are many people in my parish who know me but don't know I blog--and they read the diocesan paper. EEK!
I'll post a link to that article when it comes out.
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