Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Saints -- They Move Mountains

I love the Catholic Church.

Tim and Saint John Paul II.
I love the smells and bells. I love the liturgical seasons, the cycle of major and minor feasts.

I love the sacraments. How could I not love the sacraments?

I love the wideness of the Church. I love the orders. I love that within a single Church there exists myriad devotions and spiritual bents -- the Dominicans, the Carmelites, the Franciscans, to name just a few.

I especially love the Missionaries of Charity with whom I worked for more summers than I can easily count.

The Missionaries of Charity love the saints, and they helped me to love them, too.

We recently recognized the Feast of Saint Joseph. A busy guy, Saint Joseph is patron saint of quite a lot -- husbands and fathers, workers and vocations, marriages and grace-filled deaths. My friend Rachel encouraged mothers of young men to ask for Saint Joseph's intercession as they find their way in the world. (Rachel just returned from a tour of Israel. I had asked her to remember all our boys during her visit to the Wailing Wall).

On New Years Day, I gathered the kids around my laptop and headed to Jen Fulweiler's Saints' Name Generator to find a saint of the year for each of us. John was first up. He said a brief prayer and pressed the button. "Saint Sigismund of Burgundy," the screen read, "Patron: Against fevers."

I did a double take, as would anyone who has known John for long. About ten years ago, at around 12-18 months, John began running sky-high, cyclical fevers. His highest was 104.6 (in the middle of the night, on an island in Lake Erie). A good time was had by all! His fever episodes peaked around 2nd grade when they came relentlessly every twenty-one days and lasted 48-72 hours. Fever, vomiting, sore throat, a mouthful of canker sores -- John suffered.

He hasn't run a fever since New Years Day.

Heaven is for real. The Saints -- the canonized ones with the big "S" along with the unheralded, unnoticed ones who simply persevered in faith, hope, and love -- are there with Almighty God ready, much like our friends here on earth, to intercede for all our needs -- for lost keys (thanks, Saint Anthony!, for lost souls (Saint Jude!), for a feverish little boy suffering on the couch (Saint Sigismund!).

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Night Before

Do you have Awful Mornings? You know, late start, lunch items in short supply, everyone crabby, uniforms elusive.

John can find just one pair of pants, and they look like he wore them in a Tug of War. His team lost. Ainsley is sporting an appalling case of bed head and thinks any variety of comb or brush came straight from the dungeons of a medieval castle. I spray detangler just as she turns her head. Doink! The bulk of it shoots straight into Ainsley's left eye.

We back out of the  driveway at 8:18 instead of 8:10. Kolbe then remembers it's Blazer Day. We pull back in. He forgets the house is locked. We pass him the keys.He locates the blazer. We pull back out and in the midst of refereeing a minor squabble that has erupted, I fail to angle the car, and the van bottoms out as we swerve into the street.

My friend and spiritual adviser suggested I begin a simple practice during morning prayers: ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind three things I should do each day. As I sat for a few minutes of prayer after a particularly trying morning, I felt a nudge to focus less on the morning and more on the night before.

Note: This would be no revelation to most people.

Here's the glaringly obvious truth: What constitutes a crisis at 8:18 a.m. is really perfectly manageable at 8:18 the night before. We all know the devil is in the details. And three school-aged kids bring with them a pile of details -- the PE clothes, the permission slip, lunch money, shin guards, costumes for the play, et al.

I love, love, love uniforms, oh yes I do. I'd pen a sonnet, Ode to a Khaki Skort, if 3rd quarter didn't end tomorrow and if I weren't staring down a daunting pile of ungraded papers.

Ode to the Khaki Skort will have to wait, but know, O Beloved Uniforms, that my devotion remains unswerving.

I  admit that at or about 8:18 in the morning, when the belt goes missing or the tie is AWOL or one shoe is on hiatus, the value of uniforms becomes somewhat murky and as elusive as, well, the khaki skort that Ainsley swore she hung up in her closet exactly as instructed.

Last night I reminded the kids to stage their uniforms. "Stage" is a term left over from from my Procter and Gamble days when I'd call a plant to find out if a truckload of shampoo, toothpaste, and deodorant had been staged.

Lay it all out there, ready to go.

I recently reminded a nameless teenage age son to locate a red polo, a.k.a the travel uniform, as he was due to head to a game the following afternoon. Always quick to comply, he duly located a red polo. But come morning, once again at or about 8:18, the red polo turned out to be the one belonging to a brother six grades below him.


Clearly, we need to require something more than eye-balling. In fact, I think a full on dress rehearsal may be in our future.

It all begins the night before.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


Ainsley and I are dealing with goopy eyes and itchy noses and the fallout of a neighborhood that is bursting with color, but hard, so very hard, on those who struggle with seasonal allergies.

I'm not sure when I became one of those few -- those unhappy few -- that band of strugglers (Jamie will get the allusion. My ninth graders finished Act IV today). Were I to undergo allergy testing, I am certain I would come up positive for cats, chalk dust, and the pollen that is currently coating every vehicle, every bush, the outdoor furniture, my front teeth, you name it, it's covered with yellow powder.

I now take Allegra regularly, and during weeks like this, I reach for antihistamine eye drops as well. But to no avail. We need rain.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Back in the Saddle Again

John: How do you make an omelette?

Me: Step 1 -- Borrow eggs from the neighbors.

John recovering from croup but also John's reaction to cooking instructions.