Category Archives: Being Catholic

My Easter Confession

My Easter Confession

 

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Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It has been so long that I can’t even remember when I last went to confession and these are my sins.

Or at least the latest ones.

Or the ones I can remember.  BTW are we responsible for the ones we can’t remember?

Oh Lordy.  Well here goes.

I did not attend any Easter services this season.  Not Holy Thursday.  Not Good Friday.  Not Easter Vigil.

Zero, zip, nada.

I did this intentionally so now you know why I’m here today.

Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.

Instead..

I cleaned my house and did my Target, TJMaxx and Trader Joes shopping. I worked in my garden, fertilized all of my succulents and marveled at the first spring flowers on my Cecile Brunner Rose. I cooked a bit and squeezed lemons to freeze for future Lebanese delicacies.  I went to dinner and a movie with a good friend. I finished a novel and started a new one.  Took a morning hike and photographed several cows with their calves.

For the grand finale, Easter, I shared a meal with my wonderful family, chased toddlers around the house and played with my little grandson.

For these and all my sins I am sorry.

Now, Father, I’m sure you want to know why this cradle Catholic defied all of the rules.

My reasoning?  I wanted to see what it was like to live in a secular world without the sacred.  I wanted to see what it’s like to not believe, to not have my Catholic community, to not sing and pray for my loved ones and the world at large.  I wanted to see if God in nature was enough for me.

All in all it was a very spiritual experience.  But here is what I discovered.

I realized that I missed the incense, the chanting, the candles and the ancient scripture.  I missed the washing of the feet and the opportunity to meditate on service and being a woman for others. I missed the veneration of the cross and the church bells and the bowed heads. I missed the experience of humility that comes from believing in something that is beyond myself and out of my control.  I missed the celebration and the lilies filling the sanctuary.  I missed the Alleluia and the joy that comes after the sacrifices of Lent.

I missed the good old fashioned Catholic aerobics… standing for a half hour gospel and then springing up and down and up and down to the rhythm of the rituals and the liturgy.

I missed it all.  And now I feel an indescribable void.

So, Father, I guess you can take the girl out of the Catholic but you can’t take the Catholic out of the girl.  I’m sure you have an appropriate penance for me?  10 Hail Marys and a Glory Be?  100 continuous genuflections?  A Novena with my head covered?

You missed it, my dear.  Penance done.  Amen.  Hallelujah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loved!

Loved!

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Today we celebrated Ash Wednesday at Presentation High School.  To non-Catholics, this must be the weirdest cult practice that one has ever experienced!  Being doused with ashes in the shape of a cross and being told to turn from sin and live the gospel.  The scriptures proclaimed at Mass today told us that we are forgiven and loved and invited to be our best selves!  These students certainly look happy, don’t they?

I’m so proud of my Catholic faith.  It has really emerged as a positive force in this troubled world.  Our Pope has taken great pains in living a simple life and rejecting the pomp and circumstances of Vatican City.  We are encouraged, during the season of Lent- the forty days and nights before Easter- to do something positive in our lives rather than give something up.

Be kind.  Serve the poor.  Love your neighbor.

When I was in high school I practiced all the Catholic rituals without understanding them.  These students are doing the same.  They have no idea how this gospel message will come to nest in their souls and take fruit in their lives.  God bless them!  They are beautiful young women with the whole world at their feet.

I pray that they go forth and make a difference.  That they love tenderly and serve with open hearts.  That they become women of God with lives that impact others in a positive way.

I feel so blessed to be able to witness their transformation to womanhood and support them as they look forward to all of life’s blessings.

Amen

Patty to the Rescue!

Patty to the Rescue!

Patty and Rosemarie at Peter's wedding

This is me and my bestie at my son Peter’s wedding.  The day would not have been complete had she not been there to share this special life event with me and my family.

Patty and I have been friends since we were 14 years old.  We were two Catholic girls from large traditional families thrown into the local public high school.  Somehow we found each other amidst the 700 kids in the class of ’74. Our friendship solidified and took on a more spiritual dimension when we attended late night Catechism classes on Mondays at St. Boniface Parish in Anaheim.

We cleaned up real well for this picture, but you should have seen us this weekend. Crazy hair, workout clothes, minimal makeup.

Patty drove up from Southern California, sensing that I was somewhat disoriented due to moving in to my new place while simultaneously holding down my full time job.  She came to my rescue- arriving on Friday night around midnight and staying until Wednesday morning.

When her feet hit the ground Saturday morning, the dust mop was blazing a trail on my new hardwood floor and pictures were being sorted and transported to appropriate rooms.  Patty made lists of what we needed  from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Walmart, and (our personal favorite) TJMaxx. While out shopping, she scanned shelves for her favorite dish towels.  “You have to have more dish towels and I just LOVE this brand!”  She took it upon herself to interrogate a salesperson at Cosco concerning the pros and cons of a set of pots and pans I was lusting after.

She sat with me and “Allison” from 3-day Blinds while I got a bid for shutters for the entire house. After Allison left, Patty was on the phone calling “her people” to compare price points and swiftly made the determination that the bid was much too high!  Off we went roaming my new neighborhood, looking at peoples’ windows to see who had shutters.  “Those are nice!  Let’s go and ask where they got them!” An hour later we were leaving Annie’s house with full knowledge of the guy who did shutters in her last three homes.  Not only did we get a great window treatment lead, but we made a new friend as well.

Patty promptly scheduled “Ed” to come and measure my windows and give me a bid for shutters while I was at work on Monday with my homemade lunch that she made for me.  When I came home, she presented all the figures and announced that this was the best deal!  She had also made plans for a coffee table that I ordered on line to be returned after measuring my space and seeing that there would be no room for knees and other extremities.  There were detailed notes on who she spoke with, their phone numbers, item numbers and instructions on who to call if the return didn’t appear on my bank statement in a week.

We sorted through all the items in my china cabinet and the sideboard, giving everything a new home and a feeling of stability.  Being that I am the woman with the most tablecloths in the world, I was surprised that my sideboard drawers were only half full. Where were my table cloths?  And where were my sons’ senior pictures that were on the sideboard?  A light bulb went off- I had packed a lot of things in the old black Amelia Earhart chest that hadn’t made it into the house yet.  Off we went to the garage.  “Get something for us to sit on while we go through this trunk!” she instructed.

There we sat for the next hour or so, going through my parents’ old trunk, unearthing not only my tablecloths and sons’ pictures, but also old newspaper clippings of my dad’s race for Mayor of Compton and my mom’s engagement announcement from an Atlanta newspaper.  Pictures of my brothers and I at all stages of growth.  Baby clothes and wedding dresses- mine and my mother’s. We talked about our fears of getting older and needing so much to be supported and loved in our lives.  We cried and laughed and then cried some more.

We agreed that we are both very independent and unusual women.   And that neither of us is likely to go down without a fight.  We both cling to items that bring meaning into our lives.  We both take pride in our homes and do our best to create a haven for those we love.  We both had as our major career path getting married and having a family.

When Patty left on Wednesday morning, I had instructions for the rest of the week and a handful of notes detailing every transaction she had maneuvered in the last five days- along with another homemade lunch she made for me to take to work.

My life has been so dominated by male energy.  My very influential father, five brothers, and three sons.  I’ve had many blessings in my life- and I am grateful.  And this friendship is a gift I find quite profound.

God must have known, when he scripted the story of my life, that I would need a Patty.

 

 

 

Ya’aburnee.. you bury me.

Ya’aburnee.. you bury me.

Sittee and Bobby Blur2

I was quite saddened when I read about Vice President Joe Biden’s 42 year old son, Beau, who just died of a brain tumor. This poor man has been through more trajedy than one could imagine.  First losing his wife and infant daughter in a car accident with his two small sons fighting for their lives.  Then years later having one of them succumb to cancer after not only surviving but also thriving with an enviable life, a successful career as an attorney and a fulfilling marriage with two beautiful young children.

Fate is twisted.

Ya’aburnee means “you bury me” in Arabic.  It means wanting to die before a loved one so as not to have to face the world without him or her in it.

This was the prayer on my mother’s lips when she received the news that my brother, Bobby, at age of 31, had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.  “Let it be me.  Not you.”

She fought for her third son from the very beginning.  He was born premature weighing only four pounds.  Just big enough to fit in a shoe box.  In school he was the class clown and the ring leader among his friends, often getting into trouble with Sr. Dolores, the principal at St.Philip Neri, in our small town of Compton.  He would lead kids twice his size around the neighborhood, looking for mischief.  He teased  me endlessly about being chubby and offered to pay my membership to Vic Tanny’s Salon.

After nine years of Catholic school Bobby  begged to be set free to attend the local public high school where most of his friends went.  He was a rebel.  A contrarian.  A master of debate.  How he convinced our ultra- Catholic parents to transfer him to public school remains a mystery to us all.

Years later while waiting to be accepted into Law School after earning a degree in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University and a Masters Degree in Political Science at American University, he would bide his time sitting on our couch at home reading through the encyclopedias from volume A through Z.  By now I was taller and not so chubby.  But he would still find things to tease me about.

Bobby went on to become a successful attorney.  He fell in love and married Christine. Together they had a family, Matthew and Katherine.  I’m sure my mother stopped worrying about him at that point.  (If mothers ever stop worrying..)

Until the evening when she got the news of Bobby’s brain tumor.

“Ya’aburnee,” she gasped in fear.

She got her wish.  My brother, Bobby recovered after several years of treatment.  He was healthy and back to work as an attorney, just long enough to be the Executor of my mother’s will after she succumbed to ovarian cancer in October of 1986.

And I imagine she was waiting with open arms at the gates of heaven with St. Peter when the cancer took my brother Bobby’s life in July of 1991.  For a brief moment, they would embrace and she would comfort him.  After which they would move on to join the Communion of Saints, their lives on earth but an ethereal dream.

My father was not so lucky.  He buried my mother.  And then he buried his third son. Dad died of cancer and a broken heart almost exactly a year after my brother died.

All these painful memories come back to me as I read the article about Joe Biden losing first his wife and infant daughter, and then years later, when it looked like life had self corrected, he lost the son he fought so hard to save.

Ya’aburnee.  You bury me.

My new mantra.

Ya’aburnee.

 

 

New Year, New Intentions

New Year, New Intentions

Many years ago, I attended a funeral with my then husband, for one of his co-workers.  The gregarious and well respected engineer died relatively young leaving a wife and two small children.  I don’t remember how he died but I do recall how sad the service was and how irritated I was as the priest continued to encourage the congregation to “Let Go and Let God”!

I didn’t think for one minute that this man’s wife and family were ready to swallow that message.  Their grief was palpable and there would be difficult days and nights to get through before they could possibly “let go” and find peace with their loved one’s death.  I cried the entire way home from that funeral feeling that life was so unfair and random and unpredictable.  Vestiges of my own personal losses came up out of nowhere.  Letting go was the last thing I wanted to do.

I found this card in a box with other momentoes that I have saved through the years.  It was given to me after the death of my father more than 20 years ago with a heartfelt message from two dear friends from church, Mark and Margaret.   So timely that the message should find its way into my hands, asking to be reconsidered.

When the student is ready the teacher will appear.  I’m ready to hear this message.    This is my intention for 2015.

I am a saver of old cards, of my parents things, of photographs, of memories.  I have trouble opening my hands and letting things sift through, only keeping what is most important.  I cling to old ideas and patterns and struggle with transition and change.  But some old ways do not serve me anymore.  I am choosing to change the energy in my life and counting on God to help me take the leap to the new and unexpected.

Last night I had a dream about seeing our old next door neighbors from our first home in Whittier. (Previous neighbors!   Kenn and Lynda- you guys aren’t old yet!)  I felt that tinge of sadness and nostalgia that one feels when they revisit the past and remember good times and feel a sense of loss.

I am girding myself for said emotions.

Here’s to a new year.  A year of exciting discovery and potential nostalgia and sadness.

The student is ready.

 

 

 

 

Master of the Urban Universe

Master of the Urban Universe

“It’s called Technology” says my youngest son, Peter, as he walks me through downloading the app for UBER and showing me how it works.  We are at some groovy cafe in the Marina District of San Francisco having “detox” salads sans the chicken.  “It’s Good Friday” I remark to which my cradle Catholic son snarls “So what?”

I am feeling old.

He thinks I’m out of touch with technology (although I can create a mean excel spreadsheet and share a google doc with the best of them) and my religion is regarded as dated and useless.

As I attempt to keep up with my 6’2″ son forging the steep hill towards his home, Peter gives me last minute instructions on the goldens, Lua and Willow.  “Make sure they know who is boss?  Don’t let them walk you!  Be in charge!”  I listen carefully and nod appropriately like a good student.

When we get home, Peter shows me on line how to get to the Spa International where he and Brianna have so generously made a reservation for me to have a 90 minute massage.  As we discuss different routes and terrain I begin to make a rustic map with pen and paper.  “Mom!  It’s easy!  Fillmore runs parallel to Pierce and is intersected by Green which runs parallel to Union and Chestnut where we just had lunch!”  When he turns his back to rummage through a drawer in the dining room sideboard looking for a parking pass so that I am not towed from the three hour parking two blocks away, I give him a swift but gentle kick in the teezy (that’s butt in Arabic) and tell him “Hey!  I raised three boys!  Don’t ever underestimate the power of your 5 foot 4, 130 pound mother!”

I think he gets the message.  Nonetheless, as he kisses me sweetly goodbye, I set an intention to prove to Peter that THIS suburban, durable, and low maintenance 50 something year old woman can master the urban universe!  Armed with my UBER app, a double dog leash and poop bags, my homemade map and some good walking shoes, I launch.

First matter of affairs is a walk with the girls.  I gather sunglasses, reading glasses, keys to the house, ID, a credit card and kleenex into a little Nicaraguan purse and hook up Lua and Willow on the front porch.  I, of course, inform them that I am the boss.  They listen about as well as I do..

Around the block we go as I recite to myself “Ok we took a left turn and then another left so we’ll take another left and left again on Green and we should be home.”  Easy breezy.  But of course I get distracted wondering what’s down THAT street.  Suddenly I find my self turned around.  Oh Lordy.

Thank goodness the girls know their way home.  At every corner they nudge directions.  I figure we are either heading towards home or to one of their other favorite destinations miles from nowhere.  Fortunately it was the former.

After a quick snack, one for each of us, I anticipate the arrival of my friend, Jennifer, and her daughter Margot, the opportunity ripe for a visit being that they live right around the corner from Peter and Brianna.  Sharing a bottle of fine Italian wine the afternoon slipped by and soon it was time for me to leave for my spa treatment.  One more round the block with the girls and I’m off on foot up and down hills and through the maze of Friday night shoppers and happy hour partiers along Fillmore.

The massage was spectacular!

In a relaxed stupor, I manage to hail the UBER by a simple touch of an app and two minutes later Saba arrives in her Toyota Corolla chariot to whisk me home..  Feeling quite smug that I remembered to write down Peter and Breezy’s address on a post it, disaster is averted.  However, not entirely.

As I was greeted at the front door by my excited granddogs I regaled in my technological success.  I reached for my phone to text Peter that the spa and UBER activity went down without a hitch I clearly realized that my phone was nowhere to be found.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Now what?

The UBER website gives me my driver’s phone number but without a phone that’s not helpful.  I run outside hoping to find a friendly house with lights on where I can knock on the front door, explain my situation and make the call.  But no one seems to be willing to open their door at 9pm on a Saturday night.  I flag down a sweet high school girl running home from her Lacrosse practice and she is delighted to help me out.  Mission accomplished.  I make contact with Saba and she is on her way back to Green Street with my phone.

It is now 9:30pm and my relaxing 90 minute massage has gone south.  At 10:15pm I am still standing in the middle of the street wondering if I will ever see Saba or my cell phone again.  Then she arrives.

Now exhausted, the girls and I sit down to watch some TV and finish the bottle of wine.  (I finish the bottle of wine.)

So all is well and as far as Peter knows everything went as planned this weekend.  He’ll be home late this evening and by then I will be on the road back to suburbia.  Do you like the picture of the girls and me in this post?  Well, that was snapped by a nice German man right before a little leashless mutt walked by and caused my pups to take quick and dirty flight. Yes, I went down for the count.  But that’s another blog…

Tonight I am going to hobble into the Easter Vigil Mass at the Mission Santa Clara.  I am a little sore but happy.

I mastered the urban universe Rosemarie-style.

Oh.. BTW.  Don’t tell Peter what REALLY happened.

Mums the word.  :)

 

 

Blessed

Blessed

Hail Mary, full of grace

At a Lenten overnight retreat with 65 adolescent girls.

The Lord is with thee

Yoga pants, push up bras, still trying to make sense of their bodies and their souls, clear skinned and broken complexioned, immature and seeking- all seen and heard and embraced by a higher power.

Blessed are you among women

You are precious and perfect in God’s eyes, a temple of the Holy Spirit, hope for the world.  Don’t ever underestimate what lies yet dormant within you.  You are destined for goodness and prosperity.

And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus

Co-creators with God, the capacity to bring forth life both literally and figuratively.  Nurturer, dreamer, lover, sanctuary.  You have so much to give.  I wish you could see what I see when I look at you.

Holy Mary, mother of God

Look within yourself for inspiration and strength.  Look outside yourself and see your journey unfold.  Reach out and make a holy connection with all of human kind.   You are never alone in this world.

Pray for us sinners

Let Mary be your spiritual mother.  Let her life and her sacrifice inform your every decision.  You are loved and forgiven.  Again and again and again.

Now and at the hour of our death

Live like there is no tomorrow.  Take joy in this day.  Be the woman you are destined to be.  Start now.  Don’t dilly dally.  Your life is precious and you are already on the path.  Be kind.  Be in solidarity with the poor and the poor in spirit.  Be the womb that gives forth life.

Be a woman of God.

Amen



 

Getting my ash in gear…

Getting my ash in gear…

 

Yesterday’s Ash Wednesday Liturgy at Presentation High School was a beautiful thing.  Eight hundred young women in formal dress uniform exuberantly singing an old Protestant hymn, Amazing Grace.  The gym was filled to capacity- standing room only.   The homily was delivered by a woman- our own resident bible scholar, Claire Foley.  Peer ministers doused their fellow students with ashes.  A slide show highlighted one of our Sisters of Presentation, Sr. Rachel Pinal, who works as a missionary in Somotillo, Nicaragua.  The liturgy kicked off our Mission Drive month, raising money to support our Sisters of Presentation working for peace and justice in South America.

No wonder Pope Benedict is resigning.  This old church ain’t what it used to be!

However, in the faculty room over lunch one would never have known that we have progressed this far as Catholics.  People were still talking about “giving something up” for Lent.  I assumed we were a more enlightened and progressive Catholic faculty.  Is it really that simple?

During Lent, the forty days and forty nights culminating in the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday, we are called to conversion, reconciliation, mercy, grace, self reflection and humility.  How do you get there by giving up candy?

I’m just sayin’….

But the most amusing thing for me as the Senior Class Counselor was one of my naughtiest students carefully tracing a cross of ashes on my forehead and advising me to “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”.

Oh Lordy..

My life is plaid.

Beautiful Easter!

Beautiful Easter!

Nothing is more practical than finding God,

that is, than falling in love.

In a quite absolute, final way, what you are in love with,

what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.

It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning,

what you do with your evenings,

how you spend your weekend,

what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart,

and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

– Attributed to Pedro Arrupe. S.J.

 

It was a very Good Friday!

It was a very Good Friday!

I’ve had at least two people ask me in the past two days why it’s called Good Friday.  Funny… in all the years of being Catholic I’ve never asked that question.  It just goes to show how much we Catholics take in and accept as truth in faith.

I guess I could google it.  But I’d rather think that it’s “Good” because Jesus died and paid the price for our sins so that we can have eternal life.  Granted… I have never questioned that either!

Yesterday I attended Good Friday services at the Santa Clara Mission.  The lights were dimmed, the incense plentiful and the music was prayerful.  It was a solemn liturgy and I had some heavy things on my heart.  A good friend from high school recently died of a heart attack.   Another family’s 21 year old son was killed in an accident by a drunk driver.  A young teen has disappeared from Morgan Hill and has not been found.

I felt such solidarity with the congregation as we marched forward to venerate the cross singing “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”.  People knelt to kiss the cross.  Others bowed.   Ok.. I get emotional at these things.  I’m an N and an F on the Myers Briggs.  It doesn’t take much to make me weepy.

But just as I began to search for yet another tissue in my purse, the presiding priest asked us to join him in the Lord’s Prayer.  The somewhat feeble and elderly man standing next to me grabbed my hand firmly and raised it up in his and began to pray in earnest!  His strength and conviction shot through his hand into mine and straight to my heart.  I felt suddenly transformed by his faith and a presence of love.

Maybe it’s all hocus pocus.  Catholics were New Age before the New Agers were!  Beads and incense and smoke and mystery.  Death and resurrection.  I’ve bought it hook line and sinker my whole life.

I don’t need to explain it or google it.  I experienced it yesterday.  And it was certainly a “Good” Friday.