Funny questions from the past few weeks.

June 10, 2008 § 2 Comments


Eugene De Blaas — The Love Letter

Every once in a while I like to go through the search terms people use to find this site to see what questions are being asked to lead people here.  Funny enough sometimes I know that they won’t find the answer they are looking for in what I have written, even more humorous is when I actually know the answers anyhow.  Here are some of the latest.

What is a child receiving communion called?    Anyone who is entitled to receive communion can be called a communicant.  For first communion it would be “first communicant”.  

Where can I learn the catholic rosary?   Not here,  but The Rosary Center  or Catholic Online both have the prayers.  And you can use the same Rosary beads for a chaplet as well.  My favorite is the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

What is the most important moment in my life?  You are in it.  Right now is the most important moment in your life.  It is the only moment you have any control over.  All choices are made in the now.  All plans, all dreams depend on how we live the little moments of our lives.  Who and what you are living this moment for makes all the difference. 

Does the Grotto in Portland have the luminous mysteries?  I don’t remember them having them.  Their website is here and their Rosary page is here

What does it mean to be living a Catholic life?  For me it means you are working on forming yourself, your conscience, your habits and practices in the image God wants for you, that you are striving to be like Him within the structure, the tradition and the support of Catholic teaching.  In short following the precepts of the Church.

As always the Catechism of the Church has a better answer than I could ever hope to form:

II. THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH

2041 The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:

2042 The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the Mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic Celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.83

The third precept (“You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.84 

2043 The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.NT1

The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.NT2

 

 

III. MORAL LIFE AND MISSIONARY WITNESS

2044 The fidelity of the baptized is a primordial condition for the proclamation of the Gospel and for the Church’s mission in the world. In order that the message of salvation can show the power of its truth and radiance before men, it must be authenticated by the witness of the life of Christians. “The witness of a Christian life and good works done in a supernatural spirit have great power to draw men to the faith and to God.”88

2045 Because they are members of the Body whose Head is Christ,89 Christians contribute to building up the Church by the constancy of their convictions and their moral lives. The Church increases, grows, and develops through the holiness of her faithful, until “we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”90

2046 By living with the mind of Christ, Christians hasten the coming of the Reign of God, “a kingdom of justice, love, and peace.”91 They do not, for all that, abandon their earthly tasks; faithful to their master, they fulfill them with uprightness, patience, and love.

 

How do I prepare my autistic son for 1st Communion?  A lot of that will depend on where on the autism spectrum your son is.   I have written about First Communion and autism here.  In the US the most important document on the topic is: Guidelines for the Celebration of the Sacraments with Persons with Disabilities.  Most pastors I have known have been very open to working with families dealing with disability issues.  There are some out there who aren’t and that is very sad but we are all human and struggle with our own fears, discomforts and prejudices and I would hope that we always keep in mind the Proverb: A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger

As far as practical advice goes the two most helpful things in general I can say are: Practice with a few unconsecrated breads and wine before the actual sacrament so you can see if there are any taste or texture issues that might cause problems, and social stories are very helpful.    Your child’s school probably has software to help create one or you can find images online and put one together yourself.  One of these days I might get around to putting mine online.

Being a good wife means what?  You might be looking for the “1950’s home economic textbook’s 10 step guide to being a good wife”  here is it at snopes  or you might want Aristotle’s work “On a good wife“.  You might be looking for the Proverb 31 description or Titus 2 and in the end, even thoug one is a ‘joke’ they all have similar themes.  If you were to condense them all down  you get something like this:

A good wife is woman of worth in her own right.  She is someone who is thoughtful, just, kind, modest, graceful, respectable, honorable and faithful.  She takes good care of her home and household.  She is wise with her family’s assets.  She avoids any scandal.  She takes excellent care of her children and her family and shows consideration and charity to her community, the poor and the needy.  She loves her husband, showing him respect, support, devotion and affection.  Above all she serves God.  

I have written a little more on the topic of being a Good Wife here.

 

Entrusting his heart to her.

April 22, 2008 § Leave a comment

10 When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
11 Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize.
12 She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
Proverb 31
A few days ago I read on Dr Helen about an article written by Leslie Bennetts on MSNBC entitled “Chores for two: Why men don’t pitch in“.   The Anchoress also picked it up here and her insights are well worth reading.  About a week ago I wrote on the subject of housekeeping, and the idea of a good wife.  What I said there applies as I reflect on this newer article.  In the Good wife post I quoted Minette Marrin’s article about keeping marriages healthy, how that might reasonably mean one spouse (usually the wife) putting their career ambitions on hold and wives going back to the idea of picking up, putting out and building up their husbands.  While what Ms Bennetts says is not all that different from what Ms Marrin says in application, the difference in attitude is astounding.   Marrin’s idea of a good wife is someone who puts her husband’s and her children’s needs (both material and emotional) above her career ambitions out of love; Ms Bennetts connives to get her husband to “pitch in” more by figuratively castrating him and “insisting” that he do more around the house because that is what she feels is her due

I find it sad in Ms Bennetts article where she says what she really thinks about her husband.  I couldn’t do it justice so I will give you a long quote:

And yet everyone acts as if Jeremy deserves some kind of medal just for making a run to the supermarket. No one has ever suggested that I’m a heroine for doing the things every mother is expected to do. I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice.

 From the beginning of our relationship, I made it very clear that I wasn’t going to be any husband’s unpaid servant. If Jeremy wanted to be—and stay—married to me, let alone have kids, he couldn’t stick me with all the boring, mundane stuff nobody wants to do. We were going to share the work, or we were going to forget the whole deal.Unlike my first husband, who announced after our wedding that he didn’t like the way the French laundry did his shirts and he now expected me, the Wife, to wash and iron all of them, Jeremy recognized both the righteousness of the principle involved and the intransigence of the woman he’d married, and proceeded to pitch in.

I will let the reader draw their own conclusions here, but I find it sad that Leslie Bennetts decided that her husband, the father of her children, the person she shares a life and presumably a bed with, the one person in the whole world who’s opinion of her should matter most deserves to be publicly exposed like this.  He doesn’t help out because he loves her, because he is a great guy, no no… he helps out because she has found a way to whip him into it.  And now the whole world know the truth.  So much for “entrusting his heart to her.” 

I rather like Aristotle’s  “On a Good Wife“. 

Therefore not only when her husband is in prosperity and good report must she be in agreement with him, and to render him the service he wills, but also in times of adversity. If, through sickness or fault of judgement, his good fortune fails, then must she show her quality, encouraging him ever with words of cheer and yielding him obedience in all fitting ways—only let her do nothing base or unworthy. Let her refrain from all complaint, nor charge him with the wrong, but rather attribute everything of this kind to sickness or ignorance or accidental errors.

Now of course the whole work is hopelessly sexist and all that but the above passage if rendered to fit more with today’s norms has a bit of really good advice.  It is easy to be kind and loving to your husband when everything is good, when the world looks at him and smiles, when he is successful and healthy.   But sometimes men fail.  They loose their jobs, they have problems, they fall ill.  Then is when the marriage vows become a buttress against the world.  When he has tripped and needs a hand, when the world has crushed him down that is when the good wife’s character shows.  When she hides his shame from the world, when she builds him up instead of tearing him down, when she never speaks ill of him, she becomes his best friend, his help and his joy.  That is when his heart can trust in her. 

I have often found it distressing how many  women come online and drag their husbands through the dirt.  How often they complain about the minor little things he does.  How they whine about the things he doesn’t do.  Now maybe they are all sweetness and light to their husbands in real life, but I can’t imagine how heartsick these husbands would feel if they read what their wives say about them.   But it isn’t just that women do this to their husbands they encourage it.  It become at times a sisterly hobby of sharing all the dirt on their husbands.  

My own good husband would be crushed if I said half the things about him I have seen other rattle off as though they were talking about what was for dinner or how to prune roses.   It all goes back to love and motivation.  When you love someone you don’t want the world to see their faults.  People frequently tell me how great Kyle is because he does something or another.  If the neighbor told me how great he was for going shopping the last thing I would think is “nahhhh, he only does it because I bribe him or whip him into it, I am the great one.”  I wouldn’t even think “Well how come you don’t think I am great when I do all the shopping most weeks?”   When someone says something about what a great guy my husband is I think “Yeah!  He is a great guy.”  Because he is.  He doesn’t do it all, he isn’t perfect, but gosh darn it he tries and that means so much.

I can not imagine being Leslie Bennetts husband.  With the insulting things she has written about him I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he decided her over-entitled-ego was too much and left to find someone who wouldn’t verbally upbraid him for the entertainment of the world.  I will hold out the same hope for them that I did with Corinne Maier and her children.  I hope he was in on this all along. Maybe he has a strong enough ego and is secure enough in her affection to see this article out there and be fine with it.   Maybe she is hopeful that this will build up sales for her book and he encouraged the whole thing.   They will open the big royalties check together and laugh at the world as we all get up in arms about what a harpy she is.  She will look at him while they are getting ready for bed tonight and she will smile and tell him he is the best guy in the world and he will know she means it.  I feel very sorry for him if that is not the case.

A Good Wife

April 8, 2008 § 2 Comments


Every once in a while I do  google search for “Good Wife”.  I really enjoy just reading what people think being a good wife entails and how that works itself out in the real world of day to day marriages.  It is also funny to stumble on the different humorous takes on the very idea of being a good wife.  In some circles it seems that even asking the question,  “what should I do to be a good wife?”, is going to make the fur fly.  Take Minette Marrin “the Good Wife is an Old Fashioned Realist“,  the article is interesting, the comments are at times painful.  They make me question the reading comprehension skills of a good number of the commenters.

Marrin lays out a very straightforward and pretty solid point:  “One hard fact a would-be wife has to face � and I was absolutely horrified to realise this myself � is that it�s not possible for a married couple to have two demanding jobs and children and a good relationship. Something has to give. ”   This is a point that seems lost on the detractors in the comments as they are too busy having conniption fits over the idea that a woman is advising other women to step away from the work-force and concentrate on their marriages and childrearing  while they have young children.  Or at least to think about it.  One would suppose that in a world where divorce teeters at near 50% and adultery is more and more common that it would be pretty obvious that marriage, for many people, is failing.   There are many complex societal reasons behind this but the stress of two career parenting is certainly one of them.

If the couple decides that one of them staying home (and yes, dear sisters, usually that means the mom) to raise the children and keep the home is what they are going to do to help reduce that stress then how that plays out is important.  We have done it both ways.  Both Kyle and I have taken a turn at the stay at home parent thing while the other worked.  The fact that he did it for a year and a half and I have done it for seven speaks volumes.  It wasn’t just that he felt very boxed in at home, but I felt wretched working while my little ones were home with dad.  So I stay home, he works.  Other couples might find other arrangements suit them better.  This works for us.  As long as I am going to be home I want to be good at it.

It is kind of sad to me how often the question, “How do I be a good wife?”,  is all but scoffed at.  Several years ago I was a member of a homemaking board where I was pretty active on the “messy” forum.  (I will admit to being a complete failure at housekeeping.)  At one point the conversation turned to the question of what husbands do around the house.  Many of the members felt that it was unfair that their husbands came home from work and then didn’t do so very much to help out.   I made the mistake of commenting that, since my husband put in a full eight hours of work (usually more) at the office plus the commute, I didn’t really feel right asking him to do any housework unless I had put in that much time at home during the day.  I think how I actually put it was “When I put in eight hours of solid housework here per day then I will think of asking him to do more.”  You would have thought that I was advocating that women great their men at the door in lace teddies and high-heels, martinis in hand, purring like a kitten, with a five course meal waiting on the table and only saying, “yes dear”, the rest of the evening.   Were the other women on the board upset because of how many hours they put in compared to their husbands?  No, they had all admitted to being rather slack while at home, daytime TV was a favorite topic of conversation, as well as the obvious time some of them spent online.  They were offended at the very idea of putting their husbands wants and pleasure as a priority… or even just cutting a tried guy some slack at the end of the day.   Needless to say that sort of soured me on that particular board.

The instant “what the husband wants” is put forward as a topic some women will rabidly grab that and start getting worked up about “Who is concerned about what I want?”  Any relationship where two people are worried more about what they are getting out of the relationship then what they are putting in is doomed.  But all it takes when there are two decent people and a modicum of affection is for one person to start saying, “What can I do to make you happy?” and that can change everything.   But that isn’t a popular sentiment and certainly not one you read in the Times very often.  So I was delighted to see Minette Marrin give voice to the question.  One of my favorite quotes from her article is:

“When you want to please your child, or your lover, you think hard about what might make them happy and then do it. It�s not a chore, or even if it is that hardly matters; it�s an act of love or of loyalty. Yet strangely, in marriage this obvious motivational technique seems to wither away with the wedding flowers. Women are convinced it is their right not to have sex when they don�t feel like it, and it is a man�s duty to wash up, though he hates it � and so it is, of course. But that�s not the point. Granny was right; never say no, and never nag. “

Anyone can clean a house, cook a meal or change a baby.  But it is love that makes it homemaking.  While “putting out”, cleaning-up and cooking are the most oft listed items on the list of a “Good Wife’s Duties” the real gem is love and service.  When we serve those we love the service is light, easy and a pleasure.  I hate cleaning up, but if I am cleaning up because I know it will delight my husband when he gets home and I love him then it become a weird pleasure. It is all in the motivation.

Yes, I probably did my career irrevocable harm by staying home to take care of the kiddos.  And yes there are times when I am here pulling my hair out wondering what the heck I was thinking when I signed up for this.  But I also wouldn’t change it.  I have a great deal of liberty to order my life in a way that suits me.  I very much enjoy being here with my children and watching them grow and guiding their learning and it is my husband who makes that possible by going out and working.  We have chosen the traditional arrangement and it works for us.   If I was focusing just what worked for me, what brought me personally the most satisfaction, I might have chosen differently at first.  Because I liked working.  I like the praise and the pay and those tangible rewards.  But there is more to “us” than “me” and probably the most short sighted thing I could have done would have been to make “me” a higher priority than “us”.   Because, while I enjoyed working, I enjoy this life so very much more.

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