Choosing God

The other day, I mentioned that just because something happens, it doesn’t mean that God wills it.  It isn’t God’s will, for instance, that children get sick and die.  It isn’t God’s will that we commit violent crimes against each other.  It isn’t God’s will that some among us suffer hunger, homelessness, or loneliness.  It isn’t God’s will that we treat our most vulnerable, the unborn and the elderly, with callous indignity.

None of this is God’s will.

He envisioned something much better and more beautiful for us: peace, joy, love, and intimate friendship with the King of all.

But God is a gentleman, and he never forces Himself upon us.  He asks us to choose Him, to want Him above all other things.  He longs for that, and it is why He so cherishes the sinner who returns to Him, but He never demands it.

This is the great problem of free will: we are equally free to choose or reject God, to choose evil or to choose love.

Advent begins today, four short weeks to prepare our hearts to receive the infant Christ, to turn away from sin and worldliness and choose He who is Love itself.  This is a time for penance, for renewed acts of charity and mercy, and for refocusing on what matters most to us.

I’m grateful for these times, because it’s so easy to be distracted.  But God is always calling, always seeking, and always waiting for us to turn back to Him, too.

Confirmed in the Holy Spirit

Newly Confirmed!

Newly Confirmed!

And some family photos, which never come out quite as good as I’d like them to. 🙂

The happy (and expectant) parents...

The happy (and expectant) parents…

Just the boys!

Just the boys!

Just the girls!

Just the girls!

All the kids together. :-)

All the kids together. 🙂

The archbishop used so much chrism oil this morning, the confirmandi were fairly dripping with it!

Our small parish shares a priest with another nearby, and the Confirmation Mass today was held at our sister church.  Therefore, we ran into lots of people who either don’t know us at all or see us only occasionally, and so there was a lot of, “When is the baby due?!” At eight days late, we’re long past worrying about due dates, though.  So when will the baby arrive?  Some theories:

All of my babies have been born on either Wednesday or Saturday, with the exception of Tommy, who is generally acknowledged to have a special destiny.  He was born into the darkest period of our family life, and he was a bond and a bridge between two people who had forgotten how to love each other.  He has exhibited his whole life a gentle compassion and empathy for people.  I think it’s safe to consider his Thursday birthday a special case.  So, Wednesday, April 20 is a good option.  Hopefully not Saturday the 23rd, because two weeks is overkill, yes?

Another good option is Tuesday, April 19.  I was born on the 19th, as was my mother, and her mother, and her mother, so there is a tradition there.  We considered the fact that it may not be a girl, and have decided that there is a possibility that gender is not a concern, even though this birthday phenomenon has occurred along the female line thus far.  But!  My mother had only one sister, and her mother, if I recall, was one of three girls.  I’m not sure about my great-grandmother, but it appears that there may not have been any boys in these families, so the fact that it has generally passed along from mother to daughter may be irrelevant.  Therefore, we consider that, boy or girl, the 19th would be a good day.  Also, I have been ten days late three times, but never later, so that’s another boon for Tuesday.

Then again, we’re talking about a baby here, and they are generally unpredictable little creatures, so none of our theories or guesses matter in the slightest.  We’ll just have to keep watching and waiting, and whatever will be will be.  🙂

On the Monday Before Christmas

We’ve been using an Advent devotional this year called We Light the Candles¹.  Each week’s candle has a different name: Promise, Light, Love, and…

“What do you think our last candle is named?” I asked the children.

“Peace!” yelled one, and “Joy!” said another.  Rosie looked at me with a grin and said, “Impatience!”

That’s about how we’re all feeling right now, isn’t it?  Impatient.

Here at our house, we’re all ready.  I came into Advent a little stressed, because I hadn’t done anything at all yet, but now there are just a couple of gifts still in the mail, and everything is wrapped and tucked away in hiding spots.  Evie’s gift is one that her sisters outgrew – pulled out of storage, cleaned up and refurbished.  She’s going to love it.  All other purchases have, wonder of wonders, stayed within budget²!

Irrelevant photo of our youngest cows stopping to greet each other at the end of the day.

Irrelevant photo of our youngest cows stopping to greet each other at the end of the day.

We don’t give a whole lot of gifts anymore, because of the expense, because of space, and because the more you give, the more you end up wasting energy and money on things they don’t really want.  We’ve learned that a very few carefully chosen gifts will bring more pleasure than a slew of rash purchases.  But still, our tree will overflow, because there are eleven of us celebrating together this year, and eleven times a few is still a lot!  But all is in readiness.

Except, we’re still impatient.  The days have been just dragging by, and this promises to be a warm, but rainy, week, cutting into our opportunities for outdoor fun.  I have one more small thing to purchase, so we’ll go out to buy that, and I expect we’ll be visiting the library, and baking cookies, and playing board games, and making art projects, until Christmas Eve finally arrives!  Maybe we’ll throw in some napping and movies for extra time-wasting fun.

How about you?  Are you ready?

Notes:

1: We Light the Candles is put out by a Lutheran publisher, but it’s a wonderful little resource for using the Advent wreath with young children.  Put it on your list for next year, or buy one now and put it in the box with your Advent things so you’ll find it next year.  I haven’t found anything that might be offensive to Catholics, and though I’d like it to go a little bit deeper, it’s really quite appropriate for young ones.  And whatever it may be lacking you can more than make up for with a good selection of picture books.

We’ve been using it at bedtime this year.  We light the candles and sing an Advent song, read the devotional and then a seasonal picture book or three, offer our regular evening prayer intentions for the people we love, close with a Marian prayer, and then snuff out the candles.  Evie is an excellent snuffer.  And I buy three sets of candles so I can refresh them each Sunday; my sense of order is deeply disturbed by mismatched candle heights.

Oh, and the last candle? It’s named Hope. 🙂

2: This is a topic for another day, but… budgets!  This is the first year we’ve made a real budget, and it actually took me until October to really get how a budget works.  It’s wonderful!  Revolutionary!  With this new knowledge and understanding, 2016 should be a stellar year, financially speaking. I’ll write a more in-depth treatment of this topic later, which will only be helpful if you’re the family money manager.  I am.

Penelope’s First Holy Communion

IMG_0189Sweet Penelope celebrated her First Holy Communion today!  The girl is just full of light and joy, and so are we, her family.  Happy Sunday!

Click on the pictures below for easier viewing.  🙂