Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Feast of the Holy Innocents

During the Christmas season we like to remember our martyrs, like St. Stephen, who was stoned to death defending Christ. But the first martyrs were children -- the Holy Innocents -- boys under two in Bethlehem who were massacred by Herod because he feared that a future King would supplant him.
Children are especially vulnerable in our society. We fear that they will upset our lives. We are selfish. We want to have sex without consequences. And so a womb becomes a tomb. Let us pray to end abortion.
I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life. Deuteronomy 30:19

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Child Is This?

I have a collection of Christmas carols and I do enjoy playing the easy versions on the piano as my family gathers around to sing. I'm copying the original words to my favorite hymn, written by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898). Most of you will recognize this is as the tune to Greensleeves.

What Child is this who, laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping?
Whom Angels greet with anthems sweet,
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King,
Whom shepherds guard and Angels sing;
Haste, haste, to bring Him laud,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,
Come peasant, king to own Him;
The King of kings salvation brings,
Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise a song on high,
The virgin sings her lullaby.
Joy, joy for Christ is born,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.

The newer versions all use the second stanza as the refrain. I prefer this original one so much more, with the refrain having different words -- words that portend the ultimate sacrifice as well. I suppose I am an Easter gal even at Christmas ... The three Kings bear the baby Jesus gifts of gold, for the King of Kings, frankincense for the priests of priests and myrrh for the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. How Great is our Lord, who humbles himself to come as an infant, to come and live with us, to die for us, so that we may have eternal life. Come, be merry this Christmas! And God bless you all.

About the photos: The first is a statue that is in St. James Cathedral in Seattle and the second is the Pieta (sorry, but I don't know how to make accents, but it means pity) made by Michelangelo located in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Follow Your Dreams -- Chautauqua

Yeah, I know, how quickly I break my own promises to not blog ... but this lovely email showed up from Jo Lloyd and I couldn't not share ... because there is an early-bird deadline.

Here is the relevant part:

You may know someone who is hesitating to pursue his or her Chautauqua dream due to finances. The Highlights Foundation offers scholarships and now is the time to find out more.

A lot of children's writers dream of the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua. "Next year," they promise themselves. "Next year I'm going to Chautauqua!" Then reality sets in. The drive and talent to support the dream are there, but the finances ... maybe not.

Please encourage your writing friends to stop dreaming and start planning! Scholarships will be considered in two groups. Early applications will be accepted through Dec. 15, 2010. Final scholarship deadline is Feb. 11, 2011.


Jo Lloyd, Program Asst. Highlights Foundation, 814 Court Street, Honesdale PA 18431
Phone: 877-512-8365 (toll free) or 570-251-4557 Fax: 570-2530-0179
Email: jalloyd@highlightsfoundation.org Website: http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/

I wrote about my own Chautauqua experience here. I didn't think we could manage it financially or logistically. But I got a full scholarship and some work-for-hire gigs along with savings paid for the airfare. The younger toddler was weaned and my mother-in-law came to help for the whole week. A good time was had by all and it was a gift that is for a lifetime. So apply. And go!

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. Les Brown.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Find the Perfect Gift

Today, we went Christmas shopping after Mass -- we have secret Santa at school and birthday presents to get. There are Giving Trees established at Churches and Catholic schools to share our wealth with those who are less fortunate. We especially love shopping for infants, for mothers who have brought new life. But most of all I want you to consider the Perfect Gift. I have copied this logo with permission from the Archdiocese of Washington.

Today was a very, very emotional Mass for me. About a dozen children and adults who are seeking baptism, communion or confirmation within the Catholic Church went through the Rite of Acceptance. We also had Anointing of the sick. Not only was I remembering my own blessing of the senses, and thinking how wonderful it is that they are seeking God, I was thinking now they have an anchor. Now, no matter what trials they will have, they will always know that Jesus is with them, through their laughter and their tears.
I am going to take a break from blogging for the rest of Advent and Christmas (and let me tell you that it will not be easy, for I shall miss it). I have Christmas cards to write, baking and decorating to do, and Christmas presents and projects to make with my children. I am thankful for each and every one of who has taken the time to read. Many of you sustain me with your love and prayers and friendship. I am deeply grateful.
God Bless you.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Seize the Day!

Molly offers the Golden Coffee Cup as an alternative to NanoWriMo every November. It's packed full of inspiration. We post our Nov. goals (not necessarily 50K words) and share what we accomplished or not at the end of the month. I'm a proud winner this year of Jesse's logo despite severe setbacks. The Blaisdells are a talented bunch ... I seem to remember seeing some line art from Jesse as well.

But today -- today was a glorious day for another reason as well. I woke up without a migraine. Oh, a teensy one gnawed at the side of my head but I ignored it. There were no hammers hammering away. No tears. No anguish. No thoughts about how to get through the day. I brushed my teeth as the kittens came to play with the water. I got the kids ready for school and even engaged in conversation without asking them to be quiet. I walked to school and coming home, sang praises to God. Everything, from the brown soggy leaves to the bare branches, looked beautiful to me.

A small doubt crept into my head. How many hours will I have? But I banished it right away. Seize the day! And I have. I have tackled long-forgotten tasks related to school and home. I've written a bit. I'm writing this post. I have lessons to finish correcting. The sun is shining. I have a a page or two of my novel to revise. I can do anything ...

I have been given gifts from friends, the gifts of time and company. I need to write them back, thanking them.

It's been a long time -- weeks, months? -- since I've not had a hammer, a chisel and an anvil in my head. I pray this is a turning point.