Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Drivers Test

I gulped as I signed the paper atttesting to the Connecticut DMV that I had indeed offfered 40 hours of driving instruction to my sixteen year old as she nervously awaited to be called for her road test. For six months we had our daily outings driving up and down the hills of the countryside, as she learned to handle our little SUV. We enjoyed our times together, she mastering a new skill, and I enjoying time alone with my daughter, who, since she began school two years ago after ten years of homeschooling, has had less time for long talks with Mom. They were peaceful hours, and though the housework may have suffered, our relationship was strengthened. We talked about school, about her friends, about her sisters. We discussed the difference between driving on Long Island where we lived until two years ago, and the more polite drivers of our area. Most of all we discussed how different life would be when Gabbi could drive. I realized that we were fast approaching, a huge milestone in the life of my eldest daughter, who was fast becoming a young woman.

I am proud to say we never had a big argument, and that though I may have a few more grey hairs, I somehow kept my anxiety in check, (see those nail marks on my seat bottom?) and was a fairly even-tempered instructor. I was also very knowlegable, to my surprise. Things my Driver's Ed teachers told me kept popping back into my brain, word for word, "always assume the other driver will do something dangerous and be prepared for it". I wondered why of all the schooling I had, that these phrases were so easliy remembered. Perhaps because I had delayed taking the class till I was ready for college, fearing the onerous responsibility of operating a motor vehicle capable of taking a life, the warnings I received about driving defensively were burned into my conscious memory. I wondered at the boldness of my daughter, whose fifteenth birthday wish was to pick up a drivers manual so that she could take the permit test on her sixteenth birthday.

While she was taking the test, in the pouring rain at sunset, I prayed my rosary aloud in the Motor Vehicle Department. If they couldn't understand why a nervous mother was praying during a road test, they were past helping, I figured. I asked God to give me Gabbi's nervousness, because I knew that if she didn't surrender to nerves, that her natural ability would help her pass the test with flying colors. So I dealt with the butterflies in my stomach, and watched her drive the tester back into the parking lot. She parked, and the car lights remained on for an eternity, until up emerging from the car, her 200 watt smile told me she had passed. Tears sprang to my eyes, and I had to resist shouting "Alleluia!". Gabbi came in and said she only did one thing wrong, she backed into a space and parked on the white line. Not bad for a dark rainy night!

She took the written test on the computer, posed for a photo, and soon she were walking out of the officewith a spanking new "Youth License" in her hand. Since the tragic deaths of teenagers due to reckless driving has caused many restrictions to be added to 16 to 17 year olds, just about the only difference between having a learner's permit and an actual licesense these days is that she can now drive herself. For a year, she can't even drive her best friend 5 miles to school, but you'd never know that from the breadth of the smile on her face when she called her father to tell him the news.

On the way home, we ate sundaes in the car while the rain drummed on the roof, in celebration. This junior year of high school is one of almost milestones, PSAT's, college visits, the Junior Prom, Getting her driver's license is the only full fledged accomplishment available to my 16 year old, and despite a nagging fear that I was giving her the means to kill herself, I managed to enjoy a glow of pride for a job well done. I had spent 16 years giving her roots, and the last six months giving her wings. It was time to let her use them.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

There's a new climate of modesty?

Modesty is in, what a concept!
I wouldn't have believed it, but Raymond Arroyo was discussing a recent fashion show on "The World Over", with a Nashville Dominican Sister, referencing a  report by the New York Times which stated that there is a "new climate of modesty" in fashion.
Six months ago in her debut show for the French house Céline, Ms. Philo, a British designer, showed easy, jaunty sportswear. Confronted with the utter logic of doing something beautiful that also jibed with a new climate of modesty, American designers began stripping away a decade’s worth of postmodern significance to reach a plain A-line skirt.
Read it for yourself here. and decide if the clothing in the photos really meets the criterion. I say great, you covered the skin, now try and let the skin breathe without having something so tight stuck to it. And what about those knees?
The guidelines for modesty I follow are; from just below the breastbone to the knees, covered and flowing. Let the woman's face be the center of attraction; not her curves.

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Boston Catholic Women's this Saturday

Let me know if you are going and we can meet there.
Here's a preview.

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Why the "r-word" hurts; Its personal

Here's an important piece by my friend Diane Grover of IDSC for Life on why the use of the word "retard" as a pejorative hurts a mother who loves her child with Down syndrome. I second her emotion; can you look at this adorable face and call Christina a "retard"? I agree that words have different meanings at different times, but you have to keep up with the times, and take people's feelings into account. If it hurts, the "r word" should not be used by those who care about others. Period.

I went through a time, where I would try to convince myself, that hearing the words “retard” and “retarded” thrown around did not hurt me. Besides, I did not want to be one of those who assault our freedom of speech. I tried to accept it as just a normal part of our society. I tried to forget about it.

Read the entire article at Catholic Exchange.
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Thursday, February 18, 2010

A very special prayer request:Ave Maria Home

Did you know that there are thousands of pregnant women who are homeless?
Chris Bell knows this, and he collaborated with Fr Benedict Groeschel to form Good Counsel Homes in New York City. We here in the Quiet Corner of CT are not immune to the crisis of homeless pregnant women.
 In fact, as I was in the library preparing for the March for Life, I ran into a 20 year old pregnant woman who had just been kicked out of her parents' home in the midst of a snowstorm. I helped her find a homeless shelter, but if you've ever visited one, you know this is no place for a pregnant mother. My heart ached as I left her there, and I told her that she and others like her are the reason we are forming a home for pregnant mothers.
We at Ave Maria Home of Norwich, CT have formed a board of directors of which I am a member, and affiliated ourselves with Chris Bell's Good Counsel Homes, because we know they do things right, putting the Eucharistic Lord Jesus in the Tabernacle in every home. Their residents feel loved, as you can see in their video, and go on to lead healthy, fulfilled lives with their children. This is our goal; to reproduce the blessings of a maternity home here in Eastern Connecticut, an already depressed area, hit hard by the economic crisis.
For a year we have been spreading the word that we needed a house which 10-12  homeless pregnant women could call home. A place where they would be nurtured, body, mind and soul. A place to heal from the brokeness which left them pregnant and homeless,  and prepare for the great adventure of motherhood. A place to make up for what was missing in their lives, whether is is a HS diploma, a job skill, mothering or homemaking skills, or a spiritual life. Most of all, a home where their hearts can be restored by love. Love from staff and from their housemates. We want them to feel Our Blessed Mother's embrace at Ave Maria, and let her teach them how to mother their children through us.
We found a lovely antique Victorian home, restored with  love, and nestled among towering white pine trees in a quiet country village. Today we visited the home, took a careful tour, and voted unanimously, "this home is the answer to our prayers". Now we need two things, and for these I ask your prayers and sacrifices this Lent. We need our bishop's approval, and we need the money to do some minor repairs and fund the first years salary of our staff (about $200,000). This may sound like a lot, but it is the law in CT that the home meets the fire codes and that we have the first year's pay for our staff in the bank before we are open.

I can't tell you more about the home until we are officially the leasees, however, if you imagine a traditional Victorian home, warm with charm and a family atmosphere, with overstuffed comfy couches, and a sunny front porch perfect for rocking newborn babies on summer evenings, then I assure you, this home is all that . . . and more. And it's being offered to us for a $1 a year lease.
Please let me know in the comments if you will promise to pray for this home to be approved by the diocese, and if you are moved to share your Lenten alms with Ave Maria Home, email me at to make a tax-deductable donation. We will send you a receipt for your taxes.
If you belong to an organization like the Knights of Columbus, or another grant-giving organization, please help us apply for grants. It's a LONG way to our goal, but somewhere, there are homeless women considering abortion right now in Eastern CT. Help Ave Maria offer them a Mother's love instead.

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Lenten Penances

The girls and I discussed our Lenten sacrifices before beginning a Rosary Novena for a friend's marriage. I will continue to attend daily Mass, we will say the novena every night, and we are giving up all sweets. The girls told me they will be considering their own private sacrifices. Of course, I had some handy suggestions.

This meditation, however, should be a somber reminder that Our Lord, who wants us to love with His perfect love, generously sends us penances. But will we accept them with the same sprirt of love?

St. Augustine

"There is no better test to distinguish the chaff from the grain, in the Church of God , than the manner in which sufferings, contradiction, and contempt are borne. Whoever remains unmoved under these, is grain. Whoever rises against them is chaff; and the lighter and more worthless he is, the higher he rises-that is, the more he is agitated, and the more proudly he replies."
A Year with the Saints, (Tan Books:1988), 111.
HT Mary Vitamin
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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Let me call you sweetheart

This evening, Francisco and I attended the Sweetheart Dance with a local Marriage Encounter group. We danced in the swirling lights of the gym to hits of the 60's and 70's, and watched as dozens of Catholic married couples enjoyed being deeply in love.
There was an infectious joy among the dancers, celebrating not serial sexual relationships between men and women, or sexual perversions,  but lifetimes of committed love. The stars in their eyes, their synchronated dance steps, and their genuine laughter was contagious, and we had a wonderful time.

I particulary enjoyed watching  an elderly couple, in matching red sweaters, whose lifetime of love and ballroom dancing was revealed in the unconscious grace of their movements. What a blessing it is to grow old together. I was reminded of this by the poignant post of my single friend at 11 on my own, "Single in a married world".
True love, based in Christ, is a lifelong commitment and a gift that brings the greatest possible joy we can know on earth. Thank you, Lord for my husband.
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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nella's Birth Story

This is absolutely the most eloquently honest birth story I have ever seen. No wonder there are 900+
comments. The author is a photographer and the photos are breathtaking.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who is Pro-Choice? HuffPo Censors Pro-Lifers

Who is Pro-Choice? HuffPo Censors Pro-Lifers
This is my first post on David Horowitz's Newsreal Blog.
I discuss how the left is going ballistic about the Tim Tebow Superbowl Ad.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Catholic Schools Week

I homeschooled my three girls for ten years. I was not a homeschooler by choice, I was one by default; I could not find a Catholic school worthy of the title Catholic. I did feel that my girls benefitted from the years we grew closer as a family, especially considering that my youngest child, Christina has special needs. We learned our faith together and we had tremendous freedom to travel and to be spontaneous, as well as sleep in a bit late, which, especially on frigid New England mornings, I sorely miss.
However, I am happy Isabella and Gabriela have found the wonderful schools of the Sisters of Charity of Our Lady, Mother of the Church; St Joseph's in Baltic, and the Academy of the Holy Family. They have good Catholic girlfriends, they have caught up on their math skills and have a self confidence which enables them to meet new people easily. I have worked with many of their teachers closely as a substitute and many of them are pure gold, truly teachers by vocation who love their students. The girls relate well to the sisters and are active in school. Bella plays on St Joseph's basketball team and participates in student council, and Gabbi is in the TOP Life Club, softball team and Legion of Mary at the Academy. As a parent I look forward to school events to be able to meet other parents and teachers. I enjoy having my girls' friends at my home and feel that Catholic schools who take the name Catholic seriously like these do, deserve to grow and flourish.
Tomorrow I will join both schools as they attend First Friday Mass together in my parish church, St Mary of the Immaculate Conception.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord; Candlemas

The Christmas season officially ends today, forty days after Our Lord's birth, He was presented in the Temple as the firstborn male.
In Mass this morning, Fr Tito said that the Annunciation was Mary saying, "be it done to me according to Thy will" and, in the Presentation, Our Lady says, "be it done to HIM according to Thy will". He said this was much more of a sacrifice to her, to give back to God the person she loved most in the world. Just as Abraham was willing to sacrifice his long promised son, Isaacc, the one on whom God's promises depended, Our Lady actually did offer her Son to be killed in sacrifice for sin.
I am reminded every time I pray the Joyful Mysteries, that every one of Mary's joys was tinged with sorrow. The joy and pride of showing off your firstborn child is a cherished memory of many a mother. I remember bringing Gabriela to Mass for the first time, and the crowd that gathered around to congratulate Francisco and I. We beamed with pride. Imagine if one of the friends had said, "your daughter is going to die in a car crash, and your heart will be broken". How would you react to such a dire prediction snatching away the joy of this moment?
Simeon brought incredible joy and wonder to St Joseph and Our Lady with his recognition of Who Jesus was, and what He would bring to Israel.
But his prophecy of a sword piercing Our Lady's heart would soon bring them back to the paradoxical honor of being the parents of the Lord incarnate. My favorite song about this is Michael Card's "Now that I've held Him in my Arms". See the video here.
Let's remember today that our children are only loared to us for a time, and to keep to our task of preparing them to serve the Lord in whatever manner He chooses; religious life, marriage, or martyrdom.

 Let's consider it an honor to carry out our parenting duties as we raise souls to give Him glory.
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