Friday, December 3, 2010

This May Just Be the Beer Talking..,

(Disclaimer: I am NOT a drinker. At all. I can handle my liquor with the best of them. I am unlikely to finish a small glass of wine over 3 hours much the less an entire bottle of beer over an evening. Tonight, I have finished one and am working on a 2nd. The finished bottle is the first completed alcoholic beverage I have had since the beginning of June - 6 months ago.)

And now onto the blogging. :)

I'm scared about tomorrow. Truly.

For the first time since our family's beginnings, we will be in a church, together, celebrating Mass.

I know this sounds stupid to the average Lookie Lou...but I'm scared.

My husband has attended church with me precisely 4 times since we were wed (which, btw, was NOT in a church but an outdoor garden).

1. I was singing at my parent's church for Memorial Day and he came and hid in the back.
2. The memorial service for Sgt. William S. Kinzer, the soldier killed in Iraq in the same vehicle he was wounded in.
3. A Christmas Eve service back in 2005 when I was singing. He hid in the cry room.
4. A Christmas time service when I and our son were singing in 2007. He hid in the back.

That's it.

We have never SAT as a family and worshiped. In a pew. With other people. On purpose. EVER.

This is an experience I have looked forward to my entire marriage and now that I sit on the evening before it will finally come to pass I am absolutely 100% terrified.

I love my husband. I trust him with my life...but I'm scared out of my wits right now for absolutely no good reason.

Tomorrow evening, he will set foot in a Catholic Church for the first time in over 10 years...and I will be by his side.

The joy, the relief, the fear, the anxiety. I had less tension in my body before performing at Carnegie Hall. :)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scalpels and Snow

My husband has just had knee surgery. Perhaps you are not familiar with this process but that takes him out of commission to do most things for 6-8 weeks, according to his doctor. This means that most of his “normal” duties have fallen on me.

With it being winter in Montana, these duties include things like clearing the snow from the driveway.

So today I’m out there with the snowblower trying to clear the snow from the driveway and the sludge from the end. In order to do this effectively, one must go INTO the road. My husband proceeds to come outside and yell at me to get out of the road because the neighbors needed to get by. Ummm….let me see.

My husband just had knee surgery. This, in the old days, was a cry for help. “Hi, DH is having knee surgery.” Means “I NEED help!!! Please just offer to do SOMETHING!”

You have a husband with a plow on the front of his truck – offer to clear the driveway. You have an oven and it’s the holidays, make me a few extra cookies so I can get that off my list. You have a teenage son who could help carry my Christmas tree up from the basement.

But do you offer?


Because you are too busy with your own lives to do anything other than “offer to pray” and then gossip about me behind my back.

So you can sit in the middle of the road and wait 2 minutes while I figure out how to make the snowblower cut through the 18 inches of crud YOU left at the bottom of my driveway when you plowed out your driveway.

And don’t expect a Christmas Card.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Unexpected Blessings

Last week we found out rather last minute that my husband needed to have surgery on his knee. As I have not mentioned it yet here, my husband is a disabled combat veteran from Operation Iraqi Freedom. His injuries include his right knee, arm, and hand as well as his left shoulder and arm. He also has post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury.

In order to be able to avoid saying "my husband" over and over through this entry and the others to come that will surely involve him, we will call him Prince Charming.

As with all things VA, it's on THEIR schedule. So we found out Thursday afternoon that he was to have surgery Monday morning. Talk about short notice changes to your holiday plans!!!

As usual, God provides and my parents were already on a train ride coming to visit us the very day we received word about the surgery. They arrived the day after and took care of TrainBoy as well as the furry children (all 4 of them!) while we drove over 200 miles to the Ft. Harrison VA to have the surgery performed.

Prince Charming and I got to the VA safe and sound despite a potential blizzard and were tucked into our hotel overnight beforehand. That morning, we packed up our gear and headed over in full winter get up to the VA for the surgery. It was -10 outside before the windchill.

When we took Prince Charming up to the "Same Day Surgery" room, I was told they needed my cell phone number, which I gave them. Then I was told to say goodbye and they would call me when it was time for me to pick him up and take him home.

SAY WHAT!?!?!?!?! I'd planned on being in that room all day...leaving only to pray in the interfaith chapel while he was in surgery. What do you mean I can't be with my husband who's going under general anesthesia?!?!?!

I was so angry and upset. I shuffled my way around until I found the room marked "Meditation Chapel".

I walked in, sat down, took out my rosary, and tried to concentrate. Then I took out my cell phone and called my parents to let them know all was well and what was going on. I knelt on the kneeler, held my rosary in my hands, and began to pray.

Sign of the Cross, Apostles Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary, Hail Mary....

Burst into tears...

Kept trying to finish the Hail Mary.

Got through an entire 5 decade rosary with tears running down my cheeks.

I was sad and angry and depressed. I was so upset I could barely stand it.

And suddenly, I was angry about stupid things. Praying in an interdenominational space has never bothered me once in my life. I was suddenly very upset that the only cross in that room was the crucifix on my rosary. I had to leave. I was literally shaking I was so upset. I felt, more than I ever had in my life, that I HAD to get to the Catholic Cathedral in Helena (closest to the hospital) and pray. NOW.

I went downstairs, cried the whole way to the car. Jumped in and tried to start it up.

And it didn't start.

The battery was dead.

So I went back in to the VA Police office and got the little magic car jumper box thingie. I jumped the car myself (go me!) and as I walked back inside to return the box and get my driver's license back, it suddenly dawned on me.

If they hadn't kicked me out...

If I hadn't gotten upset...

If I'd been able to pray and get through it in that chapel...

I would have not found out about the dead battery until Prince Charming was out of surgery.

And I would have been dealing with a drugged up man in a wheelchair that couldn't walk and a dead battery.

I thanked God right then and there, dropped off the jumping box, and jumped in the car to go pray at St. Helena Cathedral. (Which is beautiful - I highly recommend you stop in sometime as a tourist regardless of your religion. It's stunning!!!)

Prince Charming came through surgery just fine. I picked him up right on time and ran around the VA like an idiot gathering paperwork, travel pay, and such. We hopped in the car and drove home through what was supposed to be another blizzard but barely released any snow until after we'd left the area.

It was a 48 hour period FULL of unexpected blessings.

And my first visit to a Cathedral as a Catholic.

I have to say that I really did enjoy praying there. I felt far more at peace and whole. It was a beautiful experience.

As an update, Prince Charming is recovering right on schedule and is expected to return to work in 6-8 weeks. Your prayers, meditations, and kind thoughts are greatly appreciated whomever they are said to. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Blessed Mass Indeed

Last week, I blogged about my First Mass and what a wonderful experience it was. Just a little background since Monday, I talked with Father Joe on Tuesday about the family's "situation" and he's working on getting everything squared away. Praise the Lord for Father Joe! :) While meeting Father Joe, I got the chance to meet Natalie who will be instructing me in RCIA and the other lady in the office, but I can't remember her name at the moment.

For informational purposes, I have decided I should tell you our local "parish" has 3 separate churches. Sacred Heart, St. Mary's, and Our Lady of Ransom. All are served by the same priest, Father Joe.

So last night, I was supposed to be working on some Boy Scout stuff and ended up missing Mass at Sacred Heart, where I attended last week. I looked at my options yesterday evening and decided that the Mass at St. Mary's would be best - partially because of the time slot (10:30 AM) and partially because to be honest, I'm avoiding going to Our Lady of Ransom for fear of meeting old demons there that I'm just not 100% certain I'm ready to deal with yet.

This morning we got up, dressed for Mass, jumped in the car, and drove the 30ish minutes to St. Mary's. A bit nervous without Diane to guide me this week I plundered on through the Church and found a pew. Shortly after we were seated and I finished praying, Father Joe came to chat with us again telling us how pleased he was to see us there. A few jokes later about remembering names and Erma Bombeck (Dr. Denton?) and he was smiling and laughing as he went to the back to prepare for the procession.

TrainBoy and I settled in for the long haul and I started thumbing through the Missal which is still an oddity to me. TrainBoy was whining that he wanted to get to go sit "up there" (in the Choir Loft at the back) and I was explaining that we aren't allowed, etc. Get over it. Not 30 seconds after I finished that statement, my shoulder is tapped from the back by Natalie, my "to be" RCIA instructor. Her kind smile welcomed us and she introduced herself to TrainBoy. Then she asked me to grab my things and come with her up to the Choir Loft to join the choir.

Wanting to excuse myself politely I started to say "no", but TrainBoy jumped up and started heading after her to go up there. He was ecstatic - who was I to stop him.

(a little background here - I have a personal background as a professional singer and have been for many, many years. I love what I used to do and now do it primarily as a volunteer.)

Up in the loft the Mass was already starting. DS found a spot at the rail in front as the musicians and I introduced ourselves quickly. Turns out Natalie is the Church's organist. I've effectively been recruited for life. Show up anytime - no need to rehearse - glad to have you with us.

These people are the most fun I've ever had in a room full of Catholics. We spent several portions of the Mass in giggles over the stupid things that happen behind the scenes when you're a performer. Some examples include: trying to hold onto 2 books and a binder while holding hands during the Our Father without them falling and making a huge THUD, the reluctance of the Cantor to go up and cantor, and my absolute favorite, the last minute competition for who would have to announce the final hymn which had been published wrong. Lord, I have TRULY missed people like this.

Last week I was comforted by Diane. THIS week, I truly felt like I BELONGED.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm Italian by birth...not Jewish, but there really isn't another word for today.

My son and I went to the first Sacramental Prep meeting for him this afternoon. The other parents are wonderful but I was completely shocked to learn that in our archdiocese, children are confirmed in 2nd grade!!! I need to speak to the Father about this before I go any further. I was okay with First Reconciliation and First Communion...but Confirmation is a HUGE step in a young person's life and I don't know that a 7 year old is ready for that responsibility.

Moving forward we prayed the rosary for the first time as a family tonight. Just TrainBoy and I. It was a beautiful experience...and rather amusing. I pray that as we grow in our new faith we can all maintain the enthusiasm and excitement of these early days.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My First Mass

Today was my first Mass in conjunction with my highly probable conversion to the Catholic Church. It was not my first Mass ever. To understand why, visit THIS entry. I have likely attended well over 50 masses in my time...just none for the past 10+ years.


I chose for our first Mass to be at the Church we will likely be attending on a regular basis. The CCD class TrainBoy attended last week is affiliated with it. The Priest serves 3 "local" Churches. "Local" in quotation marks due to the fact that I live in a rural area and this poor man of the cloth is serving an area of over 50 square miles. May God bless him!

Sacred Heart, where we attended, has a Saturday evening Mass. This fits in great with my schedule as a night owl, is fairly close to home (about 20 miles), and seemed like a "good" place to start.

Scared to the point of shaking for most of the drive there, I tried to gently explain things to TrainBoy he likely wouldn't have seen in our previous church experiences. We'd talked about the Sign of the Cross yesterday and he'd learned how to make it. I tried to explain that the cross would have Jesus on it, the reason for genuflecting, what the water at the door was for and how to use it, and that we would be adding kneeling to the sit, stand routine of worship.

Pulling up to the Church, one would think it's a Baptist building. It's your quintessential looking non-assumptive white rural church on the outside. It could house any religion from it's exterior. Coming from Chicago with it's massive Cathedrals it was almost funny to think that my journey would begin from this tiny little parish in the middle of nowhere.

TrainBoy decided he had to practice genuflecting in the parking lot. Fortunately no one was there. It was adorable watching him try to "get it right" despite being told he didn't have to do it.

Walking in the door, the Holy Water font was right there on the way in. I'd never seen little pebbles in it before...but knew that's what it was since it was the only water in the entryway. I "set the example" by blessing myself. An elderly gentleman walked in behind us. TrainBoy, being a lefty, tried to copy me but did it backwards. I smiled and bent down to help him "redo" it but the kind gentleman behind me leaned over with a smile and said, "It's okay - God knows what he meant." The gentleman then blessed himself and walked forward to be called Father Joe by the parishioners in the doorway...

I decided I liked Father Joe. :)

TrainBoy REFUSED to sit in the back (my original plan) and chose a pew about 5-6 rows back from the very front. I was terrified no one would sit in front of us and I'd end up standing, sitting, and kneeling at all the wrong places. He did his best genuflect going into the pew (also backwards) and knelt to pray. I did the same and sat down after marking my missal for the day's service and praying I didn't do something that would embarrass myself or my son.

Shortly after I finished marking my missal, the CCD teacher walked in. She's also the RE for the parish and is immensely kind. Her name is Diane for further discussion purposes. She saw me immediately and walked over and we began chatting quietly. Next thing I knew she settled down in the pew next to me for the service. I was so immensely thankful...and will continue to be for the rest of my life.

I was shocked at how much I remembered. I was impressed that I still had lots of it down. I still knew the Nicene Creed by heart - something most Catholics don't even know according to Diane. She seemed pleased with our attempts as did Father Joe (did I mention how much I like him?). She complimented TrainBoy on his behavior. The ONLY thing he did "wrong" was to stand on the kneeling rail to see better around the people in front of us. Diane thought it was precious. My father would have beaten me with a stick for even considering it. Italians....

The only thing I did wrong was forget that some kneeling rails have slippery surfaces. Trying to kneel on them in pantyhose is like an extra abdominal workout. I managed after sliding off twice to stay on there gracefully. Maybe next week I'll bring a non-slip surface to place under my knees. I could resort to pants like 98% of the congregation (there were only 2 of us in skirts/dresses) but after my Catholic grandmother beating into me that "wearing your best for God means young ladies do NOT wear pants" it's unlikely. Funny - she wore pants to Mass herself. Perhaps that's why I won't switch...I don't want to be old. :) lol

Anywho the whole thing was an immense success. I find myself looking forward to a discussion with Father Joe about how to get everyone properly reinstated or instated. TrainBoy is ecstatic about going back to CCD. Diane is like the Great-Grandma he doesn't have up here in the sticks. She's a really neat lady. I'm not sure if I an ask the RE to be my sponsor for RCIA, but if I can, she's the TOP of my list right now. :)

A Little (okay - not so little) Background

Allow me to explain, as briefly as possible, the road that has brought me here.

I was born to 2 Christians, 1 Catholic (my father) and 1 United Methodist (my mother). Their marriage was not blessed by the Catholic's choice who was non-practicing from well before the time they married up until my brother was getting ready to attend school over 15 years after I was born. They agreed that I would be brought up in my mother's faith in a church that was "dual denomination" - United Methodist and United Church of Christ.

I occasionally attended various churches other than my home church growing up. This included attending Mass with my grandmother and my father once he returned to the faith. I also attended my mother's parent's church while visiting them, another dual denomination - United Methodist and Baptist. Growing up as a musician I also attended MANY services of so many different faiths to mention them all would take an entire blog entry. I am, to say the very least, well versed in the worship practices of most major religions. It's something I feel is important and I hope to expose my son to the same cultural experiences as he grows up.

For the sake of record, I was confirmed in my mother's church. Prior to, during, and after that confirmation I was an active member of the choir which I continued participating in up until I got married.

My husband is a "cradle Catholic". Like my father he had "left" the faith long before I came along. I made the offer to convert at any time when we agreed to marry. That was 10 years ago.

It is now 2010 and I can honestly say since my confirmation I have grown mountains in my faith. I have an immense respect, as stated previously, for ALL faiths. For many, many reasons my faith over the years has become a very odd mixture of my upbringing, very conservative Christian views, and Paganism. Yup - Paganism.

I know - that one threw you for a loop...didn't it??? :) Here's why. Pagans revere nature. I have been told by many, many Pagans over the years that I "have a gift". I don't believe one should transfer to a religion based on a "knack for it" but I do agree that the general respect and reverence given by the "average" Christian towards what nature is capable of is outright sinful. Here is one of many examples on why this is added to my "list of beliefs". I'm a practicing herbalist. I pray over the herbals I make that they will heal. This would, for all intensive purposes, be a Pagan practice. I just choose to use God and Jesus rather than praying to a Pagan Goddess.

Christians call that heretical. I wonder if that pill you are popping in your mouth to solve whatever ails you was prayed over during it's preparation? Now what about the 4 more pills you have to take...each to counter the effects of the one before? Herbalism is good for the body. If John the Baptist could eat bugs, what on earth is wrong with me using a poultice of comfrey and aloe to heal a burn?

Moving on because I can rant about this all day.

A week ago, my husband and I had a very deep discussion. The bottom outcome was that he wished to return to the Catholic church and would like me to join him.

Last week was an immense journey of dealing with the inevitable results of that conversation. As a conservative Christian I believe I am bound to follow the wishes of my husband in terms of how we will worship the Lord in this home. As a "never before Catholic", this has been overwhelming to say the very least.

And here we sit. 1 week into the journey that is just beginning. Endless research, lots of conversations, wonderful friends that help, and God.

Somehow, HE has a plan in all I just have to figure out where I fit in! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My heart breaks

It is the evening that I first found out I would truly be able to become Catholic. This journey has taken 10 years to complete.

My heart breaks as the criticisms rush in from my non-Catholic "Christian" "friends".

"Christian" because I believed until tonight that we were to accept one another unconditionally in Christ's love for us regardless of what denomination of Christianity we belong to.

"Friends" because no one would treat a true friend like I have been treated.

I have told a total of 5 people about this. 1 knows it "very distant might happen". 1 knows it "is likely, but still on hold". 1 knows it "may very well happen". 2 (close Catholic friends) know it is definitely happening.

I have waited my whole adult life to be able to go to worship with my husband on one side and my son on the other. If NOTHING else that would be enough.

But it's so much more than that. So much deeper than that.

Tonight I was told by one of these people (the first 3) that there will be consequences for my decision.

Consequences for wanting a better relationship with Christ? Consequences for showing Godly submission to my spouse? Consequences for following the path He has planned for me?

I know I am on the right road and when on the right road we are subject to immense opposition. I just never thought it would come from within.