Thursday, May 24, 2012

What makes a Saint?

Its Summer time! In this family, Summer time means Saints time! We may not school all year round but as a mom and teacher, I have to do something educational over the Summer. We learn about the Saints of our church during the school year but we can really focus and relax and go more in depth about their lives during these hot months.

My beloved local Catholic Church, Coronation of Our Lady, was gifted with a new priest 10 months ago who repeatedly says that he wants to be a Saint. Now, I don’t know about you but I have only heard these words come off the pages from actual Saints from hundreds of years ago.  I have not actually heard a live human being say that they want to be a Saint. Kind of strange, huh?  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a Saint?   As our family learns about one Saint at a time, there are common threads they shared with one another. If I want to be a Saint, the best place to begin would to read and learn about other saintly wives and mothers so they can be my example. If my priest wants to be a Saint, I would guess he would emulate the lives of other canonized priests.

My kids enjoy learning about their own patron saints. I have 4 boys and all 4 of them were named after Saints that were priests. I want to briefly tell you about a handful of priestly Saints. It would take a man of very great faith and courage to want to imitate what these poor souls had to suffer.

St. Nicholas
I love reading about this Saint every year on December 5th and then setting out the shoe’s for St. Nicholas to fill in the night with candy coins and other treats! His life was not full of treats and gift though. As a very young boy, he was disliked by his Roman neighbors. He was mocked, yelled at and threatened for loving God. When he became a priest, he was downright hated.  The only people that dared to go to Mass were only the holiest of holy people who love the Eucharist more than they feared persecution. When Christianity was outlawed, Nicholas (now a bishop) was tortured, chained and thrown into prison until the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity again. St. Nicholas attended the very first Ecumenical Council in response to the current heresy where he is to have slapped a man in the face that spread this heresy that Jesus was not really God.
St. Maximilian Kolbe

“What will become of you Raymond?!”  ~mama Kolbe.  Raymond was a mischievous boy and his mother was frustrated with him. Little Raymond was praying when he saw a vision of our Blessed Virgin Mary. She offered him 2 crowns, a white one and a red one. She asked which he would like and he said “both”! He knew that he was called to live a life of purity and die a martyr’s death.  As a priest, he used modern technology to spread the faith. He named his paper after Our Lady whom he had consecrated his entire life to.  He used his monastery as a refugee for Jews and anyone else that were being persecuted by the Nazi’s. He was eventually arrested, put in a concentration camp at Auschwitz. He never stopped ministering to all the prisoners. Even as he lay dying of starvation, he still sang songs, prayed and preached of God’s mercy and salvation to lift the spirits of the other frail men.

St. Benjamin

Yeah. This is a little too gross to talk about. Persecution is an understatement.

St. Matthew the apostle

This is a man, along with all the other 11 apostles that were kicked out from town to town as he preached the Gospel. BTW, when I say “Gospel”, I am not talking about Scripture or the New Testament as it was not written yet. This was oral teaching that was handed down to him by Jesus Christ himself. After being persecuted and mocked for years on end, he was eventually axed to death.

These are the priestly patron saints of my boys. Here is another one that we will be learning more about this summer.....

St. JoseMaria Escriva

I just love this name. It makes me feel super Catholic just to say it. If you haven’t seen There Be Dragons, rent the movie! It tells the story of this remarkable saint. He founded Opus Dei, an institution to help people of every walk of life to be a Saint. We are all called to be saints. This is not just for priests and religious. He only had a small group of people to begin this mission. During the Spanish civil war, he had to celebrate Mass and listen to confessions in secret. He put his life in danger repeatedly for the Sacraments, including rescuing the Eucharist from the Tabernacle in a church before it was desecrated by soldiers.

I do not know how many priestly saints there are and googling it does not help but I am sure the number is quite high. I want to plead with my Catholic brothers and sisters to read about the lives of all of these Saints. This is what you will discover…… What these men have in common is that they spread the faith to those that didn’t want to hear it. They were unpopular in their neighborhoods. They had a small group of faithful and holy people to support them. They had a much larger group of people that hated and persecuted them. They had a great devotion and consecrated themselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary. They all desired to be a Saint.

Yes, my priest is right on track.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

One down, seven more to go

Commencement. The end of one thing, the start of something new.”  Norman Osborn/Green Goblin

Graduation, what an exciting time. While our kids are giddy and excited to be recognized for their years of grueling math problems, research papers and Science projects, the audience looks back on where all this time went. How did they get so big, so fast?  I was just holding this odd & orange colored baby in my arms just a little while ago.  As a matter of fact, wasn’t I just at my own prom? If it wasn’t for the invention of the camera, I would swear that Nick went from toddlerhood to college with no in-between. If you want to know why I have so many children, this is it. I want my parenting days to last longer than a blink of an eye. Eight blinks is a smidge better.

Where will he go from here?

GREAT question!! Nick is a home boy. He has always loved being with his family. He has been changing diapers since he was six years old…..CLOTH diapers I might add. He’s been pulling babies out of the bassinet in the wee hours of the night to sleep and care for them since he was five. He’s been cleaning up vomit, giving baths to tiny people, washing markers off the walls, etc. for years on end. And you know what? He is not one bit interested in stopping. Just today, he asked me how long he had to wait before buying me a pregnancy test (Roy just left from his 2 week R & R from Afghanistan).
Nick and Samantha

 In order to continue his desire to be home AND continue his education, he will be going to our local community college, Longview. He says he will be joining the Army reserves next year.  If I do have another baby, I’ll have to keep that a secret for a good long time or he will change his mind!

Nick's closest friend is going to Conception Seminary to
discern his vocation to the priesthood. This is a completely
"normal" vocation ;) Congratulations Jared Samson!!!!!!!!
So, did I pass or fail as a parent? This is the deciding moment! When kids are a disappointment to their parents, Mom & Dad can usually blame school and friends whether it’s true or not. Since I have been his teacher his whole life,  I have no one to blame but myself. That is a hefty responsibility. No wonder parents do not want to homeschool!  It is so much easier to pass the buck and blame on someone else. I will gladly take credit for Nick! Lucky for him, his salvation will not depend on his gradesJ He is a pure and innocent young man. This is one reason why I am grateful that he is staying home for college. The life I wanted him and my other children to have is a life that makes purity, intact-mom & dad families and strong faith in God seem completely normal. I remember telling my parents, “everyone else is doing it!” in order to get my way. I wanted Nick to see that everyone else is pure. Everyone else has a strong faith. Not everyone has a girlfriend. Everyone else is doing their homework!! That may not be what everyone else was really doing but now that he is 18 and in the work place, he sees the hurt that impurity causes and the effects to a child that a broken home brings. If he would have grown up seeing all of this hurt and pain, he would think that THIS is normal and THIS is what he can expect for himself.  He has developed a maturity and strong foundation that only years upon years can build and make strong and sturdy. An 18 year old is not as interested in being like everyone else as a 10 year old is. A 10 year old cannot fight off a wolf as well as an 18 year old can. Don’t throw your kids to the wolves and tell yourself that it will build character! Nick is reluctant but he is ready. He has the tools he needs not only to keep himself pure and pleasing to God but he has the tools to lead other people in that direction too. I am SO proud of him.

I would like to take full credit for this young man. LOL. Yes, yes. It was ALL me. Calm down, I’m JUST kidding. Thanks to having kids, my prayer life and penance has GREATLY increased. Everything good in me and you and Nick and each member of the human race is because of God’s gift. The ONLY thing we can call our own is our sin. Everything else belongs to God.

To give credit where credit is due….Thank you GOD for the gift of my son, for listening to my prayers, for excepting my sufferings in exchange for Nick’s strong faith and for gifting him with faith to love and serve you. This is a never ending battle. Never will I be able to say, “I’ve arrived! I’m finally perfect!” I pray that I never let go of the wheel, that I pray unceasingly for all of my children and halt any moans and groans of suffering and offer them up for my children and my own poor and unworthy soul.

Its late. I get sappy when its late.