Saturday, February 25, 2006

This Sunday's Reading for Children

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (cycle B)
Mark 2: 18-22

The people who followed John the Baptist, and the Pharisees, who were careful to obey the laws of God, would often fast – they would eat no food, as a way to show their love to God. But Jesus and his followers did not fast so often. People asked him. “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees fast, while your disciples to not?”

Jesus answered. “How can the guests at a wedding fast as long as the groom is still among the? So long as the groom stays with them, they cannot fast. The day will come, however, when the groom will be taken away from them. Then they will fast.”

Jesus was comparing himself to the groom, the guest of honor at the wedding, and while he was there, it was a time to celebrate, not to be sad.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Deliver Us From Evil

I just read an excellent book, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. The eponymous historians in the book are searching for Dracula. The characters are not particularly religious, but find that wearing crosses can help protect them from the undead.

And, that got me thinking about the powerful protection of a crucifix.

Now, I don't believe in vampires - or the undead - or anything like that. But I do believe that evil exists. You don't have to go much further than the front page of the newspaper to see that evil is real and is all around us.

Will wearing a crucifix protect us from all evil? Of course not. It's not a good luck charm. But the way I see it, it works this way. God protects us from evil. We ask it of him whenever he pray the Our Father.

The evil we need most to be protected from is the evil that can take root within us. But, that evil cannot take root if we are filled with God's love. Two things cannot exist in the same place at the same time. If we are filled with love, we can not be filled with hate.

A crucifix protects us from evil - not because vampires are afraid of it (though, if vampires were real, they probably would be afraid of it) but because it is an outward sign of the love we have within us.

Love protects us from evil. And God is Love.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This Sunday's Readings for Children

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (cycle B)
Isaiah 43: 18-19, 21-22, 24-25

The Lord says: Don’t remember the things of the past. Don’t think about the things that happened long ago. I am doing something new, can’t you tell. I make a path through the desert, I make rivers were there were none. I made people that they might call on me and praise me. But, you did not call on me, you got tired of me. You were bad, and I got tired of it. I will not think of it again. For my sake, I have forgotten your sins.

The Lord wants us to be good. If we are bad, he gives us a second chance, because he loves us.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blessed by the Lord

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I heard a song at a prayer meeting I attended. The words went something like this:

The Lord is Blessing me right now, right now,
The Lord is Blessing me right now, right now.
You may not be able to see
All the Lord has done for me.
But the Lord is Blessing me, right now, right now.

That song has become almost a mantra to me. When things aren't going well, or I don't feel God's love as strongly as I like. I think of that song. And it helps.

It reminds me that the Lord is blessing me. Always. Even I don't know all the Lord has done for me.

But what a wonderful reminder. Even if we don't know it's happening. The Lord is always blessing us. Right now. Yesterday. Tomorrow. Forever.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

This Sunday's Reading for Children

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (cycle B)
Mark 1: 30-45

A man with a horrible disease came up to Jesus. He knelt in front of him and said: “If you want to, you can cure me.” Jesus felt sorry for the man, and he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do want it. You are cured.” Right away the man got better. Jesus told him not to tell anyone, but to go show the leaders that he was healed. But the man could not keep the secret. He told everyone he saw that Jesus had healed him. After that people crowded around wherever he went. He went into the desert, but the people followed him.

When wonderful things happen we want to share the news. Jesus is a wonderful thing that has happened to us all.

And Here Comes the Snow

The kids are better - and I didn't get sick. So things are looking up. Now we're hunkering down for the nor'easter that is headed our way. We haven't had significant snow since the beginning of December, so I guess we're due. We'll have to head out to church tonight, since tomorrow we'll be a bit buried.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hard to Find the Joy in This

There are things that qualify as simple and ordinary that are a little hard to find the joy in.

Take sickness for example. My son woke up Monday with a fever, stomach-ache and head-ache. He slept most of Monday, was also home from school Tuesday. Each day he's a little better - and tomorrow he'll be back at school.

But - this morning my daughter woke up with a fever. She's feeling better now - but still has a fever - so school for tomorrow is of course a question.

And the big question lurking in my mind is - okay - when am I going to get this? It's like waiting for the ax to drop.

So we muddle through - and of course I can rejoice in that they are getting better not worse. See - I knew there was a silver lining in there someplace.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Why be a Martyr?

My daughter just asked me: Why would St. Stephen let himself be martyred? Why indeed. I told her it was because he believed so much in what he was preaching. He believed in and loved Jesus. She wanted to know why he didn't just run away - hide behind a tree. He was following Jesus' example, I told her.

She didn't buy it. I don't blame her. It's not an easy thing to understand. I don't completely understand it either.

When I was younger and reading about victims of the Holocaust, I wondered why they didn't just say they were Christian. Deny being Jewish - save themselves. Now, as I get older, I understand more what it means to really believe something. I also understand that in that regime it would have been futile to lie.

If Christians were persecuted in the U.S. like they are in some parts of the world, how would I react? Would I take the easy way out - run and hide - deny what I believe? Or would I stand and die for something that intellectually I know is worth dying for?

I don't know the answer. I like to think I'd be noble and saint-like. Hopefully I won't ever be tested. But it is a good thing to consider. Why did the martyr's let it happen?

This Sunday's Reading for Children

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (cycle B)
Mark 1: 29-39

Jesus went to Simon Peter’s house. Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick. Jesus took her by the hand and made her better.

In the evening, more and more people came to him that wanted to be healed. Some were sick and some had evil spirits in them. Jesus healed them all. Jesus wouldn’t let the demons speak though, because they knew who he was.

The next morning, Jesus got up early and went off by himself to pray. Simon Peter found him and said “Everybody is looking for you.” Jesus said, “Let’s go to the other villages, so I can tell them the good news and heal them too. That is what I have come to do.”

And so they traveled all over Galilee.

Jesus came to heal us and share the word of God with us.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Why I Don't Homeschool My Children

It seems that there are more and more people whom you hear about homeschooling their children. I must say I have the utmost respect for people who can make that decision and make it work. I was an education major briefly in college - and teaching isn't my thing. And I know you don't have to be a certified teacher to teach your own children, but beyond that, I have reasons for sending my children off to the local public school every morning.

First, I think it is important for children to experience different personalities and points of view from their teachers. Every adult brings with them the experiences of their lives and can provide fresh insight into a variety of things.

Second, there seems to me to be as much value in learning the lessons of how to get along with difficult classmates or teachers as their is in any social studies or math lesson. That's different than getting along with a sibling.

Third, when homeschooling I would imagine it would be very easy to give into the child's individual wants and desires at any given time. "I don't want to do math now" "Okay, we'll do English". (I don't homeschool, I'm guessing how it could be, I might be wrong, perhaps people manage to keep very strict schedules, I don't think I could.) But, that's not always the way life works. Sometimes you have to do math even when you're not in the mood. Better to learn that now, than on your first job.

Fourth, my daughter and I can both be very bullheaded. If I tried to teach her all her lessons we'd probably kill each other. Better for her to be upset with a teacher and vent to me. If she was upset with me - where could she vent?

Fifth, I do teach my children at home. They may go to the school for several hours a day - but every hour that they are with me they are learning from me. Maybe it is learning how to cook dinner, or how to be honest by returning the extra change the cashier hands me. Maybe it's how to help out a friend, or investigate a subject they are interested in. They are always learning from me. But for math, science, reading and social studies, they go to that big brick building half a mile away.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Kids and TV

The topic of kids watching too much TV always seemes to be a perennial favorite. I got to thinking about it again because Danielle at Danielle Bean has asked readers of her website to tell her how they and their families handle television viewing.

I feel very fortunate that my children are not big TV watchers. I've never felt compelled to set limits on TV - at least not in general - there have been days when I've had to say 'okay, now turn it off'.

But then I wonder - am I just lucky, or have I been doing something right all along? The first thing my husband and I did regarding TV viewing was more an economic decision than anything else. We don't have cable. We don't have satellite. We don't have Dish TV. Not even Basic. We have a big antenna.

Once, before we had children, when trying to decide if I wanted to get cable or not, I looked at the cable schedules to see what I would watch - the reruns of "Little House on the Prairie" and "The Waltons" looked interesting - but I couldn't see paying that kind of money to watch 20 year old programs. So, we didn't get cable.

So, what do our children watch with no Nickoldeon or Disney Channel? They watch PBS. When they were little it was "Sesame Street", "Barney" and "DragonTales". Then "Arthur" was a favorite - and now "Cyberchase" gets their attention.

But, you know what? Most of the time they'd rather play together or read.

And I like to think that has something to do with our parenting as well. In our house, TV is not our primary form of recreation. We read. We listen to the radio or CDs. Occasionally we sit down and watch a show, but the TV is not usually on. It only goes on when there is something specific we want to watch. My husband and I each have one show we generally like to watch (which we tape, so we can watch once the children are in bed.)

Of course there are days when the children do want to just chill out in front of the TV, and I let them - because sometimes I want to do that to. Doesn't everyone?