Thursday, July 20, 2017

St. Margaret of Antioch Proves That What the Catholic Church ThinksAbout Women is That They Can Totally Kick Satan's Butt

Happy Feast of St. Margaret of Antioch, virgin, martyr, dragon-slayer. And YOU thought St. George got to have all the dragon-related fun! 

Whenever anyone says the Catholic Church wants to subjugate women, I want to make them read The Golden Legend. Because, sure, SOME religions DO want to subjugate women. But ours super-duper does not. The Golden Legend is a collection of hundreds of hagiographies (I 💓 that there is a special word just for "biography of a saint") first compiled in 1260 by Blessed Jacobus da Varagine, Italian Archbishop.

It was the second most widely read text of the middle ages, after only the Bible, and nearly a thousand old copies of it are still in existence. It's where all the craziest (slash AWESOMEST) saint stories come from, and the good archbishop does take care to remind us that the more fanciful parts are almost certainly apocryphal. These are the stories that were told again and again for generations to Catholic children and adults. These are the lives that were held up as examples of heroic faith and virtue. And you would be AMAZED at the variety. There are meek saints and mouthy saints, rich saints and poor saints, skinny hermit saints and (literally) giant saints.

The women of The Golden Legend stand up to their fathers, and to kings and emperors. They endure tortures just as grueling as the boys', and they're just as tough doing it. St. Katherine of Alexandria faces down the pagan emperor's wisest advisors in a debate beat-down that ends with the advisors professing their faith in Jesus Christ and being martyred on the spot. Then, while imprisoned in the palace dungeon, two hundred members of the royal court come to visit her and are converted, including the emperor's own wife. That's some sound apologetics right there.

Whether these legends are exactly historically accurate (fingers-crossed) or are just meant to be inspirational, what they show us is that the Catholic Church has always celebrated the virtues of all kinds of people and all kinds of saints, and that includes all kinds of women.

St. George may have saved the princess of Silene from a dragon, but St. Margaret of Antioch saved herself, thank you very much.

The legend goes that Margaret was taught the Christian faith in secret by her nurse. When she was fifteen years old, the provost of Antioch saw her walking along the road. He was struck by her beauty and decided to make her the kind offer of allowing her to become his concubine. When she declined, he had her arrested and thrown into prison.

Again and again she was offered the choice between worshiping the pagan gods of the provost and living as his concubine in luxury, or enduring torture and privation in prison. Again and again, she held fast to her faith and principles.

One day, Satan himself came to tempt her.

He first appeared to her as a dragon, and swallowed her whole. But Margaret, not to be defeated as easily as all that, used the crucifix she was holding to burst free from the dragon's belly (or back?), safe and sound. I love how in the paintings her dress is still trailing out of his mouth and she's already burst back out. Easy come, easy go. *Quick aside, it's for this reason that St. Margaret of Anitoch is invoked as the patroness of safe childbirth. In kind of an opposite day, no, you don't look like a dragon at all darling, sort of way.*

Margaret kneels down in prayer after her victory, but then Satan appears to her again, this time as a man. When he again attempts to tempt her with his lies, she rises from prayer, grabs him by the neck, and full-on-WWE body-slams him to the ground. Then taunts him for getting whupped by a girl.

Seriously. I am not exaggerating: "She caught him by the head and threw him to the ground, and set her right foot on his neck saying: Lie still, thou fiend, under the feet of a woman."

She makes him admit who he is and why he's trying to corrupt her, "And when he had said thus, she took off her foot and said to him: Flee hence, thou wretched fiend. And anon the earth opened, and the fiend sank in. Then she was sure, for when she had overcome the master, she might lightly overcome the minister."

So then, finally, eventually, she receives the crown of a martyr at the hands of the provost.

So, if you're worried that you're not exactly cut out for the gentle and quiet path to heaven, know that there's also one where you get to fight a dragon and then execute a piledriver on the devil.

St. Margaret of Antioch isn't one of the feast days I put in the upcoming book, and it's not one we have a special family observance for, but writing this up HAS given me a bit of a hankering for dragon rolls . . .

You can read the whole legend of St. Margaret of Antioch here.
And St. Katherine of Alexandria here.
And St. Christoper (the giant) here.
And St. George here.
Or just get the (abridged) book version here.

Happy feast day feisties. 😘


Monday, July 17, 2017

I Have Some Things to Report: Part II (a skull fracture)

And now back to the continuing saga of what we've been doing for the past seven months. In Part I (here) we learned that I don't yet have a good grasp of what goes into to painting a room, despite having painted like . . . thirteen of them now. Also, that breaking tailbones is not fun.

Speaking of broken bones . . . we've really been surprisingly free of them around here. All these kids riding bikes and scooters and ziplines, and climbing trees, and jumping on trampolines, and we had NEVER had a broken bone. We'd had two nursemaid's (dislocated) elbows. For the first one, we went to the urgent care, for the second the husband just watched a youtube video and fixed the kid himself right there in the church parking lot. And we'd needed stitches three times (once in France). We didn't take care of any of those ourselves. Although giving myself stitches IS on my bucket list. (I have a weird bucket list. It's mostly dystopian.)

But other than that, over fourteen years, eight (at the time) kids, never a broken bone, never a trip to the ER. I guess when we do something, we like to REALLY DO IT, ya know?

The husband was out of town (in my experience, husbands are usually out of town for this sort of thing). The kids and I had just finished eating dinner out on the patio and I had gone back to the computer to work on the book. Betty was getting the girls ready for bed. The boys were SUPPOSED to be doing the dishes. Often, when the boys are supposed to be doing the dishes, they are instead having dishtowel battles. This time, when they were supposed to be doing the dishes, unnamed brother A picked up a three-foot length of three-quarter inch diameter PVC pipe he found in the yard and winged it towards unnamed brother B. Ya know, like ya do. Brother B deftly stepped out of the way like a bull fighter, and Frankie got javelined square in the forehead.

Brother A came running inside to get me, distraught enough that he couldn't really articulate anything. I came out to find Frankie standing there bent over at the waist with blood pouring out of a cut on his forehead. It was pretty clear he was going to need stitches. Just then Jack got home from baseball practice, grabbed a couple towels and put some pressure on the wound and offered to go to the ER with us. (He's always been SO good in a crisis.) We gave Frankie a sucker to try to calm him down and off the three of us (and my seven month belly) went to the closest hospital ER.

When we got there we were triaged to the front of the line. They took a look, he answered their questions. They agreed that he needed stitches, wrapped him up like a mummy, and sent us back to the waiting room for a few minutes.

Jack, who hadn't eaten dinner, went to the vending machine to get some chips, oreos, and soda (dinner of champions) and I thought Frankie was just resting on my shoulder. But when Jack offered him some soda, he was unresponsive. His eyes were open, but he just wasn't there. It had been maybe thirty minutes since the injury at that point. The nurse was just on her way out to get us, so she took us in a wheelchair to get a CT scan instead of stitches. While in the machine, he started having a seizure. First it was just a twitch on his face, then it was his whole body.

That's when things got crazy. They cut him out of his clothes, and put in an IV, which he didn't respond to at all, then they pulled the curtains and Jack and I were standing out in the hallway. My worry was tempered a bit by frustration and disbelief that all this could have come from something as silly as a piece of PVC pipe.

I called Jim (again) and told him what was going on, and he got up and left his conference dinner and got in an Uber to the airport. I called my friend Micaela and she went over to my house to be with the other kids, and my parents, who left a fancy gala dinner in San Diego and headed up to L.A.

The hospital we were in didn't have a pediatric trauma center, so they called for an ambulance. There just happened to be one there, that had just dropped someone off, so they loaded us in and off we went zig zagging through evening L.A. traffic. Jack in the front, where he got to operate the siren, and Frankie and I and some very nice firemen and paramedics in the back. It was in the ambulance that I learned that he had a displaced skull fracture. That means a whole piece had been broken loose and been pushed inward, increasing the pressure on the brain which resulted in a post-traumatic seizure.

They took us to L.A. County Hospital . . . which was good and bad. Good because they have a LOT of experience with trauma. But bad because it's in a sketchy part of town and the hallways of the ER were lined with shirtless tattooed dudes on gurneys. The lady on the other side of the curtain from us was explaining to a police officer that she didn't know how her teen-aged son got his gun shot wound, because he never tells her anything. Super sad. I'm still praying for her. To get into the main entrance, you have to go through a metal detector, and there are signs on the first floor directing you one way to the cafeteria and the other way to the prison. Because in addition to a top notch pediatric trauma center, they've got a prison.

But really, they were great. We were met by multiple pediatric neurologists and neurosurgeons. It really was amazing. All we could do at that point was wait and see if Frankie had any more seizures, and would therefore need immediate surgery. I was really glad MY teen-aged son was with me (and GSW-free). All those aspects of his temperament that made him tough as a toddler and a little kid, make him really helpful as a teenager. He filled out forms and answered nurses' questions and kept me company for some very long hours.

Eventually, my friend Jennifer came through the metal detector to pick him up, and bring me my medicine and my charger, and she also picked up burgers and brought those too, because she is an awesome mind-reader.

After a couple hours of observation, they brought us to a room upstairs in the pediatric unit. They finally stitched him up, and Jim arrived from the airport just in time to go with him to his second CT scan. They wouldn't let me and the belly even go to that wing. He opened his eyes and seemed to recognize Jim, but still couldn't really talk and was very disoriented.

Then it was just more waiting.

I had shared the picture of Frankie with his head bandaged on social media, because I thought he looked like the "injured guy" emoji, and at that point it was just a trip to the ER for stitches. If I'd known it was a serious injury, I think I probably wouldn't have shared the picture, or anything, on social media. But I ended up so glad I had. It was such a comfort knowing so many people were praying for him and for our family.

The next morning, on the feast of St. Gianna Molla, pediatrician and mother, Frankie woke up at about four in the morning. He didn't have any memory of anything after getting in the car at our house, but he was pretty much himself already. He was excited about getting to eat jello, and about the red light oxygen sensor on his finger, which he liked shooting at people.

He spent the day in the hospital, getting an EEG, watching movies, and playing with toys and games that the candy striper brought. Jim and I spent the day with him, just kind of bewildered that such a silly, freak accident could turn so serious, then completely resolve itself, over the course of one very long day.

The kids were very excited to have him back home. Especially unnamed brother A, who was kind of a wreck about it, even though it really was an accident. Fortunately, it's all pretty much forgotten now. The only lasting effect was that the traumatic brain injury and the anti-seizure medication he was on, kind of reset Frankie to his original factory settings. All the impulse control we have worked with him to develop over the course of many years was right out the window. If he got it into his mind to make a weird noise every few seconds, there was just no stopping him from doing it.

We had a follow-up visit with another pediatric neurosurgeon at another hospital a week after his injury and they took him off the medication which helped a lot. He's back to like 80% whackadoodle, which is better than 120%. And he's got this cool, exactly 3/4 inch diameter, scar. Chicks dig exactly 3/4 inch diameter scars.

The doctor cleared us to go on our scheduled trip the next week to Destin, Florida to meet up with my mom's whole side of the family for my cousin's wedding. It was BEAUTIFUL. My kids are used to the gray water and brown sand of the Pacific. At first, Lulu thought the beach was covered with snow! And it was the perfect opportunity to spend some time being grateful for each and every member of my family!

Still to come . . . my to do list before baby, including item #1: finish book, and item #100: have baby.


Friday, July 14, 2017

I Have Some Things to Report: Part I (mostly house stuff)

Hey guys. Did you miss me?

I figured there might still be a few of you who would be interested in some updates to my announcements in my last post (seven months ago!). Let's begin with the most exciting, shall we?

Introducing . . . baby George!

After a very fast (and very easy) labor two years ago resulted in Mary Jane being born at home in the tub after about 8 contractions total and about 45 minutes of labor, start to finish (read about that here) . . . we -- well, mostly the husband -- had really been hoping that we'd make it to the hospital this time. We have moved since our last birth and had a new OB and a new hospital that I was comfortable with, but which are a good twenty minute drive away. I had been praying, and so had many of you! that I would feel labor early enough to head for the hospital before it was too late to even try and that labor would be long enough that we could comfortably drive there and check in and whatnot. And, well, you've heard the one about being careful what you ask for? . . .

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

When last I posted, it was early December, I was hit pretty hard by first trimester fatigue and barfiness and I wasn't going to make my December 6th deadline on the liturgical living in the home book manuscript. The folks at Ignatius were very understanding, and gave me another six months to get the book to them. In late January, I finally started coming out of the fog. So, because I am a person who never, ever learns her lessons, I decided to patch and paint and furnish and decorate the first floor of the house real quick, THEN finish writing the book.

It's mostly Betty's fault.

Her thirteenth birthday was February 6th, and in early January I had told her I just wasn't feeling up to throwing a complicated birthday party, and she suggested that we just have a Sense and Sensibility tea party/movie night with a few girlfriends. That sounded perfect. And easy. But then with just over a week before her party I started feeling a bit more like myself* and all of a sudden I couldn't live with the mac and cheese yellow walls patched with white in each place that the construction guys had put in a switch or outlet. At first I told the husband that all I really needed to do was just prime the walls in the living room and dining room. Then they'd be white not yellow for Betty's party and I could live with that. I'm pretty sure he knew better than to believe me.

* "like myself" meaning "crazy" apparently

As keeps happening on every "little" project I try to tackle with this old house, I kept backing in to bigger and bigger projects. The patched parts of the walls needed texturing, there was a big hole that needed patching -- and texturing -- in the ceiling, and THAT is a huge mess and needs to be done before priming. There was yellow overpaint on the edges of all the wooden doors, and the brick edging, and the stone fireplace. And if we were going to move all the furniture into the middle of the room, we might as well just rearrange it all to its permanent location, right? I didn't want the TV and the comfy couch in the formal living room long term, but that meant I also needed to paint the playroom/TV room and put up curtains in there so we could set up the furniture in that room. Once I had the walls painted, I realized how dingy the ceiling looked and so on and so on and so on.

So, in the week I had before Betty's Jane Austen Tea Party, all I did was make the house a MUCH bigger mess than it was before.

But the party must go on, and it did. We had the couch and TV moved into the playroom and we had the party in there and a good time was had by all. Although I did have to pause the movie and explain to a bunch of 10-14 year old girls what an "illegitimate" child was. 😳 (How great is Col. Brandon? SO great.)

Anyway, I decided to keep up with the painting and decorating until the big annual St. Patrick's Day Hooley, and I managed to finish the living room, dining room, TV/playroom, big kid game room, breakfast room, and mudroom/pantry. I need to do a whole house tour series one of these days, so I won't photo dump now, but here's a sneak peek of the living room.

Better, no? (That's a built-in leather-doored liquor cabinet next to the phone, if you're wondering. And we got the phone many years ago from Pottery Barn, and they don't seem to carry it anymore. But here's a similar one.)

The guest bedroom, main back hallway, school room, and two downstairs bathrooms did not get finished. And still aren't. But I had to quit anyway, because there was still the little matter of this book to finish in about three months. Also . . . I fell off a ladder painting and broke my tailbone. In the middle of the night. The husband was out of town, of course.

I know what you're thinking, "Wow! How fun and exciting! That must have been really awesome!"

But, surprisingly, it was not. It hurt a crazy amount, I think more than anything I've ever experienced before, mostly when trying to stand up, or drive, or move when sleeping. And, unfortunately those three things are things I have to do e'rry day. I'm happy to say, it is FINALLY better, which might surprise you once you know more about Georgie.

Okay, I think that's enough catch-up for today. I still need to tell you all about the book, and more about baby George, but first, there's the whole Frankie in the hospital thing . . . stay tuned.


Friday, December 2, 2016

Please Stay Tuned for the Following Important Announcements . . .

Hey guys! It's been a while, huh? House stuff, book stuff, school stuff, kid stuff . . . it's all been keeping me pretty busy. But it felt like time to share an update with you, the good and patient people of this blog.

1. Ya know how when you're a Catholic mommy blogger and you say you have an announcement, everyone just assumes you're pregnant? Well, I'm going to go ahead and reinforce that stereotype.

Yep. Baby number nine is due July 4th. I'm about nine weeks along. The kids are super excited about their new little tiebreaker.

2. In related news, I'm NOT going to make my book deadline. Le sigh. I decided to spend the first half of my supposed-to-be-writing-a-book time remodeling the house instead. And, really, I can't regret that. I'm really happy with how upstairs turned out, and it's contributed greatly to my emotional well-being that at least PART of the house looks in reality the way all of it looks in my imagination.

Once summer was over, I tried to be responsible and made myself quit house stuff cold turkey, even though my closet and the husband's office and the chapel aren't done. I was booking right along on the, um, book all through September and October and I am happy with it as a first draft, but I know it needs a lot of polishing and a few more important chapters. I had five weeks to finish it. But then, at the end of October, I sat silently weeping at our homeschool parkday, after a crazy misunderstanding between moms about where the kids should stand to give their saint presentations . . . and I figured I should probably stop by the Rite Aid on the way home. Because there is only ONE reason I cry. And it ain't long distance phone service commercials.

So . . . two lines. And here we go again!

I've been hanging in there with pretty regular-for-me fatigue and nausea. But when your business model depends on you only needing four or five hours of sleep and now you need nine or ten . . . something's got to give. And the kids are louder than the book, what with wanting to eat and learn and be driven places. So the book is still in a very first-drafty stage.

My editor has been very understanding. Perhaps this sort of issue isn't unheard of at a Catholic publishing house? I'm thinking I just need a good solid month with it once I get over the barfy part, which is usually right at twelve or thirteen weeks for me.

It's kind of killing me to miss a deadline. But I'm trying to have some perspective. Better a few months late and coherent, right?

3. Also big news, also related . . . Betty and Bobby started "regular" school with Jack.

I started homeschooling pretty reluctantly, and only because I didn't think we had another good option. But I grew to love it and truly appreciate it as a part of our family culture. I really never intended to homeschool the kids all the way through though. We always hoped we'd eventually be able to move closer to a school we could feel good about.

And we did! But when we asked Betty and Bobby over the summer whether they wanted to start at St. Monica Academy with Jack, they didn't. They wanted to stay in their homeschool group, with their friends, and keep schooling in the way they were used to. With the move, we decided not to push it, but figured they'd start next year.

But they've both been involved with activities in which they've met kids from their classes at the school, and we were all finding that five kids in five grades, plus a preschooler and a toddler made for really packed days. I signed them up for a bunch of online classes, figuring that would lighten my load, but really it just made our schedules crazy and meant we couldn't go on field trips. 😭

So, when I mentioned it to them again and they were interested this time, we figured we'd start them in January. But when I asked the school they said start them now! So . . . we did.

It's been good. They're having fun. I'm back to a manageable school day that can be done before naptime. We can go on field trips. And I still have a seven and a nine-year-old at home. Yay!

The high school is having an open house on December 7th. If you're in the area, come check it out!

4. This one isn't going to make ANY sense given the previous three announcements, except that we already had it planned and I'm no quitter. We went camping in Zion and Bryce Canyon, Utah for Thanksgiving again! (Here's the camping last time. And here's the fashion blogging.)

My parents didn't get to come with us last time and wanted to. So we made plans to do the whole trip again. The boys were in a tent, and we had two little one room cabins with heat and electricity and wifi. So, it wasn't ALL that rough.

It was cooler than two years ago, and snowier! But it really was comfortable hiking weather, and *I* was plenty warm in the cabin at night. And there was only SOME barfing.

So, here's a photo dump for ya (don't worry, none are of that last part).

And Lulu had her third birthday two days after Thanksgiving! (Can you spot the three blurry mule deer in the background?)

4. Last announcement is that I have no announcement about what's happening with the blog. I miss it. I miss you guys. But I don't know when I'll be back. I can't say I'm taking any particular amount of time off, because I'll continue to pop up here when the mood strikes and time and other commitments allow.

Thanks for being so awesome. And have a very blessed Advent!



Thursday, October 20, 2016

All Saints' Day Costume Backlash: only neat and tidy saints need apply?

Hey guys. 👋 I'm still not back. The book is coming along, but there's still a ways to go. But. I got this mailbag question via email and answered it via email, and wanted to share it here, just in case any of you are facing the same criticisms. I really hope you're not. I suppose this is one of those issues upon which good Catholics may disagree, but I am very strongly in support of my position. (So surprising, I know.)

Also, I'm not going to do the big All Saints' Day costume contest this year <ducks under desk> but Hallowtide has always been a big part of this blog, so I can't let the whole thing go by without a single post!

The Question:
Hi Kendra,

Hoping you can give me a little guidance as I don't have as much experience with this as you do.

We are attending an All Saints party with our kids this year. I'm planning on dressing my younger son as Saint Maximilian Kolbe. I've got a little striped pajama, little glasses, the red P, etc... I was super excited about this costume but then I started mentioning it to others and got a lot of backlash and it's making me doubt my decision.

People have said its insensitive, inappropriate, in poor taste and makes light of the victims of the Holocaust.

I'm really torn right now because while I don't want to offend others, I really love this saint and I see dressing my son up in his honour as a positive thing.

I saw that your son was dressed as Saint Maximilian Kolbe one year and I'm wondering if you got any criticism and if so how you responded? I'm new at this whole All Saints celebration so I'm just wondering where I need to draw the line between political correctness and dressing my son as an awesome saint.

I look forward to hearing your take on this!


My Answer:

Hey Justine,

Wow, I'm so sorry, and I have to say, really surprised. I expect that some people aren't going to "get" our cephalophore St. Denis or body-less St. John the Baptist costumes, or our skinned St. Bartholomew, or our bullet-riddled Bl. Miguel Pro. They are, admittedly, pretty intense.

We don't intend to be irreverent or insensitive, we just intend to be truthful. ESPECIALLY since these things are still happening in the world. Christians are still being martyred! All the more reason that my kids should know about these great saints. It seems ridiculous to me to limit the saints that my kids can dress up as, and learn about, and admire, to only saints who died a nice, tidy, non-shocking death. That's just not the truth of the martyrs.

It's my understanding that many Catholic schools and homeschool groups specifically ban any bloody depictions of martyrs. Thank the Good Lord ours' does not, because that would disallow at least a quarter of our kids' All Saints' Day costumes over the years. I'm sure all those folks mean well, but we don't choose to shield even our young children from learning the stories of the martyrs or seeing depictions of their martyrdoms. In our travels, doing that would have meant we'd have had to skip just about every single church in Europe.

Look at the statue of St. John the Baptist on the outside of Chartres Cathedral, or the statue of St. Bartholomew holding his skin inside St. Peter's, or The Crucifixion of Saint Peter by Caravaggio, painted for the Cerasi Chapel of Santa Maria del Popolo in Rome. Are they shocking? Yes. Also beautiful and memorable. Generations of kids have seen them. My kids have seen those statues and that painting in person, and they made an impression. My sons have dressed up as each of those martyrs for All Saints Day. It hasn't made them cavalier about martyrdom, quite the opposite. It has made them aware of martyrdom and respectful of it. Play is one way kids learn.

I do understand how those particular statues, paintings, and our costumes depicting those martyrs would surprise some parents. But I think it's a mistake, and perhaps a result of the fact that mostly moms are in charge of events like this, to purposefully remove stuff that boys think is cool from our celebration of/study of the saints, just because it isn't what speaks to us or our daughters. My girls like Disney princess movies. Great news! There are princess saints. My boys like war movies and superhero movies and cowboys and Indians movies. Pretty much every one of those movies is going to have a bloody death or ten. There are plenty of saints that would fit right in there too. And if we let our boys get to know them, the saints can become an inspiration to them.

St. Issac Jogues (one of my boys' choice of saint for this year) is a martyr, himself moved by the martyrs that came before him:
Jogues was inspired by the missionaries that had returned to France in 1636: Father Brebeuf, Father Charles Lalement and Father Masse to venture to New France. These missionaries told Jogues of their hardships, treacheries and tortures which ordinarily awaited them by the native population, as missionaries in New France. Their accounts however, increased Jogues' desire to “devote himself to labor there for the conversion and welfare of the natives”. (wikipedia)

But in your case you're not even talking about a bloody costume. I just can't wrap my head around anyone in a Catholic organization who would throw an All Saints' Day costume party, then believe that to dress up as a saint who was killed in the holocaust, when he offered to take the place of another man, so that man might return to his family . . . is somehow insensitive to holocaust victims. That's bonkers. It only honors holocaust victims when we teach our children about St. Maximilian Kolbe.

Maybe the confusion comes because some people's take on Halloween is to dress up as a celebrity you don't like to ridicule that person. All Saints Day costumes are the EXACT OPPOSITE of that. I would urge you to use this as a teachable moment. Stay strong, stay Catholic, stay awesome!


Just in case you're wondering what the Tierneys are planning for this year, here's a sneak peek at our plans for Twofer Halloween/All Saints' Day costumes . . .




The boys:

I think Mary Jane will be a little St. Kateri Tekakwitha sidekick to the brothers. And, fair warning if you know me in real life, the North American Martyrs costumes are probably going to involve some of these:
(But most likely this homemade version.) Because that's how it went down:

We just really can't help ourselves.

More costume inspiration can be found in the following posts:

Over 150 All-Saints Day Costumes for Kids

Over 150 MORE All Saints Day Costumes for Kids

Costumes for All Saints Day AND Halloween: One Part Catholic, Two Parts Awesome

Last Minute Twofer Costumes for Halloween AND All Saints Day

Hallowtide . . . It's How We Roll: All Saints Day Costumes for Awesome Kids Only


And here's some other stuff:

Halloween Movies to Spook the Whole Family

Spooky Stories for the Whole Family (and how to get them for free)

Scary Stories: Empowering Kids Since 1812

Praying for the Dead With Children

Disclaimer: I am not a theologian, nor am I an official spokesperson for the Catholic Church. (You're thinking of this guy.) If you read anything on this blog that is contrary to Church teaching, please consider it my error (and let me know!). I'm not a doctor or an expert on anything in particular. I'm just one person with a lot of experience parenting little kids and a desire to share my joy in marriage, mothering, and my faith.

If you've got a question, please send it along to catholicallyear @ gmail . com . Please let me know if you prefer that I change your name if I use your question on the blog.


Monday, October 10, 2016

How We Discuss Imperfect Heroes with Kids

Happy Columbus Day!

This is not a feast of the Catholic Church, of course, but it's a national celebration (at least it WAS a celebration, now it's more like one-more-excuse-to-be-mad-on-Facebook) of a Catholic person with admirable qualities and great failings, both. So how do we handle a figure like Christopher Columbus with our kids? The same way we do everything else: truthfully.

Christopher Columbus is not to be confused with St. Christopher. He has not been proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church. That means we don't expect that he lived a life of heroic virtue. That means we shouldn't be surprised when we find that he, like most of us, listened to his little shoulder devil more often than he should have.

Does that mean he cannot be an inspiration and a role model for our children? It does not.

Christopher Columbus (like the founding fathers, and various actors, musicians, and athletes who come into my children's awareness) was given a GREAT GIFT BY GOD. He was smarter, and more determined, and more courageous than the people around him. God made him with a purpose, and because he corresponded with the gifts God gave him, Christopher Columbus lived a life of extraordinary adventure and accomplishment. He was a Catholic, and it's clear from his journal entries, that he loved God and wished to glorify God through his discoveries.

However, he was also a very flawed human being. It appears that he allowed himself to care more for glory and riches for himself in this world than he did for knowing, loving, and serving God and preparing himself for eternal life.

He was a visionary, daring to attempt feats no one had attempted before. But he became so obsessed with finding a passage to India and China, that he never himself appreciated having discovered a New World!

He was an inspirational leader, able to rally his men in the face of great hardship. He was also a  ruthless leader, resorting to very cruel punishments.

He was a Catholic who valued his faith and wished to bring it to the people of the world. But he seems never to have really viewed the native people of the Americas as worthy of the respect and dignity due every human person. He tricked and enslaved and mistreated Native Americans in a shameful way. He impersonated a god in order to bend them to his will. That's a real no-no for Catholics.

Despite his great gifts, at the end of his life he was an unhappy, unsatisfied man.

He should have taken his own advice: "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of Our Savior if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service."

So, in our home, we discuss Christopher Columbus as an American Hero (from Italy via Portugal) with very real human failings. We talk about how he could have handled his life differently, how he COULD have lived his life to merit being called St. Christopher, Christ-bearer. We hope and pray that, at the end of his life, he took responsibility for his failings and made a good confession and received the sacraments and that he is in heaven today.

We talk about St. Brendan, a Catholic who visited the Americas eight hundred years before Columbus and didn't trick or enslave ANYONE. Someone who DID live a life of heroic virtue.

And we use this same method to discuss Olympic athletes who have mind-blowing physical gifts, but appear to be less-than-humble, and singers with angelic voices and terrible judgement, and founding fathers with an amazing intellect and admirable vision and self-sacrifice, who allowed and/or perpetrated the bondage of other human beings at the founding of our nation.

The term "devil's advocate" is taken from a role formerly used in the canonization process in our Roman Catholic Church. In 1587, Pope Sixtus V established a process involving canon attorneys in the roles of Promoter of the Faith or Devil's Advocate. The devil's advocate person argued against the canonization (sainthood) of a candidate in order to uncover any character flaws or misrepresentation of the evidence favoring canonization.

Saint Pope John Paul II reduced the power and changed the role of the office in 1983.

St. JPII doesn't want us to be devil's advocates. I'm pretty sure he'd want us to be honest about people's flaws, but not dwell on them, and certainly not deny the obvious gifts that God has given some people, just because they're total knuckleheads in other aspects of their lives.

My kids see my failings every day, on good days they see their own failings. But I don't want them to define me or themselves by only our failures. I want them to search for the good in everyone. I want them to find inspiration everywhere.

 . . . . .

And, I'm back! But not really. Thank you all, my dear readers, for your patience as I disappeared from the blog here. It turns out that I DO have a maxed out point and remodeling a house + keeping said house clean + looking after a husband and eight kids and their food and clothing related needs + homeschooling five grades + driving and volunteering for one in regular school + writing a book is it for me. Something had to give and it was this. But I miss it SO MUCH, and this particular post has been bouncing around in my head for months and months and finally burst out of me this morning.

In addition to all the very real and pressing concerns in our world, would you please say a prayer for me as I try to get this book written by December? So many of you have told me you would appreciate a book on how we live our faith and the liturgical year in our home, and I've wanted to write one ever since I started the blog. But I am having a terrible time trying to focus on getting it done in the midst of the rest of my crazy life and all my personal failings. I have yet to resort to trickery and enslavement, but I have wasted a LOT of time on Facebook and Netflix.

Also, despite me being a TERRIBLE blogger at the moment, at least one of you saw fit to nominate me as one of the best at the Fisher's Net Awards. There's really no accounting for you guys. Probably you should vote for Bonnie or Haley instead of me, but that's your call. Double cheek kisses for everyone.