Saturday, May 31, 2014

Answer Me This . . . In Which I Don't (But Now I Do)

 . . . answer anything. 

Here are this week's questions! I'm, um, running late again. I just have a husband who keeps surprising me with date nights on nights I plan to blog. I KNOW, it's terrible.

I'm going to throw this up for anyone who wants to link up tonight, and I'll be back in a few with my answers and the tags and the questions for next week. So, do check back.

Updated! Now with all relevant information present and accounted for.

1. Do you have a smart phone?

I . . . do not. I am home almost all the time. So, I really don't NEED a smart phone. My slightly contrary self takes a bit of pride in being the only person in Los Angeles without an iPhone. I just checked, the last other person without an iPhone just got one. So, I'm the only one.

I have this:

Don't let all those little app-y looking things fool you. It just makes phone calls. And I can text on it. And it HAS a camera, but it's really not worth bothering with.

Anyway. That's why I'm not on Instagram.

But it's PURPLE!

2. Which is your favorite meal of the day?

Breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast.

All the yummiest stuff is for breakfast.

Oatmeal. English muffins. Bananas. Yogurt. Granola. Tea. Cranberry juice.

Hmm. That actually seems like a pretty lame list of stuff to get excited about.

But seriously, oatmeal is my favorite.

3. Shower or bath?

In 1799, Elizabeth Drinker had her first ever shower. She wrote in her diary: "I found the shock much greater than expected . . . . not having been wett all over at once, for 28 years past."

That's how I feel every time I take a shower. I find them just terribly unpleasant. The parts of me that aren't in the water are always cold. And I just don't like the spraying sensation.

A bath is just lovely. And I think that Mrs. Drinker would agree, just more natural.

4. Think of a person you love. How many days have you been in love with that person? (Don't worry, this site will do the math for you. And, hey, now you can order this card!)

I'm not good with dates. And I'm not the type of gal who keeps track of the anniversaries of things like first dates and what not. So I don't know the exact date I fell in love with my husband. I knew I was going to marry him the first time I saw him, which would have been in September.

But I can say with utmost certainty that I was in love with him when he took me to the Marine Corps Ball.

Obviously. The uniform. The flowers. I mean c'mon.

So that would have been on or about November 10th (the Marine Corps Birthday, of course) 2000. And that makes 4952 days. Lovely.

We've done quite a lot with those days. Here's to thousands more.

5. What's the best church you've ever been inside?

This question is a plant, of course. Since I'm in the middle of recapping our recent trip to France and seeing all the lovely churches.

In case you missed any of them:



We've also visited extraordinarily historic and beautiful churches in Italy, Spain, and Portugal. And I visited the Holy Land with my parents, and saw amazing churches there. But this trip to France really solidified in me a slight preference for the more modern 19th and early 20th century mosaic basilicas over the carved stone and marble cathedrals of earlier centuries.

I love them all. But those are the ones that really sing to me.

Also, I'm kind of a fruit fly and tend to live in the now. So, even though I have seen really, really beautiful churches all over the world, I'm just going to pick my four favorite churches from France.

I'd have to say #4 The Rosary Basilica at Lourdes,

#3 The Chapel of the Miraculous Medal in Paris,

#2 The Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux,

and my favorite all time: Sacre Coeur in Paris.

Tied for my not-favorite are the L.A. Cathedral with it's purposeful lack of right angles (why? WHY!) and all churches that look like spaceships.

6. Happy Feast of the Visitation (on Saturday)! Has anyone ever come to help YOU?

And happy Feast of the Ascension on Sunday for all us chumps who didn't get to have it on Thursday. Better late than never!

Yes, people have come to help me. And I have needed it. 

My parents and my in-laws have always been really generous with their time. It was really all the six of us could do to try to look after baby Jack those first few weeks after he was born. And I've always been able to count on my parents for two weeks of in my house help after every single baby. What a sanity-saver that has been.

My third was born three days late in wintery Chicago, after my parents had come from San Diego to stay with us a week or so early, just to be sure they were there. About four days after the birth, my dad announced they'd probably be heading back home. And I burst into tears at the breakfast table. My mom assured me they would stay two weeks.

I wrote here about some of the other great stuff people have done for me (including the one time I really did enjoy a shower).

And I'll never forget the family friend who, when she found out that Jim had been diagnosed with cancer, just called up and said that she'd rearranged her work schedule and planned to come over on Wednesday afternoons. She came every week, and the kids love her so much that now, seven years later she still usually comes once a month!

In case you're not on Facebook, here are some graphics I made to celebrate recent feasts!

I hope your Feast of St. Joan of Arc and the Visitation were lovely!

And one I didn't make. Just 'cause.

Happy Sunday!

For next week I'm tagging:

Lauren from WaldenMommy. Post to check out: Respecting all stages of life.


Ashley from The Wannabe Catholic. Post to check out: Family Size: Large Marges and Tiny Tims

Next week's questions for them and for your are . . . 

1. Do you have a land line?

2. What is your least favorite food?

3. What's on your summer reading list?

4. Is there something that people consistently ask for your advice on? What is it?

5. What's the most physically demanding thing you've ever done?

6. How do you feel about massages?

Next week's installment will go live at 10pm Pacific Saturday night, and will be open until 10pm Wednesday night.

So, please, answer this week's questions for yourself in the comments. If you have a blog, answer the questions there, link back to this post, and link your blog post up below. Thanks for playing along.


#3: in Which We Go to Lisieux, Not THE Zoo, Much to Frankie's Disappointment

But first . . . Chartres!

If you like Gothic, get thee to Chartres. It's a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. The present cathedral was begun in 1194 and dedicated in 1260, sixty-six years! But if you saw it, you'd understand. Every inch of it is carved. It's also notable for having NOT been destroyed in any of the French Revolutions or World Wars.

We arrived in the afternoon and got settled in to our former convent hotel, then headed back out that evening to see a laser light show projected onto the facades of the cathedral. France is pretty far north, and it doesn't get dark until close to 10pm, so we were conflicted about keeping the kids up to see it. But the people we met raved about it, and we ended up glad to have let the kids stay up to see it. It was one of their favorite experiences of the trip.

The next day, we went to Mass and toured the cathedral.

It's most famous attractions are (clockwise from upper left):
  • This statue of John the Baptist (in the middle), thin from fasting, he wears his camel hair tunic and points to a medallion of the Lamb of God; a dragon is beneath his feet. 
  • An astrological clock dating from the 16th century. It told not only the time but the day of the week, the month of the year, the time of sunrise and sunset, the phase of the moon and the current sign of the zodiac. Unfortunately, no one has known how to make it work since 1793. 
  • Our Lady of the Pillar, 1508. 
  • The "Blue Virgin" stained glass window, created around 1150. And the "Sancta Camisia," the tunic of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in Chartres since 876. The relic was said to have been given to the cathedral by Charlemagne, who received it as a gift during a trip to Jerusalem. Apparently, when you're the Holy Roman Emperor, you can get some pretty great souvenirs.

Praying for intentions.

The next morning, we were off to Lisieux.

We made it in time for Sunday Mass. (If you count "just before the gospel reading" as "in time.")

And toured the Basilica, built between 1929 and 1954, to honor the newly canonized (1925) St. Therese of Lisieux. Like the Rosary Basilica at Lourdes, it's covered in mosaics. The style has an almost picture book-type whimsy that I find very endearing. And somehow appropriate to the Little Flower.

Teal and orange are my favorite colors.

Then we visited Les Buissonnets, the childhood home of St. Therese and her sisters and her father, Bl. Louis Martin, after the death of her mother, Bl. Zelie Martin.

It's a beautiful, comfortable home, quite a contrast with the dark, tiny former prison we visited  in which St. Bernadette had lived in Lourdes. I always find it so comforting to see that there are saints from all circumstances and walks of life. Paupers and kings, little girls from fine brick houses and little girls from one room hovels, can all get to heaven. There's a way for each of us.

If you don't like seeing the actual cut off hair of a saint, don't look too closely at that photo on the upper left.

Here's Gus and I from our trip in 2007 (when we needed a miracle), recreated in 2014. We haven't changed a bit.

And Frankie DID get to see St. Therese's toys. But unfortunately, they were behind glass, so he did NOT get to play with them. Hate to say I told you so, kid.

How cute is her little Mass kit?!

My Little Flowers with the Little Flower, plus one grumpy little brother.

In case you missed them, here are recaps of the parts of the trip where we go to Lourdes and get stranded in Canada.

Next up, installment number four: my very favorite tapestry-not-tapestry and the bloody battlefields and bed-and-breakfasts of Normandy.


Thursday, May 29, 2014

#2: In Which Gus Receives his First Communion and We All Receive a Valid but Illicit Blessing From a "Bishop"

If you read Part 1, you'll know we arrived in Lourdes one day late. So, instead of the two days I had planned for, we had one full day in Lourdes in which to Do All the Things! And we did. Really, we did. We met up with my parents, who had already been in Lourdes doing a service week and we did it all.

First order of business: Gus' First Holy Communion at the Grotto.


It was early. It was chilly. It was in Italian. It was lovely. Gus was so pleased!

After the Mass at the Grotto, we headed in to one of the chapels, where an English speaking priest from South Africa, Fr. Paul, honored Gus on his special day. Also lovely.

Then we went out for crepes and hot chocolate!

Back to the Sanctuary to tour the churches . . . 

Below you can see the crucifix just inside one of the gates, then the Rosary Basilica in front of the  Upper Basilica.

I just adore the Rosary Basilica. Turn of the last century + covered in Mosaics = my favorite churches in the whole world. I could look at this one for hours. But we didn't have time for that!

Is it just me or does Cate Blanchette look exactly like Our Lady here?

Then we toured the Upper Basilica:

Stations of the Cross, the baths, Lourdes water for drinking and washing, confession . . . 

Any day you just happen upon these guys is probably going to be a good day.

We visited Le Cachot, St. Bernadette's childhood home. And we had the first of MANY ice creams.

Then back to the Grotto to specifically pray for each of your intentions.

And light candles for you at the brulières. That big one is for a very special intention. You know who you are!

Finally, we did the Candlelight Rosary Procession. Some of us slept through it. Some of us kept lighting our wind shields on fire.

And that was that. Day seized. Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us. St. Bernadette, pray for us.

The next morning, we headed for our next stop: Rocamadour.

It's a visually stunning and historically interesting pilgrimage site in the Toulouse region.

It was the home of a hermit named Zaccheus, who was maybe THE Zaccheus, who was married to a woman named Veronica, who was maybe THE Veronica. In any case, it has been a popular pilgrimage site for as long as anyone can remember.

We saw Our Lady of Rocamadour, this black Madonna who dates from at least the 9th Century, maybe earlier.

And it was in that chapel that we met Bishop Mary Fidelis and his entourage. He was venerating the statue and leading his followers: two young nuns, and two young men, in prayer.

Later, we met up with them again in the gift shop, where we all chatted and he showed us pictures on his iPhone, and offered to give us his blessing. And we accepted.

But my spidey sense was tingling. It just all seemed . . . off to me. This guy was young, really young for a bishop. He had with him two young nuns, and two young men. They were all beautiful. Their clothes and their trappings were beautiful. They were chatty. It was all very attractive. And showy.

But we have been fortunate enough to meet a number of bishops and other holy men, and they've always struck me as having a particular quality of recollectedness. Of being able to look at you and really listen with their eyes. This guy didn't have that at all.

As soon as we walked away I asked the husband to google him. And lo and behold, he's a sedevacantist bishop, ordained by this guy. And, I have to say, we all felt a bit creeped out by it all. It would appear that he is validly ordained, which would make his orders (and our blessing) valid but illicit. As in, he's not allowed to perform the duties of a bishop, but if he does, they still count. 

So that was weird.

So we needed some ice cream.

But the ice cream was also weird. (Foie Gras? Cheese?)

Stay tuned for installment #3, which includes Chartres, Lisieux (not to be confused with THE zoo), Bayeux, Normandy and the WWII battlefields, and one trip to a French ER. You don't want to miss it.