Sunday, November 1, 2009

I'm a "Bad Catholic" This Week

I'm sorry to have been away for so long but duty called. Parental duties and work of various sorts have been taking me away from the computer, which is pretty much a good thing. Of course, there has been Halloween. My 1st grader had to do a book report this week on a book he can actually read, and also about Fall, Halloween or a mystery. The rub was that he also had to go to school on October 30th as a character in the book. Sigh.

Let me tell you right off. I'm not one of those creative moms. I don't do two dozen cupcakes for the birthday in ice cream cones decorated to look like ice cream. There are no clowns, ponies or massive themes. No "treasure hunts" or "mystery theme" parties. Not that that is bad. On the contrary, I have massive respect and awe for those who love their kids so much as to plan it six months ahead of time.

The birthday parties I plan are usually an afterthought and an "Oh my gosh, what are we going to do for so-and-so's birthday!" Said in mild panic. It usually is a bunch of kids from the child's class, in the backyard with ice cream cake bought at the supermarket and decorated in the bakery department, pizza, chips, soda and goody bags. I have boys, which means they are happy with this arrangement.

We have at times gone to a park, or had a baseball themed party at the neighborhood ball park. A bounce house was the feature, with water balloons one year. This year, I was forced to have my little one's party at Chuck-e-Cheese. It was very easy for me personally - all I had to do was show up - but it was very impersonal and I detest the place with every fiber of my being. There is a reason I don't go to casinos and this is just like one. The birthday boy enjoyed it, so it was a success.

I have great guilt about my lack of party planning, but my laziness and lack of creativity win out usually. But lately people say, "Oh that is soooo much more frugal," so I'm OK with it.

With this costume thing, the first thing in my mind was, "What character could he be that would be the least work for me?" Yes...I know....bad mom. My first thought was Shaggy from Scooby Doo and he loved the idea. YES!!!! So, we bought a Scooby Doo book, and he took a few days to read it through, and I shopped all over town for a "Shaggy green" shirt, which is a type of chartreuse.

Now, for years the "Color Police" have determined that we should have the most hideous greens. Chartreuse, and generally putrid colors we refer to as "barf green." I have been waiting for lovely greens for years. And now that I need one of those disgustingly putrid greens...none to be found. Lovely emerald or forest greens... but no ugly ones. Finally, I found one on clearance at Tar-Jay. That's Target with a French accent, in case you are so uncultured as to not know that.

So, "Shaggy green" shirt, brown pants, black shoes, a little mascara on the chin for whiskers and he was all set. Whew...I hate costumes. One of the rules was "no bought costumes" so we did ok. But Shaggy was not good enough for Halloween, so #2 son went as Spiderman with last year's costume. #1 son is too old and sophisticated for trick-or-treating and he spent the evening at a friend's house.

So that is some of what has occupied me this week, but one thing that has been in my life lately, albeit in small doses, has been books. I, of course, am a bookworm - or at least I used to be when I was childless, but now I take it when I can get it.

After the last book club meeting that my friends and I had, we decided to read Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic for the next meeting.

This is not a new book. Patrick Madrid has written what seem like scads of books since this one, but the first Surprised by Truth is excellent and I love conversion stories. I have in fact read this book twice before and also read the two sequels to it Surprised By Truth 2: 15 Men and Women Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons For Becoming Catholic. (v. 2) which actually is my favorite, and Surprised by Truth 3: 10 More Converts Explain the Biblical and Historical Reason for Becoming Catholic (v. 3)

Why this book? Because I think convert stories are fascinating and you learn so much about the Catholic faith from them.

Now, for some of the other books I'm reading. Well, for meditation I'm reading four different books as the spirit moves me. First, The Letters of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque because I know nothing about the Sacred Heart devotion.

Then, Fire Within: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and the Gospel-On Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay. A former spiritual director recommended this, and I read part of it but stopped midway when I got busy. It is truly excellent and really has opened my eyes to the nature of God. I'm going to start it all over again, and then start reading some books by St. Teresa of Avila, one by one.

I'm almost finished reading 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn. It has really helped me understand and be more reverential toward the Eucharist. I may suggest this as a book club book, since it is really fantastic. This book explains so much of how the Eucharist enriches your life with graces.

The last book for meditations I've been using is Listening at Prayer by Fr. Benedict Groeschel. I've just started it and have learned a few things already.

I do think that I am going to stop using several books at one time, and concentrate on one at a time for meditations because it takes me too long to get through them. In other words, it slows my download to have too many going at one time.

Now, for the other books in my life right now. I just finished reading The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, & Song: A Spirited Look at Catholic Life & Lore from the Apocalypse to Zinfandel (Bad Catholic's guides) and I feel so naughty. (sly smile) I have seen this book before but was reminded of it at a blog I was reading. So I ordered it from Interlibrary Loan through my public library.

I also ordered its companion book The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living: A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Catholic Faith, with Recipes for Feast and Fun (Bad Catholic's guides). I have been very impressed with them because they are fun, extremely informative and yet totally true to the faith. No pope bashing, etc.

These books are pretty much bathroom material and I am having so much fun people are banging on the door - "Mom! What are you doing in there?!" (smirk) I have a few other books floating around too like SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance that I ordered on loan from the library and it came a lot earlier then I thought it would.

And Father, Forgive Me for I Am Frustrated: Growing in Your Faith Even When It Isn't Easy Being Catholic by the wonderful Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ. So, with all these books I have to steal every free moment and hope no one notices too much.

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