Saving Graces

new mercies each and every day

Modesty and Sunday Best

Mar
13
eucharist photo

Photo by michael_swan

Crystalina Evert wrote a tweet. It was challenging women to not dress as if they’re going out to a club when they are going to mass. Modesty always makes people defensive for some reason. I was quite surprised by the comments and the replies. Most of them were geared towards “at least they are there”, or that we shouldn’t judge a person’s dress. They totally missed the point.

Do we actually believe in the Eucharist? If we did, would it not take us hours to prepare in order to be ready to enter the presence of the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords? Why is it ok for us to come not at our best, but to give the Lord the dregs? Have you seen priests vest for the mass? If not ask to do so one day and see how each article of clothing has significance and importance. We too must vest when we come to mass, physically in our dress and spiritually as we prepare for worship.

If I can plan for a date, plan how to dress to impress and even if I will be rushing from work I can plan to look good, why can I not do that for mass? If I have sport before mass why not carry in my kit bag pair of slacks, a dress, something I can quickly change into before going to mass? Why do we give the excuse that well I was doing this and I was doing that so I did not have time to be ready for mass? It means that whatever else we were doing is way more important than mass by far. Because if the mass was important I would prepare for mass and align everything else around it not the other way around.

The excuse that it doesn’t matter what we are wearing at least we are there… has mass attendance become a Numbers Game? Does it not matter to be in the right right mood, to have the right preparation? Is attendance ‘no matter how badly done’ all that matters? Mass is communal prayer, not individual prayer, so it’s not about me but about the Body of Christ.

Modesty in dress and wearing our Sunday Best, it all still has a place. The Western and westernized world for some reason thinks that Come As You Are means Come as Badly as You Possibly Can. Not so! It is about realising our failings but still putting our best foot forward. If we dress up for work, for school, for the governor, for the queen, to impress, to fit the occasion, then why is mass an afterthought when it comes to this? Parents instruct their kids, “hey it’s cold outside wear a  jersey, swimming in jeans won’t work, that suit is better for an interview”, and yet feel for some reason ill-equipped to do the same for mass. We need to do the right thing, not do what is popular. I can tell you now at an African mass if you cam in wearing butty riders one of the mhamhas will give you a wrapper to cover up. If when we visit Rome we make sure to cover up when entering the Cathedrals, then we can do the same for our home parish.

Dress well for mass to show that you have put thought into the event, the celebration the Eucharist, that you are going to be attending. Dress meaningfully in order to teach those around you how important the mass is. Suit the occasion, you are after all going to be meeting your Redeemer, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This should be the most important hour of your week. We can sacrifice our comfort clothes surely for an hour or two? It should not be how badly can I do something and it still be acceptable, it should be how well can I do it. The widow with two coins brought her best, we are called to do the same.  It’s not about being archaic, it’s about showing our faith outwardly to the world, and about preparing ourselves inwardly for the Lord who saves us.

In thought…

Feb
05

thought photoWhat have you done in your thoughts? I’ve done a lot ‘in thought‘. Every Sunday, well most Sundays, we say the Penitential Rite and the usual prayer used is the Confiteor, i.e. the “I confess”. It starts

“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do…”

And the thought part just got me going. I mean who has control over their thoughts? It’s hard enough to remember when I’ve done wrong on spot now I gotta remember the thoughts too? Truth be told, I probably murder and disembowel some people in my thoughts. I don’t think it will ever spill over to real life but it made me wonder. Why is it so much harder to control my thoughts? Why is it so much harder to also feel sorry for them? Why confess them?

It’s true the more I dwell on a thought the more likely it manifests. I either will then say it, do it or see it. So comes in the skill of having mastery over my wayward mind. I have an extremely loud and noisy neighbour. It’s meant that I’ve been out of the house I pay rent for, more than I am in it, squatting at friends and neighbours. Midnight brawl like sounds are not unusual and so the place feels unsafe. In my mind, I tell him off and am so not charitable.

One way I’ve been trying to be a bit more in touch and to make sure that my mind better governed is by doing the Examen. The result is that I am now more aware of my thoughts when they occur, and I am more aware of the thoughts I should not be having. As a further result, I have become a bit more contrite for them.

But till the time such thoughts will no longer come to my mind, I will be one of those fervently repeating that part of the Confiteor and doing a mind cringe as I think of the person I dressed down so uncharitably in my grey matter… noisy neighbours top of the list…. in thought…

Death and taxes

Nov
24

Everybody dies that’s a certainty. And this week I am dealing with two of life’s certainties, death and taxes.

I reckon some clever individuals may figure out how to escape tax. Little children as well maybe, escape tax unless you say everything that they consume is already taxed one way or the other. But death, that’s a surety.

My friend’s mother passed away. It was not sudden. She had been sick a while. But that did not make it any less devastating. She was well loved. She had lived a good life. But like all of us will, and like so many before her, she traversed through that door called Death.

And when things like this happen we can’t help but think of our own mortality. What will happen to us? When will we die? And for me it seems even more poignant, will anyone know I’ve died? Thing is I live alone and you hear of people who die in their sleep. Or maybe I’ll slip on wet tiles and split open my skull. If I was to die in my sleep how long would it take for someone to notice? A day? Two days? A week?

At work, they may want to know why I missed a day. Someone may call me at the end of the day, if they had needed me for something and I haven’t pitched. Else it’s more likely the very next day that they will actually call. But if I don’t pick up it’s not as if they would come checking. They would just keep calling wondering why I am not responding. Work has my address but no-one actually knows where I live. They may hunt down my cousin who is my next of kin, and she would try call, then maybe after work she’d pass by my house, but she has no keys, she’d knock, hoot and shout. Then maybe go look for a locksmith to open my garage and door… How many days will have passed?

death photo

I speak to my mum and my siblings but not daily. A week may pass, sometimes two sometimes three. So they would not think anything of it if they haven’t heard from you for a while. All the clubs, the sports, the choirs, the church activities, the committees I take part in, girl guides… they’d all wonder where I am, and call but would they come looking?

Does not make for a pretty picture, but I’m not sure how to change it.

It’s also tax season, and for the first time in a long time I am not ready. The past 5 years or so I have submitted my tax returns about 2 months before they are due. This year I will barely make the deadline. Because I’m quite fastidious about my paperwork and receipts it would take me home only a couple of hours to get it done. Yet I’ve been dragging my feet to do it. It won’t go away until it’s done.

And I’m realising that need to change something. I’m not scared of death and pray when I die it’s peaceful and I’m in a state of grace, but like my tax return, I don’t always keep that current. Tax returns have a date, you see it looming and prepare for it, and like me today submit just in time. Death not so much, no one knows the day or the hour. So I need to be as fastidious with keeping my life in order, making sure I am ‘good’ with God, at all times.

This will take some effort, same as figuring out how to cultivate more intimate relationships, who will worry when they have not heard from me on a particular day. It won’t happen by itself, I need to do something. Same as I had to actually sit and submit that return just minutes ago, I have to make sure I am like one of the wise virgin’s ready with her oil and lamp. I have to be that intimate someone to another in order to have that happen back.

I’m not sure what to change yet. Divine Inspiration Lord.

Motherhood of a different kind

Oct
09

 

motherhood photo

Photo by rahego

Part of the feminine genius is that we are called to motherhood. This is motherhood in all it’s different forms, physical, spiritual, emotional ad infinitum. Sometimes that’s hard to see especially when single and waiting and praying to one day be a mother. I came across the quote below recently from The Great Divorce by CS Lewis.

 

“And who are all these young men and women on each side?”
“They are her sons and daughters.”
“She must have had a very large family, Sir.”
“Every young man or boy that met her became her son – even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door. Every girl that met her was her daughter.”
“Isn’t that a bit hard on their own parents?”
“No. There are those that steal other people’s children. But her motherhood was of a different kind. Those on whom it fell went back to their natural parents loving them more. Few men looked on her without becoming, in a certain fashion, her lovers. But it was the kind of love that made them not less true, but truer, to their own wives.”

 

After reading this I was so struck! It made me stop. I want to be like this woman. So I started reading The Great Divorce; well listening to the audiobook.

I’ve always wanted to be great, not necessarily famous, though that would be nice sometimes, but great at something nonetheless. Great enough at it so as to make a difference in the world we live in and when I pass-on for people to say, she did well and impacted our lives, she changed them for the better. That morphed over time too, I still want to be great but maybe not great here on earth in a tangible to the masses kind of way, but great by having been a mother to all who encounter me, a nurturer, an carer a bringer of life, not one who destroys it or takes it apart, or leaves other desolate and sad. I want to bring happiness, kindness, patience, to bring life and love into the world.

In my own little way, I do, when I mother the children around me. There is this Africanism that it takes a village to raise a child, and where possible I try. Today’s world makes it no longer so easy, people do not like you in their children’s space or correcting their children, but at Guides and Brownies, when teaching or tutoring, I become a mother for a little while, showing the girls, to be honest, and true, making them laugh, teaching them a skill, taking them camping, hiking and rock climbing and praying no-one has more than scratches or grazes to show for our adventures. When babysitting or visiting friends with babies, I become a mother for a little while, when distracting them for mom or dad to do something, when tickling them to make them laugh, when feeding and burping. When teaching or tutoring I become a mother for a little while as I practice patience, showing them over and over again for the umpteenth time how to do something just so. In mass, I smile and make funny faces at the toddler just about to cry so that he stops and wonders who is this crazy lady and may even forget why he was about to be upset anyway… doesn’t always work, but when it does yaaay. A motherhood of a different kind and I love every bit of it.

But with the little people, it’s easy, it just happens and comes naturally. It’s with the bigger people I struggle to practice the feminine genius of motherhood. I am not as patient with them, I am not as loving, I am not as open to bringing new life into theirs. They do not leave me to go and love their parents and loved ones more for having encountered me. Case in point I just hung up on a young woman who made me agro because she swore at me. I will see her later today and have no idea what to say to her to diffuse the situation, I want a good outcome but I find it hard to love her as she should be loved. I find it hard to practice this motherhood of a different kind. So Holy Spirit and Jesus give me the right words to say.

At work it’s also very hard to be nurturing, giving, everyone has their own agenda, I included. And suddenly an opportunity has come up for me to teach full time, little people. I know it will change me, life will be less complicated in some aspects and more difficult in others, money being one as a teachers salary will be a shadow of what I earn now. But maybe it’s time to step back and allow God to work on my heart and be more patient with older people, to have fewer stresses of a corporate nature and have simpler stresses, of forming young minds, ha as if that’s simpler but you know what I mean, I hope. Maybe it’s time for me to step up that motherhood of a different kind and know I am changing lives, something I am not always sure of at work. Maybe… if only God’s whispers were louder, you know like shouts. Should I pursue this new opportunity or not?!?!? One day I’ll be sure what He wants me to do. For now, I’ll ponder this passage and finish reading The Great Divorce, well listen to it.

waxless xoxoxo

Photo by rahego

Sr. Sturmia Memorial 2016

Mar
17

This is so unreal, was thinking of Sr. Sturmia yesterday a lot, and today I got an invite to join the group! I am singing in the symphony choir and we are doing St Mathews mass on Good Friday in German and as I was reading the words, I was thinking that one of the reasons I decided to study German in the first place was her, one of the reasons I can catch a tune so well without reading music is because of her and Sr Berna, and I don’t need to learn most of the chorals in the piece because she taught the tunes to us. The only reason I still run Guides, Brownies, Teddies and Rangers is her! And yet she never taught me a single subject. Gonna try to make it, the only issue is I will have been in Poland for World youth day two months prior, will be so broke  But where there is a will there is a way!!!

Easter Triduum – The Vigil

Apr
24

I spent the whole day at church. From dawn to way past dusk. Choir practice from 8:30 till 12. Dance practice after that. Yes there was liturgical dance and my traditional soul still cringes that I took part. A, of course, the vigil after a bit of warming up voices and muscles, and excitement all around. We started with the liturgy of the word then after the readings, we danced to Our God is an Awesome God. Then during the liturgy of the Light, I sang the Exultet with Emille. It was beautiful. This is the version we sung…

An then the catechumens got baptised. Oh what a glorious sight. Fr. J had a plunge pool so he baptised them alright! Buckets of freezing water and all. And then we helped them all process in and they got confirmed with the slaps of course. 🙂

It was wondrous. It was festive. For

HE IS RISEN!!!!

AND HE LIVES FOREVERMORE!!!!!

Easter Triduum – Good Friday

Apr
23

The Good Friday services were inspired. Truly! Liberal that he is Fr. J had the stations of the cross up on the screen – scenes and clips from the passion nogal… and here I thought this Easter I had not had a chance to watch the Passion. It was all the important bits… the way of the cross… the via dolorosa. And I surprisingly missed the kneeling. I find it therapeutic and it reminds me that He suffered great pain for me. I was all alone though, was the only one to wake up at home and Nya was at work. I was a bit sad about that.

Then there was the 3 o’clock service. All the tiny crosses that Fr had given parishioners for lent had been used to make up the big cross. And in true dramatic Fr. J fashion he nailed a couple more on there during the service. He emphasized how we are to lay our crosses with Jesus, how we are to carry the for the Christian life is one of suffering before the dawn, of allowing Jesus to help us carry our crosses. We are born of the cross. We die with Christ so we can rise up with Him.

Now we wait not in despair but in hope for we know He rose again.

ht pic

Easter Triduum – Maundy Thursday

Apr
21

 It’s Maundy Thursday and a song that Sr. Sturmia taught us was sung today – “The Lord Jesus, after eating with His friends, washed their feet and said to them Do you know what I your Lord has done to you? I have given you example that so you also should do”

Padre talked about service and it was intense. We renewed our commitments to our ministries, guess who stood up more than once? He talked about how we are all called to be feet washers, to realise that ours is a life of service to the body of Christ. We then went to wait and watch.

A grotto type of garden had been created in the hall where they placed the Host. And it was adoration at its best. Another of Sr. Sturmia’s finest…

“My soul is sad My heart is breaking tonight Could you not watch and comfort me until night I am alone surrounded only by night Could you not watch one hour with me?”

So we wait… and watch… ht pic1, ht pic 2

Reasons to NFP or not to NFP…

Mar
24

So Simcha at I have to sit down has this most brilliant post. I just spent an hour reading comments… and its amazing. She has based it on why doesn’t the church make a list of”grave/just/serious” reasons to not use NFP. Go over there and take a gander! Inspiring!!!

Ash wednesday 2011

Mar
09

ash wednesday 2011 Have a blessed Ash Wednesday, everyone. Its only just after 1.00 pm first hunger pangs have passed waiting for the next wave LOL and we had vespers last night at St John’s! Not sung mind you but vespers none the less, progress!!!! We will soon be not liberal… soon is relative 🙂