2. In spite of his fussiness, I managed to whip up some peanut butter cookies. It's not chocolate, but for a woman desperate for something "dessert-ish" to eat, they were pretty darn good.
3. In preparation for homeschooling this week, I was trying to find some good maps for Fr. Marquette's journey down the Mississippi River. I didn't find exactly what I wanted, but I *did* stumble across this site: American Journeys: Eyewitness Accounts of Early American Exploration. Click on "Find a Document" and you can read all sorts of incredible letters and diaries of explorers. Why read someone else's interpretation of what happened, when I can read the diaries of the explorers themselves? This is a site I'll definitely be adding to my homeschooling list.
4. Our priest gave a wonderful homily this morning on the Gospel reading of Dives and Lazarus. He started off with the joke about the rich man in a certain town who never gave any money to charity. One enthusiastic volunteer, determined to get a donation from this man, went and knocked on his door. He was shown in and met the rich man in his study. After explaining all the good that his organization did for the community, he summed it up by saying,
"Well sir, our records show that you have never given to our charity before, but now that you've had a chance to see all that we are doing here, would you consider giving us a donation?"
"Your records?" exclaimed the rich man. "Do your records make any mention of my mother, who has struggled all her life to make ends meet? Do your records mention my brother, who has lived on the street after being evicted from his home, or my sister, who has had to use foodstamps to feed her children?"
Totally chagrinned, the volunteer stuttered, "Uh, no sir, our records didn't... uh... didn't make any mention of your family members."
"Well," replied the rich man, "if I don't give any money to them, what makes you think I'll give any to you?"
He went on by saying that the sin of the rich man in the Gospel reading today wasn't cruelty. He never hit Lazarus, or spit on him, or had him arrested for sleeping at his front gate. His sin was neglect, pure and simple. He was well aware of the man lying at his door... in fact, he even knew his name... but he never did anything for him. Father asked us to prayerfully consider who the "Lazarus" was in our own lives. Who are we guilty of neglecting? He said that it didn't necessarily have to do with money at all; sometimes, we are only being called to recognize the dignity and worth in our neighbor.
The two thoughts that struck me most were (1) that the rich man knew Lazarus' name (I have never thought of that before) and bore no ill will towards him... in fact, he didn't think about him at all; and (2) this fits right in with the book we are still reading for Bible study: Consoling the Heart of Jesus. I know I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: we can minister to others by "the merciful look," which says to the person, "I delight that you exist." Carrying that thought with me throughout the day has really made a difference in how I have been relating to people. I have found myself slowing down and really listening to what people have to say, and remembering to ask questions the next time I see them ("Hey! How did your driving test go?" "How's that new puppy you bought last month?"). All of us need to be heard, respected, and appreciated. It takes effort to slow down, but the rewards have been worth it. On more than one occasion (unfortunately) I have been reminded that I can't really delight in the other person if I'm talking about them behind their back, or rolling my eyes at poor choices they've made, etc etc etc.
Here's an example: last night I went to the Mart of Wal for a few things. I zipped into the express lane, only to find that my lane was blocked by a woman trying to buy cheese on the WIC program (I'm not sure what the problem was, but it took forever!), and the other one was blocked by two oriental students with an overflowing grocery cart. After being gently reminded to "delight in their existence," I took another look at them. The woman was ticked at being kept in line for so long, and probably embarrassed as well. She's a mom, like me, who is trying to feed her children. I also was reminded of some rough times that my mom had to go through when she was younger, and I quickly realized that this woman did NOT need another pair of frustrated eyes staring at her for daring to hold up the line. Then I looked at the oriental students, and realized that it must be awfully hard coming to a foreign country on your own, trying to set up a place to live, learning how to shop, how to drive, how to get around, etc. These two students probably never saw the "20 items or less" sign. They probably just arrived here a few weeks ago and, judging by what they had in their cart, are just now setting up an apartment. I saw the nervous smiles on their faces and thought, "I would want people to extend grace to me if I were ever in a foreign country." The cashier was already doing a fine job of that -- she was relaxed, helpful, and never once frustrated, even though her line was growing at a rapid rate.
I'm a slow learner, but I must say I've enjoyed seeing people in a new light so far! (now, if only I could remember to extend more grace to a certain fussy little man, who needs to be told that his mommy still delights in him, even though he's driving her nuts!)
[as a side note: Reilly has been listening to Dives and Lazarus by Ralph Vaughan Williams as part of her music study this week. It made the Gospel reading even more special for her!]
5. I have to update this post to make sure I put this out (thanks to Acts of the Apostasy). What an amazing gift this man gave his wife at their reception! Enjoy!
Lord willing, I'll be able to post more frequently once Joseph decides to cooperate...