Write In Between

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!!!

From my house to yours, a blessed Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

A special "thank you" to all my readers who stopped by during 2006!

Our family will be taking time off to visit our out-of-state family, so this blogger is on vacation. New posts will return after Jan. 1. May the Lord bless you today and always!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Piano Lessons at Christmas

Once upon a time I prayed for a guitar for Christmas--actually it was more like praying and whining to my parents--about buying me a guitar. At age 10, it was a big deal. I'll always remember my first 6-string wrapped in a triangular box. Music lessons followed, my parents gambling on how long my musical devotion would last. Thirty-five years later, I'm still playing music and singing the song God placed in my heart. I am reminded of that memory when I look at our piano—another answer to another little girl's prayer several years ago.

After months of music lessons on an electronic keyboard, my daughter asked for a piano. "A real piano," she said. Having recently added my son to the music lesson schedule, well, the well had run dry in the musical financing department. Undaunted, my daughter saw no trouble in asking God for a piano. So, in the weeks before Christmas, as I sat with her to say her nightly prayers, she asked God for a piano. How could I not encourage such faith? But whoa! Real life on our street was no Miracle on 34th Street!

Days went by and she prayed. I did, wondering what the Lord might have in mind. I spoke to a friend who suggested I phone the man who tunes her piano, as he was also a reputable dealer in used pianos. What's the harm in placing a call, right? God might need a little help.

As I dialed, I'm thinking I must be out of my mind...The first question from the piano tuner was: "What's your budget?"
Ummm, well, see, uh, there really isn't any...
"Well, could you spend $500?"
Not without some serious consultation with my husband, the chief financial officer...
"Well, you never know, I'll keep you in mind... " Click.

The piano was in God’s hands so I began to shop for the things on my children’s Christmas wish lists. Then, a week before Christmas, the phone rings...

"Well, good morning to you, young lady..."
Uh, hello...
"I have your piano!" The piano tuner said with all the cheer of one of Santa's elves!
My piano...?"
Yes, and you can have it for free— you just pay to move it."
Move it?
"And you can have it delivered before Christmas!"
Slow down a minute... where, how?
"I'm doing some work for a church and there are two pianos available—one is being sold, and the other is coming to your house, if you can take delivery..." beamed the jolly elf.
Let me call my husband, he's not gonna believe this, but, I'll call you back!
Truly, it was an unexpected blessing. Hubby's only question was: "Where would we put it?"

Honestly, I didn't know what was more wonderful—that God had favorably answered the prayer of my little girl's heart—or the "gift" itself. Either way, we were doubly blessed that Christmas... especially when my husband had the amazing idea that we should hide the piano before Christmas morning and surprise our three children. You read that right... hide a 54-inch, 700 pound piano.

The piano—a 90-year old gem intact with original ivory and ebony keys—was delivered just four days before Christmas, while the kids were in school. My husband—the surprise guy—took some old painting tarps and shock cords and covered the whole thing up. He laid his tools nearby, muttering something to the children about some secret home-improvement-Christmas-gift project (a very believable tale if you know my husband.) Ahh, the innocence of children... the whole room is decorated, the tree is set up, and on the opposite wall is this huge, ugly, paint-splattered tarp, under which is the wall-unit-sized gift-in-the making. No one even peeked.

Christmas Eve, while all the children were asleep, Hubby and I unwrapped the tarps, placed a large red bow on the piano and positioned poinsettia plants all around it. Then we tiptoed upstairs, giggling and shaking our still astonished heads... a piano! Thank you, Lord!

Words fail to describe the joy of the moment when our children came bursting into our bedroom on Christmas morning—announcing that there was a piano downstairs! It's one of the fondest Christmas memories we'll ever have as parents.

The jolly elf, whose name is John, became our regular piano tuner and, together, he and I worked on cost-cutting ways to refurbish the aging white, piano and giving her a new finish.

The piano's years passed by, marking time with every recital. Countless hours of music filled our home as we listened to daily practice. The best part my dinnertime chores has always been cooking in the kitchen while be serenaded by one of my young musicians practicing in the next room.

Our piano brought years of joy to those who played and those who listened. And it taught us the lessons and blessings of Divine Providence as well:

--That discipline of practice for a recital performance has much the same goals as the Christian life. We spend much time practicing drills over and over again and trying to harmonize the dissonant notes. There are times of rigorous rehearsal, and there are times when the Lord would just have us sing out spontaneously in proportion to the joy or sorrows in our hearts...

--Every now and then, there would be composing—a unique composition—from the mind and heart of a young musician, teaching us that there is more in store if we yield to the Creator's inspirations...

--That material goods are to be shared by all—like this instrument—taking turns reflects charity...

--That with the changing seasons, some fine tuning, and occasionally, major repair is needed—to allow the instrument to regain its true voice. Much like our lives are brought back into tune with the Master's melody through reconciling grace.

--And finally, as we revel in listening to the growth of a child who memorizes a piece, interprets it, and makes it his own, we see and hear, all that the Father would have us do: to allow the Song of Songs—the Word made flesh—to find its song in us.

And so we come to this Christmas. In terms of Providence, more was in store for us.
On a recent morning, our beloved piano tuner, John, came to the house to re-tune our piano. We had recently moved it due to some remodeling. After which, the white piano was shown off in a better light, a focal point in the center of the living room.

As John tuned, I worked in another room, listening to his careful adjustments being made. I lifted a little prayer as I heard the now 97-year old piano strings groan in response to John's gentle coercion. After the tune-up, we discussed future improvements for the piano. John got a little twinkle in his eye as he said, "You're not gonna believe this, but I have just happen to have a beautiful white baby grand piano that would look gorgeous in this new room of yours!"

But we're not even looking for a new piano, let alone going from an upright to a grand...

Sometimes the blessings of providence come when we least expect them.

Our children, now teenagers, have grown into competent musicians who would truly benefit from an instrument upgrade--but the price would have to be within the range of feasibility. This would be pressing the family finances quite a bit, and we’re not the type of folks who make snap judgments involving money.

The next week my family and I drove to John's studio to look and listen to the piano. You should have heard those children giving us all a mini-concert! The sweet music made me weep inside. I think John--who often tunes our piano while they are at school--was blessed to hear how well the kids played--our old white piano at home had been well-loved!

Yeah, they are ready for a new piano... but are we?

Remarkably, there was no begging or whining or any such carrying on with our kids. They were happy with our current piano and didn't want to make such a large request of their parents. It was up to us to decide about such a purchase. We were really blessed by that.

We asked our daughter, since she had prayed the first piano into our home, what she wanted to do with our old piano if we chose to purchase this new one. Without hesitation, she said "give it away to music department at my school," which coincidentally, was searching for used practice pianos, "where it will be played every day and where I can visit it!" It was the perfect solution. So, we inquired about making the donation. We couldn't ask for any money for it--we were once blessed by it--and so the blessing must be passed on to others.

In the end, John got to reprise his role as Christmas elf, delivering a new white piano to the Gohn home in time for Christmas, for the second time in a decade. And while the baby grand piano was not a surprise this time around, it certainly was unexpected!

The piano movers came, first to move the old white piano to the school, and then to unload our new white piano in its place. The kids are playing it nonstop. The “baby” is the first, and perhaps the best material gift of Christmas in the Gohn household this year.

Still, it's hard not to miss the fact that another white piano is reminding us of another lesson about God's providence: that of another unexpected "Baby"-- who came to share our lives, sing our songs, and be a focal point in our home.

© 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Loving the Bride, vol. 9

Something old...

Stop to think for a moment: “He who is the Power and Wisdom of God himself, and in whom all things visible and invisible were created, was, we are to believe, narrowly circumscribed with the limitation of that Man who once appeared in Judea—entered into the womb of a woman, was born a baby, crying as the newly born always cry…. The narrowness of human understanding is at a loss… and, overcome with amazement…

[Now consider] the mention of the cross [which] completes the mental checkmate. A God “born and crucified”!—it is “a sacredly terrifying mystery.” “Unto the Jews indeed a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles, foolishness,” it was an obstacle from the start, and all who came to Christ were well aware of the startlingness of the paradox with which they had to come to grips. If we no longer experience the shock of the statement, may not the reason be that our faith has lost its cutting edge.

----Cardinal Henri de Lubac (1894-1991), from The Splendor of the Church, written in 1953.

Something new...

Vatican declare archeologists prove the existance of St. Paul's tomb in Rome. Dig here.

And some Amazing Grace for Fathers.

Something borrowed...

From American Papist, a delightful photo of Benedict XVI, worth a peek!

Something blue...

Now, I'm a music fan, but I never heard this... a song from Elvis singing about The Miracle of the Rosary. Thanks to Mark Shea's blog Catholic and Enjoying It.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Writer's Wednesday -- Crystal J. Kirgiss

The Tree
by Crystal J. Kirgiss
Whether short or tall,
bent or straight,
young or old,
full or bare,
once chosen and decorated
with tender care
each tree becomes lovely,
bathed in lights,
wrapped in color,
clothed in newness...
a symbol of bent, bare empty lives
chosen by the Father,
bathed in Light,
wrapped in Hope,
clothed in Forgiveness,
because long ago
a tiny babe
entered our world
and shattered the darkness.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Ready or Not, Jesus is Coming

A long time ago, I was a child who couldn’t wait for Christmas to come—counting down the days with glee! Now I’m an adult with an obligatory calendar counting days ‘til Christmas with a to-do list and a mindset of “how will I ever get it all done?” But the believer in me knows this much: Things may not always go as planned, or according to my list, but Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to spend more of Advent in prayer and meditation instead of on household chores that were never ending… but Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to do a few things that would “make the season bright” instead of getting absorbed in an extra project that distracted me many days this month. Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to find time to bake and join with my neighbors at the annual cookie swap, instead of spending it cocooning in a library to finish my term paper… Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to shop for gifts and ship early to long-distance loved ones instead of scrambling at the last minute and paying expedited shipping fees… but Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to take each of my teens out for a little excursion—both to let them shop for their Dad and siblings and to enjoy local festivities—instead of putting it off until things got too crazy… but Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to finish painting our front hallway before Christmas, which has been under construction since before Thanksgiving, instead of just decorating around it (hoping no one will mind our mid-construction motif)… Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to find that perfect gift for my husband instead of finding just a few little things… Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to send personal Christmas notes in each of my Christmas cards, instead of wondering if I’d have time to even put stamps on the ones I’ve already purchased… Jesus is coming anyway.

I meant to “anticipate” Christmas in a holy way instead of feeling the pressure of time and the pressing needs to fulfill obligations… and, yes, Jesus is coming anyway.

I get frustrated at moments like these—especially by my lack of time, opportunity, and resolve. But in reality, my complaints are minimal. This Christmas, perhaps you know, like I, many people who are struggling with enormous burdens: grieving the death of a loved one, having surgery, facing job loss, experiencing divorce or a tragic illness, (you fill in the blank). And for many of them, the coming of Christmas seems like a time of stress and sorrow.

Indeed, some years Christmas just comes sooner than we expect, and sooner than we are ready. But Jesus comes anyway… and, really, it’s just in the nick of time.

For Jesus comes to fill us with all that we lack in time and space. He is the fullness of time, and the opportunity of our lifetimes. Jesus knows our lack of resolve and resolved to come anyway: to replenish us and to gift us beyond every need, saving us from ourselves, and worse. Jesus is greater the faith we lack, the hope we seek, and the charity we fail to exercise. He is ALL for ALL. The child in my heart really still does believe that deep down. Despite all my grown-up obligations, foibles, and missteps, the child in me can’t forget the Child who comes.

And because He is the Child who can never forget us, Jesus comes anyway.

©2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Just for fun, here's where I'm frum...

There's nothing lovelier than the voices of loved one's in our ears via long distance telephone. Here's what people hear these days when I'm on the line:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

The Inland North
The Midland
The South
The West
North Central
What'>http://www.gotoquiz.com/what_american_accent_do_you_have">What American accent do you have?
Quiz'>http://www.gotoquiz.com/">Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Here are the facts:

Born in New York City and lived in Bayside for 5 years. Then my parents moved us out to the suburbs of Suffolk County on Long Island. Years later I work in radio-- really hammered away are losing my regional dialect. But then stayed home with the kids and got sloppy.

Move away to the greater Boston area (wair its not Bawstin, its Bahston) when I was 34... twelve years ago. I still cannot decide if I live near a far-rest or a four-est. I say both. Sometimes there are still sonic battles going on in my ears...

Some things have changed: I now own a dahg, not a dawg. I used to go for wauks and drink caufee. These days I really go for woks and cawffee. Oh yeah, its now chowdah and not chowder.

Some things haven't: No matter what happens, I tell people I'm from Noo Yourk, not N'yawk, and it's Lawg Eyeland, not Lung Gylind. Nor will I never eat a bananer, travel to Cuber or have a bright idear.

For me, this was a pretty good quiz.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Loving the Bride, vol 8

Something old....
From the archives of all the reading I've been doing on the theology of Henri de Lubac. This gem is taken from his book, The Splendor of the Church. It's recovered from the 12th century, a meditation attributed to Saint Bernard and and to Hugh of St. Victor. (Here they deduce the dignity of man from his creation in the image of God.) But the piece really speaks most profoundly of the deep friendship and fellowship that exists between Christians, our sisters and brothers in Christ.
Read this slowly, and drink it in....
When you are at prayer you are in my presence, and I am in yours. Do not be surprise because I say presence; for if you love me, and it is because I am the image of God that you love me, I am as much in your presence as you are in your own. All that you are substantially, that am I. Indeed, every rational being is in the image of God. So he who seeks in himself the image of God seeks there his neighbor as well as himself; and he who finds it in himself in seeking it there, knows it as it is in every man... If then you see yourself, you see me, for I am not different from you; and if you love the image of God, you love me as the image of God; and I, in my turn, loving God, love you. So seeking the same thing, tending toward the same thing, we are ever in one another's presence, in God, in whom we love each other.


Here's a revisiting of some of the ancient music of the Church. Again, my New Jersey friend, Fr. Guy, gives a tidy explanation about the history of the "O Antiphons" of the Church as we come closer to Christmas.

And here's more over at Crossroads Initiative.
Something new....

Here's an excerpt from Benedict XVI's message for the sick:

I now turn to you, my dear brothers and sisters suffering from incurable and terminal diseases. I encourage you to contemplate the sufferings of Christ crucified, and, in union with him, to turn to the Father with complete trust that all life, and your lives in particular, are in his hands. Trust that your sufferings, united to those of Christ, will prove fruitful for the needs of the Church and the world. I ask the Lord to strengthen your faith in his love, especially during these trials that you are experiencing. It is my hope that, wherever you are, you will always find the spiritual encouragement and strength needed to nourish your faith and bring you closer to the Father of Life. Through her priests and pastoral workers, the Church wishes to assist you and stand at your side, helping you in your hour of need, and thus making present Christ’s own loving mercy towards those who suffer.

Read the entire message from this past week ">here.

And here's a transcript of a wonderful address given by Archbishop Chaput of Denver... in a .pdf format about Advent, our country, and Christ's coming into our world.
Something borrowed....

It's never too late in the season to check out the Advent Resources page over at Catholic Mom!

Good story about loving your spouse and praying for their conversion from Maureen Wittman's blog. (Some of you may know Maureen's an author and a homeschooling Mom.)
Something blue....

Here's a Catholic site I've discovered that is dedicated to the Catholic bio-ethics debate--worth a bookmark--while not a Marian site per se, Mary represents all the fullness of the Church in what the Church teaches, so it's an appropriate usage. Go to Mary Meets Dolly.

And finally, a prayer...

Hail, O Star of the Ocean (Ave Maris Stella)
A traditional 9th century hymn used in Evening Prayer and Marian feasts.

Hail, O Star of the ocean, God's own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin, gate of heav'nly rest.
Taking that sweet Ave, which from Gabriel came,
peace confirm within us, changing Eve's name.
Break the sinners' fetters, make our blindness day,
Chase all evils from us, for all blessings pray.
Show thyself a Mother, may the Word divine
born for us thine Infant, hear our prayers through thine.
Virgin all excelling, mildest of the mild,
free from guilt preserve us meek and undefiled.
Keep our life all spotless, make our way secure
till we find in Jesus, joy for evermore.
Praise to God the Father, honor to the Son,
in the Holy Spirit, be the glory one.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Things I'm not doing yet...

My advent, besides the customary prayer and Mass attendance, is usually packed with a "to do" list that usually starts to form after Thanksgiving. After all, I'm The Mom, and chief planner and architect of all Christmas activities.

We do have an advent wreath and we are praying around the table... and I guess that's all we need right now, right?

This year, for many good reasons which are too long to list (like you and I need to read another list?) , I am very much behind. In fact, if my husband and son had not put up our lights and outdoor Christmas creche, there would be nothing done yet. So, on the outside, the home looks good. On the inside, well, things are piling up that need tending to and I'm starting to feel the stress. The need for multiple cups of coffee each day is usually the first sign.

What have I been doing instead? Research. Like a thousand pages of reading material--no lie, the prof makes us submit a reading log--for a term paper. Fortunately, the topic is within the realm of theology, so I am pretending that I'm on retreat -- away from EVERYTHING while I crank this paper out and prepare for a final exam. (Note to self: ignore that ticking sound on the wall.)

And so, this is my plan: stay on retreat until the Third Sunday of Advent, then get moving. Gaudete Sunday is joy Sunday! I hate to putting my life on hold, but sometimes you just gotta keep your head down and plow on. (When I was in college I used to do all my shopping and preparing the week before Christmas, so why not now? I'm IN college, after all?)

Wish me luck.

I think the first item on my list, whenever I get it made, is D-E-L-E-G-A-T-E!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Writer's Wednesday -- Augustine of Hippo

You to whom I am speaking, you are members of Christ. Who has given birth to you? I hear the voice of your heart: it is the Mother Church, this holy honored Church who, like Mary, gives birth and is virgin. She gives birth to nations, but they are the members of one alone, of him of whom she is the body and spouse. In that, too, she bears the image of the virgin Mary, because in this multitude, she is the mother of unity. As in Mary, we see in her perpetual integrity and incorruptible fruitfulness. What the first merited in her flesh, she has preserved in spirit. If the one gave birth to the only son, the other gives birth to numberous sons who, by this only son, are gathered into one.

-----Augustine of Hippo, (354-430 AD), Sermo Denis 25, c. 8.

(Wow -- the essences of ecclesiology and mariology all rolled into one paragraph!)

Want a little bit more?

Okay, here's another citing that Henri de Lubac points out (in Motherhood of the Church, p. 58.) from the ancient liturgy of the Spanish Church called the Marzarabic Rite (Sorry I cannot date it for you...but suffice to say, it pretty well builds on Augustine's words above.):

The one gave salvation to the nations, the other gives the nations to the Savior. The one carried Life in her womb, the other carries it in the sacramental font. What was once accorded to Mary in the carnal order in now accorded spiritually to the Church. She conceives the Word in her unfailing faith, she gives birth to it in a spirit freed from all corruption, she holds it in a soul covered with the Virtue of the Most High.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Casting more cares (aka cane is able)

A number of weeks ago I ran a post describing the inconvenience of the injury to my daughter's arm. On her cast I Sharpie-inscribed Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.-- 1 Peter 5:7. At the time I thought it was a cute pun to help her keep a heavenly perspective on what was ailing her. Little did I know that St. Peter's word would find a holy echo in my own life.

For just like my daughter struggled with the look and feel of the cast, I needed to come to terms with my need for a cane on some days. My degenerating hip needs support --especially when I am overly active, but I've been putting it off... until recently.

During one of my recent devotional moments, the Lord reminded me that, just like the cast, the cane is a temporary thing. This is only a season in my life until my hip gets repaired --but in the meanwhile, I just have to get over the stigma of something that draws attention to my infirmity and, well, literally, move on. I came to the Psalms and here's what I found (It seems St. Peter was merely an echo an earlier prophetic voice) :

Cast your cares upon the Lord,
who will give you support.
God will never allow
the righteous one to stumble.
--Ps. 55:23.

I was so convicted, I laughed out loud. It was definitely one of the every-hair-on-your-head-is-counted moments.

So, now I walk with cane support when I need to... most short jaunts are cane-free, but longer ones like a shopping trip, or a day when I'm standing for long periods, yup, I need it. So I won't stumble. But more importantly, I pray that I remember that verse. Maybe I'll get it inscribed on my fashionable cane! So I won't stumble around spiritually --forgetting all the benefits of the Lord!

With God, I have a helper. He upholds my life. I must take care of myself and the precious life I have, conscious that God is taking care of me!

(He is so faithful even when we are forgetful.)

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Loving the Bride, vol 7

Something old

O Manifest infirmity, O wondrous humility, in which all the greatness of God lay hidden! The mother to whom His infancy was subject, He ruled with His power; and to her at whose breasts He nursed, He gave the nourishment of truth.

May He Who did not shrink from making a beginning like ours, perfect in us His gifts. And may He also make us children of God, He who for our sakes wished to become a human child.

-----St. Augustine, Sermon 184, 3.

Something new

Got Sirius Radio? Check out the new Catholic Channel.

For the Pope, the trip to Turkey was a success.

Something borrowed

Good advent reading here and over at Fr. Guy's Shouts in the Piazza. (By the way, Fr. Guy is an old pal of mine from my years as a youth minister --back then he was the altar server at my wedding!) Our family loves Fr. Guy and we love his blog, especially his Vatican watching.

Something blue

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. If you are a Catholic, go to Mass today!

Here's a cool television programming note on the Blessed Mother-- It's called "Picturing Mary" and its a documentary on art depicting Mary from Ancient times to the present. Read about it here and check your local listings.

WBGH in Boston is showing it on the following dates and times:
Sunday, December 17, 7:00pm
Monday, December 18, 4:00am
Monday, December 18, 8:00pm
Monday, December 18, 11:00pm
so set those recording devices!

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas meme -- fun!

Here a fun meme going around blogdom...

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Depends on the crowd. Hot chocolate is a staple in our house throughout the winter with the family, but I love my Nog with a shot of Godiva chocolate liqueur.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa wraps, but always in his own special paper.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored this year as we replaced all our white ones that were fritzing out.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Again, depends on the crowd. Sometimes, for a party setting.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The outdoor ones go up whenever I can get the help to hang them. The indoor ones go up the Third Sunday of Advent-- joy and anticipation.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? The menus vary year to year, but it often includes leg of lamb or lamb chops with green mint jelly.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? Decorating our Christmas tree was a favorite activity, and listen to the old LPs with Christmas carols. An old Chet Atkins album inspired me to learn how to play guitar.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I was in 2nd grade and a stomach flu all night long on Christmas Eve and was in constant motion back and forth from my bedroom to the bathroom. My poor parents were up all night with me and with the Santa duties. I put two and two together.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nope, it's always Christmas morning.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? There's wooden beads as garland, a variety of home-made thru-the-years ornaments the kids have crafted. We always buy Christmas ornaments from our vacations, so we have ornaments from around the US and the world.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Love it thru December and January, but by late February, I am ready for a thaw, which here in New England, doesn't often happen til April.

12. Can you ice skate? Yup, whenever someone wants to go. My mom taught us all and I've taught all mine. Can still skate backwards, but can no longer "twirl."

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a child, I remember when I got my first guitar. My love for music was just beginning to grow. I was about 10. As an adult, it was probably the year my hubby and kids got me a large garden statue of the Blessed Mother for our new home.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Jesus. Being with my husband and family. Making connections with loved ones far away.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Cookies, all types, hands down.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Besides getting our tree, and setting up our nativities -- one outdoor and one indoor, watching our kids design and craft something new for the top of the tree each year.

17. What tops your tree? See # 16.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I've never been asked. Hmmm, I like to give when I can come up with a gift I know really fits the person. Seems I don't mind shopping as much when I know I'm giving something that will really be appreciated. I love to receive just as much, and I like to be surprized.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Silent Night.

20. Candy canes? We like the chocolate mint kind around here!

21. Favorite Christmas movie? It's a Wonderful Life.

22. What do you leave for Santa? Cookies and milk.

Now it's your turn....

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Writer's Wednesday -- Henri de Lubac

The whole of the newborn Church acted and spoke "in the name of Jesus Christ"; she is always doing what the angels did by night over Bethlehem--bringing "to all the people" tidings of great joy; for, she says, a Savior is born to you, and he is Christ the Lord.

We may have as much zeal as these first proclaimers of Christ, and we may indeed be better than they are at stirring people up--we may have better technical resources. But has our message retained the purity of theirs? Is our bearing witness always as much "conformed to the Gospel of Christ?"

...the Gospel is not announced by word only. It is announced--and to an even greater extent--by living. It is by living by Christ's Spirit that the Church manifests him and spreads his name abroad like a perfume... And this "brotherly love" has always been... the Church's best act of witness and her most powerful attraction.

...to borrow the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa: When the Christian community is faithful to him who gathers it together in order to dwell in its midst, each man can see the beauty of the Bridegroom through the Bride, and thus all can marvel at what no creature can fathom. For as St. John says, no man has seen God or can see him; as St. Paul adds, he has made out of the Church his body, built up in love. He puts a reflection of his own beauty on the face of the Church; and those those who love the Bridegroom rise, through her, to the invisible God...

Unfortunately, this triumph is never complete...

[Others] can scarcely be blamed if they do not see in the Christian community the bearer of a message of salvation when they see it behaving just like any other party, sect or clique and if it lacks of sensitivity or internal divisions present them with the horrifying spectacle of a Catholicism without any heart...

They can scarcely be expected to believe in the Bridegroom if, through our lives, the Bride seems to be barren...

But all these deviations are powerless against the Church herself. Men may be lacking in the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit will never be lacking to the Church. In virtue of her witness and sovereign powers, she will always be the Sacrament of Christ and make him really and truly present to us. She will always reflect his glory, through the best of her children. Even when she shows signs of weariness, germination is in progress toward a new spring, and in spite of all the obstacles we heap up, the saints will spring up once more.

---Cardinal Henri de Lubac, (1896-1991), The Splendor of the Church.


Okay, here's a short little one that I could not resist including in today's post:

The Church wishes to impose nothing on anyone, and merely asks to live in freedom, in order to reveal the One whom she cannot hide: Christ Jesus."

---- Pope Benedict XVI

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Loving the Bride, vol 6

Something old

A Prayer for Spiritual Growth
Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside.

Bestow on me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know thee,
dilgence to seek thee, wisdom to find thee, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace thee, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
-----St. Thomas Aquinas

Something new
Pope Benedict in Turkey: “It is on this foundation of mutual love that new relations between the Churches of Rome and Constantinople have developed. ”
“May this meeting strengthen our mutual affection and renew our common commitment to persevere on the journey leading to reconciliation and the peace of the Churches.”
The Nativity movie opens today! Buy tickets for everyone on your Christmas list and GO SEE IT!

Something borrowed

Good stuff for Advent: If you are a Catholic educator, an adult educator, a homeschooler, a teacher, or a parent who wants more to teach your children about the faith, consider this resource from the USCCB courtesy of Lisa over at Catholic Mom Moments.


Even though the election season is over, I found this article refreshing to read: "How Would St. Francis Vote?" by Archibishop Charles Chaput.

Something blue

Get a primer on Mary written for teens and tweens with Youth Update.

Copyright 2006 Patricia W. Gohn

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