When I first met the woman who would become my wife, her family had been saying a prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus every night for as long as she could remember. It was a variant on the Renewal of the Enthronement of the Sacred Heart. Now Jacinta and I have said that same prayer every night with our kids for years and years.
A few weeks ago, we began Project Bard: we determined to build a treasury of songs by singing more or less every night–rounds, hymns, camp-fire songs, whatever. To approach the ocean by little streams, we began with some of the goofier selections from Cedarmont Kids’ 100 Singalong Songs for Kids.
We always end our singing session with night prayers, so one day it hit me: why not sing night prayers? It wasn’t hard to adapt our Sacred Heart prayer to a traditional hymn tune from the Roman Breviary, drawing on Fr. Samuel Weber’s Hymnal for the Hours. The result was just a little thing for my family, not really memorable poetry, but given Austin Kleon’s principle about sharing your work, and given that today is the memorial of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, I think I’ll toss it up here: Continue reading “Sacred Heart Enthronement Hymn”
If you have a teenage reader, you have had this problem. All through their childhood you have fed them good books, fended off junk and inappropriate material, and maybe even previewed library books they wanted to read. But one day they show up with a stack of Young Adult books, each one three to five hundred pages long, none of them familiar, and all of them so—so teen.
And you realize you just can’t do it anymore. You can’t keep up. Continue reading “X-Ray Reads: for the voracious teen reader”
By chance, I received a copy of the Pope’s new apostolic exhortation yesterday, about nine hours before it was published. So of course I started skimming it, if only to enjoy my brief time of being “in the know”: never forget, all you bloggers and blog readers, that when it comes to Amoris Laetitia I’m nine hours ahead of you. And I always will be. 😉
On a quick first-skim, I think there are two things to say about the document: Continue reading “Amoris Laetitia: Pope Francis on Marriage and Family”
My mother recently sent me a picture of myself at about ten years old milking a goat. We lived in Redfield, Arkansas, miles away from even a small town, on a four-acre plot of land surrounded by an endless forest. The picture brought a lot of memories back. Specifically, I recall now: Continue reading “The goats and the kid”
Near the banks of the Nile, around the year 2000 BC, Moses stood in perplexity. “Did God say ‘Stretch out your hand’ or ‘Stretch out your rod’?” He wondered aloud. “Hand or rod? Shoot, my memory must be slipping.” Tentatively, he waved his rod in the air. Nothing.
Or so he thought. Unbeknownst to Moses, he had angled his rod into the sixth dimension and let loose a bolt that crossed a small wrinkle in the space-time continuum, thus missing Egypt and the 2nd Millenium BC entirely…. Continue reading “Roll over, Moses”
I am overweeningly papa-proud of my son Isaiah, who took 4th place in the central Wyoming 7th-grade math competition.
The kicker: Isaiah isn’t in the 7th grade. He’s in the 6th grade, but he placed above thirty or forty other kids anyway.
The kicker to the kicker: He didn’t practice at all. He just walked in cold and did it. In his jeans.
The kicker to the kicker to the kicker: His parents don’t work with him on math. We bought Teaching Textbooks and he just does it, without ever asking for help. He thinks math is just FUN.
I wish I could claim that all my kids are geniuses or that we have discovered the secret to home schooling in math. But the reality is just that Isaiah is a pretty cool kid. He makes math look easy.
On Valentine’s Day, we fed the kids early and sent them off to watch a movie while we shared a special dinner and talked. OK, so we got a few words in edgewise here and there around baby Matthew’s escalating demands for food, but it was still Valentine’s Day and we were only shouting over one small voice.
We’ve always talked a lot. That’s how we got married: we would stand outside Jacinta’s dormitory until curfew, just talking and talking, and I remember thinking to myself one night as we stood by the fence, “Gee, I could just do this forever.” We got married so there would be no curfew and no reason to stop talking.
Sheldon Vanauken describes how a married couple can suffer “creeping separation” if they don’t share enough of life. It takes shared experience, and shared thoughts about shared experience, to knit two souls together: Continue reading “Talking our way to love”
The night before last, Matthew got the dreaded Cortisol Dump. According to the books, babies have a natural window within which they need to go to bed, and if they don’t then their system drops a half-pint of stimulant into their bloodstream—no doubt a survival mechanism left over from an era when infants killed off their parents at an early age and ruled the earth.
We saw it coming a long way off. Matthew didn’t sleep well the night before that, which meant that his morning nap came too early, which meant that his afternoon nap came too early, which meant that he took an early evening nap, which meant that he stayed awake through the Magic Window and got the Dump. (I imagine the sound was like when Pac-Man eats an energy pill.)
The downside was that I was tired all yesterday and marked almost nothing off of my to-do list. The upside was that I played games with Matthew all alone until after eleven o’clock, and I was privileged to see exactly where he is: Continue reading “Buckets, beads, and the Imago Dei”
In the office of readings for yesterday, Jacinta noticed how Paul says that “we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children” (1Thess 2:7; cf. Isaiah 66:12). He doesn’t say “as a nursing child with its mother,” she commented, because nursing children abuse their mothers constantly, pinching and smacking and even biting the body that feeds them. This, my friends, is the domestic violence no one is talking about.
Just today I put Matthew on my shoulders to give him some respite from his lowly existence as a crawling infant, and he thanked me by grabbing two handfuls of hair and leaning back for all he was worth. When I yanked him upright, he swiped my glasses off and smacked me on the face.
“Yes, is this 911? I want to report an assault. A nine-month-old boy. Yes ma’am, nine months old. No, you don’t understand, ma’am, this boy—well, fine then!”
God seems to know how to handle these little thugs. Psalm 8:3 says that “Out of the mouths of infants and nurslings you have brought forth praise.” I, on the other hand, have brought forth from the mouths of infants and nurslings Kleenex, carpet bits, old tomato, and bugs.
Jesus says of the final days, “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days!” Woe then, because that’s when it’ll be bad. Comforting thought. When the baby pinches, smacks, and bites Jacinta, she can think to herself, “Well at least we’re not doing this while we run from the Antichrist!”
As a 6th grade CCD teacher, I found myself yesterday afternoon at a Children’s Mass. My reactions to Masses geared toward children typically range from fatheaded (“Never!”) to broadminded (“Fine as long as I’m not around”). About half an hour into his homily Father warned the kids not to go to the bathroom during the canon of the Mass, and my 11-year-old son leaned over to whisper, “If we ever get to that part!” Kids and keepers alike began to unravel.
But lo and behold! We did get to the canon, and as the solemn tones of that august prayer rolled over the pews the seething mass of kinderfolk settled into an uncharacteristic moment of focus. Like a vision, awareness suddenly gripped me of the baptismal character at work in each tiny head. Continue reading “Children en Mass”