Thursday, January 31, 2013

Can a Catholic have a Mezuzah?

This is my catch-up post on my Great Adventure Bible Timeline Series, Session 8. We have finished the book of Numbers! What an exciting narrative. The Israelites begin on Mt. Sinai, but continue to complain, show distrust and disobedience to God, and finally, all the men over 20 are condemned to death in the wilderness because of it. (Except for Caleb and Joshua.) The younger generation will inherit the promised land. It is right in front of them. Poor Moses, now an old man, dies on Mount Nebo, after giving his final sermons, which can be found in Deuteronomy. (This session referenced parts of Deuteronomy, but there is a lot of reading in this study, so I plan to read all of the narrative books cover to cover, all of the references made to the other books, and then go back and read ALL of the supplemental books in their entirety after the study.) 
Anyway, in delving into Moses speeches in Deuteronomy, I came across Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which makes up part of the Jewish Shema.
Christians will recognize parts of this beautiful prayer echoed in the Gospel of Mark, 12:29-30:
"...Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one;
        and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
                and with all your soul, and with all your mind,
                        and with all your strength...."
Jewish households affix the Shema Yisrael prayer on a scroll inside a decorative case, called a mezuzah, and place this on their doorposts to fulfill their biblical commandment to do so.
I am falling in love with the Old Testament, and I think this is one of the coolest Jewish traditions I know of. When Jeff Cavins mentioned that he hung a Mezuzah across from his holy water font near his front door, I wasn't sure if he was joking or if he was serious, but I really wanted one for myself as a faith reminder.
I spent a lot of time researching this matter, and discovered that this could potentially be considered strange or offensive for a Christian to hang a Mezuzah, for many reasons, one because it is unlawful for a Jew to sell one to gentile, and also because it could be construed as trying to identify yourself as Jewish.
Well, I definitely don't want to offend, so I purchased my Mezuzah online from a Christian homeschool supply company (not a kosher scroll, nor a Jewish company). I am not sure about hanging outside my front door either, as I don't want to give the impression that I am Jewish, rather than Christian. For now, I decided to reverently place it on my dresser like this:

It is beautiful. I love it. I have been saying the Shema daily with my children.

Friday, January 25, 2013

An Ode to my Pump In Style

This is not a typical breastfeeding post... rather, it is a tribute to my breast pump. Yes, the good old trusty Medela 2006 Pump In Style. "Old Faithful."  If you have been there and done that, then no further explanation is needed. If you have no idea what I am talking about, then it's probably best if you pass on the rest of this post.

The decision to go back to work full time after having a baby is hard. Really hard. As the maternity leave dwindles down, the dread starts setting in. You know you have to go... back.... ugh. I don't get how anyone can possibly get excited about it. You just have to deal with it. It sucks!!!!!

If you decide to pump while you are back at work, then you have an entire new set of worries. They typically go like this:
Is this going to hurt?
How will I know I am pumping enough milk for my baby while I am gone?
Do I have a plugged duct?
Am I going to get mastitis and die?
How am I going to find the time to do this at work everyday, several times a day?
Where am I going to do this?
How am I going to safely transport my milk?
Where do I put everything?
How do I explain this to other women who have no children and don't understand?
How do I explain this to men who don't understand?
What about all those mandatory lunch meetings?
What about off site training courses?
What happens if I don't pump enough milk for the next day?
Why does frozen breast milk develop such a terrible taste and is it safe for my baby?
How do I sterilize all these parts?
This is so overwhelming, can I possibly do this?

If anyone cares, I can write a future post about breastfeeding survival at work 101, as I do feel I have earned professional status in this arena. (Yeah, like this may be the one and only thing I am good at.) I pumped full time with my last child for 17 months and currently things are going OK with my 10 month old. My breast pumps are getting a lot of daily use. I have developed some "best practices" that have kept me going that I will be happy to share. (This isn't the original direction of where I wanted to take this post, but it's just where it has gone :-)

So, my dear very old Pump In Style, we are like old friends. Even though I hate you at times and can't wait until I no longer need you, I do appreciate you. I have to remind myself just why I appreciate you:
You save me money.
You help me maintain a long term nursing relationship with my baby.
You help me feel connected to my baby during the day when I can't be with her.
You give me an excuse to sit alone for a few minutes in solitude so I can read or think in peace.
You are keeping my periods away.
You keep me humble.
You remind me of God's amazing gift to women in our ability to bear children and provide for them.
You help me to burn 500 calories a day without working out.
You are helping me naturally space my babies without having to chart or contracept.
If I see any other woman with a black pump in style bag, I am your immediate friend.
You have provided me with humorous moments, (mostly stories of when men ask what is in the little black bag, or when someone pays a compliment on the "computer case".)
I can sell you on eBay when I'm ready to dump you.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What is in the Ark of the Covenant?

Yikes, I realized I am several weeks behind on my bi-monthly Jeff Cavins Bible Timeline Great Adventure post... I am still really enjoying this Catholic Bible Study, and our last meeting (Session 7) wrapped up the remaining book of Exodus. I have learned far more already than I ever dreamed possible by taking this Bible Study. I highly encourage anyone to seek this out at any nearby parish, or purchase the DVDs yourself (from Ascension Press) and start your own small group study.

While finishing Exodus, I have become fascinated with The Ark of the Covenant. Yes, we all remember Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from way back in the day... (if you are my age at least). But the adventures portrayed in the movie are more than mere fiction, they are inspired from the Old Testament. Looking over the Book of Exodus we can learn all about how the Ark was constructed and how Holy it is. For the Israelites in Exile, it was God's dwelling place on this earth and displayed a physical sign of his presence, or Shekinah, to lead His Chosen People into the Promised Land.

The Ark is a wooden chest made out of Acacia Wood and covered entirely in gold. Inside the Ark rests the two stone tablets which God inscribed with the Ten Commandments and gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  The Ark also contains Aaron's Rod which "blossomed". (Imagine a dead piece of wood sprouting flowers?) This is a symbol of the Levitical Priesthood, ordained by Almighty God. Finally, the Ark contains a jar of Manna, which is a sampling of  what fed the Israelites for 40 years in the desert.

Reading about the Ark of the Covenant, as a Catholic, we see can see parallels to our Tabernacle today. Just as the sanctuary lamp is always lit in Church to remind us of The Real Presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior in the Blessed Sacrament which resides in the Tabernacle, The Ark housed God's earthly presence, his Shekinah glory, that could actually be visibly seen in a cloud by day and a light by night. The Ark was so holy, that nobody could touch it directly, or they would die! It had to be carried on poles. (Just a thought: This brings a whole new meaning to the word liturgical abuse! In those days there were no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion... every temple object, incense and sacrifice had to be handled by a consecrated priest, no exceptions.)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Holy-Holding-Hands During the "Our Father"

How do you all feel about all that hand-holding business during the recitation of The Lord's Prayer at Mass?

I struggle with this. I gotta write a blog post about my Mass experience with this today. It's hard not to notice that at almost every single "modern" Catholic parish these days, more and more people hold hands during the Our Father.

You probably understand what I am talking about.
It is all very Protestant, in my opinion. 

 I just reverently fold my hands, look downward, and say my Our Father.  All well and good right? But... Is this Pharisaical? I don't want to judge anyone... If the Holy Spirit is moving them to all hold hands, who am I to judge them? Or diminish their prayer experience? I try not to. I don't think most priests care, or at least don't seem to mind.

Bishop Foy of Covington minds. He caused quite a stir a little over a year ago when he issued the following document within his diocese as a call to stop liturgical abuse and correctly implement the new Roman Missal. Check out the bottom of page 3 of his letter.   "...therefore the extending or holding of hands by the faithful should not be performed." He is very clear about it.

I just searched for more information on what the  GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) has to say about this and came across this document. (A good read). Hmmm, maybe I need to lighten up?

But today, a woman a few pews up was holding her hands VERTICALLY UP TO THE SKY, in such an exaggerated fashion, I just couldn't help to look and think, "What On Earth is she DOING???" ...

(Imagine somebody doing the YMCA dance, and jumping up at the letter "Y" and freezing in that position... it was like THAT and I have never seen anything remotely like that position done in a Catholic church before... this was a first.) It was so odd, in fact, I had to sneak a look at her while I was walking down the communion line. I was so distracted by her. (God, I only hope I have never caused this kind of distraction by kneeling for communion in a parish that doesn't normally do that, or by wearing an occassional veil when nobody else does that.)  Whether liberal or conservative, when you are sticking out from the crowd, well you are really sticking out and people do notice.
But one thing I couldn't help to see when I stole a glance her way passing by, was the smile and a look of pure joy on her face. This woman truly was communing with the Holy Spirit and seemed to be in a very happy place.  (Happier than me, for sure!) Well, good for her. I certainly wasn't going to say anything to her about her bizarre hand gesturing. I just hope she doesn't start a new trend, as I'm trying hard enough to deal with all the normal families holding hands in the regular way.

What do you all think about this? Yeah, or Nay, or No big deal and to each their own?  Do you hold hands with your family? Do you raise them up (like the priest does)?

 Do you raise them ALL the way up and do the YMCA?

Peace be with you! :-)