I’m not totally oblivious to the Church calendar (not usually, anyway). I did, in fact, realize that the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was three days ago. I also started drafting a blog post to commemorate this high feast of our faith, but little miss Rosalyn decided that she had alternative plans for my evening. Hence, the delay. 🙂
Since I can remember, I’ve always been the kind of Catholic who wanted to pray the Rosary daily. I have often put forth a valiant effort with the commencement of Lent or Advent to begin the practice. Typically, I was very diligent about keeping to my commitment for the penitential period, but I was never able to make it a part of my daily prayer life for much longer than 40 days.
I need not make the case that the Rosary is hands down the most efficacious prayer one can muster; the Church has already done that for me. So, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we are reminded of our duty as Catholics to honor Our Mother and call on her intercession in our daily prayer. And I’m challenged, once again, to renew my commitment to this most worthy devotion.
And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed. The recitation of identical formulas repeated so many times, rather than rendering the prayer sterile and boring, has on the contrary the admirable quality of infusing confidence in him who prays and brings to bear a gentle compulsion on the motherly Heart of Mary.
With this attempt to make a lifelong commitment to the daily Rosary, however, I’m taking a different approach. I won’t demand this time that I be sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament when I pray because, really, that’s just not practical these days. I won’t beat myself up over a missed day because, in truth, I’m not a saint and I will surely mess up, forget, and fall asleep more than my ego can handle. I will also be praying for an intention I’ve never had before—that of my family, particularly for Rosalyn, who happens to be named after Our Lady’s flower, the rose.
By: Kristi (as if you needed me to tell you that!)
I spent most of my first pregnancy hating being pregnant. (Did you see that picture? It screams disdain for my physical state in life!) It really wasn’t that I suffered tremendously from physical sickness—I was one of the lucky ones who escaped morning sickness and the like. Instead, I simply hated the sheer uncertainty associated with pregnancy.
Let’s pretend for a second like you have the biggest exam of your life coming up at some point within the next few months. You’re not sure exactly when it will take place, and you have only a vague idea (based on other people’s subjective experiences) of what’s going to be on the test. Well, that’s pregnancy.
I suppose you could consider the uncertainty a good thing if you’re the sort of person who enjoys surprises. I’m not one of those people, and I tend to stay very far away from those kinds of people. So, if you’re looking for a spontaneous, fun-loving blogger, you should read another blog.
Now that you know you’re reading the right blog, I can get back to the point, which is to share a bit of my experience (which is totally subjective and will probably not look much like yours) with transitioning into motherhood.
Because I spent most of my pregnancy preoccupied with the unpredictable, I didn’t give much thought to the world into which I would be bringing our child. All of that changed very quickly within the first few months of Rosalyn’s little life. While it’s probably not appropriate to place me a category with the woman who looks into her child’s eyes (Rosalyn stubbornly kept her eyes closed for days) on the delivery table and instantly knows that her life will never be the same, it’s safe to say that by the time Rosalyn was a couple months old, I got the drift that my priorities had changed.
See, until Rosalyn was born, I gave little thought to the kind of life I wanted her to have—the kind of culture I wanted to create for our family. Don’t get me wrong—I knew that I wanted her to be loved and that Matt and I were prepared to do that. Now that she’s almost six months old, however, I have a better understanding of how we will love her. In other words, I have all kinds of thoughts and opinions on parenting. And you, lucky reader, get to hear all about them. 🙂
The first priority that emerged was a desire to raise our children in the Catholic faith. I know, I agreed to this at the altar on my wedding day. But it was different then. I agreed to it theoretically; I decided I would obey because it was the right thing to do given the information I had in the moment. Now, I want to raise my children in the faith because I have a personal investment in their livelihood, both in this life and the next. Simply put, I want my children to be Catholic because I want them to have the greatest opportunity for salvation. That desire wasn’t there before. It is now. And it’s powerful.
Another goal that’s now present is that of education. Before, my preferences for my childrens’ education were all about me—how will I do what I want to do and still educate my children? Now, the question is, how will I provide the best education for my children for their sake? I know, it sounds so simple, but again, the selflessness was unbeknownst to me before Rosalyn was actually born—before her individuality was made manifest before my eyes. I’m that dense, really.
The last priority I’m going to address here is that of nutrition. If you have known me for any time at all, you’re probably thinking, “How in the world could Kristi become more serious about nutrition?” Well, give birth to a baby, and you’ll get it. All of a sudden the little decisions and shortcuts that no one noticed will now be watched by a child full of wonder and awe. Not to mention, when you’re a nursing (and pregnant) mother, you have a responsibility to consume healthy foods for the sake of your child because once again, your decisions directly affect other people.
So, we’re now doing what we can to eat organic, free-range, grass-fed, and generally healthy. You can call us crunchy, granola, liberal, conservative, or just plain weird. I don’t care. The stuff is healthier for my kid, so I’m going to pay a couple extra bucks and hope she has a better future because of it.
What this all boils down to is an innate desire to nurture, love, and protect my child and her future sibs. As a result my priorities have shifted from revolving around me to revolving around the good of my family. You could make something out of nothing here and say that I’m “another person” now that I have a child. Socially, you might be right. Philosophically, you would be totally off base. What really happened is simply this: I became a mom.
So, I’m kind of surprised WordPress hasn’t expired our account yet, seeing how little we’ve used it in the last year. I imagine that message would read something like this: “You tried very hard to start an entertaining, funny, and insightful blog, but you’re clearly not that motivated to maintain it. Thus, we have kicked you out of the blogosphere. Try again later when you have more time.” Well, if we had received said hypothetical message, this would be our attempt to “Try again”.
Last time we took a blogging hiatus, we really had no excuses. We simply didn’t have anything to talk about—nothing worth saying, really. And since Matt and I are both the type to only talk when we have something valuable to say, we didn’t say anything at all. Oh, and we’re sometimes (often) lazy. Hence the silence.
This time, we have lots of excuses. A laundry list of them, actually. That chronological laundry list looks something like this:
1. Kristi started a job at Ave Maria Press (yay!)
3. Matt started a 5-year PhD program in chemistry (yay!)
6. Matt completed his first year of graduate school with flying colors (yay!)
So, have we been busy? You betchya. Do we apologize for neglecting our millions of screaming fans? Sort of. We had priorities. It happens.
Let’s just pretend for a second that we are truly, contritely sorry for taking such liberty with our second blogging hiatus. If you’re a good Catholic (we try, we really do), then you know that contrition requires a sincere desire to amend one’s life. Well, in this hypothetical situation in which we are hypothetically contrite for neglecting you, we are also hypothetically sincere about amending our lives.
What does this mean? Welp, we’re gonna’ do better garsh darn it! (That’s my southern accent coming through… Hi, North Carolina! We miss you!) We’re starting with a few goals (that’s good, right?). First, we’re going to blog at least once per week. Second, we’re going to stick with this for more than 2 months at a time.
Hypothetically, of course.
The Christians in the world
“Christians are indistinguishable from other men either by nationality, language or customs. They do not inhabit separate cities of their own, or speak a strange dialect, or follow some outlandish way of life. Their teaching is not based upon reveries inspired by the curiosity of men. Unlike some other people, they champion no purely human doctrine. With regard to dress, food and manner of life in general, they follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in, whether it is Greek or foreign.
And yet there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country. Like others, they marry and have children, but they do not expose them. They share their meals, but not their wives.
They live in the flesh, but they are not governed by the desires of the flesh. They pass their days upon earth, but they are citizens of heaven. Obedient to the laws, they yet live on a level that transcends the law. Christians love all men, but all men persecute them. Condemned because they are not understood, they are put to death, but raised to life again. They live in poverty, but enrich many; they are totally destitute, but possess an abundance of everything. They suffer dishonor, but that is their glory. They are defamed, but vindicated. A blessing is their answer to abuse, deference their response to insult. For the good they do they receive the punishment of malefactors, but even then they, rejoice, as though receiving the gift of life. They are attacked by the Jews as aliens, they are persecuted by the Greeks, yet no one can explain the reason for this hatred.
To speak in general terms, we may say that the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body. As the soul is present in every part of the body, while remaining distinct from it, so Christians are found in all the cities of the world, but cannot be identified with the world. As the visible body contains the invisible soul, so Christians are seen living in the world, but their religious life remains unseen. The body hates the soul and wars against it, not because of any injury the soul has done it, but because of the restriction the soul places on its pleasures. Similarly, the world hates the Christians, not because they have done it any wrong, but because they are opposed to its enjoyments.
Christians love those who hate them just as the soul loves the body and all its members despite the body’s hatred. It is by the soul, enclosed within the body, that the body is held together, and similarly, it is by the Christians, detained in the world as in a prison, that the world is held together. The soul, though immortal, has a mortal dwelling place; and Christians also live for a time amidst perishable things, while awaiting the freedom from change and decay that will be theirs in heaven. As the soul benefits from the deprivation of food and drink, so Christians flourish under persecution. Such is the Christian’s lofty and divinely appointed function, from which he is not permitted to excuse himself.”
From a letter to Diognetus (Nn. 5-6; Funk, 397-401)
Father of hall holiness,
guide our hearts to you.
Keep in the light of your truth
all those you have freed from the darkness of unbelief.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
It has officially been two months since we last posted. That makes you one dedicated friend or family member and makes us two very pathetic blog authors. We have no excuses, really, except that we have been insanely busy. I can’t count the number of times one of us said to the other, “Dude! You should write a blog post about that!” And guess what? It never happened. However, lots of other things have happened in our lives in the last two months, and we would like to share them with you, our far too faithful blog followers.
Just in case you don’t stalk us on Facebook, live within the gossip chains of two very prolific grapevines commonly known as the communities of Mountain View and St. Aloysius Catholic Church, or have any connection to us outside of Googling “weed” and stumbling upon our blog, it may be news to you that we are expecting our first child. She is due at the end of April and is as healthy as can be. She’s apparently pretty photogenic, too.
I never imagined that I would feel so awkward, off-balance, and unnatural as a pregnant woman. However, I’m steadily learning to get over my pride: I now sit down to put on my socks, willingly wear maternity clothes, and field all kinds of comments and questions from strangers, co-workers, friends, and family members who seem to have gained the audacity to ask questions I would have blushed at 6 months ago.
One question I don’t mind fielding is, “What is the best part of being pregnant?” My answer is always the same: The best part of being pregnant is watching my husband become a father. Watching Matt grow into this role for which he has always been so fit has been a deep source of joy for me during this pregnancy, and the only reason I feel confident becoming a parent is because I have such a steady, supportive, affectionate, intelligent, and passionate partner. I cannot say that I am adequately equipped in any other way, and I do not know if it really matters.
Before this post gets too long, I should mention how Matt and I are fairing in our respective professions. Matt rocked his first semester of graduate school with phenomenal grades in all of his classes, a promotion to teach senior-level undergraduate chemistry lab, placement into the research group of his choice, and a successfully homebrewed porter to boot! Clearly, Notre Dame has turned out to be a very good fit for him academically, and he’s extremely satisfied with what looks like a very bright future for him here.
Rather recently, I started working for Ave Maria Press as an assistant editor. Essentially, I take care of minor administrative tasks, edit books when needed, and help out with acquisitions on very rare and lucky occasions. Akin to Matt, I have landed in a very positive work environment with lots of opportunity for growth. I am thrilled to be working with words again and am blessed with warm co-workers who have proven very welcoming and didactic. Also like Matt, I am currently the least educated person in my department, which means I get to be a sponge absorbing a wealth of knowledge and experience from my colleagues.
Overall, we are finally at the point of considering Notre Dame our home. After living at six different addresses in the last year—excluding the many places we called home while on the Appalachian Trail this summer—I think we have earned some stability and a place to call home (for the next five years at least).
On the brink of my and Matt’s 1-year wedding anniversary, I have a few observations on the beauty of marriage. If you’re expecting a theological reflection on the Sacrament of Matrimony, look elsewhere. This post is not about theology; it’s not about what the Church teaches. It’s about the life of a young married couple learning each day how to live faithfully to one another and to God.
I would love to report to you at this point that my favorite thing about marriage is loving Our Lord through one another, or praying together each night. The truth, however, is that my favorite thing about marriage is simply having a partner. It is only in marriage that I have discovered profound joy in working with and loving another person.
Each day of our marriage, I have watched our relationship grow and change with the various challenges of daily living and the obstacles of moving to a new part of the country and into a new lifestyle. I can say this much: It hasn’t always been easy, but it has been beautiful.
We have learned to trust one another and depend on one another with our emotions, in our responsibilities, and with our souls. We have learned to fight better and more efficiently — there is less hesitation to say what one feels when genuine trust is present. Conversely, one is much more tactful and thoughtful in his/her expression of emotion and thought when he/she respects and trusts the listener.
We have also become better at apologizing and admitting fault. We’ve found that there’s a difference between saying, “I’m sorry I hurt you” and “I was wrong. I should have known better. Please forgive me.”
We learned the value in affirming one another in his/her vocation. Not a day goes by that one doesn’t say to the other, “I’m so glad I married you” or “You’re such a good husband/wife.” Simple, right? Easy? Not always.
On a similar note, we have observed the importance of expressing appreciation for even the simplest household task. If there is one thing that plagues marriages of even the most humble, faithful people we know, it is a lack of appreciation for one another and the roles played by each. My own parents failed miserably every single day to acknowledge the little things that seem so silly — clean dishes, folded laundry, homemade dinner, disciplined children, yard work, home improvements, paid bills, and of course, the paycheck(s).
Quickly, these favors (I call them favors because technically, they don’t have to be done) are no longer done out of love but out of habit, obligation, or expectation. Before you realize it, you have two robots running a household. We have decided that we don’t want to become robots and that there is in fact value in noticing clean dishes and a monthly paycheck — that there is merit to a person’s menial work when it is done with love and is appreciated lovingly.
As such, we have a rule pertaining to chores in our home: there are no assignments. At first, we entertained the idea of us each having particular responsibilities around the house. Kristi — dishes, laundry, and grocery shopping. Matt — bathroom cleanliness, trash, and floors. It would certainly make for an efficient home if we did it this way, but we can’t guarantee that it would make for a happy one. Instead, we allow ourselves to fall into these roles while recognizing a need to meet responsibility. It’s easy to think that with this philosophy nothing would ever get done and that our apartment must be a disaster.
Instead, we have agreed to an honor system where if one of us sees a need (an undone chore), then we assume the best intentions of the other and take on the task ourselves. For example, if Matt comes home and sees that the dishes have not been done in two days, he doesn’t assume that I’m being lazy and relying on his generosity. Instead, he assumes that there is a good reason for my not doing them and takes on the responsibility himself. This way, we both have a responsibility to take initiative out of love for the other. Honestly, it works really well. Dishes are done every day. Laundry is done and folded every week. Trash is taken out every few days. I can’t tell you who does what each time, but I promise you each chore is completed as needed. And isn’t that the bottom line?
We are also unveiling accidental traditions in our marriage. I know, traditions are usually beautiful because they are intentional and symbolic, but the traditions forming in our marriage are beautiful because they are natural. For instance, every weekday morning around 7 a.m. Matt and I have a huge breakfast together. By huge, I mean eggs, meat, toast, orange juice, and coffee. On Saturdays we sleep in and have made-from-scratch biscuits with sausage gravy. This morning ritual, albeit extravagant, allows us the opportunity to spend time with and talk to one another before the demands of the day get the best of us.
Every evening, we return from school and work by 6 p.m. and take an hour to just enjoy one another before sitting down to dinner. I suppose you could consider it a cocktail hour since we typically indulge in a beer or glass of wine while we brief one another on our days. This allows each of us to reflect on the day’s events while sharing our lives with one another and kind of “de-toxing” from the business of work and school
I have a hope that once we have children, we will continue these two traditions — treating breakfast as a time to be with one another and having a family “cocktail hour” and dinner together each day. It’s a lofty ambition, I know, but I believe the first step in achieving anything is to have the will to do so. The second step is having a plan and the competency to implement it. Right now we have both. Hopefully we can hang onto these small traditions as our family grows.
Beyond the daily life of a married couple, however, there is a unique and beautiful bond that captures my heart. Every moment I spend with Matt, I get to know him better. You might be thinking, “Geez, they dated for 5.5 years and have been married for almost a year. There can’t be much more to learn.” The truth is, I learn something new about Matt every day. And in the same moment, I learn something new about our relationship. Then I get to have fun. Once I learn something new about Matt, myself, or our relationship, I get to analyze how I can best use that knowledge to benefit our marriage.
For instance, I’ve learned that Matt doesn’t like confrontation, and I’m a pretty confrontational person. So, I learn how to “confront” Matt (from my perspective) without making him feel confronted. That way, issues don’t get swept under the rug, Matt doesn’t feel attacked, and we can work together to solve problems.
It may seem like I’m making something out of nothing by rehashing all this, but these little details are pieced together to make or break a marriage. You can either learn from them and thrive or succumb to them and merely survive.
In light of the recent elections, I felt it necessary to provide a neo-political ideology that has been running through my head as of late.
As I stare at CNN’s ELECTION-CENTER map, I am reminded of a poem by WB Yeats. In the first stanza of the poem The Second Coming, Yeats talks about a “blood-dimmed tide” being loosed upon the world. It does not remind me of the poem for analogous reasons – i.e. not because republican control of the House resembles post-war Europe in the early 20th century – but because red is such a powerful color that evokes archetypal images. Why would the Republicans choose such an intense – and often emotionally charged – color to describe their party?
The only reasonable explanation I can conjure is this: Equal parts of red and blue (the Democratic color) make purple.
I know what you are thinking, I thought it too… “Purple is the color of prosperity!” Ergo, I have stumbled upon a secret handed down from our country’s forefathers. We must elect equal numbers of politicians from each side of the spectrum (see what I did there?) so that we may become purple and prosperous. Political stale-mate is the only solution to this country’s woes. QED.
But wait, you say there is a problem with my assertion? No, no my friend. I have thought this through. The Presidential seat CAN be separated into equal parts, just like The Senate and the House. One way to do this is through careful manipulation of the Primary Education system by way of including perfectly balanced political commentary. The only way it will be feasible for the teachers of the US to include unbiased perspectives to our most precious commodity is to paint everything in the classroom half blue and half red, and I mean everything. Chalk boards, desks, computer screens, etc. It would even be possible for the teachers themselves to dress in this manner. With this fail-safe approach, the brains of the politicians of the next generation will be hopelessly divided into equal parts of red and blue, meeting in the middle in an explosion of bipartisan fury.
I also propose that the government fund this idea, and take it into practice via a new program fully funded by the state. This program could be called “Hopelessly Divided: Practically Purple in Every Way”. or HD-PPEW, which sounds kind of like a high definition laser canon blast (at least 720p).
There you have it. The answer to all our problems is a color.
-This is definitely Matt