Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Baby 5: Week 15

How Far Along: 15 Weeks 3 Days (24 weeks and 4 days to go!)

How I'm Feeling: A little tired today anyway. We ALL had our flu shots yesterday and now we're all tired, a little cranky, and counting down the minutes to nap time. Or maybe that's just me? Overall I've been feeling good though. My uterus is just the right height for how many weeks I am, which means it's infringing on my bladder. With 2 potty trained (and one more who is daytime trained) kids at my heels, it's the big battle for the bathroom these days!

What I'm Thinking: We heard our baby's heartbeat yesterday for the first time. We'd seen it flickering on the screen during our dating ultrasound, but to really hear our baby's heart beat, was so incredibly beautiful. The biggest kids who are used to this sort of thing were very excited, while our two smaller kids listened with as much interest as confusion I'm sure. I love the way our family is growing. We're getting so close to the half way point!

What I've Done This Week: We had our first regular prenatal appointment (oh the joys of the 5th pregnancy) so I got all weighed (don't ask), measured and like I said we heard the baby's heartbeat. And because no prenatal appointment should end without someone crying, we all got our flu shots. In all seriousness, no one cried, no even the 15 month old. There was a little lip quiver, but she got to smiling when the doc put a smiley face on her bandaid (what a pro!). We also got the date for our next prenatal appointment and our 20 week ultrasound, New Years Eve!

What I Hope To Do Next Week: I'm part of 2 cookie exchanges, so I've got to get to baking. I'm also hoping to clean out all the unwanted toys out of the baby's room so we can start working on the flooring. I'd also like a better place than my closet to hide the Christmas presents. haha

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Church of Entitlement

I've been reading a lot about the Church lately that has me a little irked. The general reaction reminds me of the old saying "What have you done for ME lately?". The feeling of entitlement is just sickening. The issues spawn from what we think is our right, our due. Changes to the priesthood, change in worship styles, changes in sexual ethics, demanding sacraments on our own terms, viewing the Church as a pretty building for hire at the right price, wanting to have your pastor's personal line on speed dial, etc.

Every one of these issues find their root in our feeling of entitlement. We want the Church to serve our will, our desire, and our vision. The Church is there to serve us yes, but not because we deserve anything. Christ called us to serve the weak, the unworthy, and the sinners (of which most if not all of us fall into all three categories). The Church's service to us, however, does not mean that She is meant to bow down to our human knowledge, will, and societal demands. The Church is not a teenager bowing down to peer pressure. She is the Bride of Christ, and must, like her Heavenly Spouse, bear witness to the truths God has taught us through Holy Scripture and through our long Tradition. To change Her ways to appeal to current societal appeals is to deny Her dignity. Her duty is now and has always been to present Christ to us, through God's word, through the Sacraments He instituted in Her, especially through the Most Sacred Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Nothing else the world tells us we need can compare to the mystery and glory of the Eucharist.

The fact that I can even dare to approach the altar of God, for which I am eminently unworthy, is a miracle of unending mercy and grace. My worthiness comes not from my good deeds, my own time in devoted prayer, or even by nature of my humanity, even though I was made in God's image. I am fallen, spoiled, and broken. I am a distorted image of God. I can never rise on my own to a level of dignity high enough to deserve to even sit at the foot of the Altar to bask in the wonder of His Presence. The only reason I can even begin to approach the Lord, and even then with soul-rending humility, is because Christ has taken on my sin and allowed me to take upon myself His worthiness. I am alive in God on borrowed grace that I fight to continue to accept every day I live. My baptism has saved me and the Eucharist brings me into the body of Christ and sustains me. Despite my brokenness, Christ has given me mercy.

In that light, the Church owes me nothing. The Church has already given me more than I can ever deserve as She shares with me through Her anointed ministers the Sacraments of Christ. To come to Her with a sense of entitlement and demand She bend to my will is to throw back in Her face and that of Her Spouse the gift of the Cross. How can I say what She offers is too little when She is Christ to me as I await Heaven?

All I can ask of my Church is that Her ministers remain accountable, truthful, and that they do everything they can to maintain Her in the same dignity Christ gave to Her on Calvary. At times we may choose to adorn Her in different ways and delve more deeply into the truths She protects, but we must always strive to protect Her true beauty, which is the Sacraments. We must request them with great discernment and humility and accept them with a bowed heart and not a grasping hand. At times we must step back and realise we still cannot ask for the Sacraments because of our state of sinfulness or even the realisation that not all Sacraments are meant for us individually. Our Church is not a fast food chain. The altar is not a table. The Eucharist is not bread, but the Very Body and Blood of our Saviour, broken and poured out for us as a ransom from death. Let us treat the Church as holy ground, not as a place where we can place our order and expect it to be filled to the letter. Approach the Altar of Christ with sorrow and weeping as you would the Cross, and give thanks for what you have been given in the depths of your sinfulness and leave your self-entitled requests at the door. In doing that and accepting Christ in the Sacraments as God has ordained them for you, you will find great joy, peace, and fulfilment than any plan you could conceive for yourself.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Baby 5: Week 14

How Far Along: 14 Weeks (26 weeks to go!)

How I'm Feeling: I am feeling energetic! The nausea is gone now. I've been busy getting ready for Christmas, cleaning up the house (a bit...), and doing some baking!

What I'm Thinking: I'm starting show. More than just muffin top here, actual uterus pop in my belly zone. I've obviously hit the 2nd trimester, because I'm starting to think less about surviving, more about getting ready. I'm starting to dream about prepping the nursery and meeting this little one!

What I've Done This Week: Now that we know it's only one baby, we were able to ask the couple we had in mind to be Baby 5's Godparents. They're friends from our Church who we find really inspiring but also very real. I know that this is a couple we can grow in faith with, and who will delight in helping us bring up our new baby in Faith!

What I Hope To Do Next Week: This week I'm going to concentrate on some Christmas baking, and making meals for some Mama friends who are about to have their babies!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

They're Watching

For anyone who's ever tried to sneak a snack or take a bathroom break, this will come as no surprise: Your kids, both big, small, and tiny, they're watching you. All the time. And listening too. Heaven help us. Don't believe me, watch their pretend games. How often have I seen my sons pretend to be cabinetmakers, or my daughters pretend to be cooking, and vice versa. Or less pleasant mimicking like... sitting on their behinds watching TV eating popcorn, repeating less than pleasant phrases, or whatnot.

It's not news that our kids are little sponges. We rely on that when we're trying to teach them new words, how to walk, and how to act. The tricky thing is that they're sponges even when we're not in teaching mode. That time you road raged. Yeah, they saw that. That time you only brushed your teeth for 2 seconds before walking out the door. Their eyes were glued to you. When you wore the same outfit for an entire week because you didn't want to do laundry. They noticed. They may have been grossed out. That book you were reading. They're going to check it out when you're not looking. When you turned on Dr. Phil and stared with rapt attention regardless of what was going on. They watched you. Then they watched him. When you complained about your friend/parent/spouse/in-law/stranger to a friend over coffee while you had that playdate. They stored up those words, that facial expression, and your feelings.

If you're like me, the very thought of this makes you want to run in terror, and go buy your kids some industrial quality earmuffs and blinders. Just a tip, that would be weird looking, and probably still wouldn't work. So, while I'm busy sheltering my kids from all the evils of the world, I'm sitting here pounding my head on the desk remembering that I can't shelter them from me. The truth is that I shouldn't have to shelter them from who I am. They're going to see the cracks in my Momhood if there's a different me for when I'm talking just to them and this other, strange woman I show the rest of the world. Or maybe like me you're nicer out in public than you are behind closed doors. You know what I mean. We all have that super sweet way of dealing with the usual insanity of toddlers when we're out. When we're home, they're right in time out, no nice voice, not much patience, and more than a few heavy sighs.

So what can I do with these thinking, feeling, loving little sponges? I can use them as inspiration to be a better person, when I think no one's looking and when everyone's looking. Because if you have kids, they're always watching, listening and learning. They're the same wherever they are, so maybe I can be too. Maybe I can learn to be a woman I'd be proud to call my friend all the time. I want to give my kids the best model I can so that they don't have to ever hear me say "do as I say, not as I do". Some day they're going to leave my house, and I don't have to just pray they'll be good, responsible people, I can teach them through my daily example.

The Global Village

While I was up late (for me) last night after a nightmare from the big boy, I turned to twitter to relax my mind. I would've turned to a book I've been dying to read, but after 10.5 hour days hubby was fast asleep. I didn't dare turn on my light lest I wake him up from what looked to be peaceful slumber. I know he wouldn't have minded, but I would have felt terrible. So there I was, reading  by the dull glow of my old iPhone, refreshing my feed. I came to two realisations last night about twitter, and in turn the global village that I've become a part of via social media.

One, I really don't care for Twilight. There was a twitter party going on for the red carpet premiere of what I believe is the final movie (Thank God). I have high standards for books. I get that. As my friend over at Wiccan to Catholic pointed out quite astutely, Vampires are meant to be a cautionary tale about the emptiness and darkness of a life where we choose to seek out eternal life without God. That is a terrible, broken, half-life in the early tales of Dracula. So when I read about sparkly vampires falling in love and making babies, my eye starts twitching.

Anyway, for the few of you still reading after my not so mini Twilight rant, I learned something else WAY better about twitter, and social media in general last night. Twitter is my village. When our Great-Grandmothers were having babies, they use to gather around their tables for tea, or knitting circles, or kitchen parties (can you tell I'm a Nova Scotian that these are the three things I picked?) and talk about everything going on in their families. They're share tips, advice, or simply nod sagely when they were in the same boat. That's not so different from what we're doing through social media. Be it through our FB group or on our Twitter feeds, many of us are seeking out the companionship our modern cities and lifestyles deny us. The great bonus of it all is that in the whole world of social media, there's at least one other Mom who is experiencing the exact same problem as you. I've found homeschooling Mamas, Moms kept up all night by newborns (#zombiemoms), Moms who love to cloth diaper, Moms with lots of kids, Moms of Faith, Moms who challenge me, Moms who entertain me, Moms who inspire me. I can't find that in any one Mom in my own town (though I have a few that meet all those qualifications together), but the fact is that when the lights go out and they're all in bed, sometimes I still need community so I'm not battling through parenthood alone.

If it takes a village to raise a child, my village is here in my own city, but also all across the world, as part of the global village. If you take a few days to speak to Moms across the world, you'll see that motherhood is as universal as it is unique, and that there's always something to be learned from the friend waiting on the other side of 140 characters.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Husband, Kids and Pregnancy

A busy week here in our house. For one, my husband has started adding, at the request of his boss, an extra hour or hour and a half to every work day for the foreseeable future. That's about ten and a half hours a day, averaging 52.5 hours a week. I know this won't last forever, and that since the whole shop is taking a week and a half off around Christmas, it's a financial boon. With how busy things have been at the shop lately, I'm not entirely surprised everyone at the shop is adding hours to their week. It's part of how they work together to be one of if not the best cabinetmaking shop in our city. They want the extra time to install their kitchens right, so the customer is pleased with the results. It's obviously working well, because they have about as any kitchens scheduled for the next two months as they have all summer, and they're finishing them with the same flawless skill and efficiency. I'm really proud of my husband for working so hard for our family so we can have a little extra. Extra for the kids and extra to share with others as we can.

And then there's the kids. They've been a mix between lovely and mind-boggling. I got my hair cut short last month, so it's a little harder to pull all my hair out, thank God. I love each and every one of my precious little blessings, but there are days, people, there are days. I won't regale you with all the details, but it has involved crayons on wall, potty training mishaps (every night for several weeks), diapers being removed and used for "art" projects, nasty coughs and runny noses, vicious angry (poor baby!), fighting between big and small and just general chaos. The funny thing is that most of the bad stuff only lasts a few minutes, and then we're back to hugging, cuddling, laughing, and general silliness. I have to remind myself that I can't let a few minutes ruin my whole day, but it can be tough when I'm scrubbing the walls and changing sheets while trying to break up fights. Because we had the kids so close together, we get the upside of them being the best of friends, but with that comes the complication of them being toddlers and preschoolers all at the same time. Looking back, I really wouldn't change anything, because I think the benefits outweigh the pee-soaked sheets. That's what I have to remind myself when I'm down in the trenches. The fact is that with one or two kids, I'd probably be just as stressed out by teething, potty training or whatnot, but I wouldn't have each of these beautiful little people to love and to inspire me to keep getting up every day to be everything to them.

With another pregnancy I'm looking forward to adding this new baby to the mix. Yes, it'll be another baby's worth of diapers and sleepless nights, but this baby will be one more reason to fight through my own selfishness and laziness to become a better person for the kids and my husband. Each of them love me so much, I can't help but want to love them right back and then some. I've often joked that life with toddlers must be some kind of purgatory, but every day I get big ole slices of heaven tucked in there to keep me going. I'm trying every day to embrace what I've been given, and to always have gratitude on my heart, no matter what the kids throw at me, or the walls.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

What They Saved

I'm sure this is obvious to many people, but as I was up in the middle of the night thanks to baby drama (wet bed, nightmares caused by his own coughing, and a teething cranky baby girl), I was left reflecting on today, Remembrance Day. Today is the day we remember the end of WWI, the Great War, the War to End all wars. Well, it sadly wasn't the war to end all wars, but to the men fighting on the front line, and the women working hard as staff and nurses as well as on the home front, this was meant to be the last stand before peace. Peace for all future generations. It was a war filled with stories of heroic sacrifice, tragic loss, and men coming home missing both parts of their bodies and their souls. They saw things that could not be unseen. They gave parts of themselves they could never find again. They came home to a grateful nation, but lost a nation's worth of friends on the bloodied fields on Europe.

We also remember the brave men and women who served on our behalf during WWII. As we all learned growing up, they went to fight without knowing the depth of evil being perpetrated in eastern Europe. (Evils of which we as Canadians and Americans were not entirely innocent. Think of the musical Allegiance, which features the story of those in internment camps for Japanese citizens on American soil, a story too familiar to Canada. Anti-semitism and race based hate wasn't unheard of here either to say the least.) As the war came to a close, our soldiers and medical staff discovered the unthinkable as they freed the few survivors from the death camps. They had fought, not knowing what they were really fighting for until they came face to face with the walking death and horrific stories shared by survivors.

In the middle of the night, my mind wandered over these horrors and the what ifs. What if the military efforts of our Allies hadn't succeeded? What if the war had found our shores, and the attempt to white wash the world's population had reached my own neighbourhood? My best friend in elementary school was a very kind Jewish boy. I have several very dear friends as an adult both in person and through social media, who are of the Jewish faith. Then there are the African Canadian, Middle Eastern, Asian and East Indian friends I have. Would they be here? Seems doubtful. The amusing gypsy children (let's ignore that a few of them tried to pick my pocket) I met in Italy, would they be given a chance to live? All my friends and acquaintances with disabilities, all my friends who value their right to protest, all those who simply do not fit "aryan" qualifications... And my own maternal family line, whose lineage traces quite easily back to a town in Germany, are very few generations removed from our once proud Jewish heritage, lost when they converted to make life easier in Canada. What of them? Would my maternal family have survived the cruel cull of genocide? The population of my country and my circle of friends would be different. Chances are I wouldn't be a part of it to notice a difference.

As with any war, we can't just thank our veterans and those lost on the battlefields for the momentary battle that they won. We thank them for the future they secured for us. Sometimes I feel like it would be so easy to lose sight of how close we came to a world too dark to be imagined. We can't just thank them for the past, we must thank them for the present, and the future. We thank them for inspiring us to continue to fight for our freedom as they did, with their very lives.

Baby 5: Week 13

How Far Along: 13 Weeks (27 weeks to go!)

How I'm Feeling: The nausea is still there, but is very mild. It has been replaced for the most part by excessive hunger. When I don't eat small meals throughout the day (plus snacks), I get so weak I can barely stand. So yeah, I've been eating all day. Poor me. haha!

What I'm Thinking: The ultrasound has come and gone. As my regular readers read on my blog on Thursday, we are blessed with (only) one beautiful, active, and perfect baby. You may have noticed our due date skipped 2 weeks ahead. We figured our dates must have been off because our hormone test came back with very high results for our original date. Since we had the ultrasound my mind has started focusing on the reality of this one, precious little wonder growing inside of me. We could already see so much of this new baby's personality at a mere 12 weeks. What a lively child so full of interest and so feisty! I'm so excited to meet him or her in another 27 or so weeks.

What I've Done This Week: The ultrasound was the big thing. Since then we've been refining the names we've picked, and praying hard about who the Godparents should be. It's a tough choice when we have around us so many beautiful people who we know would be a perfect fit. We're really trusting this one to God! The great things is that we hope to have more babies, so eventually we'll probably get to invite our other precious friends into our family as Godparents for those babies.

What I Hope To Do Next Week: I'm going to start knitting little things like hats and sookie blankets for the baby, as well as some Christmas gifts for the big kids. Time is flying!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Baby 5: First Ultrasound

We had our first ultrasound this morning. We got there quite early and by chance they were able to take us in right away. It pays to be punctual, folks. We were out of the ultrasounds before our appointment time. For those of you who have been following the weekly instalments relating to this pregnancy, we had estimated (based on sparse facts) that we would be 10 weeks and 4 days today. I'd not had an obvious return of my cycle, so we weren't able to use the LMP for our estimations (like that works anyway) but guessed based on other details we had. Based on the very high levels (for the EDD we had) of hormones from my blood pregnancy test, we were left wondering if we'd botched the dates or if we were having twins. We discovered recently that twins run in the family quite a bit on my Dad's side (he's adopted), and with the fact that we were on our 5th pregnancy, we knew statistics were starting to tip towards a twin pregnancy this time around. We were very excited (and of course nervous) for the prospect. We had started looking for a bigger van, were talking about all the little details we needed to square away to make sure we transitioned smoothly to two more babies. I think part of my mind had totally accepted that it was twins. I even wanted twins. Yes, it would be a challenge, but having witness a dear friend not only survive but thrive with two beautiful twin girls I felt like, with her advice and wisdom, we could do the same thing (or our own version of it anyway).

So as I parked my very tired, very bloated body on the ultrasound table, I squinted my eyes, expecting to see two little sacs, two little babies. I think it would be wrong to say I was disappointed that there was only one little baby in there. I was SO excited to see our perfect, beautiful little baby. There was a part of me, the part that had built up the expectation that there might be two, that was surprised to see only one. I actually said out loud: "Maybe next time!" and then got down to the business of memorising every delightful detail of the little baby on the screen.

Not to brag or anything, but my husband and I make gorgeous babies. Even in the womb, they are to die for! As the ultrasound wand swept back and forth, we saw a perfectly formed little body, a sweet pounding heart, and a profile that looked so much like baby's big sisters already. Baby was also bouncing around, changing sides constantly, and waving tiny little hands at us. We couldn't help but smile and laugh at how active this tiny person was! The ultrasound tech told us our Baby is already 6cm on the button.

Size leads me to our next point. I guess we were a little tiny bit off. Two weeks to be exact. So, as of this morning we are 12 weeks and 4 days along, with a update due date of May 19th, 2013. Knowing that I often go late, we'll probably still be closer to June before we meet the newest baby. It's nice to know we're hitting the end of the first trimester. My nausea is already down significantly, which is great. It's time to start enjoying the 27-29 weeks left before we meet our little one!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Post-Election Hangover

I'm not an American, but like many other Canadians, I found myself glued to the screen until late in the night watching CNN call state after state (don't get me started on calling a state before any ballots have been counted) for one candidate or another. As an informed citizen of the world, I had my own little opinions as to who the best candidate would be, and how the next 4 years would look in the ole US of A. At the end of the day it doesn't matter whether I was with Obama or Romney. First of all, I couldn't vote, and secondly, the election is over and the results are in.

I'm left this evening reflecting on the honest truth that if I had been in the US, I'm not sure who would have gotten my vote. As in Canada, we always seem to be voting for the lesser of two (or in our case several) evils. When we pin our hopes on human beings and proclaim their policy to be divine, we're bound to run into troubles. The fact is that after all these years, I've given up on the idea of a Philosopher King (sorry Plato. What a tease). There is no human being who can act in all ways perfectly according to how I believe God would act. There are elements that we cling to, and find enough of an anchor of faithfulness to morality that we'll wear a pin, put a sign up on our lawn, and even debate vigorously for our candidate in the streets. I find it tough to get so engaged in any one politician. I see positive and negative policies on all sides. Social justice, right to life, healthcare, education, all of it. No one candidate has it %100 right. So we wake up on election day to a close split and a promise to work together and go back to campaigning when the dawn breaks. There is no Philosopher King, just a collection of people as broken as we are struggling to figure out what's right, what's important, and what will get them or their party elected in another 4 years (or often less if you're Canadian).

I guess I'm a little disillusioned with the obsession with politics. Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in civic involvement, and have never missed an opportunity to cast my ballot after careful consideration. I do not, however, act like the Apocalypse is upon us when my candidate isn't elected, nor do I thank Sweet Jesus like it's some kind of deus ex machina when I pick the winning team. Rather, I think what we could all consider doing is saying a prayer for whomever finds themselves holding the balance of power, that they would use it carefully, rightly, and with deep charity for the people who entrusted them with the guidance of their nation, state or province, town, or municipality.

At the end of the day, politicians will create their policies, fund their projects, cut this that or the other thing, and do their best to do what they promised to do in election speeches. So what are we left with? How do we change the world, like so many politicians promised us over the years? My thought is that all we can do is start with ourselves. If we want the world to be more Christian, we need to look inside our hearts and figure out what that really means, and then be Christian. Not halfway Christian when it's convenient, but Christian with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. That kind of Christianity doesn't offend people, because real, authentic Christianity is by its very nature a daily expression of love and charity, but done in humility. It is the act of being unafraid to speak the truth, but being able to do so with kindness, love, and gentleness. That kind of love attracts people. It doesn't lead people to call us extremists. That kind of love sets others ablaze with love. It inspires other people to look deeper into themselves, to re-evaluate who they are in the world.

Don't believe me? Look at Mother Theresa. Every time you see a video of her tending to the poor, sick, and helpless, don't you feel a little accusation in your own heart, and a call to be more than who you are today? Now, I know that you and I are no Mother Theresa, but that doesn't mean we can't inspire someone today, and change our world a little bit at a time. Imagine if we all embraced the true call of our faith, how simply being who Christ called us to be could really change the world. Politics can only take us so far, and often not that far at all. If we want to see the poor fed, the naked clothed, widows and orphans taken care of, and people in crisis supported, we are the ones who need to step up, organise, fundraise and finally share our own wealth as we can to make sure no one is left feeling forgotten. There are no Philosopher Kings. My only King is the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. He's the model I want to follow, He's the one who will work with me and through me to bring about real change.

The vote is cast. The election is over. Time for the rest of us to get to work.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Baby 5: Week 10

How Far Along: 10 weeks (30 weeks)

How I'm Feeling: I'm still nauseous folks. Surprise surprise! I'm also having a little problem with motion sickness that can be inspired just by watching someone or something else move in just the right way. Odd stuff! This week I've also noticed some minor changes in my eyesight. Not enough to make me think I was blind, but enough to make me call my optometrist. She told me that changes in eyesight are a side affect of being pregnant. I'm guessing that because my blood volume has doubled, the fluid in my eye has shifted a bit causes a slight disturbance. Luckily, these changes go away on their own. I can still read most things, so I'm not going to complain. I'm also experiencing wild salt cravings! My blood pressure runs low so of course I need plenty of sodium to pump it back up. Good times!

What I'm Thinking: I'm having a bit of tunnel vision in that all I can really think of is the ultrasound this coming Thursday. We went to visit to a dear friend of ours who is a priest. I saw him by chance a month or so back, and he told me I was pregnant before I even knew I was. I told him I was still just chubby after Baby 4, but he shook his head, smiled and walked away. He's one smart Italian. When we saw him this week (we try to visit often as he's oldest boy's Godfather) he let me know we're having a girl. Too bad our ultrasound won't be able to tell us gender as this point because it would be interesting to see if he's right. haha! I've been dreaming about twins again, and with all this nausea I'm curious to see if we'll see one little sac on the screen on Thursday or two. The suspense is killing me!!!

What I've Done This Week: This week I was really focused on other folks' babies. With the help of my husband and two other friend we ran a Baby Shower for a local charity called BirthRight which provides help and counselling to people with unexpected pregnancies. It's been nice to focus on someone else's baby other than ours! We also had a visit a few friends this week, including that of a beautifully pregnant Mama who let me touch her belly. I could feel her baby's entire back curled up against the front of her belly. So beautiful! So I guess what I've done this week is embrace the joy that comes to us from our beloved friends!

What I Hope To Do Next Week: I have nothing to think of but our ultrasound this Thursday. I am so focused it's crazy. Must try to get out of my own head space.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Santo Subito!

For those of you who remember and loved Pope John Paul II, the words "Santo Subito!" are as much a part of your psyche as "JP II, we love you!". Both phrases come from very different points of his life. The latter I first heard when I attending World Youth Day in Rome in the year 2000. Hundreds of thousands of English speaking pilgrims shouted out our love for our friend, Pope John Paul II. Yes, he was our Pope. The only Pope in my life time at that point.

What was it about him that we loved, that I loved? I can give a million reasons, all of them good. I read his books, and could feel the hope and love that he infused into every moment of his life wash over me. I saw how human he was. When I was old enough to care about who the Pope was, he was an old man, falling apart before my eyes. He was dying every day on the world stage, but somehow managed to effortlessly hold on to his dignity. He showed all of us that dignity doesn't come from human esteem, but from the God who created each of us and continues to give us life each day. I loved him for who he was in history. For the bravery of his faith during the second world war, his faith in the face of a darkness so deep it swallowed up the lives of countless people, including some of his dearest friends. He came out of that evil time with great conviction, compassion and most of all love. He took the character his experiences built up in himself and used it on the world stage to stand up to evil, and stood up to communism in his beloved Poland. When he was elected Pope, he became a symbol of hope for his polish countrymen and women who were struggling again under the weight of oppression at the hand of communism. These are good reasons. But they only scratch the surface of why I loved him.

When I look at videos of John Paul II on YouTube, I feel it right away. I love this man like a member of my own family. Like a friend I've know my whole life. And why is that? Because I can feel when I see him that he loved me too. As a young girl I was lucky enough to go to World Youth Day twice before he passed away. World Youth Day is a youth festival instituted by the Pope to bring young Catholics together to encourage each other, grow in faith, and sit at the foot of Peter to hear in a way that made sense to us the Gospel of Christ. We came together, many of us there just there for a trip, and left on fire with love for Christ. So how does this man in his 80s connect to my youthful experience of faith? By far, the most exciting part of WYD, in both Rome and Toronto, was hearing the Pope speak. He loved young people, and understood how to talk to us. He didn't baby us, or dumb down the message of Christ. He challenged us, he told us we were called, he reminded us that God loved us. He said that he loved us and felt young when he was with us. This was no pandering of an ancient Church desperately grasping at the young in hopes of staying just viable enough to make it through another decade. This was a man who loved God so much, that he wanted to share his faith with us so we could find the joy he had. He knew that with that faith and joy, we could go back into the world and stay strong while being inundated with messages of immorality, consumerism, and death. He could see the challenges our generation faced, and prayed for us and loved us in it all. If you caught eyes with him as he drove by you, you felt like he was looking into your soul. People I know that actually got to meet him and chat with him each tell stories of how he would take great interest in details of their lives, and would share with them kindness and humour. He wasn't an unapproachable man in love with his own title. He was your friend, your confidant, and your greatest supporter. For me, he was an image of how I imagine Jesus was when he walked on the earth two millenia ago. He was what every true Vicar of Christ should be, someone who will love you unconditionally, tell you "Be not afraid", and then show you how to come closer to God.

So when he passed away, young people from around the world who had been drawn to him joined together with an aching cry of loss. Our friend was no longer here. But we also know that our beloved friend was with God, surely welcomed him with open arms into the Kingdom he has shared with so much passion. We took our tears and turned them into joyful shouts of "Santo Subito!", "A Saint Soon!" (sounds better in Italian). We wanted to Church to recognise formally what we already knew, that in our lifetime we had known a Saint. Already our beloved Pope is Blessed, so now we're waiting patiently for the requirements to be fulfilled so that the whole Church will join us in rejoicing in God's grace as witness in the life of a mere human who became a earthly image of Christ.

So my prayers rise up with the cry of my soul of "JP II, we love you!" and my voice shouts out "Santo Subito!" in gratitude for the man who became my friend without even knowing my name. His witness of holiness left a stamp on my heart that inspires me every day to be who God is calling me some day, so that I can open my heart up enough to make my very life an act of praise.