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Archive for December, 2010

I give to you an actual post!

It’s been a busy, busy time for us at Chez Cubbedge. There is a lot to tell, particularly relating to how very, very wonderful St. Jude and the Holy Family are. Actually, St. Jude is Jesus’ cousin, so it really has been all in the family this Christmas.

Many of you know that it’s been a struggle since our move. Our housing situation has been terrible. There has been no heat during the coldest snap Savannah has seen in years and years. There are too many details to go into without becoming a serious kavetch, something I’m trying to avoid. Suffice it to say, we have been living in a close approximation to the Holy Family this Christmas in terms of poverty, housing and people being out to get us. Of course, I’m not pregnant, no one has tried to kill any of us, and we have nice things like semi-modern plumbing, but it’s been a real struggle to keep faith in the Lord’s love and providence.

This is rambly, but it is going somewhere, I promise.

I experienced a mini-conversion somewhere after the third Sunday of Advent. I was beaten down, crying at the drop of a hat, bracing myself for the next blow life was about to deal. I don’t even remember what really happened, but one Saturday I woke up and said “I’m going to confession. This has to stop.” So, I toddled to church. I was the only person there, so I prayed until the priest, who was wearing holiday themed socks, arrived. I remember asking God to help me be a good wife, a good mother, and to show in a concrete way His care for my family. I’m slow on the uptake with God’s love.  He needs to shout for me to hear.

Anyway, I confessed my sins. I cried a little. The priest was very kind. In fact, he offered concrete help. I must have looked stunned. When I left the confessional I sort of collapsed onto a kneeler and looked at the statue of the Sacred Heart and said “you really are taking care of us, aren’t you?” And I knew at that point that Jesus was saying “Yes, I am, and you have nothing to worry about. Trust me and pray.”

So, I began. Every day, I’ve been making little acts of trust and adjusting my attitude to be grateful to God and to mirror our Lady. Where was I? Yes. With this new attitude, I began to pray in faith for a resolution to the material difficulties we’ve been facing. It’s a good thing, too. The Monday before Christmas I went out with a lovely young mother from church for a much needed evening out. We had a good time, and when I got home I saw my husband on the porch with a workman of some kind.

“Oh dear,” I thought. “What now?”

Turns out, the upstairs main breaker had completely blown. It was a $300 repair job that completely cleared our bank account out the day  before we were to go grocery shopping. Our landlord refused to pay for it because we had called a licenced electrician instead of a hobo he used to get to do jobs (poorly). I was mad. No, I was furious. I was also faced with a choice: either I cry, and complain at my husband who is already completely done, thereby causing further stress and demoslishing any shred of Christmas spirit we had left, or I smile, and say a quick prayer, and encourage my husband. I decided to go with the second option. To my surprise, it was sincere!  I prayed. I prayed a quick, hurried prayer to St. Jude, because, let’s face it, we were in a hopeless situation. And then I went to bed. No complaining.

The next day we received past due rent from a tenant that covered the electrician’s bill. That afternoon miracles began to occur. We’re now in a position to pay the deposit and first month on a new place to live, and get my husband’s bar application in. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to every single person who prayed, helped or encouraged us. I’ve spent accumulated hours in happy tears of thanksgiving. The Lord has been so generous in our material needs, but He’s surpassed Himself in meeting my spiritual needs this Christmas. He’s not to be outdone in generosity.

So, thank you all for your prayers. We’re waiting for the leasing agent to get better from some nasty bug or other, and then we’ll be in the new house. We’ll be in a safe neighborhood, near parks and church and the grocery store, and friends. I’ll have a more intellectual (or something) post soon. In the meantime, thank you, thank you, thank you St. Jude and Mama Mary, Papa Joseph and Baby Jesus.

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St. John of the Cross

I entered into unknowing,

and there I remained unknowing
transcending all knowledge.

1. I entered into unknowing,
yet when I saw myself there,
without knowing where I was,
I understood great things;
I will not say what I felt
for I remained in unknowing
transcending all knowledge.

2. That perfect knowledge
was of peace and holiness
held at no remove
in profound solitude;
it was something so secret
that I was left stammering,
transcending all knowledge.

3. I was so ‘whelmed,
so absorbed and withdrawn,
that my senses were left
deprived of all their sensing,
and my spirit was given
an understanding while not understanding,
transcending all knowledge.

4. He who truly arrives there
cuts free from himself;
all that he knew before
now seems worthless,
and his knowledge so soars
that he is left in unknowing
transcending all knowledge.

5. The higher he ascends
the less he understands,
because the cloud is dark
which lit up the night;
whoever knows this
remains always in unknowing
transcending all knowledge.

6. This knowledge in unknowing
is so overwhelming
that wise men disputing
can never overthrow it,
for their knowledge does not reach
to the understanding of not
understanding,
transcending all knowledge.

7. And this supreme knowledge
is so exalted
that no power of man or learning
can grasp it;
he who masters himself
will, with knowledge in
unknowing,
always be transcending.

8. And if you should want to hear:
this highest knowledge lies
in the loftiest sense
of the essence of God;
this is a work of his mercy,
to leave one without
understanding,

transcending all knowledge.

-Stanzas Concerning an Ecstasy. Copyright ICS Publications. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, if this copyright notice is included.

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Nes Gadol Haya Sham

A very belated Hannukah post. Enjoy!

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Time to Festoon

I’ve been trying to figure out the Christmas decoration thing this past week. If we’re moving before, we have to take everthing down and redecorate the new place. If we’re not, I’m missing out on a darn good bit of Christmas cheer. So, I did what any modern young wife would do. I asked on Facebook.

Everyone responded with a resounding “Decorate!” My mom responded with a resounding “Trust God.” So, I will decorate and trust God.

I realized for the umpteenth time the importance of my role.  Will goes out and brings in the weekly reindeer, and all sorts of important things, and of course I’d love to bring in a little extra money, but my primary job, outside wife/mother is to be the keeper of the hearth. This isn’t an easy job, particularly when your hearth is broken, your landlord is a crook and it’s freezing outside. I tend to become discouraged and depressed when my environment isn’t right. Then it becomes a vicious cycle: I’m depressed by my environment, therefore I can’t do anything about it, therefore I’m depressed by my environment. You see? It’s terrible. Anyway, it’s my job to make sure the place we inhabit, even if it’s only for a little longer, is a warm (in our case only spiritually- the heat still isn’t fixed), happy, pretty place for my family. It should be our own, slightly untidy, little bit of Eden.  I get to be the steward of this little piece of paradise.

Please pray for me this week as I shake off this slump and get back into shape.

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I’d like to say that I have Advent well in hand, and that the pretty preparations for Christmas are well underway. Unfortunately, if I told you that I’d have to add yet another item to my confessional list because it would be a bald faced lie. In the spirit of my disorganized forty days of recollection and penance, I give you my quick takes. As always there are more at the always lovely Jen Fulwiler’s Conversion Diary.

~1~

Not only is Advent only just beginning for us this year, St. Nicholas arrived late, too.  His helpers, full of earthly dross and cold and exhaustion from the cold, forgot to set the little one’s shoes out on the eve of the feast. So, St. Nicholas arrived on his actual day. Of course, he left delicious, handcrafted cookies, gold coins, and a calligraphed Legend of St. Nicholas.

~2~

The last sentence of #1 is a lie. St. Nicholas is a kind and understanding bishop, who only ever punched Arians, not worn out mommies, so he was fine with leaving Mint Milanos. He’s cool like that.

~3~

Our heat doesn’t work! Yay! This has done wonders for my get-up-and-go attitude. Of course, the Holy Family didn’t have heat, either, so…

~4~

We have rather more similarities with the Holy Family this year than I am comfortable with. This will evolve into an actual post at some point. In the meantime, of your kindness, please pray that we are able to turn to Jesus, Mary and Joseph and imitate them as closely as possible.

~5~

On the day after St. Nicholas Day, Philomena devoured her cookies in the  morning. It was pure, unadulterated joy. Shortly afterwards, she grabbed up her shoes and followed me around the house saying “Please, more cookies from St. Nicholas!” I explained that Mommy didn’t leave the cookies, but St. Nicholas did, and she went on to drop to her knees and pray “Dear Jesus, please help St. Nicholas help Cookie Monster put more cookies in my shoes. Amen.”

~6~

We finally got the Nativity scene set up! Mary and Joseph are walking to Bethlehem from our kitchen, the shepherd is high on the hilltop of our fireplace, and the three Kings are on a desk in the living room. The Bambino is resting next to a picture of the Sacred Heart. Just doing this made our chaotic home so much more peaceful.

~7~

You know it’s almost Christmas when all the lawyers in town are unbelievably kind, generous and supportive of your embryo lawyer husband. God bless every one of them.

 

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I’m not dead! I’m back! Sorry for the lack of blog.

My family has been undergoing some serious difficulties of both practical and spiritual natures. Obviously, the two are interconnected, and so today, I would like to share with you two or three people who read this thing my recent experience with full on, body armor needed spiritual warfare.

Many of you know our situation. Without going into too much detail, we’re in the midst of some serious troubles regarding our housing. Our landlord is a crook, and has done a number on us. We’re in the middle of a cold snap and there’s no heat. It didn’t break. The house just is not heated. (Yes, it’s supposed to  be). We’ve had some off things going on with members of family and some friends and acquaintances. We’re in need of work. It’s a lot. It’s so much, in fact, that I’ve questioned virtually every aspect of faith, and have, to a degree, rejected God in a way I don’t think I’ve ever done.

Why would God do this to us? I find myself thinking. What do I have to do to fix it and get Him to love us again? I know all the answers. My theology’s great. The trouble is, it hasn’t meant much to me in the last few weeks. My reaction has literally  been “so what?” .  I then say to myself that what we really need is money, a house that isn’t dangerous, a job, practical stuff, not pie in the sky distant promises. Nothing much has helped. I didn’t want to go to mass yesterday, and I didn’t go to communion. Too much anger/murder in my heart. I haven’t wanted to pray, and even saying grace before meals has been a struggle.  Each time I sit down with the office, or any kind of prayer or scripture, I feel consoled for a moment, but the moment passes, and I’m left with just distant promises. Every time I open the Bible, it says the same thing, and it’s a consolation every time. But then, it goes away. I haven’t had the strength to persevere. You see, the timing of all the bad stuff is too freakily coincidental. A good thing happens and IMMEDIATELY, a bad thing follows. Like, within minutes. It’s bizarre. It has become too much.

Last night the spiritual warfare really hit the fan.  Around 3am, as our darling daughter was busy kicking us in bed (and also being adorable and giving us love pats on the cheeks), I was assailed with all kinds of truly evil thoughts. I felt alot of chaotic nasty stuff all around me. It took every ounce of will I could summon in the middle of the night to start praying my rosary. I didn’t want to. I wanted to cave.  I wanted to stop trying to live a Christian life. And then the fear set in.

There I was, repeating the rosary prayers because I got distracted not by the baby but by the unseen nastiness, shaking with fear. And in the middle of a hail Mary during the mystery of the Annunciation, I realized I had a choice. I realized I had to choose whether it was worth dealing with the fear on my own, or whether God, who I’ve been thinking of as the bad guy with a boppo hammer in the sky was, at least in some small way, better than the fears, the imagery, the doubts. I called out to Mary in my heart and said “take this fear away, please. I can’t do it anymore. I was wrong to reject God. Please make it go away.”

Guess what? It went away.

It sounds banal and like it was just a case of night terrors. It wasn’t. I’ve seen a lot of supernatural stuff in my life, at least, in comparison to most people I know. I’ve seen people get up out of wheelchairs and be healed of blindness. But, funnily enough, they didn’t have the effect on me that last night’s weird spiritual battle did. When I emerged, I knew that I could not allow myself to let the enemy in even one little tiny crack. The Devil is an opportunist, and he takes advantage. God allowed me to see a tiny bit of the darkness. I had really begun to doubt not God’s existence but His mercy. I had begun to think that God was an abusive father, and that I had to keep performing in the vain hope that just maybe He’s be pleased with my efforts. If anything will sap the courage out of you, that will.

I’m not a theologian, thank goodness, but I’m not a hysteric, either. I know what happened last night, and how, thanks to the trusty weapon of the rosary, even a rosary poorly said, I was rescued. It wasn’t because of anything I did. It was because I cried out in weakness and a loving Father heard me.

I’m not going to let these temptations win again. It takes discipline, which is why the Church has the liturgy of the hours so we can just join on in to the prayers of the Church almost automatically. I’ve seen that courage and perseverence are needed in every single aspect of the Christian life. Indeed, every aspect of  the Christian life is a battle, and you need to go into it fully armed with the strength of Christ and the knowledge of your own weakness. If you’re being attacked, pray for deliverance. When it gets worse, keep praying. Don’t worry about making up your own prayers. They invented set prayers for a reason. When they start rattling their sabres, show them your rosary. When you start to get a glimpse into the unseen reality that makes up the ordinary Christian life, run straight to Jesus. Don’t hesititate!

I’m still being tempted as I write this to give up on God, but the fear and anxiety just aren’t worth the need I’ve had to stay mad at God for what I percieved as His maltreatment of my family. I was wrong. It’s not God’s fault. It took a good deal to show me this in a way I could believe, one that wasn’t just words. There are too many words, including the ones I’ve just  typed. It’s probably too much information, but I really needed to get this out. It’s good to remind myself of reality.

Please pray for my family.

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