Monday, December 28, 2015

Seedbeds of Charity

From Pope Francis:
“the family is the answer to the great challenge of our world, which is a dual challenge: fragmentation and solidification, two extremes which co-exist, support each other and together support the consumerist economic model. The family is the answer as it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and community dimensions, and at the same time the model for a sustainable management of the goods and resources of creation. The family is the protagonist of an integral ecology, as it is the primary social subject which contains within itself the two basic principals of human civilisation on earth: the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Biblical humanism presents us with this icon: the human couple, united and fruitful, placed by God in the garden of the world to cultivate it and protect it”.
My son, Joshua, who is in his second year of seminary shared this in an email along with something Dr Topping, one of his Thomas More College professors, told them. "One time John Paul II said that the family today is like the Benedictine monasteries of the Dark Ages. Both are centers of moral order, seedbeds for charity."
With the blessing of having Pope Francis visit the U.S. a few months ago, this is something for us to ponder. As parents, we must lead our families along the way towards holiness. Whether our children are young or have reached adulthood, we have the opportunity to help them figure out life as a follower of Christ. 
One thing we have to realize is that we cannot do this by ourselves. That is why it's so important to be in community. I must admit with the way life has been for me lately, I have fallen away from that more than I would have liked to do. With our kids all off to school, I find myself insulating a bit more than is good for me. I don't think this is being a good example to others- from my own young adult children to extended family to friends- and I've been trying to figure out how to remedy this. 
One way I was able to start was when we finally decided to take the leap and invite a fantastic young family from our parish to come to our house for an Advent "crafternoon".

I came up with a couple of easy crafts- snowflakes cut from coffee filters and gingerbread houses from graham crackers and candies. The family which has 7 adorable children came for a few hours, and we all had a wonderful time. My heart was filled with joy as the mom came in and after greetings, went right over to our little oratory, knelt down on the prie-dieu Josh had made for me a couple years ago, and prayed for a moment. It was the first time anyone other than our family members had done that. Laughter filled the house along with lots of smiles as each of the kids made their creations.  

Joshua and the girls got into the action, helping with the crafts and they all did a great job of keeping the littlest visitor entertained. Simple snacks of cookies and hot cocoa & cider topped off the "crafternoon". 
After that small step, I am longing to do more. We have so many families with young children in our parish, and it's up to us older moms (for I am realizing I have reached that spot on the spectrum of life) to make sure they are being nourished and cultivated. It's not that hard. It just takes a willingness to give a bit of time.
So many young mothers and fathers do not have the time, extra money or energy to do the little extra things those of us on the other side of raising our families are able to do. As the new year approaches, I pray you consider how you can help to plant seedbeds of charity. I know I am looking forward to trying it soon!

An ending and beginning in 2015

2015 has brought so many changes to our family. It started in January when Brian was hospitalized for three weeks with a life-threatening staph infection. Thanks be to God, he recovered and continues to take antibiotics to make sure the infection stays away. Spring came with not a whole lot of changes except for my 50th birthday. Then, as summer came, my Grandpa Aziz became very ill and ended up passing away in July. August found us sending off Cari & Mary to their first year at Christendom College and Thomas More College- both on the east coast. Joshua then headed back for his final year of his masters in philosophy study at Mt. Angel. In September, David flew to Rome, Italy for a semester of study. By the 18th of that month, Brian and I were empty nesters. Even with those changes, more things were still to come. At the end of the month, I started feeling a bit dizzy and just not very well. I thought it was perhaps just because I had been so busy then all the sudden the kids were gone, but it didn't go away. As I wrote in earlier posts, I was finally diagnosed with Meniere's Disease in October. During this time, I stayed at home mostly sitting on a recliner and just not feeling well enough to do much of anything. The time finally came to make a decision to resign from my position as head instructor at Salem Fencing Club. I've decided to share with you the letter I wrote to the fencers and families. I have no idea where we go from here, but I do know the Lord has blessed and guided us continuously throughout this year and will do so as we move into 2016.

Dear SFC fencers and families,
I sit here at my desk, hoping you are all having a wonderful beginning of December. As most of you are aware, I have had a period of illness over recent months and unfortunately, we are now aware this illness has very little possibility of improvement as there is no medical cure at this time. For those of you who donʼt know, my physician diagnosed me with Meniereʼs Disease October 28th. This is an illness which affects my balance and hearing along with migraines, tinnitus, memory loss and fatigue. I will be continuing my care with an ENT and most likely going to a vestibular neurologist in the next few months.
With this being said, I am sorry to inform you that I am needing to step down as the head instructor here at the salle. After much praying and talking with my family, we feel it will be the best thing for SFC. Please know this has been a very hard decision for me. I have seen many of our fencers grow from musketeers to high schoolers. I have had the privilege of traveling with and coaching some of you at tournaments in the Pacific Northwest, California, Reno and even Virginia. Iʼve watched many of our fencers go from beginners to getting their USFA rating. It has been an amazing ride.
I have enjoyed my 10 years with the club and learned more than I ever could have imagined, not just about fencing and coaching, but what it means to be part of some- thing very special. I am hoping to still be able to come and visit as my illness allows me. I would like to be able to come to tournaments and cheer you on as well as stop by once in a while to see how all of you are doing.
Our clubʼs motto has always been “Honor, Chivalry & Respect”. This has stood for not only our beliefs but our actions as well. I am so proud of all of the fencers that have come through our doors over the last ten years. My personal goal as well as the goal of the salle has always been to not only help people learn to love fencing and all it entails, but to help them be the very best men and women they could be. It is my sincerest hope that Salem Fencing Club continues to pursue this goal in the future.
Please know my thoughts are with all of you during these holidays. I am grateful for all of you~ the rest of the staff, the board members, the fencers, the fencing families and everyone who has helped make SFC what it is today.
With much love and gratitude,