Solemnity on a Friday!

December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In addition to being a holy day of obligation (translation: Go to Mass!), its status as a solemnity means that on years when the day falls on a Friday, the usual obligation to do penance on Fridays is lifted:

Can.  1249 The divine law binds all the Christian faithful to do penance each in his or her own way. In order for all to be united among themselves by some common observance of penance, however, penitential days are prescribed on which the Christian faithful devote themselves in a special way to prayer, perform works of piety and charity, and deny themselves by fulfilling their own obligations more faithfully and especially by observing fast and abstinence, according to the norm of the following canons.

Can.  1250 The penitential days and times in the universal Church are every Friday of the whole year and the season of Lent.

Can.  1251 Abstinence from meat, or from some other food as determined by the Episcopal Conference, is to be observed on all Fridays, unless a solemnity should fall on a Friday. Abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Let the bacon be served.

If you live in the US, your bishops already gave you the bacon-option, but it’s penitential bacon:

Can.  1253 The conference of bishops can determine more precisely the observance of fast and abstinence as well as substitute other forms of penance, especially works of charity and exercises of piety, in whole or in part, for abstinence and fast.

Way back in 1966, the US bishops determined that if abstaining from meat isn’t penitential enough for you, outside of Lent you are free to substitute some other penance:

28. In summary, let it not be said that by this action, implementing the spirit of renewal coming out of the Council, we have abolished Friday, repudiated the holy traditions of our fathers, or diminished the insistence of the Church on the fact of sin and the need for penance. Rather, let it be proved by the spirit in which we enter upon prayer and penance, not excluding fast and abstinence freely chosen, that these present decisions and recommendations of this conference of bishops will herald a new birth of loving faith and more profound penitential conversion, by both of which we become one with Christ, mature sons of God, and servants of God’s people.

The whole document is worth reading.  But not tomorrow!  On solemnities, we feast.

Other Immaculate Conception Links

In 2015 I wrote What My Dog Knows About the Immaculate Conception.  Get the whole story at the original post, including the bit about why my dog, when she wants to go outside, comes to the one person who is not going to get up and let her outside.  But here’s the thing:

My dog and I, therefore, are no typological figures of Marian intercession, get that idea out of your head right now.  Yes, Jesus would let the dog out if Mary told Him to.  But no, Jesus isn’t too busy showing St. Joseph the Russian Priests with Cats Calendar that he fails to notice the dog needs to pee, that’s not what it’s about.  There are other reasons asking Mary to intercede for you is a good, noble, worthwhile part of a healthy Christian lifestyle, and we’ll leave it at that for now.

The Immaculate Conception, which we commemorate today, is about this:

“We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful.”

Ineffabilis Deus, Apostolic Constitution issued by Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1854

The Immaculate Conceptions is about the order of things.  It is about the re-ordering of broken humanity.  For the new Adam we have a new Eve.  Curiously, the new Eve isn’t the wife of the man about to fall, but the mother of God-made-man who’s going to save you from your fall.

Humans, fallen as we are, tend to overlook the order of things.  We have a picture in our heads of how things stand, and when reality doesn’t match that picture, we tend to elbow aside reality and stick with our imaginary world, the one we made, not the one God made.  The one we prefer, because we’re at the center of it, little gods with our little fake worlds.

The dog, in contrast, lives in no such imaginary world.  She needs to be let out at night, so she has a pressing interest in understanding the real order of things.

I’ve written about the Immaculate Conception at least one other place: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion.  At this writing, Google Books is including what I have to say in the preview-pages for that book.

When I was searching for “Jennifer Fitz Immaculate Conception” two other links came up that caught my attention:

If you know a catechist who’s about to quit in despair, you might consider investing a few dollars in my purple book of how not to die in agonies teaching religious ed to a room full of hooligans.  The publisher gave it a more formal title, but you can call it that.

File:Crivelli, immacolata concezione.jpg

Our Lady of Visible Forebearance is my preferred image for this week’s feast. Via Wikimedia, Public Domain. Her whole life she never ate bacon, and now she rejoices in heaven with many crowns, and presumably also all the bacon she wants.

Six Things I Needed to Hear – In the Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion

So this is what it’s like to be a devotional-writer:

I got home from Portland in the middle of the night East Coast time, wide awake because {Coffee + Jet Lag}.  But look! Things came in the mail for me!  No need to be bored.

Box #1 was a stack of these: The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion. It’s a collection of reusable devotionals for every day of the year, contributed by such a massive collection of Catholic writers that I think they were hard-pressed to find non-co-authors left for the endorsements.  (But they did find a few.)

So I got a beer and flipped through to find my entries, just to see what they looked like and all that.  One gets self-absorbed late at night.  There’s not an index-by-author, so I had to do a combination of trying to remember what days I wrote on and just flipping through.  Three lessons I learned:

1. Goodness gracious I can’t believe who else is in there!  A lot of the co-authors are people I know from the Catholic writing community, some of them famous, some of them up-and-coming.  At the risk of sounding cliche, when you’ve actually met and worked with so many interesting and talented and devoted Catholics? It’s a tremendous honor to be sharing a book with them.

(My favorite part of being involved with the Catholic Writers Guild?  Finding out who the new talent is before the rest of the world gets in on the secret.)

2. Editors are your friend.  When I wrote this post at Patheos, I was in the middle of overhauling a couple of my submissions for this book.  So let’s cut to the chase: We are all very, very glad that my first attempts at the feasts of St. Mary Magdalene and of the Immaculate Conception did not make it into the book.  The revised versions are far better.

3.  I have a predictable soul.  I think I found all my entries (Six? Did I count right?), and there was a consistent theme: The same things I was writing about a year ago are the things I needed to hear just this week.

–> Shout out to my brother-in-law: Why yes, I did get to be the person who wrote on the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe.  I was stoked. But reader, if you want to know what I’ve been particularly thinking about the past two days, take a look at what I had to say on the feast of St. Rita.

Contents of Box #2 to be revealed in the next post.

1-59471-661-7
Cover art courtesy of CatholicMom.com and Ave Maria Press.

I’ve got a new book out! Me and thirty of my favorite co-authors, that is.

The general update on me is that I’m holding steady.  No particular news to report, and I’m still keeping up the torrent of punditry at Patheos.

But look .  . I accidentally went and got published again!  Here’s the scoop:

Now out from CatholicMom.com: As Morning Breaks, Daily Gospel Reflections.  It’s available as a Kindle book (very affordable – $2.99), but FYI if you want to get this as a gift for someone, it’s not necessary to own a dedicated device in order to read it. Any PC, tablet, whatever, can read Kindle books, just download the free software from Amazon.

 

What’s in the book?  A reflection on the daily Gospel reading for every day of 2015.  This is from the team at CatholicMom.com, so if you’ve been reading those Gospel reflections online, it’s that.  You can preview the first month, which lets you get a taste of each contributor’s style and the kinds of ideas that will be coming your way each day.  If you just want to see my name in print, scroll down to the 16th.

Why is this book better than a bake sale?  Because you can support a good cause without your kids whining over who got the bigger brownie.  All the proceeds from the sale of the book go to help underwrite the cost of keeping CatholicMom.com up and running.  FYI if you weren’t aware, CatholicMom.com is basically the largest womens’ mag in the faithfully Catholic world, brought to you free everyday thanks to the contributions of dozens upon dozens of volunteers who give their time and labor to make it happen.

It’s the place where aspiring Catholic writers are incubated, and it’s the place where established Catholic writers who get paid for everything else they publish still turn up to contribute their work pro bono.

It’s a good cause, and you get more than your money’s worth for what you buy.  Check it out.

Novenas! And other updates.

Larry asked for another novena.  Far be it from me to deny him.  I see the feast of the Annunciation is just around the corner, what perfect timing.  If you’re inclined to pray the for-serious way, EWTN has an annunciation novena here, and the US Bishops have one here (PDF).  I’m grateful for even the tiniest thing offered up, though, so please do not scruple.

I see that the bishop’s have titled theirs, “A Heart Open to God’s Will.” Chuckle chuckle.  I love being Catholic.  We have the punniest spirituality going.

Edited to Add: Please keep Larry D.’s intentions in mind this week.  His family’s going through the wringer.

***

So how’s it going, Jen?  After being silly tired all week, I had a great Saturday daytime.  It turns out the SuperHusband sometimes gets this weird not-quite-right head thing when he’s on a really intense hike in the mountains.  It’s not dizziness, and it’s not lightheadedness like you’re going to faint.  You might say ‘fuzzy-headed’, except that you can think clearly.  But you would be inclined to use one of those words.  Anyway, I did a pile of laundry and cleaning stuff up, paced so that I didn’t cough once, not once.  It turns out that if you persist for enough hours, this unnamed phenomenon turns into a headache.

And then later the shortness of breath was back on the slightest exertion.  Fatigue, huh?  I’m fascinated by all this.  It’s like race training at a microscopic scale.

***

Busy blorging week. A handful of linky-link posts, and a couple serious columns:

  • I really wasn’t trolling for Atheists when I wrote about free will and suffering, but I guess the title doomed me. Second in the suffering series, and the combox discussion is, well, enlightening.  I shut it down because I was tired of moderating and it was starting to degenerate.  I so did not mean to provoke that conversation.  Cringe.
  • Paging Dorian Speed . . . Christian Leblanc wrote a very good, helpful, encouraging column at Patheos in reponse to a struggling catechist.  I ranted and raved.  But every time I think, “Yeah, I was too mean,” I go back and re-read my post, and I think, “Yeah, that needed to be said.”  But I feel for the poor guy who wrote the letter.  I get the frustration.  I do. I really do.

Elsewhere, maybe I was nicer?  At AmazingCatechists.com, a post with thoughts on changing your course to meet the needs of your students.  Don’t hate me because I had smart kids this year, it works both ways.

(What are the Apologetics for Kids students doing while I’m on sick leave? Watching Steve Ray videos, of course.  Footprints of God.  Google it.  You want the whole collection. They are great for kids and grown-ups both.)

And at CatholicMom.com today, I’m the Gospel-reflector.  Once again, my spirituality could be summed up as, “Just like St. Peter, Before Pentecost Edition.”

Happy Sunday!

Mardi Gras, Family Life, Meat Demon

1. CatholicMom.com is back up, and here’s my post: Homeschooling and the Art of Living Together.  In which you hear about how cool my son is, and also that there’s more to this parenting thing than where you send your kids to school.

Let me just say that writing a post while feeling favorably disposed towards your children is like begging for them to do all kinds of crazy stuff for the next 48 hours.  Or more.

(Nothing serious.  Just normal everyday reminders that they do need parents. Sigh.  Everyone needs parents.)

2.  At the blorg today: Thwarting the Meat Demon. We have polished off the bacon, and the chicken is next.  Because basically, yes, my spiritual disciplinary advice consists of “Eat a Cheeseburger on Thursday.” You have to start somewhere.

3.  A friend of mine gave me a bag of these:

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzels

Puts the gras in Mardi Gras.  We do it right around here.

 

Photo courtesy of Trader Joe’s.  Those things are good.

So How’s it Going, Jen?

1. CatholicMom.com is temporarily under the weather, but when it comes back up (pray for Lisa Hendey’s sanity), my monthly homeschooling column should be there.  I talk about homeschooling-while-sick, but no handy tips, mostly just, “Yeah, my kids are awesome.”  I’ll link to the article when it recovers.

2. Prayer request for me: I’ve got two kids coughing and sneezing. Ordinary colds.  I’m keeping my distance.  I really, really, would be better off not catching this thing.  Recall: I’m already coughing just laughing or moving around too much.  Not in one of those dramatic, “time for the tear-jerking moment in the musical” ways, but still  . . . I’d just rather not go there. Whereever Me + Cold turns out to be.  Thanks.

(If I seem like I’m on social media a ton, instead of hovering over my children while they do their homework, it’s because yes, I’m trying to be in a different room than them. We’re in communication, yes we are.  School is happening, just more hands off than usual.)

3. Speaking of suffering, here’s a preview of my new blorg outpost:

The blog is still under construction, FYI.  Waiting on the header art, need to learn how disqus works, lots of little jobs. But I’m going ahead and getting a few posts up so that the living room isn’t empty when everyone comes over for the big housewarming party.

And yes, I discussed my assimilation situation with Larry D. and he said he’d pray for me.  (Um, seriously, I loved Larry’s Star Trek piece, which I can’t seem to find right now.  Larry & I are good friends online, and respectfully agree to disagree on the prudence of blorging.  Y’all: Larry’s got a special intention he needs prayed for, so regardless of your level of vexation regarding the blorg, say a prayer for him today?  Yes?  Thank you.)

I’ll announce again once the paint is dry and the curtains are hung.

4. What I do with my free time instead of watching infuriating television shows: I break into the spouse’s video editing software, and mostly don’t botch it that badly.  A few technical errors, but for my first attempt at making a movie without swearing or punching walls, I’m okay with it: Lord Have Mercy, There’s a Baby in my Church.

The artwork is from Wikimedia, and the soundtrack can be downloaded here, for free.  Pick the “Whitbourne Conf. Mass.”  Funny story: St. P’s did this twice, once on the weekend, and once for the Confirmation Mass, recorded with two different setups.  Jon asked me to pick which of the two I liked better.  I liked the sound on this recording better than the other, but I also really, really liked the babies.

St. Peter’s doesn’t usually put babies in their choir, but the bishop came, so they pulled out all the stops.

5.  People want to know how I’m doing. So, sometimes, do I.  What I know:

  • I feel perfectly normal as long as I’m sitting around.  I’m getting a lot of writing done.
  • Animated conversation kills me, but calm conversation is okay.  I thought I needed more boring friends.  I think I just need to not talk so loud, and listen more.
  • I cough when I laugh out loud.  This happens all the time, because of the people I live with.  I think it’s probably pretty safe.
  • I cough if I move around too much. I’m getting better at avoiding this.  I’m not sure if it’s from just breathing too deeply, or if it’s something more nefarious.
  • But a little bit of up and down, in moderation, isn’t a problem.  I’m getting better at figuring out what “in moderation” looks like, so I feel better and am less tired than a week ago.
  • Otherwise I’m totally normal. No problem with speed, balance, snarky comments, etc etc.
  • Actually I’m better than normal, since my other minor signs of decrepitude are all aggravated by walking around too much, and I’m nowhere near that level of activity.  Long term, of course, that’s a good way to die early.  But short term it’s pretty funny that being seriously ill = being not in pain, at all, unlike normal life in which a handful of minor aches are just everyday reality.

To do items for this week: Keeping aiming for that exact right combination of rest and activity, and avoid catching the girls’ colds.  Heart cath next week.

6. I’m not freaked out because, you know, catechist.  Forget the nonsense about facing serious illness with a “we can beat this!” attitude.  I mean sure, I’m all about that, and am doing my share to see it done. I strongly, strongly prefer being alive, thank you.  But sooner or later you’re going to drop dead.  Either you’re okay with that or you’re not.  Probably catechesis is not for you if the prospect of eternal life doesn’t take the edge off.

 

 

Sinful People Wanted.

It’s the 16th so that means I’ve got Gospel Reflecting Duty at CatholicMom.com.   I submitted this back in January, and frankly this morning as I was reading the Gospel, I found myself wondering, I wonder what I wrote about this?  Nothing I’m thinking of, or that I’ve read around online in various homily-blogs, is what *I* wrote, but I can’t remember what exactly I wrote.

So looked.  Just now.  Hey, I remember that!  Oh yeah!  And I think I did good, too. 

But you can verify.

Plague Journal, Catechesis & Socialization Edition

Plague Journal as a theme is getting mighty old.  Good news: After asking a few friends to pray, I’ve upgraded from “death warmed over” to “death minced with bacon and turned into a proper hash, thank you very much.”  So I’m back to writing stuff again, that’s good.

Meanwhile, since you’re reading this it means you either have time to pray more, or else you have something dreadful to offer up. I’m asking specifically for prayers that: (a) I’ll get an accurate dx on this most recent round o’ plague, and (b) that I’ll get done everything I need to do.  The stuff I don’t need to do? Whatever.  Just the important things, thanks, that’s all I’m asking for.

Meanwhile, some things I wrote before this bout set in quite so aggressively:

At CatholicMom.Com, I answer the old “socialization” question.  I know. I thought I didn’t care about that argument anymore,either.  Then I saw a real live human being worry about it. So it became a topic again.

And if that doesn’t raise your blood pressure enough, at AmazingCatechists.com, I wade into the raging debate over whether we ought to have religious education classes for children at all. Lisa Mladnich tells me I’m insightful and clear-thinking, so that settles it.  Read the other opinions, than go see my article to find out what you’re really supposed to think.

My Gospel Reflection at CatholicMom.com

We’ll see if WP lets this one through . . .

If you missed it, here’s my Gospel reflection for the 16th of January at CatholicMom.com. I’ve got the 16th of the month slot, and Feb – June are written and just waiting for me to get the lined up in the dashboard.  Very good for the soul, making yourself sit down and not just think about the Gospel, but put together thoughts on paper. 

Quick Notes – Homeschooling at our house, kitten-watch, and Pray for the McNichols

Up at CatholicMom.com: Things I’m changing at our homeschool for the new year.

We did Day 1 of this today.  It was successful.  That means nothing.  But it’s always fun enjoying the first day.

***

In Kitten Watch 2014: The cat is waddling around looking very pregnant.  It was quiet for a while this afternoon — cat now has a shiny collar with a bell on it, so if she’s nosing around, you know — and I walk back to the bedroom and our closet door is open.  And I’m thinking to myself: You’d better not be giving birth in my closet.

Just so you know, that goes for everybody, not just cats.  No giving birth in my closet.  Just no.

***

BTW if you missed it, please pray for the McNichol family.