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FOCCUS…Pwned!

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Charles and I had our third meeting with the priest yesterday. Yay! Halfway done with that process!

The meeting centered on going over our results to the FOCCUS test that we took a couple of weeks ago.

Heading into the meeting, Charles was more worried than I was.

“I bet we aced it,” I told him.

Sure enough, after dating for six years and being very open with each other…and by not jumping into an engagement (and spending months talking about our goals and plans)…we got the test back with a 95% agreement between not only us, but also the expected (or right) answers.

Some of the ones we differed on were as simple as word choice. We might have read a question differently because it used the word “specific” or “not under any circumstances.” I, being the skeptic, disagreed with any ultimatum-type questions.

One question, even the priest disagreed with the “expected” answer. “There any habits of my partner that annoy me.”

Well, of course! No one is perfect!

But evidently the test expects you to be so in love you might overlook your future spouse’s nail biting or constant need to be right.

Like most couples, we scored lowest in the finance section. But again, that was due to word choice. “We have decided what specific roles we will each play in financial matters.”

Well, no, we haven’t decided “specifically.” But we don’t live together and I don’t know that we can decide who will do what, “specifically” until we can actually join our finances.

But overall it was a good meeting. Nothing surprising, but obviously showing that we think about things in different ways and have found ways to agree on things that might not always be black and white.

And as usual, I was right 🙂

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We’re getting ready!

June 28, 2011 1 comment

We survived our first meeting with a priest. Whew!

I was super anxious all day (as I’m sure he was too) but afterward, it was such a relief! Having not experienced anything like this before, Charles’ biggest misgiving about the process was “Why should I let a guy I’ve just met, and who isn’t married, and never will be married, tell me whether or not I should be married?”

I completely understood this fear, and was afraid for him!

But after meeting with our priest (who looked no less scary wearing a full cassock), his fears were put to rest.

“I never say ‘no,'” Father said. He is simply there to make sure we have discussed all that should be discussed, and that we are entering into a life long commitment with no fears and worries about each other. If through the process we realize there are underlying issues we hadn’t expected before, it would be up to US to decide if we should postpone or cancel the wedding. I don’t think it it could be more clear in the Catholic Church this isn’t about a wedding or one day. This is about a marriage. For life. With no option to get out.

I think after this session, we both feel a lot more relaxed about the whole process. It’s not as if we have to be approved by anyone or do anything we haven’t already done. We’ve discussed kids, finances, health, home. And we certainly took our time in making the decision to marry! It was definitely not something either of us took lightly.

Our next step will be to take the FOCCUS test. We have a year to get all the prep out of the way, but Charles and I both are eager to get through this first. Once it’s out of the way, we can focus completely on “the fun stuff,” as he said.

Categories: Wedding Tags: , ,

Get me to the Church

June 24, 2011 2 comments

As a child, I never really dreamed of my wedding, what it would be like, and what I would be wearing. I always thought I’d get married at the church at home because it was what my parents wanted…but as the actuality of getting married drew closer…I realized a few months ago that I wanted that for ME…not just for them.

I just couldn’t imagine getting married at a beach or a resort surrounded by only a handful of people. The “fun cousins” have always been at my wedding in my mind! Sure it’s “our day” and should be all about us…but I wouldn’t be who I am without my family and friends…so it had to be a church wedding with a million people!

I have to admit, Charles isn’t the only person that’s nervous about this! I finally got in touch with the priest about a week ago to set up our first meeting. At the end of our conversation, he emailed me a few documents as part of a “welcome” packet for newly engaged couples.

I’m glad Charles didn’t receive it! As overwhelming as it was to me, I’m pretty sure he might have had a heart attack! Having worked for the diocese, I *thought* I knew what was required in Catholic marriage prep…but I don’t think anyone truly realizes the scope of it until they get their very own list of requirements!

But we’ve agreed to go into this with an open mind and take things one step at a time…so I’m doing my best to only introduce him to ONE step at a time!

So Charles, if you’re reading this, you might like to stop here. Following are the steps:

  1. The priest “investigates” to see if we’re prepared (Dear Catholic Church…Might I suggest a friendlier term than “investigate?” I’m imagining a CSI crime scene and Father asking us for hair samples…). This requires:

    Baptismal certificates (and of course Charles can’t find his)
    2 affidavits each from people who have known us since we were children indicating our “free status to marry” (which must be signed in the presence of a priest or minister)
    Results from the FOCCUS test (I love multiple choice tests. This might not be so bad)
    Completion of Engaged Encounter
    Completion of Natural Family Planning class (I’m pretty sure Charles will check out the first time the word mucous is used)
    Five or six meetings with a priest. This will be interesting seeing as we’re starting at the church I belong to, but at some point (I imagine) we’ll switch to the priest at the church we’ll marry at and start all over.

Honestly, if I wasn’t Catholic, I think I’d completely flip out too! But it all comes down to one of the reasons we are getting married…He enjoys making me happy (yes. He’s said that!).

And really, when it all comes down to it, should getting married be easy? I tend to think not.

Check back in next week to see how the first meeting goes!

You must not be like the hypocrites…but am I?

March 4, 2011 4 comments

I’m usually not one to enter into much debate over religion, politics, or anything that can be controversial. I listen a lot, and I think a lot, but publicly? Not so much.

But last week, my favorite Catholic newspaper posted a question on its Facebook page: “Story input needed! Ash Wed is not a holy day — so why do you go? And how do you explain the smudge on your forehead to non-Catholics?”

Ash Wednesday has always left me quite conflicted. Growing up, I was taught it is a day to remember that we are all sinners, and we will die some day, but we have chances (such as Lent) to focus on bettering ourselves and becoming better people through acts of fasting, prayer and almsgiving (how’s that for a Catholic school answer from a girl who never went to Catholic school til college?).

But each year, I remember sitting at church on Ash Wednesday and listening to the Gospel.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.”

Ok. Don’t be prideful. I can work on that.

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Ok. I like my room. Can do.

“And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

Wait a minute. Shortly after this reading, I’m going to approach a priest and he will smear the ashes of last year’s palms across my forehead to remind me that I am dust and I will die.

Is smearing ashes on my forehead NOT the opposite of annointing my head and washing my face so that my fasting may not be seen?

And I was taught to not hide those ashes, but to be proud of them and not wash them off. Um…I’m confused.

Now, I’m not one to question the church very often…but maybe this reading and the ash smearing should not occur so close together?

Categories: Life Lessons Tags: , ,

My Dad – More Bling than a Dominican Outfielder

September 8, 2010 2 comments

I had every intention of posting a recipe today (Shirmp and Pasta Salad)…that is until I went to change purses last night and I came across a letter my father wrote a friend of mine in October 2008. So as we approach his 61st birthday…this seemed more fitting.

And cousins and friends…thank you!

For more than 50 years I have had a mystical relationship with my mailbox, where I would send off box tops and coupons and a few coins and cherished childhood items would appear in 4-6 weeks. Correspondense with summer friends would keep us connected through the intervening three seasons. Four years of military, most of which was overseas, again kept me returning daily to my mailbox for a little something to connect me with my loved ones. Living 500 miles from most of my family that remained in Massachusetts keeps me anxiously anticipating the daily mail. All of thise I tell you to preface your wonderfully thoughtful gift and note that I received from you yesterday.

As 2008 drew on I was feeling more tired with each day and was actually relieved to learn the cause of my illness, I thought I was having a stroke up until the diagnosis of cancer. My surgery took place on the Feast of the Assumption and we celebrated with the Ancient Order of Hibernians a Mass in recognition of Our Lady of Knock on the first Saturday after my release from the hospital. The Mass has been held at Sacred Heart’s mission church, St. Bridget’s of the field in nearby Berryville. The AOH has been very generous in the construction of the church and Mariah and I donated a window in memory of our fathers. Someone subsequently donated a statue of St. Joseph that now stands in front of our window. It is the sunniest and coziest corner in the front of the church for morning and noon Masses.

About twice a week we try to attend Mass at St. Bridget’s. Noontime Mass often fits in with my morning radiation treatments and errand running…. Having received the gift of your holy water from Lourdes to supplement my stash from Knock, I take it as a small sign from Mary as a connection between her Marian Sites. On each of our four trips to Ireland we have visited the Shrine at Knock, never to ask her for any special favors but to thank her for those already given.

For a kid that started out in the projects of South Boston, the sixth member of a three generational family sharing two bedrooms and a pullout couch, it’s close to a miracle that I was born at all. My mother’s father moved in with us when my father went off to the war and upon my father’s return, my brother and I joined my older sister in the second bedroom and mom and dad were relegated to the sleep sofa. Four years later we bought a house in a nicer neighborhood and it has been onward and upward since.

I look back and I count my blessings to have had a good family and a good Catholic upbringing (8 years of parochial school), three smart and healthy children, two good spouses for Doug and Anne and eight beautiful grandchildren who live within 25 minutes of us. From the humble beginnings of the projects, I now wake up in our family home that was built when Washington was president and its most illustrious visitor was Stonewall Jackson.

I thought this battle with cancer would be the loneliest fight of my life but the outpouring of love and caring has been incredible. For two months now my friendly mailbox has been overflowing with get well cards, Mass cards, and now, holy water.  Some have apologized for their tardiness but I am so thankful for their consistency and length.

Thanks to prayer lists and the internet, I am being prayed for on six continents. My brother-in-law lit a candle at St. Patrick’s while in NYC. A friend in Germany while visiting Rome lit a candle in St. Peter’s and friends here in Winchester asked family in Ireland to light a candle when in Rome. Since they don’t allow candles in the Sistine Chapel, they lit one at the church above the Spanish Steps. …

There are over 100 get well cards suspended from the rafters of our family room, Mary’s doing. I have medals of St. Peregrine, St. Rita, Fr. Solanus Casey and the Infant of Prague. When I called my 2nd cousin in Ireland to have her uncle light a candle in Knock, she said her uncle was in Australia but she and her husband were leaving the next day for Prague. they left my name and a donation at the church of the Statue of the Infant and they will light a candle and say Masses.

In the back of my mind, I am slightly concerned about the effects of global warming from all these candles! Once I get all of these medals on a chain I should have more bling than a Dominican outfielder.

Our days are going well, midmorning we make a 25 minuite trip to get my radiation treatment. The treatments are exactly the same length as my morning prayers unless there are x-rays, which take 3 Hail Marys.

(8 days later)

Since I started this note, we have had two sets of cousins visit for a total of 5 days. We have had family visiting every weekend for 5 weeks. They are very welcome and have relieved Mariah of some of her chores. They have taken me to radiation and treated us to lunch or dinner. Seven more days of radiation and I get a three week break.

Ann, I wanted to thank you for your thoughtfulness and caring. Your note and gift of Lourdes water means so much to me but equally, I want to thank you for your friendship with Mary. It was not a hastily made decision to let our baby depart from Siler to the bustle of our nation’s capitol, but she did it with ease and surrounded herself with the best of friends. My “Little Angel Face never ceases to amaze.

Categories: Family Tags: , , , , , ,