Thursday, November 18, 2010

Little Saint

Last weekend Harriet Paloma was baptized. Our little family gathered in Our Lady of Good Counsel parish and the venerable and most aged Monsignor Blacet poured water over Hattie’s unruly mohawk and cleaned out her little soul "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit." She screamed. “Don’t worry,” said Monsignor, “it’s just the Devil coming out of her. Scream, little baby, scream!” After she had been duly dunked, dried, and sealed, we were given back our “new little saint.”

Hattie won’t remember her baptism. Or rather, she won’t remember it until she has a child and stands at their baptism to renew her baptismal vows:

“Do you reject Satan?”

I do.

“and all his works?”

I do.

“and all his pomps?”

I do.

“Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?”

I do.

“Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?”

I do.

“Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting?”

I do.

“This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


Devin and I renewed these vows last Sunday. We witnessed both the promise and the responsibility of this sacrament as we stood by at the baptism of our first child. Our new little saint. And as the water dried and her mohawk re-erupted, Harriet had indeed become a little saint. That is, after all, what we believe--that the waters of baptism create a new Christian, cleansed by God’s grace from the stain of Original Sin.

As I spoke the baptismal vows on behalf of my child, my mind was drawn back to my own salvation, which I must continue to work out “in fear and trembling.”

Becoming a mother has forced me to realize--again, and in a new way--that I AM NOT MY OWN. My salvation, my personal holiness, is not merely “between me and God alone.” I stand as a mother at a child's baptism. I am responsible for another soul. In some real way Hattie’s faith depends on my own. I am one of the "great cloud of witnesses” who surround her. I must learn to be a holy witness in her life. I must learn to be a saint.

This work of love, this journey to holiness is difficult. Impossible even. As difficult and impossible as a camel going through an eye of a needle.

Yesterday I was reminded of this fact as I read this story which Thomas Merton relates in his book The Seven Story Mountain:

…[he] suddenly turned to me and asked me the question:

“What do you want to be, anyway?”

I could not say, “I want to be Thomas Merton the well-known writer […]” or “Thomas Merton the assistant instructor of Freshman English […],” so I put the thing on the spiritual plane, where I knew it belonged and said:

“I don’t know; I guess what I want is to be a good Catholic.”

“What do you mean, you want to be a good Catholic?”

The explanation I gave was lame enough, and expressed my confusion, and betrayed how little I had really thought about it at all.

[He] did not accept it.

“What you should say”—he told me—“what you should say is that you want to be a saint.”

A saint! The thought struck me as a little weird. I said:

“How do you expect me to become a saint?”

“By wanting to,” he said, simply.

“I can’t be a saint,” I said, “I can’t be a saint.” And my mind darkened with a confusion of realities: the knowledge of my own sins, and the false humility which makes men say that they cannot do the things that they must do, cannot reach the level that they must reach: the cowardice that says: “I am satisfied to save my soul, to keep out of mortal sin,” but which means, by those words: “I do not want to give up my sins and my attachments.”

I must throw off my sins and my attachments. I must throw off everything that hinders, the sin that so easily entangles, and run with endurance the race marked out for me.

I also must become a saint.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roommate Weekend 2010

A few weeks ago I was blessed by a visit: my roommates from college descended upon the Kansas City area, bringing with them much joy. If this blog post is late (and it is), I trust in the patience and clemency which my roommates most certainly possess. (And if they possess the virtues of patience and clemency, I most certainly helped them obtain them!)

Twas a wonderful weekend. Reuniting with old friends refreshes the soul. And when old friends are united by faith in Jesus, the soul rejoices all the more.

May all of us continue in His love, which is the strength and joy of the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hattie Shoot, 8 Weeks

So I admit I caved and bought a Sophie Giraffe (because all the cool kids have them). I also admit that I bought my baby daughter leg-warmers. But YOU gotta admit that she's rocking the leg-warmers. And Sophie doesn't look so bad herself.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Let them Eat Cake

Girls, this is not the way to lose the “baby fat” after pregnancy. I recognize this fact. I understand the whole “calories in calories out” thing. I know that cake (with cream cheese frosting) does nothing to shrink one’s expanded midsection.

But really, how could I resist? …the cream cheese frosting…the lovely red color…

I stole this recipe for Red Velvet Cake from your friend and mine at The Smitten Kitchen. Like most recipes on this delightful blog, the cake was fab. (I would, however, recommend a double recipe of frosting in order to achieve that fluffy, slathered look. BUT TAKE NOTE! A double recipe of frosting means TWO sticks of butter and TWO packages of cream cheese. Devour if you dare!)

In my defense, I had a very good REASON to bake a triple layer cake (the birthday of *two* friends), and I didn’t consume said layer cake ALONE (thanks to said friends…plus another friend…plus Thomas More).

Also in my defense… I have finally reached the post-partum Plateau of Sanity (which comes after the Canyon of Craziness, the Slopes of Sleeplessness, and the Wilds of Overwhelmedness). This means that I am not only 1. Sleeping at night, 2. Keeping up with laundry, 3. Reading books, 4. Making the bed regularly, and 5. Applying makeup daily—I am also making food for myself and my whole family from my own kitchen. And more than this—I feel confident enough in my parenting and multitasking skills, that I feel ready to start experimenting in the kitchen once again. Hurrah!

So of course the first new thing I decided to try was a multi-layered red velvet cake. With cream cheese frosting. Of course.

But alas, my abs, my rear, my thighs, alas! After several weeks of consistent weight loss this week the scales refused to budge. Could this, I ask, have something to do with three layered red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? Perhaps.

So now I will endeavor to move my culinary experiments into more healthful realms. Thankfully The Smitten Kitchen contains many wonderful alternatives to three layer cakes. Like last night’s Mexican adventure: Acorn Squash quesadillas with tomatillo salsa. Truly delicious. Next, continuing with winter squash, I am going to try warm butternut squash and chickpea salad…right after I deal with that last piece of cake!