Writer, Speaker, and Fish Stick Catholic

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NEWS  October and November 2016

Victoria Book Signing/Speaking  at Mad Anthony’s BookFest during Operation Pumpkin in  historic downtown Hamilton, OH (Miami U Hamilton-Downtown building) Oct. 7-8

Victoria Speaking  at Mad Anthony’s November 4-5 Workshop with Hallie Ephron. Literary agent Victoria Skurnick taking pitch and advice appointments; Hallie taking critique appointments. Mad Anthony Writers Conference

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Adults     Pets Bless e         Family Pet Dies CareNote cover

ChildrenGdpt Dies Gdpt Dies Ebk When Your Pet Dies book cover Pet Dies E book

Contact Abbey Press 1-800-325-2511 for Foreign Editions of Pets are a Blessing, When Your Grandparent Dies, and When Your Pet Dies

Pets are a Blessing cover in ItalianCovers of foreign language editions of When Your Grandparent Dies  USA, Brasil, Spain   small_SLP co  small_GdNw Dev  National Mag_1

Should we applaud at Mass?

Deborah Palumbo to Catholicism – The Fullness of the Faith posted a very interesting question on fB. The replies were interesting as well. My reply was getting long so I transferred it all here. This is what Deborah wrote: 
Happy Easter everyone. I went to our 10:00 Mass this morning and things were slightly different than normal. When it was time for the gospel, the deacon sang it. Then the deacon did the homily and at the end sang a song while walking down the isle, then came the applause. I became upset with this and a few other things that were going on. Am I wrong? Is this ok?
My reply:

Which part upset you? The chanting, the clapping, the fact that the deacon did it, or the difference from the usual? I think clapping at the end of Mass is very fine to recognize the choir, musicians, etc. but that it should come after a compliment from the priest to prompt the applause. I’m with you: this is a liturgy, not a theatrical production.

Our deacon sang the whole reading–beautiful! “This is the night…” at Easter Vigil during the candlelit part. We used to chant when we were kids. (Sometimes my sisters would chant “happy birthday” to each other on their special day–which makes sense for Catholic kids to do.)

The part about the priest walking down the aisle singing after the homily strikes me as odd. I wasn’t there, of course, but reading it makes me uncomfortable *because* the focus becomes him walking and signing rather than the focus being at the altar and on the Word.

In one local parish the priest waves to people as he processes down the aisle to the altar at the beginning of Mass. I do not like that at all and don’t like to go to Mass there. It seems disrespectful. Is he imitating Jesus and being friendly? I say, be friendly in your opening remarks (which he does; he always welcomes visitors). I have to admit that I get turned off by some bishops who seem to strut down the aisle at the beginning of Mass again because the focus is on them and the theatrics of the ceremony instead of on the rite itself. To paraphrase the mother in the movie Funny Girl who said, “I think strangers should act like strangers”, I think humble servants of God should act humble.

One thing I don’t like is the variability of the Mass not so much from the usual but from other parishes across the country–or even the same city. It use to be you could go anywhere in the world, or at least in English speaking countries, and be able to fully participate in the Mass. But now, every parish has their own way of saying Mass: sing or say the Gloria or Our Father or Great Amen and which tune to use if you sing it. (That’s a whole discussion in itself.)  During a book group meeting in which there are only 2 Catholics, I was talking about Vatican II and a woman said , “You know we Protestants like Catholics a lot better since (the changes of Vatican II). And I wanted to say, “So?” The changes weren’t made to make you like us (although looking for a common ecumenical ground could be interpreted that way); and I don’t practice my faith to please you but to please God. I hope the parish Deborah was referring to didn’t applaud to make non-Catholic visitors feel more at home (another great topic of conversation). There are many other ways to do that.

Mass is a gathering of believers and supporters, so it makes sense that we support and show appreciation. But there’s a way to do that and still maintain the dignity of the ceremonial rite we are celebrating. We don’t want a Gift of the Magi situation where we cut our hair just as our visitors come to us with a hair comb. Make our visitors feel welcome with a smile, knowing their name, and teaching them about our “strange” world. That “strangeness” may be the very thing that drew them here in the first place, and beckons them to stay.

 

Saint Michael the Archangel

St. MichaelAccording to Catholic Online, Michael isn’t a saint like we usually think of saints—good humans who are now in heaven—but an angel. He is called an archangel because he is the leader of the angels. He is mentioned four times in Scriptures including Daniel where he helped people and in Revelations where he leads the final battle against Satan.  In the Catholic tradition he is the angel who defended God against Lucifer before the Garden of Eden. Some believe he is the angel that carries a soul to heaven. St. Michael is a figure of action and combat, of strength, a sense of duty, and justice. Thus he is known as the Protector and as the Defender of Faith. He is patron saint of various groups including police and military. Belief in St. Michael is common to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. His feast Day is Sept. 29 along with the other archangels, Gabriel and Raphael, and the other angels.

I chose the name Michael for our fifth son because I liked it. I didn’t think about St. Michael until our Michael was hospitalized for surgery at age one month. Like his patron, our Michael was a fighter then and has never backed away from a challenge. He is a family-loving guy who makes it a point to stay in touch with both sides of our extended families, “protecting the connection” of family ties. He was a warrior on the soccer and track fields, and his Bengal fan stripes run deep. He considered entering the police force, but after graduating from Wright State, he earned a second degree in mortuary science, a career that highlighted his reputation as a caring, sensitive person. One of his older brothers told him that he was the glue that bonded our blended family, because he was his, hers, and ours. His birthday is March 16th which means he often shared the family party with his brother Alex (March 18th) and his birthday weekend with St. Patrick Day celebrations. He has much in common with his patron saint.

 

St. Alexander of Jerusalem

St. Alexander of Jersusalem[Another installment of How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints? Posting Tues. and Thurs. Will you be next?]

There are more than a few saints named Alexander: Pope Alexander I, Pope Alexander IV, and Pope Alexander VI. (Popes Alexander III and VII were beatified but not canonized, and Alexander IV was an antipope–a person who is seen by some cardinals and kings as having a legitimate claim to the office of Pope; that was in the 3rd-15th centuries). But the topic of today’s blog is Alexander of Continue reading

St. Nicholas

St_-Nicholas 3[Another installment of “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” Posting Tues. and Thurs. Will you be next?]

There are at least two saints by the name of Nicholas. St. Nicholas of Owens (1559-1829) was an artisan who built secret hiding places for priests during an era of Christian persecution. He was a layman who was known for receiving the Holy Eucharist (Communion) and praying to gain strength and insight before each of his projects.

The second St. Nicholas is the one most people know about, the St. Nicholas who by translation of languages eventually became known as Santa Claus. This is the St. Nicholas that I think about whenever I hear the Continue reading

Saint Homobonus-Give Back

St. Homobonus[Another installment of How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints? Posting Tues. and Thurs. Will you be next?]

Saint Homobonus (from the Latin homo bonus or “good man”) is the patron saint of business people, tailors, shoemakers, and clothworkers, as well as of Cremona, Italy. He was a married layman and merchant who believed that God had allowed him to work so he could help the poor. He donated a large proportion of his profits to the relief of those living in poverty. He was called “father of the poor”, “assiduous in Continue reading

St. Kateri Tekakwitha

kateri-2[Thanksgiving edition of How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints? Will you be next? Posting Tues. and Thurs. except holidays.]

Saint Kateri (pronounced Kat’ er ee) was born in 1656 in what is now central New York state. Her mother was a Catholic Algonquin Indian who was captured by her father, a Mohawk warrior, and forced to assimilate into his tribe. When Kateri was Continue reading

St. Louis IX, King of France

St. Louis IX King of FranceFrance flag[Another French installment of  How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints? in support of the people of Paris, France, following the horrendous attack on their city and country Friday, 13 November 2015. God bless France.]

Louis IX was born in Aragon in 1556 and crowned King upon his father’s death at age 12. He married at age 19 and had ten or eleven children (sources vary) although several of them Continue reading

St. Genevieve of Paris

St.GeneviveFrance flag[An early installment of  “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” in support of the people of Paris, France, following the horrendous attack on their city and country Friday, 13 November 2015. God bless France.]

St. Genevieve was born in the suburbs of Paris in the year 493. When her parents died, she moved to the city to live with her godmother. She was always involved in works of mercy and Continue reading

St. Christopher

St. Christopher[Another installment of “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” Posting Tues. & Thurs. Will you be next?]

Saint Christopher, like many saints, is a mix of truth and parable–a story meant to teach a lesson. The truth is, he did live in the 3rd century and was extremely tall–reports vary from seven feet to eighteen feet! which is likely where the legend begins. He worked for the King of Canaan because he wanted to work for the greatest king of all.  But when he saw the king cross himself to ward off the devil, he left the palace –seeing that the devil was greater because the king feared him. He found the devil leading a Continue reading

St. Cristina/Christine

St. Christina[Another installment of “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” Posting Tues. & Thurs. Will you be next?]

According to the website for Saint Christine Parish in Marshfield, Maine, there is archeological evidence that St. Christine was of the famous Bofena family of Italy, and was venerated in a church there after her death, although her relics are said to be in Palermo, Sicily. St. Christine suffered a great deal for being Christian: floggings, being thrown in a furnace, being locked in a tower with snakes, and being   Continue reading

St. Kevin

St. Kevin[Another installment of “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” Posting Tues. & Thurs. Will you be next?]

According to the website for St. Kevin Church in San Francisco,  Saint Kevin was born in Ireland in 498. He studied scripture, became a priest (and later a bishop), and founded a monastery in Glendalough, Ireland. He was well known for patience and it is said that a bird once laid an egg in his palm, and to protect it, he held his palm open steadily until the egg hatched. His feast day is June 3.

To my knowledge, our eldest son Kevin never had a bird lay an egg in his hand. But he is Irish and more than once I found him reading the bible when I checked on him before going to bed. Family, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers have all described him as very patient. (And he did sport a long robe and long beard on Halloween.)

St. Donald of Olivgy

St. Donald [ The first installment of “How Do My Family and Friends Compare With Their Patron Saints?” series. Posting Tuesdays and Thursdays. Will your name be next?]

According to Catholic Online, Saint Donald (eighth century) was a married man whose wife bore him nine daughters. After his wife died, they formed a religious community of  sorts under his direction. The daughters later joined a monastery founded by St. Brigid. Donald was a common name in Scotland, not because of Saint Donald but because of the many members of the Clan of Donald.  Nonetheless he was known for his holiness. His feast day is July 15.

My husband Don is Irish, not Scottish (although both are Celtic) and he has six sons. But he did lose his first wife, Deborah Evans, to cancer at the age of 31, and he is a spiritual person whose faith has always been important to him.

All Saints Day

St. VictoriaNovember 1st is All Saints Day so I’m honoring my patron saint, St. Victoria of Tivoli (a town near Rome.) According to the Catholic dot org webpage I accessed today, there are several juicy stories about St. Victoria and her sister Anatolia, refusing the advances of soldiers and upright men; however, the web authors cannot confirm the stories as true. But the two siblings did actually live and were known for their holy lives as converts to Christianity–which is inspiring enough for me. Her feast day is Dec.23.

I’m with the Pope on Pets

Pope and dogI get that there are two sides to the controversy surrounding Pope Francis’ comments about pets in heaven, among them ‘Can animals choose right from wrong (do they have souls)’ and ‘If animals have souls, can we eat them?’ To me, it’s talking apples and oranges: one side is arguing for heaven as a theological structure and the other for heaven as a paradise structure. If there was such a thing as ex cathedra Victoria (from the chair of Victoria) I would settle the argument by saying, “Yes! Pets indeed go to heaven.” Here’s why. Continue reading

Say it now, or forever squirm when someone else does

microphone on a stageIn my last post I urged you to actually say or do something that you’ve thought about for awhile but just didn’t take the time to say or do. While this blog was on hiatus, I thought about an old project I had started years ago. There would always be time, I thought. There are more pressing matters that require my effort at the moment. Three months ago the time was right so I put the project on my Continue reading

What to do with Stale Bread

loaf of breadMy husband buys bread as though our six sons are still at home. Multi-grain. Rye. Hamburger buns. There’s only so much toast, so many sandwiches the two of us can eat in a week.  “The birds want their seeds back,” I told him, “so either make a weekly trip to the food pantry or stop buying more bread than we need.” But once again I see a partial loaf on the counter with a sign: for the birds.

I tell you this because Continue reading

A Nun by Any Other Name

Portrait of nunI love the names nuns had in pre-Vatican II times. Of the teachers I knew, Sister Perpetua’s name was the most spiritual. Sister Marian the most predictable. Sister Odo the most unbelievable. Many of the Orders didn’t require a name change so I also had Sister Charlene and Sister Agnes. Back then, I never knew nuns had last names. Continue reading

A Fourth Grade Spelling Test

handwrittten spelling test of elementary school student

One baby boomer afternoon when my best friend and I were in fourth grade—she in the local public school and I in the parish Catholic school—she showed me her weekly spelling test. It had a shiny metallic-looking star and a great big 92% A written across the top. I too had scored a 92% on my spelling test that week, but I didn’t get a star because 92% was considered a B+ at my school. Only a 93% or higher received an A.  Continue reading

Motorcycle Mom

motorcycle outside gates of heavenI am the mother of six sons. I like dolls and dress ups and teacups; not much for dirt and worms. I  never played an organized sport, never enjoyed watching them at the fever pitch level shared by my husband and sons, and I don’t understand most of the rules. I did, however,  coach our 5-year old’s soccer team the year my husband coached three of our other sons—not because I was any good, but because there was only one expectation: teach them to kick the ball in the net—in the opponent’s net. Continue reading

I Want My Big Toe… and other summer resolutions

sock: foot of skeletonDuring my childhood summers, there were a plethora of ghost stories floating around the neighborhood  waiting to be retold on  dark front porch steps after the street lights came on and when our parents let us stay outside a bit longer because it was so hot inside.  A perennial favorite was the tale of an old woman who went to her garden to dig up a root vegetable for her homemade soup, but mistakenly dug up someone’s big toe instead. That night as she lay in bed, while strips of clouds Continue reading

Ascension Thursday: Holy Day, Free Day

Artwork of Ascension from 14th centuryAscension Thursday is May 29th and my endorphins are already gearing up. They’re a throwback to my days at St. Peter in Chains Elementary School when we were off on Holy Days—All Saints, Immaculate Conception,  Christmas, Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God; and the Ascension. The Assumption on August 15th was never an issue because, back then, a new school year never began before Labor Day.   My publican friends (the neighborhood kids who attended public schools) complained Continue reading

My First Communion Secret Society

Me at my First CommunionI almost asked  if you remember your First Communion. How silly of me. How could you not? I’m sure you recall your prayer book, your first rosary, and the class picture taken on the altar steps with the pastor of your parish.  If you’re female you probably still own your white Communion dress, Communion veil, and white gloves.  You may even have your white shoes and white anklet socks trimmed with lace. So the correct question isn’t if you remember. It’s: what do you remember about your First Communion Day?

October 1960 Communion Group PictureI remember the excitement I felt picking out my dress and veil, Continue reading

First Friday, First Saturday

Calendar showing FridaysDid you practice either the First Friday or the First Saturday devotion? I remember my mother telling us about them–or maybe it was the nuns. I don’t know if I actually completed one before I was twenty although I know I tried.

If I remember correctly, the First Friday devotion was started 1750 or so by St. Margaret Mary who had a vision with the following message: honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus by going to confession and receiving communion on the First Friday of the month for nine consecutive months and you’ll receive twelve promises of the Sacred Heart. The First Saturday devotion had something to do Continue reading

Why the Name Fish Sticks

fishsticks.jpgCatholic baby boomers–at least in my Midwest town–grew up on fish sticks, salmon patties, and tuna-noodle casseroles every Friday of the year–not just the Fridays of Lent.

Fish can mean many things including “a person who is wanted” (Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. …. Matthew 8:22 Stick also has several definitions including “a piece of the material composing something”–as in the people who compose the Body of Christ.

This blog will examine the present day reality of anything Catholic but specifically the spiritual journey of pre-Vatican II baby boomers living in the post-Vatican II 21st century.

Why this Blog?

collage of Catholic items from 1950s ex.Baltimore Catechism, pre-Vatican II Missal for children, etc.This blog is  the result of two unrelated incidences. The first was a nightly news program reporting  the death of another World War II veteran–leaving America  one step closer to losing the final first-hand accounts of that historic event.

The second was a comment by my son who told me about his First Confession. How he sat across from the priest. Face to face. In a comfortable chair. In an airy, well-lit room; a poster with the words to The Act of Contrition hanging on the wall. He said he made the Sign of the Cross and told the priest the one or two sins he was most sorry for.

It was the one or two sins that got me.  Continue reading