saints

All Hallows’ Eve Revisited

hungry-history-the-halloween-pumpkin-an-american-history-E

Horse costume. Check. Flag with fleurs-de-lis. Check. Sword. Check. Home made Saint cards. Check. Fifteenth century French-like soldiers helmet and armor.

Umm…we may have to improvise.

All Hallows’ Eve, also know as Halloween is right around the corner and my wife and I are preparing our daughters costume. We have started a tradition in our household where each year we dress our daughter up as a particular Catholic saint. Last year she was St. Clare of Assisi after her namesake. This year she will be St. Joan of Arc. One of the things we are adding to this years Halloween tradition is that we will have our daughter give each home she visits a homemade card with a picture of St. Joan of Arc on the front and a little bio of her life on the back.

There are many Christians who have various thoughts on the matter of whether or not to celebrate Halloween. All Hallows’ Eve is literally the eve of All Saints Day (November 1st) in which we celebrate the life of all the amazing Saints that have lived their lives for Christ in an exemplary way. All Saints is part of our Christian history and therefore a big deal. I am a Youth Minister and I believe that God uses young people to change the world. If you don’t believe me, pick up a bible and read it. Many of the stories in the scriptures where God calls someone to do something amazing, involve a young person (i.e. David, Mary, the Apostles, etc.). I find Halloween to be an incredible opportunity to go and share those stories and the stories of the saints with people who may never get a chance to hear them. Also, it gives my daughter and opportunity to be one of those young people God uses to change the world. More on that later.

Think about it this way.

When else do we have an opportunity to go to a stranger’s home and be greeted with a genuine desire to see us? Sure it’s about candy and maybe we can say it’s expected of people to open their doors and greet us. Regardless of why people open the door the reality is: they are opening their doors to us. My daughter is very cute. Put her in a horse costume, with a sword in hand and people will listen and do anything she says. Claire is learning about St. Joan of Arc and my hope is that by the time we go out trick-or-treating she will be able to say, “I’m St. Joan of Arc. Thank you (in reference to the candy she’s receiving), here’s a present for you (as she hands the Saint card).”

We’re working on the enunciation.

Will people read the Saint card? I think they will at least look at it since a cute toddler is giving it to them, and maybe later that night they will read it. Will this card change their lives? Probably not, but it is hard to say. We don’t know how a person may react to a mixture of the Holy Spirit, our family’s prayers and a cute child dressed as a Saint.

Here is the other thing.

The reaction of the person who is receiving the Saint card is only part of the equation. My daughter learning to creatively share her Catholic faith is the other part. Claire needs to learn at a young age that her faith is not hers to keep. Claire (she’s 2 and a half) needs to be able to experience evangelization (aka sharing the faith) at this early age so that she realizes that this is normal, and what all Christians are called to do. Experts say that at this age kids absorb everything they hear and see, so it makes sense that we would want them absorbing how to share the faith as well. Evangelizing is not limited to special holidays and seasons, but Halloween gives our family an opportunity to do this together in a safe, and easy way with people we may never get another chance to connect with.

Discovering fatherhood requires that I take every opportunity I can to help my daughter grow and become who God is calling her to be. It also requires that I help my daughter learn that the gift of faith we have is so precious, so awesome and so needed in our world. Halloween will come and go, but the opportunity my daughter has to share the life of St. Joan of Arc will help her be a better follower of Jesus and with a little luck, some prayers and a cute costume we may just touch someone’s heart.

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Categories: all hallows eve, all saints, Catholic, christianity, costumes, evangelization, fatherhood, God, halloween, halloween costume, Jesus, saints, Uncategorized, youth ministry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus in the Bathroom: The Mundane & Sacred

crucifix in bathroom

The picture above is from one of our bathrooms. We have a crucifix in every room in our home to help us remember that God is always present. In the bathroom where this photo is from, I placed the crucifix in this basket. It wasn’t that I ran out of nails, or that there wasn’t a good spot on the wall. I remember putting it in this basket because it felt natural—Jesus amongst the normal everyday mundane stuff.

St. Josemaria Escriva has an amazing quote that has always stuck with me, “Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.” This crucifix in the bathroom reminds me of this reality: that our lives are always filled with the mundane and the sacred.

So my wife, daughter and I were at Mass like any normal Sunday afternoon. We were praying and trying to keep the 2-year-old from crawling under the pew. My wife and I take turns holding Claire and helping her to experience Church as best a 2-year-old can. Sometimes it is easy. Most times it is challenging.

After communion I’ve made it a habit of having Claire sit on my lap to pray with my wife and I as a family so that she recognizes the sacredness of this moment. For Catholics, when we receive the consecrated bread and wine we believe that it is the true, real and total presence of Jesus (the same Christ that walked on earth 2000 years ago). So it’s a big deal for us to emphasize this moment with Claire. Claire will normally sit on me, close her eyes and put her hands together to pray. On this particular Sunday she did the same. As we sat enjoying this moment of grace it was interrupted by the mundane reality of a full bladder.

As I realized that Claire had completely unloaded on me I stood up and sure enough it was dead smack on the middle of my pants crotch region. I sighed out loud, picked Claire up and headed to the bathroom while holding her a little lower than normal to shield myself. In the bathroom I laughed out loud. The urine spot on my khakis’ looked as if I was the one who peed on myself. I laughed out louder at the irony of it and Claire asked, “What’s funny Papi?” I responded, “Life baby. Life is funny.”

Claire and I bolted through the main door of the Church and headed to the car. Claire was maintained at crotch level in case we bumped into anyone. We made it to the car and waited for my wife to meet us. As I sat in the car I smiled and thought of Escriva’s quote, “Either we learn to find our Lord in ordinary, everyday life, or we shall never find him.” It is so true.

Claire peeing on me did cause us to get up and leave the Church, but what I realized is that it hadn’t changed the moment of grace we were experiencing. Grace came with us to the bathroom and was with us as we laughed. The sacred was with us as I cleaned myself, as I thought of how embarrassing it would be to have to explain this to someone as we left the Church. The bathroom was not the typical place we experience prayer and grace, but it was this Sunday.

The things we consider mundane and ordinary typically dominate our lives. These ordinary, mundane things are not bad; they are good and certainly necessary. More importantly I believe God is present in these ordinary moments. Maybe for you its experiencing God while cleaning up a mess your kid made, or dealing with the chaos of a work situation, maybe its experiencing a moment of grace in traffic when you are bumper to bumper on the interstate. Rarely do we have experiences of the sacred in perfect, extraordinary situations. Not too many of us can say that an angel appeared, or a light shone down on us, and a voice from heaven spoke. Most of the time the sacred presents itself in the ordinary everyday situation. Thank God for that because I personally don’t find myself in many extraordinary situations.

When I stare at the crucifix in our bathroom I am reminded that all moments are sacred. That whatever is happening right now is a moment of grace if I can see it. Do you see God in your mundane, everyday ordinary moments? Look again. You might just find Him in the most extraordinarily ordinary of places.

Categories: being thankful, Catholic, church, daughters, fatherhood, God, Jesus, ordinary, potty, sacred, saints, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not the Usual

HALLOWEEN

I have never been a big Halloween person. I don’t think its evil, or bad nor do I think that people who celebrate it are crazy. It just has never really spoken to me.

My wife is really excited about this being our daughters first trick-or-treating Halloween. Claire is old enough to enjoy the dressing up and going out. We were given a ladybug costume a while back and I figured that’s what my wife was going to have Claire wear. To my surprise Claire’s costumer was not the usual cute-toddler-costume one thinks of. Claire is going to be St. Clare of Assisi for Halloween.

“Who?”

That was my mothers’ response. When I told her that it was a nun she thought it was weird and that I should have picked something “cuter”. I understand that sentiment. It is definitely not the usual Halloween character. However I am glad my wife decided to chose a saint for Claire’s Halloween costume. There will be plenty of toddlers dress as goblins, ghouls, and other frightening characters. I am sure that there will be plenty of cute ladybug, and butterfly costumes to go around as well. I believe there will be very few children if any dressed as Saints this Halloween.

There is something very depressing about that last sentence.

Saint’s are heroes. Men and women, who struggled, sinned, changed and lived courageous lives of virtue under devastating, sometimes life-ending circumstances. If you have never read about St. Augustine, St. Claire of Assisi, St. John Paul II, and St. Maria Goretti—you are missing out on some of the greatest stories ever told.

When my daughter shows up at someone’s doorstep on October 31st, she will be dressed in an unusual costume. This costume will probably intrigue those who open their doors. It will be an opportunity to share a little bit about a great Saint. My first real blog post on this journey of discovering fatherhood consisted of sharing about my desire for my daughter to become a saint. I guess it is only fitting that my wife dresses her up like one for Halloween.

Claire is a normal kid and so were all those we call saints. It is the not so usual way that they lived their lives that lead these ordinary people to become extraordinary. So my daughter will show up at someone’s doorstep sharing about our spiritual family’s ancestors. Maybe you find this weird, or pushy, and I’m okay with that. It is this father’s humble opinion that we don’t need more goblins, ghouls, butterflies or ladybugs in the world, but we do need more saints. Ordinary men and women who chose to live in extraordinary ways.

Saints change the world, and I believe that we need to discover more about these men and women so that our children as well as ourselves, can be inspired to follow in their not-so-usual ways and be transformed.

 

Categories: costumes, daughters, fatherhood, halloween, holiness, saints | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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