Saturday, April 30, 2011

Joan the Maid

I have been an admirer of Joan of Arc for many years now. My mother's name is Joan after her, and I gave the same name; Mary Joan to my first and long awaited daughter. I have read a few books on her and the transcript of her trial, simply fascinating.  Talk about a strong woman! She has quite a following still too. I know over the years when I have encountered others who also were devoted to her they shared a similar kind of awe, which almost has the feel of a secret club of sorts, that makes one stop and say "you too?" Mark Twain wrote about her and considered it his best work. She stirs the hearts of many as is shown by the following comments:

"Joan was a being so uplifted from the ordinary run of mankind that she finds no equal in a thousand years." 
                        Winston Churchill-Legendary British Prime Minister in WWII

"Consider this unique and imposing distinction. Since the writing of human history began, Joan of Arc is the only person, of either sex, who has ever held supreme command of the military forces of a nation at the age of seventeen." 
                     Louis Kossuth-19th Century European Freedom Fighter

"Jeanne’s mission was on the surface warlike, but it really had the effect of ending a century of war, and her love and charity were so broad, that they could only be matched by Him who prayed for His murderers."
                        Sir Arthur Conan Doyle-Famous Scottish author of Sherlock Holmes Fame.

"Joan of Arc was not stuck at the cross-roads, either by rejecting all the paths like Tolstoy, or by accepting them all like Nietzsche. She chose a path, and went down it like a thunderbolt. Yet Joan, when I came to think of her, had in her all that was true either in Tolstoy or Nietzsche, all that and more.
                        G. K. Chesterton- English writer and philosopher

"She was perhaps the only entirely unselfish person whose name has a place in profane history." 
                        Mark Twain-19th Century American Writer 

There is something so true and noble about Joan, her life was both so wonderful and tragic, so much of her seems to say  so very clearly  "God was here". As you walk through her life , the scent of Him is all about her in a fabulously strong and  unmistakable way. I have left below a few of her most famous quotes which have the true Joan essence for you to reflect on. I know I find great inner strength when I read her words:

Children say that people are hung sometimes for speaking the truth.

Act, and God will act.

During her trial her judges tried to trick her into answering an impossible question on whether or not she was in a state of grace ( since it is not possible to know for certain) listen to how she outwitted the old foxes:

If I am not, may God put me there; and if I am, may God so keep me.

Since God had commanded it, it was necessary that I do it. Since God commanded it, even if I had a hundred fathers and mothers, even if I had been a King's daughter, I would have gone nevertheless.

Get up tomorrow early in the morning, and earlier than you did today, and do the best that you can. Always stay near me, for tomorrow I will have much to do and more than I ever had, and tomorrow blood will leave my body above the breast.


  Joan speaking to Pierre Cauchon after learning of her impending execution:
"Bishop, I die through you" 

Joan asking for a crucifix to be held level with her eyes:
"Hold the crucifix up before my eyes so I may see it until I die." 

Her last words:
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.

Friday, April 29, 2011


We passed a major milestone here today in our family. There is officially another licensed driver in our household. Andrew passed his drivers exam  and is legally on the road. Fred took him early this morning. I was happy to stay home and watch the little ones rather than deal with the stress of 'THE TEST' for 15 of the longest minutes of any teenagers life. So I stayed home and poured a cup of coffee. Then, the phone rang. It was Fred. He didn't want to have to watch the test alone, so he called here to give a blow by blow account of what he was viewing from the window. This was infinitely more painful then actually being there. Here is a snapshot of the conversation:

Fred: Hi. He's just getting in the car, he got a male instructor.

Ellie: Oh thats good, men are easier.

Fred: Yeah, thats what I said.

Ellie: How it going?

Fred:Oh No!- he's taking too long to parallel park.

Ellie:Is he doing it right?

Fred:Yeah sort of- I guess.I don't know. STOP ANDY! STOP! FOR CRYING OUT LOUD STOP! OK.

Ellie:WHAT?What ?what? What did he do?

Fred:Nothing. He's taking too long. GO FASTER!

Ellie:But is he doing it right?


Ellie:Oh no. Is he done?


Ellie: "What is wrong with him? PULL BACK!!!!"

Fred: OK, it looks like they're driving again. 

Ellie:OK, OK. Is he doing OK?


Ellie: Did he fail? OH No, He failed. He should've listened to me. He never remembers the blinker!

Fred: I don't know.  NO WAIT! Now they're going out on the road. I'll call you back.

Ellie: Wait, wait, how'd he do?Fred? Fred? AGHHHHHH!

So after this enormous build up of Fred screaming out all of Andrew's mistakes ( which sounded eerily reminiscent of how Fred also behaves when he is watching Nascar now that I stop and think about it) he hung up and made me wait it out. Finally the phone rang again. This time it was Andrew, announcing he had passed. I seriously almost cried.

 Next thing I knew, he and Fred were back in the kitchen and I was viewing the new license. I told him he should head up to the Grotto with Peter and thank God he passed his test. He smiled as he climbed into the car. And then Fred and I were watching our oldest two sons drive away without us for the first time. Wow. How surreal. I am sure I will get used to it but the feeling is so new right now. That incredible moment of independence that a license represents!

I think Mom's think  or rethink a whole lot about 'beginnings' when they view their children's milestones. At least I do. I found myself reliving a million moments of the last 16 years of Andrew's life from my pregnancy with him, to his birth, to teaching him to read, to watching him ride a bike, all of these memories flooding my mind in a happy way even as I watch him take one more step to not needing our support. That is the bittersweet reality parents face isn't it? 

What an art it is to be able to let them go even as we desire to hold on tighter. As our first, Andrew has always had to bare the brunt of our inexperience. We had never had a baby before , then we never had a 2 year old before, and a teenager etc. He is used to our inadequacy even if we have to keep adjusting to it. Thankfully, he is patient  as he teaches us how to be parents one more time. Of course as parents we think we are the ones who get to do the grading part "lets see he can walk, check, he can talk, check, he can read write add, check check, check." And its true these are all signs we are keeping our kids on track and we should rightly feel proud when they exhibit the ability to master a skill.

 But those tables do take a turn at some point and the grading of our parenting abilities comes in much different ways than we ever anticipated...and perhaps many ways we have not taken into account in the least. While we were busy worrying about doctors appointments and schoolwork, they were watching our views on life, and liberty and philosophy. It all gets wrapped up together. We are always learning parents and children. That relationship is so intimate and unique that is renews itself almost daily. So now we have our first driver and  thats a big deal. Hooray Andy! Good Job! Congratulations! And...Andy just one more thing I  want to tell you... before you go....don't go too fast... 

(And I'm not talking about driving....)

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Not a whole lot to say tonight. I'm just praying and thinking about the folks in Alabama and elsewhere, and the great loss they have all suffered. I am sure there is the immediate relief to know they are alive and have made it through (It is amazing there was not greater loss of life when you consider the damage). Our dear friends live just 12 miles outside of the mile wide tornado path that hit Cullen, their house and property is safe but have been receiving reports all day of the devastation all around. I am sure sleeping tonight in a place that is not home, and waking tomorrow to find themselves stripped bare will be ...difficult.

That pains me.

I'll be whispering to the Good Lord on their behalf. Perhaps some of you will join me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Hidden Dangers of Fast Food

I know most of us are aware that fast food is really bad for our collective health. Movies like Supersize Me!  and comparison charts on the calorie intake in a  Big Mac and fries are simply staggering  but apparently there are far greater dangers we have not yet anticipated.

In the last several weeks I have read half a dozen  accounts of beatings and violence errupting in fast food chains throughout the nation. Heck I'm starting to wonder if McDonalds isn't the new post office.If goin' postal was the catch phrase a few years back, what are we to  call  this new violent fast food phenomenon currently at hand? It certainly isn't a very happy meal. Today ihop was added to the list, along with Chinese take out. What is the world coming to when you can't order chinese take out safely folks? Check out the following headlines. Really, you just cannot make this stuff up:

(And hey- be careful out there!)

Cop used excessive force in IHOP melee

The four women who were part of a scuffle with an off-duty Atlanta police officer had barely sat down at a table at the Buckhead IHOP when the confrontation started, one of them said.

An off-duty Atlanta police officer hits a woman during an early Saturday altercation that was captured on video and posted on YouTube.
YouTubeAn off-duty Atlanta police officer hits a woman during an early Saturday altercation that was captured on video and posted on YouTube.McDonalds employee takes credit for filming brutal attack in fast food joint

    Brutal Attack On Food Deliveryman Caught On Tape In Morningside 


    Teens vicious attack on a Chinese food delivery man caught on tape

    Violence in another Mc Donalds almost kills customer

    “It was just four girls, just a regular night out, going to get something to eat,” Cynthia Freeman said.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2011

    Causes of Pregnancy

    I think I have mentioned in some other post already how often people make comments about our family size  and  say funny things ( at least they think it’s funny) about 'how this happened’, as if there one way and one way only to conceive a child. What absolute foolishness that is. They whisper among themselves and make silly faces thinking they have it all figured out. Little do they know Fred and I have made a study of this over the last 17(almost 18) years. We  have developed a very accurate system for conceiving children that is flawless in its methodology, even if it is not-as yet-scientifically provable. I will list the top five ‘additional  causes of pregnancy’ below and I defy any of you to provide empirical data stable enough to refute it.


    #1 Give away your maternity clothes- this phenomenon has happened to me a few times actually, I pack up my maternity clothes and drive them over to the thrift store for some other poor na├»ve young Mom to wear,( Did I mention I hate maternity clothes? How can a giant grape possibly look good?) only to discover  weeks later I am actually expecting again. To add insult to injury I then proceed to return to the same thrift store to buy back my own maternity clothes and realize the poor mother I was laughing at was none other than, yours truly.

    #2 Donating your crib- Actually a lot of women have figured this one out. At least a lot of them remark they know that it works this way. (It may in fact possibly be related to the maternity clothes give away mentioned above, but I am unable to support a correlation between the two at the publishing of these findings.) I am pretty sure that the fertility gods feel it necessary for you to hold onto your crib for at least a few years after fertility ceases in order to be eligible to give away any baby items at all, or else you will find yourself immediately in need of those same items. 

    #3 Have a stork visit your yard. OK I think I am going to ask my wonderful friend Mary Anne to weigh in on this one as evidence, as she was present to witness both times. Twice now my neighbor Najida who lives on the other side of the pond on our road, has seen very early in the morning, a stork perched in our yard. On both occasions when she saw the bird she went in and told her husband Esmir that ‘Ellie must be pregnant’ and sure enough, I was. (*note to self, buy bird shot)

    #4 HVAC work-Yes, you read that right. HVAC,  as in Heating –Ventilation- Air Conditioning. Who would have even thought the HVAC system would have anything at all to do with biological realities? It turns out  through some defect in the duct work, if the heating system in your house fail's you are highly likely to conceive during the power failure. Oh Joy, now I don’t simply have to worry about my own plumbing but   the housing units as well.
    #5 Make a concerted effort  to use NFP. OK at baby # 8  for the first time we made the effort to go and sit down with my friend Sarah who teaches NFP. (Natural Family Planning for those of you in the dark). Sarah took a good amount of time to explain the whole ‘womanly cycle’ thing. What a great talk we had. I went home and called her a few weeks later –pregnant. So baby #9 was born; we decided it was a really good idea to ‘slow things down a bit’ then. So while I was still nursing the baby,  we talked about which model of NFP we’d try out, and then my feet started to swell. That may mean nothing to you, but to me it is a sign of pregnancy. I told Fred this, who insisted that was not possible. I told him again, he insisted it was not possible. I told him a third time, and while he still insisted it was not possible, he also said he might as well buy a pregnancy test to show me how wrong I was definitively. Helllloooo Sophie!

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    Bigger Classrooms

    He was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though--and loathed him.

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    I am so happy school is almost done for the year. And NO its is not simply because I homeschool my children and am looking forward to a nice long break, although that IS as good a reason as any I've ever heard. The reason I am so glad, is because I find it really difficult when there are ‘two’ classrooms both needing students to fill them. Let me explain. We start school in August which is a little early, but kind of necessary after lots of time off. We push really hard to hit our goals all year long. By Christmas it becomes sheer will power that keeps the process running, but then thankfully the ride is downhill and we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Once the weather starts to shape up, kids as you all know, get antsy. Well alright,  I can deal with that. It’s never that challenging to redirect a mind or adapt a few lessons to keep everyone focused for a couple of days. But there is a turning point. There is one day (it happened here last week) when the children rise early from their beds and see beautiful weather and they naturally just head outside. They are not being mischievous or naughty, it’s actually calling to them. We forget how close children get to the earth when they play outdoors. They lay on the grass, they pick flowers, they find frogs, and they sluice through creeks. They seem on those days to belong much more to God than to me, and I am humbled by it. I see them really communing with the environment and just loving every minute. I spend 9 months trying to call them up out of the earth to explain to them ‘higher things’ but I am reminded each year on that wonderful spring-is-here-and-there-is-no-turning-back-day, that there is a different teacher and a different classroom right outside my back door.

    When that teacher calls the classes to order, my children know it instinctively and head outside. In that classroom, they learn that bees are dangerous sometimes, (Matthew pointed out to me today it is usually during or after breeding season when they are in protection mode they are most likely to sting). They learn how to engineer dams quite skillfully, they watch tadpoles turn into frogs, they catch crawfish and find out that claws can grow back 
    ( the one in our bucket today had one much smaller right claw than left), they discern different kinds of earth (  clay makes better shapes and figures and is much less rocky). The world opens up to them and a new kind of learning is at hand. Summer is not an end to the learning process, it is a beginning.

    Too often as parents we put an equal sign between learning and books. Lots of learning does happen that way, but thankfully, not all.  So while I wish dearly that my little girls and boys would keep their shoes on when they go out, I am so happy that they  know what the ground feels like beneath their feet, (even if it messes up my kitchen floor). And while I wish I didn’t have to scold Sarah for drinking from the stream again, I am thrilled she can navigate those gentle waters and feel the sun on her face as she does so; as I am sure there may be more difficult ones ahead. We have three more weeks of ‘forced learning’ to complete our school year, the last one consisting of testing-what torture! And then they will graduate to the bigger classroom with a better teacher than I, where they won’t even know they are learning and will beg to stay after every day. I will call them in for lunch or dinner and they will hardly ever come without a fight. At night they will sleep blissfully, thoroughly worn out from all their lessons. There is much to be learned from simply letting children be children on those days. Isn't that grand?

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Math Fun

    A simple equation. Lets brush up on your Math skills and see if you can come up with the right answer to this one. OK, So what does:

    1500  Candy filled Easter Eggs

    50 Children

    30 Adults ( technically they were big kids)



    One small stream

    = ???

    Yup, you guessed it-
    A Very Happy Easter!
    (Hope you had one too!~)

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Its Holy Saturday- Let's Burn Something!

    I know the title of this post may seem a little strange, but it's been my reality for years now. Here's what happens. Fred and I each year decide to have an Easter Egg Hunt and invite more people than just our immediate family. We never say to each other that this is an annual event ( even though it IS.) so that we always feel the 'freedom' to decide against it should we want to ( so far so good). We've been doing it for many years now. Some years are bigger then others, but since my own family is already huge  its always a big deal. It's also always wonderful.

    We both also decided we actually like to entertain, which helps when it comes to throwing a big party. I have a pretty simple philosophy, #1 invite people you like, #2 serve food that you like and #3 have everything ready ahead of time so you can actually talk to the people you like- and all will be well. It has always proven an effective method. I don't sweat the small stuff. People like parties, and they like other people, so lets  just have some fun. 

    The only part of my plan that goes terribly wrong every year is #3 have everything ready ahead of time. As I have said before, I am not really 'neat' (I can list 10 little reasons which keep me from it regularly) but I am highly organized. I know what needs to be done and I make sure it is done as far in advance as possible. The last on the list of 'to do's' is always cleaning the house. This is the job left for Holy Saturday. I wake up Holy Saturday morning planning my day around Clorox and Swiffers  and get myself out of bed lickity split. There is another job that also falls on Holy Saturday namely coloring Easter Eggs.

     I shoot for the evening of Good Friday but it always winds up happening on Holy Saturday. And just as the egg coloring is being poured down the drain it happens...I look for the source of my strength and support, knowing the grueling tasks that lay ahead of me I turn to that wonderful faithful man I married years and years ago, and find him....outside lighting a fire.

    EVERY YEAR. Rain or Shine. He spends the better part of Holy Saturday burning whatever he possibly can. This phenomenon happens as surely as the sun rises each day  and sets each night, and yet it is always new to me and  it always catches me off guard. I am thoroughly expecting Fred, my darling, darling Fred to ride in on his trusty steed ( or at least his trusty mower) to help me with those rotten household chores and be my knight in shining armor,  and instead he engulfs the yard in flames and smoke. 2 years ago we almost needed the fire department to rescue us (thank goodness for a change of winds).  The worst part is that when I tell this story to other people, the women all understand and nod , and the men hold back grins and skulk away to find Fred the Admirable as they talk about the art of building a fire.

      I think I finally figured out why it always catches me off guard. He never announces his sudden stent as a pyromaniac before he begins. You see, I think that not only me, but most women wouldn't just wake up one morning and think "BOY, it looks like a good day to BURN something!"  And if we did, we'd likely tell a whole bunch of other women and then make sure we had permission and put out a few flyers, and  we'd also buy some marshmallows and hot dogs while we were at it to make the most of the situation.

    Not my Freddy. We never discuss the plans ahead of time. He never announces "Hon, I'm off to burn down the yard before the big egg hunt!" He just slips off quietly and lights a match. And one by one all the older boys slip out with him as they  learn this masculine ritual that one day, no doubt, my daughters-in-law will complain to me about. 

    But I am getting smarter.This year I didn't complain. I just waited. I let them burn whatever they wanted to. I called out the door after them how great the fire was, I remarked how much better the yard looked now that every twig was vaporized.  Then when they came inside after hours of yard work, I handed them the brooms and mops and said "Hey we're not quite done yet!" with my best Easter smile. 

    But it appears everyone is in on the Holy Saturday fires now. When we got to church this evening for the Vigil mass Fr Holliday had his own  inferno burning outside the church building. Normally there is a 'small' fire as the priest blesses the flames for the new pascal candle, but this year there was an big ole' bon fire.It felt downright dangerous as we prayed outside church. Fred smirked at me and stuck out his tongue momentarily as if to say "See, this is what guys do on Holy Saturday!" I just shrugged and wondered if we should alert fire and rescue. 

    But God had one more surprise up his sleeve for me tonight in the fire department. Let me share my prayer after communion with you, it went something like this:

    "Thank you Lord for my children. Thank you for many new friends, thank you for my family, thank you for my health, Lord thank you for my Freddy, and for all the blessings we've had recently and HOLY SMOKES LORD I LEFT THE TURKEY IN THE OVEN AND NEVER TOLD NATALIE ( Mary Poppins) ABOUT IT!!! OH CRAP! OH CRAP! Oh GOSH I SHOULDN'T BE THINKING ABOUT THIS IN CHURCH! SORRY I JUST SAID CRAP JESUS! CAN YOU PLEASE  HELP ME? Amen. " 

    I came home to this.

    Maybe Fred is on to something....

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Joyful Hope

    I don't know about you but Good Friday makes me really sad.

     I am sad Jesus had to die to get me to heaven.
     I am sad He sweat blood in the garden.
     I am sad He suffered so much.
     I am sad He got beaten.
     I am sad He was crowned with thorns.
     I am sad the crowds jeered.
     I am sad the stripped him of His clothes.
     I am sad they then gambled for them.
     I am sad the Apostles fell to pieces.
     I am sad He fulfilled all those prophecies.
     I am sad.

    I generally crawl back home thinking of my own sins and feeling glum and hoping I do better, and  lamenting the mess we humans have made of ourselves since the whole  apple incident. There is of course one person who was not sad that 'Good' Friday. Any idea of who it was? O.K. I'll give you a hint...

    It wasn't the Apostles
    Or the disciples
    It wasn't any of those nasty solider
    It wasn’t Pontius Pilate or Herod

    It wasn't the Sanhedrin
    It wasn't Peter
    It wasn't Barabbas
    It wasn't John
    It wasn't the Magdalene

    It was Mary.
    Yes Mary.

    What? How could that be? She just watched her Son be butchered and tortured and laid in a tomb, how could she possibly be anything BUT sad?
     Well folks you and I are subject to original sin and so we see this whole story in a completely different light than the Virgin did. Our fallen nature works against us making us unfaithful, skeptical, cynical disbelievers.Even the best of us have this tendency. When Jesus said things to us like "I am the Resurrection and the Life" we kind of shake our heads and say :

    "Yah yah, we got that but what about taking over Jerusalem and showing ‘em some muscle?"

    We say "yup", roll our eyes and mutter under our breath “wonder what that means? "
    When he says "You will see the son of man coming in power" we respond with  " Hey-can my sons sit next to you?"
    Those types of comments are spoken by fallen mankind. 
    Thankfully though, Jesus' words didn't fall  completely on deaf ears. There was one ringer in the crowd we forget about. Mary. We also tend to attribute all of our 'fallenness' to her and so we assume she was just as devastated the way we all are. Certainly no one was more pained by the death of Christ, no one suffered more  the loss of His life, no one had more invested into the Son of Man than His Mother, no one.

     But if we really believe Jesus is who he says He is and we really believe Mary bore him as a Virgin ( And honestly once you get past this one, all the other teachings on Mary make perfect sense, fall into place, and are not nearly as hard to get your head around as a virgin birth)
    We should recognize that once that last breath leaves His body, once that same lifeless body is lain in the tomb, once that rock is rolled into place- a seed of hope has begun to grow in her heart. Unlike us she does not look backwards reliving the horror of the day she chooses instead to look forward. She anticipates and believes what her Divine Son has said. She takes him at his word and waits for Him knowing it will be on the third day. Why? Because He said so. Lots of times and in lots of ways.(See-faith is supposed to be easy, we just messed that part up too.)

    It’s kind of interesting to me that the Gospels don’t talk at all about the meeting between Jesus and Mary Easter morning. I’m sure like me, most of you assume that DID happen at some point. It would be kind of hard to believe he ‘stopped by’ to say hey to Mary Magdalene and the cowardly apostles, and a whole bunch of locals, only to ignore his own mum. What Jewish boy do you know who’d do something like that?

    I kind of like to picture that meeting sometime in my meditations. The tomb starts to come into focus at daybreak. Within Jesus ‘wakes’. He sits up. Throws his legs over the side of the rock. Neatly folds the death wrappings  placing them gently beside him. He stands and breathes the air deeply back into the same lungs that finally gave way to asphyxiation on the cross a few short days ago. Walking forward he approaches the rock, he reaches for it and touches its rough surface.First he presses against it, and then He steps through it to the other side ; sunlight and warmth fall onto his transfigured face. He closes his eyes and drinks it in. He smells the earth around him feels it as his feet. Birds flit in and out of the trees.All of the Earth bows to worship at His feet. Suddenly from  behind and above the tomb entrance he hears a sound.
    Turning quickly he sees a warm familiar face perched on the hewn rock he has just exited.
    He smiles at her as she whispers 
    “ I've been waiting all morning”

    What a gift Mary is to us Christians. How nice it must have been for Jesus to have one person who really understood His heart.

    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    Maundy Thursday

    Maundy Thursday follows Spy Wednesday  ( when Judas conspired against Our Lord) in  Holy Week and marks the beginning of the Triduum. Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum meaning command, as in take and eat. 

    So now that the Triduum is upon us, the whole family is taking part. Fred took the older boys to evening services and we drew straws to see who would stay with the little ones ( guess who got the short one for tonight...) Fred will be on duty tomorrow. I know the catchy song "WATCH and PRAY" is on everyone's mind but it takes on a different meaning with so many little ones. One of us WATCHES and the other one PRAYS.Its been years since we've been able to do the watch and pray simultaneously. We used to do a whole lot of "WATCHING... and losing our tempers", or "WATCHING... from the parking lot" (which seemed almost worse then falling asleep like Peter James and John), and even some "PRAYING... that we didn't blow a gasket in the middle of church"  but now, thankfully we see the wisdom is taking turns for our sake, and everyone else's.

    So, I bathed the kids and gave haircuts to the little boys ( actually to all the boys including Fred, can you say itchy?) and then we put in Jesus of Nazareth when the older ones left for Mass so I could explain to the little ones what was happening tonight. Why is this night different from all other nights? It was going pretty well until Michael felt since Jesus died for our sins he wanted to just go ahead and die now too. In fact he tried to convince Thomas, Mary and Sarah the merits of death.It got a little out of hand. "I want to die, I want to die NOW!"  I assured him we will all die someday but that I hope he lives to a ripe old age. Mary announced she loves everyone in heaven...except for Helen...Helen is not in heaven. ( troubled expression turning sad) I assured her she could love her even before she got to heaven which turned her expression back to relief and delight...disaster averted, Phew! Thomas  thought Peter and Judas were the same  man and was pretty certain St Peter had a sinister plot in him and asked repeatedly if I were sure he was really not a bad guy? ( which can actually be tricky to answer)

      Sarah switched Jesus and Judas the whole way through and was horrified a sheep was going to be eaten for anyone's dinner. All in all we remained as focused and prayerful as could be reasonably expected for one Mother and five children 7,6,4,2,and 1 year old respectively.

    Hoping the Lord draws each and everyone of you closer to His heart in these most Holy of Days.