For a retired person, I work like a dog. This spring and summer -- busiest ever!
May through July, I worked with Pat Radell and Nancy Frick on the 40 Days for Life Fall campaign. I wrote business plans and budgets for Serendipity, our wished-for next-to-Planned Parenthood Art Center/Life Center/Book and Media Center/ Coffee Bar in Wilmington. I logged 4000+ miles over three months on various road trips with kids, grandkids and Bill. We welcomed granddaughter Rosalyn into the world in May, and 5 weeks later grandson Ish. I visited sister Sue, sister-in-law Gerry (and Chicago kinfolk), and was visited by daughter Gabe, grandkids Zeke and Amelia, and brother-in-law Wally. Lastly and just recently, I roomed with writer/photographer Marie Socorso and writer Kathy Barr while attending the Catholic Writers Guild conference in Valley Forge on site at at the Catholic Marketing Network trade show.
Get holy. Sigh. From your t-shirt to the ear of the Triune God Whom I love beyond reason! But not beyond laziness. 'Twas ever thus.
I have had so many irons in so many fires that I am knocking them over them & branding myself with them by accident. Ouch! My spiritual equilibrium has taken a searing hit. I have neglected my daily Pauline Hour of adoration, and can feel its loss keenly. (Not, however, keenly enough to break the inertia and take it up again, eh Rae??)
How luxurious is it for priests and nuns to live on grounds with the Blessed Sacrament?? I was in a book group awhile back that read Brideshead Revisited. There's a part in the book where the youngest Marchmain daughter, Cordelia, is explaining to (or maybe showing) Charles Ryder their own private chapel, with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. One of the women in the book group (an ex-Catholic, of course) was disgusted by Cordelia's delight at having an adoration chapel on the estate grounds. She cited this as an example of the snobbery and high-handed braggadocio of Catholicism in general and the Marchmain family in particular. I said I would be as overjoyed as Cordelia if I had a chapel in my own home. How much more faithful might I be if I didn't have to drive to a church whose open hours I knew whenever I wanted to make a Visit? (Yeah, yeah, yeah... would you REALLY, Rae? You've got plenty of opportunity now to eschew inertia and form the habit. Just do it!)
I am jealous. That's my theme for the summer. Jealousy and greed. I have a wonderful life, all the leisure I need, 7 down-below kids, 2 saints in heaven, 9 stellar grandkids, a husband to die for, and I want more... More what? At the Catholic Writers Guild conference, it all came tumbling back. What I want. What I don't want to want. Fame. Admiration. Riches. Worldly success. The diamond-back reptiles hissing seductively in the pits of the damned-- didn't I foreswear them years ago? I thought so, but meeting all the fresh, young writers at CWG and the steadily publishing big fry of the Catholic publishing world has got me all riled up with ambition. I want to be young again. I want to be just starting out, with Catholic enthusiasts, intellectuals, imagists and idealists bursting the seams of contemporary culture like I see all around me in the 21st century Church, instead of Catholics with their tails between their legs, ashamed of their intellectual heritage and confused into juvenility like when I was young. I want my imaginary apartment in NYC with my sister Marguerite and our white long-haired cat-- me a working writer, Marguerite in the world of fashion design.
These kids are reclaiming their heritage, and are unapologetically forging forward into an ever more complex understanding of Catholic life and culture. Twenty-somethings are talking Aquinas, Chesterton, Justin Martyr, Augustine, with no apologies and no shame. They are arguing over the Theology of the Body. They openly pray the rosary. The rosary! I remember the years that holding a rosary in one's hands in a Catholic church was to invite open scorn! Do these kids know how lucky they are, to have this vibrant, new millenial Church? They have a freedom and a camaraderie that my generation missed out on completely. Yes, yes, yes -- as Barbara Nicolosi Harrington so eloquently states, in "Turn, Turn, Turn" it was all our fault. Mea culpa, mea culpa -- we were all too busy being snotty and rejecting the prayers, liturgies, theology, art and literature of our Catholic heritage and embracing relevance (not to mention drugs and rock'n'roll-- fortunately my marriage, ridiculed by my freak friends in the Sixties, kept me from the "free sex" part of the triad) to hold on to what we had.
I guess I'm doing penance now for the theological and intellectual vacuity of my lazy, pleasure-seeking baby boomer generation. Yeah, I'm jealous of the youngsters. We are superfluous to them. We who came back to the Church in the last half of the 20th century are pokey and still half-ashamed of Christ and His Body. We still can't believe that Benediction is back in vogue. I cried the first time we said the Divine Praises in my parish in the late 80's -- I never thought I'd hear them again in my lifetime. Do these kids know how blessed they are? Do they know the bullet they dodged by dint of chronology?
The picture above shows a t-shirt from the Catholic to the Max line of apparel that is popular with the teenagers and twenty-somethings. I almost bought one, but decided if I started buying t-shirts I might not be able to stop... The front says "Get Holy or Die Tryin'", and the back lists a bunch of martyrs. Gotta love the catalog description:
Oh - and I saw David Tennant's Hamlet last night. With Patrick Stewart as Claudius. First time I ever "got" Hamlet's lonely lunacy. Like the Fool in King Lear, but torn apart by the exigencies of the Fourth Commandment.