Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Funny Addendum to the Post Below

So, I have friends and acquaintances who are always complaining about the Masonic influence on the post Vatican 2 Church.  And I'm usually pretty doubtful.   BUT

While I was leaving this conference (which dabbled in that special baby boomer style 'liturgy') I left the parking lot immediately after a middle-aged woman in an SUV.  I ended up behind her at the light.  Her car had "Freemason" license plates! 

I nearly died laughing.  Apparently, the Freemasons ARE involved in liturgy and catachesis! 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Church Design and Welcoming the Stranger

Disclaimer: I am a socially awkward introvert.  The following may not apply to suave extroverts… but they don’t seem to spend much time in the Catholic Blogosphere anyway.

On Sunday, I went to my diocesan catechetical conference.  It was at a parish an hour away.   The kids had a nasty virus and we had to split Masses anyway, so I decided to go to the conference Mass instead of my home Mass.

The church had been built in 1968, and it looked it.  The parish had tried to jazz it up a bit – they added statues and a really nice series of plaques commemorating the seven sacraments.  Still, nothing could disguise the fact that the building was part of the “Alien Flying Auditorium lands next to a giant spike” school of architecture.  It even had vinyl siding—on the inside.  Truly, it was a site to behold.

The angle of the ceiling beams and the arrangement of the pews drew my eyes down, to the people around me.   The tabernacle was off to one side, hard to see.  The altar was too low to be easily visible in a crowded church.  The architect wanted the congregation to focus on each other, and his design was successful.

I’m not often in strange churches, and when I travel I usually have my husband and kids in tow.  This was the first time I’ve been alone in a ‘focus on the congregation’ style church.  Frankly, it was oppressive.   When I visited Byzantine Churches in Greece or the great Churches of Italy on my own, I never felt alone.  The art and architecture directed my gaze, and my thoughts, upward and then back down to the altar. They conveyed the message “This is a space where we worship God, here the Son is present in the Eucharist.  You are at the altar of the Lord.”   In those spaces, I had come alone, but I was not lonely.  I was one of the multitudes, praising God.

The squat alien church oppressed me.  It drew my gaze down to the crowd of strangers.  I literally did not know a single person in the church. I felt alone.  The architect was saying ‘here is your community, the body of Christ!’ while making it hard for me to see the one person in the church I did know, Jesus himself.

I’d never really noticed this aspect of the ‘We the Church’ style of architecture before.   I’d always encountered these buildings on family vacations, surrounded by children and in-laws.   So I’d never noticed how lonely they can make a single person feel.  

Traditional Ecclesiastical architecture makes a visitor forget himself.  When the focus is on the altar, the message is “This is the same sacrifice the world over.”  A stranger can go to Mass in one parish and the art and architecture remind him that the whole church, the world over, is celebrating the same Mass – there is really only one cross, one sacrifice, one Eucharist.

The alien pod-churches focus on the differences, on the ‘uniqueness’ of the congregation.  It may be a style that gives warm fuzzies when your gaze is directed to Mrs. McCulludy, your Kindergarten teacher, sitting with her grandchildren who play on your daughter’s soccer team.  But for the stranger, who comes knowing no one but Christ, the entire experience can be somewhat alienating.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Favorite Dewey Decimal Number

Hello. My name is Deirdre Mundy, and I have always had favorite Dewey Decimal number. I’ve always had favorites. I used to be a big fan of the 812s. For a while, I loved the 00’s – I couldn’t get enough ‘nonfiction’ about UFOs and monsters. These days, when I’m hanging out in Nonfiction, you can almost always find me in the 398.2 section.

If you’re not a library fiend, you may not realize that 398.2 is the land of fairy tales and folk tales. Some libraries are pretty strict – they reserve this section for collections of folk tales. Not mine. If you want Jamie O’Rourke, Strega Nona, or a gorgeously illustrated version of Cinderella, you have to hit the 398.2’s.

This year, my social studies curriculum for the 5 year old and the 7 year old is almost entirely based in the 398.2 section. Our method goes like this:

1. We pick out 4 or 5 promising folktales from the 398.2 section. They can’t be from the same culture, and they can’t be retellings of similar stories. (I like comparing stories across cultures, but my 5 year old wants more variety in her tales, so we’ll save that project for a few years from now.)

2. After we read a folktale, we talk about the setting. Why are the people dressed like that? What are their normal lives like? Where and when did they live? How are they different from us? How are they the same?

3. We use the web, our maps and atlas, and our history/geography books to learn a little more about the culture that gave us the tale.

It’s sort of a scattershot approach, but it’s working well for us at the moment. So far we’ve had a nice smattering of India, China, Japan, Greece, England, Ireland, and Scandinavia, Italy, Various African tribes, South America, various Indian groups and American. My kids are learning that the same sorts of stories get told again and again, across cultures. They draw parallels between Loki, Hermes, Anansi, Brer Rabbit, the tricky foxes, the leprechauns, etc. They see the ‘abused orphan turned princess’ story play out again and again. They’re starting to get a sense of geography and literature at the same time.

Next year, when my oldest is in second grade, I’m going to start on a more organized history curriculum, at least for her. For now, I’m very happy with learning about the world through the 398.2s.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crapshoot Investing Deal! Free until Saturday.!

My dad wanted me to spread the word about a promotional deal for his new book:

Between now and Saturday, you can download Crapshoot Investing free on the Kindle or Nook!  That's right, free e-books for a limited time only!

I've started reading it, and I enjoy it.  But I'm his daughter, so I can understand if you don't consider me an objective reader.  But you know what, who cares? Because for the next few days, you can get it free and see for yourself!

Mass Dash Update

A few weeks ago, I published a desperate plea for help on this blog.  I really appreciate all the good advice, and I have great news!   In the last 3 weeks, we’ve been 15 minutes early to Mass 2 times, and arrived just as the processional began twice. (We took the kids to Mass on the Solemnity of St. Joseph too—He’s our Parish patron saint.)   So, if the new routine holds, even our “late” won’t be that bad.

So, what’s changed?

Well, I read everyone’s advice, and made the following changes:

1. I’m showering the evening before.   One less adult in the shower really speeds things up, especially since we only have one bathroom.  We really need to keep people’s time in there to a bare minimum if we want to get out of the hour in 3 hours or less.

2. No more choices at breakfast, and NO MORE OATMEAL.  I decide what we’ll be eating the night before, and if there’s any non-microwave cooking to be done, we do it then.  We feed the kids something quick and include breakfast meat (which has improved my three-year-old’s behavior.  Apparently some of the ‘crazy’ was just ‘hungry.’  And without the ‘crazy’ getting to and through Mass is much easier.) We do not serve anything messy.

3. Calling out times and reminders.  Nat’s comment about “Do you really want to read that book right now?” really hit home.  We’re a pretty distractable family and tend to get caught up in unimportant things even when we’re rushing out the door. 

4. Streamlining the process: I’ve changed where I keep the envelopes so we skip the Sunday morning hunt.  I’ve relaxed a little on what constitutes “Dressed up” for the 3 and 1 year old – getting out the door is easier if we just go for “shirt, pants, socks, shoes” and I don’t get fussy.   The girls are now getting themselves ready – the easier breakfast means they have plenty of time to get dressed and ready.

So, with 4 kids under 8 and one car, we’re now getting out the door on time.  Of course, the weather has been a big help too – it’s a lot easier to get going when we don’t have to scrape the windshield and clear off the car!  Pray for me—I hope we can keep this up.  Mass is much more pleasant when we’re ON TIME!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

On Being Late for Mass

This is not an informational post.  This is a cry for help, and for advice from experienced parents.

Since my fourth child was born, I have been on time for Mass ONCE.  That was the week the kids were sick, the car was broken, and my husband and I split Masses and I only had to get myself ready and out the door.  I was 15 minutes early.  It was glorious.

The rest of time, Sunday is definitely an exercise in penance and humiliation.

I know many of my readers have more kids and have been where I am now. (My oldest is 7).  Lent is coming.  I need to make major changes and conquer this lateness problem.  (Mass isn't the ONLY thing we run late for, but it's the biggest thing, and the problem is worse because my husband and I are trying to leave the house at the same time, the kids can't eat breakfast in Church clothes, and because of the "two-in-diapers" issue, I cannot get dressed/showered TOO early, or I'll have to dress/shower again since diapers seem MORE likely to explode on me when I'm wearing nice clothes......)

Anyway, please! Help! Suggestions!