It was very much a week of celebrations of all sorts, really. Monday I celebrated my 39th birthday... for the first time. John and I went to see Star Trek. We're not Trekkies in any sense of the word (except for the fact that I've probably seen all the episodes of the original TV series once upon a time) - it was just the most interesting-sounding movie on the list at the local theater. It was unexpectedly fun and rather delightful, aside from one or two rather crude moments early in the movie.
Ria was confirmed this week! She chose two names - Gilbert and Karol. Gilbert is after G.K. Chesterton (though there are some "official" St. Gilberts as well) and Karol, of course, is after Pope John Paul II.
Sadly, my in-laws weren't able to make it to the confirmation as my mother-in-law spent most of the week in the hospital after stomach surgery on Monday. Happily, she returned home yesterday evening and is resting comfortably and very much over the worst.
It was also a week of getting together with members of the Catholic online community.
On Tuesday night we hosted a potluck for Ana and family as they made their way home from ND. We had 55 people here! It's already the most beautiful week of the year, with many blossoming trees, lush green grass and new leaves on most of the trees. The weather also cooperated beautifully! We had a delightful visit filled with food, fun, dancing and good conversation.
Last night our family attended a Latin Tridentine Mass for the Feast of the Ascension. It was organized by members of our Latin Club (so John and I actually brought 11 people with us - including six of our kids) and we planned to head out for some famous Wisconsin Frozen Custard afterwards, to celebrate the Feast and Ria's 16th birthday. The Mass was very nice and the St. Anthony Choir (which includes my brother-in-law and two nephews) provided beautiful music.
The priest shared a delightfully funny story during the homily, which I will attempt to re-tell here. He was talking about various theories regarding the end of the world. Apparently one lady at a previous parish he attended insisted that he warn his congregation that the world was going to end the next day (or sometime that week, I can't remember the particulars). He explained to her that he always preaches about conversion and wouldn't do anything different this time. The following week (after the world was supposed to have ended) she came up to him excitedly and said: You are such a good priest! Your prayers have stayed the hand of God! ;)
Afterwards, Robert introduced us to Matthew Alderman, who recently relocated to the Milwaukee area. Ria and I have been fans of his beautiful artwork for some time and he ended up very kindly accepting our invitation to join our little celebration at Kopp's Frozen Custard. The slightly surreal aspect of the meeting was that I had read half of his blog post on ND yesterday morning, and the thought was unexpectedly completed with the author in real life that same evening. Life is funny!
I was pleased to discover a week or two ago that I qualify for Amazon.com's Vine Program - which provides top reviewers with free review materials of all sorts. Though I receive many Catholic review materials through my work for Love2learn, I like to promote good books and publishers through Amazon already and when I only read books from a limited field, I get burnt out very quickly. So I ordered a few interesting-sounding books, including a picture book about children with autistic siblings and a non-fiction title about a soccer team composed of refugees. Interesting stuff!
Unfortunately, when I received the latest edition of their review offerings yesterday, I had too many out-standing books to request more - and one of the review items was a Flip Videocamera! (I bought a very inexpensive Flip Videocamera for John for Valentine's Day, thanks to a tip from Danielle, but we managed to break the screen just a few weeks later.) Whaddya do?
The gardens are coming along, though there's always too much to do terribly well. We're actually eating some lettuce (both red lettuce and Mesclun sweet mix) and arugula (which I wasn't really familiar with before). The potted cherry tomatoes (which we started from seed in February, I think) are coming along beautifully. I think we'll be eating some in a week or so. We also have spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, zucchini and onions growing pretty well.
Late last week (or was it early this week) I finished reading Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy for the first time. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but it's basically the story of how a very devoted couple walked the path from atheism to Christianity. It's quite a touching romance and C.S. Lewis plays a major role. Can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, Under the Mercy. It also makes me want to go back and re-read all of the C.S. Lewis I read in high school and READ all the C.S. Lewis I haven't yet read. Good stuff!
Last, but certainly not least, I'm very excited about my friend Karen's new book on the Rosary. I'm reading it slowly, amidst the other miscellaneous books and am enjoying it very much. It's simple and very accessible. Not necessarily things I didn't already know, but insights and helpful ways of understanding things (and possibly sharing them with others). Here's a little sample:
The Church affirms that we are to give the mother of our Lord the respect she deserves, which was foretold in Luke 1:48, "All generations will call me blessed." And simply put, why would we not wish to offer her love, honor and respect? Mary surrendered herself completely to all that accompanied bringing our Saivor into the world, including intense suffering. Seeking to emulate her faith is not an act of worship; it is an act of learning from another disciple.