Picking and Being God Parents in the Catholic Church

Exciting times are coming ahead…Jacob will be getting baptized soon. So we’re getting ready and praying for Jacob’s Godparents.

Let me explain a few things about both being Godparents AND picking Godparents.

In our culture, (Filipino) we often pick more than one set of Godparents. It’s not the standard among Catholics, but if the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a baby, then it takes a whole army to raise a good and solid Catholic child. So if you ever go to a Filipino person’s child’s Baptism, be aware that they may have more than one set of Godparents for his or her child.

For each of our 4 children, we have picked more than one set of Godparents. They have ranged from siblings to friends and family members to priests and religious sisters. All of whom are very integral in the spiritual lives of our children… Or at least we hope. 🙂 And even if they’re not…. This is their chance to step up to the plate and make sure my kids are getting into heaven, because that is priority number 1 for our family.

So here are a few things to know before you pick your child’s next Godparents. Please keep in mind that these points are considered the bare minimum. Hopefully you pick someone that will do these things and more. If getting into heaven is your priority, then you must choose wisely.

Potential Godparents must be practicing Catholics in “good standing” and must strive to exhibit a “spirit of prayer” and moral effort and growth in love of God and neighbour.

They can also be Christian, but would be considered a Christian witness instead of a Godparent, and must be accompanied by a Catholic sponsor.

According to the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (Paragraphs 2042-2043) They should make every effort to

  • Attend mass on Sundays and Holy days of obligation
  • Go to confession at least once a year
  • Receive Holy Communion once a year during the Easter season
  • Observe the fast of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday as well as abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent
  • Help provide for the needs of the Church
  • Observe the laws of the Church concerning marriage

Now let me talk about these points briefly…. The above things describe a Catholic in good standing. But let’s be honest here… These things are the bare minimum. If you pick someone who doesn’t care to go to church or blatantly disagrees with what the Catholic Church teaches, it’s probably not wise to pick him or her to be a spiritual father or mother to your child.

Spiritual motherhood and fatherhood is the ultimate vocation of a man or a woman. Which is why priests and religious sisters can also participate in this wonderful sacrament as God parents.

Remember that if something happens to the parents, the responsibility of the Godparents is to make sure that the child in their life is brought up in the faith. It is a very serious responsibility to be a Godparent. And I hope whoever you pick will be able to live up to the task.

It is a lifelong journey to be a Godparent. As of today, I have 5 Godchildren: Ethan, Kyler, Evelyn, Olivia, and Jeremiah.

I hope that I can live up to the role that their parents have given me. I continue to pray for them daily, and even if I don’t see them all the time, they are close to my heart and I hope that my prayers for them will help keep them close to our Lord and His church.

Now a note to Godparents….

Please do your best to be there for your Godchildren. If you are not physically able to, at least offer your prayers for them.

Learn your faith. This is so important. If you aren’t firm in your faith or understand why the Catholic Church teaches what she does and why… Look for those answers. I can guarantee that you will find those answers within the church.

Offer up a mass for your Godchildren on their birthdays or Baptism day. Thankfully I have a close personal relationship with a priest that I can ask him to offer up mass for anyone I ask. 🙂

Stay close to the sacraments. Holy Mother Church has given us ways to stay close to Jesus. We are to receive the sacraments often and with reverence.

Go to confession! This goes along with the previous point, but this deserves a point of its own. The sacrament of reconciliation is the most under used sacrament. If only we knew the graces we receive after every confession, we would be utilizing this sacrament more. This sacrament allows us to withstand the sins we commit. It gives us the graces we need to stay close to Jesus.

There is so much more that can be said, but I will leave it for another time. All I can say is that being a Godparent is a huge responsibility and should not be taken lightly. We are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of the children in our care.

You must choose the Godparents of your child wisely. Pick people who are good and upstanding Catholics. And if at this point in time, they are not living up to the task, have a serious talk with them and maybe they will amend their ways.

Last year at the RCIA, there was a young man who came to through the process because he was asked to be a Godparent. He never received the sacrament of confirmation, and decided to do so because he wanted to be a good Godparent to his Godchild. I only hope and pray that he gathers the knowledge that he needs to be the best Godparent he can be.

Thank you for reading this blog post. If there are any topics you’d like me to write about, please leave them in the comments, and I will do my best to write about them.

Take care and God bless!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

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Breastfeeding and the Theology of the Body

Even after having 4 kids, you’d think that breastfeeding would come easier with the fourth kid, but nooooooooooo….. Jacob is throwing me for a loop. First it was the bottle feeding… That was interrupting the proper latch and his preference for the bottle seemed to overtake his want for breastfeeding, so we cut out the bottles. Second it is his latch, since he was bottle fed, his latch was smaller then the typical one. Mind you he also has a really small mouth because he’s a preemie, so we’ve been using a nipple shield to help open his mouth wider, but with that comes other problems: he doesn’t get as much milk as he would drinking from the bare breast. Third, since we’re using the nipple shield, he latches better using that than on the bare breast, but I’ve been working on getting him off the nipple shield. So that’s another transition. Fourth, he hasn’t been gaining as much weight as we’d hoped, so instead of adding formula, as other people would, we’ve been adding a tube while feeding him…to get him to a higher weight….Sigh…so many things going on.

There are usually 2 breastfeeding problems: 1) a milk production problem, where for whatever reason, your body isn’t producing as much milk as your baby needs and 2) a latching problem. This happens when your baby can’t latch properly and it makes breastfeeding hurt. For me, my problem has always been a latching problem. I have never had a problem with milk production, thankfully, but on the other hand, a latching problem can make any mother quit breastfeeding because it really hurts if you don’t get the help you need. Sigh… This is such hard work. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and it is the least talked about in parenting classes, but let me tell you…. It puts things into perspective.

How much are you willing to sacrifice for your baby… To try to give him/her the best possible nutrition… It’s really hard… And the sad thing is… A lot of mothers give up before their babies. One thing I have learned in my life regarding breastfeeding is NEVER give up! If you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for it, it will be totally worth it. There is help out there if you really want it. But first you have to get over the painful latches of the milk production issues to be able to be in the clear.

Over the last few days, Jacob and I have been struggling with breastfeeding. He’s been fussy a lot at night which means that I’ve been up nursing him. I feel like I’ve been nursing him non stop over the last few days. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience, persistence and a heck of a lot of the miracle nipple cream I was prescribed! Let me tell you… Without that nipple cream, I don’t know where I’d be.

Thinking about how this relates to the Theology of the Body… In so many ways, a mother is that child’s representative of Jesus, metaphorically, of course.

She willingly feeds her child, losing sleep and other things that come along with it. But if you knew what the milk was, you’d also understand the parallels with that of the Holy Eucharist.

What is the Holy Eucharist? It’s literally transformed from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. See John chapter 6 in the Bible. Jesus’ body and blood becomes the sustenance for our lives. If we eat of his flesh and drink his blood, we will have eternal life. He is the life source of our lives.

In the same way it can be for breastfeeding…the mother’s body and blood is transformed into sustenance for that little baby. Without the milk, the baby would die. But I guess one of the most beautiful things to think about is that mothers get to feed their babies just like the Blessed Mother fed the baby Jesus. She gave up her body for him so he could live by drinking the milk that her body produced.

If breastfeeding doesn’t make you a saint, I don’t know what will. While I’m sitting here, feeding Jacob, sometimes I wonder why I don’t just quit breastfeeding this little boy… And as I contemplate this, I think no… I could never give up on this. This is my sacrifice for him but also for those who need prayers. My struggle will be offered up for those who need and want prayers. So if you’d like me to remember you during my struggle please comment on this post, and I’ll be sure to pray for you during my breastfeeding journey.

Before I end this post, if you could also lift me up in your prayers, I could really use them. Breastfeeding is hard, but one thing I’ve learned is… Get the help…it’s out there if you need it.

This is where I got my help…

The Doctor’s Breastfeeding Clinic

The doctors here are great! And so is the lactation consultant. I wouldn’t have made it this far without their help.

One last note… I was reading another blog about 5 saints who should be known by breastfeeding mothers, and one that really stood out was St. Zelie Martins. She was the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was unable to breastfeed her children and had to send them to live with wet nurses because she couldn’t feed them. And many of them died while they were separated from her. 😮 Can you imagine?? Your babies died because you couldn’t breastfeed them?? I’d be devastated and I’m sure she was. So I’m that note, I’ll end this blog with a short prayer.

St. Giles (patron saint of breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers, St. Zelie, and Our Lady of La Leche, please pray for all the breastfeeding mothers out there that are struggling and wanting to give up! Give them the will to keep going even when they want to stop. Allow them to enter into the suffering deeply and unite it with that of Christ and the Blessed mother. Allow them to persevere by your grace. All this we ask in Jesus’ name! Amen!

My little milk monster! He keeps me on my toes!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

First comes the baby… Then come the feelings and emotions!

Two blog posts in a week? I must have hit a new record! Haha

Thank you for reading my last blog post! I’m very grateful to the people who read it. It was my most read blog post to date, so yay! 😀

I have been off Facebook for a bit .. I needed a detox… It was sucking the life out of me, but my blog gets automatically uploaded to Facebook, so if you left a comment, I’m sorry, I haven’t read them… I’ll eventually be back on, but I don’t know when.

Anyway… Back to this post…

This has been a trying time having Jacob so early and leaving him in the care very wonderful nurses. It’s been manageable being away from him, but what I didn’t expect is the emotions and feelings that I have been going through.

With my other three, I never experienced the amount of emotions that I am currently….it’s hard to admit, but I feel like I’m suffering from post partum depression…..dun…dun…dun…

The three words no one ever wants to admit. But saying it out loud has a way of empowering the person who said it. You know what they say… The first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem.

So I’m freely admitting it to the readers of this blog. I think I am suffering from post partum depression!

Maybe my struggle will help you to overcome yours….

Generally, I’m a very private person. I don’t really share my life wth everyone… Hence why many people had no clue I was even pregnant. I’m just like that. It takes some time for me to trust people and if that trust is ever broken, it’s even harder to earn it back.

So this past week, the post partum depression hit me hard… Like a ton of bricks. I was supposed to write a certification exam on Friday, but I realized I was in no shape, mentally, to even begin to write it. During the exam… I started bawling uncontrollably. I stopped writing the exam and laid down. The depression got the better of me.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed since I left the hospital less than four weeks ago. My recovery has been great. Physically I feel like I’m on the road to recovery, but I think people forget that I just had major surgery 4 weeks ago. Like what was I doing going to a bbq on Canada day after just having surgery? What was I doing cooking meals for my family after having just gotten out of the hospital? Why did I decide to go to two musicals within a few days of each other after having only given birth a week to a week and a half prior?? I must have really looked good to people on the outside… Because inside I felt like I was going to cry or scream at any time.

I was supposed to go out with friends on Friday, but I totally bailed, and I didn’t even mention it to them. I couldn’t go out… Truthfully, I didn’t want to go anywhere with anyone… I didn’t want to contact anyone…. I just wanted to either stay home in bed or stay at the hospital with my premature infant son. It felt like being at the hospital was the only source of relief. I didn’t have to cook or take care of my other children…All I had to do was be present for my little preemie. I could do that! I could actually sit and watch a whole episode of Brooklyn 99 without hearing “mom” 50 times during one episode

I was feeling depressed and angry all in one body. How can a person like me…who’s normally bubbly and positive be feeling this?? I’ve never felt like this before. I don’t feel like myself. On the surface, if you saw me, you’d think… Wow she’s doing great… But inside I want to either cry or kick someone’s face in. I hope I never get to the point where I actually act on my emotions. I’d never kick someone’s face in, but I’d probably think about it long and hard. Hahaha….

The important thing to note is that if you start feeling like this… Reach out for help…I spoke with one of my good friends who I know would be able to pray for me about this matter… He’s a priest! One of the best around! He offered mass for me twice in two days! I literally cried because I knew the only way to get through this was to rely on God to help! The highest form of prayer is the mass, so thank you to my dear friend for offering mass on my behalf! It is what helped me.

Of course I told Rios too! I’m just happy he’ll be able to be home when he goes on parental leave in a week. I’ll be able to get more help with the kids. If you know my kids, they’re very active! I love them to death, but I can’t deal with them too much right now. I’m exhausted, hungry, irritable and sad! It’s not the kind of emotion you want your children to see.

They deserve their mom to be happy and loving. I want to get back to my former self, but I know it will take time. Until then, I will suffer through this, emotions and all, and I will offer up my suffering for others!

So if you’re reading this, please know that you’re not alone! There are people willing to help you. No one is an island… Even though sometimes you wish you were… It’s better to live in a crowded village than to realize you’re alone on the island you created.

Do your best to keep people close to you! If you ever need to chat, shoot me a comment, and I’d be more than happy to engage in fruitful conversations.

God bless you, my readers!

May we always be united!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

Preemie babies and Theology of the Body

I know it’s been a while since I last wrote anything for this blog, and I’m not making excuses, but life definitely got in the way of keeping up with this blog. However … I’m back now and hopefully I can contribute more to the blogosphere.

Ok…. So update….. I had a fourth baby… Another wonderful baby BOY! I know what you’re thinking… Another boy? Was it planned?  Were you going for a girl this time around? And. … You gonna go for the girl?? As in… Are you going to go for the fifth baby?

Let me start by saying that I love my kids and they bring me so much joy…even if they drive me crazy sometimes. To answer your lingering questions though… Yes another boy; yes it was planned with more thought; no we weren’t going for a girl persay, but if we happened to be blessed with a girl, great… If not, I know boys, so it’s not much of a stretch; but to answer the big question you’re all thinking…Yes we are open to having more children!

Say whaaaat?? Yes… We’re open to having more if God blesses us with more children. That’s part of what we agreed to when we took our wedding vows: “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” and the answer is an absolute YES! I just hope we are able to because I have had 2 C-section. It is a little more complicated to have children after the second C-section.

The story behind this little one is a bit of an epic tale. Rios and I were hoping to have a 4th child because when we first got married, we wanted to have 2 or 4 kids, so after Aaron was born we realized we would love to have another, so we decided to get back on the Billings Ovulation Method bandwagon and intentionally work with God to make it happen. It definitely wasn’t as easy as it was before. I was at my heaviest weight and having very irregular cycles.

Sidenote: using the Billings Ovulation Method has helped me figure out issues within my cycle.

http://www.toronto.naturalfamilyplanning.ca

I figured out that I had thyroid issues and low vitamin D, so as soon as I got those things taken care of, I found out that I was pregnant! What a joyous occasion! This pregnancy, however, was my hardest one to date. I was told that there was a chance that this baby would have down syndrome. I also ended up getting gestational diabetes with this pregnancy. On top of that, this baby was considered high risk because he was an intrauterine growth restricted baby aka (iugr) with only 2 blood vessels running through the umbilical cord.

So when he was born, he was 2 pounds 5 ounces. Even at 34 weeks, he was as tiny as a 30 weeker. He was very feisty when he was born though. His apgar score was 10. You don’t even see that in babies that are born to term. Needless to say, I knew he would change my world when he arrived. I wasn’t even expecting him to come when he did. I was in the hospital for a non stress test: they hook you up to the monitors to check the movements of the baby, but during the test, the doctor said his movements were not adequate, so they sent me for an ultrasound. After the ultrasound, they sent me back to labour and delivery for my results, and during that time, the doctor said that the fluid around the baby was depleting. This began my journey as a preemie mom.

He was delivered via C-section and I was happy but at the same time sad. It’s hard to sit back knowing that your little baby was taken so early from the warmth of your womb and now has to stay in the care of others. I was also sad knowing that the possibility of a large family was now limited by the multiple surgeries.

The first time I got to meet him was after breakfast the next day. I couldn’t believe my eyes at how small he was. I didn’t know what to do because he was so tiny. I was in awe that I had been a co-creator along with my husband and with God to bring this little human into the world. What a huge blessing this little guy has been in our lives.

He has been in the nicu for just over three weeks now, and it has definitely been an experience. There is an element of letting go of your little baby in the hopes that he will get the best care even though you wish he could come home with you. It’s realizing that you can’t give him what he needs right now. That he needs to be in the care of the nurses while you are at home waiting and pumping. There is also the element of pumping even when you don’t want to.

Let me pause for a minute and reflect on pumping versus breastfeeding. Let me tell you one thing… Breastfeeding is sooooooo much easier than pumping. When a mom breastfeeds her baby, you’re all he needs. No extra bottles, people, and sanitizing. But on the other hand, pumping requires an element of giving of yourself in a different way. Even though your baby isn’t with you physically, you are still responsible for producing the milk that sustains him. You still have to wake up every three hours to pump or your milk either won’t come in or it will diminish. It’s a different kind of giving of yourself. It is a weird feeling being away from your baby because while you’re pumping to keep up your milk supply, you’re essentially feeding a machine. It’s also a bit harder to connect with your baby because you are separated from him. When pumping you still have the very real consequences of sore nipples. It hurts and sometimes you want to cry because you are tired, sore, and cranky, but you keep moving forward because you know that little life that you birthed is depending on you.

So how does the Theology of the Body relate to having a preemie baby? It relates very much. In general, babies are the epitome of the Theology of the Body. Birthing a baby is living the Theology of the Body. But having a preemie is another aspect of TOB. It is giving of yourself even when you are away from the baby. It is trusting the nurses to take care of your new little bundle of joy. Without those nurses, you would be a hot mess. You have to rely on your village to raise a family. If we are meant for communion, you definitely live this way because those nurses are the ones that are caring for your little one while your are at home trying to live your life and be a part of your baby’s life. They make it possible for your baby to thrive, and sure it’s their job, but at the same time, they love what they do and the nurses at the nicu where my little guy is, well they’re fantastic! I want to thank each and every nurse that has taken care of my baby. If you’re reading this, please know that I appreciate all you do and I thank you for loving my son while I’ve been unable to care for him fully. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

I once asked Christopher West what kind of advice he could give to a mother who was about to give birth to a baby in a few weeks, and his response was perfect.

“I have nothing but deep reverence for the mystery about to be revealed through the Theology of your body!! Christ used labor pains and birth as an image of the paschal mystery. You are entering bodily into a sign that encompasses the mystery of existence, of creation, fall, and redemption. Live it prayerfully… Offer all of your sufferings for the redemption of the world… The veil between heaven and earth is very thin in these moments… ”

– Christopher West

As I reflect on the actual delivery of my new baby boy… It is very much like living in union with Christ at the time. I was laying down on the operating table, vulnerable and in the form of Christ. My arms were spread out just like Christ’s were on the cross. I was giving life and at the same time losing a bit of myself and my heart to this little life. Every time a new baby is born into my family, my heart expands to allow more love to exist. Love can only grow more with the addition of more children. That is what it means to live the Theology of the Body to live freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully. Love until it hurts, and even when it hurts, keep loving more because that’s how we are called to love one another. We are called to love one another as Christ loves the church in that he gave his life up for us. Love day to day in the small things and you will be able to love in the big things!

Welcome to the world Jacob Xavius Manrique-Reyes! We love you!

The Theology of my body

So 2 months ago, I attended the second Theology of the Body course in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, and it was truly amazing! I LOVE how the TOB community is very tight knit. I attended the course with a few people I saw last year at the first TOB course, and we became closer through our love for TOB and for each other!

Reality has set in though and the weight of the responsibility has set me on fire for the Lord and this prophetic message!

Before I get into the nitty-gritty of my experience at the retreat, let me share an experience that I shared with my TOB friends at the retreat. It has really put things into perspective for me. I never considered my body to be a theology, but boy, was I wrong. I always thought that my body will be a gift, and sure…. it’s easy enough when you’re a parent… you’re ALWAYS a gift…but when the true nature of being a gift is called into question, things change.

A few weeks before the course, our friends got married, and it was a beautiful wedding. One of the sponsors at the wedding recently had a baby a few weeks prior, so I was asked to take care of him, and of course, I said YES! I LOVE babies!!

As I was taking care of him, he started to get fussy, so I rocked him, stood up, burped him… but he would have none of it. I quickly walked to the back as the entire wedding party was lining up and told his mom that he was hungry. She was unsure what to do because the wedding procession was going to start in a few minutes. My husband, being the TOB supporter, steps out and says “who’s going to be the wet nurse? Charity right?” and both the baby’s mom and I looked at each other and I said “I’m ok to feed him as long as you are… I don’t want him to be hungry.” And she said “tob right? Charity!” I was in such awe from that moment. I knew I had to be a gift for this little incarnate soul. He was hungry, so I fed him out of love and charity for him and his mom.

Wait whaaaaat????  You breastfed another baby??  Some of you are probably thinking this… and to you I say Yes…yes I did!!  I did it with joy and love for God. My understanding of the theology of the body made that decision easier for me to love another human that wasn’t directly related to me.

I must say that it was one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had.  I mean breastfeeding in general is a beautiful experience, but it is different when it’s your own child and when it’s someone else’s.  At that moment, I remember feeling awestruck and simply in love.  I was able to be a gift for someone other than my family and it was beautiful.

It only really hit me how powerful this witness was to me and to my fellow TOB retreat goers.  I shared this story with them during our Thursday bonfire, and a few women after came and told me that it was such a great story and that they would pray for me. One woman said that I would forever be her example of Our Lady of Laleche.  Every time she sees someone breastfeeding a baby, she will think of me and pray for me.  🙂  What wonderful people to offer up prayers for you.

Fast forward a few months later, and what have I realized….  There are so many things I can say about this experience.

It helped me have more reverence towards our blessed mother Mary.  She is the original Our Lady of la Leche.  She nursed the baby Jesus in order to sustain His life, and in turn, He gave up His to save hers.  WOW!!!!!  I, somehow, was able to participate in the very act of charity that sustained my friend’s baby as well as the charity that allowed Jesus to live.  We never think about Mary breastfeeding Jesus, but in reality she did.  What else would she have done??  She loved him enough to give up her life to care for him.  She had sleepless nights, fussy baby blues, breastfeeding aches, but yet she still gave up her life to take care of the one who gave up his. We often forget that Mary was human with real struggles and real parenting fails, but she, with the grace of God, took care of Jesus.  What a lovely reminder for us mothers… Mary was once in our shoes, so she knows our hearts better than anyone.

The theology of the body has taught me that we all long for closeness and love, and the only way to show and express love is to give of yourself fully.  To give of yourself to another freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully is the only way to truly live life. If you’re going to live, live with love.  If you’re going to love, love till it hurts.  If you’re going to be a gift, give yourself fully. When they say “no man is an island” it’s true.  No one can live by themselves devoid of the rest of the world. My dad once shared with me that “God made me to know him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this life and be happy with him forever in the next.” I will forever take those words with me as I move forward in life.  That one moment where I gave myself to love and serve another little human has forever changed my life, and for that experience, I am truly grateful.

Mass and children: the two CAN go together!

It’s been awhile since my last blog post, and I’ve definitely been inspired to write this particular blog post! I read a few things about bringing kids to mass: some of the things I agree with and some I respectfully disagree with.

With that being said, here are some tips that have helped me and my husband enjoy mass with our children.

1) Have a set time for mass. We used to go to the 12:30 pm mass but found that our kids would misbehave more during later masses than earlier times, so we decided to start attending the 9:30 am mass. Usually children are happier earlier in the day, so it’s great to capitalize on that happiness. Either way, you should have a scheduled mass so that your kids get used to going and have something to look forward to each week.

2) Make sure the kids have eaten something. For me, I’m definitely one of those people who can’t eat food early in the morning, but my kids tend to want to eat something right before we step out the door. Soooo…. it’s better to give them something small to keep them satiated during Mass.

3) Find a church that offers a children’s liturgy. Our parish is blessed to have a children’s liturgy at the 9:30 am mass, but not every church has the resources to have a separate liturgy for them. If you don’t have that luxury because of the lack of manpower, perhaps consider running the liturgy for the kids yourself. In my opinion, it’s great to have the children learn from someone who wants them to love Jesus like we do. It allows your kids to interact with other kids as well as learn about the readings from another source.

4) Take your kids to more than one mass a week. The beautiful thing about the Catholic Church is that at most churches, at least in my area,they offer daily mass. I strongly recommend taking your children to more than one mass a week. As you know I have 3 boys and now my 7 and 5 year old are able to behave during Mass because they are older, but my 1 and a half year old used to misbehave during Mass, but now he’s great!! My secret: I take him to mass daily! Someone mentioned to me that kids will often misbehave during Mass because they want to know what’s going on, so I decided to take Aaron daily, and after the mass, I would allow him to walk up to the altar and check things out. He absolutely loved it! I get all sorts of compliments on how well behaved he is! THANK YOU God for your grace!! Aaron is a gem at mass, and it also brings the elders joy when they see young children during the week! They look forward to seeing him daily.

5) Sit close to the front. During Good Friday I allowed Philip to sit with me during the mass. We got a seat right in the front row because of the RCIA. Because he got to see everything up close and at times have the deacons and priests looking at him, he behaved so well! I was so pleased with his behaviour! Since then, he has wanted a seat close to the front of the church. I also noticed that the loudness is typically at the back of the church and the closer you get to the front, the quieter it gets. It also allows you and your young family to focus. Again the thing is… kids want to see what’s going on.

6) Explain the mass. Ok… so you may have to whisper, but if you do it consistently, your children will know the true significance of the mass. Especially when the kids hear the bells during the consecration of the bread and wine, it’s great to whisper to your kids… “listen for the bells, it’s a very important part of the mass because it’s when the bread and wine become Jesus.” I found this helpful with both Philip and Isaac.

7) Participate during the whole mass. Children learn by example, so when you do something or don’t do something, they will follow your example. Remember that you are your children’s first teacher. They need to see you participate in your faith so they can learn from you.

8) Talk about what you learned. If you have a children’s liturgy, it’s a great discussion to have after Mass to learn about what they learned. If you don’t have one, it’s still ok because you can tell them on the way to mass that they should listen to what God wants to teach them during the mass. You can find out what they absorbed during the readings, but if they say… “I don’t know” then you can go back over the readings and help them to seek God’s message for the week.

9) Be consistent. This echoes number 4, but it is slightly different. Consistency is the key to learning anything new. The key is to start slowly and consistently instead of fast and inconsistent. Going to mass is about being consistent. Once a week is ok, but it is the bare minimum, and if you only frequent church once a month or less than, it will be hard for kids to pay attention especially during times like Good Friday, where the service is extra long.

10) Always pray for your children’s holiness. This particular tip is less about mass an more about praying for your children. Holiness is something that is learned. With the exception of Mother Mary, we are all sinners, but with the grace of God, we can be great Saints. We all have bad days, especially children, but always intercede for your children and ask the Saints and Mother Mary for their prayers! Jesus never turned children away because He loved their innocence! Children can teach us how to love God more fully.

There you go… here are the tips my husband and I use to ensure we all have a great and wonderful time during Mass. Remember that children will always try and test your limits, but with the grace of God, all things a possible!

Comment below for other tips that have helped you! May God bless you abundantly!!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

2016 Lent to Easter Journey

Back in October, I was asked to be a sponsor for the RCIA program. A couple of days before I was asked, I saw the news in the bulletin, but I thought I was too late because the program already started, so I shrugged it off. The next thing I know, the Deacon at our parish asked me if I ever thought of being a sponsor for the RCIA. WHAAAAAAAT???? Wow… God really knew I was meant to be there.

As the months went by, I realized that the person I was sponsoring is definitely the person that God had meant for me to be paired with. She’s a young, beautiful woman, with a young baby, who needed guidance and understanding in her life. I’m so blessed to have her in my life, and this past weekend, I was blessed to witness her commitment to our faith and the Catholic Church.

These are my observations from the last week and a half. The weekend before Easter, we had a retreat. It was the last of 3 retreats for the program. This one was more of an individual, soul searching retreat. The other two were geared to increasing the bond between sponsor and candidate! A few things struck me during the retreat: 1) talking was kept to a minimum. (kinda hard for me…) haha; 2) the stations of the cross was a very powerful reflecting moment, even for a cradle Catholic, like myself; 3) the people we journeyed with are a family!

Moving on… starting on Thursday aka Maundy Thursday,  as I was sitting beside my friend, I was able to witness such beauty within our church. It was quiet, solemn, and reverent, with a ton of symbolism thrown in. This mass was different than the regular masses throughout the season. It felt empty…like you knew Jesus was going to die the next day! I left the mass feeling the sadness that must have been felt during Jesus’ time. I should note that my candidate missed this mass because she had to work.

Good Friday service was definitely interesting. Because I know how busy our church gets, I packed up my family to get them to the church around 2. We arrived slightly after 2 and there were lots of parking spaces as well as seats! My family sat separate from me because I was sitting with my candidate. The awesome thing is… i allowed Philip to sit in the front pew with me. I was sooooooooooo proud of him. He was attentive and quiet during the whole mass. This was a huge parenting win for us! Rios was sitting with Isaac and Aaron. Aaron slept for 95% of the mass and Isaac slept for a bit during the long service. This was a good day for our kids! We had some people tell us how well behaved our kids are. I first thanked God and then I thanked the person. It took us a long time to get them to the point where they can listen to what’s going on. For those people who don’t want to bring their kids to church…. JUST DO IT!!! They will never learn how to behave unless they are exposed to the culture.

On Saturday…. this was the big day! We had our rehearsal for the evening during the day and after we went back to the church to wait for the start of the whole Easter Vigil. In the time it took between Good Friday and Easter Vigil, both Rios and I found out that we were going to be the Godparents of my candidate’s daughter!! Let me tell you, I was Soooooooo excited!! Rios was slightly nervous, but excited too! I’m excited to be on this journey with her as she learns her faith through her mom and me and Rios’ example. Easter vigil was amongst the best nights of my life. I was able to witness my candidate,  her daughter and t people we were journeying with, receive their sacraments! What a sight to behold. The whole mass was 3.5 hours, but it was worth every minute spent. I was able to witness one of the sponsors, who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, endure the entire mass. She arrived at 7:15 and didn’t go home until after 11. She had the brightest smile on her face! Only the grace of God could have allowed her to be there and have the energy to continue! She never complained once. I only wish that if I ever have an illness like hers, that God will give me the strength to endure it as gracefully as she did!

The final day: Easter Sunday…. Hallelujah, He is Risen!!! I know we also celebrated it on Saturday, but there’s something different about Easter Sunday! We arrived at church by 9:15, and thankfully, there were lots of seats available! Philip wanted to sit in the front row, but Isaac didn’t, so we settled for the third row. Once again, by God’s grace, our children were well behaved! Woo hoo!!! It’s AMAZING to see the fruits of love being sown before our ver eyes!

This Easter season is still being celebrated and it is with these final thoughts I’ll close this blog post…

If you ever get the chance to be an RCIA sponsor, I would highly encourage you to do so. It’s so beautiful to see someone’s faith deepen in in few short months.

Children are always a blessing. Yes they may drive us crazy at times, but with more children comes more opportunities to show love to each other and to show love to they neighbour.

Lent is a time for reflection, repentance and healing, whereas Easter is a time for joy, feasting, and celebration.

Who knows what will happen next RCIA season, but what I do know is that my first time being a sponsor has changed my life forever!

Thank you for reading,

God bless,

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

The Lone Female Amongst The Sea of Males

It’s no secret that I have three young boys: Philip aged 7; Isaac aged 4 1/2; and Aaron aged 19 months.  They have taught me a lot about the way boys see the world and the way their humour is.  A lot of times I end up rolling my eyes at their silliness, but at the same time, I am also in awe of the wisdom that comes out of their young mouths.

They teach me to have more fun and to let go a little.  I love the way they make my heart melt with the warmness of their love.  They inspire me to be a better mother and better role model. SOOOOOOO…… the reason for my post this week is to talk about the importance of raising my boys to treat their future spouses with respect and love that Christ has bestowed upon us.

Since learning about the Theology of the Body and how it saved my marriage, I vow to make sure my boys know about this beautiful teaching and hope they take it to heart and be able to live in this society working to heal it from its deep wounds.

I have a lot of funny stories that pertain to the raising of young boys…. oh…. tons of them… hahaha

Let’s start from the beginning…. Philip was born in 2009, and he will be catalyst for this teaching. He is also the one that is now truly responding to it.  Thankfully with the grace of God, he has been understanding the teaching and even reminding his brothers what to do.

Having boys definitely has its challenges, especially in the realm of appropriating their bodies.  Philip is a silly kid and he often dances silly at home and then brings his silliness to school, and that often gets him in trouble.  The boys and I often have discussions about making sure they respect their bodies and that their bodies are sacred because we don’t just have a body, we are our bodies.

Soooooo I’m going to give some practical tips on what I’ve been doing to teach my boys the basics of the theology of the body:

  1. Use appropriate terms for body parts.  Always, always, always use the proper names for body parts.  Think about this…. we don’t have silly nicknames for our eyes, elbows, or feet, so why do we insist on using names like “bird” or “doodle” to describe the male anatomy?  We used to use nicknames for the anatomy, but now we have fixed this and have continued to use the proper terms for the proper parts.
  2. Find out what they know. Before you start divulging all the ins and out of the birds and the bees, you need to figure out what your kids know and what made them think of asking that question. Because kids are curious, they ask lots and lots of questions, but you need to know what information they have received and from where.  One time Philip asked me “Mommy, what does sexy mean?” I thought it was a funny question, but I asked him “where did you hear that word?” He said “I heard it on the radio.” My first thought is… Definitely have to filter their radio station… the next thing I said was “Well, sexy is a word that people use to describe another person, but it is not the most respectful word that we can use.  You can use words such as beautiful or pretty instead.”
  3. Always tell the truth (age appropriately) of course.  Before you tell your children everything under the sun… give them simple answers.  They are curious, so you can stay away from giving so much detail, but they do deserve a response: the TRUTH. Philip asked me one time “Mommy, where do babies come from?” My answer was simple: “Well buddy, when mommy and daddy love each other, their love, along with God’s love brings you into the world. It’s through our love that has allowed you to be be born.” This satisfied his curiosity, for now, at least…. we’ll see how long that will last. haha
  4. Give your kids lots of hugs, kisses, and appropriate affection.  It is important to show your children that you love them by showing them.  Give them lots of hugs and kisses.  Tickle them and make them laugh.  It is also important to make sure that your children know what inappropriate touches are.  You want them to know that their private parts are covered by their underwear, and that no one should be touching that area of their bodies.
  5. Teach your children the glorious reason that God created them.  I constantly talk to my boys about the reason they should keep their hands away from their penises (because their bodies are sacred and that is disrespecting their bodies).  I  talk to them about the sacredness of their bodies and that God created them to be a gift to their future wives, so by touching themselves, they are choosing self-gratification over God’s glorious purpose for them. If marriage is their chosen vocation, they are going to learn how to treat their future wives.  Quoting St John Paul II “Only the [human] body is capable of making visible what is invisible:
    the spiritual and the divine. Through…bodiliness,… masculinity and femininity, man becomes a visible sign of…Truth and Love, which has its source in God himself.” (TOB 19:4) My boys are going to know that they were created to love as Christ loves.
  6. Show affection to each other.  It is important that your children see their parents kiss and hug.  It’s funny because Isaac, my middle son, hates it when Rios and I hug or kiss.  Rios constantly tells him “I kiss and hug mommy because I love her! But it’s important to respect her!” I must say that I am blessed to have a husband who loves me as Christ does.

These are the things I’ve learned while studying the theology of the body, and how it relates to my child rearing.  My sons are the fruits of my labour and by the grace of God, they will continue to learn how to treat others with respect and dignity.  This is my job and I’m going to do the best I can to raise these boys right!

Thanks for reading,

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

 

A Little Glimmer into the world of God the Father!

Yesterday of all days was one I never want to relive, nor would I want my enemy to experience. Everything started two days ago (Monday)  when Philip was feeling sick; he had a fever, so he stayed home from school, and because I couldn’t leave the house, to drive Isaac to school, he stayed home too. Around 7:30 pm, Isaac started to feel sick, so I gave him medicine and he started to feel better, but early the next morning, Isaac’s temperature rose too fast too quick, and he had a febrile seizure.

As I stood over his convulsing body, I couldn’t find the words to say. Watching your child go through something and not be able to do anything about it is heartbreaking. All I could do was pray for him to be safe and for it to go quickly. In a panic, I called Rios, and then my mom, and then the ambulance.  As I waited for the ambulance, all I could think was, Lord, please allow him to be okay!! My mom arrived first, and she came to stay with the Philip and Aaron as I was getting ready with the paramedics to transport Isaac to the hospital.  It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your kids.  Thankfully, Rios caught his bus home in order to make it back to us before Isaac and I left. I looked at my little guy with such love and care and I knew that he was being well taken care of.  He would be alright and I was grateful to the Lord.

I had a thought as I was sitting in the waiting room, if I’m feeling like this, what more of our father in heaven??? He looks at us and must weep for us. If only we knew how much He truly loves us! He watches us and hopes that we know that He is taking care of us. He knows what we need, when we need it, but we have to be open to looking for the signs that He sends us.  Sometimes He will send people, or occasions, or deep emotions in order to wake up our love for Him.  His love is so infinite that it is His love that we are searching for when our lives feel hopeless.  Yesterday’s emotional roller coaster had me exhausted and trusting.  I was emotionally exhausted from having a full conversation with a sleeping child, and from the turmoil that would happen later that day, but I also felt the love of God with me as I was going through this process.  Especially during times of lent, we will be tempted by the devil, but it is in those times where we constantly pick the Lord that will help us draw closer to Him.

Reflections on Patience

It has been the first few days of Lent and I’ve already messed up. For this Lenten season I decided to do something slightly different. I decided I was going to be more patient with my kids and keep my voice down when speaking with them…… BUT as I mentioned before, I already messed up!

My kids go to school about 7 minutes away…not too far, but far enough, and to get them up and ready to go can definitely be a difficult task. They wake up groggy and want 5 more minutes and they dilly dally…. typical boys! Hahaha I really want to have a nice and easy morning with them, but it has been hard especially when they fight over very silly things. This morning was a better morning than yesterday, but I always feel so rushed.

Every time I start to feel the anxious feelings of being late, I ask God to grant me patience, but now reflecting on this, I see that God is granting me more opportunities to practice the virtue of patience and love. I pray a hail Mary to ask for Mother Mary’s intercession to allow me to be changed by her prayers. I realize that with the grace that God has given me, I am called to exercise a lot of patience.

I have apologized to my kids for raising my voice at them, and they were very kind to forgive me. I understand now how my mom felt when I was growing up. She used to come into my room and wake me up, and I would raise “the finger” (pointer finger) indicating that I wanted one more minute. She used to get so mad… and now I understand what it must have been like for her. She must have lost her patience more than I recall.  In those times when my kids are testing my patience, I will remember that God is allowing me to have opportunities to practice the virtue of patience!

Please God give me the grace to practice patience!

Sincerely, you disheveled daughter,

Jeanette