On the Feast of St. Francis deSales

In honor of today’s Feast of St. Francis deSales, here is a short excerpt from Live Today Well, the spiritual book I’m reading about his teachings:

The Doctor of the Church makes a distinction between different kinds of devotion. As there are different vocations or states in life to which we are called, so there are differences in what holiness means foe each of us. This distinction has two important implications.
On the one hand, it renders the devout life very flexible. It recognizes that the practice of holiness must be adapted to different occupations and situations, according to different times and places, and in fulfillment of different duties and responsibilities. On the other hand, the adaptability of the devout life does not mean that holiness is purely relative, that each person can decide what it means and how to live it….For Francis deSales, the real test of a good life is whether our devotion is in keeping with our state in life and whether it enriches who we are in that vocation. (25-26)

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Let us be what we are and be that well. (St. Francis deSales)

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Book Review: Yes, God!

Yes God by Susie LloydI’ve long been a fan of Susie Lloyd’s work (how can you resist a book titled Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water?) Anyone who’s a parent can relate to the tales she tells of her kids’ shenanigans.

In her latest book, Susie uses her famous sense of humor and encouraging style for a different purpose:  to inspire vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

I think she’s on to something here. The point she makes in Yes, God is that regular, everyday families can raise children who grow up to do extraordinary things for the Church and the world.

Each chapter in this short book contains a vocation story, a family story, a prayer, and Susie’s own commentary on the stories told by 5 young priests and 5 more young Sisters. These are not old stories about senior citizens; they focus on recent vocation stories.

Susie celebrates parents who say “Yes” to duty, affection, strength, spiritual poverty, tradition, the greatest commandment, generosity, humility and patience–in the regular, everyday circumstances and events of their lives. Even as the stories are told, you see Susie’s trademark sense of humor shining through in the telling–and you’ll find it in her encouraging reflections as well. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on Generosity to illustrate:

How could I relate to Father’s parents, who worked so hard that I get tired just reading about it? Don’t they seem a bit like those saints written about long ago, who were born fasting? I don’t know about you, but I automatically separate those saints out in my mind as more angelic than human. I can’t relate. Therefore, I can’t imitate. Please, Lord, hold me excused.

For the record, I’m not above leaving this book around where one or another of my kids might take a peek inside. It couldn’t hurt, right?

Planning Way Ahead

On the way to church yesterday, we drove down a street where several houses sported “for sale” signs. Seeing these, Little Brother commented, “I wonder where I’ll live when I grow up.”

“I thought you wanted to be a priest, so I guess you’ll live at the house that goes with your church,” I replied.

“But Mom, priests can’t have all 7 sacraments. I want to be a deacon. Do you think Deacon B and Deacon D have received all 7 sacraments?”

“Maybe they have,” I told him. “The only one I can’t be sure about is Anointing of the Sick. But after church tonight, you can ask whichever deacon is there.”

(Such are the advantages of having 2 wonderful deacons in our parish, both of whom know my kids, both of whom are dads and granddads and willing to talk to kids and answer questions about how many sacraments they’ve received.)

After Mass, Little Brother waited his turn and when Deacon B was done speaking to a group of adults, Little Brother asked if he had received all 7 sacraments. They wound up in a good discussion about being a deacon, Holy Orders, and how old you have to be to become a deacon. And Deacon B promised to be there, if he could, when Little Brother receives that sacrament.

Collect ’em All!

Little Brother is in second grade this year, and he’s excited because he’ll be receiving two sacraments for the first time. This morning he asked me a little bit about Reconciliation, which he seemed fine with once he discovered that no one else will hear him talking and praying with Father. Then he listed all the sacraments he knows of. He could name 5 so far, only leaving out Marriage and Holy Orders. So I told him about those two.

“Then I’m gonna have to be a priest,” he told me. “That way I can have all 7.”

“Well, no,” I answered. “Priests can’t have the sacrament of Marriage. But deacons can, and deacons also have the sacrament of Holy Orders.”

“I’ll be a deacon, then,” he declared.