Monday, January 30, 2012

True Beauty

I have been seeing this sort of theme going on the last few days and as my week culminated in an outing with my husband to see "Beauty and the Beast" in 3-D, one of my absolute favorite Disney animated films, it dawned on me, I feel a blog coming on. So here it goes.

  Last week I had a little time after a doctor's appointment while I was in "the big city" and decided to go see a parish that my mother and I attended while I was growing up. They have recently re-done the sanctuary and after seeing pictures I couldn't wait to see it in person. There was no one present at the time and the main lights were down, just spotlights on the altar. As I slowly walked in, I gasped and unexpected tears filled my eyes. Compared to its former state, it was absolutely breathtaking. Great care had been taken to insure that every detail from the candle stands to the huge stainglassed window wall behind the tabernacle was a glorious testimony to the purpose of this place of worship.

  Stay with me, because I am skipping forward to today. Today was the fortieth anniversary of the ordination of a dear priest who happens to be my pastor, Msgr. Victor. The mass we attended was meant to be a celebration in honor of this. Our choir made special efforts to provide beautiful music in honor of such an occassion. There were beautiful flowers on the altar, beautiful vestments. But the truly beautiful part was the priests up on the altar. With Monsignor was another young priest newly ordained and our deacon at our parish. As Msgr. Victor was giving his homily I was overwhelmed with gratefulness. That God had given us the Church, the sacraments, and in particular the Sacrament of Holy Orders that made these men ministers to us. By virtue of the grace of the sacrament, He takes ordinary men and allows them to be empty vessels for Christ. And because they are willing, what grace flows to me through the sacraments they administer! During a time when it is not popular to speak truthfully about what the Church teaches, Msgr. Victor is one of those priests that has never minced words or pussy footed around. It takes a good deal of courage and resolve to do that. He is also a humble man and truly exemplifies what Christ can do through you if you forget yourself. So guess what I did during the entire mass on and off that is? I cried.
Beauty makes me cry. I have been thinking alot about beauty today. Why does true beauty move us? Because deep down we long for it. And we long for it because we were created by Beauty Himself. And somehow we know, that whatever we are seeing is not all there is to see, it is only a taste. Even a poor soul like Gaston could recognize true beauty (Belle) versus cheap beauty (the little trio), and he wanted it.

 I have to confess, I have never seen the Beatific Vision (face to face with God) as Moses and some of the saints have, but I have seen glimpses of it.


And here...
True Beauty

And here.....

and here...

and there are many things about God I long to see, but I believe what I long for more than anything is to behold the source of all Beauty Himself, because if a beautiful church makes me cry, and a beautiful priest makes me cry, well I just can't even imagine what it will be like, and my heart swells just to think about it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Trip to the Mountains

I dedicate this blog entry to my sister-in-law, whom I love dearly. She once declared that she wanted to live in the mountains and trade with the mountain people. And I get it now. ;)

Vacations never end up being much like you expect. After much deliberation my husband and I decided to be a little more conservative than usual and take a vacation "in the mountains". We rented a cabin near Asheville, NC for a few days so we could visit the Biltmore Place (a mansion sitting on 8,000 acres, built by the Vanderbilt family).

(Not bad, eh? They were so happy to see us). So we loaded up everything in the car except the kitchen sink (surely they have one of those) and....oh no, where will the children fit? Oh well. We began driving. What we failed to predict is that we would be driving through some pretty windy roads in some not so great weather and momentarily forgot that my husband had motion sickness and some of our precious children had also acquired this gene. First to start the trend was the 2 yr. old, twice. Then my poor husband, then on several occassions, just upset stomachs and "almosts". But we FINALLY made it to the first cabin.

 It rained pretty much non-stop the entire time we stayed there. So on the last day, after having the kids ask me a bazillion times if they could go on a walk "in the mountains". I said a short prayer that the rain would let up just long enough for us to do it and encouraged them to do the same. Then only a few minutes later, look what was delivered at our back door!
A Trip to the Mountains

The good Lord never does anything small. After oohing and aahing for a bit, we decided to take advantage of the break in the rain and headed out.

We passed a pasture of cows on the left and they were hilarious.

Everytime we walked by, they all stopped eating grass to look at us. They did not know what to make of us, noisy stomping, umbrella swinging crew.

 One particular cow looked a tiny bit irritated and I began to fear for the safety of particularly my 4 yr. old who was shouting at it, "moo! you cow! Mooooooo!!"

 I am pretty sure I have heard scary cow stories and didn't want this to be one. So we packed up and moved on to my spiritual director's cabin, offered to us out of her generosity, also in North Carolina but much further up into the mountains. To say the roads were a little curvy and wavy, would be a ridiculous understatement. However, the beauty of this drive was absolutely breathtaking. At one point I announced, "if anyone does NOT feel sick, look out the window because it is amazing!" As we steadily curved and climbed higher and higher and were unsure if we were on the right track and as my husband was at the end of his rope, I whispered "please God, we can't take much more of this." We pulled up to a cabin and hoped the people would be nice enough to direct us. I went up and knocked, no answer. When I got back in the car, my husband said, "Wait a minute, that's the cabin. That's the address of the cabin." So there we were, by accident, literally we had reached our destination. There was a light dusting of snow that night and enough to walk in the next day. Since I had heard a few "bear stories" from my spiritual director the night before, I was not quite as eager as you might expect to climb the mountains, and trade with the mountain people. So on this nature walk, we went about 5 or 6 yards "into the mountains" then we decided to walk on the gravel road.

All in all a beautiful experience, but there's no place like home. And we were ALL so grateful to be back in our own beds.

Oh yes, this bear was on the bathroom sink of my spiritual director's cabin up in the mountains.

My four year old said it was, "the Bear of Love, holding a fish."

Luckily, we did not see him in person.

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