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Filtering by Tag: Quotes

Whatever Challenges I Face As A Mother, At Least There is No Angry Bull Attempting to Gore My Children

alec vanderboom

“There’s this passage about Dolly that reminds me of you, let me read it out loud to you,” Jon called out to me on Sunday afternoon. Anna Karenin is not usually a novel a wife wants her husband to she her in, but this passage about Dolly (Kitty’s sister & the mother of six children) made me laugh so hard my tummy ripples woke our baby. The season is summer rather than winter, but Dolly's experiences are similar to mine this Advent. If, like me, you are finding Christmas a shock now that you are responsible for creating the warm religious memories for your family that you were simply handed as a girl, this passage is for you!

“The first days Dolly found life in the country very difficult. She used to stay in the country as a child and the impression she had retained was of the country as a place of refuge from all the trials of town; that life there, if not luxurious (and Dolly was easily reconciled to that), was cheap and comfortable; that there was plenty of everything, everything was cheap and easy to get, and children were happy. But now, coming to the country as mistress of the house, she was that it was all utterly unlike what she had fancied.

The day after their arrival it poured in torrents, and in the night the rain came through in the corridor and the nursery, so that the children’s beds had to be carried into the drawing room. There was no kitchen-maid to be found. Of the nine cows, according to the dairymaid, some were about to calve, others had just calved for the first time, some were old, and the rest hard-uddered, so there was scarcely enough butter or milk even for the children. There were no eggs. It was impossible to get any fowls and they were obliged to boil and roast tough, old, purplish roosters. No women to scrub the floors- they were all out in the potato-fields. Driving was out of the question because one of the horses was restive and bolted in the shafts. There was no place where they could bathe; the whole of the river-bank was trampled by the cattle and open to the road; even walks were impossible, for the cattle strayed into the garden through a gap in the hedge, and there was one terrible bull who bellowed and might therefore be expected to gore somebody. There were no proper cupboards for their clothes; such as there were would not shut at all, or else burst open when anyone passed. There were no pots or pans, no copper in wash-house, and not even an ironing board in the maids’ room.

At first, instead of finding peace and rest, Dolly was driven to despair by what, from here point of view, were dreadful calamities. She bustled about and did her utmost, but, feeling the hopelessness of the situation, had every minute to struggle with the tears that kept starting to her eyes.. .

The position seemed hopeless. But in the Oblonskys’ household, just as in all families, there was one inconspicuous yet most important and useful person- Matriona Filimonvovna. She soothed her mistress, assured her that it would “right itself” and set to work herself without hurry or fuss.

She had immediately made friends with the bailiff’s wife, and one the very first day she drank tea with her and the bailiff under the acacias, and talked things over. Soon a sort of club was established under the acacias, consisting of the bailiff’s wife, the village elder, and a clerk from the office; and there it was that the difficulties of existence were gradually smoothed away, so that within a week everything had in fact righted itself. The roof was mended, a kitchen-maid-a crony of the village elder’s- was found, the cows began to give milk, the garden hedge was stopped up with stakes, the carpenter made a mangle, hooks were put into the cupboards, and they ceased to burst open when not meant to, and an ironing-board covered with army cloth lay across the arm of a chair and the chest of drawers, and a smell of flat-irons soon pervaded the maids’ room.

“There, you see! And you were quite in despair”, said Matriona Filimonovna, pointing to the ironing-board.” (pg 281-282).

May whatever minor domestic crisis your family is currently experiencing this Advent "right itself" and leave you free to experience the full Peace of Christ during Christ's Mass.

On The Bookshelf- Karen Santorum

alec vanderboom

During this season, while we contemplate the mystery of our Savior’s birth and ultimate death by crucifixion, keep in mind your friends and family that experience this painful connection of birth & death through the loss of a child to miscarriage, stillbirth or SIDS.

For a sensitive, honest description of this heartache check out “Letters to Gabriel” by Karen Santorum. Mother Theresa wrote the forward to this pro-life story. Gabriel Santorum was the son of Rick Santorum, the US Senator from Pennsylvania. While his father was fighting with President Clinton to ban the partial birth-abortion procedure, his mother realized that their fourth child was critical ill with defective kidneys. Gabriel Santorum received cutting-edge inter-utreo surgery, but ultimately died two hours after his birth. His mother’s letters to her son written throughout her pregnancy reflect the incredible grace she received from the Catholic sacraments. It’s a sad read of course, but a ultimately life affirming and uplifting.

Here’s a sampling of her heart-felt prose:
“Some people do not recognize the depth of a parent’s loss. They can’t imagine how such a small person whom a parent had so little time with could leave such a huge void. They want parents to quickly get over their child’s death and put it behind them. I find it so strange that at times it’s as if some people measure a parent’s pain on a graph according to what they think the intensity should be. And according to these people’s calculations, the grief experience with the loss of a twenty-week preemie is less than at forty weeks which is less than losing a six-month-old infant, and so on, and the older a child gets, the worse it is!

How outrageous. Because the truth is that the death of a child-no matter what age- is always a profound loss. My friend Nadine summed it up so perfectly. She said, “On a scale of 1-10 losing a child, at any age, is always a 10!”
Tuesday, December 10, 199 pgs 11-113.

One of the most important things that we can do to combat the culture of death and easy access towards abortions is to take the time to grieve the loss of the smallest members of our Catholic community.

This Advent season, take some time to say a prayer for someone who is hurting either a parent who is missing a child, a widow who is missing, or a child whose parent is stationed in Iraq.

Sunshine of the Family

alec vanderboom

"Yes, the wife and mother is the radiant sun of the family. She is this sun by her gererosity and gift of self, by her unfailing readiness, by her watchful and prudent delicacy in all matter which can add joy to the lives of her husband and her children. she spread around her light and her warmth." Pope Pius XII.

"Unfailing readiness" doesn't quite describe my mothering at this stage in my life. This advent my wish list is more full of heavenly virtues and lighter on things which can be bought at Target. I'm working hard to make the paths Jesus travels to my heart a little more straight, so I can spread more sunshine in my home with far less effort.

Anti-Family by Choice, not Compulsion

alec vanderboom

This sentence from my husband's history textbook jumped out at me this morning:

"In the twenty years after 1917, all aspects of Soviet society came under the purview of the [Communist] party. The atomization of society, a prime characteristic of totalitarian government, did not permit such secret and trustful groups as the family to exist at ease. . . By and large the government worked to weaken the importance of the family. Initially after the revolution, divorces required no court proceedings, abortions were legalized, women were encouraged to take jobs outside the home, and communist nurseries were set up to care for children while their mothers worked. (Civilization Past & Present, pg 830).

Relaxed divorce laws, easy access to abortions, encouragement of mothers to work outside the home and state-sponsored child care- doesn't this sound strikingly similar to modern life in America? What the Soviet government tried to implement by force, we Americans freely adopt by "choice."

When a female Chinese legal scholar spoke at my family law seminar at law school, all the women in my class were in moral indignation over the forced "one-child policy." "How can you force abortions on mothers?" they asked. "But it is much better for women" the stunned scholar answered. "After all, I have a son and I have a serious law career. This wouldn't be possible if I had many children."

The irony is guess how many of my fellow female law students actually had ANY children at our five year reunion? The surprising answer? Two.

Communism fell in Russia, and the Orthodox & Catholic churches are now flourishing. Yet who will save Americans from the choices we make ourselves?

Purpose of a Vocation

alec vanderboom

These words from the sacrament of ordination for the Carthusian monks have some interesting insight into the vocation of marriage:

Question: "What do you ask for?"

Answer: "Grace"

Response:"As the most humble servant of God, are you ready to adopt the monastic way of life as the way in which God will lead your souls to the inner holiness?
Where he will reveal his inner holiness to you?
And let you commune with him?
You are now at God's disposal alone in everlasting prayer, solitude and joyful penance."

As a wife & mother, marriage is my path for inner holiness, revelation of God, and communion with the Holy Trinity. My chances for solitude are more limited than that of a monk. Yet I can still aim for more quietness in my small domestic church. I can also strive for a life with more prayer and joyful penance.

For My Husband

alec vanderboom

Who memorized this untitled Anna Akhmatova poem to quote to me while we were waiting during my c-section prep for Alex to be born . . .

Broad and yellow is the evening light,
The coolness of April is dear.
You, of course, are several years late,
Even so, I'm happy you're here.

Sit close at hand and look at me,
With those eyes, so cheerful and mild:
This blue notebook is full, you see,
Full of poems I wrote as a child.

Forgive me, forgive me, for having grieved
For ignoring the sunshine, too.
And especially for having believed
That so many others were you.

1915, From Anna Akhmatova Poems, Translated by Lyn Coffin

Pope John Paul II Poetry

alec vanderboom

"Shores of Silence" by Karol Wojtyla

Love explained all for me,
all was resolved by love,
so this love I adore
Wherever it may be.

I am open space for the placid tide
Where no wave roars, clutching at rainbow branches,
Now a soothing wave uncovers light in the deep
and breathes light onto unsilvered leaves.

In such silence I hide,
a leaf released from the wind,
no longer anxious for the days that fall.
They must all fall, I know.

Aeneid Quote

alec vanderboom

Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit

Someday we shall recall these trials with pleasure

Translation by Russell Barker, from Growing Up, pg. 216

Placing Stickers Over The Truth

alec vanderboom

From "Mondo Donatella", by Lauren Collins, featured in Profiles, New Yorker, Sept. 24, 2007 (about Donatella Versace)

"Donatella repaired to the outdoor terrace to smoke. Seated at a wrought-iron table, she thumbed open a pack of "special DV Marlboro Reds," (so called because her staff in Milan is instructed to cover the customary "Smoking Kills" label on every pack with a sticker bearing a DV monogram in medieval script.)" pg. 152.

On the Book Shelf- Somerset Maugham

alec vanderboom

This passage cuts a little too close for comfort:

“Your new friend looks like a poet,” said Weeks, with a thin smile on his careworn, bitter mouth.

“He is a poet.”

“Did he tell you so? In America we should call him a pretty fair specimen of a waster.’

“Well, we’re not in America,” said Philip frigidly.

“How old is he? Twenty-five? And he does nothing but stay in pensions and write poetry.

“You don’t know him” said Philip hotly.

“Oh yes I do: I’ve met a hundred and forty-seven of him.” . . .

“How can you have known a hundred and forty-seven of him? Asked Philip seriously.

“I’ve met him the in Latin Quarter in Paris, and I’ve met him in pensions in Berlin and Munich. He lives in small hotels in Perugia and Assisi. He stands by the dozen before the Botticellis in Florence, and he sits on all the benches of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. In Italy he drinks a little too much wine, and in Germany he drinks great deal too much beer. He always admires the right things, whatever the right thing is, and one of these days he’s going to write a great work. Think of it, there are a hundred and forty-seven great works reposing in the bosoms of a hundred and forty-seven great men, and the tragic thing is that not one of those hundred and forty-seven great works will ever be written. And yet the world goes on.”

Weeks spoke seriously, but his grey eyes twinkled a little at the end of his long speech, and Philip flushed when he saw that the American was making fun of him.

“You do talk rot,” he said crossly.

From Somerset Maugham’s “Of Human Bondage,” pg 120-121

Artful Purpose

alec vanderboom

"Every piece of art, be it religious or secular, be it a painting, a sculpture, a poem or any form of handicraft made by loving skill is a sign and a symbol of the inscrutable secrete of human existence, of man's origin and destiny, of the meaning of his life and work." -Pope John Paul II

Today we revisited the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center which is a hidden gem next to the National Basilica. There was something for everyone. Hannah had fun coloring in the Gallery of Imagination and playing the "ring the bell game." Lex donned on the habit of St. Francis and built blocks in the Children's Space. Jon explored the intersection of science and theology in the Gallery of Wonder. I traced the history of Baptism from the 1st century to modern times. A feel great family day!