Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Catholic Carnival #170 is up!

The next edition of the Catholic Carnival is up!! After many months of reading the Carnival I finally decided to participate. Go check out all the wonderful posts from Catholic bloggers from all over the Blogosphere here:

Catholic Carnival 170

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Name, An Identity

In my previous post, A Loss and Our Faith, I talked about how our faith has helped us to accept the death of our child. We never got to see or hold our baby and we'll never know if it was a boy or a girl. But despite all the questions, the occasional anger, grief, and sadness, and the loss of life at such an early stage, we know that this was a child of God who was sent to us as a gift, even if it was just for a short time. We'll never know why God chose to end this child's life so soon, but I trust His will and know that my baby is in heaven with Him. In my previous post I listed several items that have been on my mind since our loss. The first was about giving our child a name. Some may find this a strange thing to do, but I couldn't imagine not doing it. Read on to find out why.

The first time I heard the idea of giving a name to a child who died in the womb was from a book by Kimberly Hahn called Life Giving Love. It is an amazing book and I highly recommend it (very faithful to the teachings of the Church, including discussions on NFP, which was really my first intro to that topic). In part of the book she discusses miscarriage, she had two herself plus has six living children. It has been a few years since I read the book and I don't currently have it handy, but I remember reading that section on miscarriage and pregnancy loss and being blown away by all her insights and everything she went through. She named both her babies in heaven and the family remembers them in their prayers regularly.

The Sunday after our miscarriage the spot in our church bulletin usually reserved for a letter from our parish rector contained instead an excerpt about Parents and Baptism from the book Together at Baptism by Robert M. Hamma. There was one paragraph that stuck out for me and I wanted to share it here:

There are few things that parents do that have a more lasting effect on a child than giving a name. There is a time-honored tradition among Christians of naming children after saints or other biblical figures. Although our culture has changed and many people no longer observe this tradition, we still recognize that a name gives a child a sense of identity. Perhaps it gives a child a role model or expresses something of value for the parents that they want to share with their child. Whatever the case, naming a child is an important responsibility and a privilege.

This paragraph really spoke to me and was there at the exact moment I needed it. Every child should have an identity and it has been important to me that my child always be remembered as a unique individual. I was also struck by the idea of it being "an important responsibility and a privilege" (my emphasis). Wow, it is a "privilege" for me to name my baby! Why would I reject that privilege that God has given me? Although I can't hold or see my baby, I know he was a gift from God and God is giving me this chance to name my child. What an amazing thought!

We talked a long time about what name to give our child. I wanted something that would work for either a boy or a girl, since we didn't really know what we were having and I didn't want to make any declarations one way or the other. So we did some searching and the one name we really liked of all those we found was Casey. It isn't biblical and it isn't the name of any known saint, but we liked it. So it stuck. The middle name was a little harder. I came up with several suggestions and Chris finally picked out the one that I was most hesitant about, but I like it now. We decided on Marie for a variety of reasons. First, it is gender neutral! Marie, Maria, Mary, etc. are all used for men just as much for women in a variety of cultures (Carl Maria von Weber, anyone!). Chris has some French heritage, so Marie was an appropriate middle name for a boy, and of course, it is most commonly associated in our culture with girls. The other great part of Marie is that it is a name for Mary. The above quote mentions a name being a role model for the child. What better role model could there be than the Blessed Virgin Mary!! And what about the name expressing the parents values; well, Mary is very important to us both as a role model and as our heavenly Mother. I find myself thinking about Our Mother Mary a lot these days. I wonder if as a mother she has a special fondness for all the small children in heaven who died due to miscarriage or stillbirth, and especially for those who were victims of abortion. I need to start including prayers asking for Mary's intersession more often in my prayer life.

Casey Marie is a wonderful name and I love saying it to myself. I pray for Casey by name now. It brings tears to my eyes during certain parts of the Eucharistic prayers at Mass when I think of Casey. I just love knowing that my child will always have a unique identity and will always be remembered in my prayers and in our family prayers.

I welcome comments on this topic and would especially love to know what names others have chosen for children they have lost. Oh, and I haven't done it yet, but I am thinking of adding Casey Marie's name to the Book of Life at the Shrine for the Unborn at the Church of the Holy Innocents in New York City. The church prays for all the families and children in the Book of Life at the 12:15pm Mass on the first Monday of every month. What a beautiful thing! I love knowing that my baby is being prayed for regularly. If you want to help them out, they do accept donations to help with upkeep of the Shrine and all that it entails. We plan on making a donation and I may even make it an annual thing in rememberance of Casey.

Thanks for reading and listening to the ramblings of a still-grieving mother. May God bless all of you!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Loss and Our Faith

A few weeks ago my husband and I experienced a loss in our lives. Most of our family and friends that may read this blog already know what happened and I do not plan on going into much detail here. But I am finding that as I learn to get through my feelings of grief, I want to write more. So that's what I'm doing.

On March 31, I experienced a miscarriage. The baby we lost was 8 and a half weeks old in the womb and was already becoming a big part of our lives. The loss was very hard to take; many dreams were dashed, many happy occasions were already being imagined and those are all gone as well. But slowly we are starting to see the positive sides and we're moving back into our lives, although differently since our lives have changed now in many ways. Though I still have days when I am angry or sad and I want to step away from my normal every day activities, I have more good days than bad and I believe that a lot of that has to do with the faith that my husband and I share. Without it I don't know how we would have survived this experience.

Over the last few weeks I have had so many different thoughts, most related to how I have used my faith to overcome my grief, how my faith influences how I think of this baby, and so many more things!! I could go on and on about so many different topics that this has inspired in me. And eventually I may touch on them -- in future posts!

For now, a preview of some of my thoughts, which may become future posts:
  • Naming our baby and why every child should have an identity
  • The church's teaching/understanding of baptism for children who die before they are born
  • Using NFP after miscarriage
  • Striving to be a saint!!
  • Suffering as part of our Christian faith
  • Why supporting the right to life is so important not only for the average person, but for our politicians as well (those who, supposedly, make and uphold our laws and all our rights as citizens)
  • And, maybe I'll go a little deeper on Faith and how it has helped me so much during this trying time

I could probably go on, but I think this list will do for now. In regard to the first bullet above (a topic I plan on addressing very soon), for those who are curious, we named our baby Casey Marie.

Please say a prayer for our little Casey Marie, that Our Lord and Our God will protect him and keep him safe and that Our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, will care for him until I can one day hold him in my arms myself. We are blessed to have a child in heaven, our little saint to pray for us and be our heavenly advocate.

Today's Mass at Yankee Stadium

No, I did not get to attend the Mass, though what an awesome experience that could have been. We did, however, watch it on TV. Those who were able to attend had been sitting in the stadium since 10am this morning. The "popemobile" came in a little after 2pm and the Mass started around 2:30.

Even watching it on TV was an awesome experience! To see the Holy Father enter Yankee Stadium and wave at all the people and to see the thousands of people there all excited to be celebrating Mass with the Pope was astounding. It was so moving watching the people's reactions as the Pope made his way around the stadium and to the sacristy (which I think was one of the dug outs).

At this Mass they also commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Diocese of Baltimore's elevation to an Archdiocese. In addition the 200th anniversary of four other Dioceses in the U.S.: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown (now Louisville); all four were under the metropolitan of Baltimore at the time, although now all four are archdioceses themselves.

Anyway, During the liturgy of the Word the first reading (from Acts) was in English, the second (from the first letter of Peter) in Spanish, and they chanted the Gospel reading in English. During the Psalm I wasn't paying attention but I think they sung it in a combination of English and Spanish. Later during the Prayers of the Faithful, they had a variety of people come up to give each one and they each read the intention in their own language. I heard English, Spanish, and French for certain. I think there was an African language, some southeast Asian language (I think), and possibly a few others. Again, I think I was not totally paying attention at that point either. Oh, and the Creed was sung in Latin, the universal language of the church.

His Homily was very good. Benedict has addressed the sex scandal in the church from the past few years several times since arriving in the U.S. last week. Actually, he first addressed it enroute to the U.S. He also met with several victims of the scandal while he was here. During his homily he did not bring it up explicitely but he did mention working against scandals in the church, in a general sense. Other than that, one of the first big topics he addressed was protecting the unborn!! He got immediate and enthusiastic applause for that one (presidential candidates take note!). Other than that, he talked a lot about hope, which of course was the main theme of his whole trip: Christ our Hope. Not only that, but as Chris pointed out when the commentor on TV was talking about how much he addresses the issue of Hope ("he's definitely making himself out to be the Pope of Hope"), his most recent encyclical is also on hope. We also laughed at calling Benedict the "Hope Pope!" He addressed young people specifically at one point, talked about vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and about raising children in the faith and parents as strong role models. He also addressed the crowd in Spanish (for which he got more enthusiastic applause). Apparently the Pope is actually more comfortable in Spanish than he is English, which did seem to be the case when he first started speaking in Spanish. I'd like to go find the homily somewhere and read it again, since I'm sure I missed something. I'll be checking the website soon to see if all his talks from this past week are there.

The Eucharistic celebration was very cool. It was so moving to see several couples come forward to present the gifts of bread and wine to the Pope. You could tell that they were overwhelmed by the opportunity they had to be in Pope Benedict's presence. During the actual distribution of communion, the camera focused on the Pope occasionally as he was distributing communion to the faithful and it was so moving. The commentators on the TV even were talking about how at this particular point the Pope is like every other priest, and it was a very humbling experience watching him give the Eucharist to the faithful. Maybe humbling isn't the right word, but hopefully you know what I mean. Oh, and they managed to get communion to all 57,000 people and did it all in about 15-20 minutes!! There were priests everywhere!! Apparently they had done several dress rehearsals for this to make sure they could do it quickly and efficiently while still maintaining the reverence damanded of the Eucharistic celebration.

Although I couldn't be at the Mass in person, it was wonderful to be able to watch it on TV. I was so moved by the whole thing and I started thinking about how cool it would be to attend mass sometime where the Pope was presiding. What an awesome experience it would be. Don't know if I'll ever get that opportunity in my lifetime, but it would be worth it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Way too long!

It has been way too long since I have posted anything. I have had tons of stuff going on in my life, but I also have been wanted to talk here about so many things as well. So much to talk about, but so little time. Now that Blue 2.0 is over, I hope to get back to my usual types of posts.

At the moment, the biggest Christian event in the US is happening this week. The Pope is visiting!! Find out more about his itinerary here: I believe you can get live streaming of the events on that site. I think I also heard that the speeches and such are archived so those can be accessed as well if you're unable to watch them live (like me). I did find an excuse to go to the Main Library on Tuesday and see the Pope land at Andrew's Air Force Base and President Bush meet him there. The Library has a TV in the basement that's always on CNN. It was cool to watch that live!

I promise that more will be coming soon!! Keep checking back!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Blue 2.0: Other Social Networkign sites

Finally, the last Blue 2.0 activity!! Finishing up the Social Networking Activities, I am to also look at some other sites besides MySpace and Facebook. I have actually been a member of LinkedIn for a long time now, but never realized it was a social networking site. The only reason I am a member is because I got sent a message from someone else who joined asking me to join. This was probably 4-5 years ago. I had actually forgotten that I even had a profile up there until about a year or so ago when I got a message from a librarian in Missouri. Since then I have had several other music librarians add me to their list of contacts and people in UK Libraries have found me as well. LinkedIn is supposed to be a way for professionals to get linked together and advertise jobs, share professional info, and so forth. Although I have a profile there, I've never really used it a whole lot.

I also recently set up a profile on a social networking site called 4marks. This is a social networking place for Catholics. I had been a part of another Catholic site years ago but ended my membership sometime in 2006. I then got an email months later from 4marks inviting me to join; turns out this was a sort-of spin-off site from the previous site I had been a part of. I never bothered looking into 4marks until this exercise came up. So I have set up a profile there, but haven't really had time to explore much of it. I notice that they have an online magazine with lots of articles on Catholic life, they have events around the country, and they have educational classes offered through the site. Looks interesting and I may check it out occasionally, but I probably won't be spending a lot of time there.

Blue 2.0: Facebook

The second social networking site I had to look at is Facebook. Comparing this one to MySpace I have to say that this is a much more user friendly site. I used my personal email address rather than my UK address so I was not automatically added to the UK Community. I tried to find it but kept getting the message "Search is not currently available." I also went looking for the "Blue 2.0 at UK Libraries" group and for the same "Search is not currently available" note. So far, looking for any groups or communities are not working for me. Someone said this was fun to use???

I did find my sister and now have three friends: her, her boyfriend, and someone I know from High School. Otherwise, I haven't really gone looking for anyone else. I've been busy with a lot of things lately and spending time adding friends to a web page seems like a bit of a waste of my time. Maybe when I have more time later I'll see if looking up long lost friends is worth it. As long as the search function works!!

I did join a group. It's called "My name is Scannell (like flannel)." Several of my cousins are also members as well as a few people I don't know from Ireland and other parts of the US. That was kind of cool to see that site.

That's all I've done so far. I think once this Blue 2.0 stuff is over I'll definitely be deleting the MySpace profile, but I'm willing to leave Facebook up for now.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Blue 2.0: MySpace

This last part of Blue 2.0 has to do with Social Networking. So we've been asked to look at a number of social networking sites. The first is MySpace. I have to admit that I did not find this site very user friendly. It took my a long time to figure out how to change my profile look and how to search for friends. I did manage to add a picture of my husband and I taken this Christmas on our front porch. There is still a lot that I guess I could do, but it seems a little too difficult for me to bother with. There are way too many options and links all over the page.

I did send an email to have the UK Libraries page be a friend. Otherwise, I haven't bothered doing anything else. I don't even know how to point anyone to my myspace page. Oh wait, just figured it out! Wow, that was not very obvious. Here it is if anyone wants to check it out: