29 April 2015

Family Ties

April was a horrendously busy month!

At the beginning of April, i made a trip home to Portland. My mom's birthday fell on Easter Sunday this year, which is right in the middle of spring break in Mexico. The kids and I flew up to Portland, which was reading and green, and much colder than I remember; I spent a bunch of time on my mom's couch under blankets with my sweatshirts and wool socks that I thought I'd never see again, on.

Being in Portland was awkward, definitely. The longer I've been away, the more I feel like I don't really belong there. My mom's house is such a grand part of me, but it is a me that doesn't exist anymore. It's a shadow of a life that I don't live anymore. However, being in Portland gave me the opportunity to spend time with my mom and dad and see friends I sorely miss.

As my time in Portland came a close, we prepared for the long drive back to TJ. My dad made the drive with me. I want to publicly thank him for this: it made going back to TJ a million times easier. Once we made it, my dad spent a whole 2 weeks with me. It was so nice to have my dad. I know it was hard on him to be so far away from his home, but having Hector and my dad around was like a dream come true; I honestly thought Hector would never see my parents again.

My mom joined us the second week; i really enjoyed hanging out with my mom and showing her the different aspects of the life I live. Sometimes it wasn't much fun (ER trips), but I'm glad my parents could come. It was like a reconciliation between my two lives: the past and the new. It was hard let my parents leave, and it was especially hard on the kids, but I'm glad they got spend that time together.

10 April 2015

From Under The Veil

About a year ago, I felt a pull inside my soul. I had never quite felt anything like it. God wanted me to serve Him completely, even though I really thought I did.

I began to involve myself with more Catholic things, reading Scripture, teaching my kids, dressing more modestly, acting more modestly, and veiling. The choice to wear the veil wasn't an easy one. I am already such an old soul, it seemed that if I wore a veil in church I'd just turn into an old lady. But then, articles about veiling just seemed to begin popping up everywhere on Pinterest and on Facebook. I decided to read more about it all through Lent 2014. The veil wasn't just a thing for old ladies, in fact, it has a lot of Biblical backing. The purpose of the veil is not to hide women from men or show them as less, as I had thought, but the veil is to show how sacred and wonderfully made women are. Women are sacred because through us, God creates life. Everything in the church that is sacred is veiled (the tabernacle and the chalice). There was a large curtain (veil) separating the Holiest of Holies from the rest of the temple in  the Old Testament. To wear a veil is a very special thing. I began veiling with a scarf, and I have amassed a collection of chapel veils and scarves. Right now I am wearing a 20-peso (about $1.30) rectangle mantilla I found at the local flea market. But I also wear a rebozo, infinity scarves, or a lace kerchief I made. It doesn't really matter what I wear on my head; the purpose is to just have something there. Veiling is a very personal decision and I don't ever ask why people don't do it anymore. I just go and I do it. Sometimes I will see other women pull their scarves onto their heads, and even a couple have actual mantillas, but usually I am the lone veiler at Mass. And that is okay.

In the past year, I've written about my venture to be more humble and how much I've drawn closer to the Lord. My number one spiritual goal is to make myself smaller, lesser than others, to draw back from the world. No, I'm not going to become a hermitess anytime soon, but I have purposefully cut back on social media and on buying "stuff". I think that veiling has led to this decision. When I wear a veil, I am not trying to attract attention to myself in church. I am trying to hide myself from others. I am not there for them, or their attention. I want them to pay attention to the Mass as much as I want to. I wear a veil t help me focus on what is really important- that the Almighty God in Heaven loves me so much He gave me His awesome Church. And I can approach Him, and receive Him into me (I am not currently receiving, but the Lord is there if I were to be spiritually prepared to receive Him). That is why I wear a veil, because the Lord is above me. The Lord is bigger than I am. Wearing the veil reminds me that I am small in comparison to Creation, but that the Lord still loves me.


Wearing the veil does not mean that I think of myself as lesser to man; it does not make me think that men and women are not equal. I firmly believe that both genders are equal in dignity and worthy of equal respect. But men and women are different; we are not one androgynous sex. Me and women complement each other in their differences, while each being worthy of the same dignity. And as a woman, it is my unique charism to wear a veil if I so choose, and I do. I am equal in dignity to man. I am not made to veil by my husband. He does not force me to do anything I don't want to do because 'he's a man'. I veil because I am special to God, just like all women are. I do not make my daughter veil. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. I think it is hard for her to carry on the practice as she is assimilate into the culture of another country; she doesn't have those social skills yet. She does sometimes ask to wear her veil which makes me a proud mama, but when she doesn't it is just the same. I know that God asked me to put the veil on- I would not want to force Cecilia to wear it and make her grow to resent it. Sometimes I
think that fear might be useless, but I want her to grow up feeling loved by and loving God's Church. I do not want her to fall away.

Since wearing the veil, I know have become more blessed in my life. I don't have a lot of money. I don't have a big house or a nice yard or the newest gadgets. But I have enough food. I still have a roof over my head. I have enough bravery to live more humbly every day in a foreign country, over 1000 miles from my home. Everyday I get wake up to a complete family unit that God has made for me and has made possible for me, after all of the hardships, hurt feelings, and harsh words. My veil has made me more open to hearing God, and seeing God, in my everyday life. I love God more and more everyday, and I love my veil every time I put it on.

If you have been thinking out veiling, why not try it? It might just change your life like it has mine.

07 April 2015

Easter In Mexico

Easter came! There was no Easter bunny- only Christ Resurrected. Honestly, my kids have been terrified of the Easter Bunny since they were small, so it's not a big loss to them.

I was very excited to experience Easter and Holy Week in Mexico. It was very different from any Holy Week celebration we have ever experienced in the US.

On Holy Thursday Evening, I attended my favorite Mass of the Year. Holy Thursday is the celebration of the Institution of the Eucharist, and to me as a Catholic, that is second to the celebration of the Resurrection on Easter. I arrived an hour early, the three kids in tow. The Church was already packed! I did manage to find us some pew space, or I don't think I could have managed all three kids in church for that long by myself.

Yes, those are the Missionaries of Charity nuns who attend my church. I get giddy every time I meet them. I love their work, all the work that Mother Teresa did, and I really just think they are rockstars. The priest at my church whom I really have grown to love is Father Ackerman. He preached a great sermon on service to one another and the priesthood. We went home at the end of the night, ready for the "Gland Slam" weekend of Holy Week.
Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, where we follow Jesus through his triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, through his Last Supper, his betrayal, his Passion on Friday, his death on the cross on Friday afternoon, his mother's mourning on Saturday, and finally his Resurection on Saturday night/Sunday Morning. Whew... that's a lot of Masses.
On Good Friday, I raced home from work wanting to not miss the Viacruicis. I have never actually seen a reenactment of the Passion, because it is not done in Oregon. When we did Stations of the Cross at school as a kid, we sat in church and the altar servers carried the crucifix and candles around as the prayers and reflections were read for each station. I like doing this as well, but everyone was telling me how great Buena Vista's Viacrucis was.
I took Isaias and Cecilia down to the other end of town. It was hot and uncomfortale, and I reminded the kids that Jesus was more than uncomfortable in his suffering.

The best part of the Viacrucis was that it was mostly the youth and young people who put it on. It's so great to see young people in love with he Gospel like that. We followed Jesus down the main stretch of road in town through the stations, pausing at each station to reflect on what it meant for Jesus to fall, to meet his mother, to meet the women, to be stripped of his clothes, to be nailed to the cross. It was very intense, and it was a bit difficult to follow because of he crowd. But even in that I was able to reflect on the difficulty the disciples and friends of Jesus were having trying to follow Jesus through the crowd. It can be hard to find Jesus in the world; sometimes you have to actively look.
In the evening, I met with the priest as other people from the neighborhood, including the nuns, to march in silent procession behind the statue of the Sorrowful Mother. Not only is the Sorrowful
Mother my favorite image of the Blessed Virgin, but I have never done anything like this. We don't have many processions in the US. As I we walked silently, I read my devotional to our Lady of Solitude, the patroness of Oaxaca. Once we arrived at the church, Father Ackerman provided Confession and the congregation prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. At the invocation of the Litany of the Blessed Virgin, even Hector said he could feel the power that the Rosary provides, and he is not one say things like that.
Holy Saturday was calm until we went to Mass on Saturday night. The Mass was hard on the smaller kids, but Cecilia did just fine. They projected the readings up onto the wall so that everyone could see them, which was helpful for Cecilia who can get lost listening to Spanish. I didn't take any pictures of the Mas, but it was really beautiful awesome when the lights came on the statues were unveiled.
Sunday Morning we woke up early despite the long night, and attended the 9am Mass. Then we went home and rested before heading to Rosarito to have a barbeque with some friends and family.

From our family to yours, Happy Easter and ¡Viva Cristo Rey!