Second, for those of you who were wondering, our All Hallow's Eve costume party was a great success. T and I were Odysseus and Penelope (that's PenelopEE, not Pen-a-low-p, as T kept saying) :) and there was also a Dionysus in attendance, a Phillies baseball player, [the artist formerly knows as] Prince, Paul Bunyan, Peter Kreeft (yeah!), a college student, Little Red Riding hood (who brought GREAT cookies), and the Big Bad Wolf himself. We played three WILDLY raucous games of paper charades. If you haven't heard of it, I can write the rules out. It's ridiculously fun--especially when everyone's in costume and gets creative with the words! Oh.. my sides are hurting today from all the laughing we did =D Hopefully I'll be able to post pictures soon. I used a friend's camera since my point'n'shoot is terrible with flash. We'll see how they turned out :)
Third, I feel the need to tell you about my Sunday.
We slept in today, but still got up early enough to make it to confession before Mass. And Mass.. was just beautiful.
It is the feast of all Saints.
Eleven years ago this morning Big Mom (Momma's mother) died peacefully in her sleep. Momma always said that was God's way of assuring us she was in Heaven. I was named after Big Mom--Margery Anne. Since then, All Saint's Day was always a strange mixture of joy and sadness for me, remembering Momma missing her mother, knowing she was in Heaven.
Naturally, this year, I was both joyous and very sad. Like Momma, I have no doubt that my mother is in heaven. I know--lots of people say that about their loved ones, and there's nothing wrong with that. But I have heard from several people that they have the same feeling. One of my friends started praying for Momma's soul after she died--and he got a strange but firm feeling that she was saying to him: "How silly! Why are you praying for me?" as if she was already beyond Purgatory. A few weeks ago, Daddy was praying before the Blessed Sacrament. Although he heard no distinct words, he too got the feeling that Momma was welcomed into the company of the angels and the Saints in Heaven.
So why not celebrate my mother on the Feast of All Saints? for she truly is a saint now. I didn't expect Mass to be so emotional, today. We were singing the opening song and I was in a happy-after-confession state. Flanked by two strong male voices, the organ was blaring, I let my (airy) alto ring out. Then we got to the second verse which sang about all the saints in their raiment of white, in the Presence of God. I thought of Momma, rejoicing and happy with her Lord, and I couldn't sing anymore for the tears.
The readings were very uplifting--offering us "hope based on [Christ]" that will see us through times of great distress so that we, too, can clothe ourselves in raiment of white and stand uncondemned before the fearsome judgement seat of Christ. And the Beatitudes for the Gospel! (or, as we say in my family, the Beautifuls). Fr. Peter's homily was incredible. He told us a story about his mother. She was ill toward the end of her life and was living at a nursing home. Several times a week, Fr. Peter would visit her and she would want to go shopping. One day, she asked to go shopping for a pocket book, which he gladly agreed to. Hours and hours (and three stores later), she found something that just suited her and they went back to the nursing home, where her sister was waiting. Fr. Peter's aunt took him aside and said, "Peter, that's a nice pocket book. And I know she appreciates what you did for her today. Keep doing what you're doing for your mother, while you still have her. I wish I could have my mother back for just 5 minutes." His mother died 10 days later.
As I was listing to this homily, crying through most of it, I couldn't help but think of the last couple visits I had with my mother. T and I went home for Christmas and I did so much baking and cooking--but not half of what Momma used to do--and we had lovely dinners and lots of presents and Momma-stuffed stockings (she always found the best stocking stuffers) and family and food and friends. It was a great gift to spend Momma's last Christmas in the warmth of her home.
In February this year, Momma told me she only had 6 months to live. So I headed out to CA for the last weekend for the CCD congress in Anaheim. Momma and Daddy have been going to Congress for over 25 years, and Momma was so tired from the spreading cancer that she was in a wheelchair. She told me she went this year because Daddy wanted to so much--even though she was so tired. I went with them that weekend so I could help Momma get around, and attended every class with her. It was such a grace-filled weekend. I was so happy to spend the special time with my parents, "just us" :) Even though I cry whenever I think about it, the happiness always overwhelms the tears. It was a tremendous gift.
And she died ten days later. Just ten days. I remember the last hug I gave her, as she climbed into the front seat of the van (with a lot of help from Viv and me). I told her I loved her. I said goodbye.
So many blessings.. so much Grace. So much Love.
That was my Sunday.
November is the month of Thanksgiving--and what a beautiful way for God to begin this month for me: to remind me how blessed we are with His Love, in His angels and in His Saints (and saints).
"Rejoice, Oh Favored One. God is with you."