Christ Circle Round Us

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It’s fun to imagine we have two sets of twins and a Paschal.

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Merry Christmas! We hope the day is full of joy for you and your family!

Our annual slideshow:

I wish I could take credit for the music selection and the timing in the last minute, but that was all Jude and Gus’ handiwork.

2016. What a year. A lot of people are trashing on 2016. Sure, we had a weird election and a lot of celebrities died. But that doesn’t make a bad year. Ultimately, it is you and I that decides what kind of year we had. And I would say, 2016 was a year of mercy.  This was the year God blessed us with Paschal. This was the year God provided. This was the year I finished my Masters and Jackie wrote a book. This was the year we went on two adventures with Zirk the Cosmic Space Chicken. This was the year my friends adopted their two new children. And I received a new godson and my first goddaughter. I have had two of my favorite classes in all my years of teaching, my ninjas and my knights. 2016 was good.

I had this one moment in 2016. It was so singularly beautiful. I was taking Paschal for a walk in the field. It was late October but there was no need for a jacket. Glowing autumn afternoon sunlight was shining across the grass, warming my face. I felt at peace, as I  soaked up the grace all around me and carried this little beating heart beside my heart. That is how I will remember 2016.

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I debated, do I not take a picture so I won’t risk ruining the moment? Or do I preserve this moment so I can always remember what it felt like? In the end, fear of my faulty memory won out.

Looking ahead to 2017, we don’t know what the future holds for our family. But we have decided to take a step away from the blog. Perhaps we’ll still post a few times, but we are feeling the desire for a little more privacy, and will be unpublishing most of our old stories. Thank you to everyone who has read and enjoyed and been so kind as to share compliments with us. We have enjoyed sharing our little family life with you all, and discussing ideas, folk, work, and place. God bless you in 2017. Peace be with you, dear friends!

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A New Child of God

Just a few Baptism pictures today. Paschal has set our record for baby who spent the shortest amount of time with Original Sin, receiving his first sacrament at 5 days old. With harvest coming, we wanted to get this done, and our awesome family showed up with food to make it a stress-free, enjoyable evening. Thank you, awesome family! Let’s see, we had…(quick tallying) 25 cousins running and crawling around and fishing and playing baseball and frisbee) so it was a full, fesitve night.

Before the Baptism, we were trying to remember which of our kids screamed during the pouring of the water, and which slept peacefully through it, but all we could remember was that Zelie filled her diaper immediately before. But Paschal takes the prize for sweetest reaction. He was awake and I was bracing for some holy screams, but when Fr. Chad poured the water the first time, this little gentle smile spread across his face. Then another smile on the second pour, and a third smile for the Holy Spirit. It was wonderful.

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My sister Mary and brother Daniel are the extremely thoughtful godparents. And here’s our first picture as a family of 7. baptism2

Uncle Daniel and Fr. Chad stayed late to play Acquire with me and the older boys and Jude really enjoyed getting to spend some extra time with his godfather. Few things make me as happy as seeing my kids so happy when they are spending time with their godparents. Final photos that are too cute not to share: Packy wore the same outfit I wore at my Baptism and babies with bow ties are too adorable, and my godson Elijah after catching his first fish that night.

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“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” -Matthew 4:19

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Paschal Angelo

Paschal Angelo Arnold

Born June 1st, 5:05 p.m.

8 lbs. 8 oz. 19 ½ inches long
(I got this post ready this weekend and had put in a placeholder weight and length, and they ended up being spot on! What are the odds of that?!)

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I realize these are all pretty much the same photo. But to this proud papa, I couldn’t decide amongst all the cuteness (and the expressive Italian hand gestures already!)

His patron saints:

St. Paschal Baylon-patron saint of cooks. Franciscan friar who was assigned kitchen duty, when what he really wanted to do was pray in the chapel. The host would appear floating in the kitchen. Paschal would kneel to worship our Lord while angels prepared the meals.

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Paschal shares a name with one of his little cousins that our family lost to miscarriage and heaven gained, who now intercedes for us.

St. John XXIII-Born Angelo Roncalli. Saved thousands of Jews during WWII. Joyful and humorous pope who opened Vatican II. Appointed first cardinals to Japan, the Philippines, Africa, and Mexico.

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“Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”

Angelo is also a family name- Jackie’s grandfather Michael Angelo Bevilacqua, and my great-grandfather, Angelo Pollice.

All went well during the birth. Jackie called me at work. I was home by 12:30. Jackie’s mom came to pick up the other kids around 1:30. Midwife arrived around 3:30. Packy arrived around 5. By 6:30, it was just us and our new baby enjoying the quiet of our home. Jackie did have 2 calls from telemarketers during that time, and you will be very disappointed to hear she did not take advantage of this golden opportunity to say, “I’m in labor right now” to silence their sales pitches.

Please keep us in your prayers. If you would like something specific to pray for, Packy is a little tongue-tied, so please pray that he will be able to nurse well.

They say the love of parents is not a finite amount that must be divided when a new child arrives. Rather, a new child multiplies the love that already existed in the family. I have always marveled at this multiplication of love, and I feel it acutely tonight. Packy looks so much like Gus when he was born. It is so surreal, like getting to go through a time machine and hold Gus again. I look at my new son, and my love for Gus increases, as I remember how small and helpless he once was. And my love for Packy grows as I think of the young man he will become, all the memories we will have together. And my love for all my other kids is magnified as I hear their enthusiasm over the phone, and as I imagine what kind of big brothers and big sister they will be. And my love for my bride overflows, as I look at this strong woman who has blest me with these wonderful souls, and has made me a father.

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Panis Angelicus

“Recognize in this bread what hung on the cross, and in this chalice what flowed from His side… whatever was in many and varied ways announced beforehand in the sacrifices of the Old Testament pertains to this one sacrifice which is revealed in the New Testament.”
-St. Augustine

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“O how unspeakable is this Sacrament which sets our affections ablaze with charity. … It is the fulfillment of Christ’s Mystical Body.”

“Almighty and Eternal God, behold I come to the Sacrament of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. As one sick, I come to the Physician of life; unclean, to the Fountain of mercy; blind, to the Light of eternal splendor; poor and needy, to the Lord of heaven and earth. Therefore, I beg of You, through Your infinite mercy and generosity, heal my weakness, wash my uncleanness, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness. May I thus receive the Bread of Angels, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, with such reverence and humility, contrition and devotion, purity and faith, purpose and intention, as shall aid my soul’s salvation …”

“The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Love; It signifies Love, It produces love. The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.”
-St. Thomas Aquinas

Gus received his First Communion on Sunday. And at the end of the day, I found myself thinking about how quickly it has all flown by. How it didn’t seem that long ago we were all together for Gus’ first sacrament.

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We have been so blest with the supportive prayers and presence of our kids’ godparents. Gus couldn’t stop wiggling and smiling during facetime with Uncle Daniel. It was morning here, but for Daniel overseas, it was the end of a long day. He was clearly tired, but took the time to really make Gus feel important. It will be one of my favorite memories from Gus’ special day.

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Aunt Patty drove from Kansas City with her daughter Grace. When Gus was born, Jackie offered her pain for Patty’s little girl who was in surgery, and Patty offered her heartache for her new godson. It was so special to have both of them celebrating with us on Sunday.

And my final fellow member of Team Gus, my bride. We don’t know what the future holds. But we’ll face it together. And we’ll continue to rely on His grace and mercy.

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A Canonization Celebration

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Oh, where to begin? How about 2005? When Jackie and I went on Engaged Encounter, our most productive communication that weekend was THE NAME LIST. We paired together some of our favorite saints to create first and middle names that sounded awesome. Jude Blase, Augustine Thomas, Xavier Rocco, and Zelie Jane. We joked about how with names like those, our kids could totally start their own garage rock band, with Zelie on guitar and lead vocals, of course.

Fast forward, to 2010. We received our beautiful daughter. And we started making the phone calls to parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters to share the news. My folks didn’t answer at first, so we left a cryptic message and kept going down the list. And again and again, when we said, “Her name is Zelie Jane” the response was, quite understandably: “Zelie?” Until my mom finally called us back. When we told her, she started crying and said, “I love it. I love it. Thank you. You’ve made her so happy.” Because my mom, who is named Therese, knew exactly who the namesake of her newest granddaughter was. Zelie Martin: wife, mother of nine children, including St. Therese, lacemaker, Catholic woman who lived the motto “God must be served first.” At the time, Zelie Martin and her husband Louis, whose causes for sainthood had been linked together, only had one confirmed miracle, so they were recognized as Blessed. We thought how wonderful it would be to someday celebrate her canonization as a Saint together as a family.

Which brings us to 2015, when Zelie and Louis’ second miracle was confirmed and it was announced that on Oct. 18, they would be lifted up as an example of marriage and family life for all the Catholic Church. So this is a once in a lifetime event! It is not every day that your namesake is canonized. This was a cause for a celebration. We invited the families from our House of Gold prayer group to come revel in the day alongside us. Most of us have been friends since our awkward high school days. Vocation came a knocking, and our families have grown parallel to one another. Both of Zelie’s godparents were with us that day as well.

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So we started off with a Rosary for the parents, and some Zelie-themed games for the kids, with varying degrees of success. Escargot, a French hopscotch game, was a pretty big hit, with minimal tears. Zelie and Louis had a hard time discerning their vocations, at first thinking they were called to be a priest and a sister, so we played Telephone, where the messages got quite bumbled if you weren’t listening well. And of course, no one was listening well. I wouldn’t recommend playing Telephone with 5 year olds. Or even 9 year olds, who thought it would be fun to spontaneously change the message they heard to “Ekky blekky bloo bah” half way around the circle. Yes, Telephone was a test of patience for me. Can Joel refrain from bringing out the angry eyebrows and kicking that kid out of the game just 5 minutes after joyfully teaching about the lives of two new saints? No. He can’t. Finally, a day on the Arnold farm is not complete for our friends’ city kids without a trip to the haybales. So I made up a game called Watchmaker/Lacemaker, which was basically just a timed race with…wait for it…because it’s really creative…a watch and some lace. This was the favorite game of the day.

zelie foodThe highlight of the day for me was the food though. Jackie had encouraged everyone to bring French food to celebrate these two new French saints. It was ridiculously good. A taste of heaven on earth. Beef Bourguignon, Gougeres, baguettes, the fanciest potatoes au gratin I’ve ever seen, lemon cream puffs, and a cheese so insanely good, I considered digging through the trash the next day to find the wrapper to assure I would be able to sample it again some day. I think it was a camembert. I must track it down. A new culinary quest has begun. As groups of friends go, we are so blest to feast together. We could not have done better in selecting lifelong friends if we had held interviews and asked to sample their best dishes.

Adding to this glimpse into eternity together was the amazing music of the Jack Korbel Confluence. If you are yet to listen to Jack’s songs, stop reading this, go to Spotify, and search for him-start with Earth and Stars Hymn. So, so good. He writes music that was meant to be played in a verdant green living room with rich dark woodwork and a brick fireplace, while listeners recline by bookshelves packed with encyclicals, Austen, Wendell Berry, and Sigrid Undset. (Sorry there, that previous sentence took on a life of it’s own. Jack’s lyrics will make you want to try and write like that.) Seeing my kids drawn towards the melodies in the living room and staring entranced by the strings of the guitar and the violin was a good, good moment. Perhaps that rock band may yet happen. I was able to snap a quick picture of Zelie snuggling up against our cousin Jamie. This little Zelie is blest to have such strong, beautiful women to look up to in her life. Her mother, her aunts and cousins. Her godmother and grandmothers. And her own Saint Zelie.

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St. Zelie, pray for us!

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