Ambrose and Augustine.

Acquaintance:"Ah, what a sweet baby! Boy or girl?"

Me: "It's a boy."

Acquaintance:"What's his name?"

Me: "Ambrose."

Acquaintance: *the blank stare; thinking that's got to be a girl's name*  "Oh. How pretty."

Me: *oh no, not the "pretty" line again..."

Acquaintance: "Is that a family name?"

Me: "Not exactly. He's a saint and Doctor of the Catholic Church."

Acquaintance: *raised eyebrows at mentioning religion in public* "Oh. Well. Congratulations."

And so it goes when you name your son Ambrose. Don't get me wrong--I love the name we chose for our second son, and I love why we chose it.

Ambrose, along with being the Bishop of Milan in the 4th century and a mentor to St. Augustine, is the name of the Nigerian priest who celebrated our wedding Mass. He's been a close friend of my family for years, and has served my home diocese with unparalleled obedience to his bishop, even though he's far from his own home in West Africa. A man of humor, character and holiness, Fr. Ambrose Ugwuegbu just joyfully celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination this month.

He's well-versed when it comes to his namesake's protégé, as well. In a little autobiography of himself, Fr. Ambrose writes:
As I was preparing my summer vacation to New York Archdiocese, and I was waiting for a formal invitation from the parish where I was to spend my vacation, my Bishop asked me if I would like to go to the Diocese of Sacramento for missionary work. I accepted without hesitation because I really wanted to come out and experience other people's culture. As St. Augustine said, "The world is a book; if you have not traveled you are only reading the introduction.”
Skip back to St. Ambrose. The moving story of St. Augustine's conversion (and the pivotal role St. Ambrose played in it) has been brought to cinematic life by Ignatius Press in a new movie, Restless Heart. Reading one review of the film made my momma heart skip a beat:
"Augustine is eventually summoned to Milan to become the emperor’s personal orator.There he meets a pivotal figure in his conversion: St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan. Upton their first meeting, Augustine is startled by the bishop's intelligence and rhetorical skill. He had rarely encountered anyone whose genius could match his own, much less a Christian bishop. Ambrose, though, seemed to use rhetoric in a different way. He didn't twist words and pretend to create his own truth. Instead Ambrose tells Augustine that men never find the truth. "They must,” he says, “let the Truth find them.”
There it is--the name Ambrose, used no less than three times in one paragraph in an article that's not a biography of him! 

It's going mainstream, I tell you. 

One other family link makes Ambrose such a special name to me. When we lost our first baby early on in my pregnancy, Sean and I decided to name him. Augustine Philip rests with Jesus now, but we know he must look upon his two earthly brothers with love. Hopefully, a very long time from now, Ambrose and Augustine (and Joseph) will enjoy the company of their saintly namesakes together.

For now, my little boy, named for both a Father and Doctor of Holy Mother Church and a beloved parish priest, brings us such joy. Tomorrow is his four-month birthday. Keep smiling, Amby!


Extra-curricular activities.

Not me.
After poking around the websites for graduate degrees and their applicable scholarships, I ran into my age-old problem: I don't volunteer enough. And everyone else (who receives grant and scholarship money, at least) does, with what looks to be great variety and consistency.

For a moment, I entertain grand notions of organizing cans of kidney beans at food banks. Hammering nails with Habitat for Humanity. Distributing sandwiches during the lunchtime meal for the poor at the Cathedral downtown.

Then I remember: I'm thinking about all these things during the 28-minute window in my day when both my toddler and infant are sleeping. During this blessed overlap, my hands aren't holding/cleaning/changing poop/feeding/nursing/grocery shopping/finding Elmo/washing dishes/folding laundry/vacuuming/driving/reading "Dinosaurs Love Underpants" for the eighteenth time.  

Shoot. If I'm going to start volunteering, it will have to be in this 28-minute window. And I'll need to hire a nanny to come stay with the kids.

In high school and college, I knew that plenty of my peers put in service hours with after-school mentoring programs, one-day maintenance projects and the like. How do I know this? I spent all my spare time as the editor of the yearbook, documenting their hard work for posterity.

Post-graduation, granted, I donated bunches of time to media and graphic design projects. I made this, and this. And created loads of materials for the Diocese of Spokane. It all took lots and lots of time, and through most of it, I was either pregnant or juggling a baby (or two). But does that work carry the same weight as an AmeriCorps stint? Four years teaching English in North Africa? Two years with Teach for America? I don't know, and in most admission offices, I don't think it does.

Fast forward to now. I've had three blessed years of stay-at-home motherhood, doing the domestic things that, if any one else besides me was doing, I could call a career.

And, if I was doing them for someone else and not being paid for it, I could call it volunteering. Ha. Oh well.