Sunday, October 26, 2014

Depression and the Modern Catholic

I have lots of experience with depression. If you've followed this blog long enough, or bothered to go and read the old posts, you'll know that because I couldn't resolve having a mental disorder with being a good Catholic, I fell away from the True Faith for a short period of time. Thanks to the grace of God, I returned, more proof that Our Lady has a special care for my (extended) family.

Mental health is such a tricky situation. There is even in the world a huge battle for its recognition as something real, not "made up". As a Catholic, I fight it so much because it impairs my ability to do my duty of state. Despite wanting to take care of my household thoroughly, wanting to make balanced meals for my hard-working husband, wanting to show my daughter the love of God in the way that I think is right, I'm given the cross of doing things differently than other Catholic parents. We listen to the Rosary as I'm rocking her to sleep. I buy easy packaged meals so that my husband isn't eating chips and dip for dinner, and I make sure that there are the ingredients for lunches and breakfasts for him, even though I'm not packing his lunchbox. I choose to take a nap, so that I can make it for the rest of the day, instead of finishing up the dishes or vacuuming the floors. I let my daughter play in her swing or her rocker while I watch and read a book, instead of reading with her and talking to her. I retreat from the world with no apologies, and take whatever steps necessary to protect myself and my daughter. And I feel like I'm not taking care of my duty of state the entire time. 

My mom once said that sometimes, it's a sacrifice not to do the heroic or even ordinary acts of selflessness that others are capable of. My cross is to lead a totally simple life, only sacrificing when I'm fully rested and don't feel like crying all the time. For example, I found out that I had gestational diabetes on Spy Wednesday, and although I had been able to fast for Ash Wednesday, it would be impossible for me to do so on Good Friday; on top of this, I wasn't able to seek a dispensation, although it was medically necessary for me to eat every 2 hours, 4 snacks and 3 meals that day. I felt defeated, because I hadn't been able to fast all Lent, unlike my parents and siblings, for my daughter's sake. It seems "lucky", not to have to sacrifice, and it was the first time I realized how hard it can be to go against the flow when one is so desperate that therein lies the way to Heaven.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Feast of the Holy Rosary

    In 1571, the West was dealing with an invasion by the Turks, when Pope St. Pius V asked Christendom to pray the Rosary for their salvation from the much larger, more sophisticated fleet. On October 7, the Pope received a vision that because of the Rosary, the small Spanish fleet won the battle of Lepanto and the impending Turkish threat was vanquished.
    Because of this and many other victories, both spiritual and temporal, Pope Gregory established October 7th as the feast of the Holy Rosary; it was extended to the entire Church by Pope Clement XI, and a new Mass and Office elevated it by Leo XIII.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October: Month of the Holy Rosary

    October is the month of the Holy Rosary, celebrating the miraculous power of one of the most powerful prayers in the world.
    St. Dominic received the form and the mysteries of the Holy Rosary from Our Lady as the prayer that would help fight the Albigensian heresy. There are 15 decades, divided into 3 groups of 5, each dwelling on a different part of the Life of Christ and His mother. 
    The Rosary is known as Our Lady’s Psalter, because it consists of 150 Hail Marys, each representing one of the Psalms. These are divided into groups of 10, and each decade is preceded by an Our Father, the prayer Our Lord gave to us, and ended with a Glory Be, a prayer of praise to the Holy Trinity that is also prayed at the end of the psalms of the Divine Office.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

September: Month of the Holy Angels

    Each of the months of the year has its special patron, and I’ve been trying (and failing miserably) to acknowledge each month and provide a prayer suitable to be said that month. This month is dedicated to the Holy Angels. 
    There are 9 choirs of angels: Cherubim and Seraphim, the highest in the hierarchy, are consumed with the love of God, and the lowest, the Angel Choir, are messengers to earth and make up our Guardian Angels. 

    “Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love entrusts me here; ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. From stain of sin O keep me free, and at my death my helper be.”

    Everyone has a guardian angel from the moment of conception, and these angels truly show protection and guidance daily. Once this past December, Eleanor decided to start moving in the middle of the sermon, and distracted me; in order to get her to stop, I prayed to her guardian angel, and she stopped... but once Mass was over, I felt her moving again. For the rest of the pregnancy, I never felt her move during Mass or Rosary. This incident was truly one that by the grace of God allowed my faith, and that of some of those around me, to be strengthened again.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Feast of St. Helen: August 18

About a month ago was Eleanor’s first feast day. We didn’t do anything much, except read a short version  of St. Helen’s life, because, well, I was tired with a 7 week old. But at least Eleanor was able to hear about her illustrious patron saint. As a child, I was always attracted to the saints who were queens; firstly St. Elizabeth of Hungary, but after that, St. Helen, who was an empress. My favorite author, Evelyn Waugh, wrote what he termed his masterpiece (and I must agree) on her life, and this “fairy story” is what drew me closer to her. When we had to decide on names for our child, I was drawn to Eleanor, for 3 reasons: it was a unique name, its origins are Old French, (its first use was that of Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was queen of England and who inspired the 100 Years’ War), and it is a derivative of Helen.

From my missal excerpt:
Saint Helena, a native of Britain, espoused to the Emperor Constantius, was the mother of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor of Rome. Favored by her son, Saint Helena succeeded in discovering at Jerusalem the true Cross, to enshrine which she built a magnificent Basilica. She was renowned for her alsmsdeeds, and (say the ancient chroniclers) “incomparable in her faith and zeal”. Saint Helena received her heavenly crown in the month of August, in the twentieth year of the reign of her son, that is A.D. 326.

And the Collect of her Mass:

O Lord Jesus Christ, who to blessed Helena wast pleased to reveal the place where The Cross was hidden, in order, though her, to enrich Thy Church with this inestimable treasure: give ear to her prayers, and accept this tree of life as the price of our attaining to eternal happiness.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Sacrament of Baptism: The Ending

I am going to finish this discussion of the Sacrament of Baptism in one fell swoop, instead of in 3 more parts, and simply recount my impressions of my daughters. Although I have 3 godchildren, and have been present at one of their baptisms, I have never experienced the amazement which comes at the completion of the work that God entrusts to a mother. I can claim without guile that my daughter is a saint, and that statement makes me feel humble, rather than proud.

I left off at the second part, which consists of the Exorcism and the entrance into the Church. How happy I was when Eleanor passed the “salt test”: a family joke that if the baby doesn’t cry when salt is placed in his or her mouth, it is going to be a good child. However, my favorite part is when the priest leads the baby into the church: the whole previous part of the ceremony takes place in the vestibule, but the priest takes the child under his wing by placing his stole onto the child and leads her into the welcoming arms of Mother Church. I was touched when not only family and friends said the Credo and the Our Father, but strangers joined in welcoming my daughter with a solemn profession of faith. Above is a picture of the anointing, where the oil of catechumens which was blessed not long before on Holy Thursday is used to give my daughter the indelible mark of the Baptism. I was honored that Eleanor’s godparents, through their proxies my mother and brother Nicolas, professed Eleanor’s belief in the One True Faith, since she cannot claim this treasure for herself. And finally, the baptism itself, where the waters of life are poured over Eleanor’s head, literally washing all stain of sin away from her soul.

After the ceremony of Baptism, I consecrated my daughter to Our Lady, who has always guided me in a special manner. May she guide Eleanor in the same way throughout her life.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Where to begin?

Very well. I have an unfinished series on the Sacrament of Baptism, a post about the birth and first two months of my child, and possibly a short post on my child's patron saint and recent first feast days. Where to begin?
My husband and I were blessed with a tiny daughter on June 30, 2014, the commemoration if the feast of St. Paul. He obviously didn't want to share her with St. Peter. She weighed 6lbs. 7 oz. and was a whole 19.5 in. long! She was baptized Eleanor Rose on July 6. Her patron saints are St. Helen (feast day August 18), and St. Rose (August 30). 
The past 2 months have been busy to say the least, but Divine Providence has allowed me to hear instruction that was immediately relevant to my new status as a parent. I have been very blessed to have a great support in my husband and extended family, my sister has adapted to being an amazing auntie and my parents are indulgent without spoiling our little saint. May she just remain this way!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Sacrament of Baptism: Part One

We finally received the news that due to some complications of pregnancy, I am to be induced into labor this upcoming Friday, which also happens to be the feast of the Sacred Heart. What an amazing birthday to have, God willing! If baby comes on Friday, I have 2 weeks to spend on a discourse about the Sacrament of Baptism. My missal divides this into four main sections. I had planned on doing one section a week in June, but that obviously worked so well.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Symbols of our Marriage Vows
This past week I was reminded of my wedding ceremony, specifically the prayers intended to bless the bride's ring.
"Bless, O Lord, this ring which we bless in Thy name, that she who shall wear it, keeping true faith unto her husband, may abide in Thy peace and will, and ever live in mutual charity."

Friday, April 4, 2014

Raffle for Catholic Education

My brothers go to this amazing Catholic boarding school in Kansas, and the school is having a raffle in order to raise enough money to purchase 2 buses. While I don't have a lot of money, I do have a voice, and I'm trying to do my part to support Catholic Education. Please look at this link and support with donations if you can and prayers if you can't. Actually, prayers for the school are appreciated, no matter what. Prayers and almsgiving are an important part of Lent, and with Passiontide already here this Sunday, it's worth the extra effort! Contact me to get the name of the student I'm supporting, my brother and godson. Thanks so much!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lenten Reflections

Today is the half-way point through Lent. Finally, there are only 3.5 more weeks of Lent! As usual, I am recovering from a pretty bad version of whatever happens to be going around. Some background: God never likes the resolutions I pick for Lent, so every year, between the first and second weeks of Lent, He gives me the gift of illness. Nothing too serious, the flu, a cold, a bout of depression. But every time, it’s a very rigorous version.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Meditations on Pregnancy

Since I’ve been pregnant, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on what this means spiritually. And especially since I’ve started feeling the baby move, a lot of questions and answers come up, with an opportunity both to learn and to teach.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3: St. Blaise

St. Blaise Candles
There aren't a lot of saints that get an "extra" ceremony, but St. Blaise is one of the few. His feast day is celebrated the day after Candlemas, or February 3. St. Blaise is the patron saint of throats, and his name is invoked not only for serious diseases like throat cancer, but also the little things like a sore throat. He is also my godson's patron saint (middle name), so I always especially remember him today.
On the feast of St. Blaise, two candles are blessed, tied with a red ribbon to remember his martyrdom, and these candles are held against the throats of the faithful with a blessing said to protect them against any throat disease.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Story of the Presentation

Presentation of Our Lord by Fra Angelico
Candlemas is my favorite Christmastide feast day. I love the procession, the music, the prayers, the end of one season and the beginning of the next. The story is equally edifying.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

February 2: Candlemas

With February 2, the Church celebrates the end of the Christmas season. In the Jewish tradition, women were considered "unclean" after childbirth, and 40 days after giving birth to a son (80 days for a daughter), the family traveled to Jerusalem to undergo the purification ceremony. The Jews also offered their first-born son to God 40 days after his birth, and then "bought" him back with either a pure white lamb, or 2 turtle doves for those who were poor. In accordance with tradition, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph traveled to Jerusalem; even though Our Lady did not need to be purified because of her Immaculate Conception and the miraculous birth of Our Lord, and even though Our Lord, being God himself, did not need to be offered or re-bought.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Major Blog Changes

I have changed. A lot. And so I think that this blog needs to change. It's still about my life, but the life that has headed into a new direction. Before I go into the details, let me catch you up.

So, my fiancĂ© and I got married on September 21, 2013. Although a lot of things happened in the  few weeks before the wedding that didn't let me get everything I wanted done, it accomplished it's job: I'm married! And that's all that really matters. I have some regrets about that day, but I'm not going to worry about the past.

My husband and I are expecting our first child on July 4 of this year. I am mostly at peace with how this pregnancy is going, and my family is so excited for this new life. My sister is ready to be a helper at home now, and she is excited to be an aunt. Everyone but my husband is praying for a girl, and we find out on February 25! I am going to bake a cake either pink or blue for my parents to cut open: I wanted to cut into a cake, but I also want to share this big moment with my hubby. Having Mom cut into it, I get to have my cake and eat it too! We are also going to send a box of balloons to my mother-in-law so that she can share in the surprise. However, we are going to keep the gender a secret from "the world" until the baby shower at the end of May.