Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Club: Reflections on the Family Rosary

Don't worry if your family Rosary doesn't look like this.
So, Eleanor's been teething the past week. This is her hardest tooth yet, and it's only getting progressively worse. She's been getting up in the middle of the night, sometimes twice a night. So I didn't get to writing my past 3 reviews. So this upcoming week, I'm going to publish one a day for 6 days, and then the last 2 weeks I will write 3 times a week.

Onto the first essay, titled Reflections on the Family Rosary. It's barely 2 pages, but contains an important gem for parents to understand. No matter how hard the distractions come, or the temptations to let it slide hit you, a daily family rosary is important for the faith, to encourage children to hear God's voice, and even as a tool for conversion. This family doesn't hesitate to welcome their intruding neighbors to join them when interrupted, and they all do gather for prayer, whether willingly, joyfully, or reluctantly.

I have 2 distinct memories of my family rosary growing up. The first was the realization (given to us by Mom) that Dad assigned rosary mysteries based on where we knelt, instead of birth order like Mom. From that moment on, we started fighting about who was kneeling next to Dad's strict upright figure, because that meant that we would get to say (for reasons not clear to me or I'm sure to my siblings) the coveted fifth decade. The second was during my reluctant teenage years, when we lived in Idaho, and when the only time Mom could get all of us to settle down and pay attention was in the 30 minute car ride home from school. We all had lots of homework, Mom had dinner to get ready, and so we made the best of a bad situation by spending our time in prayer. Thinking back, I realize it gave me a mental break from the pressures at school, preparing me for the pressures of being at home, as the oldest in a large family. It's not a fond memory like the first, but it's meaningful nonetheless.

Friday, August 7, 2015

My Favorite Part about Being a Mother

Newborn Photo Shoot
There are many things about being a mother that I hate, and many more that I love. 
I hate it when shots are due, or when a new tooth is coming out, or when there is a mystery rash that doesn't clear up with just some diaper cream (although I've finally discovered the cure! Aquaphor + baby powder heals the skin so that the Desitin is able to stick and work). I hate not knowing why she's all of a sudden waking up in the middle of the night, not being able to settle back down until she's played for a little bit.
When she takes her naps...
 I love it when my daughter says "mama", even though she mostly says it when she's crying (I love that she comes to me when she's hurting). I love it when she comes up to me in the middle of her playtime, not to be picked up or to get something, but just to say hi before she runs away. I love watching the miracle of her growth and development, even though it baffles me how any mother could support abortions after seeing their own children develop both inside and outside the womb. I love it when she's so proud of herself for learning something new, whether that's moving her head from side to side, flipping over from back to front, crawling, or now, walking.
...She crashes pretty hard
But all these things are not what I love most about being a mother. What I love most is when my active daughter, who refuses to voluntarily sit still for longer than 5 minutes (and only if I'm reading a book to her), gets tired and knows that it's time for bed. Because I look forward to bedtime and nap time, not because I'll get a minute to myself to get some things done, but because it's the only 5 minutes I get where she's cuddling with me, with a smile on her face as she's falling asleep. It's the only time I can remember that warning given to me so often during my 9 months of pregnancy, "Cherish these days, because they will pass by soon". I sit and rock my little peanut, who seems somehow gigantic, knowing that one day she won't need me to cuddle her before bedtime, loving the time we have together without regretting the future before it's already here.
What are your favorite parts of parenthood?
A year after the first picture

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

August 4th: Feast of St. Dominic

St. Dominic by Fra Angelico
Yesterday was the feast of St. Dominic, a big feast day for me.  Because I was taught by Dominicans, they included their students and alumnae in their spiritual family, and so St. Dominic is my spiritual father, so to speak. There are lots of stories surrounding his life. My favorite one is this:
Once Our Lady showed him a vision of the various Orders in Heaven, but no matter how long he looked, he could not find his own order. He asked Our Lady in great distress where it had gone. She opened her mantle, and underneath it he found his entire order, which had taken refuge in Our Lady's care.

For dinner, because St. Dominic was Spanish, we had Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas. They did not turn out the way I had planned. Every recipe I had seen wanted you to cook the chicken beforehand, and then just put it in the crockpot for 1 1/2-3 hours on Low, but I decided that the entire purpose of the crockpot was so that it could be a one pot meal. So there I went, layering chicken cubes, Rotel, black olives, enchilada sauce, and corn tortillas like a Mexican lasagna, and let it cook for 3 hours. Well, the chicken was cooked through, that's for sure, but the corn tortillas turned to mush, and we had something that wasn't stew, wasn't soup, but definitely wasn't anything else either. The flavors were amazing though. Even Matt went back for a second bowl without adding any extra seasoning, so that's a plus!
And yes, I'm not sure if enchiladas are Spanish, but it was as close as I could get with the food we had in the house and my limited cooking skills.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

August: Month of the Holy Eucharist

Behold the Bread of Angels, made the Food of Travelers. Truly the bread of the children shall not be thrown to the dogs.
This blog post contains an affiliate link.
The month of August is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. In the 16th century, the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist was challenged by the newly formed Protestant religions, who decided that God couldn't do as He wished, and that it was impossible for God to appear on the earth every time a priest performed the miracle of Transubstantiation. The Council of Trent was called in order to combat this and other heresies promoted by the errors of Protestantism, like predestination, sola scriptura, Martin Luther's covered in snow theory, and personal interpretation of the Bible.

For this month's prayer, I chose a Spiritual Communion by St. Alphonsus Liguori. Like I was taught in First Holy Communion class, Catholics should make an effort to make an act of Spiritual Communion every day that they can't receive the Holy Eucharist. I have a problem remembering to do that, so I put the prayer up for convenience' sake, mine and my readers. To make an act of Spiritual Communion, however, it is only necessary to put yourself in the presence of God, and then ask Christ to come into your heart, using your own words if you wish, or a Saint's words if you want a more formulaic response (nothing wrong with that!).

I use the prayers honoring the Blessed Sacrament in the Mother Love prayer book and the Christian Warfare manual, both published by Angelus Press. They are both handy to keep around, with lots of prayers tailored specifically for mothers and traditional Catholics (respectively).

Friday, July 31, 2015

Amazon Smile

I recently discovered that Amazon has a donation site up and running, called Amazon Smile, and as it's a Catholic's duty to help support the Church through any means available, I'd thought today I'd draw attention to this program.
It works just like ordering from Amazon. The only difference is, when you order something from Amazon Smile, a percentage of the purchase price goes to the charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you. So instead of buying a baby gate for $10, I'm spending probably $9.50 on the gate and $0.50 on charity (probably not even that much, but it's a good example).
I did a search for possible Traditional Catholic Charities by typing in SSPX, and found a lot. Many parishes are linked up through searching for that. I did a separate search for St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, and they are my current charity. The new seminary, and the day to day running of the existing seminary, costs so much that it's important to do anything possible for them.

I'm also going to use this opportunity to tell you that I've signed up for the Amazon Affiliate program. If you click through these links to products, books, or media that I recommend, I get a percentage of the proceedings. I'll post at the top of each blog post that has these links, but they all are things that I honestly use, would use, and recommend.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Feast of St. Martha

Yesterday was the feast of St. Martha, the patron saint of housewives. We celebrated by grilling out (it was one of the first mild days we've had this week), and I made a special dessert that was easy to throw together.
Menu: Steak, asparagus, potatoes, and 10 minute fruit tart by Rachael Ray.
She's growing bigger every day
All I did was let the steak marinate in some olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning. I used to make the mistake of adding salt and garlic powder when I used the lemon pepper seasoning, but then read the label (I'm trying to get better at that!). That's when I discovered that onion powder, garlic powder, and salt are also present.
My husband taught me the correct way to trim asparagus ends. You have to hold the bottom and break them off individually, instead of cutting them with a knife. This might seem a little wasteful, but just put those ends into some compost and enjoy the tender asparagus! We make a foil pack with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper sprinkled over the fresh asparagus, and steam it on the grill for about 20 minutes.
I took some ideas and made up a recipe for the potatoes that turned out ok. I'll have to tweak it a little more. I made a foil packet of sliced potatoes, chunks of cream cheese and butter, and some fresh parmesan. The parmesan melted to the bottom (or was it the top? We had to flip the potatoes so that they would cook faster), the butter melted through, but the chunks of cream cheese didn't melt all the way. Maybe the chunks need to be smaller and more spread out?
The fruit tart got a little slid around
10 Minute Fruit Tart
I admit, I took some liberties with this recipe. The base is a store-bought graham cracker crust, topped with some seedless strawberry and blackberry jelly. On top of that I put instant vanilla pudding mixed with orange and lime zest, and then around the top I put a can of mixed tropical fruit cocktail and strawberries in the middle. Next time, I'm going to make the pie version of the pudding (less milk), and slice up some fresh fruits, instead of putting down a layer of jam. But it turned out great! Here's the link to the original recipe.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Book Title for August: The Art of Catholic Mothering

August Book Discussion
I chose this book as the first for several reasons. Firstly, this blog is written by a woman, and while I propose to write about matters that concern both mothers, fathers, and young adults of marrying age and vocation, I freely admit that the content is skewed towards mothers, both present and future. However, I do believe that it would be good for men to read this collection of stories, so that they may more fully understand the other half of the coin. Secondly, it is pretty short, consisting of 12 easily read stories written by mothers, grandmothers, and at least one great-grandmother. Lastly, it deals with the dilemma of parents who were raised in a pre-conciliar Church, and who were charged with the task of raising their children in a world where Catholicism is no longer unadulterated, having to fight for the Church of All Time on a very basic level, that of education.

As I wrote above, there are 12 stories. I will discuss a new story 3 times a week. This won't necessarily be the same format for discussion every month, as that depends on the books. Most likely, I will try to publish my thoughts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. This book was compiled by Maura Koulik. Although Angelus Press has run out of stock, the chances of purchasing it from a parish bookstore are still great. Even if you can't read it with me, maybe my reviews and thoughts will still help, like reading the spark notes version of Shakespeare: you don't get the beauty or the nuances, but the essence is still (hopefully) there.

A New Feature: Monthly Book Club

I love to read, and I know that I want my children to learn this love of reading for many reasons. Firstly, it is one of the most wholesome and extensive activities for children. In a day where computer games and tv shows dominate the entertainment world, there is nothing like a good book to sit down and read. It requires no internet access, it can be carefully curated for morals, ethics, and faith, and above all, it is silent and independent. Secondly, you can learn anything you want to just from reading about it. This comes in handy when homeschooling, because there is no way that a parent can know everything needed to prepare their children for a career, but there is every way that the parent can help that child learn about what interests them.
However, how do you choose good books for yourselves and your children (for if you want to encourage the reading habit, you have to read yourself)? How do you decide whether this secular or non-Catholic author is someone good for your children. How can you even decide between Catholic authors, which ones teach the false lessons of Modernism and which ones don't? Hopefully, my recommendations will allow you to learn the standards of literature for Catholics, as that is how I was taught in grade school and especially high school.

Some guidelines: I'm going to discuss a book every month or two, depending on how long it is. As a Catholic mother myself, I realize the dearth of time we have to read, when there are so many other things to be doing; however, I think that 2 months is probably the longest one can discuss any particular book for. I'd like to do a mixture of both Catholic parenting books, Catholic novels, Catholic children's books, and books written for both adults and children by authors who aren't necessarily Catholic, but who convey good morals and lessons. I've been looking for sources for free or cheap books, because that way most people will be able to afford this great pleasure. I know that my parish has a pretty good library of Catholic books, but don't hesitate to borrow from fellow parishioners, or even tell them about this proposed group. When possible, support your parish bookstore by purchasing these books, because I do believe that when possible, a good Catholic library should form part of a household. My mom gave me some of the mothering books I'm going to discuss, and I look forward to passing them down to my daughter.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Raising Catholic Children in a Modern World

I have insomnia. Lately it's been getting better, I've been going to bed before 1 am, sometimes before midnight. Maybe tonight, maybe not. Maybe once I get this particular anxiety off my chest, I will become calmed.

Insomnia for me happens when I am worried. Some nights, it's because I don't have a meal plan 3 days before I need to go shopping. Some nights, it's because of upcoming events or major and minor decisions. Tonight, it's because I defended my faith, and in doing so my day was interrupted with meditations on the problems of the world.

People divorce and remarry because they do not know the true definition of love. They decide to take the easy way out, and suicide is commended, praised, and funded. They decide to kill their children and pervert God's nature, because they were too irresponsible to listen to their will, and instead allowed themselves to be guided by their passions. They use God's own natural world against Him, to justify so called "sex change" and other abominations. And then, they expect Christians to believe in something wrong, and not only believe it, but cater to it. The world tells everybody that the sky is green and that water is poison, and when some decide to stand up and call them liars, those few are called cowards. Isn't the truly cowardly thing to just agree in public, and then go on drinking water? Why wouldn't we want to educate the world that water is in fact, good for you? But we are labeled cowards.

In a country where my rights are more important than yours, my rights to a cake are more important than your right to practice your faith, the Catholics are fighting this battle in the wrong way. Didn't Christ warn us that we would be persecuted for our beliefs? The early centuries of the Church were centuries of martyrdom, that recommenced during the Protestant Revolution, although those martyrdoms are largely forgotten and ignored. Those centuries taught the world something: once you start killing people, you make martyrs out of them. Instead, you have to persecute people in ways that not only are deniable, but seem ridiculous. It seems ridiculous that people wouldn't just bake a cake for someone, it's just a cake. It seems ridiculous to talk of religious persecution, when there are so many "Christians" in the world. A person says: "I believe that love and tolerance are above all other things. Therefore, because you don't believe this way, you are evil". A Catholic says "This is what the Church teaches. We do not interpret the Bible for ourselves, we leave that to the professionals. We do not believe that everything is in the Bible, because even St. John said that there was much more taught that couldn't be written down. And we adhere to the ultimate truths that have been passed down directly from God Himself. We will pray for the non-believers, we will pray that those who are misguided find the truth, we will pray for those who misguide others, for they will be held to judgment. And we will not pass judgements on others, but live our faith even in the face of ridicule and hatred."

Instead of making the battle for morality about us, we need to make it about God. God has a right to be worshipped the way He demanded, and if you can believe this basic truth, you will have all the strength you need to fight the battles demanded of you. If this means that you are fined, hated, ridiculed, remember that the early Catholics wouldn't even offer a token of incense to a false god, instead choosing death. I need to instill in my children the love of God, the will to cling to Him above all else, even forsaking family and friends when necessary to defend our truly beautiful Faith.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Housekeeping Trick One: One Chicken, 3 Meals

I don't have many tricks up my sleeve for homemaking or housekeeping. I'm always on Pinterest looking for more, in fact. But I do have one that may or may not help with those that don't like cooking a lot. There is still cooking involved, but... well, you'll see if you keep reading.

So, I get a frozen whole chicken. They aren't very big, and they are oddly enough frozen into bricks. Makes for easy storage in my freezer, though. Anyhow, when I have a big week coming up, I pull one out and create a menu plan for it. It defrosts inside my refrigerator in about 2 days, but lasts for a week. For the two of us and Eleanor, it makes a hearty 3 meals.

Meal One: Just throw it in a large crockpot with vegetables, any kinds. I cook it on high for 6 hours, because then the meat falls off the bones and I don't have to do any carving or too much bone picking (more on that later). I usually throw in some potatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and apples, and only peel the onions and carrots (though if you scrubbed them pretty well, you probably don't have to peel the carrots). I cut everything into quarters. The apples end up somewhat mushy, the potatoes stay pretty firm. Don't add water unless you want some extra chicken stock. Just season however you would like, I use lemon pepper seasoning, which includes salt, onion, and garlic powders (so don't also add salt if you're going to use a lemon pepper seasoning). I've experimented with adding oranges or lemons to this mix, but the rinds leave a slightly bitter taste (more the longer it cooks), so peel them first. I'm used to cooking whole oranges and lemons in turkey, but mixing it with a slow cooker doesn't work well. After 4-6 hours of it stewing, it's ready! You can keep it on warm without any bad side effects, or cook it on low for 8 hours if you're going to be out of the house all day (won't fall off the bones though).
At the end of the day, pick apart the chicken after it's cooled down. I throw everything into the same bowl, but feel free to set the veggies aside.

Meal Two: I mix up half of what's leftover into a chicken based meal. In the winter,  I made it into chicken noodle soup, which is always so delicious. Maybe if you're more adventurous, you can see if you can can this up for the days when you want soup, but I just put it on the menu. You can do so much with this chicken. This week, I'm making it into buffalo chicken mac and cheese. I'll post the recipe on Saturday, along with pictures to see if it turns out.
When I make chicken noodle soup, I like to use wide egg noodles, make extra chicken broth for meal one, and throw in some fresh vegetables instead of the already mashed veggies (by the end of meal 2, they would be pretty soggy). I'll generally just add in a bag of frozen mixed veggies, maybe some cream or milk if I want it creamy, maybe some white wine if I want a little kick to it.
I don't currently have a lot of chicken based meals in my repertoire, but if you do, just add it to the comments! If you have a meal that you enjoy that calls for shredded chicken, this chicken will do! I'm replicating a restaurant meal that my husband and I had during our honeymoon at a restaurant called Macs, where they make a million different kinds of amazing macaroni and cheeses.

Meal Three: ok, this isn't a dinner, but a lunch. You can use chicken in so many ways for lunches, or light dinners. I put it (cold) into salads, chicken salad sandwiches, tortillas, or use it as snacks. I'm into a non-traditional chicken salad:
Slice 1-2 handfuls of grapes into quarters. Mix up chicken bits, grapes, and a dab of mayo (just enough to cover everything). Place in sandwich with whatever cheese you have on hand. Quick and easy. You don't have to make it a sandwich, you can put it on crackers for hors d'oeuvres, you can add veggies to it, you can add hot sauce or ranch instead of the mayo, in fact I've added light sour cream and greek yogurt to get the same "tang".
I also add it to ramen chicken and make a quick chicken noodle soup that way. Boil ramen noodles and seasoning for 2 minutes. Add diced carrots, celery, chicken, and anything else that sounds good, keep boiling for another minute or two. Then I like to add cream before I serve it.

Hopefully these tips help another person who also gets carried away with weeks when it looks like getting dinner ready will be a challenge. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Catching Up

The Visitation of Our Lady to St. Elizabeth
I apologize for the lack of posts. Let me catch you up on what's been happening since I last posted.

This cake was seriously delicious. Must eat with frown.
My daughter had her first birthday on June 30, and her birthday party was on the Saturday before that. Although I was under a lot of self-made stress in getting things "just right", everything turned out well, the sun decided to shine (rain was forecasted up until a few days before), and above all, my daughter was happy, no meltdowns or temper tantrums!
Ice cream: can't go wrong with cookie dough!
There were storms about every other day before her party, so a lot of things (online) didn't get done. Because we can't afford internet (but pay our taxes every year), we get internet from our public library/police station, conveniently located across the street. When a storm hits, the internet goes down, and it takes a few clear days to get up and running again. So today was the first day I could get to anything, Pinterest, Facebook, or my blog. I'm not complaining, because it's nice sometimes to take a break and just enjoy living life. I was able to get to so many more things since I wasn't procrastinating, even just reading books that I needed to catch up on, and detoxing from the level of news that those with internet get every moment of the day. I tend to get riled up about politics, the state of the Church, and other problems in the world, but when you are only watching the night time news, there isn't all the distraction at your fingertips. I realized that I was focusing on finding out as much information as possible, instead of just knowing what I needed to know in my state of life, praying for those who are misguided and those who are deliberately doing the misguiding, and then getting on with my day to day life. There isn't much I can do or say as a housewife that hasn't already been done or said, and instead of adding fuel to the fire, I can just pray that decisions that were made this past week will eventually be reversed, and that the whole world will come to acknowledge the True Faith. And then return to being excited about the 5 steps my daughter is now taking!
We got to chill right next to the polar bears!
Feast days that have passed: on the 29th of June, we celebrated the feasts of Sts. Peter and Paul. I spent the day with my daughter, enjoying the sunshine and breeze, getting ready for our big outing on Tuesday, and trying very hard to figure out a napping schedule for the almost-toddler. Tuesday was her birthday, and the commemoration of the original feast of St. Paul (they didn't used to have to share a day). We spent the morning at home, and left for the zoo, where we spent our whole afternoon. By the end of the day, both parents were pretty sore (I was still recovering from it today!), and Eleanor was exhausted. Thankfully we had done cake and candles on Saturday, or I'm not sure we would have done them this year! Wednesday was the feast of the Precious Blood. July is also dedicated to the Precious Blood, so more on that doctrine and history later. And finally, today is the feast of the Visitation, which reminds us of the blessing of expectant mothers. Today, let us especially pray that the abominations of contraception and abortions be eradicated. God, through His message from the Angel Gabriel, and Mary have shown us how blessed it is to be able to bear children, and a privilege that no men and not all women can share in.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Diets, Health, and the Catholic

Diets aren't generally covered in Catholicism, at least in the circles I've spent my entire life. In fact, even though there is a patron saint for probably everything in the entire world, I can't find a patron saint for dieting or dieters, just for various illnesses. I have been on a diet of various sorts on and off since I was 12, when my weight really started to get to me (although I "blossomed" as my mother calls it when I was about 9). And for all my talk about living a Catholic life, and having everything directed by the Catholic Church, I've never until a few weeks ago thought of placing my diet and health under the Catholic Church's guidance. I'm not sure why I'd thought that diets were exclusively secular, even though I've confessed the sin of gluttony far too many times, and other capital sins in relation to food and drink.
I don't know why this isn't taught more in America. We are the obesity capital of the world, after all. Shouldn't our priests be preaching one sermon a year about health? Or maybe they are and I'm just not hearing them. Or maybe I'm just a terrible Catholic and very few of us need to hear a sermon like this.
This time is different. For one, I've decided to be done with poor looks. My family took a group photo for the first time in years (more than 5, closer to 8), we were all dressed up for my sister's Confirmation. I look terrible in the pictures. Simple vanity makes me want to look much better in the future. I don't want to always be hiding from photographs, or be the one missing in my children's pictures, so I'm taking steps to fix that.
For another, I'm tired of poor health. Poor health is expensive, whether I'm seeing a doctor for it or not, and I can't justify that expense anymore. I used to think that if you struggled to provide for your family, smoking and other addictions were irresponsible, and I'm starting to apply that to my life. Growing healthy food, eating healthy, cooking healthy are all much cheaper than buying another frozen pizza or going out to Olive Garden, never-ending pasta bowl season or not.
For the last, I don't want to give my daughter the example "do as I say, not as I do". I have to be an example to her of Our Lady, and I've done a pretty terrible job of it.

Since making the resolution and placing my weak will into the hands of God, I've lost 12 pounds in 1 month. Tomorrow, I'm going to write about kinds of diets, and how they can and need to fit into everyday Catholic life.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Feast of the Sacred Heart

Stained Glass Window of the Sacred Heart
Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart, a feast day asked for by Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in the 17th century. Today I want to highlight several practices that a family can put in place to honor Our Lord's Sacred Heart.

Firstly, we can honor the Sacred Heart in the month of June, the month consecrated to this purpose, by saying the litany of the Sacred Heart daily.

Secondly, we can resolve to start observing the 9 First Fridays. To do this, one must simply attend at the sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion in the state of grace: because of this last requirement, many Catholics make it a habit to go to Confession beforehand. Many Catholics also observe a Holy Hour in reparation.
The wax figure encasing St. Margaret Mary's bones
Thirdly, we can prepare to consecrate our home and family to the Sacred Heart, and enthrone Christ as King of our Home. For honoring Our Lord in these ways, but especially in the 9 First Fridays, He has made 12 promises:

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life. 
2. I will establish peace in their families. 3. I will comfort them in their trials. 4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death. 5. I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings6. Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy. 7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent. 8. Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection. 9. I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored. 10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts. 11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out. 12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 9: Bl. Amy, Diana, & Cecilia, Dominicans

 Today is the feast of the three nuns who were some of St. Dominic's earliest nuns, honored as foundresses just as St. Scholastica may be considered a foundress of the Benedictine nuns, and as Mother Mary Gabriel is the foundress of the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X. There isn't much (actually, anything) known about Bl. Amata except that St. Dominic gave her the religious name meaning "beloved", and because of that, the modern order has dropped her from official recognition on her feast day, which is sad for Amy's, Aimee's, and girls with all of the other spellings, all over the world.

The reason name days came to be celebrated is an interesting one. The early Church wanted something to celebrate in place of the pagan birthday celebrations, and because people had been encouraged to take the names of saints as Baptismal names, the encouragement to start celebrating one's patron saint became a custom and endured for centuries. I remember reading a book, called My Heart Lies South by Elizabeth Borton de Treviño, where she falls in love with, and marries, an amazing Mexican man and chronicles how different everything is to her, a new convert. At that point in time, the adults did not celebrate birthdays. There was a token gift and acknowledgement, but the big party came for one's name day, the feast day of your patron saint. The book takes place in the 1930's; I am no authority on Mexico at all, so I don't know if they still continue this custom. But at least less then a century ago, that was the custom.

Today was, needless to say, not celebrated as a birthday. I did celebrate personally, but Eleanor is too young to understand and Hubby was at work all day. It started out with my daily weigh-in. I'm doing really well on my diet, and that weigh in helped me to not binge eat or "celebrate" (full of regrets later). I also for the first time in 3 weeks measured my waist, and lost 2 inches! That's also encouraging. I had bought some diet desserts, and enjoyed those within reason. Eleanor also rewarded me by standing by herself for an extended period of time without any explicit encouragement from me, although once I caught her at it, I definitely praised her! She is getting to be so much more independent every day. Two weeks ago, she didn't want to stand up by herself at all, and only did it if we distracted her. Maybe in the next month, she'll take a few steps solo.

If you want to draw a parallel between today and my patron saint, I'm sure she would approve. The day was filled with small victories, quiet celebrations, living our lives like Bl. Amy lived hers.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Using Gardens to Teach Important Truths of our Faith

A tiny tomato has started growing on the far right!
I'm a terrible gardener. Unlike my mother and grandparents, I did not inherit the gardening gene. I can remember as well as anyone, but often forget to water my plants. In fact, the only things I've actively kept alive are an aloe vera plant in my daughter's room (because it doesn't need much sun or water), and my daughter herself. However, this doesn't stop me from spending tens of dollars on seeds, pots, and dirt to try growing something about every other year (Thankfully, seeds are dirt cheap).

This year is different. For one, I decided to buy plants and bulbs, not seeds. I can't grow seeds for the life of me, and I'm done trying. My onions were rather carelessly tossed into some dirt, and miraculously survived! We will have 5 homegrown onions this fall, not many, but enough to show Eleanor. We also planted some tomatoes, lots of herbs, and some fancy lettuce. I bought asparagus roots, but we didn't have enough containers for them, and they take 2 years to grow properly. Sometime by the end of the summer, we are hoping to have a raised garden put in, and I'll plant them then. I haven't given up on seeds, however. I'm going to try to plant a lemon seed in a container that we can bring into the building when it gets cold.
You can see the 4 flowers and 2 fruits of our yellow pear tomatoes
I wanted Eleanor to experience the joy of growing something, of providing for something, of seeing something grow into fullness and then, of providing food for our family. Even though she's only almost a year, a good example never starts too early. We planted some of the things we eat most often: tomatoes, onions, and herbs for seasoning. We don't eat much salad, admittedly, but I want to get into the habit for dinner, especially dinner that we enjoy outside! It's easy to just break off a few leaves for everyone, wash them up, and serve them while the grill is going. Imagine a few years from now, when a larger garden will mean more than just a handful of plants, but include zucchini, asparagus, celery, hot peppers, and (probably) corn!
Before: a bunch of maple seeds had sprouted in this pot...
This year while planning my garden and while working, I started to reflect on the many truths of the faith that can be taught just by working. For instance, doesn't the work of taking after a plant or whole garden provide a good lesson on providing for a family, and Divine Providence? We have to take so much care of the plant, watering it only when needed, making sure it has the correct amount of sun (some need shade, some need full sun), making sure that wild animals don't kill it. All of the above takes a lot of work. Our children can imagine how much more work it takes their parents to make sure that they not only survive, but thrive! And we can show how God in His Diving Providence even helps us with our small task of taking care of the plants by bringing rain and sunshine!
... After: the new little lettuce plant will hopefully grow much bigger!
Another lesson that I learned in pictures and drawings back in kindergarten is that of comparing our souls to gardens. God plants the seeds of virtue in them at Baptism, and we must take care to cultivate the virtues, but also protect them from the weeds, rocks, storms, and animals. It is easier to teach children the larger lessons of life if they already have a grasp on the small ones: they understand the mysteries of the faith and the spiritual realm because it happens concretely in front of their eyes. St. Thérèse said that the reason she understood God's love, mercy, and justice, was because her own father showed her the example. As parents, we must be the examples of God that our children will most readily grasp if they are to have a strong faith. And it can all start with such a simple thing as a garden.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Feast of Corpus Christi

Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament
Happy Feast of Corpus Christi! Today, we celebrate the feast established in the 13th century for the celebration of the greatest Sacrament, that of the Holy Eucharist.

The Mass and Offices of this feast day were written by St. Thomas Aquinas, the famous Dominican and Doctor of the Church. The story of how this Mass was written illustrates the great, though holy, rivalries of the two original Mendicant Orders: the Dominicans and the Franciscans. Pope Urban IV commissioned both St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, and St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan, to write the Mass and Divine Office for the feast day, that was desired by Our Lord in a vision to Bl. Julianna. When St. Bonaventure read the Mass St. Thomas had composed, he immediately burned his own, saying that this was far better.

After going to Mass, there is a procession of the Holy Eucharist either immediately or later on in the day. In Catholic towns, this procession can lead down some important streets. I've participated in some in St. Mary's Kansas, and it really is a great testament to our faith and an important witness to the Real Presence. At my high school and parish church, we processed around the property. There are 3 altars at intervals in the procession, where mini-Benedictions, consisting of prayer, chant, and a blessing, occur. Although I can't participate today, I can send my Guardian Angel to pray for me.

Pange lingua gloriosi,
Corporis mysterium,
Sanguinisque pretiosi,
Quem in mundi pretium
Fructus ventris generosi,
Rex effudit gentium.

Monday, June 1, 2015

June: Month of the Sacred Heart

This month we recognize the love the Sacred Heart has for us, the Heart that was pierced by a lance so that we may gain even more grace from Christ's death.
The picture above is a shrine that the Native Americans built by hand to honor the Sacred Heart, a church that my school went to on pilgrimage almost every year. It is the Church of the Sacred Heart in Cataldo, Idaho.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 31, 2015

I can't think of a good title for this post. So many topics today! So, what better than the simple date?

Today is the Feast of the Holy Trinity, and the end of the official Easter season of the church. Technically, it is also the first Sunday after Pentecost, and the beginning of the Time after Pentecost, this year consisting of 26 Sundays, ending on November 29. Today, we celebrate one of the great mysteries of our Faith, the fact that although there is only one God, there are also three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We have celebrated each of these Persons individually, and now we celebrate all of them together, reinforcing our belief.

Today is also the Feast of the Queenship of Our Lady. Because she gave herself so faithfully to God, and because she is the Mother of God, she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. When we accept her Son as King, we will also accept her as our Queen and Mother.

"Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae,ut mesericordiam consequamur, et gratiam inveniamus in auxilio opportuno" (Introit).

Monday, May 25, 2015

Requiem Aeternam

Today my grandfather died. He lived a long life, and he is proof of God's love and forgiveness, because he returned to the One True Faith at the end of January, making a good confession and receiving the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist for the first time in many years. He will be joining his wife, my grandmother, after surviving her by two decades.

Dies irae, dies illa,
Solvet saeclum in favilla:
Test David cum Sibylla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando judex est venturus,
Cunta stricte discussurus!

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionum,
Coget omnes ante thorium.

Mors stupebit et natura,
Cum resurget creatura,
Judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus judicetur.

Judex ergo cum sedebit,
Quidquid latet apparebit:
Nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus?
Quem patronum rogaturus,
Cum vix justus sit securus?

Rex tremendae majestatis,
Qui salvandos savas gratis,
Salva me, fons pietatis.

Recordare Jesu pie,
Quod sum causa tuae viae:
Ne me perdas illa die.

Querens me, sedisti lassus:
Redemisti crucem passus:
Tantus labor non sit cassus.

Juste Judex ultionis,
Donum fac remissionis
Ante diem rationis.

Ingemisco, tamquam reus:
Culpa rubet vultus meus:
Supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti,
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meae non sunt dignae:
Sed tu bonus fac benigne,
Ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta,
Et ab haedis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis:
Voca me cum benedictis.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis:
Gere curas mei finis.

Lacrimosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus:
Huic ergo parce Deus.

Pie Jesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Amen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Pentecost and St. Dominic

Come Holy Ghost!
Happy feast of Pentecost! The feast of Pentecost, like the feast of Easter, is tied to the Jewish Feast of  Harvests, which happened 50 days (Pentecost in Greek) after the feast of First-fruits, which was celebrated around the same time as Passover. The feast day was one of the many that Jews from around the world had to visit Jerusalem, and was therefore a perfect occasion for Christ's word to be spread and the preaching of the Apostles to start.
"Suddenly, there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting"(Epistle). Tradition tells us that the Apostles and Our Lady had been sitting in prayer in the same room that Our Lord had hired for the Last Supper. Before the Holy Ghost came, the apostles were timid, scared to preach the Gospel, and waiting for an earthly leader. After He came, they were filled with courage, given the power of tongues to preach to everyone, and realized that the Kingdom of God was truly not of this earth, but existed in Heaven. This is truly a miracle, but it's the same miracle we get as Catholics when we receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, which gives us the sacramental grace to stand up for our faith, in the face of every hardship.
Let us pray for the courage to stand up for our faith. Today's gift of the Holy Ghost is Wisdom; "The gift of Wisdom is an illumination of the Holy Ghost, thanks to which our intellect is able to look at revealed truths in their more sublime light, to the greater joy of our souls" (St. Andrew's Missal).
St. Dominic, by Fra Angelico

Today is also the feast of the Translation of St. Dominic's relics: the day that they were re-interred for the public to be able to pray at. This is the feast day of my alma mater, St. Dominic School in Post Falls, and so it holds a special place in my heart. Happy feast day to all my fellow alumni!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Last Day of the Pentecost Novena

Today is our last day before Pentecost. I'd like to offer up today for the Catholic Church. We are in the middle of a crisis, and the Pope, Cardinals, and Bishops need all our prayers in order to bring the rest of the Church back to Tradition. The world can't acknowledge Our Lord as its King until the leadership of the Church has returned to spreading the Faith and stopped promoting ecumenism.

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who has instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen

Friday, May 22, 2015

Days Seven and Eight of the Pentecost Novena

Wow, the past few days have been crazy. Yesterday I was so tired, I went to bed at the same time as Hubby and Eleanor! Today has been kind of crazy, I started a diet and cooking is taking up some time, as well as having healthy breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.

Yesterday, I prayed for my parents (again). They left Pennsylvania and arrived back in Illinois early this morning, and Mom and Rosemary are going to Kansas tomorrow morning. They'll be back for good in June! This past year has been so weird. I was hoping to have more of my mom's guidance in keeping my daughter alive her first year, but managed to do it mostly alone. I'm looking forward to having some more time with my sister and mom this year. Planning some tea parties and pool parties for this summer! Today, my intention was for my daughter. I've recently had the occasion to stand up for my faith, and I'm praying that she will be given the education necessary to do the same when her turn comes. I know I have a lot of time until her Confirmation and even high school graduation, but the prayers start now.

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who has instructed the hears of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Day Six of the Pentecost Novena

Today we had a cold chill. I'm kind of happy that I got Eleanor a few winter clothes in the 6-9 months size, because even though it's May, it still gets cold enough for flannel footy pajamas and wool dresses!

Today my prayer intention is for all those in office. I definitely don't agree with everything this country is doing, but continue to pray for the leaders that, whether they believe it or not, only received their authority through God. Let us pray not only that our leaders start or continue to do God's Will, but that our fellow citizens start to enact change through legal, peaceful means, instead of violence, lies, and victimization.

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who has instructed the hears of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Day Five of the Pentecost Novena

Today was super busy. I'm feeling a little under the weather, and Eleanor felt like constantly moving, although she took some better naps than yesterday!

I'm offering up as my special intention my cousins Megan and Clare (who is also my god-daughter). I found out last night that their Confirmations were yesterday. May the Holy Ghost bless them! I'm also praying for my sister, whose Confirmation was a few weeks ago. I had the privilege of being her sponsor. May they all remain firm in their faith, now that they are considered adults ready to defend the Catholic Faith!

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who hast instructed the hearts of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Day Four of the Pentecost Novena

Today looked deceptively nice outside, bright and sunny. Eleanor and I went to the park, but we couldn't stay long because of how cold it actually was with the wind blowing. She does love swinging! I'm looking forward to the nicer weather, but we are praying that this summer remains pretty cool so that we don't have to use our A/C too often!
She loves swinging!
I'm offering today's prayer up for my Hubby. It's hard being the head of a household, trying to do what is best for us all, and weighing the benefits and risks of every step. I may act like I know all the right answers, but I'm not the one who has all that pressure on my shoulders!

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who hast instructed the hearts of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Advertisement Warning!

I was finally able to start some advertisements on this page. I hope this doesn't bother anyone in particular. I'm hoping that it allows me to help support my family, even if it just brings in enough for a bottle of wine every year! (One of the $5 bottles, that is).

Day Three of Pentecost Novena

Today I want to offer as my special intention my extended family. Aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, there are a lot of them, and I pray that they may also be enlightened.  I'm also praying for my parents and sister, who are driving out to Philly today and tomorrow. Dad has a big meeting, and Mom is taking advantage of picking up some back east treats. May the Holy Ghost inspire them to bring me some Tastykake Butterscotch Krumpets, chip steak, and Herr's Salt and Vinegar chips!!

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who hast instructed the hearts of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Day Two of Pentecost Novena

Sorry today is kind of late. We had a busy day: Hubby and I went on a date alone(!), Eleanor had her first babysitting experience (she had great caretakers, and loved it!), and on our way home we went for our local yard sale days. Long day!

Today, I'm praying especially for my family, whether they are related by blood or love.

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who hast instructed the hearts of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Day One of Pentecost Novena

The tradition of the novena arose in honor of the nine days that Our Lady and the Apostles sat in prayer waiting for the Paraclete. In honor of their first novena, let us pray for our own enlightenment and those of others.

Today, I'm praying for enlightenment for someone who used to be close to me.

Come, Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
And thou shalt renew the face of this earth.
Let us Pray
O God, Who hast instructed the hearts of the Faithful by the light of the Holy Ghost, grant that by the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Ascension Thursday

by Fra Angelico
Ascension Thursday is a big feast day in the Catholic Church, so big that it is a Holy Day of Obligation, one of the 10 established by the Church, one of the 6 celebrated in the United States (they vary from country to country). It is the beginning of the end of the official Easter Season, and takes place 40 days after Easter, a feasting period that corresponds to the fasting of Lent. I don't like math, but the number symbolism present everywhere is fascinating to me.
We don't actually read about the Ascension of Christ in today's Gospel. All the gospels end more or less vaguely around the time of the Ascension, but none have the actual description. The details of the Ascension are described in the Acts of the Apostles, and we read the beginning today as the Epistle. Why would the Gospels not go into the detail that the Acts do? This question occurs to me every year. We read the beginning of the Acts with Our Lord's last lesson that He will ever teach on Earth, preparing us for the coming of the Holy Ghost. He eats with the Apostles, possibly meaning that He celebrates Mass with them like He did at the Last Supper. The apostles are once more shown to be naïve, we see that they don't really understand, because Our Lord has to tell them once more that He will not be an earthly ruler. They really haven't learned yet! But they have faith enough to obey Our Lord's last command, to stay in Jerusalem until the Holy Ghost comes.
Finally, the epistle leaves us with a quotation that brings hope to the holy and despair to the wicked: 
"Ye Men of Galilee, why stand you looking up into Heaven? This Jesus, who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come as you have seen Him going into heaven."
After the Gospel, the Paschal candle is snuffed out, because Christ is no longer here on earth with us.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Our first picture together
Happy Mother's Day to all my readers! This is my first Mother's day with Eleanor, and while it has been a little bittersweet, it was very relaxing. Yesterday was the day we really celebrated, because we thought that Hubby was going to have to work; luckily he doesn't have to. Yesterday started by officially changing my name. It only took 1.5 years! I also changed my address on the license, registered to vote under my new name, and renewed my license for the next 4 years. So I figure I have 4 years to complain about this license picture and figure out how to get a better one. We went to brunch to a great breakfast place, Sunrise Café. I always love their breakfasts and homemade pies, but I've only finished my meal when I was pregnant and breastfeeding! Because the day was so pretty, we picked up some chicken and plums to grill, some of my guilty pleasures: Stouffer's mac and cheese and the latest new Mt. Dew for today, and went home. We almost went to some garage sales, but Eleanor and I wanted to relax a little after getting home from a 2 week trip to Kansas for my sister's Confirmation. All in all, a very relaxing day both yesterday and today.
Right after Eleanor was dedicated to Our Blessed Mother
While we remember our mothers, and celebrate being mothers, this day is good to remember all those who have taken a mothering position in our lives. For me, that means praying especially for my teachers, the Dominican Nuns of Fanjeaux, to whom we gave the name of Mother. I pray, and now marvel at, my own mother, with whose parenting I may not always agree (yes, that stick of broccoli is fine, no need to pre-chew the baby food!), but whose strength amazes me. I can't spend 2 weeks away from my husband without hurting, but because we as children needed and still do need a good education, my mother has spent much time without her helpmate. I pray for my godmother, who has offered up countless prayers and sacrifices for me, and whom I always take for granted.
Over a year of mothering this Sweetheart, since October 2013
It is fitting that Mother's Day should fall in May, the month celebrating the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the Mother of all Catholics, ever since Christ said from the cross "Woman, behold thy Son" (John 19:26). Mother's Day is a good day for the May Crowning, as we pay tribute to our mothers, showing tribute to the Mother of God herself.
Our Lady, becoming a Mother