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Catholic Family Vignettes

A collage of literary snapshots from the life of a large traditional Catholic family

Month

May 2007

Hope for the home educator!

There are so many days when I am concerned about the “progress” of my home educated children. Are we “doing” enough? Are they getting it? Am I holding them back? Before I endeavor to answer any of these questions, I think we should look at the definition of “progress”.

“A moving or going forward; a proceeding onward; an advance”. This “advancing or going forward” can apply to “space, growth, business, knowledge, proficiency, perfection or technology”.

I am discussing progress as it regards the home educated, so we will look at progress in terms of “knowledge, proficiency and perfection”.

What is my primary goal as a Catholic home educator? Well…that would be to train up and educate my children in the truths of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church so that they may attain the “happiness of heaven”. That is it. In a nutshell. So why do I agonize over Algebra? Faint over fractions? Languish over Latin? Because it is also my great responsibility to provide articulate and educated defenders of the faith…but…faith first!

This past Saturday a wonderful thing happened. I had yet another revelation that they are “getting” it. The “it” I am referring is faith.  Sir Galahad and I were on our way to the grocery store when I informed him that a couple of good friends would be dining with us, that evening.  He enthusiastically inquired about the menu. I told him “italian pork roast with herbed potatoes, salad and strawberries”. His face fell dramatically. “What’s wrong, son?” I inquired.  My boy, in his darling lisp, says “Mom…it’s Saturday!” “Yes…so?” He sternly replies, “tomorrow is Pentecost! Today is the Vigil! We are not supposed to have meat!” “Really?” (now I’m quite aware that I am exposing my ignorance…though I have catechized my children, it apparently did not “stick” with me!) “Yes, really Mom! What are we going to do?”

How incredible! This child turned nine years old on that very day. Already his faith is so firmly planted that dinner on a Saturday is a moment of faith for him! May God be praised! I could provide you with examples of academic prowess, when I was sure that they were not “advancing or going onward” in any number of subjects and then my surprise at discovering just how much they have learned…but those areas are just not important at present. As I have said to my friends: “It is no great scandal to a home educator if your child doesn’t quite get an algebraic concept, slips grammatically or misquotes an historical fact…public school and private school kids do that all the time. We are Catholic home educators and it would be scandalous if our children are ignorant of their faith.”

Having the responsibility of imparting the truths of our lovely faith in the context of daily living is the greatest privilege a home educator has. In the sanctity of the home school, the faith is not just another set of facts and figures to be memorized, but is daily life, lived. So here’s hope…they “get” far more than any of us realize…and what they are “getting” is the most important gift any child can be given.

Ad Caeli Reginam

AD CAELI REGINAM

ENCYCLICAL OF POPE PIUS XII
ON PROCLAIMING THE QUEENSHIP OF MARY
TO THE VENERABLE BRETHREN, THE PATRIARCHS, PRIMATES,
ARCHBISHOPS, BISHIOPS, AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE HOLY SEE

Venerable Brethren, Health and Apostolic Blessing.

From the earliest ages of the catholic church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother’s solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.

2. Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian. 3. It is gratifying to recall that We ourselves, on the first day of November of the Holy Year 1950, before a huge multitude of Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and of the faithful who had assembled from every part of the world, defined the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven[1] where she is present in soul and body reigning, together with her only[1a] Son, amid the heavenly choirs of angels and Saints. Moreover, since almost a century has passed since Our predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, proclaimed and defined the dogma that the great Mother of God had been conceived without any stain of original sin, We instituted the current Marian Year[2] And now it is a great consolation to Us to see great multitudes here in Rome – and especially in the Liberian Basilica – giving testimony in a striking way to their faith and ardent love for their heavenly Mother. In all parts of the world We learn that devotion to the Virgin Mother of God is flourishing more and more, and that the principal shrines of Mary have been visited and are still being visited by many throngs of Catholic pilgrims gathered in prayer.

4. It is well known that we have taken advantage of every opportunity — through personal audiences and radio broadcasts — to exhort Our children in Christ to a strong and tender love, as becomes children, for Our most gracious and exalted Mother. On this point it is particularly fitting to call to mind the radio message which We addressed to the people of Portugal, when the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary which is venerated at Fatima was being crowned with a golden diadem.[3] We Ourselves called this the heralding of the “sovereignty” of Mary.[4]

5. And now, that We may bring the Year of Mary to a happy and beneficial conclusion, and in response to petitions which have come to Us from all over the world, We have decided to institute the liturgical feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen. This will afford a climax, as it were, to the manifold demonstrations of Our devotion to Mary, which the Christian people have supported with such enthusiasm.

6. In this matter We do not wish to propose a new truth to be believed by Christians, since the title and the arguments on which Mary’s queenly dignity is based have already been clearly set forth, and are to be found in ancient documents of the Church and in the books of the sacred liturgy.

7. It is Our pleasure to recall these things in the present encyclical letter, that We may renew the praises of Our heavenly Mother, and enkindle a more fervent devotion towards her, to the spiritual benefit of all mankind.

8. From early times Christians have believed, and not without reason, that she of whom was born the Son of the Most High received privileges of grace above all other beings created by God. He “will reign in the house of Jacob forever,”[5] “the Prince of Peace,”[6] the “King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”[7] And when Christians reflected upon the intimate connection that obtains between a mother and a son, they readily acknowledged the supreme royal dignity of the Mother of God.

9. Hence it is not surprising that the early writers of the Church called Mary “the Mother of the King” and “the Mother of the Lord,” basing their stand on the words of St. Gabriel the archangel, who foretold that the Son of Mary would reign forever,[8] and on the words of Elizabeth who greeted her with reverence and called her “the Mother of my Lord.”[9] Thereby they clearly signified that she derived a certain eminence and exalted station from the royal dignity of her Son.

10. So it is that St. Ephrem, burning with poetic inspiration, represents her as speaking in this way: “Let Heaven sustain me in its embrace, because I am honored above it. For heaven was not Thy mother, but Thou hast made it Thy throne. How much more honorable and venerable than the throne of a king is her mother.”[10] And in another place he thus prays to her: “. . . Majestic and Heavenly Maid, Lady, Queen, protect and keep me under your wing lest Satan the sower of destruction glory over me, lest my wicked foe be victorious against me.”[11]

11. St. Gregory Nazianzen calls Mary “the Mother of the King of the universe,” and the “Virgin Mother who brought forth the King of the whole world,”[12] while Prudentius asserts that the Mother marvels “that she has brought forth God as man, and even as Supreme King.”[13]

12. And this royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is quite clearly indicated through direct assertion by those who call her “Lady,” “Ruler” and “Queen.”

13. In one of the homilies attributed to Origen, Elizabeth calls Mary “the Mother of my Lord.” and even addresses her as “Thou, my Lady.”[14]

14. The same thing is found in the writings of St. Jerome where he makes the following statement amidst various interpretations of Mary’s name: “We should realize that Mary means Lady in the Syrian Language.”[15] After him St. Chrysologus says the same thing more explicitly in these words: “The Hebrew word ‘Mary’ means ‘Domina.’ The Angel therefore addresses her as ‘Lady’ to preclude all servile fear in the Lord’s Mother, who was born and was called ‘Lady’ by the authority and command of her own Son.”[16]

15. Moreover Epiphanius, the bishop of Constantinople, writing to the Sovereign Pontiff Hormisdas, says that we should pray that the unity of the Church may be preserved “by the grace of the holy and consubstantial Trinity and by the prayers of Mary, Our Lady, the holy and glorious Virgin and Mother of God.”[17]

16. The Blessed Virgin, sitting at the right hand of God to pray for us is hailed by another writer of that same era in these words, “the Queen[17a] of mortal man, the most holy Mother of God.”[18]

17. St. Andrew of Crete frequently attributes the dignity of a Queen to the Virgin Mary. For example, he writes, “Today He transports from her earthly dwelling, as Queen of the human race, His ever-Virgin Mother, from whose womb He, the living God, took on human form.”[19]

18. And in another place he speaks of “the Queen of the entire human race faithful to the exact meaning of her name, who is exalted above all things save only God himself.”[20]

19. Likewise St. Germanus speaks to the humble Virgin in these words: “Be enthroned, Lady, for it is fitting that you should sit in an exalted place since you are a Queen and glorious above all kings.”[21] He likewise calls her the “Queen of all of those who dwell on earth.”[22]

20. She is called by St. John Damascene “Queen, ruler, and lady,”[23] and also “the Queen of every creature.”[24] Another ancient writer of the Eastern Church calls her “favored Queen,” “the perpetual Queen beside the King, her son,” whose “snow-white brow is crowned with a golden diadem.”[25]

21. And finally St. Ildephonsus of Toledo gathers together almost all of her titles of honor in this salutation: “O my Lady, my Sovereign, You who rule over me, Mother of my Lord . . . Lady among handmaids, Queen among sisters.”[26]

22. The theologians of the Church, deriving their teaching from these and almost innumerable other testimonies handed down long ago, have called the most Blessed Virgin the Queen of all creatures, the Queen of the world, and the Ruler of all.

23. The Supreme Shepherds of the Church have considered it their duty to promote by eulogy and exhortation the devotion of the Christian people to the heavenly Mother and Queen. Simply passing over the documents of more recent Pontiffs, it is helpful to recall that as early as the seventh century Our predecessor St. Martin I called Mary “our glorious Lady, ever Virgin.”[27] St. Agatho, in the synodal letter sent to the fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical Council called her “Our Lady, truly and in a proper sense the Mother of God.”[28] And in the eighth century Gregory II in the letter sent to St. Germanus, the patriarch, and read in the Seventh Ecumenical Council with all the Fathers concurring, called the Mother of God: “The Queen of all, the true Mother of God,” and also “the Queen of all Christians.”[29]

24. We wish also to recall that Our predecessor of immortal memory, Sixtus IV, touched favorably upon the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, beginning the Apostolic Letter Cum praeexcelsa[30] with words in which Mary is called “Queen,” “Who is always vigilant to intercede with the king whom she bore.” Benedict XIV declared the same thing in his Apostolic Letter Gloriosae Dominae, in which Mary is called “Queen of heaven and earth,” and it is stated that the sovereign King has in some way communicated to her his ruling power.[31]

25. For all these reasons St. Alphonsus Ligouri, in collecting the testimony of past ages, writes these words with evident devotion: “Because the virgin Mary was raised to such a lofty dignity as to be the mother of the King of kings, it is deservedly and by every right that the Church has honored her with the title of ‘Queen’.”[32]

26. Furthermore, the sacred liturgy, which acts as a faithful reflection of traditional doctrine believed by the Christian people through the course of all the ages both in the East and in the West, has sung the praises of the heavenly Queen and continues to sing them.

27. Ardent voices from the East sing out: “O Mother of God, today thou art carried into heaven on the chariots of the cherubim, the seraphim wait upon thee and the ranks of the heavenly army bow before thee.”[33]

28. Further: “O just, O most blessed (Joseph), since thou art sprung from a royal line, thou hast been chosen from among all mankind to be spouse of the pure Queen who, in a way which defies description, will give birth to Jesus the king.”[34] In addition: “I shall sing a hymn to the mother, the Queen, whom I joyously approach in praise, gladly celebrating her wonders in song. . . Our tongue cannot worthily praise thee, O Lady; for thou who hast borne Christ the king art exalted above the seraphim. . . Hail, O Queen of the world; hail, O Mary, Queen of us all.”[35]

29. We read, moreover, in the Ethiopic Missal: “O Mary, center of the whole world, . . . thou art greater than the many-eyed cherubim and the six-winged seraphim . . . Heaven and earth are filled with the sanctity of thy glory.”[36]

30. Furthermore, the Latin Church sings that sweet and ancient prayer called the “Hail, Holy Queen” and the lovely antiphons “Hail, Queen of the Heavens,” “O Queen of Heaven, Rejoice,” and those others which we are accustomed to recite on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary: “The Queen stood at Thy right hand in golden vesture surrounded with beauty”[37]; “Heaven and earth praise thee as a powerful Queen”[38]; “Today the Virgin Mary ascends into heaven: rejoice because she reigns with Christ forever.”[39]

31. To these and others should be added the Litany of Loreto which daily invites Christian folk to call upon Mary as Queen. Likewise, for many centuries past Christians have been accustomed to meditate upon the ruling power of Mary which embraces heaven and earth, when they consider the fifth glorious mystery of the rosary which can be called the mystical crown of the heavenly Queen.

32. Finally, art which is based upon Christian principles and is animated by their spirit as something faithfully interpreting the sincere and freely expressed devotion of the faithful, has since the Council of Ephesus portrayed Mary as Queen and Empress seated upon a royal throne adorned with royal insignia, crowned with the royal diadem and surrounded by the host of angels and saints in heaven, and ruling not only over nature and its powers but also over the machinations of Satan. Iconography, in representing the royal dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, has ever been enriched with works of highest artistic value and greatest beauty; it has even taken the form of representing colorfully the divine Redeemer crowning His mother with a resplendent diadem.

33. The Roman Pontiffs, favoring such types of popular devotion, have often crowned, either in their own persons, or through representatives, images of the Virgin Mother of God which were already outstanding by reason of public veneration.

34. As We have already mentioned, Venerable Brothers, according to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her Divine Motherhood. In Holy Writ, concerning the Son whom Mary will conceive, We read this sentence: “He shall be called the Son of the most High, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,”[40] and in addition Mary is called “Mother of the Lord”;[41] from this it is easily concluded that she is a Queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of His conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man King and Lord of all things. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: “When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature.”[42] Likewise, it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary’s royal office.

35. But the Blessed Virgin Mary should be called Queen, not only because of her Divine Motherhood, but also because God has willed her to have an exceptional role in the work of our eternal salvation. “What more joyful, what sweeter thought can we have” — as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius XI wrote — “than that Christ is our King not only by natural right, but also by an acquired right: that which He won by the redemption? Would that all men, now forgetful of how much we cost Our Savior, might recall to mind the words, ‘You were redeemed, not with gold or silver which perishes, . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb spotless and undefiled.[43] We belong not to ourselves now, since Christ has bought us ‘at a great price’.”[44], [45]

36. Now, in the accomplishing of this work of redemption, the Blessed Virgin Mary was most closely associated with Christ; and so it is fitting to sing in the sacred liturgy: “Near the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ there stood, sorrowful, the Blessed Mary, Queen of Heaven and Queen of the World.”[46] Hence, as the devout disciple of St. Anselm (Eadmer, ed.) wrote in the Middle Ages: “just as . . . God, by making all through His power, is Father and Lord of all, so the blessed Mary, by repairing all through her merits, is Mother and Queen of all; for God is the Lord of all things, because by His command He establishes each of them in its own nature, and Mary is the Queen of all things, because she restores each to its original dignity through the grace which she merited.[47]

37. For “just as Christ, because He redeemed us, is our Lord and king by a special title, so the Blessed Virgin also (is our queen), on account of the unique manner in which she assisted in our redemption, by giving of her own substance, by freely offering Him for us, by her singular desire and petition for, and active interest in, our salvation.”[48]

38. From these considerations, the proof develops on these lines: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God’s design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of “recapitulation,”[49] in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ “in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race”;[50] and if, in truth, “it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Golgotha offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall,”[51] then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam.

39. Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer’s Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father.

40. Hence it cannot be doubted that Mary most Holy is far above all other creatures in dignity, and after her Son possesses primacy over all. “You have surpassed every creature,” sings St. Sophronius. “What can be more sublime than your joy, O Virgin Mother? What more noble than this grace, which you alone have received from God”?[52] To this St. Germanus adds: “Your honor and dignity surpass the whole of creation; your greatness places you above the angels.”[53] And St. John Damascene goes so far as to say: “Limitless is the difference between God’s servants and His Mother.”[54]

41. In order to understand better this sublime dignity of the Mother of God over all creatures let us recall that the holy Mother of God was, at the very moment of her Immaculate Conception, so filled with grace as to surpass the grace of all the Saints. Wherefore, as Our Predecessor of happy memory, Pius IX wrote, God “showered her with heavenly gifts and graces from the treasury of His divinity so far beyond what He gave to all the angels and saints that she was ever free from the least stain of sin; she is so beautiful and perfect, and possesses such fullness of innocence and holiness, that under God a greater could not be dreamed, and only God can comprehend the marvel.”[55]

42. Besides, the Blessed Virgin possessed, after Christ, not only the highest degree of excellence and perfection, but also a share in that influence by which He, her Son and our Redeemer, is rightly said to reign over the minds and wills of men. For if through His Humanity the divine Word performs miracles and gives graces, if He uses His Sacraments and Saints as instruments for the salvation of men, why should He not make use of the role and work of His most holy Mother in imparting to us the fruits of redemption? “With a heart that is truly a mother’s,” to quote again Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, “does she approach the problem of our salvation, and is solicitous for the whole human race; made Queen of heaven and earth by the Lord, exalted above all choirs of angels and saints, and standing at the right hand of her only [55a] Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she intercedes powerfully for us with a mother’s prayers, obtains what she seeks, and cannot be refused.”[56] On this point another of Our Predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII, has said that an “almost immeasurable” power has been given Mary in the distribution of graces;[57] St. Pius X adds that she fills this office “as by the right of a mother.”[58]

43. Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother’s love.

44. Theologians and preachers, however, when treating these and like questions concerning the Blessed Virgin, must avoid straying from the correct course, with a twofold error to guard against: that is to say, they must beware of unfounded opinions and exaggerated expressions which go beyond the truth, on the other hand, they must watch out for excessive narrowness of mind in weighing that exceptional, sublime, indeed all but divine dignity of the Mother of God, which the Angelic Doctor teaches must be attributed to her “because of the infinite goodness that is God.”[59]

45. For the rest, in this as in other points of Christian doctrine, “the proximate and universal norm of truth” is for all the living Magisterium of the Church, which Christ established “also to illustrate and explain those matters which are contained only in an obscure way, and implicitly in the deposit of faith.”[60]

46. From the ancient Christian documents, from prayers of the liturgy, from the innate piety of the Christian people, from works of art, from every side We have gathered witnesses to the regal dignity of the Virgin Mother of God; We have likewise shown that the arguments deduced by Sacred Theology from the treasure store of the faith fully confirm this truth. Such a wealth of witnesses makes up a resounding chorus which changes the sublimity of the royal dignity of the Mother of God and of men, to whom every creature is subject, who is “exalted to the heavenly throne, above the choirs of angels.”[61]

47. Since we are convinced, after long and serious reflection, that great good will accrue to the Church if this solidly established truth shines forth more clearly to all, like a luminous lamp raised aloft, by Our Apostolic authority We decree and establish the feast of Mary’s Queenship, which is to be celebrated every year in the whole world on the 31st of May. We likewise ordain that on the same day the consecration of the human race to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary be renewed, cherishing the hope that through such consecration a new era may begin, joyous in Christian peace and in the triumph of religion.

48. Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honored; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary’s name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels; may none utter blasphemous words, the sign of a defiled soul, against that name graced with such dignity and revered for its motherly goodness; let no one be so bold as to speak a syllable which lacks the respect due to her name.

49. All, according to their state, should strive to bring alive the wondrous virtues of our heavenly Queen and most loving Mother through constant effort of mind and manner. Thus will it come about that all Christians, in honoring and imitating their sublime Queen and Mother, will realize they are truly brothers, and with all envy and avarice thrust aside, will promote love among classes, respect the rights of the weak, cherish peace. No one should think himself a son of Mary, worthy of being received under her powerful protection, unless, like her, he is just, gentle and pure, and shows a sincere desire for true brotherhood, not harming or injuring but rather helping and comforting others.

50. In some countries of the world there are people who are unjustly persecuted for professing their Christian faith and who are deprived of their divine and human rights to freedom; up till now reasonable demands and repeated protests have availed nothing to remove these evils. May the powerful Queen of creation, whose radiant glance banishes storms and tempests and brings back cloudless skies, look upon these her innocent and tormented children with eyes of mercy; may the Virgin, who is able to subdue violence beneath her foot, grant to them that they may soon enjoy the rightful freedom to practice their religion openly, so that, while serving the cause of the Gospel, they may also contribute to the strength and progress of nations by their harmonious cooperation, by the practice of extraordinary virtues which are a glowing example in the midst of bitter trials.

51. By this Encyclical Letter We are instituting a feast so that all may recognize more clearly and venerate more devoutly the merciful and maternal sway of the Mother of God. We are convinced that this feast will help to preserve, strengthen and prolong that peace among nations which daily is almost destroyed by recurring crises. Is she not a rainbow in the clouds reaching towards God, the pledge of a covenant of peace?[62] “Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; surely it is beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it.”[63] Whoever, therefore, reverences the Queen of heaven and earth – and let no one consider himself exempt from this tribute of a grateful and loving soul – let him invoke the most effective of Queens, the Mediatrix of peace; let him respect and preserve peace, which is not wickedness unpunished nor freedom without restraint, but a well-ordered harmony under the rule of the will of God; to its safeguarding and growth the gentle urgings and commands of the Virgin Mary impel us.

52. Earnestly desiring that the Queen and Mother of Christendom may hear these Our prayers, and by her peace make happy a world shaken by hate, and may, after this exile show unto us all Jesus, Who will be our eternal peace and joy, to you, Venerable Brothers, and to your flocks, as a promise of God’s divine help and a pledge of Our love, from Our heart We impart the Apostolic Benediction.

Given at Rome, from St. Peter’s, on the feast of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the eleventh day of October, 1954, in the sixteenth year of our Pontificate.

PIUS XII
————————————————————————

1. Cf. constitutio apostolica Munificentissirnus Deus: AAS XXXXII 1950, p. 753 sq.

1a. The Latin word is Unigena. – Ed.

2. Cf. litt. enc. Fulgens corona: AAS XXXXV, 1953, p. 577 sq.

3. Cf. AAS XXXVIII, 1946, p. 264 sq.

4. Cf. L’Osservatore Romano, d. 19 Maii, a. 1946.

5. Luc. I, 32.

6. Isai. IX, 6.

7. Apoc. XIX, 16.

8. Cf. Luc. I, 32, 33.

9. Luc. I, 43.

10. S. Ephraem, Hymni de B. Maria, ed. Th. J. Lamy, t. II, Mechliniae, 1886, hymn. XIX, p. 624.

11. Idem, Oratio ad Ssmam Dei Matrem; Opera omnia, Ed. Assemani, t. III (graece), Romae, 1747, pag. 546.

12. S. Gregorius Naz., Poemata dogmatica, XVIII, v. 58; PG XXXVII, 485.

13. Prudentius, Dittochaeum, XXVII: PL LX, 102 A.

14. Hom. in S. Lucam, hom. VII; ed. Rauer, Origenes’ Werke, T. IX, p. 48 (ex catena Marcarii Chrysocephali). Cf. PG XIII, 1902 D.

15. S. Hieronymus, Liber de nominibus hebraeis: PL XXIII, 886.

16. S. Petrus Chrysologus, Sermo 142, De Annuntiatione B.M.V.: PL LII, 579 C; cf. etiam 582 B; 584 A: “Regina totius exstitit castitatis.”

17. Relatio Epiphanii Ep. Constantin.: PL LXII, 498 D.

17a. Generally throughout the encyclical the Latin word Regina is used to describe Mary. In this case and a few others the word is Domina. “Queen” seems to be the best English equivalent. “Ruler”, when it occurs, is a rendition of Dominatrix. – Ed.

18. Encomium in Dormitionem Ssmae Deiparae (inter opera S. Modesti): PG LXXXVI, 3306 B.

19. S. Andreas Cretensis, Homilia II in Dormitionem Ssmae Deiparae: PG XCVII, 1079 B.

20. Id., Homilia III in Dormitionem Ssmae Deiparae: PG XCVII, 1099 A.

21. S. Germanus, In Praesentationem Ssmae Deiparae, I: PG XCVIII, 303 A.

22. Id., In Praesentationem Ssmae Deiparae, n PG XCVIII, 315 C.

23. S. Ioannes Damascenus, Homilia I in Dormitionem B.M.V.: P.G. XCVI, 719 A.

24. Id., De fide orthodoxa, I, IV, c. 14: PG XLIV, 1158 B.

25. De laudibus Mariae (inter opera Venantii Fortunati): PL LXXXVIII, 282 B et 283 A.

26. Ildefonsus Toletanus, De virginitate perpetua B.M.V.: PL XCVI, 58 A D.

27. S. Martinus I, Epist. XIV: PL LXXXVII, 199-200 A.

28. S. Agatho: PL LXXXVII, 1221 A.

29. Hardouin, Acta Conciliorum, IV, 234; 238: PL LXXXIX, 508 B.

30. Xystus IV, bulla Cum praeexcelsa. d. d. 28 Febr. a. 1476.

31. Benedictus XIV, bulla Gloriosae Dominae, d. d. 27 Sept. a. 1748.

32. S. Alfonso, Le glone de Maria, p. I, c. I, §1.

33. Ex liturgia Armenorum: in festo Assumptionis, hymnus ad Matutinum.

34. Ex Menaeo (byzantino): Dominica post Natalem, in Canone, ad Matutinum.

35. Officium hymni Axathistos (in ritu byzantino).

36. Missale Aethiopicum, Anaphora Dominae nostrae Mariae, Matris Dei.

37. Brev. Rom., Versiculus sexti Respons.

38. Festum Assumptionis; hymnus Laudum.

39. Ibidem, ad Magnificat II Vesp.

40. Luc. I, 32, 33.

41. Ibid. I, 43.

42. S. Ioannes Damascenus, De fide orthodoxa, 1. IV, c. 14; PL XCIV, 1158 s. B.

43. I Petr. I, 18, 19.

44. I Cor. VI, 20.

45. Pius XI, litt. enc. Quas primas: AAS XVII, 1925, p. 599.

46. Festum septem dolorum B. Mariae Virg., Tractus.

47. Eadmerus, De excellentia Virginis Mariae, c. 11: PL CLIX, 508 A B.

48. F. Suárez, De mysteriis vitae Christi, disp. XXII, sect. II (ed Vivès, XIX, 327).

49. S. Irenaeus, Adv. haer., V, 19, 1: PG VII, 1175 B.

50. Pius XI, epist. Auspicatus profecto: AAS XXV, 1933, p. 80.

51. Pius XII, litt. enc. Mystici Corporis: AAS XXXV, 1943, p. 247.

52. S. Sophronius, In annuntianone Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG LXXXVII, 3238 D; 3242 A.

53. S. Germanus, Hom. II in dormitione Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG XCVIII, 354 B.

54. S. Ioannes Damascenus, Hom. I in Dormitionem Beatae Mariae Virginis: PG XCVI, 715 A.

55. Pius IX, bulla Ineffabilis Deus: Acta Pii IX, I, p. 597-598.

55a.Unigena. – Ed.

56. Ibid. p. 618.

57. Leo XIII, litt. enc. Adiumcem populi: ASS, XXVIII, 1895-1896, p.130.

58. Pius X, litt enc. Ad diem illum: ASS XXXVI, 1903-1904, p.455.

59. S. Thomas, Summa Theol., I, q. 25, a. 6, ad 4.

60. Pius XII, litt. enc. Humani generis: AAS XLII, 1950, p. 569.

61. Ex Brev. Rom.: Festum Assumptionis Beatae Mariae Virginis.

62. Cf. Gen. IX, 13.

63. Eccl. XLIII, 12-13.

As we approach June…

What a lovely month, the month of June! It is on June 15th that we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image of the Sacred Heart is familiar to all Catholics and many traditional Catholic families have held or at least attended “enthronement” ceremonies. I would like to encourage all Catholic families to consider enthroning the most Sacred Heart of Jesus within their homes during the month of June.

“I will bless every house in which an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.” This is the beautiful promise made by our Lord to St. Margaret Mary.

The idea of the Enthronement is that “in the Christian home a throne of love and veneration is erected for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and that His sovereign rights over the family be thereby recognized.” The practice is an external recognition of the fact that Christ is the real head of the home. It is not merely a passing act of consecration to the Sacred Heart but a permanent state of devotion and love. (taken from: Your Home, A Church in Miniature – Compiled by The Family Life Bureau in the early 1950s

Our family enthroned the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1997. This year will mark the 10th anniversary of that enthronement. Anniversary celebrations can be observed by the entire family participating in a “reconsecration” as well as regularly offering consecration prayers. Here is a lovely prayer for the family:

Renewal of the Consecration of the Family

To be said at night prayers in union with all families in which the Sacred Heart has been enthroned.

Most Sweet Jesus, humbly kneeling at Your feet, we renew the consecration of our family to Your Divine Heart. Be You our King forever! In You we have full and entire confidence. May Your spirit penetrate our thoughts, our desires, our words, and our works. Bless our undertakings, share in our joys, in our trials and our labors. Grant us to know You better, to love You more, to serve You without faltering.

By the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Queen of Peace, set up Your kingdom in our country. Enter closely into the midst of our families and make them Yours through the solemn enthronement of Your Sacred Heart, so that soon one cry may resound from home to home: “May the triumphant Heart of Jesus be everywhere loved, blessed, and glorified forever!” Honor and glory to the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary!

Sacred Heart of Jesus, protect our families.

Prayer Source: Our Christian Home by Rev. Joseph A. Fischer, Seraphic Press, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1954

For additional information regarding your own Enthronement, click on this link:
Catholic Culture.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Knit an elven cloak

I am an avid knitter constantly searching for new and unusual patterns and fibers. Here is an interesting link for fans of the Lord of the Rings. Make your own elven cloak! Extremely cool, but also extremely pricey and rare fiber. Take a look at Stansborough Farms.

Morning or Afternoon?

Once again, it is a lovely morning. I sit alone at the computer, a gentle breeze rippling the curtains, while the birds sing their morning chorus. Would you wake your children up? Our family has not yet finished school for the year. The search for a new home coupled with the monumental task of moving has left us with much to accomplish to round out the school year.

Every school day we face this dilemma: morning school or afternoon? The mornings are so enticing. It is so cool and inviting, the day simply begs to be “lived” right now! So, sometimes we do just that. We invite our friends over, share our day and then struggle to finish school work before supper. Other days, the morning just seems to be the best time to accomplish the task at hand…get it done and enjoy the rest of the day in freedom. Alas, mother is not helping when she enjoys the solitude so much…sigh…

It is a blessing to have these decisions! How many children are dragged from their beds and ushered off to a public institution for 7 hours a day? No prayer, no hugs, no quick run outside to check the garden…Thank you Lord, for all of the challenges of homeschooling. Mapping out the day, planning the curriculum, dealing with disciplinary issues and never getting enough laundry done. I am truly thankful that I have the privilege of agonizing over these and many other decisions

Thank you!

What a blessing it is to be surrounded by such amazing friends. The past few days have been full of food, fun and conversation. Not much laundry done, I’m afraid to say, but there will always be laundry. These opportunities for fellowship amongst our “faith family” simply can’t be missed.

Thanks to everyone for your attendance at our “mega brunch”. What an incredible way to celebrate Pentecost! The food was great, but the company was even better. We hope to host a barbecue soon…wait until you taste hubby’s top secret sauce! We praise God for all of you and thank you once again for your part in building beautiful family memories.

Birthdays

Another birthday! Today Sir Galahad is nine years old. Sunday we will host a brunch to celebrate the many joys of this month. It has been the goal of our family for many years now, to shift the focus on birthdays from the gift giving “extravaganza”, to one of celebration. Don’t get me wrong, here. My children have not yet attained sainthood and are just as excited over receiving gifts and cards as any other children. Nearly all of them are guilty of the “slash and shake” approach to birthday cards (you know…slash the card open, shake out the contents, pick up the cash)

We don’t, as a rule, host “birthday” parties. We all like birthday parties, but in a large family it simply is not practical nor feasible. So, we host “celebrations” instead. Food, family, friends, fun. We try to encourage our children to look forward to the arrival of their friends and the fellowship which will bring true joy to the day. Any gifts received are set aside, to be opened later and thanks are offered beforehand.

Tomorrow is also the Feast of Pentecost, another birthday. “Veni Sancte Spiritus!” Happy Birthday to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church…could there be a better reason to celebrate?

Nil Desperandum

Nil desperandum! There is nothing to be despaired at! Unbelievable words during a time of extreme suffering or crisis. I am speaking first hand here. It is not likely that I will ever have to endure even a fraction of the agony that our Lord suffered on the cross. It is also highly unlikely that I will ever be burned at the stake, drawn and quartered or fed to the lions, tigers or bears. My sufferings have been so minuscule compared to the suffering of many of my friends. Nonetheless, there are days that I have begged the Lord for martyrdom!

Oh to be done with the strife and seize the crown of Heaven! Such presumption on my part, yet there are times that the tedium and day to day trials seem a far more harsh martyrdom than a few minutes in a fire. My day is a “fire” of another type, for the daily job of motherhood is a non-stop “dying to self”. It is not the public, gloriously brave and edifying sight of courage in the face of death. It is the quiet, unobserved refining action of grace through small sacrifices. Climbing the mountain of laundry, reading the same book five times in a row, explaining quadratic equations and cleaning up yet another glass of spilled milk. Again…and again…and again. This is my glorious martyrdom and it is the one chosen by God to accomplish my sanctification.

There are times when my shoulders ache with the sheer amount of responsibility resting so precariously upon them. I worry that I will “drop the ball” or that I’m just not doing the job as well as I should. I have been in that place where the only prayer is the “…Spirit itself intercede(ing) with inexpressible groanings”. That is when I pray through the pain and through the doubt. The answer is never in the pain, but on the other side of it.

So, nil desperandum! Everyday is better for the trials within it. Everyday, with God’s grace, we shall be better for perservering.

Milestones

Today is my youngest daughter’s 4th birthday. Sigh. The “baby” is not a baby any longer. This is the longest “space” Hubby and I have had between children, a rather poignant reminder of how our lives are changing and how our roles are expanding. While still the parents of toddlers, we are also grandparents to three (soon to be four and one in heaven) beautiful grandchildren. For over twelve years we had at least one child, and frequently two, in diapers.

The last three pregnancies were hard beyond belief…bed rest from the sixth month on, not being able to walk, using a wheelchair and a walker and the distinct possibility of not being able to walk again. What a price…but what was purchased was beyond measure. Gareth, Charlotte and Emily! I can’t imagine a world without them, my family without them, ME without them. Though we would gladly welcome another child (please God!) into our family, we also know that our God has wisdom that supercedes our desire. May His will be done and may we remain open to His promptings.

So we celebrate the life of a child today, and in doing so, celebrate the lives of all children. God bless all families who remain open to grace, open to joy…open to life.

Dona nobis pacem

“Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum!” These are the beautiful words pronounced at every holy Mass, no matter the language or culture. “The Peace of the Lord be always with you!” Our Lord walked among us. He lived, He loved, He laughed, He wept, He argued, He suffered and died. All that we might have salvation. That we might have peace. Always. How many things I allow to disturb that peace! I don’t rest enough, pray enough, praise enough, thank enough…and then wonder at the disquiet within my soul. St. Peter and St. Martha…here I am. Boldly proclaiming my faith as St. Peter did, only to discover my weakness. “Anxious about many things” as St. Martha was, and frequently feeling that my efforts go unnoticed. Yet, here is the comfort…SAINT Peter and SAINT Martha. Their failings and the recognition of their weaknesses allowed our Lord His place in perfecting them. It was not through their efforts, but their cooperation with His actions in their lives. Catholics call this “grace”. And His grace alone suffices for all things.

So, once again, I “fail forward towards success”…surrounded by the people I love most in this world and blessed beyond measure. Deo gratias!

How a Catholic Nun Became a Grandmother

In 1992, our family adopted its newest member, Sister Martha Conrad…but she is not Sr. Martha to us; she is simply Grandma Marty.

How does a Roman Catholic Nun become a grandmother of nine living children and spiritual mother to their parents? By God’s great mercy and through His infinite love.

Sr. Marty (as she is affectionately known) had been a religious sister for many years. I will not share her fascinating story at present, it alone would make for compelling reading. Instead, I will share with you a few of her thoughts regarding her vocation and the unbelievable way that our Lord gave her a most beautiful reward for her years of faithful service.

Sr. Marty received the call to enter religious life when she was very young, and though she always felt she would have many children, she never repined her decision to enter a life of poverty, chastity and obedience. For many years she faithfully served our Lord in many capacities : teaching in earlier years and heading a very large and effective outreach ministry in southeastern Kentucky for the last couple of decades. During all this time, Sr. Marty watched her many friends marry and have children. She participated with great love and fervor in the lives of her many nieces and nephews, as well. She observed the joys and sorrows associated with raising a family and still never regretted her vocation.
Years went by and Sr. Marty now observed a change. Her friends had shifted roles from parents to grandparents. As she observed the sheer joy in the lives of her “grand parenting” friends, her heart was stirred by a longing she had never felt before. In longing, she spoke out loud “Lord, I don’t have any grandchildren…I want grandchildren!” Sr. Marty has stated that she spoke these words without awareness…they just came out. There was a real confidence within her that our Lord could truly make this happen, yet she put it out of her mind.

One beautiful spring morning in 1992, a sweet seven year-old girl saw a lovely lady across the crowded school gym where we spent our fellowship time after Mass. Elizabeth was drawn to the lovely lady and falling down on one knee while grasping both work-worn hands in her own she piped in her lovely, little voice: “You look like you would be a great grandmother…would you be my grandmother?” Sr. Marty was stunned! Had this precious child actually uttered these words? She had! Sr. Marty declared her emphatic “Yes!” with all her heart and asked Elizabeth to point out her parents.

A few days later, a very surprised mother received a call from this sweet soul. I was not the least surprised that Elizabeth had done this, her heart was so full of love and affection. From that point on Grandma Marty has been a part of our family, and in so many ways, became a spiritual mother to me. We have wept together, laughed together and shared so many of the precious joys that a biological mother and daughter would share. She has helped me to grow in my vocation, encouraged me in my faith and remains an example of beautiful womanhood. I can’t imagine not having her and it seems as if she has always been here. Baptisms, Confirmations, First Holy Communions…you name the sacrament; she has been there! Christmas, Easter, St. Valentine’s Day, birthdays…name the holiday; we’ve shared it with her in so many joyful ways.

Grandma Marty will tell you that our family has been the most perfect answer to her prayer, but, the truth is…she is the answer to OUR prayer. A prayer we had not yet uttered and yet God in His infinite wisdom answered in the most incredible way possible.

We have moved to another state and Grandma Marty is still in Kentucky, ministering to the poorest of the poor. We miss the impromptu visits, breakfast after Mass, coloring Easter eggs and just the simple knowledge that she was so close by. God be praised for His wisdom in putting us together as “family”…not even the miles can separate hearts joined in love!

A nun who had never married or had children became a grandmother, and by proxy my mother…”with God all things are possible.”

The Tooth Fairy

Charlotte, age five, has lost two teeth within the last 48 hours. There are so many simple joys in parenting – namely, all of the firsts: the first word, first step, first birthday, first day of school, and the loss of the first tooth.

As the mother of many children, it amazes me how alike each of the children are in their responses to these “firsts”. Excitement, then timidity; courage, then fear; trust and finally surprised elation! In the loss of the first tooth, all of these emotions are stamped indelibly upon the upturned face of that trusting, yet fearful child. Fearful, yet still hopeful…trusting in the best possible outcome. Lord, may I learn this same lesson!

So now we come to the dilemma that every parent faces…tooth fairy or no tooth fairy? Having lived on both sides of this question, I say “no tooth fairy”. I lived under the tyrannical reign of that tiny imp for many years…she is a harsh taskmaster. Promises of cash in exchange for a tooth. How many times was said tooth carefully wrapped and tucked under the pillow, only to be forgotten by her royal highness? Too many times to count. Though many teeny, tiny letters were written, offering apologies, the family finally fired her. Mom and dad now offer cash for teeth and simply mail them in bulk to the New Tooth Facility, where they will be ground into a fine powder and sprinkled into the mouths of sleeping babes to promote the growth of new teeth. A tidy solution to a troublesome problem!

Good Morning!

It is a lovely, though somewhat cool morning. I’ve been up since sunrise…breakfast and lunch packed for hubby and a few moments of silence before the children awaken. It is always such a dilemma – what to do with this time?

Prayer should be the first order of the day, though sometimes I must admit that the laundry receives my first attentions. Still, the opportunity to recollect oneself and approach the Throne of Heaven, should never be missed.

Uninterrupted computer time is at a premium, as well. A teenage daughter with a burgeoning photography career (she is quite good) as well as her own “web world”, sons obsessed with computer gaming and a 5 year old who has just discovered EWTN for kids…sigh…

So, I check my mail, make my post, look at the news and weather…let the games begin! School today, laundry this afternoon…and a million and one smiles, tears, distractions and the occasional disaster. Thank you, my God , for my life…

We shall see…

News regarding the long awaited Motu Proprio continues to circulate. A statement issued by Cardinal Castrillon last week after his meeting with the Holy Father seems to confirm rumors. Here is a portion:

“There is no turning back, [the Pope] is not leading the Church to a reverse position; the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and has the Holy Spirit who always guides him forward, which does not mean that things which may have deteriorated may not be perfected.”

“It [The Traditional Mass] will not be imposed on anyone, it does not in any way contradict the current [Mass], the Mass of the Council Fathers was that of Saint Pius V, they did not celebrate the Mass of Paul VI, these two Masses are not be be [mutually] opposed.” “In the Mass of Saint Pius V there is a ritual expression which is enjoyed by some; there are those who wish to celebrate it occasionally, but without it meaning any disregard, [but] complete respect for the new rite.”

“The Pope wishes to preserve for mankind a treasure which sanctified the Church for more than a thousand years: the rite codified by Saint Pius V; this treasure, this cultural expression, this language which was the language of the Church from the earliest time”. [Benedict XVI] “loves the liturgy [and] does not wish to retro act, does not intend to impose, it is an offer for those who have this sensibility.”

A dear friend of our family has also received confirmation from Dr. Alice Von Hildebrand that the Holy Father did indeed reveal to her that the Motu Proprio would be released in May.

"…entertaining angels unaware…"

The following event took place in 1997…

Rain, rain and more rain. Not exactly how we had wanted to start our family outing, but seven people entertaining hopes of a few rides at a theme park, are rarely put off by a spring shower. Two adults, five children, a cooler full of fried chicken and potato salad and we’re off! The leaden sky didn’t dampen our spirits…we had even packed swim suits to use at the local water park. My mother and father had made arrangements to meet us at the park and the children were simply giddy at the thought of a day with the grandparents and all of those exciting rides (little did they know how exciting their “ride” was about to become). Traffic outside of the city had begun to pick up, and knowing how much my mother worries, I began to earnestly pray that we would not be too delayed. Fifteen minutes away from the park traffic came to a stand still. We sat patiently, waiting our turn to proceed. The car in front began to move forward, but our car remained surprisingly motionless. “Ummm, honey? Did you notice the cars moving forward?” I said to my dear husband. “Yes, dear I did” he solemnly replied. “I’m accelerating, but the car is not moving. I believe we have just lost the transmission.” Panic!! We were 150 miles from home, in the middle of traffic, it was raining AND we had five children with us. The cars behind us began “encouraging” us to move along. Horns blowing, and impatient shouts added to the feeling of chaos that was building inside the van as the children became aware that something was wrong. I began to beseech heaven – “Dear God, send us an angel!” I had actually spoke these words out loud. Within moments, a patrol car crested the hill and was approaching us. “Oh thank you dear Lord!” the chorus rang out in the vehicle, right up to the point that the officer simply drove past us, in spite of the fact that we were obviously stuck. “Please, dear Jesus, STOP HIM!” I cried. As if on cue, the officer came to an immediate stop a couple hundred yards past us. He sat for a few moments, then put his car in reverse and backed up until his window was parallel with the driver’s window of our van. Clad in a baseball cap and sweats, he was obviously off-duty. “Car trouble?” he asked, rather reluctantly. “Yes, sir,” said my husband, “I’ve tried to put it in drive and neutral, but nothing works”. The officer looked extremely troubled. It was, after all, his day off and now he was confronted by a messy traffic situation and a family that didn’t have enough money to have a vehicle towed, not to mention the transportation logistics of getting such a large family back to their home, more than 2 ½ hours away. He took a deep breath and said, “OK…here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to help you push your vehicle up into this driveway (it was a horse farm and riding stable facility) and I’ll make sure the owners know that you will be back for it as soon as possible. Do you know anyone around here? Is there any place that you can go?” The unfortunate answer to both of these questions was “No”. Once again the officer looked very distressed. He thought for a moment and then said, “Alright…I have an idea. It’ll be a really tight squeeze but I need all of you to get into my patrol car.” We did not question him, feeling that perhaps he was going to take us to the police station where we could make the necessary phone calls to sort out this situation.

Three adults and five children squeezed into a patrol car that was meant to accommodate four people at the most. I sat upon my husband’s lap, and each of the larger children held a smaller child upon their laps…it was quite a sight! As we were thanking the officer for his assistance, my husband asked him “where are we going?” The officer replied, “I’m taking you to my house. I’m not sure just what we are going to do, but I can’t leave you here in the rain to figure this out. It’s not far, just a couple more miles.” A sense of panic entered my heart and I asked, “Sir, are you married?” “Why, yes I am” he replied. “Well, then, umm, would you please call your wife and let her know that you are bringing seven very wet people over this morning…I’m sure she would probably appreciate the advance warning!” “No need,” he said, “she’ll be fine with it”. My heart sank. I could not imagine what kind of incredible woman, on a Saturday morning, could be confronted with seven strangers unexpectedly, and maintain her sanity.

We approached his home, a lovely two story house set upon the most beautiful acreage, with a pond in view and several toys in the yard. Ah…children! That was good news, as we had five children with us. As we entered through the garage and into the kitchen, we received the surprised stare of an older lady who was sitting in her robe drinking coffee and reading the paper…obviously not the wife. “This is my mother,” our host pronounced. I stumbled all over myself between introductions and apologies for the intrusion; but she was only gracious, if somewhat surprised. We followed our host into a large family room, where a beautiful young woman (in her pajamas) was cuddled up on the couch with two little boys watching cartoons. The look upon her face as she observed our bedraggled family was simply priceless! Once again, hasty introductions and apologies were made, but she recovered beautifully and offers of hospitality and assistance were immediately made. The children had found new playmates and soon were invited to the playroom…let the fun begin!

As we sat down in the family room with the officer and his wife, he began to explain to her how all of this had come about. “I had actually noticed that the vehicle was disabled before I had reached it. My first instinct was to drive by and call another on duty officer for assistance. As I passed by them, I was seized with a strong inclination to stop. So I did. As I sat there, I tried to think of ways to get out of it, but felt very strongly that I needed to help them.” I spoke up, “You appeared over the top of the hill the very moment I asked God to send us an angel! Then you passed by and I begged God to make you stop…and you did! Thank you so much for listening, we begged God for an angel and we got you!” All the talk about prayer, God and angels led to the revelation that our host and hostess were also Catholic! The rest of the day was spent with so much joy. We shared our faith, parenting stories and the officer’s wife asked more than a few questions about homeschooling. Our concerns that we were disturbing their peaceful home were quickly assuaged when we were invited to stay until my mother-in-law arrived to transport us back home. Meanwhile, we shared our fried chicken and potato salad, and the officer and his wife actually offered us the use of their mini-van to go to the park. The rain, however, had not abated, and though we didn’t accept the offer of their vehicle, we did accept the officer’s offer to locate my parents at the park and let them know what had happened so they would not worry.

What a day! Holy Scripture cautions us about the times that we may be “entertaining angels unaware.” Never would I have believed that our entire family would be entertained by angels themselves! Deo Gratias!

And so it begins…

Thus begins a journaling experiment. For sometime now, I have wished to share the many joys, sorrows and blessings that have been such a large part of daily life in my family. Many family friends have heard these stories, sharing laughter and tears as well as wonder at some of the more unusual events that have become, in some ways, almost common place. It has been quite awhile since I have written to an audience so please forgive me if I ramble, make a grammatical “slip” or if my style is a bit too “prosy”. As the mother of a large homeschooling family with little time to spare, it would seem that an approach geared towards word economy would best suit my station, but my friends will tell you that economy of speech is not one of my strong points! It is my sincere hope that these “snapshots” or vignettes of our family life for the past 25 years will serve as reminders of God’s many graces so freely given…sometimes readily visible and bordering on the miraculous and at other times as hidden and mysterious as faith itself.

A Mother’s Day Miracle

The following event occurred on Mother’s Day 2000 and seems appropriate to post for the month of May…

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. The sky was crystal clear, a celestial blue of such depth…the bowers of the flowering crab apple tree in our backyard were laden with snow-white blossoms. Each gentle breeze sent a shower of petals upon the wind. To drink in this beauty, to exult in the glory of God’s creation on the Sabbath – what could be a more perfect way to spend Mother’s Day?

Alas, these are the questions you ask yourself when your entire family is sick with the stomach flu, you have just missed attending Holy Mass as well as the May crowning of our Blessed Mother and looming before you are prospects for a day of hard labor (nurturing the sick, cleaning up the bed clothes and the sure knowledge that NO ONE wants dinner!) Our family numbered seven children at this time, and all of them were sick. As the day wore on, I began to lapse into a serious state of self-pity. “Why the Sabbath, Lord? And Mother’s Day?!” Though I continued my duties faithfully, interiorly I was not a faithful servant at all. It was now mid-afternoon and I walked into my kitchen (which was a wreck by this time) to access the possibilities for some kind of meal, knowing that very little would be palatable to my poor, suffering children. My husband, of course, has the patience of a saint, and provided so much assistance, but I could only pray that his optimism would sustain us all, for I was feeling wretched inside. As I passed the large glass doors to my backyard, the brilliant blue of the sky and the gentle breezes beckoned. I stepped outside, sat down at the table on the back patio and cried.

(We should never underestimate how much we need the graces given at every Mass. These very graces make possible the diligent performance of the duties suited to our vocation. I felt devoid of grace! Weak and pathetic, that I could feel bad for myself while my children were suffering sickness).

Through my tears, I looked over at my much neglected Mary garden and beheld the statue of our Lady. No cards or flowers for the Holy Mother of God on Mother’s Day. The Mother of God was given a “sword” that would pierce her heart. I decided at that moment to give Mother’s Day to our Lady. I dried my tears, walked over to my garden and began to clear the many weeds that were crowding about Mary. I began to think of these weeds as the little distractions of my daily life – my pride, my self-pity and a tendency towards a too “Martha” approach to my vocation. As the weeds were cleared, the flowers became increasingly visible…rather like the virtues that our Lady so humbly espouses and that I had allowed to become hidden in my own life. I began to hum as the work continued…it was so peaceful, so quiet, and soon I was singing “Salve Regina”. A few moments passed and my precious husband stepped outside to see what had become of his wife. Though his first words were “honey, I am so sorry”, he was truly greeted by a much happier wife and together we both continued the work of beautifying our Lady’s garden.

One by one, our sick children began to come outside to see where their parents had gone. Five of the children were now outside (the eldest was inside with the baby and a terrible headache), each one wishing their Mother a Happy Mother’s Day…and it could not have been sweeter. In the midst of their suffering they remembered their mother (just as in the midst of my suffering I had remembered my Mother).

Gathered in our backyard, surrounding a small patch of earth upon which rested a statue of our Blessed Mother, we placed the small, silk floral crown which had been reserved for all of our previous May Crownings. Five sick children and two exhausted parents honored the Mother of God in the only way we could.

Above our heads, a very large red-tailed hawk was lazily circling. This hawk was soon noticed by a pair of robins that were nesting locally and were extremely concerned about the danger this predator posed to their young. The two small birds attacked furiously, raising a tremendous commotion that soon drew the attention of the family. We observed the antics of these birds briefly (and all of us are certain that this activity served only to draw our attention skyward) because a much more fantastic phenomena was occurring at this time. The sun was directly above us in a cloudless sky, and surrounding the sun was a large circular rainbow, which was also circled by yet another rainbow only ¾ formed. I cannot adequately convey our surprise and awe at this spectacle. It truly seemed an event given as a gift from our Lord through the intercession of the Blessed Mother. As we all exclaimed in wonder, one of the children remembered our eldest who was still inside. She went to retrieve her sister and baby brother and as the three children came outside to view this beautiful event…it simply vanished! The entire event lasted no more that 2-3 minutes, though time truly seemed to stand still! A day of suffering, sacrifice and surprise! How little our Lord asks from us and how great are His gifts…

Welcome to "Fast Food!"


In keeping with the desire of the average, traditional Catholic to keep the days of fast and abstinence; I will post a few of my favorite meatless meals. Many of these soups and casseroles are quite easily converted from “meat to meatless.”

Enjoy…and feel free to offer comments and suggestions for improvement. Also, if you have a favorite of your own, feel free to submit it and I will happily credit the source!

You’ve heard about it, I’m sure…time to give it a try! Here’s a video of the “No Knead Bread” recipe from the man himself, Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery, New York. As a veteran bread baker, it has completely rocked my world…I’m hooked!


Here’s a link for the recipe.

A new Lenten family favorite:

Shrimp with Penne Pasta and Vegetables

1 eggplant – cubed
1 yellow squash cubed
1 zucchini – sliced or cubed
1 yellow pepper – chopped
1 red pepper – chopped
1 orange pepper – chopped
4 roma tomatoes – chopped
1 medium onion – diced
4 cloves garlic – minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
6 – 8 T. olive oil
1 lb penne pasta – cooked and drained
1 lb peeled, deveined pre-cooked shrimp
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and garlic until clear. Add vegetables. Saute until vegetables are cooked through. Add shrimp and seasonings. Cook until liquid reduces by half. Add to penne pasta. Serve with your favorite Italian bread and salad.

Servings: 8 – 10 large servings


Kimberly’s Loaded Potato Soup

1 stick of butter or margarine
3 large carrots, sliced
1 large onion, diced
2 ribs celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. thyme
3/4 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
4 chicken bouillon cubes
7 cups water
10 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 qt. half and half or milk (I prefer the h&h)
1/2 cup cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup cold water (for thickening)

Toppings:

crumbled bacon (leave out for days of abstinence)
chopped green onions
chopped chives
sour cream
shredded cheese

Or serve as the Soup of Suffering ;-D

In a large stock pot, melt butter and sauté carrots, onions, celery and garlic until translucent. Quickly add the water and bouillon cubes. Bring to a boil. Add potatoes, thyme, parsley, and pepper. Cook until tender. Add half and half/milk (as much as you prefer…I use it all.) Using a potato masher, mash with 5 or 6 quick strokes. Bring soup to a boil and slowly begin adding cornstarch mixture until soup is desired consistency. Ladle into bowls, add your favorite toppings and serve with your finest loaf of home-made bread.

Bon Appetit!

Tuna Pasta Salad

1 – 16 oz. bag of tri-color pasta
2 stalks green onion
½ tsp. dill weed
¾ cup mayonnaise
2 – 6 oz. cans albacore tuna
1 cup frozen sweet peas
Cracked black pepper and salt to taste

Add ins:

grated carrot
cherry tomatoes
whatever suits you!

Boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water until cool. Place pasta in large salad bowl. Chop green onion. Add green onion, tuna and sweet peas to pasta. Combine mayonnaise and dill weed. Combine mayonnaise and pasta mixtures. Chill and serve.

*This is not an original recipe. This lovely Ratatouille was discovered on Simply Recipes…simply outstanding! Here it is:

Dad’s Ratatouille Recipe

Dad originally got this recipe from Dean & DeLuca, and over time it has become a family classic. Only he has the patience to make it. The recipe is little involved, but the results are fantastic. Luxuriously rich, smooth, and flavorful, this ratatouille is practically the best way I know of preparing vegetables that people can’t get enough to eat.

Preparation time: 1 hour and a half, minimum.

1 lb of yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb zucchini, chopped
1 lb yellow squash, chopped
Bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped into 1/2 inch square pieces:
–1 lb green bell peppers
–1/2 lb red bell peppers
–1/2 lb yellow bell peppers
1 lb eggplant, 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb fresh ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
3/4 cup vegetable stock (or thin tomato juice)
fresh ground pepper to taste

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2 Using a large oven-proof pan over medium high heat, saute onions in olive oil until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and reduce heat to low.

3 While the onions and garlic are cooking over low heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a another frying pan over high heat. As soon as oil starts to smoke, quickly add enough zucchini cubes all at once to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep on cooking over high heat, stirring, until zucchini is lightly browned on all sides. Remove zucchini cubes, and add them to pan with the onions.

4 Repeat process until all of the zucchini cubes have been cooked. Do the same with the yellow squash. Make sure to add a little olive oil between each new batch. Continue with the bell peppers, then the eggplant cubes, adding the browned vegetables to the onion pan as soon as they are cooked.

5 When all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) are browned and in the pan with the onions, increase the heat to high and stir, making sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt to taste, thyme, bay leaf, and rosemary, the vegetable stock, and stir well. Place in oven for one hour.

6 Boil water in a saucepan on stove. Remove stems from tomatoes, and crisscross the bottoms with a knife. Plunge into boiling water for a minute or two, until skin starts to fall away. Rinse in cold water and remove skin. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove seeds, chop coarsely, set aside.

7 After the vegetables have been in the oven for an hour, remove from oven, drain vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Clean browned bits (if any) off bottom of pan with a paper towel. Return any liquid to the pan and reduce to a thick glaze over medium high heat. Keep on adding juices to the pan as they run out of the vegetables into the bowl.

8 When all the juices have been reduced, return vegetables to the heavy pan. At this point the ratatouille should be moist and shiny, with very little liquid. Turn heat off. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover. If serving as a warm side dish, let the ratatouille stand for 10 minutes, just enough to “cook” the tomatoes. The ratatouille can be served at room temperature or refrigerated and reheated the next day.

9 When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Recipe adapted from Dean & Deluca.

*This lovely recipe is an absolute original twist on a traditional Tuscan peasant soup. My family loves this one…though my husband has, with his wry sense of humor, dubbed it “Catch-all Soup.” Anything goes, with ribollita…whatever is hanging out in your vegetable crisper!

Ribollita

4 cans cannellini beans (you may soak your own if so desired, but this is quicker!)
¼ cup olive oil or 1 stick of butter or margarine (olive oil is preferred)
4 ribs of celery, including their tops – chopped
5 -6 lg. carrots – chopped
1 lg. onion – chopped
8 cloves of garlic – minced
2 heaping T. fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. oregano, dried
3 T. fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
3 roma tomatoes chopped (or petite diced tomatoes in the can)
¼ cup parmesan cheese
12 – 15 cups chicken stock (equivalent vegetable stock or chicken bouillon with water may be used – amount depends upon how “soupy” you want your soup)
1 cup roughly torn spinach (you may omit – a lovely addition in the spring when spinach is fresh)
*2 cups of chopped ham, sausage or roast pork (only on those “non-fast” days!)
2 cups bread crumbs, Italian or plain (you may substitute stale, crumbled Italian bread or seasoned stuffing mix)

In the bottom of a large stock pot, sauté celery, onions, carrots and garlic in oil or butter, until onion is translucent. Add stock. Bring to a boil. Add beans, basil, oregano, parsley, tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Simmer, covered, for at least an hour. Uncover and gently mash (using a potato masher) with five or six quick strokes. Add torn spinach and bread crumbs. Allow to simmer for at least another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite crusty Italian bread and just a small drizzle of good olive oil. Enjoy!

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