Catholic Family Vignettes

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


December 2007

Kids rock…a whole new look at nursery rhymes!

We’ve all had a nice little chuckle over his tribute to homeschoolers.

If you like nursery rhymes, check out Tim Hawkins at his wackiest:

The philosophical toddler…

Standing at the kitchen sink. Four year old seated upon a stool beside me.

Mommy: I love you so much, Emily!

Emily: I love you more, Mommy!

Mommy: No, Emily, I love you more. I loved you before you were even born.

Emily: Mommy, I loved you so much before I was born that I growed you around me!

How can you argue with such a sweet sentiment? I’m simply a by-product of my child’s love!

The Feast Of The Holy Innocents

I simply cannot do it.

It doesn’t matter which image I view…I simply can’t bring myself to post an image, no matter the artist, of the Slaughter of the Innocents. It is simply to horrific to contemplate.

Like abortion. I would never be able to post an image of so heinous an act–it is the seemingly never-ending continuation of the Slaughter of the Innocents.

I will contemplate the following and pray for the intercession of the Holy Innocents for the protection of all unborn children.
[This is the proper hymn at Lauds for the feast of the Holy Innocents. The translation is that of Fr Joseph Connelly.]

Audit tyrannus anxius
adesse regum principem,
qui nomen Israel regat
teneatque David regiam.

The uneasy tyrant is told
of the coming of the King of Kings
to rule over the people of Israel
and to ascend the throne of David.

Exclamat amens nuntio:
“Successor instat, pellimur.
Satelles, i, ferrum rape,
Perfunde cunas sanguine!”

Beside himself at the news, he cries out:
“He is here to take my place. I am dethroned.
Guards, go, sword in hand,
and drench the cradles in blood.”

Quo proficit tantum nefas?
Quid crimen Herodem iuvat?
Unus tot inter funera
Impune Christus tollitur.

Of what avail is so great an outrage?
How does this monstrous wickedness benefit Herod?
Though so many were put to death,
yet one, Christ, escapes unharmed.

Salvete, flores martyrum,
Quos lucis ipso in limine
Christi insecutor sustulit,
Ceu turbo nascentes rosas.

Hail, martyr flowers!
On the very threshold of your life
Christ’s persecutor destroyed you,
as a whirlwind does the budding roses.

Vos prima Christi victima,
Grex immolatorum tener,
Aram sub ipsam simplices
Palma et coronis luditis.

You, Christ’s first fruits,
a flock of tender sacrificial victims,
now play with your palms and crowns
right up by the very altar.

Iesu, tibi sit gloria,
Qui natus es de Virgine,
Cum Patre et almo Spiritu,
In sempiterna Saecula. Amen.

O Jesus, born of the Virgin,
to you be glory
with the Father and loving Spirit,
unto everlasting ages. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Arthur!

Fourteen. 14. One-four.

Wow…how time flies. Born during one of the worst ice storms ever on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. An extremely high stress pregnancy with many complications including a severe kidney defect in my dear boy. A miraculous healing. First born son.

Brilliant…constantly inventing and exploring new ideas. An incredible engineer. Meticulous observation of the rubrics of the Tridentine Mass. Great love for God and family. Responsible and mature. Funny and sensitive.

Thanking God for you today and everyday, my dear young man. Praising God that He, in His infinite wisdom, allowed me the privilege of being your mom.

This should make an interesting post…

Soaring! Gliding! Flying!

I’ve dreamed of doing this since I was a little girl. Growing up close to a private airfield, I would watch the tow planes take up gliders during the spring and summer. They would circle overhead like birds; silently and effortlessly gliding upward on warm currents of air.

I’ve wanted to fly ever since. I’ve been on commercial airliners…it’s not quite the same thing. The allure of the glider and ultra/micro-lite is the bird-like quality of flight. The glider captures this aspect, best of all. I can’t wait to do this…I’ll keep you posted!

P.S. Thanks, Santa!

What might have been…

From Human Life International:

How Many Heisman Winners Has Abortion Killed?

The sports world recently greeted the news that this year’s Heisman Trophy Winner, Tim Tebow from the University of Florida, was almost a casualty of abortion. Twenty-some years ago he was not the strapping 6’3”, 235 lb. beloved sports hero that he is today. At that time he was a one-inch-long unborn child whose existence, because of an amoebic infection, was defined as threat to his mother’s health. Pam Tebow, his mother, was told by a doctor that it would be in her best interests to abort this baby, and she refused. Her husband backed her up on that generous decision, and seven months later they gave birth to a perfectly healthy boy. Little did they know that twenty years later they would be standing on a national stage with a Heisman Trophy winner giving that magnificent witness to life. The world thanks you, Mr. and Mrs. Tebow! There cannot be a more touching Advent story than this.

I wonder if anyone has ever asked how many potential Heisman Trophy winners abortion has actually killed. The answer is, twelve. Reflect on that a bit as you read further because there is a larger lesson in the Tebows’ witness.

Dr. Brian Clowes, HLI researcher, has examined the data from the 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States (most recent census data) and extrapolated the numbers of the various professions and categories of Americans who have been eliminated in the wake of nearly 49 million legalized abortions, one third of all Americans conceived since 1973. The following numbers are based on the actual government estimates of the professions represented in America. So then, who have we lost to abortion?

* 2 US Presidents
* 7 Supreme Court Justices
* 102 US Senators and 589 Congressmen
* 8,123 Federal, district and local court judges
* 31 Nobel Prize laureates
* 328 Olympic medalists including 123 Gold medalists
* 6,092 professional athletes
* 134,841 physicians and surgeons
* 392,500 registered nurses
* 70,669 priests, ministers, rabbis and imams including
* 6,852 priests and 11,010 nuns (vocations “shortage”?)
* 1,102,443 teachers (K-12)
* 553,821 truck drivers
* 224,518 maids and housekeepers
* 336,939 janitors
* 134,028 farmers and ranchers
* 109,984 police officers and sheriff’s deputies
* 39,477 firefighters
* 17,221 barbers, and
* 24,450,000…women (the gender of roughly half of all children aborted).

These numbers of course are only the tip of the iceberg. Keep in mind that we get our statistics about abortion from the abortion industry itself which has a vested interest in under-reporting the numbers. Likewise, these categories are only a few of the professions that Americans actually work in and are by no means a full portrayal of the total American workforce. What they represent, however, is the immense human toll that abortion takes on a society. Abortion-promoters present abortion as an exclusively private choice, but thirty-five years of abortion exposes the perniciousness of that lie. There is a social toll that comes from abortion which cannot easily be corrected.

For three and a half decades the feminists have reveled in a misleading “freedom to choose,” and on the basis of that false “right” have eliminated their children and done immense damage to the family as the basic unit of society. Those who respect these sacred realities, on the other hand, have their wives and husbands to grow old with, their children to enjoy and their grandkids to play with and spoil. The love of life, marriage and family never leaves its adherents penniless, lonely or abandoned, and every now and then God throws in a Heisman Trophy just to show the rest of us that it’s all worth it.

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International

Hail and blessed be the hour…

The Traditional Latin Mass at midnight…the most beautiful thing this side of heaven!

Such peace and joy floods the soul as we await the birth of our God and Savior.

This year, my youngest son laid the baby Jesus in His crib. How reverently he carried Him. How sweetly he lay the Baby God in His bed of straw.

Maximilian was given another sweet gift as well, on that Holy Eve. He served as a torch bearer for the very first time. I’m awed that our good God has called four young men to His service…that they love it so very much. Like good knights, they serve their Lord so very willingly and with great love and devotion.

Giovanni, Pierre and Seamus

Merry Christmas! The days have been quite full, so posting has been light. Not to mention, I’m fighting the worst cold-cough and other-assorted-miseries! Nonetheless, the season of Advent was truly an Advent-ure and we will continue our celebration of the Christmas season until the Feast of Epiphany. We remind the children that Christmas is not over, it has only just begun!

During the past few days there have been a few strange happenings at home, one of which involves three very mischievous elves: Giovanni, Pierre and Seamus. Let me explain:

On December 23rd, Dad and Arthur had left for Louisville to pick up Elizabeth, and I took five of the children with me to the grocery store to pick up a few needed items. When we returned home, we were greeted at the door by a very excited teenager who told us a very interesting tale.

Since we were expecting company for dinner that night, the eldest daughter stayed home to tidy the kitchen. Armed with her MP3 player, a set of headphones and the volume turned up way too high, she proceeded to clean. She thought she heard a noise coming from the living room, so she removed her headphones. There was the sound of a scuffle, overturned furniture and then the slamming of the front door.

When she ran into the living room, everything was in disarray: magazines were scattered everywhere, the coffee table was overturned and just beneath the edge was a furry red and white cap emblazoned with flashing letters: Santa’s Helper. In front of the Christmas tree were three very large bags tied with rope. A card was on top of one of them. Santa and his elves had paid a very early visit! The elves were very naughty and made quite an enormous mess of things, but given their task I can forgive them this time! Here is Santa’s letter to the family:

Greetings from the North Pole!

My elves tell me that all of the children have been well behaved, but have also told me that all is not perfect in your new home. Gareth will lose another tooth sometime next year, but he must control his temper! Charlotte and Emily are to eat all of their dinner before asking for dessert. Last week, one of my elves, Giovanni, saw both of them jumping on the couch! Gawain needs to share the computer and video games with his siblings. Galahad’s patience is improving and Arthur needs to put his pajamas on when he’s told. Clementine has been a safe driver and a hard worker.

My scout elves, Pierre and Seamus, say that I won’t make it down the chimney so please leave the door open again and get to bed early on the 24th. I would appreciate it if you could leave out some cookies and a shot of Scotch or Peppermint Schnapps.


Scotch or Peppermint Schnapps?! That sled must be pretty cold! God bless good old St. Nick and his elves. The children had a very happy Christmas! Here are a few pics:

O Emmanuel…

Lighten up!

This is truly entertaining!! Thanks to Kristen for this one:

The sweetest gift…

I’ve always been fascinated by the “needle arts.”

I have tried my hand in many areas since a young child: crewel work/embroidery, needlepoint, cross-stitch, hand sewing, machine sewing, quilting, crochet and knitting to name a few. My skill level varies among the many forms and one form in particular has eluded me.


My interest was stirred nearly twenty years ago, when my mother-in-law referred to it as a “dying” art form. I wanted to learn, but knew no one who tatted. The intricacy of the patterns, the delicacy of the thread, the complicated shuttle were very intimidating. Images of priestly surplices and altar cloths with beautifully tatted motifs danced in my head…but never made it to my fingers.

Last year, my dear friend Sandra gave me a lovely vintage replica of a tatting shuttle. I purchased an instruction manual, bought a very fine spool of cotton thread, viewed several online tutorials…and accomplished nothing! I just couldn’t seem to coordinate the shuttle and thread into anything that resembled the graceful movements necessary to create lace.

So, I gave up. I have my knitting, after all!

Friday. My same dear friend, my Sandra, came with her four dear children to spend the afternoon. Her face was aglow.

“Hurry and finish your lunch. I have your Christmas present–you have to open it now!”

A cream parchment envelope. A lovely card. And this:

A needle-tatted heart. A lovely gift crafted in her “spare-time”–this is a young mother with four children under the age of seven–one of whom is a nursing two month old infant. Spare time, indeed!

But that’s not all.

My dear friend learned the skill so she could pass it on to me. She did this for me. I’m in awe. She is such a generous soul and I love her dearly.

I opened the second envelope which contained tatting needles. She handed me a large spool of cotton thread and the lesson began.

What an excellent teacher! Here is my very first attempt at needle-tatting. I’m delighted. It is uneven, twisted and slightly skewed. I’m excited!

On an even more interesting note: my dear cyber-friend Esther, submitted my name to another blogger several days ago who chooses a patron saint for 2008. Last night I discovered that the saint chosen for me (or better yet the saint who chose me!) is none other than St. Sebastian!

The patron saint of lace makers. How cool is that?

St. Sebastian, pray for us!

O Rex Gentium…

As promised…

I’m back! Has your Advent-ure been a joyous one, thus far?

Have a cookie and a cup of tea…

As promised, here are a few “snaps” of the happenings at home:

The feast of St. Lucy was celebrated with such sweetness by the two little ones…how happily St. Lucy donned the newly crafted crown (thanks Jen for the inspiration!) Accompanied by her heavenly helper, sporting a nifty crown of scattered stars (her idea):

The tree is decorated and the children are anxiously awaiting the coming of the Christ Child! How fresh and green…decked with red and gold. Truly splendid. It has taken a bit of getting used to, this smaller tree. Last year’s tree was an amazing sight: no less than 12 feet tall. My dear husband actually had to use the chainsaw–IN THE LIVING ROOM–in order to make it fit. This year’s tree: quite sweet and short–hubby carried it in, slung over one shoulder and set it up in less than five minutes. Here’s the decorating crew:

Last year:

This year:

Nightly Advent readings continue…we prepare to light candle #4! Here’s a moment of silliness captured by Dad:

A busy week…here’s what’s left:

Christmas shopping tally: 2 gifts purchased.

Laundry: EEEEK!

Baking: Tomorrow. Hopefully.

Knitting: Three crowns to go. And a hat. Sigh…

What I Haven’t Done…

*Put up the Christmas tree (will cut it and set it up this weekend, decorate it closer to Christmas)

*Christmas shopping–haven’t been in a store to purchase a single gift…

*Baking–guess I have a few more days for this one!

*Finish knitting–I’m still working on a birthday present!

*Interior/exterior decorating–we have our mantle decked for the “creche” and the Advent wreath, but no other decorations.

*Christmas Day menu–will work on that this week.

*Laundry (particularly blankets to give to Fr. L for the homeless)–I’m still trying to catch up since the “snow days!”

Am I stressed? A little…trying to keep my focus on that empty space in the center of the Advent Wreath. I’m trying to be that empty space, clean out the clutter inside. It’s not always easy, but I am hopeful, trusting that our dear Lord will help me out with this one.

What I have done:

*Attended Mass Saturday, Sunday and Monday–it’s been quite a while since I’ve been able to get in more than one Mass per week…

*Watched two great “oldies”–It’s A Wonderful Life (for the hundred-eleventy-seventh time) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (the really old one with Leslie Howard)

*Had dinner with good friends…

*Thanked God (repeatedly) for the answer to a prayer…

*Nearly finished St. Lucy’s Crown (where on earth did I put the white felt?!)–pictures later!

I hope you are being “blessed and not stressed” during the “big wait.” May God continue to lift you up, my friends. May you maintain hope and good cheer!

On second thought…

Thanks to The Curt Jester for this one:

Today the U.S. bishops withdrew the review of the film “The Golden Compass,” which opened in theaters in the United States Dec. 7. The review was written by Harry Forbes and John Mulderig, the director and staff reviewer respectively of the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The review was released and posted on the CNS Web site Nov. 29. The USCCB gave no reason for withdrawing the review.

I think we can figure this one out–no explanation necessary.

‘Nuff said.

The following reviews would leave one to wonder if USCCB film reviewers, Harry Forbes and John Mulderig, actually saw the same movie (BTW, check out what the American Papist has to say!):

The worst crime of a film like this is that not only is it retarded, it expects its audience to be retarded as well.

Walter Chaw
Film Freak Central

The Golden Compass ultimately fails as a film in its broad strokes and inadequate scene development.

Deborah Day
Premiere Magazine

There may be box-office gold from The Golden Compass, but panning for it while viewing is a real day at the mine.

David Elliott
San Diego Union-Tribune

A mishmash of half-baked ideas, loud special-effects and disjointed imagery.

Adam Graham
Detroit News

A movie with characters constantly explaining arcane concepts and only rarely doing anything about them.

Josh Bell
Las Vegas Weekly

This series has promise, but The Golden Compass is a letdown.

Bill Clark

Hampered by its fealty to the book and its madly rushed pace.

Manohla Dargis
New York Times

Golden Compass lacks any real fantastic flair. It is a decent enough feature, but is short of that spell-binding quality that will allow audiences to embrace it.

Bob Bloom
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

Almost nothing remains at the end – not a glimmer of mystical inquisition, not a teasing loose-end of space-time speculation – to lure a Pullmanite towards a sequel.

Ethan Alter
Film Journal International

And my personal favorite:

Why is it so joyless?

Lisa Kennedy
Denver Post

Well, Lisa, to answer your question: When you blatantly attempt to destroy “the Authority”, to undermine His Church and to seduce His children, you can pretty much count on an absence of joy. Eliminate the source of all true joy and there is simply nothing left.

And here is the rest of it.

The facts of life…

Overheard by Mr. Tom while at the zoo petting barn:

Charlotte (innocently): Where do the goats lay their eggs?

Gareth (indignant): Charlotte! Goats do not lay eggs…they are born already hatched!

Charlotte (angrily): Yes, they do Gareth! I know they do!

I’m glad we have that straight.
Though I must say, this cardboard cut-out does seem to give credence to Charlottes’s assertion.

(I think it’s supposed to be a snowball…could be an egg…who knows?)

You call this fun?!

I love the Columbus Zoo.

Last Christmas, my dear Grandmother gave the family an annual membership. A very practical gift, since a day’s admission for a family this size costs more than a yearly membership.

Last year, we were delighted to discover that the zoo is open after hours throughout the holiday season. Wild Lights at the Columbus Zoo offers visitors the opportunity to stroll through the park (which is beautifully lit by more than three million lights) and observe the nocturnal activities of the many animals. Vendors selling Bavarian roasted pecans and almonds, hot wassail and cocoa, ice skating and a visit with St. Nick enhance the festive spirit. We attended Wild Lights last year, and the children have been clamoring to go ever since.

So we took them on Saturday night. We invited our dear friend, Tom, to join us. True, the sky was a bit misty and it was very dark and very cold, but hey–that’s part of the fun!

As we approached the park, the traffic was insane! Apparently, our good idea appealed to most of Columbus as well. Parking the car, it was apparent that it was no longer just cold, it was freezing. And it was not just a bit misty, it was raining.

We stood in line. For a very long time. Getting wetter and wetter.

Mr. Tom, with his wry sense of humor says “Oh…I see. This is how you punish the children when they misbehave. You take them to the zoo in the dark and get them very wet and very cold.”

Ha ha.

Once inside the park, things improved. The children were enchanted by the lights, though the crowds were significantly larger than last year.

The good: the beautiful lights, the petting barn, the model trains.

The bad: too much traffic, a large group of obnoxious teenagers, and four little boys who simply couldn’t stop making snowballs and pelting each other.

Oh yeah…we lost Maximilian. My sweet boy is a non-stop “lagger”. He simply will not stay with the group. This is not the first time Max has been “left behind.” He was quickly found by his dad (at the model train station), but not before his panicky mom had alerted park security.

It is a testimony to the hardiness of the children that they do, indeed, call this fun!

The Feast Of The Immaculate Conception

From Goffine’s Devout Instructions:

December 8

On this and the following eight days the Church celebrates, with particular solemnity, the immaculate conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary, who, from all eternity, was chosen to be the daughter of the heavenly Father, the spouse of the Holy Ghost, the Mother of the divine Redeemer, and, by consequence, the queen of angels and of men. The consideration of these prerogatives convinced the most enlightened fathers and teachers of the Catholic Church that she was conceived immaculate, that is, without original sin. It is very remarkable that among the shining hosts of saints who have, in every century, adorned the Church no one wrote against this belief, while we find it confirmed by the decisions of the holy fathers from the earliest times. Pope Pius IX, forced, as it were, by the faith and devotion of the faithful throughout the world, finally, on 8 December 1854, sanctioned, as a dogma of faith falling within the infallible rule of Catholic traditions, this admirable prerogative of the Blessed Virgin. It is, therefore, now no longer, as fomerly, a pious belief, but an article of the faith, that Mary, like the purest morning light which precedes the rising of the most brilliant sun, was, from the first instant of her conception, free from original sin.

In the Introit of the Mass the Church sings: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He hath covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels. I will extol thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me: and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me.” Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever shall be, world without end. Amen.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to bestow on Thy servants the gift of heavenly grace, that, for those to whom the Blessed Virgin’s maternity was the beginning of salvation, the votive solemnity of her immaculate conception may procure increase of peace. Through Christ our Lord, etc. Amen.

Epistle: Proverbs 8:22-35

The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His ways, before He made anything from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived, neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: the mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was present: when with a certain law and compass He enclosed the depths: when He established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters: when He compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits: when He balanced the foundations of the earth, I was with Him forming all things; and was delighted every day, playing before Him at all times; playing in the world, and My delights were to be with the children of men. Now, therefore, ye children, hear Me: Blessed are they that keep My ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth Me, and that watcheth daily at My gates, and waiteth at the posts of My doors. He that shall find Me shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.


This lesson is, in the literal sense, a eulogy on the divine and uncreated wisdom, which before all things was in God; through which all things were made, disposed, and preserved; which rejoices in its works, and calls upon all its creatures, especially on men, to render to it love and obedience. Most of what is here said is also to be applied to Mary, of whom it may with truth be said that, as the holiest and most admirable of all creatures, she occupies the first place in the heart of God. Therefore the Church also refers to her those words of the wise man: “I came out of the mouth of the Most High, the first born of all creatures.”

Gospel: Luke 1:26-28

And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God into a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.

Around The Year With The Trapp Family

Today the children and I watched a lovely musical, which most people are familiar with–The Sound Of Music. The movie is delightful, the songs memorable and the cinematography outstanding.

Unfortunately, like most movies it bears little resemblance to the “real” story, which is every bit as delightful and inspiring as the movie. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, by Maria Augusta Trapp gives the reader a first person account of the daily workings of this famous family. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the Trapp family, is the way they lived the Liturgical Year. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Feast Days, Name Days…theirs was a life lived by the Church calendar.

Another lovely book, Around the Year with the Trapp Family focused on the Liturgical celebrations so faithfully and beautifully honored by the family. Alas, it is no longer in print and is a little difficult to come by. This lovely blog, Around the Year with the Trapp Family provides excerpts from the publication to aid those who wish to incorporate a variety of celebratory traditions. Readers who wish to have the entire text, may find it in the EWTN library.

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