Catholic Family Vignettes

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


January 2008


To all my dear readers using IE (Internet Explorer):

Apparently, many of you have only been able to view a single post at a time on this blog for the past couple of months…Egads, how boring! I’m attempting to address the problem (which doesn’t exist BTW when viewing with Firefox…which is what I use). I’m not sure what the glitch is…any of you senior bloggers out there willing to offer any suggestions?

Meanwhile, I’m researching and will try to correct the problem ASAP.

BTW: If you’re an IE user…consider Firefox. Download speeds are far superior and the pop-up blocker NEVER fails. The interface is extremely easy to use and there are far fewer crashes and lockups. That’s my sales pitch for the day.

Yes…I’m a geek…

From the wisdom of St. Francis De Sales…

From today’s Daily with De Sales:

What a great mystery the human spirit is! Religious would like to sing the song of the bishops, and married people that of religious, “so as to serve God better,” they say. You fool yourself, my dear friend. You should not say you want to do this to love and serve God better, but to serve your self-satisfaction better. It is your own self-satisfaction that you love, far more than God’s satisfaction! The will of God, for example, can be found in sickness and as a general rule even better than in good health. If we prefer good health, please do no let us say we do so because we want to serve God better. (T.L.G. Book 3, Ch. 10; O. V, p. 140)

Thanks, St. Francis. You always set me straight…

This morning’s view…

15 degrees and it feels like 9…a winter storm is on the way…

But–what a glorious sunrise!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sunrise on the Hills

I stood upon the hills, when heaven’s wide arch
Was glorious with the sun’s returning march,
And woods were brightened, and soft gales
Went forth to kiss the sun-clad vales.
The clouds were far beneath me; bathed in light,
They gathered mid-way round the wooded height,
And, in their fading glory, shone
Like hosts in battle overthrown.
As many a pinnacle, with shifting glance.
Through the gray mist thrust up its shattered lance,
And rocking on the cliff was left
The dark pine blasted, bare, and cleft.
The veil of cloud was lifted, and below
Glowed the rich valley, and the river’s flow
Was darkened by the forest’s shade,
Or glistened in the white cascade;
Where upward, in the mellow blush of day,
The noisy bittern wheeled his spiral way.

I heard the distant waters dash,
I saw the current whirl and flash,
And richly, by the blue lake’s silver beach,
The woods were bending with a silent reach.
Then o’er the vale, with gentle swell,
The music of the village bell
Came sweetly to the echo-giving hills;
And the wild horn, whose voice the woodland fills,
Was ringing to the merry shout,
That faint and far the glen sent out,
Where, answering to the sudden shot, thin smoke,
Through thick-leaved branches, from the dingle broke.

If thou art worn and hard beset
With sorrows, that thou wouldst forget,
If thou wouldst read a lesson, that will keep
Thy heart from fainting and thy soul from sleep,
Go to the woods and hills! No tears
Dim the sweet look that Nature wears.

Each one teach one…

Today I was given the singular privilege of teaching a young woman a new skill…needle tatting. As a relatively new “tatter”, it was quite an honor to pass this skill on to my dear friend, Krislynne. As a dear friend had taught me, so now I must teach.

“Each one teach one…”

It is imperative that the “gentle arts” be passed on, from woman to woman, generation to generation. A few years ago, tatting, lacework, knitting, etc. were slipping into obscurity. Thanks to the enthusiasm of the very young, not to mention an incredible array of resources, the image of “granny” in her rocker with her knitting/sewing basket has been dispelled forever.

The needle arts are hip…whether you are male or female, old or young. The desire to create and the meditative aspect of the gentle arts appeals to this fast paced society of ours. You can’t multi-task and tat, thank heavens!

Make a list of things you want to learn and set out to learn them! Find a teacher, read a book, study online tutorials.

Then pass it on. The delight in the eyes of your students will be all the reward you’ll ever need…

This blog is rated "E"…thanks!

Lovely Amy Caroline at Knit and Pray has given me a most delightful, though undeserved award. Thank you my “bloggy” friend!

The rules: By accepting this Excellent Blog Award, you have to award it to 10 more people whose blogs you find Excellent Award worthy. You can give it to as many people as you want but please award at least 10. Thank you out there for having such great blogs and being such great friends! You deserve this! Feel free to award people who have already been awarded…

I’d like to pass this one along to the same motley crew that I just can’t seem to get enough of:

The RCP Gang
Amy Caroline
Elena Marie

What a lovely and diverse group! Pass it on, ladies and gents!

Inspired by literature…

What a darling website!

I’d like to encourage you to pay a visit to Daddy’s Little Princess. A very talented mom has designed a line of literature inspired children’s clothing.


While mom was teaching math…

Emily discovers new and creative uses for a director’s chair.

Voila! An airplane…notice the the super-neato headgear. She calls those her “ear pods”. I think that’s the toddler version of ipod…

Another meme…

An interesting meme…I haven’t done one in a while, so here goes!

BTW, thanks for the tag Esther!

1. Thai or Mexican

Mexican (I’ve never had Thai!)

2. bubble bath or back massage

Back massage…by the very best masseur, my husband!

3. boots or sandals


4. the 90% “pro-life” good chance or the 100% pro-life long shot

The 90% prolife good chance.

5. a cruise ship or a mountain cabin

A mountain cabin

6. Rome or Paris


7. Ordinary or Extraordinary


8. Rosary or Stations


9. surf or hang glide

Hang glide…weeeee!

10. Regal Cinemas or Netflix

Regal Cinemas

11. sweet or salty


12. pen or pencil


13. how-to book or fantasy novel


14. crossword or sudoku


15. lose a leg or lose your sight

ooooh…tough one…sight, I guess!

16. North or South

I’m originally from the South, y’all!

17. a power outage at home or a dead car battery at Costco

There’s no place like home…even without electricity ;-D

18. classic rock or country

Classic rock!

19. wool or linen

hmmm…almost equal…both natural fibers…wool?

20. lots of good friends or a few great friends

A few great friends

21. soup or salad

Soup, glorious, soup!

22. Merlot or Chardonnay


23. Picasso or Da Vinci

Da Vinci without question!

24. charades or trivial pursuit

Trivial Pursuit

25. Evangelical Protestantism or Orthodox Judaism

Orthodox Judaism (my grandfather was Jewish)

26. stone age or dark age

Dark ages…I really hate that term…it was first used by Petrarch to denounce the Latin literature of the time. It has also been used to refer to the religiosity of the time (which was Catholic!).

27. Steven Spielberg or Ken Burns


28. Thermopylae or Alamo


29. Big Foot or Loch Ness Monster

Sweet Nessie!

30. babies or teenagers

I like the portability of babies and the usefulness of teenagers…tough one! I’ll choose babies, because they represent beginnings…there is so much “separation” as they grow up. Can’t we just keep them little forever?

In Memoriam…

Introibo ad altare Dei, ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.

I will go unto the altar of God, to God who giveth joy to my youth.

Today marks the one year anniversary of the death of a dear friend, Mr. John Bianco. John passed away last year, quite unexpectedly, just a few short months before he was to wed the love of his life, Amanda.

John was…unique…precious, in fact. To know him was to love him. He cherished his friends and had such great love for the Traditional Latin Mass. John was the first person to greet a newcomer to the Mass and the first to ask “So…how do you like the Latin Mass?” His quirky sense of humor, his mischievous merriment when introducing a controversial subject (just to see the sparks fly!) and his delight in hearing the whistle of a train are so missed by his family and friends. I miss him.

A couple of months ago I happened upon a blog written by John…it was such a surprise. The title of his last post? still here…

And so he is. In the hearts, thoughts and prayers of his friends. If you could, in your charity please pray for the repose of his soul and for the comfort of his family and friends, most especially his dear fiancee, Amanda.

Requiescat in pacem, John Bianco.
July 8, 1974 – January 28, 2007


My dear son, Galahad, has such a great devotion to the brown scapular. He never takes it off…well, he does take it off to shower, but only because a wet scapular doesn’t exactly promise a good night’s sleep.

This evening, one of his scapular cords broke, frayed to pieces it was. He was desperate to have it sown back together as soon as possible. When he handed it to me, I couldn’t believe how absolutely worn out the poor thing was. See for yourself:

It is “patched” now, but will have to be retired soon. Tomorrow I will have the replacement blessed, though I wonder what I should do with such a beloved sacramental? I know all the prescriptions: bury it, burn it, etc.

I think I might have to save this one. It’s his first. Maybe it should go in his baby book.

The rest of the family is so touched by this young boy’s devotion. We are making plans to have the entire family “invested” this month.

Pope Benedict XV said: “Let all of you have a common language and a common armor: the language, the sentences of the Gospel; the common armor, the Scapular of the Virgin of Carmel, which you all ought to wear and which enjoys the singular privilege of protection even after death.”

Lethal injection…

There are so many reasons to avoid this vaccine. Here are a few more:

Two Women Die After Receiving Cervical Cancer Vaccine

From FoxNews and the Daily Mail:

The death of two young women who received the cervical cancer vaccination is causing some in the U.K. to question a strategy that calls for hundreds of thousands of school girls to receive the shot next fall, the Daily Mail reports.

The young women who died received the vaccination, marketed under the name Gardasil, in Germany and Austria, respectively. The European Medicines Agency has not released their ages.

The two deaths follow the deaths of three U.S. females, ages 12, 19 and 22, who were reported to have died days after receiving Gardasil, which protects against the human papillomavirus believed to be the leading cause of cervical cancer, was administered.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently reported that 28 women miscarried after receiving the vaccine.

Click here for more on that report

Neither U.S. nor European health officials have directly linked the deaths or miscarriages to Gardasil. The FDA has said there is no reason to reexamine approval of the drug.

A spokesman for Merck, maker of Gardasil, told the Daily Mail there were no plans to change the company’s recommendation on use of the vaccine.

Click here to read more of this story from the Daily Mail

Here’s a quote from the National Vaccine Information Center criticizing the FDA:

“There is too little long term safety and efficacy data, especially in young girls, and too little labeling information on contraindications for the CDC to recommend Gardasil for universal use, which is a signal for states to mandate it,” said Fisher. “Nobody at Merck, the CDC or FDA know if the injection of Gardasil into all pre-teen girls – especially simultaneously with hepatitis B vaccine – will make some of them more likely to develop arthritis or other inflammatory autoimmune and brain disorders as teenagers and adults. With cervical cancer causing about one percent of all cancer deaths in American women due to routine pap screening, it was inappropriate for the FDA to fast track Gardasil. It is way too early to direct all young girls to get three doses of a vaccine that has not been proven safe or effective in their age group.”

Living in a shell…

I’ve been living in a shell…a nice little shell. No television. No newspapers. I don’t listen to the radio. I check the weather every morning via the internet, scan the headlines at CNN and FoxNews, research what I really need to know and try to get as close to the source as possible for all of my information. I tend to stay away from “conspiracy theories”…I’m a homeschooling mom, for pete’s sake! There are a few things in this world I simply don’t need to know to live my vocation.

BUT…sometimes I run across something so bizarre that I’m compelled to consider the possible implications. Perhaps you’ve already seen this clip. Even dismissed it. It is certainly worth viewing and whether true or false, I was surprised by my extreme reaction to the idea of the disappearance of my country, the Constitution and a change in currency.

Weighty issues, my friends.

I love being an American. I like pennies, dimes, quarters, tens and twenties. I like the idea of protected borders.

Once again I’m reminded to pray for the preservation all of those things that have made our country great.

Let us pray:

Most Holy Trinity: Our Father in Heaven, who chose Mary as the fairest of Your daughters; Holy Spirit, who chose Mary as Your Spouse; God the Son who chose Mary as Your Mother, in union with Mary we adore Your Majesty and acknowledge Your supreme, eternal dominion and authority.

Most Holy Trinity, we put the United States of America into the hands of Mary Immaculate in order that she may present the country to You. Through her we wish to thank You for the great resources of this land and for the freedom which has been its heritage. Through the intercession of Mary, have mercy on the Catholic Church in America. Grant us peace. Have mercy on our President and on all the officers of our government. Grant us a fruitful economy, born of justice and charity. Have mercy on capital and industry and labor. Protect the family life of the nation. Guard the precious gift of many religious vocations. Through the intercession of Our Mother, have mercy on the sick, the tempted, sinners – on all who are in need.

Mary, Immaculate Virgin, Our Mother, Patroness of our land, we praise you and honor you and give ourselves to you. Protect us from every harm. Pray for us, that acting always according to your will and the Will of your Divine Son, we may live and die pleasing to God. Amen.

Imprimatur: Patric O’Boyle, Archbishop of Washington May 8, 1959

The Pin Cushion Queen

Life isn’t easy
For the Pin Cushion Queen
When she sits on her throne
Pins push through her spleen.

The Pin Cushion Queen, Tim Burton

Yesterday marks the beginning of a new adventure for the little ladies of the house: the joys of handwork.

Charlotte and Emily are six and four, respectively. With great delight I began teaching them the basics of handwork. We traced dotted lines, varying the lengths and spaces and then “sewed” them, with needle and thread. I was amazed at how quickly they caught on, particularly four year old Emily. Excitedly, they begged additional lessons, so we made plans to hold another class. That was today.

Once we finished with school, the boys sat down at table to begin their own project…the excavation of ancient ruins. What a mess! My dining room looks like an archaeological dig site, there is dust everywhere, but what fun!

The girls, who were more interested in the project that the boys were involved in, came to their sewing class reluctantly. Many tears from the four year old, as she tried to master the plastic canvas, which I thought would be an aid to her in explaining the “ins and outs” of sewing.

No…she had absolutely no patience for it. Charlotte had no difficulty in grasping any technique I showed her, and I began to lament that I had included Emily. Perhaps four is a bit young.

Throwing caution to the wind, I pulled out the fabric, needles and thread. A quick demonstration of a running stitch and the girls were set. Our first project: very small pillows for very small dollies. The pillows were finished very quickly and the girls couldn’t have been more excited. Emily was much more comfortable with the fabric, she even sewed a tiny button on her little pillow. Both girls were so very excited that three of their brothers asked if they, too, could join the adventure.

And so they did…

This evening amidst the dust, the pieces of thread, the scraps of fabric and resting upon the sofa which has, indeed, been turned into a pin cushion, rest five lovely little pillows in shades of pink and blue.

The delight of the children who have gained a new skill is quite sweet, never mind that mom was, for a time, a pin cushion. They are already making plans for pillowcases and marble bags.

I hope they enjoy the handwork. I only have one sewing machine…

The Feast of St. Francis De Sales

The world holds us to be fools; let us hold it to be mad.

Today is the feast of St. Francis De Sales. St. Francis is the patron saint of writers, authors, journalists, educators and is also the patron of Columbus, Ohio. My own devotion to St. Francis De Sales has grown over the years, but most particularly after reading one of his finest devotional works, Introduction To The Devout Life. It is, along with the Imitation of Christ, one of the most astounding instructional tomes. Were I only able to choose three books to “feed my soul”, I would choose Sacred Scripture, The Imitation of Christ and Introduction To The Devout Life.

Here are a few excerpts:

What is True Devotion?
The difference between love and devotion is just that which exists between fire and flame;–love being a spiritual fire which becomes devotion when it is fanned into a flame;–and what devotion adds to the fire of love is that flame which makes it eager, energetic and diligent, not merely in obeying God’s Commandments, but in fulfilling His Divine Counsels and inspirations.

(A personal favorite)
Undertake all of your duties with a calm mind and try to do them one at a time. If you try to do them all at once, or without order, your spirits will be so overcharged and depressed that they will likely sink under the burden and nothing will be done.

In all of your affairs, rely on the Providence of God through which alone you much look for success. Strive quietly to cooperate with its designs. If you have a sure trust in God, the success that comes to you will always be that which is most useful to you, whether it appears good or bad in your private judgment.

Think of the little children who with one hand hold fast to their father while with the other they gather berries. If you handle the goods of this world with one hand, you must also always hold fast with the other to your heavenly Father’s hand, and turn toward him from time to time to see if you are pleasing him. Above all, be sure that you never leave his hand and his protection, thinking that with your own two hands you can gather more or get some other advantage.

and this gem:
We can never please the world unless we lose ourselves together with it. It is so demanding that it can’t be satisfied. “John came neither eating nor drinking,” says the Savior, and you say, “He has a devil.” “The Son of man came eating and drinking” and you say that he is “a Samaritan.” It is true, Philothea, that if we are ready to laugh, play cards, or dance with the world in order to please it, it will be scandalized at us, and if we don’t, it will accuse us of hypocrisy or melancholy. If we dress well, it will attribute it to some plan we have, and if we neglect our dress, it will accuse of us of being cheap and stingy. Good humor will be called frivolity and mortification sullenness. Thus the world looks at us with an evil eye and we can never please it. It exaggerates our imperfections and claims they are sins, turns our venial sins into mortal sins and changes our sins of weakness into sins of malice.

an excellent reminder:
How displeasing to God are rash judgments! The judgments of the children of men are rash because they usurp the office of Our Lord, the just Judge. They are rash because the principal malice of sin depends on the intention and the counsel of the heart, and these are hidden things not known to human judges. They are rash because every person has things that could be judged, and, indeed, on which one should judge oneself.

On the cross our Savior could not entirely excuse the sin of those who crucified him, but he extenuated the malice by pleading their ignorance. When we cannot excuse a sin, let us at least make it worthy of compassion by attributing the most favorable cause we can to it, such as ignorance or weakness. We can never pass judgment on our neighbor.

History side trip…

Sacred Heart Academy is taking a little history side trip. We’ve stepped out of ancient history for a bit to delve into the early history of our great land, focusing particularly on the American Revolution.

We are currently reading Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. Do you remember Johnny Tremain? What young person, particularly the boys, could help but be inspired by this young man’s example of valor and perseverance?

Last night the family viewed this video. Even the youngest children were fascinated by the exciting events leading to the Revolutionary War. Today we will continue our discussion, delving into the life of Paul Revere and watching these (I love School House Rock and yes, I know the words of every single song!):


Get this man a cup of coffee, please!

This would be painful to watch, if it weren’t so doggone funny!

Never forget…

48,632,071 little lives lost since January 22, 1973.

Thirty-five years of Roe vs. Wade. Thirty-five years of legalized infanticide. Thirty-five years of “civil” war on the front lines of the pro-life crusade. Thirty-five years of political doublespeak.

Thirty-five years of prayer and sacrifice.

From the USCCB:

In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass “For Peace and Justice” (no. 22 of the “Masses for Various Needs”) should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.

General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373

Shall we pray? From Priests For Life:

Prayer to End Abortion

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen!

May God bless all of the good pilgrims on their way to our nation’s capital to give witness to the sanctity of human life.

This Cookie’s a Monster…

You have to read this post of Amy’s. It provides the perfect backdrop for this:

I have a cat. I didn’t want a cat.

Late last summer this really adorable kitten (we live on a farm…everyone assumes we are the local animal shelter, they drop off cats all the time!) showed up on the back porch. I quickly informed the husband and children that we were not, under any circumstances, keeping the cat. No matter that he was very cute. And that he had blue eyes.

(all together now: awwwwwww…isn’t he cute!)
Cookie Monster

No cat.

Then the cat caught a mouse. Outside the storage building. Quickly and efficiently. “He stays!” I boldly proclaimed, thinking cheap cat food and a flea treatment will take care of his most basic needs. Charlotte named him Cookie Monster.

When the temperatures dropped, we decided to bring the poor dear inside, he was rather scrawny (he’d been fighting off assorted wildlife for his dinner)…and made all of the arrangements to accommodate a feline, including the dreaded litter box.

The smell, was unbearable. We tried every type of litter, scooping twice daily, deodorizing…to no avail.

Then a good friend stopped by for a visit. She took a good long look at our cat and said, “I think he’s a Rag Doll…”

“Yeah…he is kind of cute, but the smell!” was my reply.

She proceeded to explain that Rag Doll was the breed. A fairly expensive and desirable breed and we should do a little research.

Sure enough, this “throw away” cat, is without doubt, a Rag Doll. Check the comparison:

Well, the cat’s diet improved dramatically after that revelation, away with the cheap food! Amazingly, the “stinky litter box” problem disappeared just as soon as his highness’ diet was improved.

The great thing about Rag Dolls: they are more dog than cat. They don’t pounce on you, they don’t have the energy to chase a ball of string let alone tear up your curtains. They can be picked up and placed in any position imaginable…and they’ll stay there! Guests have stepped on our cat…he just lays there. He is absolutely enormous now…getting bigger every day.

The downside: he thinks he’s a dog. He simply refuses to urinate in the litter box. He must go outside or he’ll “go” all over the kitchen floor. Huge puddles. Like a dog.

The worst yet? He peed on me. Last night.

Quick. Tell me he’s a really pretty cat. Or it’s Craigslist.

A "must have" for the large family…

The shoe rack. If you don’t have one, and you have more than four children, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

Shoes off at the door. On the rack. No more lost shoes…

My old rack broke several months ago. We’ve been limping (hah, nice pun!) along since then, without it.

Until today. An expandable shoe rack, sitting by the back door.

Life is good. Perhaps one day I’ll be able to “upgrade” to this:

Septuagesima Sunday

Septuagesima Sunday, on which the canticle of the Lord, Alleluja, ceases to be said”

from the Roman Martyrology

The Christian Year

by John Keble


The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are
clearly seen, being understood by the things which are made.
Romans i. 20.

THERE is a book, who runs may read,
Which heavenly truth imparts,
And all the lore its scholars need,
Pure eyes and Christian hearts.

The works of God above, below,
Within us and around,
Are pages in that book, to shew
How God himself is found.

The glorious sky embracing all
Is like the Maker’s love,
Wherewith encompass’d, great and small
In peace and order move.

The Moon above, the Church below,
A wondrous race they run,
But all their radiance, all their glow,
Each borrows of its Sun.

The Saviour lends the light and heat
That crowns his holy hill;
The saints, like stars, around his seat,
Perform their courses still.

The saints above are stars in Heaven-
What are the saints on earth?
Like trees they stand whom God has given,
Our Eden’s happy birth.

Faith is their fix¹d unswerving root,
Hope their unfading flower,
Fair deeds of charity their fruit,
The glory of their bower.

The dew of heaven is like thy grace,
It steals in silence down;
But where it lights, the favour’d place
By richest fruits is known.

One Name above all glorious names
With its ten thousand tongues
The everlasting sea proclaims,
Echoing angelic songs.

The raging Fire, the roaring Wind,
Thy boundless power display:
But in the gentler breeze we find
Thy Spirit¹s viewless way.

Two worlds are ours: ’tis only Sin
Forbids us to descry
The mystic heaven and earth within,
Plain as the sea and sky.

Thou, who hast given me eyes to see
And love this sight so fair,
Give me a heart to find out Thee,
And read Thee everywhere.

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