Catholic Family Vignettes

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


April 2008

The Traditional Feast Of The Ascension

As we are a traditional Catholic family (converts, too!) very much attached to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, the traditional liturgical calendar is used for most feast days.  This Thursday is the Traditional Feast of the Ascension.  We are planning a lovely “hilltop picnic” with a dear friend and her children (thanks to Catholic Cuisine for the suggestion!) and will attend the Latin Mass later in the evening.

From Goffine’s Devout Instructions:


At the Introit the Church sings the words which were spoken by the angels to the apostles and disciples, after the Ascension of our Lord:

INTROIT Ye men of Galilee, why wonder you, looking up to heaven? allel.: He shall so come as you have seen him going up into heaven. Allel., allel., allel. (Acts I. 11.), Oh, clap your hands, all ye nations; shout unto God with the voice of joy. (Ps. XLVI. 2.) Glory be to the Father, etc.

COLLECT Grant, we beseech Thee, O Almighty God, that we who believe Thy only‑begotten Son, our Redeemer, to have this day ascended into the heavens, may ourselves also in, mind dwell amid heavenly things. Through the same etc.

LESSON (Acts I. 1-11.) The former treatise I made, O Theophilus, of all things which Jesus began to do and to teach , until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles ,whom he had chosen, he was taken up: to whom also he showed himself alive after his passion, by many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of the kingdom of God. And eating together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but should wait for the prom­ise of the Father, which you have heard (saith he) by my mouth: for John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence. They, therefore, who were come together, asked him, saying: Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? But he said to diem: It is not for you to know the times or moments which the Father hath put in his own power; but you shall receive the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they were beholding him going up to heaven, behold, two men stood by them in white garments, who also said: Ye men of Galilee, why stand yon looking up to heaven? This Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come, as you have seen him going into heaven.

EXPLANATION This gospel of St. Luke addressed to Theophilus, a Christian of note in Antioch, contains an account of the life, sufferings, and death of Jesus up to the time of His ascension into heaven. The Evangelist con­tinues his account in the Acts of the apostles, in which he describes in simple words that which Jesus did during the forty days following His Resurrection, and the manner in which He ascended into heaven in the presence of His apostles. Rejoice that Christ today has entered into the glory gained by His sufferings and death, and pray: I rejoice, O King of heaven and earth, in the glory Thou bast this day attained in heaven. Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth: sing ye to the Lord: sing ye to God, who mounteth above the heaven of heavens to the east. Give ye glory to God for Israel, his magnificence and his power is in the clouds. God is wonderful in his saints, the God of Israel is he who will give power and strength to his people, blessed be God. (Ps.LXVII. 33‑36.)

GOSPEL (Mark. XVI. 14-20.) At that time, Jesus appeared to the eleven as they were at table: and he upbraided them with their incredulity and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them who had seen him after he was risen again. (And he said to them: Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned: And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents: and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick; and they shall recover.) And the Lord Jesus after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached everywhere, the Lord work­ing withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.

The part of this gospel which is within the marks of parenthesis, is the gospel for the feast of St: Francis Xavier.

Why did Christ say to His apostles: Go ye into the whale world and preach the gospel to all creatures?

To show that no one is to assume the office of preach­ing, but must look for his mission from the lawful pastors of the Church. And when Christ sends His apostles into the whole worlds to all nations without exception, He shows His willingness to save all men. If the designs of God are not fulfilled, the blame is not to be attributed to God, but to man, who either does not accept the doctrine of the gospel, or accepting, does not live in accordance with it, or else renders himself by his obduracy in vice, unworthy of the gospel.

Is faith without good works sufficient for salvation?

No, faith that is not active in love, not fruitful in good works, and therefore not meritorious, (Gal. V. 6.) is not suf­ficient for salvation. “Such faith,” says St. Anselm, “is not the faith of a Christian, but the faith of the devil.” Only he who truly believes in Christ and His doctrine, and lives in accordance with it, will be saved.

Is ours then the true faith since all the faithful do not work miracles; as Christ has predicted?

St. Gregory very beautifully replies to this question: “Because the Redeemer said that true faith would be ac­companied by miracles, you must not think that you have not the faith, because these signs do not follow; these miracles had to be wrought in the beginning of the Church, because faith in her had to be increased by these visible signs of divine power.” And even now when such signs are necessary for the propagation of the faith, and victory over unbelief, God gives His faithful power to work them.

Are miracles wrought now in the Catholic Church?

Yes, for there have been at all times saints in the Church, who, as seen from their lives, have wrought miracles, on account of their faith, which even the heretics cannot deny; for instance St. Francis Xavier, who in the sight of the heathens, raised several dead persons to life. In a spiritual manner all pious Catholics still work such miracles; for, as St. Chrysostom says, “they expel devils when they banish sin, which is worse than the devil; they speak new tongues when they converse no longer on vain and sinful things, but on those which are spiritual and heavenly.” “They take up serpents,” says St. Gregory, “when by zealous exhortations they lift others from the shame of vice, without being themselves poisoned; they drink deadly things without being hurt by them, when they hear improper conversation without being corrupted or led to evil; they lay their hands upon the sick and heal them, when they teach the ignorant, strengthen by their good example those who are wavering in virtue, keep the sinner from evil, and similar things.” Strive to do this upon all occasions, O Christian, for God willingly gives you His grace and you will thus be of more use to yourself and others, and honor God more than by working the greatest miracles.

Where and how did Christ ascend into heaven?

From Mount Olivet where His sufferings began, by which we learn, that where our crosses and afflictions begin which we endure with patience and resignation, there begins our reward. Christ ascended into heaven by His own power, because He is God, and now in His glorified humanity He sits at the right hand of His Father, as our continual Mediator.

In whose presence did Christ ascend into heaven?

In the presence of His apostles, and many of His dis­ciples, whom He had previously blessed, (Luke XXIV. 51.) and who, as St. Leo says, derived consoling joy from His ascension. Rejoice, also, O Christian foul, for Christ has today opened heaven for you, and you may enter it, if you believe in Christ, and live in accordance with that faith. St. Augustine says: “Let us ascend in spirit with Christ, that when His day comes, we may follow with our body.

Yet you must know, beloved brethren, that not pride, nor avarice, nor impurity, nor any other vice ascends with Christ; for with the teacher of humility pride ascends not, nor with the author of goodness, malice, nor with the Son of the Virgin, impurity. Let us then ascend with Him by trampling upon our vices and evil inclinations, thus build­ing a ladder by which we can ascend; for we make a ladder of our sins to heaven when we tread them down in combating them:”

ASPIRATION O King of glory! O powerful Lord! who hast this day ascended victoriously, above all heaven, leave us not as poor orphans; but send us, from the Father, the Spirit of truth whom Thou hast promised. Alleluia.

To signify that Christ, of whom the candle is a figure, has gone from His disciples.

On dreams and nightmares…

One morning, two years ago, my husband called me from work. He asked about our son, Galahad. Noting the worry in his voice, I assured him that Galahad was playing in the yard and that he was fine. He then did something very strange…he asked me to bring him inside. He didn’t really want to explain, but I pressed him. He told me about a terrifying nightmare he had that night about Galahad…he told me he watched our son die. He said, “I never dream. Never.” I reassured him that I would, of course, do as he wished, and offered him all the comfort that I could. I read him reassuring quotes from Scripture about dreams and told him this was “most certainly not a prophecy, but a trick of the devil…a means to disturb both mind and soul.”

Though I still didn’t completely understand his feelings, I kept the children (all of them) in that day, and found other ways to entertain them, without telling them why they were being kept inside. By the next morning the worries and fear over the previous night’s events disappeared, and life continued as it ever does, with no further discussion of the frightful images that tortured my dear husband for a brief time.

Two nights ago, I had a similar nightmare. It was Emily. I witnessed, in this dream, the death of my child. It was so real, so horrifying, the emotions so intense and heartrending…I awoke literally screaming. The feeling of intense grief, enveloped me like a cloud and I spent the entire day doing everything I could to dispel the image.

I apologized to my dear husband. It was, after all, just a dream. But the feelings were as real as anything I’ve ever felt. I had no idea what he had suffered that day, two years ago, and feel that I was perhaps more condescending, than understanding.

Dreams…I’ve never really seen them as anything other than what they are. As a “vivid dreamer,” I’ve enjoyed the nightly show and have laughed out loud over some of the silliness that the evening’s rest reveal.

Nightmares, on the other hand are great disturbers of the peace. Our Lord means for us to have rest, and they come like thieves in the night to steal from us the peace we are meant to have. Is it not strange that we never seem to expect that our good dreams are portents of future happiness? We recognize them for what they are…silly pictures and images, but never prophecies. Yet, how many of us have felt secret dread after a nightmare, fearing perhaps that the images of terror will reveal some unavoidable destiny?

Dreams and nightmares. Both are equally distracting, though the latter is certainly the more disturbing of the two.

The nightmare of two nights ago has faded, it is receding to that place that all bad dreams go. But it left a bit of sweetness behind in its wake. Though I will never share that night’s horror with the children, I spent the rest of the day trying very hard to let each member of this family know how precious they are, how cherished. I encouraged the children to remember that we all have such a little bit of time to share our love on this earth, and doing it well here counts for all eternity.

From the book of Sirach:

1 The hopes of a man that is void of understanding are vain and deceitful: and dreams lift up fools.
2 The man that giveth heed to lying visions, is like to him that catcheth at a shadow, and followeth after the wind.
3 The vision of dreams is the resemblance of one thing to another: as when a man’s likeness is before the face of a man.
4 What can be made clean by the unclean? and what truth can come from that which is false?
5 Deceitful divinations and lying omens and the dreams of evildoers, are vanity:
6 And the heart fancieth as that of a woman in travail: except it be a vision sent forth from the most High, set not thy heart upon them.
7 For dreams have deceived many, and they have failed that put their trust in them.
8 The word of the law shall be fulfilled without a lie, and wisdom shall be made plain in the mouth of the faithful.

Hey buddy…can you spare a couple million?

Yesterday marked the first day the United States government began issuing economic stimulus payments.

Are you looking for a worthwhile charitable investment? How about Catholic radio? St. Gabriel Radio, an EWTN affiliate, is seeking funds to expand. The following video provides all the details:

The Encampment

The morning dawned cold and gray. Our hopes were quickly dashed with the realization that our plans would have to change…attending the Civil War Encampment wouldn’t be much fun in the rain.

Two hours later, the clouds cleared and we ventured forth! What a lovely day, lots of interesting sights and sounds and a wonderful opportunity to expand our knowledge of American history. It was a lovely day!

Turning the table…

After centuries of persecution, the table is turning. Tonight the Christians will feast upon the lions!

A big thanks to Catholic Cuisine for this lovely suggestion to celebrate the feast of St. Mark. We altered the recipe just a tad…replacing the caramel corn with butterscotch chips. Why? Because we had them on hand! The story of my life–I’m the queen of substitution!

Why lions? The winged lion is the symbol for St. Mark. In the book of Revelation, St. John records a vision in which he sees the Throne of God surrounded by four winged creatures: a man, a lion, an ox and an eagle.

Here’s an interesting observation:

It has customarily been supposed that these represent the four Gospels, or the four Evangelists (Gospel-writers). One way of matching them is to say that the man stands for Matthew, whose narrative begins with the human genealogy of Jesus; that the lion stands for Mark, whose narrative begins with John the Baptist crying out in the desert (a lion roars in the desert); that the ox, a sacrificial animal, stands for Luke, whose narrative begins in the Temple, and that the eagle stands for John, whose narrative begins in Heaven, with the eternal Word.

Don’t you just love being Catholic? I can’t imagine living any other way…

Back to the scholars, now.  We’re nearly finished for the day, and it’s about time to start “chowing down” on a few lions!

The Feast of St. Mark – Evangelist

Today is the feast of day of St. Mark the Evangelist. If you’re looking for a simple way to mark the feast, check out the recipes at Catholic Cuisine. On the menu: Pasta San Marco (easily converted to meatless for this Friday’s fast!) And the the Lion Cupcakes are the cutest things, ever!

A new dance step…

Today the children learned a new dance. The FlyLady calls it the 27 fling boogie. It’s a nifty little “dance” that will help you declutter a room quickly. Check out the back of my van…just a few short minutes and a lot of stuff that will never have to be washed or folded or put away.

Desperate situations call for decisive actions. The boy’s room is a disaster. No…that’s putting it mildly. The boy’s room looks like a nuclear test site. Yes…that’s about right. This morning I realize what a disservice I was doing them, by constantly organizing and reorganizing the clutter. To quote the FlyLady: “You can’t organize clutter, you have to make it go away!” We’ve discovered that plastic bins only give birth to more plastic bins. Enough, I say! It’s time to let go of these things. So here’s what we did:

I set the timer for 15 minutes early in the morning. Each boy takes a bag, runs to the room and tosses in 27 items. I encouraged them to ask themselves when looking at an item (ala FlyLady) “do I love you? Use you? Need you? Are you broken? Are you a blessing to me?” If the answer to any of these questions is “no”, than it’s time to let it go! We did this with toys and with clothing. Clothing is the big issue in this household. We have six adult sized people (and three little people) and that’s a lot of laundry…a lot of sorting, washing, drying, folding, hanging and putting away. It’s also a lot of clothes that constantly end up on the floor. More clothes = more clothes to wash, dry, etc. Just like last year, we’re making a list of necessary items. Each boy will have a set number of shirts, pants, shorts, boxers, socks, etc. which will help them keep tabs on what is clean and what is dirty a little better.

And the best news? I’m establishing laundry “teams” at the suggestion of a dear friend. Arthur will take care of washing his and Gareth’s clothes (Gareth will help with folding, hanging and putting away) and Gawain will take care of washing his and Galahad’s clothes (Galahad will help with folding, hanging and putting away). I will assign the boys separate wash days to avoid conflicts. This is the advantage of having a large family…delegation! Not always one of my strong points…but definitely necessary! We owe it to our children to equip them with all the skills they will need to aid the family in day to day living.

Changeable weather…

Ah, the changeable weather…what is seasonable in the morning, is not quite as comfortable as the day progresses. Emily has had to adjust today’s “fashion” statement from this:

to this:

If you give a boy a stick…

…he’s going to build a gun. And if you give him a few more, pretty soon he’ll have his very own flint-lock pistol arsenal!

Don’t ask me why…it has to be a guy thing. Everything’s a weapon…

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