Catholic Family Vignettes

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


May 2010

Child safety warning…hehehe…

There are many reasons why young children shouldn’t be allowed to play with 5 gallon buckets.

Reason #27:  If you sit on it, you’ll fall in it, and can’t escape…

And then your big brother will employ the “portability factor” greatly increasing your frustration:

She outgrew the sling many years ago, but somehow I don’t think the CPSC will approve this as a suitable option for carrying larger children!

(no feelings were hurt in the photo op process…subject viewed photos and gave approval for publication.  All rights reserved.)


Daybook…sickbed edition

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – May 28th, 2010

Outside My Window: soft, warm air, gray skies and damp grass.  Jewel-like cherries glistening upon waiting boughs…3.5 lbs. picked, pitted and frozen…a couple more pounds waiting.  The first time we’ve managed to beat the birds to the harvest…

I am Listening to: bird song.  The air is so very still outside my window…not even a hint of breeze. 

I am wearing : Aqua tee shirt dress.  I need to get used to this.  After surgery, it’s nothing but dresses and skirts.  I’ve gotten too much in the habit of grabbing the jeans and capris, so the return to femininity will be welcomed by the masculine presence in the household!

I am Thankful For: kleenex, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, video games and the prayers of friends and family.  The children have been horrifically sick…the worst in a couple years.  Every symptom under the sun…seems like flu…in May!  We’re on day 6 for Michael and day 5 for the rest.  Two birthdays in the midst of all this suffering.  Praying that it will end soon…

I am Reading: nothing much.  Tending the sick, mostly…hitting FB to keep the grandparents up to date on the status of the children…

From the Kitchen: Food?  You’re kidding, right?  No one really wants to eat.  In addition to the upper respiratory symptoms, we’ve had extreme nausea, stomach pain and vomiting.  Toast, chicken noodle soup, crackers and Vernor’s ginger ale.  Hoping all will be well enough for birthday cake and a good meal tomorrow evening.  We haven’t celebrated Michael’s birthday yet due to all this sickness…

I am Thinking: about my upcoming surgery on June 29th.  Kind of scared.  Not so much of the pain, but of the months of debilitation.   The orthopedic surgeon says the left foot basically needs a rebuild.  The accessory navicular is “the largest I’ve ever seen…” he said.  Of course.  Naturally.  “The post tibial tendon has ruptured and must be reattached and strengthened with another tendon…” Ummm…yeah.  “The heel is shifted significantly and needs to be restructured…” What?  “The arch has fallen and will need to be restructured as well…” Ouch. “Two weeks complete bed rest, only getting up for the bathroom and then with assistance…” You’re kidding, right?  “Another six weeks of not touching that foot to the ground at all, keeping it elevated as much as possible while casted to the knee.” A leg cast?  Throughout JULY, AUGUST and part of SEPTEMBER?  Eeek!  “Cast will be removed sometime in September…with a soft sided cast/boot for several weeks and physical therapy…” So…right about the time we start school, again…great.  “50% mobility within four months post-surgery, rapidly increasing as we approach Christmas.  Quite possibly pain-free and walking well within 8 months…” God willing…I can’t imagine pain free.  After 30 years of suffering, which has tremendously increased since June of ’09.  Pain free…or at least tremendously improved.  And necessary.  The choice is surgery or a completely destroyed foot and lifelong limp.  So, surgery it is!

Please pray for me.  I don ‘t do well with bed rest…three very difficult pregnancies gave me a lot of practice in that arena.  My poor husband and children will have to manage everything.  When I consider what a big baby I was during the few weeks after the tonsillectomy, I can only pray that I’ve grown since that experience…I guess we’ll know soon enough.

I am Creating: trying to create a bit more order and a lot of written instructions…assigning household management responsibilities to everyone, from oldest to youngest.

On my iPod: This week has been a Cold Play week.  Feeling kind of melancholic…

Towards a Real Education: zip, zero, zilch.  Kids…sick…all…week.

To Live the Liturgy: All these lovely Feast days…it seems we’ve done so little to observe them.  Just a lot of prayerful suffering.  The children and I were unable to attend Mass for the Feast of Pentecost. I feel so very spiritually lazy, right now.  I’m sure it will pass…peace is on the horizon….

I am Hoping and Praying: for greater charity.  That true charity be my first motive in all my actions…dear God, enflame my heart!

In the Garden: so lovely and green.  Everything is coming along nicely.  The flowers are quite lovely, too…

Around the House: evidence of neglect.  And sickness.  At least the laundry has remained caught up…

On Keeping Home: a clean kitchen.  Two loads of laundry to fold and put away.  The classroom is a disaster…cluttered and in need of purging.  Which will happen this week.  The classroom will become the master bedroom…or “healing chamber…”  I won’t be able to navigate stairs for some weeks, so I must be downstairs.  Poor hubby…he so loves our room upstairs.  Ah, well…we do what we must…

One of My Favorite Things: children who are sick and tell their mom who they are offering their suffering for.  God bless them…

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week: Plan for the Grands visit on the 7th, a big BBQ on the 12th and readying supplies for my convalescence.  So…much…to…do…

A Picture Thought I’m Sharing:

Loved the season finale of LOST!

Six years of LOST and all we have left are a bunch of Dharma chocolate bars and a few Dharma beers...and eight Oceanic 815 boarding passes.


Finally getting LOST…

There is little doubt that the long anticipated series finale of the amazingly popular television show LOST has left many questions unanswered…for some viewers this is a problem.  After all, we’re all looking for answers, right?   And there were oh, so many questions raised in the midst of all that mystery and mayhem that made up the lives of the passengers of Oceanic 815 and indeed, amongst the “other” inhabitants and visitors that made their way to the enigmatic “Island.”

Every question deserves an answer.  But every answer will only lead to yet another question…

And so many questions remain.  Yet…having viewed the incredible conclusion of this ground-breaking show, I, like the hero of our story, am no longer seeking those answers.   The name of the Man In Black doesn’t really seem so very important.  Deeper and more significant are the answers that were given.   The creative forces behind LOST have woven a story of such beauty:   life and death, sin and redemption, grace and mercy; magic, myth and reality…all played out so poignantly in the last moments of the life of Jack Shepherd;  former “man of science” and now the ultimate “man of faith…”

I’m remembering these amazing images…snapshots that caught my imagination and whisked away the petty dramas…

I saw:

~An opening scene on a bright sunny day in front of a Catholic Church…the very Church where Jack will see “the light…”  The camera pans in an settles upon the larger than life statue of our Blessed Lord, arms outstretched and welcoming.

Near the end of the show, as each of the characters has made their way into the sanctuary, we see this same statue at night:  a bright, white light shining upon the merciful Christ…seemingly revealing Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life…and Jack is coming to “claim” his father, in my mind THE Father of all humanity.

~I learned that some of the cast would not be “moving on…”  Eloise, who murdered her son once, won’t let him go…and continues her purgatory, holding onto her son as a lifeline…

~The “sacristy” or small anteroom where Jack finds his father.  A stained glass window decorated with a Star of David, Cross, Ankh, Yin/Yang, etc.  On shelves and pedestals we see statues of Buddha and Shiva, rosaries and menorahs…all the images of the faiths practiced by these people who are now ready to “move on…”

~And then the ultimate:  We see Jack, lead by his father, into the sanctuary of an enormous Catholic Church…walking past the altar with the tabernacle as the central focus.  Friend embraces friend…Muslim embraces Catholic, and Buddhists embrace all within the safe haven of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  An amazing visual, explaining as few words can, the often misquoted, misunderstood and yet essential tenet of our Faith: extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. It is all so beautifully and simply explained in this scene: Sayid the Muslim, Jack the Catholic, Jin and Sun our Buddhists…all before the Tabernacle, all “Inside the Church,” all preparing to “move on” together…to eternity.

~We see Christian, the father, open the doors and reveal a light of such piercing beauty…every one of our friends has turned towards it.

~And then we see Jack…Jack letting go.  Moving on.  Joyfully…

There were so many other scenes, before and after that were meaningful, but these stand out, particularly for this Catholic, as beautiful testimonies to the faith and faithfulness of the primary message that has permeated this show:

There is always redemption.  There is always hope.  There is mercy and grace, if one is willing to move forward and embrace it…there is always a choice.  And…

There is peace.

I can’t pretend to know the minds and intent of the show’s creators, but I feel as though I finally “get it.”  And I can only give my own opinion, reading into this tale, as I would any story, the truths that are essential, that reveal my faith.  I would so enjoy reading your take on those final moments…we bring our own baggage into every story, every experience.

Where did LOST take you? It was such an amazing journey, one that has reached it’s final destination, and I for one, am sorry that it had to end.

But what an ending!


Heart full of babies…


Abigail:  Zachary…what do you think mommy served for dinner at her wedding reception?

Zachary:  I don’t know Abigail.  They wouldn’t even invite me.  They made me stay home with a babysitter…

Abigail:  Don’t be ridiculous, Zachary.  You weren’t even born.  You were stuck inside mommy’s heart with the rest of us…

The facts of life…according to an eight year old girl…sweet and simple.


The “Mary” Month of May: Mater Ecclesiae

Mary, Mother of the Church
Rev. Matthew R. Mauriello

After fifty days of joyous celebration, the Easter Season solemnly closes each year with the great feast of Pentecost Sunday. This has been traditionally called the “birthday” of the Church, that day when “all were filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:4) Pentecost occurs ten days after the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Acts of the Apostles tells us that during this time the “apostles were constantly at prayer together, and with them a group of women, including Mary, the mother of Jesus.” (Acts 1:14) The Church has traditionally portrayed the Blessed Virgin Mary together with the apostles and disciples who were gathered at that first Pentecost. She is the model of persevering prayer joined in oneness of mind and heart with the first members of the Church.

Mary had been present at the very beginnings of the Church. She was there at the Annunciation when her humble consent in purity of heart allowed the Son of God to take flesh in her virginal womb.

She was also present standing at the foot of the cross as her Son and our Savior redeemed the world as part of God’s plan. (Catechism 599-600) There she was appointed to be mother of all those who were brought to life through the death of her only Son. (St. John 19:26-27)

Now, at Pentecost, when the apostolic mission of the Church begins, Mary is present as well. She is the perfect pattern of the church at prayer. “She is invoked as Mother of the Church and the teacher and Queen of the Apostles” wrote Pope Leo XIII (d. 1903) in his September 1895 encyclical, Helper of the People (Adjutricem Populi). Pope John XXIII (d.1963) in an allocution in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on December 6, 1960 spoke of Mary as “Mother of the Church and our most loving Mother.” (AAS 53, 1961, 35)

The “Mary” Month of May: “that whole Mary thing…”

As I ponder the beauty and nature of our Blessed Mother, it never ceases to amaze me the consternation and confusion experienced by a few of my other brothers and sisters in Christ as they contemplate what they often disparagingly refer to as “that whole Mary thing…”

“What’s up with the way you Catholics worship Mary?  What makes her so special?  God loves all of us and she’s no better than anyone else.  And all those statues, songs and poems…that’s idolatry!”

As a convert from protestantism to Catholicism, I’ve always counted it a singular blessing to have never experienced any such confusion.  To love Mary has always seemed such a natural expression, indeed an extension of loving Christ.  How can one not love the Mother, who clothed the Son, first in Flesh, then swaddling clothes, and finally a shroud?  How can one not love the Daughter, whose “fiat” all of Heaven awaited in breathless anticipation?  How can one not love the Spouse of the Holy Spirit…she who became the living tabernacle of the living God?

How can one not love the Woman, who beheld the Son, as He suffered and bled for all humanity…the same Son who then gave this same humanity to her, she who would be Mother of us all…After that, he saith to the disciple: “Behold thy mother.”  And from that hour, the disciple took her to his own.  John 19:27

Consider this:

The most holy Virgin had more faith than all men and angels. She saw her Son in the crib of Bethlehem, and believed Him the Creator of the world. She saw Him fly from Herod, and yet believed Him the King of kings. She saw Him born, and believed Him eternal. She saw Him poor and in need of food, and believed Him the Lord of the universe. She saw Him lying on straw, and believed Him omnipotent. She observed that He did not speak, and she believed Him infinite wisdom. She heard Him weep, and believed Him the joy of Paradise. In fine, she saw Him in death, despised and crucified, and, although faith wavered in others, Mary remained firm in the belief that He was God. ~St. Alphonsus Liguori~

To love Mary is to glorify God for what He accomplished through her!  We cannot extol her nor glorify her more than the Holy Trinity, who extolled and glorified her first…

And as for her elevated status amongst the blessed in heaven…

Is it really a stretch to understand that there are degrees of glory in Heaven, particularly as we contemplate the Mother of God?  Just as some walk closer and more perfectly with God in this world, so shall they be rewarded in the next…logic, Divine Justice, Sacred Tradition and Holy Scripture attest to this truth:

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works. Matthew 16:27

But the planter and the waterer are one; but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. I Corinthians 3:8

Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings.  2 Corinthians 9:6

One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars.  For star differeth from star in glory  1 Corinthians 15:41

“Star differeth from star in glory…” Indeed!  And so shall we, as we enter the glory of Heaven, differ from one another in degrees of glory experienced in the Beatific Vision.  Heaven is not a socialist empire, with a “beige” population of cookie-cutter Christians.  It is a place which defies explanation:  But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

I can only rejoice with the understanding that the Divine Justice and the Mercy of God will render to each of us “according to our works.”  St. Therese of Lisieux, expressed her own concerns regarding this very subject, and was given an explanation of such simplicity, such charm by her older sister, Pauline:

One day I expressed surprise that God does not give an equal amount of glory to all the elect in Heaven–I was afraid that they would not all be quite happy. She sent me to fetch Papa’s big tumbler, and put it beside my tiny thimble, then, filling both with water, she asked me which seemed the fuller. I replied that one was as full as the other–it was impossible to pour more water into either of them, for they could not hold it. In this way Pauline made it clear to me that in Heaven the least of the Blessed does not envy the happiness of the greatest; and so, by bringing the highest mysteries down to the level of my understanding, she gave my soul the food it needed. ~St. Therese of Lisieux – Story of A Soul~

These words clarify, give comfort and help me to fight the good fight everyday, to not put off that good deed, that small kindness.  I am a tiny “thimble”…and I needn’t ever be envious of those great “tumblers” who hold so much more…for I shall be filled as full as can be!

“Hail…full of grace!” The Angelic Salutation to the Virgin Mary…

Full!  Our Blessed Mother is Full of Grace!  And we her children are blessed, too, by what God has done for her.  She lives, in the glory of Heaven, praying for her children and waiting for that day when we all come home…and I, her daughter, have no shame in her images; the poetry and hymns composed that glorify God by acknowledging His Mother…I have no shame whatsoever in sharing with everyone “that whole Mary thing…”


The “Mary” Month of May: Queen of Creation


To greet thee is greeting all human hearts
To whom thou hast opened God’s treasure troves
Of joy and salvation, of hope and peace.

Thou art more fair than Eve in her beauty,
More beautiful than star-like Esther,
More valiant then Judith, the brave,
For thou wert with God in the beginning
of His ways,
Before he made the mountains and the sea,
Delight of the Triune ever plating before Him,
First-born of all His beloved creatures,
Sweet like the dawn and mild like the dusk;
Thy name is written into the sky
A sign that shall nevermore be erased.

The Christian Family and Our Missions. May 1950.

Daybook: Rainy days and Monday…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – May 17th, 2010

Outside My Window: lead-gray sky and soft drizzle falling upon greening fields…shoots of corn are welcoming the rain more than I.  Cold and windy, with the promise of more to come.

I am Listening to: soft rain falling upon the window panes and the conversation of children…

I am wearing : pale green capris, peasant blouse and an ankle brace…more on that later.

I am Thankful For:the beauty and productivity of Saturday.  The whole family worked together to plant, mow, weed, trim and assemble a very large above ground pool.  The children are so very excited and just a little bummed…the weather is drizzly, gray and freezing.  That pool will have to wait for warmer temperatures!

I am Reading: finished Fatherless. I just can’t review it yet.  The book is well written, fast paced and painfully  accurate.  If you’ve read it, I’d love to read your “take” on it.  I’m glad that he’s writing two sequels:  Motherless and Childless…though the titles seem laced with hopelessness!  So much suffering and unresolved conflict in the first book…

From the Kitchen: Roast chicken with garlic and rosemary, mashed potatoes, salad and sliced apples, french bread.

I am Thinking: about today’s visit with the orthopedic surgeon.  He basically chewed me out for wanting a quick fix for something I’ve let go for too long.  I really wasn’t looking for a”quick fix” just relief from the non-stop pain that is keeping me from walking any kind of distance.  But now it seems my accessory navicular is not really the problem.  Oh, it’s causing me pain, true…but it’s only acting up because I’ve apparently ruptured the post tibial tendon…almost a year ago, while hiking with my parents.  Remember the leg pain issue that required the venous ultrasound?  Well…it wasn’t a clot, it was probably the tendon and everyone missed it…including me.  The fix is not an easy one. To quote the doctor (sort of) “detach this, remove that, take this from here to there, reattach it…etc., etc.,”   I’m seriously bummed.  I’ve basically lost what little arch I had, have concurrent foot/leg/knee pain and the whole structure of the foot is changing daily.  An MRI is scheduled for Friday, follow up on Monday.  I feel like I’ve done nothing but “follow up” on this and that.  Waa, waa, waa…okay, I’m through crying!  God’s will be done…but I would really appreciate your prayers, if you can spare them!

I am Creating: a new “normal” as I head towards surgery…again.

On my iPod: I love the Magnificat app!  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  And am  finally finding a bit of balance in the “listening” department…and enjoying a good deal of Michael Bublé and Andreas Bocelli.

Towards a Real Education: no comment.  Well…just a short one.  Is anyone else kind of burnt out?  It was this way when I worked in the public school system, too.  I’m trying to imagine how families embrace year round school…I’m living for that summer break.  I’d just like to stop where we are, take our CAT tests and plan for next year.  Here’s hoping the Dayton Conference reignites the fire…hmmm…I think I said that last week…

To Live the Liturgy: love…the…Mass.  And miss being able to attend the weekday Masses.  Man, I wish my van was fixed!!  When we had the money to fix it, hubby had no time.  When we have the time to fix it, we have no money…that’s life!

I am Hoping and Praying: for a private intention…and so excited about the Eucharistic Adoration Chaplet that my friend Molly sent me…the prayers are so very lovely…

In the Garden: ah, the garden!  It’s lovely…little shoots coming up here and there…potatoes and onions…lettuce and herbs…and the flowers…why did I ever say Fall is my favorite season?!  It’s SPRING!!

Around the House: evidence of a family spending more time outside than in.  And now it’s raining…I need to organize the troops and stage a cleaning coup…

On Keeping Home: I am staying on top of the laundry.  It’s…a…miracle!

One of My Favorite Things: painted toe nails…it’s such a girly, summery indulgence!

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week: pray for an end to the rain, hopefully watch my children swim in our new pool (thanks ReNee!) and limp around my garden…

A Picture Thought I’m Sharing:

A few pics from my favorite 10 yr. old nature photographer, Max:

Bucket o' bunnies...saved from an untimely death by lawn mower...safely returned to their mother!
The new header pic...compliments of Max and a cooperative peony!

Lovely irises...and too many weeds!
Counting the days until the cherries ripen...birds, you have been warned!


The “Mary” Month of May: A sweet surprise…

Oh, how happy she was…to be able to put on that First Holy Communion dress and veil…again.

We had nearly forgotten…mommy had laid out the “fairy dress” – Abigail’s all-time favorite, and quickly dressing, she asked if I would fix her hair. As quickly as she asked, I suddenly remembered that our Lady would be crowned this very morning, and all First Communicants were asked to dress in the same clothes worn on that special day…

“Abigail! You must change! Quickly!” I reminded her of the importance of the day, and her entire face lit up…she was so very excited for the little girl who had been chosen to crown our Lady, and not the least bit jealous or upset that it wasn’t her. She was so pleased to be able to wear her lovely veil again. She was so happy, in fact, that she gave her “fairy dress” to her little sister, saying “Here Rylee…this will look so lovely on you! You need something special to wear, too. And you can keep it now!”

Oh, the happiness of that sweet six year old and the generosity of a big sister!

They skipped so happily into the Church. Daddy waited in the vestibule to make sure they knew what to do and where to go, while mommy went into the Church to secure a pew and pray.

A few moments later, hubby enters the pew with a big smile. “Guess who’s crowning Mary? Abigail!” The young lady previously chosen was unable to make it, and the privilege fell to my darling girl.

Joy, joy, joy…her smile as she made her way down the aisle was so sweet. And the best part? She feels the whole morning was a gift from our Lady…

And so do I!


The “Mary” Month of May: A mother’s smile…

We oftentimes reflect upon the sorrow of our Blessed Mother.  She is, indeed, our Lady of Sorrows…she whose heart was “pierced with a sword”, who lived, loved and mourned in the shadow of the Cross.  And yet, she is also our Lady of Joy.  For who among us can claim the singular joy of this title:  Mother of God.  Who among us has lived in such intimacy and loving union as she who cradled the Infant Christ in her arms and upon her breast?  Our Lady must have lavished so many sweet smiles and kisses upon her baby boy…her face would have reflected pure radiance.

We have a beautiful record of the loveliness of our Lady’s smile and the generous gift which accompanied it, from a holy saint and Doctor of the Church, St. Therese of Lisieux:

As a child, St. Therese had an encounter with Mary that forever changed the course of her life.  As a young girl in France, she became quite ill. The doctor informed Therese’s father that nothing more could be done for her. Her family was no stranger to suffering.  They had just lost their mother from breast cancer.

Her father arranged for Mass to be said for her healing at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Victories.  He also moved into Therese’s room a statue of the Blessed Virgin known as Our Lady of the Smile (a favorite of the Martin children who used to shower it with kisses)

On May 13, 1883, Therese recovered. She ascribed her healing to the presence of the statue:

“Suddenly, I have never seen anything so attractive. Her face was alive with great kindness and tenderness and she smiled a most ravishing smile. At once all my pain left me and I cried two large tears which slid down silently down my cheeks. Yes! I thought, the virgin has smiled on me. How Blessed I am!”

Her sister Marie was there at the time, and much later at the hearings for Therese’s beatification, she testified to what had happened when saw Therese in ecstasy. “I knew at once she was looking at no mere statue but that she saw the Blessed Virgin herself. It lasted about five minutes. I knew she would be cured.”

Our Lady smiled upon her precious child, and in accordance with God’s will, St. Therese was healed.  How much love we convey with such a simple act of the will…

Today’s challenge?  Smile!  Generously, warmly and joyfully smile upon your children and spouse…and watch the love and healing that follows!  There is nothing quite as contagious as a sweet smile…


The “Mary” Month of May: St. Bernadette of Lourdes

“The impulses to create, to perform, to tell stories, to entertain, to “play make-believe”, I think, run deep in the human soul. When those impulses are channeled and gently directed, wonderful, magical things can happen – things like, St. Bernadette of Lourdes. In this film, and the others we are producing, one can clearly see that most innocent and pure expression of a child’s creative spirit: channeled, directed, and offered back to the Creator Himself, Almighty God.” ~Jim Morlino, Producer and Director, Navis Pictures

This video is a revelation. More than 160 homeschooled students, under the direction of Mr. Morlino, have produced a stunning work that illuminates the darkness and dispels those shadows cast by Hollywood. St. Bernadette of Lourdes is the faithful retelling of the apparition of our Lady, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, to a simple peasant girl. The cinematography is far from amateur, the performances thoughtful, believable and well done. And those faces! The pure light of truth shines through and yes, Mr. Morlino…God is indeed glorified through this art! Please consider supporting this endeavor. This video would make an excellent gift to your favorite child (or adult!) My children have already viewed it twice within a 24 hour period. And the outtakes? Hysterical!!

May God bless Navis Pictures and all those who support redeeming the Arts…


The “Mary” Month of May: Our Lady of Fatima…our Holy Father speaks

Dear Pilgrims,

“Their descendants shall be renowned among the nations […], they are a people whom the Lord has blessed” (Is 61:9). So the first reading of this Eucharist began, and its words are wonderfully fulfilled in this assembly devoutly gathered at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima. Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, I too have come as a pilgrim to Fatima, to this “home” from which Mary chose to speak to us in modern times. I have come to Fatima to rejoice in Mary’s presence and maternal protection. I have come to Fatima, because today the pilgrim Church, willed by her Son as the instrument of evangelization and the sacrament of salvation, converges upon this place. I have come to Fatima to pray, in union with Mary and so many pilgrims, for our human family, afflicted as it is by various ills and sufferings. Finally, I have come to Fatima with the same sentiments as those of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, and the Servant of God Lúcia, in order to entrust to Our Lady the intimate confession that “I love” Jesus, that the Church and priests “love” him and desire to keep their gaze fixed upon him as this Year for Priests comes to its end, and in order to entrust to Mary’s maternal protection priests, consecrated men and women, missionaries and all those who by their good works make the House of God a place of welcome and charitable outreach.

Continue reading “The “Mary” Month of May: Our Lady of Fatima…our Holy Father speaks”

The “Mary” Month of May: a million hearts are calling…

A mother’s heart is ever with her children…

Their joys are hers; their sorrows, too.  Their triumphs and losses, sighs and smiles…she shares.  Miles, both real and figurative can never create a gulf sufficient to drown a mother’s love.  And when all seems most hopeless, she lives on, loves more, prays unceasingly, and seeks the Mother who understands pain like no other:


In a garden Mary stood when Springtime’s radiant beauty
Wrapped the world in sunlight and filled her heart with joy.
Down the garden-path there ran a slender little Figure
Bringing her a gift of love – He, her God, her Boy!
Mary opened wide her arms to take her sheaf of lilies:
“Mother!” called her little Son, and never had she heard
In the angel’s message, in brooklet, or in bird-song,
Music half so lovely as that one tender word.

On a hill-top Mary stood one sadder, later Springtime.
All the earth was wrapped in gloom beneath that
blood-stained Cross;
Memories thronged about her, memories of His Childhood,
Adding to her loneliness, her pain, her sense of loss.
Mary opened wide her arms but His were nailed securely
“Mother!” breathed her dying Son, and never had she heard
In her sword-pierced heart that knew the very depths of sorrow
Anything approaching the pathos of that word.

“Mother! Mother Mary!” a million hearts are calling,
“Open wide again those arms, and in their warm embrace,
Take the children Jesus gave you on that darkened hill-top
When He named you Mother of the sin-stained human race.”

Sr. Maryanna Robert, Cyril. Our Lady’s Praise in Poetry. Poughkeepsie, New York: Marist Press, 1944.

The “Mary” Month of May: Why we pray the Rosary…

This is a repost.  Written on the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary in 2009 after our good priest made this statement:  “Everybody has a story about the Rosary…”  Those who are devoted to the Rosary and our Lady know the truth of these words and are quick to share their story.

Here’s ours:

We are a family that prays the Rosary. Not nearly as often as we should, nor as often as we’d like, but we do pray it as often as we can. It is the cord that binds us together, strengthening our family as few other devotions have. Rosaries can be found throughout our home, in our cars, in purses and pockets, draped over statues and hanging upon the wall. We’ve made Rosaries for missions and prisons, given them as gifts to friends and family, and nearly everyone of us have worn a Rosary ring at one time or another.

It wasn’t always this way…as converts from protestantism, we had very little experience with what many detractors refer to as “vain and repetitious prayer.” Learning the historicity of the beautiful beads and the prayers attached to each, we came to understand the depth of biblical teaching, dogma and tradition contained in such a seemingly simple series of prayers. I found it intriguingly beautiful…

So I obtained a booklet of the prayers and began to pray the Rosary alone. I was very shy about it…I don’t know why. I would pray in the car. I would pray early in the morning when the children were asleep. Not with my family. Praying the Rosary had become a private devotion, one that I kept a secret.

Until the accident.

In 1995, I was involved in a terrible car accident. While traveling the north bound lane of a major interstate (and praying the 5th Joyful Mystery of the rosary), my vehicle was struck by a semi. The vehicle was propelled across the median, flipped over 1 1/2 times and was skidding on its hood when it was struck by another vehicle in the south bound lane. My vehicle was upside down at the time, and the front of that other vehicle entered the rear of my mini-van and sheared off the driver’s seat (which I was in). At the time of the accident, I was quite sure I would die, and remember asking our Lord (quite calmly, considering the situation) to not “let me kill anyone else”. That prayer was answered in the most perfect way! Six vehicles were involved in this accident, twelve people suffered minor injuries. Hanging upside down, still strapped in my seat belt, I crawled out of my absolutely destroyed vehicle, through a broken window, was sprayed with battery acid and only managed to obtain a cut on my elbow which would later require three stitches. Still clasped tightly in my right hand was my Rosary…I had never once let go of it! Witnesses rushing to assist me as I stumbled from my vehicle stared incredulously. It didn’t seem that anyone could have survived that crash, let alone walked out of it. It was clear that our Lord had preserved my life and I believe firmly that it was through our Lady’s intercession. The Rosary became a constant companion, and I told everyone, everyone about the miracle of our Lady’s intercession…

It certainly seemed obvious that the Rosary was the prayer our family needed to pray most!

The first time our family prayed the Rosary together was on my 31st birthday. Still a bit shy about my “secret” prayer, I requested the recitation of a family Rosary as my birthday gift. I remember, so clearly, one of my older daughters placing a rosary into the hand of my infant son, Joseph, who was sitting in his swing. It was such a lovely sight, I took a photo…long before I’d ever heard of digital photography! I still have that picture…

And so we began…and thus we’ve continued. That first night was awkward. We stumbled through the words, struggling to find a rhythm, haltingly praying with many stops and starts. The little ones would drift off to sleep, an infant would need to be nursed…and we prayed, weaving a lovely “wreath of roses” for our Lord, using this beautiful, powerful devotion.

Grabbing the rosary has become second nature…a nearly involuntary response in times of joy and crisis. It remains the most efficacious way for this family to call Home to Mother…


Daybook: May days…

Visit Peggy at The Simple Woman for more Daybook entries!

FOR TODAY – May 10th, 2010

Outside My Window: Crowing roosters, soft breezes, cool temperatures and a gorgeous blue sky.  A warm, wet week ahead…

I am Listening to: the distant rumble of the mini bike as Abigail is puttering around the farm…soft mewing of two tiny kittens who’ve spent the past few weeks inside with their momma…I’m such a soft-touch for kittens…

I am wearing : blue jeans, crocs and a polar fleece sweater.  Still in the 50’s…hope to shed a couple layers as it warms up...

I am Thankful For: I had the very best Mother’s Day.  Mass was lovely, fellowship delightful, hubby fixed lunch and dinner, children cleaned up afterwards and I was showered with gifts throughout the day.  Back…to…reality!

I am Reading: Fatherless is killing me.  It’s heartbreaking and oh-so-accurate in portraying the current crisis of faith in our society.  I’ve never read a book so slowly…it’s painful.

From the Kitchen: Bagels and Nutella with hot coffee for Mom…a cold cereal day for the kiddies.  Dad isn’t feeling so great.  He’s working from home, thinking he may have a stomach bug.  I sure hope not…

Dinner this evening: From OAMC:  Poulet de France, buttered/herbed noodles, salad and homemade bread.  Strawberry shortcake for dessert.

I am Thinking: about our Lady and the virtue of silence…

I am Creating: made a crown for our May Crowning, picking up the needles and the crochet hook to finish up a couple projects…

On my iPod: not listening to very much at present…enjoying the ease of viewing email and facebook without having to log onto the computer…

Towards a Real Education: plodding along.  The Grands are coming for a visit the first week of June.  My goal:  to be done, done, done by the first week of June.  Onward and upward…

To Live the Liturgy: I’m so enjoying my daily “Mary” Month of May posts…it really sets the tone for my day, meditating upon the virtues of our Lady…I hope you’re enjoying them, too!

I am Hoping and Praying: for a private intention.  St. Monica, pray for me!

In the Garden: In my best sing-songy voice…I’m going to plant!  I’m going to plant!  A couple of frosts and hard freezes had us postponing our planting…I think we’re out of the woods.  A couple of hours from now, I’ll be elbow-deep in soil!

Around the House: no comment.

On Keeping Home: see above.  The laundry is caught up.  I’m spending a lot of time at the clothesline…because I like it.  The rest?  I…don’t…like.  And it shows.  Blessed Mother…help me cultivate the spirit of diligence and perseverance!  It’s just so much more enjoyable outside, isn’t it?

One of My Favorite Things: my mom.  She’s amazing.  Everyday, she pours herself into the loving care of my Grandmother.  She’s setting the bar really high…I pray I offer myself to her as generously as she has offered herself to my Grandmother.  Oh, yes…Dad, too!  He’s a wonderful help to mom.  They are amazing parents and I can’t wait to see them again in June…

A Few Plans for the Rest of the Week: planting, teaching, cleaning…woman’s work is never done!

A Picture Thought I’m Sharing:

My “biker girl:”


The “Mary” Month of May: Our Lady of Silence

“Mary’s example enables the Church better to appreciate the value of silence. Mary’s silence is not only moderation in speech, but it is especially a wise capacity for remembering and embracing in a single gaze of faith the mystery of the Word made man and the events of his earthly life.

It is this silence as acceptance of the Word, this ability to meditate on the mystery of Christ, that Mary passes on to believers. In a noisey world filled with messages of all kinds, her witness enables us to appreciate a spiritually rich silence and fosters a contemplative spirit.”     ~ John Paul II ~


There is precious little of it in the world.  In the busy life of a mother of many young ones, it is indeed rare.  From cell phones, to radios, cds, dvds, mp3 players and a constant barrage of conversation, it seems the contemplative nature of motherhood is struggling for survival.  The cacophony has even made its way into the sanctuary of the Church…there are quite a few parishes where the noise and conversation before and after Holy Mass is reminiscent of a rock concert, with a few dear souls struggling to offer prayer and meditation prior to and after receiving Holy Communion.

How do we keep silence?  Our Lady is the perfect example for all of womanhood in this virtue.  Holy Scripture reveals very little of what our Lady said throughout the course of her life.  A sentence here and there: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be [done] to me according to Thy word”  “Son…they have no wine…”  “your father and I have been anxiously searching for you…”  “Do whatever He tells you…”  And the way of the cross?  Heartbreaking silence revealed what words could not…

During her betrothal, Mary even kept silent when Joseph must have been thinking the very worst.  She, whose virtue and holiness was so apparent, was visibly pregnant with a child that was not his.  His heart was breaking.  He knew the penalty for this “sin” and yet seemed to know Mary was blameless and was going to “put her away quietly”.  All this time, Mary knew his pain and knew that public perception would convict her of shame.  She didn’t defend.  She didn’t explain.  She kept her silence and let the Holy Spirit do the work.  Words weren’t necessary.  She kept her thoughts to herself and maintained a spirit of quiet contemplation…

With one exception.

The Magnificat.  The longest speech our Lady gives, is one in which she praises God.  Her words, it seems, are reserved for that which is most important…offering praise and adulation for her God:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with His arm:
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
and the rich He has sent empty away.
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy;
As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.

I find myself, of late,  calling upon the Blessed Mother, more and more, to help me hold my tongue…I’m such a chatterbox.  I speak too quickly and too much…and while I do relish silence and seek times of contemplation, I don’t feel I live contemplatively.  My vocation pulls me this way and that…it is the sweet tug-of-war that every mother experiences throughout her day as she finds the Cross amidst the dishes and the piles of laundry.  May our good Lady of Silence help to calm and quiet the noise and distraction of daily life and help us to remember that God’s voice is best heard…when we are listening.

From the book of 1 Kings 19:12

Then the LORD said, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD–but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake–but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

After the earthquake there was fire–but the LORD was not in the fire.  After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound…


The “Mary” Month of May: A May Crowning at home…

The floral wreath I made for our Lady long ago has vanished.  It was nothing more than a woven wreath, with little silk flowers stitched here and there.  Since then, our Lady has been given paper crowns, tin foil crowns, woven wire crowns, each lovingly crafted just in the nick of time for Mother’s Day and a homemade May Crowning ceremony.

Saturday found me with the same dilemma:  limited resources and the need for a crown for our Lady.  Rummaging around the house for ideas, I focused on the materials at hand.  Here’s what I found:

Dad’s stash of Yoplait yogurt containers (saved for planting seeds and cuttings)

Gold paint and glitter glue

Hot glue gun

Silk flowers

String of pearl-like beads

Hmm…I was pretty sure I could come up with something suitable.   Having determined the diameter necessary  to fit our statue, it seemed the yogurt container would be the perfect fit.  I sketched the crown, cut it out and applied 3 or 4 coats of the gold paint.  Note to self:  spray paint would probably work better, dry faster and streak less.  Next time…

Once the crown dried, I quickly dotted several red glitter “jewels” at each point.  Next, I glued the string of pearls along the bottom.  A little more hot glue and quite a few pink satin roses later and the crown was complete.

Since Abigail is this past year’s First Communicant, the honor of crowning our Lady was given to her.   As Abigail carried the crown, we all sang “Regina Caeli” and knelt before the statue for the crowning…

Sweet and simple.  And a lovely sight in the Mary Garden.  Now as for those flowers…hubby and children have absolutely showered me with a multitude of bedding plants.  Alas, a freeze warning is in effect for this evening, so our Lady’s Garden will have to wait for further adornment.  And my poor statue…our Lady needs a bit of a “touch up.”  I painted her many years ago…it’s definitely time for an update:

Meanwhile…I’m the proud recipient of a brand new wind chime, many cards and a delightful selection of Lindt Truffles.  And this lovely realization:  of all the titles, all the compliments, all the praise that I could ever be given…none will ever encompass the honor and beauty of this three letter word:  M  O  M

To share with the Holy Mother of God that privileged title, along with its sorrows and joys, suffering and stresses…the exhausting beauty of living and loving and learning with one’s children and spouse…my happiness is complete.  Thank you, God, for the gift of motherhood…


The “Mary” Month of May: Chaucer’s Marian Alphabet Poem


ALMIGHTY, all-merciful Queen, to whom all this
world flees for aid, to have release from sin, sorrow
and trouble, glorious Virgin, flower of all flowers, to
you I flee, confounded in error! You mighty, gracious
lady, help and relieve me, pity my perilous malady!
My cruel adversary has vanquished me.

BOUNTY has so fixed his tent in your heart that well
I know you will be my aid; you can not reject him
who with pious mind asks your aid. Your heart is
ever so bounteous, you are the generous giver of full
felicity, haven of refuge, of quiet and rest. Lo, how
the seven thieves pursue me! Help, bright lady,
before my ship goes to pieces!

COMFORT is there none, except in you, dear lady,
for, lo, my sin and confusion, which ought not to
come into your presence, have brought against me a
grievous suit, founded on strict justice and my
despair. And in justice they might well maintain that
I were worthy of condemnation, were it not for your
mercy, blessed queen of heaven.

DOUBT is there none that you, queen of mercy, are
source of grace and mercy on earth. Through you
God promised to be reconciled with us. For surely,
dear, blessed mother of Christ, were the bow of
justice and wrath bent now in such a way as it was at
first, the righteous God would hear of no mercy; but
through you we have favor, as we desire.

EVER has my hope of refuge been in you, for in
various ways you have received me into mercy
heretofore so often. But grant me the favor, lady, at
the Great Court Session1, when we shall come before
the high Judge! So little fruit shall be found in me
then that, unless you well chasten me before that day,
by strict justice my work will destroy me.

Continue reading “The “Mary” Month of May: Chaucer’s Marian Alphabet Poem”

A hearty welcome…

…to a dear friend on the “opening day” of her blog:  Lear, Kent, Fool

Her poignant post, Openness to Life,  is a worthwhile read.

Why not pay her a visit and welcome her to the neighborhood?


The “Mary” Month of May: In praise of the gentle arts…

Knitting.  Sewing.  Weaving.  Spinning…

To many, these are crafts of necessity from a bygone era…for quite a few of us, however, they are the “gentle arts” that most appeal to our sense of creativity…two sticks, some string, a wheel or needle…time spent in quiet contemplation and creation…crafting beauty and use, by hand.

Our Lady was creative…her life demanded it and many great works of art attempt to depict those moments of necessary and earnest resourcefulness, often incorporating symbolic images pertaining to the impending sacrifice of the precious Child playing at her feet.

We may ascertain that the garments worn by our Lord throughout His life, were made, with loving affection, by His Mother.  The “seamless garment” mentioned in prophecy and later in the Gospel narrative of the Crucifixion, may well have been a gift from Mary to Jesus.  It was common for Jewish mothers to give such gifts to their sons upon their “entry” into adulthood…a “seamless” garment was much prized, due to the inherent difficulties in creating such fabric.  For those who weave, or knit “in the round” this is the ultimate in comfort, but also requires greater skill and dexterity.  Our Lady has often been portrayed knitting “in the round” on four needles…and while we don’t know for sure that our Lord’s garment was created by her or in like manner, for those who have embraced the gentle arts, there is a real sense of connectedness…a remembrance of other mothers who have, throughout time, knit and sewn prayer into the very fibers that slipped over needle and shuttle and into memory.

Do you knit?  Sew?  Make lace?  We live in a disposable world full of the ready-made.  Create an heirloom.  Dust off a forgotten craft…join our Lady in a few moments of contemplative crafting.  There is such peace in the quietness of these gentle arts… to see a woman, head nodding as though in prayer, counting stitches, smiling as she contemplates the joy her gift of time will purchase for a loved one…She is crafting more than just a garment or toy.  She is making a memory.


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