Life is Worth Living

Ramshackle Vans – The God of Majesty Hath Thundered!

I was rolling my 15-passenger Ford E-350 “Sweet Ride” into the parking lot of a grocery store the other day, with all my seven children, when I thought, I love my job.

Here I am, on a lovely summer day, just picking up a few necessities–wine, beer, cheese, and olives–on my way to a friend’s house for iced coffee and a chat on her shady deck. I was looking forward to our boys shooting each other with laser guns, our girls braiding each other’s hair, and the babies toddling in the grass.

Motherhood is glorious, and God is good.

Back to the grocery store and my van… I left the children in the van listening to The House on Pooh Corner and ran in and then out with my necessities. By the time I returned, the van had up and died. It wouldn’t even turn over.

Ah, well. I had a choice at this point. I could cry and lament my bad luck or I could laugh it off and call my husband at work. I chose the latter.

Since it was hot out, I had firstly to remove all the children from the sweltering van and direct them to some grass by the highway. They weren’t thrilled about this, but they did dutifully stand there and pray to St. Joseph for the van to somehow miraculously start, for they desperately wanted to play with their friends.

While on the phone with my husband, he wanted me to try to fix it myself. Right! I know nothing about vehicles, let alone crippled, 15-passengers vans. I did figure out how to open the hood, however, and I was proud of myself for this feat. Then he had me find the battery, which I also located, I think.

Things quickly turned downhill when he next directed me to find a special tool that he kept in the side door of the van and wanted me to adjust some bolt or other on the battery. Or at least I think it was on the battery. I’m not sure, for I never did find the tool or understand what in the world he meant.

Nothing would do, but that he would have to come. In the meantime, I called my friend, who thankfully lived nearby and asked if she might come get the children? Of course. This bit of information quickly lifted the morale of the children, and indeed, they were speedily rescued, packed in, and whisked away in her sleek minivan to summer bliss and frivolity with nary a care.

I alone remained, standing in the shade of our forsaken van, contemplating my plight.

I stared at the car next to me. In it sat a shaggy-looking man smoking his cigs. He watched the whole show and never once offered his assistance. A kind old woman did offer hers, however. May God bless her kindness. I waved her on.

The sweat trickled down my neck. I thought about cracking a beer, for this is the state of Wisconsin after all, but I didn’t want to open the cooler for fear of warming those precious cheeses.

I watched a giant motorhome amble into the parking lot. I scratched a mosquito bite.

Then I remembered my tiny Pocket Psalms. I reached into my purse and randomly opened to Psalm 28 and read it aloud to the passing clouds.

In due time, the Man of My Dreams appeared. He immediately located the mysterious tool–a wrench apparently–and proceeded to wiggle things around. He loosened and tightened this and that. Then, he got out the jumper cables and saved the day.

My Husband, bless his soul!

The van roared to a start, and Psalm 28 rang in my ears, the God of majesty hath thundered!

I sweetly thanked my Knight in Shining Armor and drove straight to my friend’s house for a peaceful afternoon.

Life is Worth Living

The Men Go Camping; The Ladies Drink Coffee & Watch Pride & Prejudice

This last weekend, my husband took our three sons camping with the Troops of St. George for their annual Midwest Assembly. They thoroughly enjoy this weekend every year–canoeing, hiking, Latin Mass, traditional priests, marshmallows, corn on the cob, tents, and campfires–the whole bit.

The real question is, what do the ladies of the house do while the men are all gone?

We drove straight to a friend’s house, whose husband and sons were also at Troops, and commenced a lovely afternoon of visiting. The little girls ran around chasing a puppy, the big girls spent hours styling each other’s hair, and the mothers enjoyed a glass of wine.

I will say that I very much dislike evenings and nighttime without my husband around, however. For I had to perform all his evening chores by myself. For example, I had to grind the coffee beans and set the coffee maker. (When he’s around, I claim that I don’t know how to do these odious tasks.) Also, I had to put the dog in her kennel and lock all the doors. Horrible!

Well, really, the horrible part is trying to actually sleep through the night, ignoring all those strange sounds that always appear when my husband is gone. For example, why did a bird decide to knock himself senseless against my upstairs window at 1am? (Or was it a bat?!) And why did the dog start barking in the garage at 3am? Were we being robbed?! Horror of horrors! For I had to get out of bed to investigate these things, instead of just kicking my husband to do it.

Between those strange incidents and attending to the Little Girl who decided to cry for no reason at 4am, I didn’t sleep much. So, what to do the next day? I promised the girls we would make it special…

So after praying Lauds–another task that I had to lead since my husband was gone–we drove straight to a coffee shop. I could think of no better way to start the day, as my mind was already fried by 8am.

Cheers!
I had to pull over to get a shot of the Sweeties in the backseat.

My morale did pick up, however, as I enjoyed a traditional cappuccino. The Eldest chose an iced hazelnut latte, and the Little Girls shared an iced turtle mocha. We blasted a little of Rhett Walker Gospel Song on the drive home, and I decided that I wasn’t cooking the entire weekend.

Except that resolution quickly evaporated, for I forgot about my kitchen counter, which was loaded with tomatoes, peppers, green onions, carrots, and a cabbage the size of a beach ball. Now most of these vegetables came from my neighbor’s garden and the rest from ours, and I wasn’t about to let them go to waste.

Aprons on, girls!

We spent the afternoon chopping and putting together coleslaw and salsa, while listening to Stillwater Hobos and blasting their song, Saint Therese.

Fresh Coleslaw

The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful, except when we decided to watch an episode of Pride and Prejudice. You know, the version with Colin Firth from the ’90s. I’m not so sure the boys would have tolerated that, but we loved it.

Call Me Catholic

Cardinal Burke Addresses Traditionis Custodes

Yesterday Raymond Cardinal Burke released a statement on Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes.

This is an historical moment in the Church. I would like to encourage all of you to do three things:

  1. Read Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and it’s accompanying letter HERE. (It’s not long.)
  2. Read Pope Francis’s Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes and his accompanying letter HERE. (Again, these are not long documents.)
  3. Think about the PNC, The Principle of Noncontradiction.
  4. Read Cardinal Burke’s statement.

It’s important as Catholics to be educated about these things.

Have your older children read these documents too; they are not long. Talk about them. If you need a short historical timeline, Dr. Taylor Marshall put together one HERE a few days ago. I had my children watch it.

Look, this drama isn’t going away. There is a crisis in the Church.

Of course there’s no need for hysteria and despair, but rather, prayer, fasting, and faith. For those of you being evicted from Traditional Latin Mass parishes, righteous anger is a real thing too. (See HERE for a recent Crisis Magazine article.)

Finally, if one is feeling despair, perhaps it’s time for a break from all media this weekend. Enjoy your families. Pray a rosary. Play badminton in the backyard with the children, then enjoy a glass of wine with your spouse.

Jesus has this.

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.  It behooves all of us to preserve the riches which have developed in the Church’s faith and prayer, and to give them their proper place.” Benedict XVI HERE.

Update: Bishop Schneider of Kazakstan has responded in an interview with Diane Montagna HERE. It’s excellent.

Call Me Catholic

The Tyranny of Traditionis Custodes

I have been asked repeatedly, if the Latin Masses in the diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, have been shut down, as a result of Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio Traditionis Custodes?

The short answer is, no, we have not been shut down or restricted in any way.

The reading of the Gospel last Sunday

Our bishop, however, has not yet commented publicly. We are hopeful, however, as all local TLMs continued as normal this last weekend. Also, the nearby bishops of Minneapolis/St. Paul (Hebda) and Madison (Hying), have released statements basically saying, “carry on.”

Time will tell for our diocese. Fortunately for us, we have multiple options, should the diocesan TLMs disappear.

I hope they never disappear, though. Not only is this Mass incredibly beautiful, but the formation for the young men serving at the altar is life changing.

Bishop Kagan Kicks Out Local TLM & Tells Them to Find Their Own Location

But I have heard from some of you, namely in the Bismarck diocese, where you don’t have options, that Bishop Kagan has not only kicked you out of your parish, but has also requested your contact information. And apparently, he did not give you his reason for doing so.

It makes one wonder if he’s intending to adhere to Pope Francis’s decree in article 3.1 wherein the local Bishop, “is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs.” If this is the case, it’s is astonishing and alarming.

If traditional Catholics are to be submitted to Communist-like examinations for orthodoxy and adherence to Vatican II, why not Novus Ordo Catholics? Perhaps they could be interrogated for their adherence to, say Humanae Vitae?

This is an obvious double standard. Sigh.

So it is. If this happens to be your situation, I am so sorry. I can only encourage you to continue in your labor for Tradition. For as Pope Benedict XVI declared in his 2007 Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”

Think about that a minute…Benedict XVI in 2007 declares that the Traditional Latin Mass was never abrogated and that it is “great for us too,” while in 2021 Francis snatches it all away, desiring that the bishops of the world treat traditional Catholics as lepers and heretics.

Which is it? They both can’t be right. There is something called the Principle of Noncontradiction. Opposites can’t both be true. Rather, one is true and the other is false.

I would encourage you to read both Benedict’s 2007 Motu Proprio and Francis’s. Compare them for yourself.

July 22, 2021

Update For Diocese of Bismarck: Bishop Kagan Finally Issues a Statement

For those of you interested in my former diocese…

As you know, within 48 hours of Pope Francis issuing Traditionis Custodes, Bishop Kagan cast his local TLM to the breeze with nary a statement while also requesting the personal information of those parishioners. He had the local pastor make this eviction announcement and request of personal information. It was terrible.

Now, after a week wherein the faithful were scrambling for information, Bishop Kagan has finally decided to release a statement which was read at the former Traditional Latin Mass, now Novus Ordo, once again by the local pastor. It’s on the diocesan website HERE.

Essentially, Kagan will not be using their personal information for orthodoxy quizzes, and he has given the TLM community an abandoned oratory located even further in the country than their former location, which is in the middle of nowhere on gravel roads.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Reminiscing: Happier with Less

I grew up on a farm. No, wait, allow me to back up even further.

My great, great grandfather purchased an acreage in South Dakota where he raised his family in the early 1900s. Eventually this property was handed down to my father’s dad. In other words, my father grew up on this farm. He was the baby of the family–the eighth of eight.

Now my dad’s father was a tinkerer, smart with machines, and generous with everyone. Unfortunately, he was not clever with finances, and the family soon went into debt, by purchasing new-fangled tractors and equipment and snow mobiles and accessories… Even though they had the largest chicken operation in the state, which was housed in a most beautiful 3-story barn, they were sliding into ruin.

Then it happened. The State came, with police and trucks, and literally began hauling equipment and things away. The farm was forfeit, lost. As a young man, my father watched it all with wide eyes. His parents were forced to move off the family farm and into a trailer house in the nearest small town. It was earth-shattering and heartbreaking. My father would inherit nothing.

My Grandparents, who lost the family farm

Naturally it was a very difficult thing for the whole family, but fortunately, it did not tear the family apart. Only, my father vowed to never make the same mistakes as his father and thereafter became a very neat and organized man, for he just purchased his own new farm complete with a trailer house, a small shed, and and an old hog house.

This is the original little trailer house, situated on a new farm, that my parents bought in 1981. Humble beginnings, no?

That was a long introduction, and perhaps not getting to my point quickly enough. For why am I bothering with this?

Combining beans with my Dad and my sister. I’m on the left.

I want to illustrate that ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to be very careful with things, or possessions. I was taught that everything must be neat and clean and paid for. There was to be no chaos or clutter anywhere, and unused items were to be disposed of.

And I was happier for it. I wasn’t bogged down with an excessive closet of clothes or with a jumble of shoes on the floor. My car, when I got one, was expected to be spotless, otherwise I wasn’t mature enough to have one.

Mowing the lawn with Dad.

I was formed, in a way, for a minimalist life, and it has never been difficult for me to live with less.

This is not to say, however, that I’m the standard of perfection. Far from it. I have my faults and eccentricities. (I do own two sets of china that I have no intention of parting with. Not to mention my hundreds of books…) But I do try.

For example, earlier this year during Lent, I gave up lipstick because I didn’t want to be attached to it. I wanted to live more simply, and I’ve got to say, it was a relief to me and I’ve never gone back.

Currently I’m wondering how I can simplify my wardrobe. You know I’ve got about 5 everyday skirts for both a cold season and a warm season. But I’m wondering, is it all necessary? Since I like all my skirts to hit mid-calf anyway, why not just get rid of the “warm season” skirts? Ah, well, we’ll see.

I can say one thing, however, I have never regretted giving anything away, whether it be an unused end table or an extra kitchen utensil.

Less is better. (Unless, of course we’re talking about books!)

Carefree swimming with my cousins. I’m sitting in the pool up front.

Lastly…

I’ve been asked quite a bit about both Fr. Altman and Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio. If you’re interested, do check out Dr. Taylor Marshall on both accounts. I’ll link them HERE and HERE respectively.

If you’d like more about the implications for TLMers, Cameron O’Hearn interviews one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski HERE.

Book Review

Books in Brief: Summer Reading

Has anyone read anything good this summer? Today I’ll highlight a few I’ve enjoyed.

The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome

by Joseph Pearce

I recently finished Joseph Pearce’s The Quest for Shakespeare from Ignatius Press. In this book, Pearce gives all the evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. I’ve always wanted to read this book, since it was published in 2008, but I never got around to it until last week. As it turns out, I was missing out!

Did you know that Shakespeare’s father was a registered recusant Catholic? Or that Shakespeare was taught by Catholics and married by a Catholic priest? Think about that and remember it was verboten to be a Catholic in England at this time under the Great Persecutor, Queen Elizabeth.

Remember the great martyrs? St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion…among hundreds of others? If one wasn’t downright tortured for being Catholic, one was heavily fined for failing to attend Anglican services in the least. And guess how many Anglican services Shakespeare attended? None that we know of. And we know this because copious records were kept by the government for the express purpose of collecting fines to financially ruin Catholics.

I could go on with more interesting details, but you should just read it.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s Peter Kreeft’s endorsement, “In this book, he [Pearce] proves it [Shakespeare’s Catholicism] historically. I mean proves it.” Or, perhaps you’d like Anthony Esolen’s words? “Pearce shows that Shakespeare himself was such a dutiful servant, ever dutiful to the Queen, but to God first. He does not leap to conclusions, but builds a case that is meticulous, reasonable, and convincing.”

The Quest for Shakespeare would be a great read for your high schoolers too.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

This is another one of those books that I’ve always been meaning to read, but never did, until two weeks ago. I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music and loving it. (Naturally, as little girls, we shut the movie off after the wedding because the Nazi part was too scary.) I’m so glad I finally purchased the book and read about the real Trapp family.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a sheer delight. There was much that the movie got right, and then, there was much that was left out too. Did you know that Maria and the Captain actually dined at a restaurant in Salzburg, sitting at a table near Hitler? (They were disgusted.) Or that after they fled to the United States, the infamous Heinrich Himmler–the main architect of the Holocaust– confiscated their estate and ruined their chapel?

Above all, I was impressed with the faith of this family. You, too, might find it inspiring. In the very least, the way in which Maria and Georg became engaged was downright sweet and comical. (The movie gets it wrong.)

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

I read this book a few years ago and had memories of laughing so hard, my sides ached. Naturally, I’d want to pick it up again, so I did.

Do you need a laugh? Do you come from a big family? Or have lots of children yourself? Then you’ll love this hilarious book.*

By the way, the book is way better than either the old movie or the new one. Both movies are a disgrace in comparison to the book.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent from Baronius Press

No, I did not read the whole catechism. Rather, my local book club, Rad Reads, read the section on marriage and then compared it to John Paul II’s catechism on marriage. It’s incredibly telling how different they are. We had lovely, heated discussions. We also read Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical, Casti Cannubii, which is also on marriage.

Now, if you want something interesting to read with your husband, pick up the Catechism of the Council of Trent, flip to the fifteen or so pages written specifically on the Sacrament of Marriage, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You won’t be disappointed.

What am I reading now?

I’m currently reading Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, an FSSP priest, for my next Rad Reads discussion. This book details the theological meaning behind different actions and prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m really enjoying it so far.

I also hope to peruse another Dorothy Sayers detective fiction soon.

How about you?

*Note: I’d only recommend this book to a mature audience, as the older daughters tend to be worldly, etc. Also, unfortunately, there are problems with the Second Commandment.

Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: Part 2, Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma

My last post highlighted our visit to the Benedictines of Mary near Gower, Missouri. We drove about seven hours to pray with these traditional nuns, and it was worth it.

Today, I’ll share a few photos and words about the remainder of our trip, which took us to the monks at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma. While the first part of our trip was for the girls, this second part was clearly designed for the boys.

The drive from Missouri to Oklahoma was a bit shorter from the previous day’s, but after a night of hotel sleeping–the first night is always the worst!–everyone was a bit tired. The Little Girls were especially silly on the drive. Perhaps delirious? For I turned around at one point and saw them giggling with underwear on their heads and rain boots on their feet.

“And how did those rain boots up in the van?” I stupidly asked.

Little Girl Number One laughed, “We put them in, in case it might rain.”

I spent so much time carefully planning what ought and what ought not to be brought along on this trip, so as to avoid unnecessary items and van clutter and…sigh!

In any case, after an interesting drive through the rundown countryside of Oklahoma, we finally arrived–the last hour being the most stimulating, as the road significantly narrowed to about a lane and a half with no painted lines as it bent here and there, going up and down wooded hills and over single lane “bridges” with no rails. Interesting, no? Frightening, a little!

After awhile, we finally arrived arrived at Our Lady of Clear Creek Abbey.

The Unfinished Abbey Church

These Benedictine monks are relatively new to Oklahoma, having come from Fontgambault, France, in 1999. Like the sisters in Missouri, they are still in the building process. In fact, the abbey church in the photo above has a temporary roof, as they wait for the second story to be added. The doors, too, aren’t in yet, and the interior is very dark. When we prayed our rosary inside, there were only candles, which while mysterious and beautiful, are not conducive to my camera phone, so I didn’t take any interior photos.*

Here is a postcard plan of what the monastery looks like, or will look like, in a few years. Most of the other buildings are completed, I believe.

Notice the intended second story of the church with the rose window.

Since the main body of the church is unfinished, Masses and certain hours of the Divine Office are prayed in the crypt, which was where we joined the monks that first day.

The following photo shows the other building that the public is allowed into, which houses the bookstore, where the Guest Master reigns quietly answering questions and for all the world, kindness and meekness itself.

The Bookstore is located through the center door, under the arches. One also inquires here for confession.

Now this bookstore was a real treasure. We bought a number of things: Fontanini pieces for our nativity set, postcards, books, an icon of St. Joseph, biscotti, and gouda cheese, which was made by the monks from their herd of milk cows.

Did I mention that they have about 55 monks, 20 of them priests and the rest brothers? One can see monks everywhere, doing all kinds of things–driving beat-up trucks and tractors, stocking bookshelves, walking and praying, welding old machinery, feeding cows or sheep, and weeding in their massive gardens.

Speaking of gardens, if any layman wants to put in a few hours of backbreaking work with the monks, he can. (Women and girls may not, however, as they are only allowed in the public places.). For example, my husband and sons volunteered to help the monks weed their beans. They began by praying the hour of None in the crypt and then they hiked down the hill to the gardens with Brother Gardener and pulled endless weeds in the hot, hot sun. And I mean, hot, HOT sun.

Want to guess what the girls and I did? We perused the air conditioned book store.

This was the best picture I could get of the gardens, which begin behind the little shed. If you look closely, you can see my husband and sons walking down to meet Brother Gardener.

So, just where did we stay, when visiting the monastery?

In one of their guest houses, which are meant for families. If a man were to go by himself, however, he may stay in other male-only quarters and have access to other areas of the monastery, but not women and children. One must remember that monks are set apart for God and have chosen to live not “in the world.”

This is the guest house we stayed in, which was very large. In fact, we shared it with two other families visiting from Texas. We had great fun meeting those families.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a bridge shot. Indeed, the Abbey gets its name from Clear Creek, which runs right through their extensive property. My boys in particular loved wading in the creek, especially after weeding on that hot and humid afternoon.

This boy is just waiting for permission to tear his socks and shoes off to get in.

If you need a place of pilgrimage, I’d highly recommend both the Benedictines of Mary and Clear Creek Abbey.

*If you’re wondering why I didn’t snap any photos of the monks themselves, it’s because one has to obtain permission from the superior to do so. It’s too disruptive of their monastic life to be continually photographed. If you’re curious how they look, however, click HERE on their website for some beautiful shots.

Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: Part 1, Benedictines of Mary in Missouri

I thought it couldn’t be done. I thought it was impossible, not to mention impractical, unimaginable, and absurd.

But we did it. We drove hours upon hours with nine children into four different states just to visit two traditional religious orders. And it was well worth it.

Let me break it down for you.

Last Monday morning around 7:30am, I slammed the cooler lid shut, grabbed my coffee mug, and strode out to the van with a troop of children carrying various bags and things behind me. My husband, wearing his special clip-on sunglasses, met us in front of the van and handed out printed maps of our itinerary to each child as they scrambled in. These maps were intended to let the children know exactly where we were at all times and so to avoid the irritating question of, “Are we there yet?”

And then we were off across the beautiful state of Minnesota, which ran into Iowa, and finally Missouri, where we made our first stop at the Benedictines of Mary, a traditional order of nuns living on a few acres near the town of Gower. (Click HERE for a video done 4 years ago. Wow, just wow.)

The Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus, near Gower

Now why did we trek across the country to visit these nuns? Because we wanted our girls to see and experience fully habited nuns following the Traditional Rite, which means they celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass according to the 1962 missal.

Inside the church, facing the west. (Remember the altar faces the east.) The nave is filled with the sisters’ choir stalls, where they pray the Divine Office and Holy Mass.

When we arrived at the Abbey, we prayed the liturgical hour of None, which was sung by the sisters, and the rosary–these being open to the public.

This is the high altar with a canopy, facing the east, the Rising Son. Again, the choir stalls flank the body of the nave.

Close-up of the choir stalls, which is occupied by 35 sisters, with room to grow. (And their order is growing! So many young faces!)

The high altar with communion rails surrounding three sides.

Perhaps some of you may remember the Benedictines of Mary as the nuns with the chant CDs? They’re available on iTunes, if you’re interested, and they’re fabulous.

Anyway, after walking around the grounds a bit, we drove into the nearest town with a hotel and spent the night. (We didn’t know about the sisters’ Guest House, but it was booked anyway.) The next morning we drove out again for the office of Terce and High Mass and a visit with Sister Grace.

The Eldest and her Next Younger Sister and I were all privileged to visit with Sister Grace in the parlor. This was a unique experience for us, as it doesn’t happen too often that one has a chance to ask any question one wants to of a nun.

And Sister Grace was all graciousness and smiles. She came from a poor family in Kansas and has a brother at Clear Creek Monastery, which was fun information for us, as that was our next destination. Sister told us her vocation story and the history of their foundation. She mentioned with a sparkle in her eye the “wicked cold” prowling about the monastery and their poor, sick cow, Pia. We promised to pray for them and the sick cow, and then the monastery bells began to ring for the next hour. Time was up!

Truly, if you have teenage daughters and you can make it happen, consider visiting the Benedictines of Mary. They’re beautiful.

In the next blog post, I’ll continue this Travelogue with a few words and pictures of Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma.

Homeschooling

Summer School 2021

The beginning of summer is always a little busy with establishing the gardens, but this year seems exceptionally so due to travel. As you know, we’ve only just returned from North Dakota and next week, we’ll be on the road again, visiting a few traditional religious orders–the Benedictines of Mary in Missouri and the monks at Clear Creek Abbey in Oklahoma.

So, where does Summer School fit into our busy schedule?

Summer School occupies all those other hot, lazy days at home. In fact, I don’t know what I’d do with the children if they didn’t have a little school to fill their time. No, Summer School is absolutely necessary and yet fun, too.

In order to determine what each child will do for the summer, I just look back at the previous academic year and see if something was missing. As mentioned above, I try to keep it light and fun.

Although sometimes it can’t be helped if a particular child is behind in a particular subject. For example, Paul and his brother are still catching up on Math from missing so many days during the last two years for Paul’s 15 or so surgeries. Consequently, they haven’t stopped their Saxon Math, which still begins at 7am with Dad and will continue through the summer. If all goes well, they’ll be completely caught up by August.

During the school year, Mid-Morning Prayer Time is normally when we review Latin vocabulary and practice our memory work. This summer, however, the children will not have any Latin to review, but will continue memorizing poetry and/or Bible verses. Currently, the older ones are memorizing Matthew 6:25-7:12. (“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life…”) The younger children are working on Robert Louis Stevenson’s “My Shadow.”

During Mid-Morning Prayer Time, we are also perusing Emily Kiser’s Picture Study Portfolios. These are packets that contain fun short stories of famous artists with pictures of their works to look at. We love them and always display them for a time on our windowsills.

This week we studied the Italian Medieval artist, Giotto.

All the older children are also doing a little geography, or Map Work. We just finished the countries in South America and are currently working on Europe. In order to help with this, we listen to the Catholic Schoolhouse CDs to familiarize them, especially the younger children, with the names of the countries.

Working on a map of Europe.

And for individual work…

The Eldest is off the hook, as she is working her first ever job babysitting a little boy this summer. When she is around, she’s generally baking food for the rest of us to enjoy.

The Twins, in addition to Math, are finishing up a Writing and Rhetoric book from Classical Academic Press.

The Next Boy Down is learning to type.

And the three Little Girls? Hmmm…they’re just along for the ride.

Happy Summer!

Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: 9 Hours in the Van with 7 Kids to North Dakota!

We did it. We drove 9 straight hours with 7 screaming* kids all the way to North Dakota for a few nights and then back again yesterday.

Now, how does one accomplish this Herculean Feat without losing one’s mind? I can think of 5 things that helped:

  1. Snacks. Lots of snacks, including all the food groups: apples, Hot Tamales, brownies, chips, and suckers.
  2. No Chugging of Water. Only tiny sips allowed until within 15 minutes of destination. This prevents multiple bathroom breaks. We don’t like to stop on the road; it’s too demoralizing. In fact, on the way there, we only stopped once.
  3. Podcasts. We listened to Dr. Taylor Marshall, Timothy Flanders at The Meaning of Catholic, and Mass of the Ages by Cameron O’Hearn. These great talks effectually bored the little children to sleep, which was best, and instructed the older ones, which was even better. My husband and I? We were just plain entertained, especially by O’Hearn’s interview with Eric Sammons.
  4. Audio Books. The little children begged for Winnie the Pooh. The older children wanted The Little World of Don Camillo by Giovanni Guareschi. We took turns, going back and forth. Don Camillo, by the way, is hysterical, if you need a good laugh.
  5. Texting Parties. I had great fun texting a picture of my friend in her Trump dress that she wore to a gala in North Dakota. Apparently she was very popular, as everyone wanted to take a photo with her.
She made this dress. What talent!

You know, on our drive, all the way across Minnesota and North Dakota, we saw countless Trump signs. Apparently it doesn’t even matter that the election is over. I guess rural USA is still pro-Trump. Since a few signs had “Trump 2024,” though, perhaps that’s the reason?

What Did We Do in North Dakota?

Besides visiting family and friends, we did the following:

  1. We held our baby Godson while he was baptized according to the Traditional Rite.
  2. We enjoyed my mother-in-law’s fabulous meatballs. (I look forward to them every time.)
  3. My husband and I went on a double-date with friends at our favorite restaurant in Bismarck–Anima Cucina.
  4. We paused for a minute and took this family photo:

It’s impossible to get everyone to smile at the same time…

5. I greatly enjoyed looking at the vast, beautiful, blue skies. (There is nothing like it, and I’m serious.)
6. We went on lovely bike rides through tall, cottonwood trees.
7. We attended a TLM out in the middle of nowhere with many other young families. The place was crawling, literally, with babies and toddlers.

St. Vincent Catholic Church on the top of a hill, in the middle of nowhere.


7. I drank coffee and chatted with some wonderful friends.
8. And lastly, I didn’t sleep! I never do anyway.

And that’s why this post is ending. I’m hoping to get a nap in.

Until next time, blessings!

*Actually, the children were pretty good on that loooong drive. Nobody screamed. At least, nobody over the age of 5.

Call Me Catholic

He Made It One More Sunday

It shouldn’t surprise me–the incredible amount of interest in the fate of Fr. Altman–but it does. For those of you who are interested, he made it one more Sunday at our parish. (Remember, this whole process could take awhile.)

Naturally our church was filled with visitors today, making Communion twice as long. Not that we cared. I spoke with one family that drove three hours with their five little children. Two old ladies, from somewhere far away, sat in front of us, asking my daughter to set their missal ribbons and loving every minute of it. I met two other families from California afterwards, and LifeSiteNews filmed it all.

Of course Father’s local, faithful families were there too. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

A Happy Trinity Sunday to all of you!

I’m sorry I don’t have any new photos this week, but as you can imagine, it’s nice to just be and pray at Mass.

P.S. I am going on vacation for a few days. It might be a week or two before I update here.

P.P.S. We’re moving into our Summer Schedule. I hope to write about that soon.

This photo is from a few weeks ago, but today’s vestments were the same for Trinity Sunday.

P.P.P.S. All right, I know this is a ridiculous number of post scripts, but I have to link to my sons’ favorite server video. Likely you’ve already seen it, as it’s a year old, but it’s hysterical. Watch it again for fun HERE.

Call Me Catholic

Father Altman’s Last Sunday?

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday–a glorious day in honor of the coming of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the great liturgical beauty, however, it was also heart-rending, as Father Altman announced that the bishop is requesting his resignation. Apparently there are powerful people out there who do not like Father’s clearcut teaching, and who are applying pressure on the local bishop to silence him.

I understand there is a canonical process to be followed, and things may still turn out favorable for our parish and Father, but we also know from John 15, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” We are not very hopeful.

The whole situation is rather ironic, though. A faithful priest, preaching the Truth, is silenced, while other vocal priests, preaching open heresy, are promoted and adored.

In the very end, Truth will prevail. It just might not be on this earth.

If you’d like more, click HERE for LifeSiteNews.

Photos From Pentecost Sunday

Father Altman silently praying the Sequence while the schola sings the corresponding verses in Latin.

I apologize for the haziness of the photos; it’s all that lovely incense, however.

Father always prays a thanksgiving after Mass with the altar servers. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is to witness this. How many priests take the time to pray a thanksgiving? Let alone with the altar servers? (Photo submitted by a reader.)