Call Me Catholic

An Act of Generosity & Ember Days

An Anonymous Act of Generosity

Two Sundays ago the children woke up extra early and were especially crabby.  (Oh wait, that was me!)  So my husband and I decided to attend an earlier Mass at a different parish, so that we could be home at a decent time for naps.

Now, our family is a little conspicuous wherever we go for a two reasons:

  1. We’ve got 7 children under the age of 12 and therefore take up a whole pew.
  2. The girls and I veil.  Even at the Novus Ordo.  (Don’t know what veiling is?  Click HERE.)

So in we walked with our troupe and commenced praying the Mass, which went fairly well.  There was only one incident when the baby pooped out her whole outfit.  Once I discovered that, I quickly exited to the back of the church and began hunting for a bathroom.

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This picture has nothing to do with my post.  It’s some wild flowers the girls picked the other day.  Aren’t they pretty?  Aster, fleabane, goldenrod, sunflowers, and dotted blazing star.

And I wasn’t the only one looking for a bathroom.  Lo and behold, another mother was in the same predicament as I was.  We both had visibly messy babies.  Eventually we found the ONE bathroom, which was of course locked and in use, with a line running back into the entrance/narthex area.

What to do?  The other mother suggested that our Blessed Lord surely wouldn’t mind if knelt right down and changed our babies in the church narthex, in front of scores* of people.  So we did.

Anyway, as I said earlier, everything else went as usual with no major incidents.  As we left the church, however, I happened to glance into my purse/diaper bag and noticed a wad of cash, which was amounted to $80.  I asked my husband if he had put that in there?  Nope.

Then my 5-year-old chimed in, “Mom, I know who put that in there!”

“Who?”

“That really nice, old lady behind us.  She tucked it in your purse when you weren’t looking, but I was.  I gave her a big smile.  Mom, she winked at me.”

I stopped in my tracks.  I couldn’t believe it.  Someone actually gave us money for going to church!?  What an act of kindness!  What a beautiful thing to an overwhelmed mother, who was just worrying about what in the world to feed her huge and ravenously hungry family!

I turned to my husband and said, “Dearest, the Lord wants us to dine out for lunch today.  Betake us to thy favorite restaurant.”

Whereupon he responded, “Certainly, my Dear.  How about the local diner?”

O glorious day!  And may God bless that most generous woman!

Reflection

I was seriously overjoyed at that woman’s act of charity.  It absolutely made my day, which got me thinking.  When’s the last time I did something kind for someone else?

Maybe I could pay for someone else’s coffee the next time I hit up the drive-thru?

Ember Days

Lastly, this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Ember Days.  If you’ve never observed them before, consider it.  (Click HERE for a brief explanation.)

 

 

*The church was overflowing into the narthex area, which is a good problem to have, considering the state of affairs these days.
Book Review

Chris Van Dusen: A Children’s Book Review

Anybody reading children’s books these days?  No?  Then this post isn’t for you.  See you next time.  Yes?  Then read on.

I came across Chris Van Dusen’s work a few years ago with the Mercy Watson pig books.  He was the illustrator for this series, not the the author, who was Kate DiCamillo.  But I don’t like the Mercy Watson books, however.  They’re BORING.  But my kids like them, so I let them read a few.  I tend to agree with C. S. Lewis though, who once said, “If an adult finds a children’s book boring, then it sucks.”  Ok, those weren’t his exact words, but something like that. *

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Note the cute 2-year-old in her favorite blue sparkle skirt.  All girls should have a skirt like that.  I’m told they are a lot of fun to wear every. single. day.

Anyway, I do really like Van Dusen’s two books that he both wrote and illustrated, If I Built a Car and If I Built a House.  They rhyme after all and are fun to read.  These books have great illustrations and articulate every kid’s dream of cars sporting swimming pools and houses featuring no-gravity flying rooms.

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My 2-year-old with If I Built a House.  This is our second copy, as the first was used to shreds, literally.

So, since I liked those two books, I thought I’d check out a few more Van Dusen books.  He has a Mr. Magee series, which is ok and Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit, which is fine.  They’re worth checking out at a library.  But his Hattie & Hudson is bosh.  First of all, it doesn’t rhyme.  Secondly, Hattie is disobedient, sneaking out of her house at night.  And thirdly, I don’t like big sea monsters portrayed as kind and misunderstood creatures.  Nope.  Quit mixing up your symbols, Van Dusen.  Sea monsters and dragons should be evil.  Always.  Don’t agree with me?  Read Michael O’Brien’s Landscape With Dragons and drop me a line.  (Maybe I’ll do a post on that some day.  By the way, if you have children, you should really read that O’Brien book.)

Van Dusen’s  The Circus Ship is entertaining, however, and mostly appropriate.  Once again, the pictures are beautiful, and it rhymes.  There is a really fun page where one must find all 15 animals that are hiding from the terrible circus boss.  It’s great.  The only problem I have with this book is that all the animals are of course friendly.  Even a big, fat snake.  Humph!  Snakes belong in the sea monster and dragon category – just plain evil.  The only reason why I could still recommend this book is that he’s not saying anything at all about the snakes actually being good.  He’s only showing that they can be tamed, which is true.

One final note about The Circus Ship.  I know some of you are sensitive about anything circus related.  I know I am.  This is because shriners are typically associated with circuses and most of us don’t want anything to do with shriners, as they’re in turn connected to the Masons.  Yikes.  If you’re a Catholic, that should really bother you.  That said, I see no such connection between this particular book’s circus and the shriners.

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Now she’s onto The Circus Ship.  It is worth a read.

 

* C. S. Lewis’s real quotation is as follows.  And I couldn’t agree more.

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”  C. S. Lewis

Motherhood & Parenting

Mom Hours: My Son Suffers Migraines

I’ve been putting in a lot of Mom Hours lately.  You know, days when one doesn’t even get a solid fifteen minute break.  (Not to say anything of the night.)

Of course it’s been busier than usual with the selling of our home and the purchasing of another, but it’s more than that.  It’s the start of a new school year with many new elements thrown in.  For example, two of our children are now attending a brick and mortar school, which requires more driving.  And I am still homeschooling three others with a Toddler and a Baby bouncing along in the background.

And somebody has to make sure there’s food on the table.

Now I like doing all these things.  But I don’t like that my 9-year-old son suffers from migraines.  This throws me for a loop every time.  I can always sense when one is coming on because I find him sitting on the couch, not moving.  Then, there’s a glassy look in his eyes.  Then, he doesn’t want to eat, which is a constant worry for me because he only weighs 60 pounds to begin with.  And finally, within an hour of that, it’s an all-out migraine.

His migraines last anywhere from 4-10 hours.  And they almost always end in vomiting.  Last week, as he was throwing up in the toilet, I was moved to tears.  He was so weak that when he finished, he simply slumped to the floor and lay there.

I felt helpless.  I finished scrubbing the toilet and turned to him and said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting.  I wish I could take it away.”  Then he got up and looked at me with his big, sunken-in eyes and said quietly, “Mom, you are not meant to suffer migraines.  I am.  It is God’s will.”  And he slowly walked back to the couch.

It is God’s will.

He’s right, and I have a lot to learn from him.  Even while he was clutching the toilet, he was praying for my cousin who suffers from alcoholism.  Surely God hears the prayers of the little suffering children.  It was painfully beautiful to witness.

If only I would remember to pray during my hardships – my sleepless nights of insomnia, for example.  For the Office of Compline reminds me:

In the silent hours of the night, bless the Lord.

And again in Psalm 91,

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, who abides in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

My God, in whom I trust.  To whom would I rather go?

It is God’s will that my son suffers migraines, and it is my lot to care for him.  It is also God’s will that I suffer from insomnia.  And yes, it means putting in long Mom Hours.  This is no 9-5 vocation after all, and it requires a lot of sacrifice and prayer.

Homeschooling

A New Year of Poetry: Bearing My Fardels with a Bodkin

Now that we’re traveling into week 3 of school, I’m just starting to get a rhythm down.  I think in a week or so, I’ll post my new schedule for those of you who are curious.

But onto a specific question, what are we memorizing?

We began the year with Psalm 23, The Good Shepherd.  “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”  That should give you a good look into the state of my life right now.  (Oh the agonies of buying and selling a house.  I wish it upon no one.)

I chose this Psalm to begin the year with because a.) the children already know it, b.) the children really like it, and c.) I think it’s important to start the year off with something easy and familiar.

After two weeks of that, we have moved on, however.  My eldest is now memorizing Hamlet’s famous To Be or Not To Be soliloquy.  It’s probably a little morbid for an 11-year-old, but the language is beautiful.  We had to look up a few words like quietus and bodkin and fardels*, but in all, we’ve really been enjoying it, even if we don’t understand everything Shakespeare is trying to say.  That’ll just have to come later.

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Here’s the first part.  On the next page, it goes on for another 29 lines.  I’m glad Hamlet’s conscience wins out in this speech…

The little children have returned to my favorite piece of poetry for the fall: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Autumn Fires.  It is the cutest little poem.  If you have small children, I recommend this one every single fall.  Rake yourself a big pile of leaves, play in it, then have a big bonfire and belt out Stevenson.  Here’s the ending of that little poem:

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

 

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Here are two books you might consider owning.  A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
*Quietus, bodkin, fardels – death, dagger, burden
Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Back to School!

How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine:

  1. We’re back into another academic year.  Two of our children are attending a Catholic Montessori School, three are being homeschooled, and the remaining toddler and baby are just. plain. busy.  How do I get it all done?
  2. With a lot of grace and a Good Schedule.  I haven’t quite finished tweaking my new schedule, but when I do, I’ll put it out there for you glance at.  Sometimes it helpful to see what other mothers are doing.
  3. I saw my first weasel the other day.  It was running across our backyard and made for a group of pine trees.  The thing that really stood out was it’s black-tipped tail.  I wish I could have snapped a picture of it.
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Here’s a picture I found on Wikimedia Commons.  Note the black-tipped tail.  The one we saw was about as big as our cat, Strider.

 

4.  My twin boys love serving the Traditional Latin Mass.  Last Sunday I snapped a shot of them holding the torches during the Eucharistic Prayer.  (I know, I know, I should have been praying and not grabbing my phone.  But this just isn’t something one gets to see every day.  In fact, most people never get to see a TLM around here.)

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My boys are the two in the middle.  The beautiful thing about this Mass is the amount of boys wanting to serve.  You can’t see them, but there are three other servers kneeling in choir.

5.  Our house finally sold!  If everything goes well – inspection, etc. – we’ll be moving in October.  We’re very excited about this, as we found a beautiful place to move to that will fit our large family and our large van.  Miracle.

Call Me Catholic

Another Word About the Crisis: Fr. John Lankeit Responds

If you’re following the current and deplorable scandal, then you’re likely reading about Archbishop Vigano and his courageous 11-page letter, which reveals some truly disgusting information about many higher-ups in the Church, Pope Francis included.

As many of you are rightly outraged, I offer this insightful homily by Fr. John Lankeit in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Click HERE for it on YouTube.)

I promise it’s worth it.  He describes how it is that priests/bishops/cardinals become “Fr. Judas Iscariot.”  It begins with small betrayals, small disobediences.  Then, if it’s not stopped, it escalates.  I know I’ve seen this at the Mass, just as Fr. Lankeit describes it.

Luke 16: 10

“He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

Let this be a reminder to us all.

Life is Worth Living

Ode to My Box Wine – Splendor of My Refrigerator

Anyone in need of a little lighter fare?

Remember when I wrote that Ode to my Coffee Pot?  Well, I have something else that I’d like to honor and call to your attention.  It’s my Box Wine.

Without any further ado, here is my Ode to My Box Wine in modern, “free” verse.  (Whatever that means.)

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Got this one on sale the other day for $17.  There’s the equivalent of 4 bottles of wine in that thing.  O joyous Safeguard of sanity! O Splendor of my Refrigerator!

Ode to My Box Wine

Even though you take up much needed space in my refrigerator,

I praise you, Box Wine,

for you are gloriously and wondrously made.

O Hope of desperate mothers!

O Comforter at the end of an exasperating day!

Just one glass is enough to fill our hearts with gladness.

After a day of cleaning up urine all over toilet seats, floors, and walls,

and scrubbing feces from onesies and seat-holders,

and wearing spit-up and drool,

You are my Illustrious Reward.

O Vessel of Joy!

Some things must be prioritized to allow for your presence:

Ketchup or Box Wine?

5th gallon of milk or Box Wine?

Sauerkraut or Box Wine?

(Oh wait, we’re German and cannot actually live without sauerkraut.)

Water pitcher or Box Wine?

Some things just have to go.

For you are our Solace in the midst of woe.

O Bestower of Buzzes!

And Terror of Bad Moods!

You are the Splendor of my refrigerator.

May you live a long life

and never run dry!

May you be as a Stone Jar at the Wedding Feast of Cana!

O Happy Box of Brilliance!

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She fits right in.

 

Have a friend who needs a glass of wine?  Be sure to send this post along.

 

Call Me Catholic

A Word About the Present Crisis

The present crisis in the Church is disgusting.  I’m sure you’ve all read about it.  I mention it because I’ve come across something refreshing.  It’s a homily given by Fr. Robert Altier.

When I came back into the Church in 2003/2004, Fr. Altier was instrumental in deepening my understanding of all things Catholic.  I took his classes then being offered at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul.  He was fantastic.  My friends and I had him over to our house to bless it according to the Old Rite.  It was powerful.

This priest says it like it is.  When’s the last time you heard a homily like this?

Click HERE for it at Fr. Z’s blog.

If you’re up for it, drop a line in the comment box.  Let us know what you think.

Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Biology 101, Firemen, and Donuts

How was your week?  Here are a few highlights from mine:

  1. Yesterday we caught Strider as he was finishing up his breakfast.  So we don’t know what he actually killed.
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Here he is.  Just a blood spot and a tail left.

I guess he doesn’t like eating tails.  So we had a little Biology 101.  What rodent has a white tail?  It looks a little thicker than a mouse or vole, but what?  A rat?  Doesn’t that tail look a little short for a rat?  We don’t know.

2.  Then there’s this, which we almost missed.

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I am sorry the quality is poor.  It’s the upper teeth and snout of whatever poor creature fell into Strider’s path.  Yuck.  Just yuck.

3.  Remember that Ditch Fire we had a week or so ago?  Well, the Fire Chief invited the boys out to the station for a private tour.  So I asked my father-in-law to take them, and he did.  They all loved it.

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These firemen are awesome.  They put all their gear on just for the boys.

They even let the boys get in their trucks and spray their hoses.

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Grandpa was secretly jealous of this part.  He wanted to spray the hose too.

4.  Someone drove by and knocked our mailbox over.  Bummer.

5.  It was the Feast of the Assumption last Wednesday.  So after Mass, we went to the local donut shop and ate donuts.  Besides the normal kinds of donuts, they had oreo cookie donuts with chunks of oreos on the frosting and donuts made to taste like snickers candy bars.  The animal cracker donuts with pink frosting were a hit among my girls.

 

Book Review

4 Book Reviews in Short

I’ve read a few books recently, which might be of interest to some.  Here are my brief remarks.

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One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler

This is Fulwiler’s second book wherein she details the process of writing her first book and discovering her “blue flame.”  Her first book Something Other Than God was better.

However, I think One Beautiful Dream would interest those mothers who are really struggling and maybe drowning in diapers and Cheetos because she’s hilarious to read.  And let me tell you, her life sounds very chaotic.  The reason why I can’t give it a full, hearty recommendation is that I think it’s lacking something.  It would be a richer book if she had included what her family’s prayer life looked like (or didn’t look like) during those hectic years.

I recommend this book for:  Struggling mothers looking to commiserate or mothers who are feeling guilty about working a little on the side.

The Fields of Home by Ralph Moody

This is the fifth book in Ralph Moody’s Little Britches series.  Our family read and listened to the first four books via Audible, and I cannot tell you how much we enjoyed them.  They are excellent.  If you do not own the first four books in this series, you are missing out.  Yes, it is true that sometimes the language is rough, including such words as hell and damn, but they are always used in a such a way that the reader knows that it’s not the way one should speak.  Let me repeat, Moody’s first four books are awesome.

So, the fifth book, Fields of Home.  I intentionally previewed this book because my older children naturally wanted to read it after devouring the first four, but had held off because I heard that they contained material requiring a more mature audience.  And this is true.  While Ralph comes to live with his cranky grandfather, he notices a beautiful neighbor girl and wants to kiss her.  This gets a little tricky.

In the end, I’d hold off on this book until your children are a bit more mature.  The book  just isn’t as good as the other four books anyway.  I was bored from time-to-time because he waxes technical in his descriptions of farm life around the turn of the twentieth century.  But maybe older boys would like that?

Shaking the Nickel Bush by Ralph Moody

This is the sixth book in Moody’s Little Britches series and also not as good as the first four.  Again, my attention drifted from time-to-time, especially in his detailed descriptions of early 1900 cars.  This book, like the fifth, also requires a more mature audience, but for a different reason.  The main character, Ralph, lies to his mother about what he’s doing so as not to worry her.  This is problematic.  But then he also hooks up with a good-for-nothing mooch who in the end teaches Moody a lesson, which is good.

**The Nazi Officer’s Wife by Edith Hahn Beer**

**Go Get this nonfictional book now and read it!**

I was fascinated and horrified by this book and couldn’t put it down.  Edith Hahn Beer, a young Jewish law student, survived WWII by taking upon a false identity, which eventually gets her married to a German officer.  But that didn’t happen until about halfway through the war, after she was forced into the ghetto and sent to work as a field hand.  She watched in horror as the world around her became a living Hell.

The eery thing is, many of the movements leading up to this war remind me of what’s going on in our culture, and this book exposes it all.

Warning.  There is definitely mature material in this book.  If you’re up for it, however, read it.