Life is Worth Living

Fr. Ripperger: Spiritual Warfare & Marriage

It’s no secret that marriage and the family are under attack. And I mean all marriages and all families–yours and mine included. Satan hates families, especially families that pray together, and husbands and wives who are striving to do the right thing.

From time to time, then, it’s important to step back as married couples and think about these things. It would be best to attend some kind of retreat, wherein faithful priests could address married couples, but given our current deplorable situation in the Church, that might be difficult.

The solution?

Fr. Ripperger‘s online marriage retreats.

Fr. Ripperger* is an exorcist living in the Archdiocese of Denver, and it was only recently that we began listening to some of his talks. A friend of mine specifically recommended his 3-part series on marriage and spiritual warfare HERE, which is timely and compelling.

If you can convince your spouse to sacrifice an hour a night for three nights, I promise, you’ll have something interesting to talk about. In fact, some of the things he introduces might be quite new to you. Then, if you finish those three talks and want more, listen to his 5-part series on marriage too. Again, I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Do it together for your marriage.

But Kiiiim! I can just hear some of you say. I don’t have tiiiiime to listen to marriage talks with my spouse. We’re tooooo buuuusy with the kids. Besides, I’d rather watch Netflix.

If that’s what your thinking, you’re wrong. Shut Netflix off and put the children to bed.

Do something good for your marriage! If you don’t want to listen to challenging–and he will challenge you–talks, then at least consider a Date Night with your spouse.

When’s the last time you left your house just to spend some carefree time with your husband? If you can’t afford to dine out, go for a leisurely walk. Sit on park bench together. No cell phones allowed. Your relationship with your spouse is more important than the children. And certainly more important than Netflix.

But do consider Fr. Ripperger’s talks.

*If you like Fr. Ripperger, you may want to check out Dr. Taylor Marshall’s recent interview with him about the Latin Mass and Exorcisms HERE. Fascinating.

Book Review

Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and SSPX

I just finished reading Bernard Tissier de Mallerais’s The Biography of Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X.

I’ve always wanted to read this book, as I’ve always been interested in the origins and life of this infamous, traditional society. Call me crazy, but I admire their pluck and nerve. May God bless them all!

Since I wanted to read this MAMMOTH book, I thought, hey, why not invite others too? So, I gathered a group of curious ladies and away we went. (By the way, if you’ve ever been burning to read a book, but need motivation, get others to read it with you. It’s much more fun.)

TWO inches thick.

Did I mention that this book is HUGE and expensive? Due to its extreme FATNESS and excessive expense, some of us are sharing, myself included. This meant I had to read the book double-quick in order to pass it along.

One member of our group had the genius idea to simply call the local SSPX priory (is that what they’re called?) and ask for a cheaper copy. She got hers for $10 less at their bookstore, versus buying it online. Smart woman.

My hardcover copy. I paid an arm and a leg for it. Fortunately it was worth it.

This 642 page book was fascinating, even if it read a bit like a history book. It’s even got maps, charts, pictures, and footnotes along with important letters and documents in the back with a timeline, bibliography, and index. All very organized and thorough, just as one would expect from SSPXers.

Just What Is This Book About?

We began our book club discussion of Marcel Lefebvre with first reading a bit from a completely different book, Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s, Christus Vincit. Schneider has a whole chapter dedicated to the Society of St. Pius X, and we wanted a perspective from somebody we trusted in the Church.

Now, this is important, and read it slowly…the Society for St. Pius X is NOT in schism. I know this will shock some of you, but it’s true. Schneider says, “They are already in communion with the Church, since they recognize the current pope, mention him in the Canon, pray for him publicly, and pray for the local diocesan bishop. The SSPX has received faculties for absolution from the pope, and the priests of the SSPX may now obtain faculties from the diocesan bishop or from the parish priest canonically to assist at marriages…the members of the SSPX are not excommunicated.” (See page 149.)

This was important for us ladies to understand before diving into this fascinating history, which begins with Marcel’s parents in northern France and details his deeply Catholic upbringing, all the way through seminary, priesthood, missionary life in Africa, the second Vatican Council, the chaos which resulted from it, the birth of his priestly society, and then his death in a Swiss hospital.

Really, after reading it, I have more respect for those priests and religious who fought for tradition. Incidentally, and perhaps in spite of the text itself, I couldn’t help admiring Cardinal Ratzinger’s role in negotiating between Pope John Paul II and Lefebvre. What an undertaking!

Lefebvre met everybody, including Padre Pio. See upper left picture wherein Padre Pio kisses Lefebvre’s ring.

I don’t have time to summarize and analyze this immense book, however. I can only say, that if you’re curious about the second Vatican Council or those controversial ordinations in 1988 or anything else related to traditional things, take out a loan and buy the book.

Timely Mention

Lastly, I was reading our latest issue of The Remnant and lo and behold! On page 8, there’s an entire article on the importance of recognizing the role of SSPX in paving the way for other traditional groups like the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King (ICKSP). The author, Robert Morrison, even quoted de Mallerais’s biography of Lefebvre. That was just fun to read.

Awfully small, I know. Can you see it?

What am I reading next?

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky for our local Well-Read Mom book club.

Life is Worth Living

Gardening With Children 2021

It’s warm enough here, so yesterday we began planting seeds in our outdoor gardens. We’ll hold off a week on planting any plants, however, just in case that thermometer dips.

Planting Bachelor Buttons from seed that we saved from last year.

This year we’ve added another garden box that my husband built. (You’re the best, Dearest.) It’s been a challenge living in the “Driftless Region” where there is no flat land anywhere to be had. The solution is to build these boxes into the hillside. Then, because of the droves of hungry deer, we’ve got to put fences around it all.

This is so different from gardening in North Dakota, by the way. (You may remember that we recently moved?) Deer fence. Right. Nah, just grab that tiller and till for miles and to hades with the fence in the Nodak.

Now, since the region is rather hilly, we’ve also been forced to be creative. For instance, the space in the front of the house was landscaped with rock and lovely perennials, but we’ve decided that this wasn’t practical for a large family. So, I bribed my sons with cash to pick the rock and pull the perennials and voila! We’ve got onions and beets.

Planting onions in front of the house.

My husband is also working on tiering the garden that the children began on the hillside last year. We’re going for potatoes, cucumbers, and tomatoes up there. I hope it’s more successful than last year.

Planting potatoes.

Now, I will say that the children are a great blessing. In fact, I couldn’t do it without them. They are most willing to help. But this could be because they sell me all their produce. They begin the season by purchasing their seeds and plants, watering them all summer long, weeding them, and then selling me produce along the way.

I’m telling you, if you’ve got kids, this is a great way to go.

Anyone else have any ideas for maintaining a garden with lots of children?

Life is Worth Living

All About Skirts (And Dresses!)

A few days ago, I received some questions from you, dear readers, about skirts. This must be an interesting topic for some of you, as I’m forever getting clicks on my skirt post from about two years ago. (See HERE.)

Today, I’ll show you my wardrobe of skirts and dresses and answer those questions.

Today’s skirt with two Little Girls who wanted to be in the photo too.

My Entire Wardrobe of Skirts and Dresses

Are you ready? I have two pictures for you:

Here are my day-to-day skirts, minus one, which I’m wearing. Boring, no?

And…here are my Special Occasion dresses (2) and skirts (2).

Now this is not very exciting, I know. But you see, I like plain skirts because they are easier to match with any top.

The other thing to notice is that my skirts and dresses hit below the knee. While it’s true that I always wear leggings under them in the winter and shorts in the summer, I prefer this length for comfort, and I suppose also for a sense of modesty.

These two photos, however, are a bit misleading for two reasons:

  1. I actually have more skirts and dresses. Gasp! Today, though, I’m only showing you my Cold-Month skirts and dresses because the Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are folded in a drawer, just waiting to come out. As soon as the weather does change, I will switch out those skirts. The Special Occasion dresses will also be switched out. Does this make sense? (By the way, all my Warmer-Month skirts and dresses are made of a lighter material–both in color and in fabric–but they also hit below the knee.)
  2. And there are an additional few dresses of my mother’s, which I haven’t shown. These old dresses–I think there are about 5 of them–are hanging inside a plastic bag.

Kim, what about exercising or playing sports? Do you wear skirts for that too?

I had this question the other day, and the answer is yes and no. When we go hiking as a family or play badminton in the backyard or go for a walk, I don’t change. I wear my skirt. I don’t care if I look funny. I hate changing.

When I want to jog a mile or two, however, or ride my bike, I do change for obvious reasons. If it’s cold outside, I wear sweatpants, of which I’ve got two pairs. If it’s decently warm, I wear capri leggings with a skirt attached. (See photo below.)

Capri leggings with attached skirt. The leggings extend beyond my knees, but the skirt obviously does not. I’ve got two pairs of these.

How about pajamas? Do you wear “dress” pajamas?

Nope. I twist and turn about too much, so I wear shorts at night, of which I have two pairs. It’s the only time I wear shorts, however, as I do not like them.

A swimsuit??

Yes, I do have a swimsuit, and yes it’s a skirt. Or, rather, it’s a skort with a tank top that I purchased from Lands’ End a few years ago.

Do you own a pair of jeans?

No. I don’t feel comfortable in them.

Where do you like to buy your skirts and dresses?

Mostly, I purchase my clothing from secondhand stores. However, when I can’t find what I want, I will buy things online. I try to avoid Amazon, if possible. Recently, I purchased a few clothing items from Inherit Clothing Company, which is an online Christian boutique specializing in modest clothing.

And of course, when I do purchase something I still follow The Rule:

One Item In, One Item Out

In other words, if I buy a new skirt, then an old skirt goes away.

I hope that helps. Be sure to ask if you have any other questions!

Book Review

Books in Brief: Hardy, Sayers, & Ten Boom

I’ve written about about these authors before, and yes, they are delightful and entertaining. Today I’ll offer a few thoughts about a different book from each.

Thomas Hardy: The Mayor of Casterbridge

Just finished Hardy, moving onto Lefebvre

Because I loved Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, I decided to give another one of his novels–The Mayor of Casterbridge–a shot. (Thank you, Michelle, for the recommendation. It was well worth the read.)

I was hooked from page 12 wherein Michael Henchard, a dissatisfied and poor hay trusser in early nineteenth-century England, sold his wife at a refreshment tent at a country fair. Indeed, Henchard was hasty and drunk. Consequently, his wife was only glad to depart with an obliging sailor, who purchased her for five guineas.

Now that’s a beginning to grab one’s attention, for I was mighty curious to see just how this book would turn out. It was quite a rollicking ride for a Victorian novel. Oh, but nothing too scandalous, mind you. (Did I mention it was the early 1800s?)

This book reminded me a bit of George Eliot’s Silas Marner–what with people disappearing (think of Dunstan’s drowning and the sailor too) and little girls being raised by other more capable men (think of Silas Marner raising Eppie, and then the sailor in this book raising Elizabeth.)

But really, I was disappointed in the end because I wanted more. I would have liked an account of Mr. Farfrae’s fickleness. Really, the man was attracted to Elizabeth, but then was easily infatuated with Lucetta, only to return once again to Elizabeth. Just how did this change come about, I wonder?

The good thing about this book, and most Victorian novels that I’ve read, is that the good or virtuous characters, while experiencing hardships, are generally rewarded in the end. Conversely, the bad characters are given their due as well. In this case, Elizabeth experiences much persecution from Henchard, but with her quiet humility, she rises gloriously. Henchard, however, dies a lonely man.

Dorothy Sayers: Clouds of Witness

From Victorian novels to detective fiction, here we go. I do love variety.

Now, if you have not read a Dorothy Sayers crime novel, you are missing out. Do start with Gaudy Night, then follow up with Busman’s Honeymoon, for Lord Peter Wimsey is quite a dashing sleuth in those novels.

I’ve heard from somewhere, probably the Literary Life Podcast, that C.S. Lewis admired Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey because he was the only sleuth to have ever evolved throughout his fictional career. I mean, to have grown and developed into a more admirable man.

And it’s true. In Clouds of Witness, which was written prior to the Harriet Vane novels above, we see a more carefree and flippant Wimsey, than in Sayers’s later novels.

Because of that, however, and because there are allusions to complicated marital affairs, I wouldn’t recommend this book for immature audiences. For anybody else, however, this book is hysterical. Sayers is bitingly critical of communism. She’s continually pointing out its contradictions and follies, especially through the Duchess of Denver–my favorite character. (She’s the mother of Wimsey.)

You know, this is what sets Sayers apart from, say, Agatha Christie. Sayers has a way of developing her characters and cunningly using them to speak about something else. In this book, it’s communism. She’s brilliant.

I’ve enjoyed the Agatha Christie novels that I’ve read too, but the Christie novels have a completely different feel. It seems to me that her novels are more concerned with solving the mystery and restoring order than commenting, say, on the medieval theology that built beautiful churches complete with bells and bell choirs. (I’m thinking of Sayers’s The Nine Tailors.)

Corrie Ten Boom: In My Father’s House

Yes, another Corrie Ten Boom book. Really, if you haven’t read The Hiding Place, then I’m not sure what you’re doing wasting your time on my blog. Go get that book.

Since The Hiding Place was an incredible read, I thought I’d pick up her prequel, In My Father’s House. This short book is filled with lovely photographs, about Corrie’s life prior to WWII. So, if you were astonished and inspired by The Hiding Place, then you will want to read this book.

Now, that said, it’s not as gripping as the first, naturally. But there was one thing that struck me. Her family was a family that prayed, and I mean prayed at all times. They never decided anything without praying, and praying right then and there too, in front of anybody and everybody.

Do we do that? I mean, pray at all times?

Corrie is the second from the left. They were poor, and yet, look with what dignity they dressed.

More Books: Ciszek and Lefebvre

I had wanted to say a few words about another nonfictional book I just read, but really, I’m running out of time. So, I’ll just mention it: With God in Russia by Walter Ciszek. Ah! What a tremendous read! Do you have sons? Get them this book immediately. Read it yourself. That priest survived 23 years in Soviet concentration camps, and I’ve never been more inspired by his perseverance and faith in God’s will.

Lastly…what am I reading now?

I’ve picked up Marcel Lefebvre’s biography. I’ve always wanted to read about that controversial SSPX archbishop. I’m about 80 pages into it and loving it. When I finish, I hope to give you my thoughts.

Anybody else reading something good?

Call Me Catholic

The 8th Day: Low Sunday

Easter is so important that it gets an octave, or eight days, not just one. Easter Sunday, or High Sunday, is the first day of the octave and today, the eighth day, is the last Sunday–Low Sunday.

I love octaves. It’s the only time when “time” is suspended, as one day is drawn out over eight.

To make matters more complicated (or fun!) there are a few other names given to today too–Dominica in Albis and Quasimodo Sunday. The former is so called because the neophytes, or the newly baptized at Easter, would now lay aside their baptismal garments, which were white. The word “Dominica” has refers to the Lord’s Day and “albis” refers to the color white.

The name “Quasimodo” comes from the introit for today which reads, “Quasi modo geniti infants…” This means, “As newborn babes..” It was a common practice to refer to particular Masses by the opening words of the introit.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday in the the New Calendar. Deo gratias!

In honor of this glorious day, I snapped a few photos of the Traditional Latin Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman presiding.

The canon of the Mass.
The servers are about to pray the Confiteor before receiving Holy Communion.
The servers line up for the Last Gospel, which Fr. Altman reads in the background.
The Recessional

Homeschooling

Memory Work

Most of you know that we’re a homeschooling family, and from time to time I like to review what we’re doing for memory work, which consists mostly of poetry. As some of you may be new to this, I’ll answer a few questions first.

Question #1:  How do you choose your memory work?

We memorize those poems, public addresses, Bible verses, or other literary works that we like. It’s as simple as that, but I think it’s an important point.  Your children will sniff it out immediately if they think you think a poem is dull or lame.  And you’ll hate teaching it. So don’t choose memory work that you don’t like.

For example, if all your friends’ kids are memorizing Shakespeare, but you don’t understand Shakespeare, and it makes you break out in hives just thinking about reading all that “foreign” language, then don’t do Shakespeare!  Quit stressing yourself out and pick something you do enjoy and understand.

Furthermore, If you’ve never memorized anything with your family at all, ever, don’t panic, but do begin somewhere. It’s worth it. We cannot truly own something until we’ve interiorized it, or memorized it. If you really don’t know where to begin, crack open your Bible to the book of Psalms and pick one. Go for Psalm 23 if you’re completely lost. There are obvious reasons why everyone used to have that thing memorized.

Or, if you want a book of poetry for your small children, but don’t know where to start, buy Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses.  He’s just plain fun, and we love reciting Where Go the Boats and Foreign Lands this time of year. Or belting out The Swing while pushing those little sweeties back and forth on swings.

Question #2:  How do you teach a poem?

For a number of years, we always did our reciting at the breakfast table.  Usually I’d begin by reading the poem first and then let everyone else have a shot at it.  If you have five children memorizing the same poem, it really doesn’t take that long before everyone has it memorized.  Think about it.  That’s six times of hearing the same thing every morning.

A few years ago, however, we began reading the Bible at breakfast, so now our poetry has become a part of “Morning Time.” This is a half hour slot in the mid-morning when everyone comes together to review Latin vocabulary, pray, and recite.

Question #3:  Are you always memorizing new poetry?

Yes and no.  There are certain poems that we always return to because they’re family favorites.  For example, every Fall the little ones recite Autumn Fires because it’s what we’re living.  We’re really raking leaves and burning them.  And every winter we revisit Stevenson’s Wintertime and Robert Frost’s Stopping by the Woods on Snowy Evening.  In the spring, we return to the great Catholic priest, Gerard Manley Hopkins, which I mentioned in a previous post.  The summer always brings us around to a more patriotic theme with Paul Revere’s Ride and the Declaration of Independence.

But again, throughout the year, we do whatever strikes me or the children.

I also keep a running list of the poems that we’ve memorized over the years.  It’s fun to see what the children have done, and it’s good to review our favorite ones from time to time. I don’t have a problem with repeating again and again our favorites.

Question #4: What are you memorizing now?

Three Must Haves: Gerard Manley Hopkins, Shakespeare, and Stevenson

At this very moment, the boys are memorizing and loving Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day Speech. It’s from his play, Henry V. In this selection, King Henry V is encouraging his English soldiers to fight valiantly against the French, on the feast day of St. Crispin. In spite of terrible odds, they do win.

One of my little girls is reciting Hopkins’ Pied Beauty, and the other little girls are enjoying Stevenson’s Foreign Lands.

The Eldest is required to recite at her school, but she isn’t home at the moment, so I don’t know what she’s working on. (Although I think it might be some Edgar Allan Poe.)

I hope that clears a few things up.  Just ask, if you have any more questions.

Lastly…The Well Read Poem

For those of you who might want more, I came across a lovely podcast that features one poem a week, read and explained by Mr. Thomas Banks. I’m greatly enjoying it.

Life is Worth Living

Happy Easter!

I had hoped to write and post pictures of our beautiful Latin Mass Triduum this week, but I guess I failed! It wasn’t all my fault, however.

An hour before Holy Thursday Mass, one of the twins was impaled by his sister with a wooden spear. (A homemade affair from a large stick in the backyard.) It went through his lip, and she felt very badly as blood was spurting everywhere, and I had to drive him to the clinic for stitches. Then, when the doctor finally looked at it, he sent us to the ER for a specialist to do the job. Apparently he didn’t want to mess it up and leave a big scar. I said I didn’t care, but he sent us anyway.

Prior to stitching. Small hole, but all the way through! Thankfully his teeth were fine.

Well, if any of you have spent any time in an ER, you know one thing: It’s going to take forever. And it did. Three hours for three tiny stitches. We missed all of Holy Thursday Mass, much to the chagrin of my son, who was to serve with all his buddies and brothers. (The rest of the family went ahead.)

We did all attend Good Friday services and the Easter Vigil, but I neglected to take any photos. You see, it was my first traditional Latin Mass Triduum, and I didn’t want to be bothered with that. Hopefully next year, however, I’ll be able to snap a few, as the whole experience was striking.

For instance, did you know, in the Novus Ordo, the Easter candle isn’t actually blessed? Only the fire is. Now why would anybody want to get rid of this traditional blessing:

May the abundant outpouring of Thy blessing, we beseech Thee, almighty God, descend upon this lighted candle; and do Thou, Who dost renew unseen, rekindle this nocturnal brightness. May the Sacrifice made to Thee this night shine with strange reflection of the light that Thou art; and further, into whatsoever place some of this blessed mystery of fire shall be brought, may the power of Thy majesty there be present and every evil device of Satan depart. Through Christ our Lord.

Did you catch that? Every evil device of Satan will depart whenever the Paschal candle is lit. I’ve heard the same is true of church bells–bells that have been properly blessed and “baptized,” hanging in the bell tower. (No, I’m not talking about automated “fake” bells.) Certainly Satan hates all blessed things, which is why we need more of them–bells, candles, holy water, incense…

Happy Easter!

P.S. We pulled a most disgustingly big tick off of one of the Little Girls a few weeks ago. Want to see it? Her little sister said, “Mom, why does she have a bean stuck in her hair?”

GROSS!!!!!

Call Me Catholic

Palm Sunday Penitential Procession

As we officially enter Holy Week today, Palm Sunday, I’m offering a quick photo post of our Penitential Procession. It was a bit breezy outside, but beautiful nonetheless.

As the procession turned a corner, I quickly snapped these shots. You can see Fr. Altman near the stop sign. The choir, which you cannot see, is near the turn, followed by the rest of the flock–all holding palm branches.

Check out that smoke from the thurible. During the Mass, which followed, the incense was so thick, I felt veiled in mystery, literally. Father likes to lay it on thick.

The procession ends at the church doors with the choir chanting Gloria Laus et Honor. Then, father strikes the doors with the end of the processional cross, which is a pre-55* liturgical action, and represents Christ breaking open the doors of heaven by the power of the cross.

Truly, if you’ve never attended a Traditional Latin Mass Holy Week, give it a shot. It’s glorious.

May God bless you this coming week!

*Pre-55 refers to the Holy Week that the Church celebrated for hundreds of years until Annibale Bugnini began his liturgical tinkering, ultimately ending with the 1970 Novus Ordo Missae.

Motherhood & Parenting

Twin Pregnancy: A Question From a Reader

A reader contacted me the other day with a twin pregnancy question. I’ll post it below with a few thoughts of my own.

Question From a Reader:

I recently found out we’re expecting twins, and you’re one of the very few people I know who has also had twins. So if you have ANY advice/tips for a twin pregnancy, the newborn stage, or managing multiple kids that are close in age, I would love to hear it!

My Thoughts:

First of all, dear reader, congratulations on your twin pregnancy! What a blessing. I put together a list of a few things that were helpful for us in raising our twin boys. (Click HERE for the birth story of those twins. Whoa. What a ride!)

Our twin boys, born in 2008.

Advice For Surviving a Twin Pregnancy and Newborn Stage

  1. Prayer. You need to pray with your husband, as a couple, every single day.  Never skip it.  Seriously, God will help the two of you to keep it together when things get rough, and they will get rough when both babies get sick at the same time or decide to scream and cry at the same time or…
  2. Move next door to your mother or some other helpful person. 😉 If you can’t do that, then think about hiring someone to come in for a few hours a day those first few months so that you can…nap, shower, get out of the house, etc.  Even if you can only afford one day a week for a total of 3 hours, you won’t regret it. (In our case, I had a saintly mother-in-law who helped out every Friday.)
  3. If you plan to nurse, learn to nurse both at the same time right away.  You’ll save yourself precious time.  In other words, if one baby wakes up at night and wants to nurse, get the other one up too.  Nurse both at the same time.  I read a *very helpful book* about that when I was pregnant with our twins 12 years ago.
  4. You don’t need a ton of extra stuff.  Just say no!  In fact, your babies can share a crib until they’re too big and need extra room.  When that happens, don’t buy another crib.  Just pull out the pack ‘n play and put the other baby there.  That’s what we did.  Rotating nights, so that each baby gets used to sleeping in either place.
  5. Go for a walk every day, once your body has healed anyway. Truly, get at least 20 minutes of fresh air.
  6. Lastly, do you pray the rosary every day? No? You’re gonna need it.

Does anyone else have any practical advice for raising multiples? Or having all Littles? We’d love to hear about it.

*Book: Oh Yes You Can Breastfeed Twins! by April Rudat. Dramatic title, cheesy cover, but very practical and essential for first-time moms and twins.

Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday is Coming

Passion Sunday is only a few days away.  Get your purple cloth ready!

Here’s a shot of our mantel from last year:

IMG_2376.jpg
In our home, I only veil the images where we gather as a family to pray, which happens to be the living room.

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

“Judica” is the latin word for “judge,” which is where we get the name.

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday these prayers are omitted and will not return until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria and the Alleluia, which disappeared earlier, however, at the beginning of the “Gesima” Sundays.  All of these are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

It’s beautiful how it all comes together.

Veiling of Images for Passiontide

My children always look forward to Passion Sunday, if only to see the images disappear from our fireplace mantel and the church.

All statuary in St. James the Less are veiled for Passiontide, except those way, way up high on the crossbeam.

This tradition of veiling images began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

Seriously, I’m always excited for Easter Sunday for the obvious reasons, but then, how exciting to see these beautiful statues again!

Give It a Try

If you’ve never veiled your images at home before, give it a try.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

And speaking of veiling…

Ah, what a lovely thing to do for love of Jesus. Dear ladies, have you ever tried veiling yourself? We, too, “hide” ourselves to be only visible to Him.

Book Review

All About Books: Hardy, Eliot, and Ten Boom

Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

I recently finished reading Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. I’ve read it once before, back in my heathen college days, and didn’t like it. I suspect I was too stupid to appreciate Hardy’s vocabulary and too shallow to appreciate his detailed descriptions of flora, fauna, and architecture.

Let me tell you, though, I couldn’t put the book down this time, even in spite of its daunting 362 pages.

This is the same copy I read in college. It even had my old notes in it, which were hysterical to read.

Far From the Madding Crowd is set in rural nineteenth century England and follows the fate of Gabriel Oak who meets and falls immediately in love with a very vain woman named Bathesheba. Then we meet two more men in the novel: Mr. Boldwood and Captain Troy.

Now just looks at those names. What comes to mind? There are so many biblical and ancient references in this book that it’s no wonder I was clueless the first time I read it. (Which is why, by the way, it’s worthwhile to revisit a book that one read a long time ago.)

In any case, this book was amusing and a sheer delight to read.

Silas Marner by George Eliot

I read this book by George Eliot (i.e. Mary Ann Evans) for four reasons:

  1. It’s short.
  2. It’s a Victorian novel. (I love Victorian novels.)
  3. I enjoyed two of Eliot’s other novels, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, so why not read another?
  4. Since the gals (and Mr. Banks) were reading it at the Literary Life Podcast, I wanted to follow along with them.

Now, did I like it? Meh. It picked up as I went along, but I must admit, I got tired of the didactic tone, and I found parts of it unbelievable–possible, yes, but unbelievable.

Basically this novel follows the plight of Silas Marner, a thwarted weaver living in the sticks who loses all, but gains something even better. I won’t spoil it for those of you tempted to read it, for it is worth a read.

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

I’ve written about this excellent book before. (Click HERE for details.) The reason I reread it was for a local book club–The Well-Read Mom.

As I’ve said before, if you haven’t read this autobiography, you are missing out. Corrie Ten Boom tells her story of hiding Jews during WWII and of how she survived a Nazi concentration camp. I give it a 10+.

Go buy a copy NOW. You won’t be able to put it down.

Bonus Book Mention: And now, a book I tossed into the trash…

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

This book was another read for the Well-Read Mom Book Club. It seems that every year at least one sketchy book is selected.

I tried to finish it, really. But page after page was chock full of occult practices and disordered sexual references, that I quit on page 47. I then looked up the author. It would appear to me that she had an agenda with this book. She wrote it specifically for Young Adults and even won awards for it. Disgusting.

I should have known even before page 47 when Alvarez has one the older sisters tell her younger sister that, “Sometimes you need to do a bad thing for good to come.”* Nope. No, you don’t. The ends never justify the means.

It’s not that authors can’t write about bad or evil things, though. They can, but what matters is that the good is good and the bad is bad. It’s harmful to read books that don’t get virtue and vice right. In others words, you can’t pass bad things off as good, which I think Alvarez does.

Alvarez even admits to having no biographical information about these four sisters who died in the Dominican Republic under a totalitarian regime, and the picture she paints is, well, disturbing. She’s got them playing fortune telling games with a priest, buying and reading spell books behind their mother’s back, drawing pictures of private male anatomy and then laughing when caught, participating in a girl stripping naked for others just to look at, and finally, where I quit, the masturbation scene.

Now you tell me, with zero biographical information, was all that necessary? Or is Alvarez sending a different message? Regardless of what other messages she may want to portray in the book, it would appear that Alvarez is trivializing and therefore normalizing these other completely disordered and disgusting behaviors. And remember, her intended audience are teenagers.

What Am I Reading Next?

I don’t know yet. I might pick up George Orwell’s 1984. Or I might read another Dorothy Sayers detective novel. Or maybe Agatha Christie?

What are you all reading?

*I can’t verify the exact quotation, because I threw the book away. But if you still have the book, check between pages 40-46. Then throw that trash away.