Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday and Veiling Images

This Sunday is Passion Sunday.  Get your purple cloth ready!

Since many of us are on Mandatory House Arrest–how very penitential–veiling may be difficult to do, if you don’t already have your supplies ready to go.  But, there’s no need to fret after all.  I’m sure Jesus will understand if your images are veiled with some bathroom towels or an old sheet!

In any case I’ll leave you with 3 things:

  1. Here’s our mantel, which I prepared a few days early:

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    In our home, I only veil the images where we gather as a family to pray, which happens to be the living room.
  2. Earlier today, when I was minding my own business and scrambling eggs, I suddenly heard my husband laughing from our bedroom, where his makeshift office is located.  Something was obviously so hilarious that he had to call me up.  “Kim, you’ve got to see this.”  He was “on break” and watching THIS 1987 video of Rick Astley dancing.  It’s ridiculous, but made me smile.  I remember that song after all.
  3. Lastly, here’s my post from last year, for those of you unfamiliar with the beautiful tradition of veiling.

My Old Post From Last Year: Passion Sunday

There’s some crazy stuff in the Old Calendar that is just interesting to learn about.  My husband is forever telling me this.  (By Old Calendar I mean those things connected to the Traditional Latin Mass.)

For example, this coming Sunday is called Passion Sunday.  It always falls on the Sunday immediately before Palm Sunday and serves to move our thoughts toward the Passion and death of Christ.  (In the New Calendar, this Sunday is called the Fifth Sunday of Lent.)

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

Now I know that the prayers of the Mass are supposed to reflect the liturgical season the Church is observing, but there’s some real beauty and depth to be found in the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) that I’ve never noticed before.  I’ll give you one example.

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.”

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 it’s omitted and will be until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria.  Both 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.

Sometimes this Sunday is also called “Judica Sunday.”  Judica being Latin for the opening word of Psalm 42, “Judge.”

It’s amazing how it all comes together.  I’ve got a lot to learn.

Veiling of Images

In any case, my children always look forward to Passion Sunday, for my family likes to observe a unique tradition that all churches used to do, and many still do.  We veil our images with purple cloth.

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Here’s our fireplace mantel.  Even though we still have two days to go, I went ahead with the purple anyway.

This tradition 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.

So if you’ve never done it before, try veiling a couple of images in your home.  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.

Call Me Catholic

His Mother is Weeping

Dear Readers,

This makes my heart weep.  I have no doubt Our Lady is weeping.  I wish I had the words to describe my feelings.  I don’t.  May God bless and protect that priest.

May more priests, and especially bishops, be inspired by his example.

And what about the children?  They so want to help too.  Here are a few of my children this morning:

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They drew a gigantic rosary on our driveway for all and sundry to see.  They also drew St. Michael killing Coronavirus.

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Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us.

St. Gregory the Great, pray for us.

St. Miguel Pro, pray for us.

Lastly, I found THIS article by canon lawyer Cathy Caridi interesting.  I’m glad people are beginning to talk about these things.

 

Life is Worth Living

A “Sanitary Dictatorship”

Just what are we to think of these wild times?

The oft-quoted Charles Dickins’s A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

Personally, I think Bishop Athansius Schneider nails it HERE at LifeSiteNews.  (Be sure to read it.)  He notes that not even the Third Reich dared to do what’s happening to us right now, especially as pertains to the government and the Church.  In his latest book, Christus Vincit, he warns of a coming One World Government, which in the article above, he refers to as a “Sanitary Dictatorship.”  Frightening, no?

But you know who else was predicting this years ago?  Catholic author Michael O’Brien.  Have you read any of his literature yet?  If not, pick up Father Elijah.  You likely have time on your hands, after all.  And that book is a page-turner.

What else can we do besides read great literature?

Of course we need not despair, even though I am tempted to.  Early last week, right before the Terrible Ban on Everything, our family went to Confession, and alas, I did confess despair.  My priest–God save him!–quietly asked me if I was familiar with the Gospel passage about Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm from Matthew 8?

“Yes,” I responded.

“And when the disciples woke Jesus, what did he say to them?”

“Why are you afraid, O ye of little faith?”  I sighed.

My priest continued, “But I don’t want you to dwell on that.  Rather, I want you to remember that he was in the boat.  He was there all along, in the storm, and he’s here now.  I want you to thank Jesus for being in the boat with us.  He hasn’t abandoned us.”

I found great comfort in that, and it’s been my prayer lately.  Thank you, Jesus, for being in the boat with us.

Besides personal prayer?  What else?

Here are a few other thoughts:

  1. While I hate to encourage more screen time, I will say that Dr. Taylor Marshall and John Henry Weston are spot on HERE.
  2. But more importantly, are you saying a daily family rosary?
  3. I know I talked about the difficulties of fasting recently, but are you fasting?  Even if it’s something small?  Perhaps you could give up creamer in your coffee?  Or refrain from adding salt or pepper to your dishes?  Or give up ice cubes?  Anything is better than nothing!  Start small, if you’re new to this.
  4. Get yourself to confession.  Today.  Who knows where this is going to end?  If the governors of California, New York, and Illinois can put everyone on “house arrest,” then your governor can too.  Call or email your pastor.  If he’s worth his salt, he’ll figure out a way to legally hear your confession.
  5. Encourage your pastor to do 24-hour Adoration, if your state’s not on “house arrest.”  Even if no more than 10 people could legally attend, and of course observing “social distancing” laws of 6 feet, this would be a beautiful way to keep Churches open.
  6. And finally, encourage your priest to do processions.  I will be eternally thankful to our priest for noticing which way the wind was blowing last week, for we had a lovely procession with prayers against pestilence last Sunday.

But we need more processions.

Daily processions.  Perhaps priests could walk the streets with a Cross Bearer and two Acolytes, while reciting the Litany of Saints and Prayers against Pestilence.  This could be done daily, at say 3pm.  The faithful could park their cars along the way and pray.  Or the more bolder of the faithful could follow behind, keeping “social distancing” laws of 6 feet.

No really, processions are so important that I’ll leave you with two examples of exemplary priests from the past.  I pulled this information from newadvent.org.  It’s an online Catholic Encyclopedia.  We really need to get this done.

  1. St. Gregory the Great and the plague in Rome.

    As the plague still continued unabated, Gregory called upon the people to join in a vast sevenfold procession which was to start from each of the seven regions of the city and meet at the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin, all praying the while for pardon and the withdrawal of the pestilence. This was accordingly done, and the memory of the event is still preserved by the name “Sant’ Angelo” given to the mausoleum of Hadrian from the legend that the Archangel St. Michael was seen upon its summit in the act of sheathing his sword as a sign that the plague was over.

  2. St. Charles Borromeo and the plague in Milan.

Personal visits were paid by him to the plague-stricken houses. In the hospital of St. Gregory were the worst cases; to this he went, and his presence comforted the sufferers. Though he worked so arduously himself, it was only after many trials that the secular clergy of the town were induced to assist him, but his persuasive words at last won them so that they afterwards aided him in every way. It was at this time that, wishing to do penance for his people, he walked in procession, barefooted, with a rope round his neck, at one time bearing in his hand the relic of the Holy Nail.

Now those were men.

 

Life is Worth Living

Coronavirus. Sigh.

Does Coronavirus have you down?  Are you wondering what you might do?  Never fear!  Here are 3 things I’m doing to distract myself from everything shutting down…

  1. I’m drinking more coffee.  If cappuccinos weren’t so confounding expensive, I’d drive myself to a drive-thru and drink them all day long.  On second thought, I am a Catholic, and we’re suppose to practice moderation and all that, so maybe I’d limit myself to two–one at 6am and one at noon, to ward off that darn Noon Day Devil–but as it is, I’m lucky if I get one a week.  In any case, coffee helps, I’m telling you.
  2. I’m listening to Mariah Carey when my children aren’t around, so like during “Quiet Time.”  Naturally I’m a secret Mariah Carey admirer.  I can’t help myself.  I grew up blasting her music and singing at the top of lungs with my sister.  I know, I know, you’re going to remind me that she dresses scandalously and has terrible lyrics/music and all that, but I am a weak individual.  Mea culpa.  I’ve written about it HERE.  Pray for me.
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Mariah Carey.  We should probably pray for her too.  (Picture from the public domain.)

3.  I’m painting, and I hate painting.  It’s the worst.  And every single house we move into always requires it.  How about you?  Are there any home projects that you need to get done?  Now’s the time!

BTW…the only way to survive such everlastingly tedious housework is to drink cappuccinos and blast THIS.  You know what this song is really about, right?  Not having enough coffee, of course.

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Me.  Doing penance.  Hang in there, y’all!
Monthly Picks

March Picks

What have you found enjoyable this month?  Here are a few of my favorites:

  1.  Grandma sent the little girls dresses for Easter.  Who doesn’t love Easter dresses?  Of course they won’t be able to wear them to Mass for a few weeks, but here are two of them trying them on:
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Do I need to say that these two cried when I took the dresses off?

2.  Favorite March book?  Antonio Socci’s, The Fourth Secret of Fatima.  It’s been awhile since I haven’t been able to put a book down.  If you’re interested in the doings of the popes in the 20th century, as concerns Sr. Lucia and Fatima, then you won’t be disappointed.  Socci, an Italian journalist and author, gives a thorough and fascinating and horrifying account of that mysterious 3rd Secret.  Warning: he assumes you are already familiar with Fatima.  (This is not a book for those reading about Fatima for the first time.)

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Drop me a line if you decide to read this book.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

3.  Kids’ favorite book?  Sydney Taylor’s All-of-a-Kind Family.  My children–all of them–greatly enjoyed listening to this book on Audible.  I, too, not only enjoyed it, but learned a bit about Jewish families living in New York City in the early 1900s.  Very sweet.

4.  Favorite fruit?  While my children will eat any fruit, I’ve been finding those cheap pineapples very convenient.  I’ve been buying them for $2.98.  I’ve been restricting myself to one pineapple a week, because I don’t want the children to get sick of them.  But really, I should up it to at least 2, as we eat the whole thing in one sitting.

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Another reason why I love pineapples (and bananas)?  They don’t take up any room in the refrigerator.

5.  Favorite Bread?  Hands down, Renaissance Bread from Galesville, WI.  Fortunately for us, this little bakery, owned and operated by 2 sisters, is not only organic, but delivers once a week to a grocery store in La Crosse.  As I was buying them out every week, I decided to call them and ask if they’d put together a standing, weekly order of 6 loaves for me?  Oh yes, of course!  God bless those sisters!

6.  And…what about wine?  We’ve been enjoying J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was on sale this month at Sam’s Club for $9.71, so I bought 6 bottles.

7.  Lastly, Favorite YouTube Video?  Aw, you knew it was going to be Dr. Taylor Marshall.  He’s got some great ones this month.  My kids really enjoyed watching this one on communion rails.  Me?  I found his interview with Timothy Flanders on Corona Virus very interesting.

8.  My Husband’s Favorite Thing About March?  His birthday.  He turns 38 on the 16th.

Motherhood & Parenting

Is Fasting For Mothers?

Prior to the beginning of Lent, nearly every year, I am tempted to bitterness and resentment.

Why, you may ask?  Mostly because I’m a whiner, but also because I’m a mother.  A mother of 7 children, all under the age of 14, and I am almost always nursing or pregnant.  While I know that there are mothers out there who find motherhood easy and breezy, I do not.  On the contrary, I find motherhood difficult, for it involves great suffering and great sacrifice.

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My house on any given day.  Lots going on!

And then Lent rolls around, and I’m tempted to think to myself, I never left Lent last year!  I was up four times last night.  The baby screamed all day.  I have stains on my shirt.  I spent a 1/5th of this year in a hospital for my son.  We just moved 600 miles.  We have no friends.  I already fast every Friday, and now I’m supposed to do more penance?  I think I’ll drink another glass of wine…

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My house on a bad day.  Mea culpa.

This kind of thinking does no good, and when I catch myself at it, I consciously reject it, for I’m only thinking about myself; I’m not thinking about Jesus, and I’m not thinking about my eternal salvation or that of others.

And of course motherhood is worth it!  I’m just saying there are moments when extra penance is incredibly difficult and perhaps not advisable in certain situations.*

Enter Simcha Fisher’s Thoughts

But, truly, I wonder about women–mothers, in particular.  Is extra penance and/or fasting for mothers in general?  Simcha Fisher has an interesting piece HERE at The Catholic Weekly.  I think she makes a really good point.  Go read it.

Or it’s HERE on her blog.  Seriously, go read it.  I know that some people consider her a bit edgy, but boy, can I relate sometimes!

Enter Ember Days

Last week I finished my very first Ember Days of fasting.  It was so difficult.  By the time Saturday rolled around, I literally couldn’t move and crashed on the couch.  My husband–no stranger to fasting–looked at me and said, “Enough already, Kim.  I know it’s only 2:30pm, but go eat.  You’ve done a good job; you haven’t complained to anybody except me, but now, go, eat.”

I hesitated a moment, then walked to refrigerator and ate a leftover sandwich, for I was exhausted and famished, and for a brief moment, I felt guilty.  Couldn’t I just make it a few more hours until dinner-time?

No.  No, I could not.

Even though I couldn’t make the full 3 days, however, it was still worth it, for I need to fast and deny myself periodically, but I also need to be attentive to my particular situation.  If I’ve been up all night with sick children and am sleep deprived, it may not be a good time to take on extra penance.

Dear Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts or any inspiration you may have.

 

 

*In the very least, do I need to say that I don’t fast when I’m pregnant or nursing?  I probably should clarify that.  Let me repeat: I don’t fast when I’m pregnant or nursing, nor do I recommend it.
Book Review

Their Eyes Were Watching God: Book Review

I recently finished reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and I was asked by someone if I thought this was a good book?

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The short answer is no.  I don’t think it’s a good book.

And here’s why: Hurston sends conflicting messages about the meaning of love, marriage, and sacrifice.  She gets it all wrong, and I’ll do my best to briefly explain it below.

It might be helpful to begin with a simple definition of love, for love is not an emotion, as Hurston would have one believe.  Emotional “love” is flitting; it is changeable and passing.  Oh the agony one will find in marriage if one doesn’t understand this!  Rather, to love is to will the good of another.  It is to die to oneself.  It is selflessness.  Likely, most of you readers already know this.

Janie Crawford, the main character in Hurston’s 1937 novel, does not think of love in this way.  Rather, she wants to feel love, which is why her first marriage fails.  In fact, she simply walks away from that marriage, literally with another man, whom she then marries a day later.

In other words, Janie has become a polygamist, and not a word is said about it.  Apparently this doesn’t bother her as she steadily marches onward with this new man.  The interesting thing is, however, that she also begins to detest this new husband very quickly.  A good portion of the novel details her reluctance to help him and her lamenting the fact that he doesn’t understand her.  She doesn’t want to help him; she wants to do her own thing, and fortunately for her, he dies after a few years, leaving her with a lot of money.

What to do then?  All the men in the town are eager to marry her, as she’s beautiful and rich, but Janie senses the shallowness of this.  Within a year of her husband’s death, however, she runs off with another man, whom she marries.  This man, she claims to love deeply, even though he steals money from her, lies to her, beats her, and cheats on her.

Now, I get that Hurston may simply want to paint an accurate picture of this time period–this culture.  In fact, that would be the merit of this book.  For those who are looking to understand the conflict, thoughts, and feelings of turn-of-the-century black Americans, perhaps this would indeed be a good book.

But I can’t recommend it because there’s a blending of good and bad.  Sometimes good things are seen as bad.  For example, it would be good to help one’s spouse out regardless of one’s feelings, but Janies does not think so.  Furthermore, sometimes bad things are seen as good, such as when Janie breaks her marriage covenant.

Any book that celebrates bad things as good or good things as bad, without any redemption in the end, I can’t recommend.

Language and Beauty

Lastly, I want to address the issue of language.  This novel is written almost exclusively in a rough dialect coming from the south, which can be difficult to read.  Indeed, writing in such a manner can be a risky thing for an author, as you may limit your audience to only those who are willing to slog through it.  (If I hadn’t wanted to read this novel for a local book club, I never would have forced myself to finish it.  It wasn’t worth it.)

Then secondly, poor language becomes dangerous to those readers who may be immersed in such a culture.  It drags one down, and after hours of reading in such a way, one finds oneself thinking in these words–even speaking aloud in that language, and that language is not beautiful.  It is far from uplifting.  And there’s something to be said for beautiful, uplifting, and intelligent language.  Truly an author who has mastered the English language is a pleasure to read.  I’m thinking of Charlotte Bronte.  Each time I read something of hers, I can’t help but to marvel at her vocabulary and her ability to express so well the human heart.

Let me illustrate this with an example of a different nature.  Many modern churches are built in a “low” way, lacking what St. Thomas Aquinas requires for beauty–namely, clarity, proportion, and integrity.  Without getting into details and going directly to my point, there is a difference between worshipping in a pole barn and worshipping in a magnificent gothic cathedral.  Any child could tell you so.  One is inspiring, and one is not.

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Pole Barn, from Wikimedia Commons.
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Chartres Cathedral, from Wikimedia Commons.  Anybody see a difference between the two?

Books can be the same way.  This is why I would be very wary of a novel done completely in the style of a pole barn–rough, ugly, and utilitarian.  What message are you conveying?  It had better be clear.  Truth had better be Truth.  If one wants to show a picture of something ugly, it had better have a clear purpose.  There had better be redemption in the end.  Indeed, there are authors who have mastered writing in slang or local dialects–I’m thinking of Charles Dickens–so I know it can be done well.  But given Hurston’s confused manner of addressing such things as love, marriage, and sacrifice, I think she fails in her endeavor.

Call Me Catholic

My Big, Fat, Shove Tuesday

Today is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which in years past was known as Shrove Tuesday.  Shrove comes from “shrive,” which means to rid oneself of one’s sins and seek penance.

In other words, have you gone to confession lately?  No?  Now’s the time!

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Go to Confession!

Nowadays we think of the day before Ash Wednesday as Fat Tuesday, wherein one eats all foods that used to be verboten during Lent: butter, eggs, fat…candy, desserts, all things richly decadent, etc., etc.

This morning, after a breakfast of toast and strudel, we drove over to Caribou and ordered Turtle Mochas for all the children and a Mint Condition for me.  It was delicious.

Tomorrow, however, we can kiss those sweets goodbye for a time.

Are you ready for Lent?

And Just For Fun:

Here are few photos from the last week or so.

Photo #1:  The New Triple Bunkbed

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The boys have been sleeping on the floor ever since we moved here because their bed hadn’t come yet.  We had ordered this Fun Thing from Wayfair, but it took a few weeks to get here.  The little girls are ragingly jealous of it.  They want one too.

Photo #2:  Kids Skipping Along With Their Cousins

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The kids’ cousins came to visit.  Of course we took them to see the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Photo #3:  My Sister

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My sister drove all the way here and surprised me with a visit.  It was fun.

Photo #4:  My Sister Without Coffee  😉

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We had such a great time together with my brother.  I love you both.  Even without your coffee in the morning!  And even if you wear SDSU gear in Wisconsin…goodness.  One could get beat up around here for that.

Photo #4:  Grandma, Grandpa, and Another Aunt

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My husband’s family came to visit too.  Guess where we took them?*

We also went hiking at Great River Bluffs State Park.  I can’t wait to do that again.  It’s very lovely.

Photo #5:  Some of the Children Enjoying Fat Tuesday

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They were singing songs and dancing.

See you in Lent!

 

 

 

*Naturally we took them to the Shrine.  Have you been there yet?

 

Call Me Catholic

I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

I really did it.  I picked up a hitchhiker for the first time the other day, with a van full of kids no less.  This was back in January, when we were living in North Dakota.

Backup a Bit

It was a bitterly cold Thursday afternoon, and the children and I were driving into town to attend the funeral of a friend.  It was one of the coldest days of the season with the wind whipping the snow around and dropping the temperature to about -30 degrees Fahrenheit.  We were still a few miles from town when I came up over a hill and spotted a man walking alongside the road.  His whole body was bent over, as he was trudging against the fierce wind.

Immediately my heart leapt, and I knew I had to offer him a ride; he’d die otherwise.  So, I yelled back to the kids that I was going to offer this man a ride, and that I’d explain my actions later.

I slowed down, breathed a prayer of protection to my guardian angel, and rolled down the window and shouted, “Hey!  You want a ride?”

A young face turned to me and halfheartedly waved.  He hadn’t heard me because of the wind.

I boldly tried again, “Get in!”

Then he understood and nodded.  He ran over and pointed to the back of the van, wondering if he ought to ride in the back?

I shook my head.  “No, sit up here, by me.”  I was going to keep my eye on this guy, after all.

He opened the door and quickly jumped in and shuddered.  Again, it was a deadly cold day.  As I picked up speed, he quietly said, “Thank you.  It’s a lot longer walk into town than I remembered.”

Dear Reader, let me tell you now, he reeked of alcohol, and my heart ached for him.  Why was he out walking on such a savagely cold afternoon?  I wanted to ask him this, but didn’t.  Instead, I told him I was driving to the Cathedral and that I’d drop him off anywhere he wanted along the way.  And again, all he said was, “Thank you.”

As I neared town, he mentioned that he’d get out at the Interstate exit.  During this time, I was asking for the guidance of Jesus.  Is there anything, dear Jesus, that you would have me say to this young man?

“I am Catholic,” I blurted out, as I pulled over at the exit.  “Please, you must take this holy card of Jesus.  He loves you so.  And here is His Mother, Mary.  She loves you too.”

There was a pause as he reached for the holy card of Jesus and the Miraculous Medal of Mary.  He looked them.

I continued, “She cares about you, you know.  He does too.”

He looked at me and said, “Thank you.”  Then he opened the door and was gone into the vicious wind.

I turned onto the Interstate and glanced at the silent children in the rearview mirror and paused.  How do I explain myself?  This was certainly something I had never done before, nor would I recommend it.

I began, “Don’t you ever, ever do that–pick up strangers, I mean.”  Then I sighed and continued, “Well, unless the Holy Spirit or your Guardian Angel tells you to do so.  Then you listen and do as your told.”

Pause.  “That’s why I picked that man up.  I was told to.  But that almost never happens.”

More silence.  “We must pray for this young man, children.”

And so we did.  Perhaps you could offer a small prayer for him too, Dear Readers?

Monthly Picks

February Picks

Here are some of my favorite things for February:

Favorite New Parish:  St. James the Less in La Crosse, WI.  Seriously, we couldn’t have landed in a better place for kind families, beautiful Latin Masses, and heavenly scholas.  I’ll telling you, this place has got it going on.  They even have potlucks every Sunday after the 11am Mass.  It’s all such a blessing.

Favorite Outdoor Activity:  Hiking.  The weather seems so much more mild here that it makes it easy to be out-of-doors.

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Hiking around Grandad’s Bluff

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t mention all the sledding going on.  The boys drag their sleds almost every day to the park and sled down the steep sides into the baseball field.

Favorite Cocktail:  The Copyright, which is a signature drink from the La Crosse Distilling Co. and consists of Barrel-aged Fieldnotes Potato Vodka, Orange Liqueur, Honey, Lemon, and Angostura Bitters.  Here a picture of it:

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High Rye Highball on the left and Copyright on the right.

This place was hopping last Saturday night.  We can’t wait to go back and try more local drinks.  Click HERE for their website and more pictures.

Family Game of the Month:  Last month was Catan, and indeed, the children are still at it, but lately Chess has captured more attention.  This is because the 4 older children played in a local Chess Tournament, wherein The Eldest actually took the championship. She claims it was all luck.  My husband said it was all his doing with his careful and attentive teaching at home.  Her brothers say that she owes it all to them for spending hours playing with her, and I say it was all due to her grandpa’s expertise and guidance.

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This tournament was a “Swiss” style tournament with 5 rounds.  (Whatever that means.  I’ve never played Chess in my life.)  It was held at Providence Academy.

Best Amazon Purchase:  My 3 Tier 12 Bottle Wine Rack for $14.99.  Too bad it didn’t come stocked with wine.

Most Enjoyable February Book:  Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.  I’m revisiting it again, probably for the 4th or 5th time.  If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out.  Mr. Rochester is my all-time favorite male character in a novel.  Yes, he even beats Mr. Darcy from Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  HERE’S my favorite Audible version.

My Kids’ Favorite February Supper:  Hot dogs.  Yuck.  Just yuck.  But I was desperate the other day.  We were in Survival Mode.

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That’s sauerkraut on the back burner.

And here’s what I had for supper that night…

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That’s my new wine rack in the background.

Anybody have anything good to share for February?

Life is Worth Living

Coffee Troubles and Triumphs

One of the first things that must be done upon moving to a new city is locating the local coffee shops.  This post is a Tale of Woe, but with a happy ending.

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Cheers. (Found Panera the other day.)

Now, this is not as easy as it appears.  Yes, Google Maps is very helpful, but I’m telling you.  There are things that Google just doesn’t know.  Like how to cruise around in a 15-passenger van full of uproarious children and not pull your hair out or chuck shoes at them while attempting to locate the nonexistent coffee drive-thru.

Like I said, I’ve had some major coffee hardships this last week.  All of them ended in complete failure while exploring downtown La Crosse, WI.  Let’s just say that one cannot get coffee in downtown La Crosse.  Leastways not in a gigantic van.  And not with ravenous, dog-tired children.IMG_2144.jpg

This is my Sweet Ride, by the way.  Shouldn’t this monstrosity really be considered a “handicapped” vehicle.  I mean, I’ve got 7 children…

In any case, so much for those cute, chic Caffeine Sanctuaries downtown.

Well, what to do next?  I guess explore the usual…Starbucks?  Even if the line hadn’t been longer than the Continental Divide, nope.  Caribou?  Another nope.  I couldn’t even find the drive-thru.  Not kidding.  (Apparently one does exist, however.  It’s just hiding.)

There were other places I tried to drive to.  For example this place:

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But I couldn’t make the lane change quick enough in this big barge of a boat.

Then I saw this place:

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Too much construction.

You might be wondering if I was discouraged at this point?  I mean, how many coffee shops must one drive by?  The answer to this question is no, definitely not.  I am made of sterner stuff than that.  It must be all that North Dakota blast-your-face-off cold that toughened me up.  I kept driving.

Eventually the children and I found Dunkin’ Donuts.  And they had a nice, big, empty parking lot, and I was glad for two reasons:

  1. While I can parallel park this giant beast of a van, I prefer not to.  Big parking lots are heavenly harbors and balm to my soul.
  2. I remembered a gift card a friend had given me awhile back that was itching to be used, and since 5 of my 7 children are coffee drinkers, this seemed perfect.  And I wanted to treat everyone because we had just finished with Mass and confessions at St. James.  It was time to celebrate.

Dunkin’ Donuts was a success!  Guess what else we had besides lattes and cappuccinos?

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Donuts, of course.

It was glorious, even if we couldn’t fit around one table.

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This is one of my non-coffee drinkers.  The other is the toddler.  I don’t understand how these two can pass it up.  They’re crazy.
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Look at those handsome fellas.
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One, happy family.  The boy on the left, however, should never be allowed to have caffeine.  He’s always running on Turbo the way it is.  I’m likely out of my mind for allowing it.

Lastly, one of you readers requested an outside photo near my house.  I’m most happy to oblige.  Here a shot towards the east, standing in my driveway.  The park is at the end of the road.

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There are hiking trails in those woods yonder.  These hills extend all around the valley, with a small opening, which you can see on the right side of the photo.  If there were to be any kind of breeze, it must come from that opening, which faces the southeast.

Any other questions?  Be sure to ask!

 

 

 

Call Me Catholic

Septuagesima Sunday is Coming

This Sunday is Septuagesima Sunday–in the Old Calendar.  Kind of a funny name, no?  It means that we’re on the threshold of Lent.  Are you ready?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent, and they have funny, Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima.  They mean, seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth, which is to say, it’s roughly 70 days until Easter, 60 days until Easter, and fifty days until Easter.  This next Sunday, we’ll be at Septuagesima.

Well, in the Old Calendar during the three weeks prior to the actual start of Lent, priests wore violet vestments and certain elements of the Mass were dropped, like the Gloria and Alleluia.  (In fact, there’s a sweet tradition of physically burying the Alleluia, only to dig it up again at Easter.)  All of these things were meant to get you thinking.  Sober up, people!  Let’s start preparing.

The 3 Pillars of Lent: Prayer, Fasting, & Almsgiving

During these fore-lenten Sundays, my husband and I like to begin preparing for Lent.  We take a look at the classic 3 pillars of lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  Below I’ll offer a few thoughts for you all to consider.

Prayer:

  1. Do you set aside a time to pray, every single day?  If not, what’s stopping you?
  2. For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?
  3. Or how about praying Compline in the evenings?
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a family rosary?
  6. Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?
  7. And finally, go to confession!  At bare, rock-bottom minimum, go at least once this season.  If you’d like a challenge, consider going every other week or so.
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Again, go to confession!  You won’t regret it.

Fasting:

Fasting is the second great pillar of Lent.  In our culture, this one gets ignored a lot.  And we need it.  I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Mark 9:28-29, “And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast [the demon] out?”  And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting.”

Do you have something in your life that needs casting out?  Try fasting.  Do you know of someone who really needs Jesus?  Try fasting.

If you’ve never done this before, start small.  Give up one meal a week.  If you’re accustomed to weekly fasting, try two days a week.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.  If you’d like a little more on what the Church officially says, click HERE for Jimmy Akin’s take on tithing and giving.

The point during Lent is to work towards the virtue of generosity – the virtue of being unattached to material goods and in gift giving.  During Lent, one may look at it in two ways:

  1. How can our family work towards giving more of our total income?
  2. In what ways am I able to make a monetary sacrifice during Lent to benefit a charity?

The first one…again, as each family is different, this one cannot have some uniform answer.  Wherever you’re at on this one, take a step towards giving more of your total income.  If you’re currently giving 1%, try 2%.  For those of you who’d like a stricter guideline, I once read somewhere to shoot for 5% of your income to your local church, 4% to any charity, and 1% to the Bishop.  This would be a true 10% tithe.  (The word tithe means one tenth.)

If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then consider giving 10% of your total income before taxes.  And tithe that bonus too.

The second point…during Lent make an additional monetary sacrifice.  For example, maybe you are accustomed to dining out a few times each month.  Consider not eating out, and expressly give that budgeted money away to your favorite charity.

In the end, God cannot be outdone in generosity, and He will reward you!  Just take the first step.

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

Have you ever wondered what it was like for most Catholics throughout the history of our Church to pray the Mass?  I mean, what was it like for St. Catherine of Siena to receive the Eucharist?    Or which Mass inspired the great writings of St. Thomas Aquinas?  Or the great missionaries?

For nearly 2000 years Catholics have been worshipping the same way at the Latin Mass, and if you’ve got one near you, check it out.  Don’t worry about not understanding everything.  Most places have hand missals, if you’d like to follow along.  (But you don’t have to.)

If you live around here, we’ve a few options.  Try the Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe at 9:30am.  Or St. James the Less parish at 11am.  We’ll be there.