Book Review

The Apocalypse: Book Review

Many of you sharp readers are aware of my admiration for Michael O’Brien.  It is no secret that I consider him one of the most talented and brilliant fiction authors of the last 100 years.  I’ve read most of his work, and I can’t praise it enough.  Seriously, you need to read him.  I recently highlighted his book Strangers and Sojourners, but if you’ve never read him before, you might also consider the widely popular Father Elijah.  You won’t regret it.

The Apocalypse: Warning, Hope & Consolation

Today, however, I’m going to highlight a lesser known work, a nonfiction piece, which was recently published by Wiseblood Books.  It’s The Apocalypse: Warning, Hope & Consolation.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

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This book is a collection of talks, short essays, and selected readings all pertaining to the End Times – the Great Apostasy, the confusion in the Church, the Antichrist, Jesus’ warnings, etc.  And for O’Brien, this thing is short.  It’s only 161 pages long.

So, why read it?  I’ll offer you two reasons:

  1. The End of the World will happen.  Jesus says so in the Bible.  No, it’s not for us to know when, but it’ll happen.  O’Brien’s book explores that.  Many in the Church would have you ignore the Sign of the Times.  Of course (do I need to say this?) O’Brien in not a sensationalist, but rather a realist.   Just what is going on, on a Supernatural level?  He has a few provoking thoughts.
  2. Have you noticed the mass exodus of Catholics leaving the Church?  (This problem isn’t just a Catholic one, by the way, it goes for all Christian denominations.)  O’Brien’s best chapter is The Great Apostasy.  Here he tackles the difference between apostasies in the past and the Great Apostasy that is now taking place.  For example, O’Brien writes,
    “A civilization that has known Christianity (and is now largely ignorant about how dark paganism can be) is choosing to go back down into the swamp…”

    This chapter is so awesome.  O’Brien quotes G. K. Chesterton and Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman and Christopher Dawson and Joseph Pieper and St. Paul and Jesus.  You need to read it.

Lastly, I Came Across This the Other Day

Here’s the latest Gallup Poll on Mass attendance for Catholics.  Yikes.

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Some 70% of Catholics attended Mass weekly in 1955.  Today?  It’s closer to 39%.  What the hell happened?

As a reflection, just think of what has happened in the Church since 1955…  We’ve had the complete stripping away of our once beautiful churches.  Latin has been thrown out.  High altars have been ripped out.  Gregorian chant is almost nowhere to be found. Religious Sisters shunned their habits.  Ember Days are gone.  And Catholics know more about their favorite sporting teams than their own faith.

You can’t tell me something isn’t going on.  Michael O’Brien thinks so, and I’m inclined to agree with him.  Wake-up, people!  And go read his book.

Call Me Catholic

Resolution Time: Epiphany of Virtues

All right people.  It’s Resolution Time.  Yes, I know it’s a little late, but around this household, we do it with Epiphany.

And our resolutions are going to be different than most peoples’.  So in other words, instead of trying a hundred different ways to lose weight, we’re going to try a virtue.

For example, if weight really was a problem, then I’d want to take a deeper look at it.  What is the deep, down issue?  Where are things going wrongly?  Instead of determining to lose ten pounds this year, maybe take a look the virtues that you’re soft on.  In this case, maybe it’s an issue of Moderation or Temperance.  So then, make a concerted effort to read and learn about the virtue of Temperance.  And get on your knees and beg Jesus for the grace of this virtue.  And then make a concrete plan to live it.

But maybe this isn’t your issue.  Maybe it’s the Noonday Devil, otherwise known as Acedia or Sloth.  I’ll tell you what, 3:30pm rolls around, and I’m wiped.  I don’t want to think about feeding my family of nine.  Just the thought of chopping vegetables, boiling noodles, and frying up 3 pounds of hamburger for supper is enough to paralyze me into inactivity.  Or, worse, it makes me want to load the van up and go for a coffee instead – thinking that caffeine will give me the boost I need.  Or maybe I just need to check my email one more time before picking up that frying pan…  Ugh, I had better pray for Diligence instead.

The point is, maybe this year it would be a good idea to take a look at the 7 Deadly Sins with the 7 Lively Virtues when it comes to Resolution Time.  Maybe pick one that you struggle with and make a commitment to learn about it, pray with it, and then form a concrete plan to live it out.

I’ll repeat that.

Living Epiphany and the Year 2019 with the Virtues:

  1. Determine which vice you struggle with, or which virtue you lack.  (Maybe your spouse could pick it for you?  That’s what we’re doing.)
  2. Look that virtue up.  Read about it.  Buy a book about it.
  3. Spend 2019 praying with that virtue.
  4. Form an action plan to live that virtue.  (Hopefully this will come about through prayer.)

And in case you’ve forgotten…

List of 7 Deadly Sins with the 7 Lively Virtues

  1. Greed and Generosity
  2. Sloth and Diligence
  3. Gluttony and Temperance
  4. Lust and Chastity
  5. Envy and Kindness
  6. Anger and Meekness
  7. Pride and Humility

Or, if you’d rather pick one of these….

3 Theological Virtues

  1. Faith
  2. Hope
  3. Charity

4 Cardinal Virtues

  1. Prudence
  2. Justice
  3. Fortitude
  4. Temperance

And finally, I’ll leave you with a quotation from the Catechism, paragraph 1804:

“The moral virtues are acquired by human effort.  They are the fruit and seed of morally good acts; they dispose all the powers of the human being for communion with divine love.”

Motherhood & Parenting

My Favorite Book of 2018 & It’s My Birthday

My Favorite Book of 2018

For those of you wanting to start the year off with a good read, I thought I’d look back on all the books I read in 2018 and pick my favorite.  It is Michael O’ Brien’s Strangers and Sojourners, which I reviewed HERE.  It’s actually the first book in a series 7.  Click HERE for a look at all 7.  (And yes, you should read them all!)

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Seriously, this book is awesome.  It was written in 1997 and is prophetic.  

Some of you may be wondering what I’m reading right now.  Well, I’ve got a few books in the hopper and hope to do a some reviews in the coming weeks.  So you’ll have to wait.

And now, it’s my birthday, and so to honor my loving parents, I offer my Birthday Post from last year.  (Be sure to note that I am now 37, not 36!)

It’s My Birthday; My Mother’s Birth Story of Me

Today I turn 36.

 

I’m sure of this because I asked my husband, and he’s good at math.  I remembered I was born in 1982; he commented it was 2018; I said I couldn’t do the math, and he said, “You’re 36.”

 

Well, and here I was thinking that I was older.

 

Because birthing stories are never boring, I decided to call my parents to find out about mine, and my dad answered.  I asked him what he remembered about my birth.  The first thing out of his mouth was, “Well, there were five deer standing on the north side of the driveway.  It was snowy.”  And that was it.

 

So I asked my mother how it went.  You see, I am the Firstborn, which is always exciting because as you know, mothers and fathers have absolutely no clue what’s going on with Baby Number One.  And apparently I also offered some excitement for the little, rural hospital where I was born too.  For nobody else was having babies at the time, and those nurses were all bored and probably standing around the front desk smoking cigs.  In fact, I was the first baby of the year born there, and I had my photo taken for the newspaper.  This is my special Claim to Fame.

 

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This is the actual newspaper clipping of my mother holding me.

 

My mother said that she and my dad went to a New Year’s Eve party a few days before I was born, where everyone kept asking her, “When are you gonna have that baby?”  Her response was, “Tonight!”  Well, that didn’t happen, but on the morning of the 2nd she awoke with a pain.  So, at 8am she waddled out to the car and off they drove, apparently right by five deer in the snow.

 

Now as my mother was saying this, I could hear my dad in the background adding, “That car was a 1980 AMC Eagle.  Silver, and quite a fancy one.”  Then my mother added, “Well, and we needed that car like we needed another hole in our heads.”  And he responded with, “It was one of the first four-wheel-drive cars made.  And was a good one.”

 

Anyway, I was born at 6:28pm, and my mother was happy because I was normal.  Evidently she was pretty worried about that because I wouldn’t come out at the end of all that labor, so the doctor had to use some scary-looking tool – a forceps – to yank me out, which left a scrape alongside my upper right cheekbone.  (Look very closely at the above picture for the scab.)  So, besides my head being cone-shaped, which took her a little by surprise, she was thankful and happy to learn that scrapes do heal.

 

And so here I am, 36 years later, mostly normal, even though I was bottle fed and diapered with cloth and safety pins, which my mother said was “crappy.”  (They couldn’t afford the fancy disposable diapers.)

 

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This is my dad holding me.  Notice his sweet hair.  It was permed.  Now that’s getting your priorities straight – nice cars and sweet perms, but no disposable diapers.

 

Happy Birthday to me.  And Happy Birthday to St. Therese the Little Flower; she was also born on January 2, but in 1873.

 

St. Therese, pray for us.

Call Me Catholic, Homeschooling

Bishop Kagan: 4 Weaknesses of Homeschooling. Most Popular Serious Post of 2018

As promised, here is my Most Popular Serious Post of 2018.  According to my stats, this post really made the rounds.  I hope Bishop Kagan had a chance to look at it too.

Bishop Kagan: 4 Weaknesses of Homeschooling

Bishop David D. Kagan’s Latest Pastoral Letter

Bp. Kagan of the Bismarck Diocese has issued a Pastoral Letter on Catholic Education, which can be found on the diocesan website.  (Click HERE for it.)

I was asked if I might offer my thoughts on his letter, which is divided into a Preface, Introduction, Parts 1,2, & 3, and a Conclusion.  I will comment, but am limiting myself to Part 1, as this is the section most of you are interested in.

If you haven’t read the entire letter yet, it would be helpful to do so first.

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Part One: Catholic ‘Home Schooling’

The first six paragraphs of Part One speak of the historicity of the homeschool movement in the Bismarck Diocese.  There is nothing shocking here.  In fact, he has some kind and truthful things to say about it all.

The last 4 paragraphs, however, get a little interesting, as Bp. Kagan details what he perceives as 4 weaknesses of homeschooling.

Bp. Kagan: 4 Weaknesses of Homeschooling

1. Bp. Kagan begins with, “First, given the excellence of our own Catholic schools the real necessity for Catholic families to home school in my judgment is not as necessary as it may have been years ago.”

In other words, he thinks that years ago, one may have had a good reason to homeschool, based on the condition of Catholic schools at that time, but now, however, Catholic schools are better.  So, it’s not “as” necessary, in his opinion.

What’s really going here, in any case, is that some people truly don’t understand why one might choose to homeschool, and so sometimes it’s assumed that homeschoolers are against Catholic, diocesan schools.  But all the homeschoolers I know are actually glad that these schools exist.  For they do provide an important mission in the daily life of the Church.  They are a good thing after all.  We want them to succeed.

However, most of us have discerned as parents that homeschooling is the best option for our particular families, for a multitude of reasons.  Maybe we have a child with a learning disorder.  Maybe we enjoy traveling and the flexibility homeschooling provides.  Maybe we think it is important for our families to be together.

Personally for our family, and among other reasons, it primarily comes down to our philosophy of education.  We are attempting a traditional, classical approach to education, which is just not an option here in this diocese.  And we have access to excellent curriculums and online classes.

For example, I’ve often spoken of Classical Academic Press, which we’ve found to exemplify this philosophy.  If anyone is curious about what we’re attempting to do, click HERE for a short philosophy of classical education and how it differs from what is typically available in diocesan schools.

If you want more, I’d suggest reading Stratford Caldecott’s Beauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of Education and Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education.

2.  Bp. Kagan goes on with his weaknesses to say, “Second, there is a real advantage for children at an early age to see and learn from other Catholic adults and children their own age what they have already seen and learned from their parents.”

In this second point, he argues that it is necessary for children to be around other people’s children and parents in order to learn properly and be well-rounded.

There are two ways to look at this.  One, Bp. Kagan could be promoting the whole “anti-social” argument that most homeschoolers face all the time, which says that because our children learn at home, we’re necessarily socially awkward.

This just isn’t true, however, and studies would prove otherwise.  For statistics and a great article on homeschooling and socialization from the Washington Times, click HERE.

Secondly, and if you read his statement closely, most homeschoolers would actually agree with Bp. Kagan here.  It’s just that he’s probably unaware of all the activities that many of us are involved in.  For example, many families are in rosary groups, wherein entire families gather together to pray the rosary weekly and then have fellowship.  Many of us are involved in PE programs.  Many homeschool families gather together to do projects, sports, music, whatever.

The point is, most of us don’t sit at home with our doors locked, shaking in fear lest our children interact with other children or adults.  Rather, we enjoy being around other Catholic families and in fact make it a priority.

3.  His third weakness states, “…the more Catholic families desire that faithful and robust Catholic education for their children and make use of our Catholic schools, the stronger the Catholic culture of our schools and parishes become.”

In other words, Bp. Kagan wants our children in the Catholic schools because then the schools would be stronger.  I’ve heard this argument many times, and maybe we ought to just consider it a compliment.  He must think we’d have something positive to offer the schools after all.

I would point out, however, that our children would not be who they are without the formation they have had at home.

As far as parishes go, all the homeschool families I know are very active in varying parish ministries.  In fact, I can’t think of a single homeschool family that isn’t involved in their parish life.

4.  Bp. Kagan concludes his discussion of “home school weaknesses” with a note on other people’s perception of us.  He says, “Often enough I have heard from other Catholic parents and even some priests that families who home school do so because they think our Catholic schools are not Catholic enough when it comes to the teaching of religion…I do not know how widespread this perception may be but it does not serve well those who have chosen homeschooling for their children.”

It would seem that he’s accusing us of being guilty of how other people perceive us.  But I’m not sure we can help what others may or may not think of us, especially if they are unwilling to dialogue with us.

I can’t help it if people want to assume I’m a Catholic school detractor.  I can only say, I’m not.

Conclusion

In the end, maybe we ought to invite Bp. Kagan to come have a look at our “schools?”  This might help shed some light on the modern homeschool movement.  In particular, it might be helpful if he understands that most of us are not rejecting Catholic, diocesan schools, but rather are choosing another form of an authentically Catholic education.

An Open Invitation to Bishop Kagan

Bp. Kagan, we first of all thank you for your dedication to our diocese.  Please know that you are always in our prayers, and our family welcomes you to visit our home and our school any time.

 

Life is Worth Living

Lipstick: It’s Not Just For Your Grandmother. Most Popular Fun Post of 2018

As we’re nearing the end of the year, I thought I’d look back on my stats.  Today I’m reposting my Most Popular Fun Post of 2018.  Obviously this resonated with a lot of you.  Pass it on to your friends!

Later this week, I’ll repost my Most Popular Serious Post.

But today, enjoy a little lighter fare!

Lipstick: It’s Not Just For Your Grandmother

A week or so ago, I mentioned something very important in my post on How to Survive Barfing Children.  (Click HERE for it.)  You’ll notice that Point Number 2 mentions Lipstick.

It occurred to me yesterday afternoon that many of you may not understand this one.  You see, I grew up around a grandmother who was convinced that lipstick was the key to a great life.  Ok, other things were important to her too, like family and big jewelry, but there is something simple here that she taught me.

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Grandma Martha.  Not only did she always wear lipstick, but she also never left the house without a Big Fancy Hat on too.

While of course one can go overboard with relying on material things for happiness, there is something to say about a little dash of color and an attempt at looking well put together.  I always go back to what Paul Harvey, the decades-long, iconic radio broadcaster, had to say about it all.  You will always perform better if you dress the part.  Statistics prove it.  (Click HERE for a Wall Street Journal article on that.)

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Paul Harvey.  My grandmother named my father after him, literally.

My grandmother knew this secret—attempt to dress well, throw a little lipstick on, and Bam!  Most of the time, you’ll feel better.  No, it won’t solve all your problems, but it might help.

Now I know that many of you do not wear lipstick.  In fact you may not even own any brightly-colored fun-in-a-tube.  This is too bad because after all, St. Thomas himself speaks of it in his Summa Theologiae.  (Click HERE for that one.)  If there are any further lipstick naysayers, please know that I understand.  I was once one of you, as I gave it up for a time, just to see what it was like.  (I was miserable.)  And truly, I suppose it’s not for everyone.  (Like those with a vocation to the Carmelites?)  But for me, I had to go back to lipstick, because it’s just that fun.*

Some of you, however, may be thinking, “Yes, yes, lipstick is fun and all, but what will my husband think?”  Well, try it out.  Tonight when he arrives home, greet him at the door with your lipstick on and his favorite drink in your hand.  It will be impossible to not smile at that moment.  Lipstick is so powerful, after all, that you may even be wearing sweatpants, and you’ll still have fun.

So, when there just isn’t enough coffee in the house and your hairspray runs out and it’s -20 degrees outside and your children are all screaming…quietly walk to a mirror and brighten your day with a splash of hot pink.

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Or red.  I prefer red lipstick.
*Do I need to say, “all things in moderation?”  One probably shouldn’t own bags and bags of makeup?  You know that, right?
Life is Worth Living

Almost There! Photopost

It’s almost Christmas, and we’re getting ready!

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We hope you’re eating lots of cookies and chugging the sprinkles like this gal.
  1. A few weeks ago, here’s how I worked on my Christmas cards:

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    I love Asiago and red wine.
  2. And here is how I scrubbed onesies full of poop.  (Laundry doesn’t go away during the holidays.)  It just so happens that a dear friend stopped by and gave me the coffee.  May God bless her thoughtfulness!

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    Cheers!
  3. Here is my son traveling to his doctor appointment wherein we didn’t discover much of anything.

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    He says thank you for all the prayers!
  4. Here is our sweet Christmas tree.  It has a gaping hole in the back.  But that’s what you get when you wait until two days before Christmas Eve to buy one.  (As of last year, we decided to wait until the last possible moment to get one.  Oh the excitement!)  Then we decorate it on Christmas Eve.  Click HERE for last year’s Sweet Thang.

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    For the record, this tree was $11.25.
  5. And, here are the rest of the children helping with the cookies.
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I’m not sure if you can see it, but those cookies on the left are supposed to be Spritz.  They’re the worst ones I’ve ever made for two reasons.  1.  We had no almond extract.  2.  We also had no cookie press.  However, they are still edible.

In any case, I pray that your Christmas may be holy and jolly!  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Call Me Catholic

9 Things I’m NOT Doing This Advent

In the last post, I wrote about a few things our family will be focusing on this Advent.  In this post, I want to highlight I few things I WON’T be doing.

Now before you read this list, please know that I’m tired.  Really exhausted.  I could give you many reasons why this is so, but I’m too tired do it.  My only intent is to show you that not all families are alike, and that sometimes, one needs to cut back.

Everything you’re about to read on this list is, in fact, a good thing.  If your family is able to do them all, I’m glad!  It’s just that I can’t right now, and I suspect I’m not the only one who is a little overwhelmed.

Without any further ado, here we go.

9 Things I’m NOT Doing This Advent

  1. I don’t have a Jesse Tree.  One year I did, but not this year.  And I know that Jesse Trees don’t even have to be a difficult thing to do.  One can simply print off a bunch of paper ornaments, have the children color them, and then cut them out.  But not me.  Nope.  I can’t.
  2. I don’t even have an Advent Calendar.  Our 2018 wall calendar will have to do.  The thought of another trip into Target, or even clicking around on Amazon to find one, is just too much.
  3. There is no Elf on my shelf.  Nor has there ever been.  I understand this is a fun thing for children, but mine will have to be satisfied with Mary and Joseph traveling around the house.

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    There is no Elf on these shelves.  But there are books all over the floor of this room.
  4. I’m not going to make a single cookie.  Heck, I might not even make a single cookie during Christmas.  My cookie press from Pampered Chef broke, and so I can’t make my all-time favorite Spritz Cookies using Grandma Hahn’s recipe.  This does actually make me a little sad, but really, it’s freeing too.  I know there won’t be any lack of cookies coming into the house anyway.  In fact some have already found their way into my freezer, as my mother is such a go-getter that she and my aunt already supplied me with two huge containers full.  So nope.  I’m not making any cookies.

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    But hey look!  I do have some cooking supplies.  Maybe I’ll just lock myself in the pantry and eat those M&Ms and pretzels.
  5. My box of Advent and Christmas books for the children to read is not out yet.  I’ve just been too tired to actually walk down the stairs, turn a corner, open a door, and get it.  I’m really hoping that I’ll find the motivation to do so, at least by December 24th.  We do have some good ones.  In the meantime, if I can’t, one year without them will be fine.
  6. I’m not going to listen to Christmas music this Advent.  Maybe.  Goodness, this is such a hard one for me.  I love Christmas music so much, that it isn’t uncommon for me to blast it any time of the year.  Just ask my children.  Who doesn’t love a little Sleigh Ride in July?
  7. I’m not decorating for Christmas during Advent.  This one is easy to not do for the obvious reason that I don’t have to do anything!  We stopped decorating for Christmas during Advent a long time ago.  Instead it’s become a family tradition to decorate on Christmas Eve, and I can’t tell you how much fun we have!  And I also have the added bonus of my husband being home to carry the heavy boxes up from the basement for me.  So I’m not really worried about this one.
  8. I’m not going to buy a ton of Christmas gifts.  We’ve been scaling back over the years, which has been difficult because our extended families are so generous!  But now the grandparents are down to just one gift per child, and we’re doing the same.  Well, not really, I guess.  Each child gets one book, one practical item, and a little candy.  (Candy because we abstain from sweets during Advent.)  For example, my eldest son loves the Redwall series, so he’s getting book #8 along with a new watchband and a candy cane.  We’ve found that less is more.  It teaches the children gratitude.
  9. And finally, I’m not going to write any more blog posts until Christmas.  I need a little break, especially with my son’s medical issues.  But don’t worry, I’ll be back!  (I can’t seem to help myself, when it comes to writing, for better or for worse.)

May God bless you this Advent!

Call Me Catholic

Advent is Here!

Last Sunday we began the holy season of Advent.  So I’ll offer a few thoughts and ideas on what works for our family to keep this season holy and prayerful.  If you have any great traditions or ideas, I’d love to hear about them too.

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My Drummer Boy is ready to start the season off with a bang.  But with only one drum stick.  The other one is lost.

Where to we start?

Lately I’ve mentioned the importance of Confession and Adoration.  While we never quit going to Confession throughout the year, our family has taken a three-month hiatus from Adoration, as we were into the chaotic business of packing and moving and switching parishes.  Now that that’s over, it is our top priority to get back to a weekly holy hour, beginning this week.

This is a difficult thing, however, as we feel strongly that not only my husband and I ought to have an hour, but that all those children who have received First Holy Communion should too.  So, we just have to make it a priority, which sometimes means saying no to other things, while also getting creative.

My hour will be during the evening and by myself, as I’m home all day and need a break.   My husband’s hour, however, will be in the morning before work, and he’ll take the four older children with him.  This is doable because after the holy hour, two of the children will walk over to their school, one will join her homeschool coop, which happens to be at our parish, and the last remaining child will get picked up by me.

Complicated?  Yes.  Worth it.  Double Yes Yes.  Prayer is the most important thing we can make time for.  It is our top priority.

Advent Prayer Intentions

This Advent we will be of course offering prayers for our Church, but also specifically for our son who suffers from migraines.  Lately they’ve become more intense and debilitating, which landed us back at his neurologist’s office.  After an MRI, we discovered that he has a Chiari I Malformation, which is fancy talk for the lower brain extending too far into the spinal cord.

We don’t know if this is causing his migraines, so we’ll be traveling to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis to have a specialized, pediatric neurologist examine him.  We hope to find some answers.  And if you think of it, please pray for him.

And now the Fun Stuff

Of course we’ll be lighting our Advent wreath every evening at dinner.  The children love this because we shut all the lights off, light the candle, and sing two verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Then my husband prays the Vespers Responsory and the Magnificat Antiphons, with the O Antiphons being the last seven days of Advent.  It’s beautiful.

As many of you also do, we have our nativity set out too.  Well, just the stable, shepherds, Drummer Boy, and the animals, as Mary and Joseph are traveling.  We start them off somewhere else in the house and move them closer every few days or so.

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We put our Nativity Set on the lower ledge of the fireplace, so that all the children can easily play with it.

And for school?  During Midmorning Prayer Time, our hymns will reflect the season.  Our favorite is On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry.  And we’ll be listening the Benedictines of Mary Advent at Ephesus during all hours of the day!

And for poetry?  I’m still looking for a good piece.  Anyone have any ideas?  Drop me a line.

I pray your season of Advent may be prayerful and fruitful!

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Even the baby gets to play with the Nativity Set.  Those plastic pieces must taste good!  She tried them all.
Call Me Catholic, Homeschooling

Advent and Nativity Sets

It’s cold outside, and it’s Friday.

So, it’s time to think about Nativity Sets.  Yes, I know Advent isn’t here yet, but some of us prefer to plan ahead for such things, so as to avoid stress and anxiety later.  Plus, I like to scatter the cost of Advent and Christmas over a couple of months, so December’s budget isn’t sky-high.

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And here’s my Nativity Set.  I know the quality of the photo is poor, but I took this a year ago with an old-fashioned camera.  You know, those digital ones that nobody has anymore.

Since most of us are home all day long, this matter of Nativity Sets is important for a couple of reasons.

  1. We are Catholics, and as such, have some sweet liturgical seasons, which ought to be celebrated in style.
  2. This is about our children after all.  What kid doesn’t like to mess around with nativity sets?  Think of it as a hands-on, Montessori-style education.
  3. Lastly, in as much as we can, we ought to make the space around us beautiful.  Hence, if you don’t already have one, buy a good, indestructible Nativity Set.

Now I am biased about nativity sets and strongly prefer Fontanini Nativity Sets mostly because I inherited a beautiful one, complete with a little stable, featuring an electric fire, along with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  But here is why Fontanini really is the best:

  1. It’s indestructible.
  2. Your children can chuck these beautifully painted pieces across the room.  Not that my children would do such a thing…
  3. There are myriads upon myriads of sheep, cows, shepherds, angels, and villagers available to play with–er–for purchase.
  4. Did I mention that these pieces don’t break?  (If you have boys, you will automatically know the importance of imperishable and everlasting nativity figures, or anything else for that matter.)

And so naturally one more question arises.  1.)  Which is my favorite nativity figure?

The Drummer Boy of course is my favorite accessory piece.  Everyone knows that a poor little drummer boy drummed on his drum for Jesus and Mary Christmas morning.  Jesus even smiled at him.  I’m pretty sure the drummer boy is in the Bible; in fact there’s a most beautiful song about it.*

Our family purchases a new figure every year, and this year we bought two camels.  I would have bought three camels, because that makes the most sense, but our budget only allows for only two.  We had to order them, however, so there not here yet.

Later next week I hope to have a post on a few more Advent things we do as a family.

 

 

*For your listening pleasure, HERE is one of the best Christmas songs ever.  I think this song is also in the Bible.**  (To those of you who prefer not to listen to music outside of its proper liturgical season, don’t listen to it!)
**Just kidding about the Drummer Boy being in the Bible.  Although if I were some kind of reforming heretic and enjoyed messing with the Bible – you know taking books out that I didn’t like and adding others – I’d for sure insert the Drummer Boy in the Christmas story.  You’d find it in the Gospel according to Kim.
Call Me Catholic

Cardinal Sarah, Mother Theresa, and One Mad Mom

I came across two articles this morning that are worthy of your attention.

  1. Anytime Cardinal Sarah speaks up, it’s worth noting.  LifeSiteNews published part of his speech at a conference in Milan this week wherein he speaks of both JPII and Mother Theresa’s love for the Eucharist.
    The cardinal recounted Mother Teresa’s own words: “Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.”
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    Have you read this yet?

    Or This?

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    Sarah’s Power of Silence.  I can’t think of a better Christmas gift.
  2. Have you ever heard of One Mad Mom?  (Hey, look!  I’m not the only one.)  For any of you struggling with anger right now, she’s got a great piece about sticking to the facts and not jumping into the deep.  I needed to hear it, especially with the death of Bishop Morlino.  (May he rest in peace!  And may God send another holy bishop to that diocese!)