Life is Worth Living

Saturday Cruisin’

This afternoon, when I was cruising home in my husband’s 1996 Oldsmobile Sierra, I was mighty thirsty for some coffee.

You see, I didn’t sleep well last night and had just finished a Holy Hour at the Shrine, where I mostly “slept in the Lord,” if you get my drift. Why, I could barely stay awake navigating that Rust Machine down the highway. My eyelids were drooping, and my spirits were waning.

Fortunately, Caribou Coffee was right down the street, and I zipped in the drive-thru. Unfortunately, I forgot that my husband’s window wasn’t working. Apparently it’s missing some piece that keeps the glass in place when one hand-cranks it down. (There are no new-fangled electronics in this Classic.)

I remembered about the broken window, just as soon as I rolled the window down, and it sort of “fell” forward. Not out, my you, but down into the door panel, in a crooked fashion.

There was no need to panic at this misfortune, however, because I was still able to receive my hot coffee. It’s just that I wasn’t able to properly hand-crank the window back up. I did my best, though, at getting the thing mostly up, in an angular position. Then, I flipped the sun visor down over the window, while the Coffee Lady modestly averted her eyes to avoid embarrassing herself, for I wasn’t embarrassed.

As I drove through the exit, I cooly reached for my phone, looked up Janet Jackson’s 1990 “Escapade” and blasted it. I thought this appropriate for the occasion. (Not that I particularly recommend that song….it was just a moment of weakness after all.)

I sang the whole way home.

My husband took my picture when I rolled into the driveway.

Look closely at the window. It refuses to go into place. Cheers!

Now I’m properly disposed to commence Dinner Detail.

How was your Saturday?

Life is Worth Living

“Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled…”

“Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

This is from the Gospel of Luke 10:41-42.

It was not the Gospel reading this weekend, but I kept thinking about it. For you see, usually on Saturday–after my cleaning is done–I glance at my missal and scribble down the Introit Psalm, the Epistle, and the Gospel for Sunday, and sneak out the door for a Holy Hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

I like this hour of quiet, and when my mind begins to wander, I open up my Douay-Rheims Pocket Psalms and New Testament and pray the next day’s readings, in preparation for Sunday Mass.

Well, I lost the paper where I had written them down. So, yesterday I guessed and ended up in Luke 10. (I was only 3 chapters off.)

And I read, and reread the verse above, for I am such a Martha–careful and troubled about many things. Things that are secondary. Things that should be set aside. Things that should be cast into hell, as a waste of my time.

For example, I wonder about this blog. Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting your time? Surely there are better things to read on the internet, if one should even bother with the internet.

Furthermore, I never can quite say what I want to say. Even now. I’d like to tell you to step out of the Rat Race of the World, but here I am, in the middle of it, online.

I’d like to tell you to quit comparing yourself to other families and to just put First Things First. Go to Confession. Pack a picnic lunch with a bottle of Flat Top Rose, invite another family, and spend a few hours on the grass.

Throw away your Wendell Berry novel that promotes breaking the Ninth Commandment and read some Hilaire Belloc poetry or his The Path to Rome or his The Cruise of the Nona. (I finally secured a copy–it’s ridiculously hard to find–and chuckled endlessly at his dedication. I haven’t finished the book yet.)

Do you have little girls? Let them haul their baby dolls everywhere.

My sons found some nasty, white maggots the other day. Do you know what they decided to do with them? Put them in a jar with a slice of cheese to observe them. Those slimy things wormed right into the cheese and then formed a cocoon-like shell, which darkened after a few days. Then, more days later, a fly emerged. So revolting and yet, fascinating.

Do I have a point for that story? Nope.

Is there a point for this blog post? I’m not sure, and I apologize for wasting your time.

Flashback Friday

Traditional Weddings, Stockpiling, and Visitors

We’ve had a rather busy August with two Traditional Latin Mass weddings, a Solemn Pontifical Latin Mass with Cardinal Burke, four different sets of visitors, and tomato canning.

Solemn Pontifical Mass

The Solemn Pontifical Mass was prior to Cardinal Burke’s illness and subsequent hospitalization. (I understand he’s out of the ICU, by the way.) The boys served this Mass, along with many others. The following photo is a shot of them lining up afterwards for professional photographs.

Cardinal Burke is, of course, in red in the middle. (I’m having problems with some of my photos transferring correctly, if any of these are blurry, I apologize.)
My boys after the Mass chatting with their friends.

Traditional Latin Mass Weddings

The Traditional Latin Mass weddings we attended both took place in Wisconsin, in parish churches, where as I mentioned before, our bishop hasn’t sanctioned any restrictions as of yet. (May God have mercy on us and may the next pope issue a Summorum Pontificum II, striking Traditionis Custodes to the trash.)

The weddings were beautiful. If you’re interested and own a 1962 Missal, you can find the exact ceremony complete with prayers and readings on page 1597.

Here’s a shot of one of the TLM weddings. Beautiful beyond words.

Gardening, Canning, and Stockpiling

August has also been a busy month with gardening and canning. My poor mother endured countless phone calls as I attempted this arduous process on my own for the first time. In the end, she drove five hours to help me with the salsa. May God bless her!

My mom, me, and all the girls

The boys helped too.

We ended up with about 80 quarts of tomatoes, pasta sauce, and salsa. I am very thankful to be done. I wonder how those heroic women of long ago managed it all?

We’ve also gone berry picking, but as I don’t know how to make jam, we just froze them, after we ate a few pounds.

I didn’t even wash them. I was just too tired. I figured the place was organic, and that was good enough for me.

And for Stockpiling…here is a shot of my 2021 Winter Stockpile:

The jars are 3 deep.

Yes, I’m gathering food once again for the winter. I mentioned last fall a few of my reasons for doing so. This fall, there hasn’t been a food shortage, but I still think it a prudent thing to gather supplies for the winter. After all, if one has the space and time, can it hurt? We eat it all anyway.

I hope this last bit of summer is going well for all of you. I’m also hoping things will slow down with the routine of school and that I’ll be able to write a bit more here.

Happy Friday!

Call Me Catholic

Best Movie of the Year

Do you need a good movie to watch with the whole family? Or perhaps something edifying for a Date Night?

Mass of the Ages: Episode 1 was just released last Sunday night, and I’m telling you, it’s the best thing I’ve seen all year.

We have been looking forward to its release for awhile now, so we were ready. My husband popped two huge bowls of buttery popcorn, the kids filled up their water bottles, and I ran to the basement for the best spot on the couch.

Cameron O’Hearn knocked it out of the park. This short movie is stunning. It’s beautiful. It’s worth an hour of your time.

Click HERE for it.

Homeschooling

Question: How to Homeschool a Preschooler?

I received a timely request from a reader the other day. She asked a sensible question, which ran as follows:

With the new school year approaching, I would love your input on beginner homeschooling with a preschooler. How did you structure your day when you first started, and what did you focus on during those first years as a homeschool mom?  What should I do for Morning Time? What is Morning Time? Do you have any other tips to keep me sane and joyful?

I’ll give my best to answer this question by breaking it down into sections.

What did you focus on during your first years of homeschooling?

I started homeschooling when my eldest was about 5 years old. I also had twin 3-year-olds, and a baby. Now this sounds busy, and it was, but it was worth it.

Here was my “crew” about a year after we started in 2012.

Our “homeschooling” day consisted of reading a lot of books. When I was tired, I played audio books. We also went on daily walks and met other moms at the park.

Even in colder weather, we always tried to get outside for my sanity.

While we did do “seat work,” it wasn’t much…a math workbook, a phonics book, and a book where The Eldest could trace letters. I can’t remember much else.

I do remember stressing out because I thought she was supposed to be a whiz at math facts–adding and subtracting single digits with the snap of a finger. I bought flash cards and wrung my hands because she wasn’t very quick. If I could do it again, I’d cut that part out. Of course math facts are important, but not to the point of tears.

The focus of those first years was just to enjoy reading and being outdoors and learning to help around the house.

What we didn’t do was technology. In other words, very little screen time was ever allowed.

How did you structure your day when you first started homeschooling?

Since the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I have always begun the day with prayer. This has evolved over the years, as to what and how we prayed, but we’ve always done it. For how can one be a decent wife, mother, and teacher without Jesus? Not possible.

So, prayer first. Then, I just followed the natural rhythm of the day. After breakfast and clean-up, I liked to do “school” right off the bat for the simple reason that we could be done for the day.

Then I remember daily walks around the neighborhood. Then lunch. Then naps. And oh! Blessed Day if the younger children fell asleep at the same time, and I could nap too.

Afternoons were always a bit difficult, however, if there wasn’t anything to do. At times, I felt lonely. I suspected I called my mom a lot, just to chat with an adult.

What else did we do?

I took all the children everywhere, just to get out of the house…Target, the grocery store, more neighborhood walks, a friend’s house…I learned how to cook, experimenting with different recipes and ingredients. I eventually learned a little bit about gardening.

We read more books.

What is Morning Time?

Cindy Rollins coined the term “Morning Time,” I believe. It’s just a time when Mom and all the children gather together for prayer and school for a short while. It varies from household to household.

We’ve always started Morning Time with a short prayer, followed by whatever song I want to learn. Right now, it’s Ave Maris Stella, a traditional Vespers hymn. When the children were all little, I seem to remember learning other favorite hymns and also the different parts of the Traditional Latin Mass, like Credo III or something.

After prayer, the children recite whatever poem they are memorizing. Today it’s Shakespeare’s Sonnet 27 for the older children and “O Wind” by Robert Louis Stevenson for the younger ones. Years ago, when I started, we did a lot of Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes.

In the beginning of my homeschool career, that was likely all for Morning Time. Now, however, we’ve added our Latin vocabulary and any other school songs we may be working on for grammar, writing and rhetoric, or geography.

What should I do for Morning Time?

You should do whatever you’d like all the children to learn together. I would of course recommend poetry. And then, think about what you would like to learn. That’s how I choose most of our material, especially the poetry, songs, and Bible verses that we’ve memorized over the years.

I’ve found that if I’m interested in the material, the children will be too, and if I’m not, they’re not.

Ultimately, you can do whatever suits your fancy! And, feel free to return to family favorites. I’ve written about this before. There are certain poems that we always recite at particular times of the year every year.

Other tips for maintaining sanity and joy?

Yes, read A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot. She lays everything out beautifully, getting First Things first.

In particular, I like her recommendation of getting out of the house by yourself from time to time. I generally spend a few hours away every Saturday. It’s restorative for me.

There are other things that help with sanity and joy too. I am thinking of a weekly Adoration hour, just for you. Then also, be sure to go to confession at least once a month. We all need it.

Lastly, if you aren’t already, pray a rosary together as a family, daily. If that seems overwhelming, just start somewhere, maybe a decade or two. The point is to start now and work towards the whole as soon as you can.

The beginning of the Second Homeschool Year and pregnant with Number 5!

Does this help? Let me know if I need to be more specific in any area. Also, if anyone else has anything to add, be sure to comment below. I tend to forget things.

P.S. If you’d like another book recommendation…read Michael O’Brien’s Landscape with Dragons. Not only does he lay out great guidelines for what makes a book good, but there’s also a book list in the back that I found helpful for children.

Life is Worth Living

Ramshackle Vans – The God of Majesty Hath Thundered!

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

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

Motherhood is glorious, and God is good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Husband, bless his soul!

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

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

Life is Worth Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aprons on, girls!

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

Fresh Coleslaw

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

Call Me Catholic

Cardinal Burke Addresses Traditionis Custodes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus has this.

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

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

Call Me Catholic

The Tyranny of Traditionis Custodes

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

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

The reading of the Gospel last Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is an obvious double standard. Sigh.

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

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

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

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

July 22, 2021

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

For those of you interested in my former diocese…

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

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

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

Christ-Like Minimalism

Reminiscing: Happier with Less

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

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

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

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

My Grandparents, who lost the family farm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mowing the lawn with Dad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lastly…

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

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

Book Review

Books in Brief: Summer Reading

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

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

by Joseph Pearce

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Catechism of the Council of Trent from Baronius Press

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

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

What am I reading now?

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

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

How about you?

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

Life is Worth Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Unfinished Abbey Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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