Motherhood & Parenting

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom: Post Revisited

Awhile back in January, I wrote the following post in honor of my mom.  Today I am highlighting it, in honor of Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!*

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This is my mom and me.

5 Reasons Why I Love My Mom

  1. She doesn’t mind that I call her obnoxiously, like every other day.  I’m a natural chatterbox and like to talk.  Who better to call?
  2. When she visits, she likes hanging out with me.  I mean, she’ll actually ditch the grandkids and willing do something with just me.  She’ll even go to a coffee shop, even though she–gasp–hates coffee!
  3. She’s sacrificial.  Like I just said.  Furthermore, even though she despises onions–horror of horrors!–she’ll feign to eat them for my sake, for I can’t live without them and put them into practically everything.  She just smiles and nibbles away at them.
  4. She also hates running, but guess what?  She’s ran a few road races with me.  And one time, we even convinced my sister to run one too.  But that was awful because she complained the whole time that she was going to die, which she obviously didn’t.  (Speaking of, want to do another one, Mom?)
  5. Did I mention that she’s seriously sacrificial?  When she visits, if my dishes need washing, she’ll wash them.  If my cupboards need cleaning, she’ll clean them.  If my toilet needs scrubbing, she’ll scrub it.

I’ve got a lot to learn from my mother.

Thank you, Mom!  I love you!

Final Note

Today, since it’s January 22 and the anniversary of that horrible Supreme Court decision to allow for abortion in this country, and since you’re obviously alive and reading this, give your mother a call and thank her for giving birth to you.  (Especially if you were born after 1973, the year that satanic law went into place.)

Secondly, pray for an end to the Scourge of Abortion.  Do an act of penance.  Today our family will be eating plain bread for breakfast.

*The funny thing is, she doesn’t read my blog!  Technology is not her thing, nor mine either for that matter.  So, I’ll have to send the link to her phone, or have my husband do it…
Motherhood & Parenting

The Plan For Paul

For those of you interested in my son, Paul, here is another update.

Last night he finally slept, and as you can see from the photo below, he woke up with a little more pizzazz.

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Here he is, feeling better.  

As an aside, the other day, when the nurses wheeled him in for surgery prep, one of the nurses asked him, “Do you know any jokes?”

With a twinkle in his eye, Paul politely answered, “Yes,” and calmly asked, “Have you seen the new movie called Constipation yet?”

“Nope.  Never heard of it.”

“Well, that’s because it hasn’t come out yet.”

And that, my dear readers, is my son’s favorite joke.

The Plan, In Short

After two days of monitoring the pressure in his brain, his doctors have determined that his existing shunt is malfunctioning and possibly sucking in bits of his brain.  So next Tuesday, Paul will have another surgery to remove the existing shunt and to place a new one in.

One more week of this!  Oh, please pray for me too!

And a Thank You

Lastly, we want to thank Fr. Kasel from the archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul for traveling to Rochester to anoint Paul.  Truly, we are very grateful.  He not only anointed him, but prayed with him, heard his confession and played cards with him.

May God bless you,  Fr. Kasel!

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Paul, my husband, Shawn, and Fr. Kasel
Motherhood & Parenting

Update on My Son, Paul

Dear Readers,

I write this morning asking for prayers.  Our son, Paul, is currently in Rochester, MN, being monitored at the hospital in the ICU.

My husband and father-in-law drove down a few days ago for an Intracranial Pressure Monitor to be placed under his skull.  This device monitors the pressure in his brain to determine if there’s too much.  For example, the doctor explained, when you have a bowel movement, the pressure levels in your brain reach 30, but only briefly.  Normally the levels of pressure in your brain do not exceed 20 mmHg.

One cannot sustain high levels of pressure for extended periods of time without eventually doing great damage to the brain.  In fact, one of the first things to go are the eyes.  Blindness will result from high, extended levels of pressure.

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Paul, after surgery yesterday with the Intracranial Pressure Monitor

In any case, Paul’s doctors are concerned that his existing shunt, which was placed in 2012 to drain an arachnoid cyst, might be causing problems.  The only way to determine if this is the case, is to monitor it.

Immediately upon placing the monitor on his brain, the doctors immediately noticed elevated levels of pressure of around 40.  Obviously, this is not good.  After a few hours, however, it did go down, when Paul’s migraine went away.

Last night, though, was a rough night.  Paul had another migraine and spend the night intermittently vomiting.  The pressure levels in his brain reached into the 50s and did not return to normal until around 6am.

Later today, we should know more information, as to what the doctor wants to do.  He’s only seen a handful of these cases – children with existing shunts experiencing dreadful migraines.  We are praying that the angels will guide the doctors into making the right decisions.

Please, remember Paul and his doctors in your prayers today.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Christ-like Minimalism: The Bathroom

Bathrooms may be the easiest room to simplify.  What does one really need?

  1. Toilet Paper
  2. A Towel
  3. Soap
  4. Toothbrush & Toothpaste
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My bathroom

Oh, but the reality is, I’ve got more in mine.

I have a hair dryer, flat iron, and hair spray.  I also have mascara and a cosmetic compact, with two different colors of lipstick.  I’ve got 4 bottles of lotion.  (Mea culpa.)  My husband has shaving cream, deodorant, and a set of hair clippers.  He also keeps a Bible and Euclid’s Elements “on his side.”  (I suppose because it’s the only place where he can read uninterrupted??)

There are other things too.  I’ve got a household of 9 people to keep track of.  Therefore, I tend to buy things in bulk.  I’ve got three bottles of contact solution.  And a ton of toilet paper below the sink.

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Here’s an inside shot of the upper cabinet.
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And here’s the lower part of the cabinet with medicine on top and my things below.

In any case, someday I hope to have less.  But for now, here’s what I can recommend.

Tips for Less in the Bathroom:

  1. Limit the number of bottles in your shower.  I’ve got 3: my shampoo, body wash, and my husband’s shampoo.  Really, we could get by with 1.
  2. Limit the number of towels and washcloths in your cabinet.  The children have 1 towel each in their bathrooms, and my husband and I each have 2.
  3. Throw that old medicine away.  If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s probably bad anyway.
  4. Throw those old cosmetics away and buy less!

The last thing I’ll recommend for your bathroom is a holy picture or crucifix.  I have St. Therese right my by sink, and sometimes, when I’m brushing my teeth or doing whatever, I talk to her.  Yes, I might be a little crazy, but she always listens.

What’s by your sink?

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Life is Worth Living

May Day Baskets, Wine, & Guns N Roses: May Favorites

Welcome to the month of May!  And to celebrate, I’ll offer a few of my favorite things.

My May Favorites:

  1. Every year I forget about May Day and May Day baskets, but my children don’t.  They gave my husband some of their own money and directed him to buy a particular chocolate turtle, found at a local chocolate shop, knowing it’s my favorite.  Then they wove a basket from construction paper and lined it with drawings and notes.

    That night, while my husband and I were enjoying a Brandy Alexander, and I was losing at Gin Rummy, they snuck out of their window, ran to the front door, rang the bell, ran back laughing, and I had a May Day basket waiting on the front steps.

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Here it is.  Except the chocolate is gone; I ate it.

2.  I love drinking wine.  And lately, I’ve been enjoying a wine named Josh.  Their merlot is fabulous, especially when I can get it on sale.  I think it runs around $16 normally, but I found it for about $11.

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Here it is, empty.  We drank it all.

3.  Speaking of wine, I also enjoy drinking Dreaming Tree, but when I crack that bottle open, my husband just rolls his eyes and barely deigns to drink it.  For you see, this wine is a collaboration of Dave Matthews and Sean McKenzie.  Dave Matthews is, of course, the famous lead singer of the Dave Matthews Band, and my husband can hardly tolerate him after spending his college years being forced to listen “to that sappy crap” all day long from his obsessed roommate.

Me?  I only ever listened to his song “Crash Into Me.”  While it’s not highly offensive, I don’t recommend it.  But I do recommend the wine.

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This bottle is usually around $16, but I found it at Sam’s Club for $12.88.

 

 

4.  The other day, I got sick of the Magnificat.  I had been using it to read the Mass readings to the children every morning, but I wanted something more beautiful.   I wanted the Old Mass readings and prayers.  So I grabbed my 1962 Missal and haven’t gone back.  Wow, are these prayers beautiful.

So, the 1962 Missal is one of my May Favorites.  In fact, when I’m forced to attend the Novus Ordo, I just bring it along and pray the the TLM prayers instead.

5.  Since we cancelled our Magnificat subscription, we had funds available for a different publication.  What do subscribe to?  The Remnant.  Seriously, this newspaper is a hidden gem.  It’s based out of St. Paul, MN, and is pretty traddy.  Some of you may not care for it, but for the rest of you, click HERE for their website.

6.  The other Sunday, as we were sitting through another banal Novus Ordo Mass, complete with horrible music, we were accosted with a particularly bad song called, “Somebody’s Knocking at Your Door.”  (Click HERE for it on YouTube, if you dare.)  Anyway, after Mass my husband hopped in the van with a big smirk on his face, and I asked, “What’s so funny?”

“You know that terrible song about knocking on doors at Mass?”

I groaned, “Yes.”

“Well, all I could think of was the Guns N Roses’ 1990 song, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”

Naturally, we pulled that song up on the phone, plugged it into the van, and blasted it for the posterity and education of our children.  Just picture it – a white, 15-passenger van, spilling over with kids with crazy parents, windows down, while THIS graced the streets of Mandan.

In between singing as loudly as I could and laughing uncontrollably, I had to thank God for my insightful husband.  He’s my All-Time May Favorite.

Call Me Catholic, Homeschooling

Homeschooling With the Faith: An Essay by the Eldest

As many of you know, I’ve been gone for the last 7 days, attending medical appointments for our son.  We are still not done with this process, but hopefully soon we’ll have some answers.

So today, I offer a little essay written by the Eldest, our 12-year-old.  The other day she wrote an essay for a competition in our homeschool coop.  She worked very hard on it, so I thought I’d share what she wrote for fun.

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Here she is, diligently working on her dreaded math.

Without further ado…

Homeschooling With the Faith: An Essay by The Eldest

My family homeschools, so homeschooling is living the Faith every moment of everyday.  The Faith is not a subject to be pulled out and then put away. The Faith penetrates everything we do. Here are three glimpses of how my family tries to walk with Jesus throughout the day.

Our family begins each day with prayer.  At 6:40 a.m. my alarm goes off, and I tiptoe upstairs to our living room.  My parents are already up and they have been praying for a half hour in the light from our gas fireplace and votive candles.  I find a blanket and attempt to start my day with God. Pretty soon my brothers also come straggling upstairs and pack themselves like sardines on the loveseat to read saint books.  After prayer, I go to face the bane of my existence–math.

At supper, my father reads the saint of the day from Father Alban Butlers’ Lives of the Saints or in Lent he reads the Stational Church for the day.  Every night my father makes the sacrifice of watching his family eat their food while he reads and endures interruptions.  My family listens and then we talk about the lessons from the saint’s life. This is part of our instruction in the Faith.

At the end of the day our family comes together for the rosary.  Everyone drops what they are doing and comes running or walking.  All of us take a rosary from the rosary hooks and kneel or sit in front of our picture of Mary.  Well, actually the baby generally tries to eat a rosary, which despite diligent practice has never quite come off perfectly.  After praying the Rosary, my siblings and I go to bed with Dad’s blessing.  And that is the end of our homeschool day!

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She thought it was too early in the morning to smile, but I got her to!
Call Me Catholic

Happy Easter!

Dear Readers,

Happy Easter!  He is risen, Alleluia!

Here’s a snapshot of us all yesterday, celebrating at my inlaws’.  As we didn’t want to leave anyone out of the photo, we had to get creative.

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My husband is on the left, with our children behind him.  His parents are in the back row, left, and his grandparents the back row, right.

It’s been a whirlwind of a week, as the baby has been very sick.  A few weeks ago she had an ear infection, but never recovered.  She only got worse – vomiting and diarrhea.  This went on for four weeks, during which she all but quit eating and began losing a dangerous amount of weight.  It was very stressful, to say the least.  At her lowest, she weighted 15 pounds, 4 ounces.  Keep in mind that she’s 14 months old.  (I ran into a friend the other day with her 3-month-old baby, who weighs 18 pounds.  That should give you some context.)

Needless to say, Holy Week was very dark for us.  However, she has snapped out of it and has begun to eat again.  Alleluia, alleluia.

And another update…

We will be traveling to Mayo Hospital in Rochester, MN, to have my son with the migraines thoroughly examined.  These appointments begin on Wednesday with an EEG and continue throughout this week and next week.

We’re hoping to find some answers, as his migraines seem to be getting worse with lots of vomiting and now his body locks up during the intense ones, and he’s not able to move.  He’s also blacked out a few times.

His case is a little complicated too, due to his having an arachnoid cyst on his brain, with a shunt draining into his stomach cavity.  Doctors also recently discovered a minor Chiari I malformation, but it isn’t certain that any of these things are causing the pain.  He could just be an extreme case of childhood migraines.  We’ll see.

As many of you are concerned, I will try to offer updates as we go along.

In any case, remember us in your prayers!

Call Me Catholic

Notre Dame de Paris is Burning

Dear Readers,

I am shocked, horrified, and devastated by the recent news of Notre Dame in Paris burning.  Really, my stomach is sick.

I was there in 2002, studying art history.  At that time, I had fallen away from the Church, but was so attracted by her beauty.  I couldn’t get enough.  Notre Dame was simply breathtakingly beautiful.  Just what would inspire a people to build such a thing?

Earlier today I dug an old photo out of me standing in front of Notre Dame’s westwork.  I was taking notes, as my art history professor explained Gothic architecture to us.

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I am on the left.

What a tragedy.

My first thoughts were exactly those of Steve Skojec from One Peter Five.  If you’re interested click HERE for it.

May our Lady intercede for France!  Holy Mary, pray for us!

Life is Worth Living

Spring is here! A Poem to Celebrate!

Awhile back, like in October, I published the following poem, which I found in an obscure South Dakota centennial book.  I was thinking about it this morning, as I was checking out the bad, horrible weather in South Dakota, where my extended family lives.  (Glad I’m not there!)  It’s just snowing and snowing and snowing.  So I thought they might need a little poem to cheer themselves up.

It is spring, after all.

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This was the view out my parent’s front window this morning.  Ok not really.  I found it on Wikimedia Commons.  But I’ve been informed it’s just as bad.

Without further ado, here it is, dedicated to you poor people suffering from an April blizzard.  My remarks are bracketed.

Winter [read spring] in South Dakota

It’s winter [spring] in South Dakota
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour,
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love South Dakota,
When the snow’s up to your butt. [Goodness, the language of some people!]
You take a breath of winter [spring] in
And your nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful.
So I guess I’ll hang around.
I could never leave South Dakota
I’m frozen to the ground!

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Now I know that some of you live in warmer climates.  You know who you are.  You’re probably reading this on your iPhone, sitting on your deck, listening to birds sing, while the rest of us are freezing our tushies off and drinking anything hot to stay alive.  I’ll have you know, we currently have an outdoor windchill temperature of 19 degrees, but at least it’s not snowing here, yet.

Furthermore, the little children requested Christmas music this morning.  Christmas music.  They thought that maybe it was December again?

Oh, dear!

Homeschooling

The Homeschool Room

In our old home, we didn’t have a homeschool room.  Rather, I was very creative about where I placed our homeschool materials–on shelves in the living room, in kitchen cabinets, or in bedroom closets…anywhere.

And the children worked just about anywhere too.  In fact, we even had a card table set up in the basement storage room where The Eldest preferred to do her math, as it was a quiet spot.  One does get creative with limited amounts of space.

Thankfully, however, our current home has 5 bedrooms: one for my husband and me, one for the baby, one for the 3 girls, one for the 3 boys, and one for homeschooling.  Deo Gratias.

The Homeschool Room

Now, we’re trying to educate our children classically.  Just what does that mean?  If you’ve got twenty minutes, I strongly encourage you to listen to Andrew Kern’s podcast, The Top 5 Ideals That Any Classical School Should Employ.  It’s awesome.  And I mean, awesome, as in awe-inspiring.

But…

How does that relate to my homeschool room?

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In order to educate all these children, I need a space that is neat, simple, and beautiful, if possible.

Neat?  Most days.  Although it does happen that the boys will take out their circuits and leave them all over the room, and the Two-Year-Old will decide to shred an entire notebook to pieces.

Simple?  Sigh.  I operate a school.  Therefore, I must have some supplies, but these need not be in overabundance.  For example, do I really need those nifty magnetic shapes that everybody else has?  Nope.  (Although I secretly think they’re the coolest thing ever.)  Or how about a bucket full of markers?  Definitely not.

The third one?  Beauty?  I’m always harping on beauty, because it matters!  After all, Ratzinger once said, it’s martyrs and the arts that will evangelize the world, not all your committees and words.  Shoot, I came back into the Church through studying Church architecture, painting, and sculpture.*  One can only stare at Brunelleschi, Fra Angelico, and Wislawa Kwiatkowska for so long until one begins to ask questions.

In any case, today I’ll show you what works for us.

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In our homeschool room, you’ll see a table and chairs, where The Eldest prefers to do her school work because she can shut the door.  The other children like to carry their work out to the kitchen to be near me.

On the walls in here you’ll see a picture of B16 (our affectionate name for Pope Benedict XVI), two maps, a history timeline, the alphabet, and numbers.  These are all practical things, but I’ve also tried to place them proportionally on the walls.  (Proportion is so important that St. Thomas Aquinas names it as one of the three elements of beauty.)

The other side of the room features our computer work space and bookshelves.

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These are mostly our school history, science, and religion books.  Our other literature books are in a different room.

Lastly, we have the closet, which is a blessing.  No longer must I run from room-to-room in order to gather my daily supplies.  They’re all just here.

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And here’s a look at the inside of both sides:

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This side features the children’s completed work trays, cubbies, my answer keys on one of the upper shelves, and a few games on top.
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This side has the children’s puzzles with DVDs on the top shelf and a few art supplies on the lower shelf.

In a previous post I went into detail about educational supplies or “toys” HERE.

And that, my friends, completes the tour of our Homeschool Room.  But I’ll leave you with three things that I’m continually working on:

  1. It’s better to have less.
  2. How I organize my space matters, because beauty matters.
  3. And, less is really better.  (Except for books.)
*This is why ugly churches and bad art are a sin.  They convert no one.
Life is Worth Living

My Favorite Dress: A Tale of Pride & Woe

The other day I put on my favorite dress.  I haven’t been able to wear it for awhile, due to the fact that I was pregnant and then had a baby.  And you must remember, most dresses are not conducive to nursing babies.

So I finally shook the dust off of it and slipped it over my head.  It fit!  Miracle.  Wow, I felt almost glamorous.  My husband gave me a double-take.  This was going to be a good day.

As the day wore on, however, I found myself thinking of…myself.  Yes, considering my dress, how neat it looked, how neat I looked.  Every time I passed a mirror, I checked myself out.  Still looking good.

Later on my husband and I loaded up all 7 children and drove to church for Stations of the Cross.  My husband and two of the boys were serving, so I was in the pew with the remaining 5 children. Do I need to say, that I didn’t expect to enter deeply into this devotion?

After about the second or third station, I had to take the baby out into the narthex, where I put her on the floor, knelt down, and attempted to pray from the St. Alphonsus Liguori booklet.  Then I was bombarded with thoughts of…my lovely dress.

This was obsessive.  This was not good.  All day my thoughts were of my dress and how I looked.  What was going on?

Then a thought whispered to my soul, “Do you love this dress more than Me?”

Whoa.  My heart pounded.  What?

“Do you love this dress more than Me?”

I was holding that booklet and staring at a picture of Mary, holding Jesus.  He was completely emaciated, and I realized how stupid and foolish I had been.  How blind!  Do I love this dress more than you, Jesus?  No, of course not.  Forgive me, Jesus.  Forgive me.  What shall I do?

But I knew what I had to do, even before I finished the thought.  This dress must go.  It will be a sacrifice in atonement for my pride and vanity.

And so that evening, I took my favorite dress off for the last time.  It will be given away.

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Not much of a dress, I know, but nevertheless, goodbye, dress.
Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday and Veiling Images

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.