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The Non-Contemplative Rosary

Look, I’ve got 7 children, and I get asked from time-to-time, “Oh, my, how do you survive that?”  I am usually assaulted with this question while buying groceries or purchasing strong coffee or standing in line at the DMV or getting my haircut.  You know, the usual places, and my answer varies according to the asker and the situation.  For posterity, I’ll offer a few of my varied responses below.

Question:  Are all those children yours?!

Answer:  Yes.

Question:  Haven’t you figured out how that happens yet?  (Wink, wink.)

Answer:  Yes, and it’s enjoyable.  (Wink!)

Exclamation:  Wow!  Your hands are full.

Response:  Yes, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Question:  Seriously, how do you survive that?

Answer:  That’s why I’m here buying strong coffee.

But really, that last answer isn’t the full truth.  We survive–and I flatter myself it’s more like “thrive”–because we pray a family rosary every. single. day.  Most of the time we pray it in the evening, after supper chores, but sometimes it has to be in the van, if we’re busy.

Our family rosary, however, is the most non-contemplative rosary that I pray.  I mean, I have 7 children and most of them can hardly sit still, let alone kneel.  And we moved to kneeling awhile back.

Actually, kneeling is more helpful because then no one needs to be touching another person, whereas on the couch, someone is always poking or punching their neighbor.  Lest you be deceived, however, kneeling doesn’t solve all problems.  You’d be surprised at how one brother can sock another brother as quick as lightening and look as innocent as a dove.

And those are just the brothers.  There’s also the little girls.  While the 6-year-old does kneel, she has a giggling problem.  Everything is just so funny and entertaining!  Which is true, because the 3-year-old is always sneaking out of her spot and gathering things–tissues, dolls, random hair binders left on the floor…  Then she distributes them, which provokes the 1-year-old to follow suit.  Not kidding.  It’s a regular circus at times.  In fact, here’s a picture from last night:

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Yes, that’s tissue on her head.

You’ll notice in the above photo that all the girls are sporting lovely hair clips.  That’s because “The Baby” wandered around during the rosary and adorned everyone’s hair.  Was this distracting?  Yes.  But someone forgot to shut the bathroom door, wherein all hair clips are located, and she meandered over there and came back with a skirt full.

Now, my husband had a choice at this point.  He could have stopped all rosary-praying and collected all hair pieces amidst loud protesting cries, or he could allow the rosary to continue with only occasional giggles from the girls.

And giggling won.  Last night anyway.  And the following were my meditations during this fiasco:

1st mystery: Spare us, O Lord
2nd mystery: Graciously hear us, O Lord
3rd mystery: Lord, have mercy on us
4th mystery: Lead me not into temptation
5th mystery: Deliver me from evil, O Lord

You might be wondering if it’s worth it?

I mean, “praying” the rosary every night?  Yes.  Yes, it is.  It’s the most beautiful thing we do together as a family.  And while we’re working on maintaining prayerful postures and and meaningful meditations, our heavenly Mother is interceding for our souls.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

P.S.  I know I said I probably wouldn’t be writing a post for a few weeks, due to the move, but I guess this one just spilled out and wrote itself.  Actually, I didn’t feel like packing…  But now, for real, I probably won’t write another post for a few weeks.

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Cardinal Burke Holds Nothing Back

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to La Crosse to buy a house.  His Eminence the Most Reverend Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke just happened to be there too.  He was celebrating a Pontifical Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  As neither of us had ever attended a Solemn Pontifical Mass, we hiked up that hill with glee and anticipation.

We were not disappointed.

Thankfully we were about an hour and half early, as it was a packed house.  There were men in suits, women in veils, babies in slings, and young people everywhere.  The Choir from St. Mary’s Oratory in Wausau was practicing Anton Bruckner’s Ave Maria, and I was overcome with emotion.  By the time the men sang the third Jesu, I had goosebumps from my head to my foot.  After being starved for liturgical beauty nearly all my life, I could no longer check my tears.  Here, here was the way one ought to experience the Mass!

Dear Readers, if you ever have an opportunity to attend such a Mass, jump at it!

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Here is Cardinal Burke as he processed in, giving blessings.  (Sorry about the bad photo.)

In any case, Cardinal Burke didn’t hold anything back in his homily either.  He used such terms as “Brood of Vipers” and “Accursed” to describe those in the Church who are allowing such evils to happen as pachamama worship and widespread doctrinal confusion.  He was quiet, solemn, and clear.  And I wanted to stand up and cheer.

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Here he is, formally vesting for Mass.  Look to the left for the red hat.

May God bless Cardinal Burke!

And just for fun…

Here are the children, busy at work two days ago.  They built the biggest snow fort I’ve ever been in.  Gotta love Christmas break.

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Go To Confession! And the O Antiphons

Today, December 17th, begins the greater days of Advent, as we solemnly walk towards Christmas Day.  In the Divine Office one can find and pray the beautiful “O Antiphons.” Most of us are familiar with these verses, as they make up the lyrics for the hymn O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

December 17th is:

O Wisdom, Which camest out of the mouth of the Most High reaching from end to end and ordering all things mightily and sweetly: come and teach us the way of prudence.

And lastly, I want to encourage you to go to Confession.  Below you’ll find an old post of mine from a year and a half ago.  It still tears at my heart when I read it.

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We All Need Confession

I had one of those terrible moments the other night.  You know, the ones where you crush the spirit of your child and know it.  It’s awful.

I had just sat down with my husband to pray Night Prayer after a long, harrowing day.  I was exhausted from the previous night’s insomnia, stressed about our house not selling, and anxious about the up-coming school year.  All I wanted to do was pray (i.e. whine about my problems to Jesus) without interruptions from my children.

Alas, this was not meant to be.  We hadn’t even made it through the opening prayer and up bounces one boy yelling, “Mom, he wrecked my lego set!”  And then 30 seconds later, the 5-year-old runs up crying, “Mom, she pushed me right here.  It really hurts.  I don’t understand why she has to do that.  I was just trying to brush her hair…”

Now, I made it through these interruptions without losing it, but barely.  Then up walks my eldest and asks with a merry twinkle in her eye, “Mom and Dad?  Will you come downstairs?  We have a surprise for you!”  I turned toward her, looked her straight in the eye, and firmly said, “No.”  She was immediately taken aback.  She slowly turned around, her shoulders slumped, and I could hear a sigh of true disappointment.  I had really hurt her.  She was so excited to show us something, and I had resolutely pushed her aside.

I had a choice in that moment.  I could persevere in my obstinate insistence on my will to avoid the children, or I could humble myself before Jesus, admit my wrong behavior, and agree to go see the “surprise.”  I could feel my husband silently pleading with me with his eyes, and so I called after her, “Wait!  We’ll come down after prayer to see your surprise.”

It was the right choice, even though I had to sacrifice my ideal of a quiet night.  The children had made up a little play for us, and it was beautiful.  They had made a special spot for us to sit and commenced singing and dancing in costume.  And I could have missed it all!  I wouldn’t trade those fifteen minutes for anything.

And now, there’s one thing left for me to do.  Go to Confession.  We all need to go regularly, and so this is my friendly reminder to all of you too:

Go to Confession!

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Our Trip and a Few Advent Ideas

We are finally back from our tri-state tour.  It began with some medical appointments in Rochester, MN.  Although Paul is experiencing daily headaches, these are very minor, compared to what he went through earlier this year.  He is, in fact, doing well.  His doctors are pleased, and so are we.

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Paul, during an EEG, wherein doctors look for potential seizure activity.  (They found none.)

After Paul’s medical appointments, we traveled to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe again.  (See HERE for our first trip.)  Our family has a particular devotion to her.  Her feast day, by the way, is coming up on December 12th.

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Here are the children outside the main church.

And here’s the interior:

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The lovely thing about the Shrine is that they celebrate the TLM every Sunday.

This time we were able to explore the outdoor Way of the Cross and the Rosary Walk.  These are paved trails dotted with reflections and benches.

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This is the entrance to the Way of the Cross.

And because she’s so cute, here’s Child #6 up close:

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Her shoes are on the wrong feet.  It’s amazing how that always happens.  (And doesn’t seem to bother her.)

After the Shrine, we checked out St. James the Less Catholic Church, also in La Crosse.

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This is a stunning church.  And hey!  Look, no table altar.

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Now that is how one builds an altar.

This parish offers both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass.  Both are obviously celebrated Ad Orientem, as again, there’s no table altar.

Here’s a look at the ambo.

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That is a statue of St. Michael the Archangel next to it.

I could only dream of worshiping at a church like this.  I hope the parishioners of St. James know what a treasure they have!

After Wisconsin, we traveled to South Dakota and celebrated Thanksgiving with my extended family.  We had about 51 people gathered together at my sister’s house.  My aunt, Karen, led us in prayer, we sang America the Beautiful, and we ate and visited and laughed.  I am so thankful for my family!

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Here we all are, Thanksgiving Day morning

Anyone Need Advent Ideas?

And lastly, if anyone is in need of Advent ideas, I strongly recommend Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Advent video, which is mostly directly towards men and fathers of families.  In this short, 15-minute video, he offers 5 challenges for Advent:

  1. Attend the TLM 4 times during Advent.
  2. Read all of 2 Maccabees.
  3. Pray the rosary every day.
  4. Fast 2 days of the week.
  5. And celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as you would Thanksgiving.

Click HERE for it.  Seriously, he’s right.  These are great ideas for Advent and worthwhile trying to do, if you don’t already do them.  Our family has never done #5, and we’re going to try to step it up this year.

And if that isn’t enough, watch his video on Advent traditions that he does with his family.  This video is interesting because his wife, Joy, joins him.  Click HERE for that video and enjoy!

 

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Bishop Athanasius Schneider is a Hero

I just want to briefly point out that Bishop Athanasius Schneider has publicly and forcefully condemned the use of the pagan idol “Pachamama.”  Schneider is calling on all bishops and priests around the world to also condemn these demonic statues.

Praise God for Bishop Schneider speaking up.  May all the angels protect him, for he will be persecuted.

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I wish I had a better picture of Bishop Schneider, but this free one from Wikimedia Commons will have to do.

Read Bishop Schneider’s whole public statement HERE at LifeSite News. Read it to your families.  This is a bigger issue than you think.

I’ll leave you with a few of Schneider’s remarks.  Note his very last line.  (All items in bold, color, or italicized are mine.)

“As a successor to the Apostles, entrusted with care for God’s flock, I cannot remain silent in the face of the blatant violation of God’s holy will and the disastrous consequences it will have upon individual souls, the Church as a whole, and indeed the entire human race. It is therefore with great love for the souls of my brothers and sisters that I write this message.”

All true Catholics, who still have the spirit of the Apostles and of the Christian martyrs, should weep and say about the pagan ceremonies which took place in the Eternal City of Rome, paraphrasing the words of Psalm 79:1: “O God, the heathen have come into thine inheritance; thy holy city of Rome have they defiled; they have laid Rome in ruins.””

“Amid the consternation and shock over the abomination perpetrated by the syncretistic religious acts in the Vatican, the entire Church and the world has witnessed a highly meritorious, courageous and praiseworthy act of some brave Christian gentlemen, who on October 21 expelled the wooden idolatrous statues from the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina in Rome, and threw them into the Tiber. Like a new “Maccabees” they acted in the spirit of the holy wrath of Our Lord, who expelled the merchants from the temple of Jerusalem with a whip. The gestures of these Christian men will be recorded in the annals of Church history as a heroic act which brought glory to the Christian name, while the acts of high-ranking churchmen, on the contrary, who defiled the Christian name in Rome, will go down in history as cowardly and treacherous acts of ambiguity and syncretism.”

“In view of the requirements of the authentic worship and adoration of the One True God, the Most Blessed Trinity, and Christ Our Savior, in virtue of my ordination as a Catholic bishop and successor to the Apostles, and in true fidelity and love for the Roman Pontiff, the Successor of Peter, and for his task to preside over the “Cathedra of the truth” (cathedra veritatis), I condemn the veneration of the pagan symbol of Pachamama in the Vatican Garden, in St. Peter’s basilica, and in the Roman church of Santa Maria in Traspontina.”

“It would be good for all true Catholics, first and foremost bishops and then also priests and lay faithful, to form a worldwide chain of prayers and acts of reparation for the abomination of the veneration of wooden idols perpetrated in Rome during the Amazon Synod. Faced with such an evident scandal, it is impossible that a Catholic bishop would remain silent, it would be unworthy of a successor of the Apostles. The first in the Church who should condemn such acts and do reparation is Pope Francis.”

Did you catch that?

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Following the Fate of Pachamama?

If any of you are following the Amazon Synod, you may be curious to know that a somewhat hopeful event just happened in Rome.

A few men, finally fed up with Amazonian pagan idols on display in their church, did something.  They walked in, genuflected, collected those pagan fertility goddesses representing “Mother Earth,” and walked out.  They strolled over to the Tiber River and flung them in.  One by one.

The video is HERE.  We showed it to our whole family, toddlers and all.  That is how one deals with naked and offensive idols.

Then we prayed a rosary for these men, who will no doubt be persecuted.

I can’t help but be reminded of St. Boniface chopping down the sacred oak trees in Germany, long centuries past.  St. Boniface, pray for us!

If you’re not familiar with what’s going on, you might consider watching Dr. Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon explaining this “Pachamama” phenomenon HERE.  It’s excellent.

For those of you who might want more, HERE is Michal Voris from Church Militant.  (This video is only a few minutes long.)  He’s got the official response from the Vatican, which speaks volumes.  Unbelievable.  One wonders if they’ve read the Book of Kings.

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Mitres, Crosiers, & the Eucharist

The other day Bishop Kagan celebrated Mass for our local homeschool group to signal the beginning of another academic year.  We were very grateful to him for this.

Two of my sons served this Mass.  (Paul, of course, could not, as he was still in the hospital.)  Their particular roles during the Mass were to take care of the Bishop’s mitre and crosier.  Each son wore a special cope draped over his shoulders, which he used to cover his hands, so as to never touch either object.  For only the bishop may touch these holy items.

It was impressive to watch this interplay of giving and receiving.  One instinctively knew that something special was being given and received each time, by nature of that cope.  It was out of the ordinary and beautiful.  I wish I had a picture of it.

Kagan’s homily was beautiful too, even though it appeared to have nothing to do with the Mass readings.  Rather, it was all about the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  At the time I wondered if he was reflecting on the recent Pew Research Poll showing that 69% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence.  In other words, the majority of Catholics believe the Eucharist to be only a symbol, which is nothing short of a tragedy.

My Husband is Spot On

I called my husband that night (he was still in the hospital with Paul) and told him about the Mass, about Kagan’s homily, about the boys serving, and finally about the special treatment of the mitre and the crosier.

My husband was quiet a moment and then said, “It is beautiful how carefully and respectfully the bishop’s mitre and crosier were handled.  You know, we used to treat the Eucharist this way too.  No one touched Him with his hands.  Rather, we knelt at an altar rail, and we received Him on our tongues.”

My husband sighed and went on, “I wonder if there would be more belief in the Real Presence if our actions showed what our hearts believed?”

“You mean,” I said, “if churches were to bring back altar rails and patens and if we all knelt once again?  You think it would help Catholics believe in Jesus’ Real Presence?”

“Yes.”

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

This got me thinking.  Of course our actions and our postures matter.  There is a little phrase that one comes by, “Lex orandi, lex credendi.”  It means that how you pray will affect how you believe.  For our actions and postures aid our faith and belief.

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Why do I veil?

The other day I came across a great article at Catholic Sistas, written by Antonia Goddard, called 5 Reasons to Wear a Veil (and Five Not to…).  For any of you who might be curious about veiling, click over there and check it out.  She’s spot on.  (I especially appreciate #4.)

My own experience with veiling began around 15 years ago.  I was living in St. Paul, MN, and was attending St. Agnes Catholic Church.  At the time I had never even seen a veil.  And there I was, attending both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass, and there were women veiling all around me.  It was beautiful, and my heart wondered about it, and I was drawn to this tradition.  Naturally, I began to pray about it.

Two years later, I ended up in Bismarck, ND, where such things as veiling and the TLM were sighted as often as the Lock Ness Monster.  They just didn’t exist.  And my heart ached for them both.

Should I Start Veiling?

I spoke to my spiritual director about veiling, but he didn’t know anything about it, being from the area and likely never having attended a TLM.  But he suggested that I continue to ask Jesus for guidance in wearing it, and that I just begin to veil at home during prayer and also at Adoration.

Of course I immediately did this, and it was great for me, because I became used to having something on my head, but more importantly, it gave me time to learn about it, for I wanted to be sure I was desiring it for the right reasons.  (Again, see Antonia’s article HERE.)

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The 3-year-old modeling her older sister’s veil.

Over those early years, my heart did grow in love for Jesus and with the desire to veil at Mass, whether it be the TLM or the Novus Ordo, for wasn’t Jesus present at both?  But I was scared too.  What would people say about me?  Would they think I was being prideful?  Or holier-than-thou?

Eventually those fears, however, melted away, for how could I presume to know what other people were thinking?  Why should I attribute negative thoughts to them?  I know I certainly try to curb my own negative thoughts.  It’s just best to not live in other people’s minds.

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The 6-year-old modeling one of my veils.

So after a few more years of praying, I brought the matter before my spiritual director again, and he agreed.  It was time–my heart was in the right place.  And so I began veiling at Mass–at both Masses, the Novus Ordo and the TLM.

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The Eldest modeling my black veil.

And What Do People Say?

Surprisingly, I’ve never received a negative comment about veiling.

I do think, however, I have some family members who think I’m crazy, but they never say anything, and I don’t ask!  Probably other people think I’m crazy too, but most people are just used to seeing me this way.

I have, however, received positive comments from other women, both young and old.  Generally the older women touch my arm after Mass and look into my eyes and say, “I, too, used to veil.  Thank you for veiling.”  And the younger women say, “I’ve always wanted to veil.  Where did you get it?”

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Look closely to the right, in the first pew.  There we are, veiling.  I’m holding the wriggling baby, but the veil is staying put!

Practical Matters

Where do I buy my veils?

I buy them online at Veils by Lily.  I prefer these veils because for a few additional dollars, they will sew a clip or a comb into the veil.  (You can do this yourself; it’s just that I detest sewing.)  And these clips are absolutely necessary for any mother with children.  This way my babies can grab all they want, and it’s not coming off.  It’s also nice to not worry about the veil slipping.

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See the clips?  Genius.

It’s better to buy locally, though, if you can.  For those of you living in the Bismarck/Mandan area, Mayo Pharmacy on 4th street now carries beautiful veils.  You can walk right downtown and buy one.

And how about colors and styles of veils?

Over the years I’ve noticed that married women tend to wear darker veils, mostly black, and unmarried girls tend to wear lighter colors, mostly white.  While there is no rule about it, I kind of like this distinction.  White is a great symbol of virginal purity and black has always been a reminder of our death to this world.

But really, you can wear whatever color or style you want.  Go with what’s comfortable.  I’ve seen it all.

Any questions?  Be sure to ask!

And for the fun of it…

Photo of the Week

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Check out this 4 foot serpent.

We accidentally ran this thing over on our way to Mass.  Of course we had to pull over and check it out.  You can see the guts protruding in the middle of it.  We think it’s a bull snake.  (YUCK!)

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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!
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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!

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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!