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What If the Darkness Comes From Within the Church?

Ah, a difficult topic.  I’ve heard from a few of you who want to know, what if the darkness is coming from within the Church herself?  What if it’s faithless priests and bishops who are causing your frustration and feelings of isolation, desperation, and despair?

If this strikes a chord, then read on.  I hope to have some words of advice or encouragement.  If this topic doesn’t interest you, or isn’t helpful, I hope to see you next time!

Church Crisis Causing Turmoil and Interior Darkness

I received the following email from one of you dear readers the other day.  I’ll post parts of it below, for one can feel the agony in this woman’s heart as she wonders what to do?  In her diocese, unprecedented and unlawful liberties are being taken by the bishop and priests.  For example, the faithful are not allowed to receive the Eucharist on the tongue, contrary to the Church’s Universal law Redemptionis Sacramentum, statements put out by the USCCB, and Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

But it’s not just the Communion in the Hand Debacle.  It’s everything.  It’s so disheartening to be told that one’s faith is “nonessential,” and then to have seemingly no bishops or priests publicly fight against this discriminatory term.  (Well, almost no one.  There is this priest.  And Archbishop Vigano.)

In any case, here’s a part of this woman’s heartrending email:

Kim, I appreciate your post on darkness.  Thank you for sharing it.
I have been experiencing a total disconnect in some ways when it comes to the Church.  I know, I believe, and I trust in Jesus Christ as the Head of the Church.  However, I still feel so bitterly disappointed in how we are being led.  I can’t even think of the right word to describe how I feel about our bishops seeming to make our Faith nonessential.  Whether or not they intended it, that is what seems to have happened.  Is abandoned the right word?
I try not to dwell on it, and I try to instantly offer it up, but I feel the darkness, the loneliness, and the disappointment that the institution I look to in order to help make sense of this life was pretty much silent throughout all of this.  I go to a Holy Hour and I try to pray, but not much comes, but I keep going because it’s about Jesus (not me) and it’s about being there with Him even if I feel disconnected, unworthy, and an utter failure.  The leaders in His Church on earth might fall short, but He does not.
Forgive me, but I find it ironic that bishops are marching in protests (racism is an issue that needs to be dealt with, of course) with no social distancing but we can’t more fully open our churches.  I can’t speak personally to whether or not the bishop or any clergy attended these protests, but it’s ironic to me that social distancing doesn’t seem to matter anymore and we still aren’t able to live the full life of the Church with its many devotions and Communion.
I feel all of these things so deeply, and I also try to offer them up and to live in the joy that is the Lord’s, but I confess it is very, very difficult at times.  I wish I could be more saintly and welcome the suffering.  I find myself often praying, “I do believe, help me with my unbelief!”
Thanks for listening.  I always appreciate your insights and any thoughts you might have.

Ask For the Grace of Longanimity

Oh, how I wish I had greater insights into what one should do in these dark times.  Truly, this email is heartrending, especially because it’s not the only one I’ve received from you readers.  I have spoken to too many people who feel abandoned and hurt and lost.  O, the agony in the world!  In the breasts of faithful men and women!  How long, O Lord?

There is no logical reason why the bishops and priests won’t stand up and be real mean of God.  I don’t get it.  It would seem that if you, dear readers, find yourself in a similar situation as to the woman above, that I can only think of one sensible thing to do:  ask Jesus for the Grace of Longanimity or long-suffering.  If you are meant to stay in your particular diocese, peace will come, even in the midst of great suffering.

If, however, you cannot accept the local situation or stand it or stomach it, then pray about leaving.  Say, Jesus, give me longanimity and peace or open a door for us to leave this forsaken place.  And then patiently wait.  Accept whatever His will is.  Rest in His peace.  It’s out of your hands.

Ah, easier said than done!

But I’m serious about the leaving part too.  Some of you readers may know which path our family chose–we left a diocese that continually suppressed tradition.  We worked for 10 years there, trying to establish a TLM.  Eventually, it became evident that it was no longer God’s will for us to struggle under such a heavy, oppressive yoke.  We had no peace, only an everlastingly nagging feeling that we needed to leave, to seek refuge in another place where we might raise our family with the aid of faithful, courageous priests.  And oh, happy misfortune that finally gave us the courage to leave–Paul’s medical problems.  And then, my husband could have worked anywhere, but that a job miraculously opened up in the one place with an abundance of Latin Masses and a beautiful, traditional school.

Indeed, we know of others moving too.  Just two days ago, I spoke with two different men after Mass.  One was nearly crying because he couldn’t believe the courageous things coming out of our priest’s mouth during his homily.  This man drove hours and hours with his family to hear him.  This man is now in the process of moving his family here because of the unlawful things happening in his home diocese.

The other man I spoke to was telling us about his brother, who is also hoping to move his family here to escape the madness in California.

Dr. Taylor Marshall speaks about all this HERE.  He calls it the “Great Catholic Migration.”

But of course that path isn’t for everybody, which is why I mention asking Jesus for peace–for the grace to accept your situation too.  And longanimity–the grace of long-suffering.  He will give it; only beg for it!  Jesus may have His reasons for keeping you in your particular diocese, for who else would carry out His plans?  He needs faithful men and women everywhere after all.

I wish I had greater insights to give, for I’m afraid I’m falling short.  I can only end by saying stay close to Jesus.  He loves you.  He cares deeply about you.  You are never alone!

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Kneeling in the Rain

A few weeks ago I was present at a Mass that I’ll never forget.  I don’t think the children will either.

It was during Lent, when our country quickly began shutting down all around us, and our bishops began closing churches and denying the sacraments.  It was surreal to be abandoned like that.  I mean, to have bishops willingly label the Church as “nonessential” overnight, for a virus.

The Mass, however, the Mass we attended that morning was beautiful.  We hiked up a hill in the rain with our umbrellas, knowing that we would only have to remain in the rain, as the government had deemed the church “unsafe” and “nonessential.”  And so we stood with about 15 other people in the pouring rain.

The old friar celebrating the TLM had set up a screen in the piazza, under an overhang, so that we could pray along with him.  We all knelt on hard concrete in sopping puddles.  At communion time, a different friar came outside and distributed Holy Communion to a wet, cold flock.

It is difficult to tell you how I felt.  I was thinking of Abraham pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah.  Oh, Lord, here are about 25 faithful people!  Relent!  But I was thankful too–so very, very thankful–that those friars understood what was important.  They were doing everything they could to administer to our souls.  Indeed, another friar was hearing confessions during the Mass.  Deep emotions of gratitude welled up within me.  I felt so blessed; I knew the love of God in that moment–I felt it through those holy friars.

Furthermore, I wanted to embrace those other 15 people, who were willing to suffer for Jesus and endure that dismal, penitential rain.  And I loved my husband, for he held the baby and took the brunt of the weather, sheltering us as best as he could.

Who would ever have thought that we’d be in a situation like that?  And how, O Lord, will it end?

Ah, but life will never be the same.  A line has been drawn.

And our children are watching.  What will we do?

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Why I Receive Our Lord on the Tongue

A dear reader recently asked me if I might share a few reasons why I choose to receive our Lord on the tongue?  Yes, I will share.

But this is a love story.  It is not a heady, theological exposition, nor is it meant to “convert” anyone to receiving Him on the tongue.  No, this is a love story, wherein a soul abandoned our Lord, only to passionately seek Him again years later.

You must remember that I did not grow up in a prayerful family–a family that perhaps knelt together and prayed an Ave or closed the day with an Our Father.  No, prayer was absent, and we were not catechized.

Deep down, though, deep deep down, I knew our Lord.  I saw his goodness all around me–in the verdant trees surrounding our farm, in the muddy creek winding through the pasture, in the mourning of the doves, and yes, in the love of my family, for our parents loved us dearly.

Ah, but I shelved Him in time.  I came to college and thought why not?  Why should I not do these things I once thought harmful?  And so, I pushed Him out of sight and embraced The World.

This was a miserable and confusing time.  Once one ever steps into a dark path, it only leads to more and more darkness.  It can be no surprise that I jettisoned whatever faith I had left.  I no longer attended the Mass.

Many of you are familiar with my conversion story, and so I will not go into it here.  It is enough to say that even though I abandoned our Lord, He did not abandon me.  When I cried out to him from the bathroom floor of a hotel in Italy, He was already there, holding me.  When my friends whispered into my ear that I could not be Catholic, He held my face and said yes.

When I came back into the Church in 2004, it cost me everything–my friends, my family*, my fiancé, and my pride.  But I had Love itself.

But What About Receiving Our Lord?

It was at this time that I read a book about a mystic.  I don’t even remember who the mystic was, but I do remember her having a stark vision of bishops’ hands burning black in hell for encouraging the faithful to receive our Lord in the hand.  It was striking then; it is striking now.  That was when I began receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I figured, why chance it?  It was something like Pascal’s Wager for me.

Over time, however, I began to think of other things.  I thought of all the saints who for hundreds and hundreds of years knelt and received our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of St. Thomas Aquinas writing about the Eucharist–he never knowing anything but receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of the Fatima children kneeling before the Angel of Peace and receiving our Lord on the tongue.  Why wouldn’t I want to imitate these great saints?

And then, I married and a different thought entered my mind as my husband served for the TLM.  During Communion, he would hold the communion plate, which follows the Host as it travels from Father’s consecrated hands to the recipient’s mouth, and nearly every single Mass there were particles on this plate at the completion of Holy Communion.  Of course we know that Jesus is present in these particles, however small they may be, but I wondered, where were the communion plates at the Novus Ordo?  Surely nobody wants to neglect or trample on our Blessed Lord.

Oh, but what am I trying to say?  In the end, it has to be about love.  I can only say that my interior disposition is different when I receive Him kneeling and on the tongue.  It’s deeply humbling to lower oneself to the ground and be fed like a baby.  If an altar rail is present, one need not rush away chewing, but may take the time to receive Him and make a Sign of the Cross.  I don’t kneel for anybody or anything else after all–only for my King.  It is Holy; it is beautiful.  It is Love.

I’m afraid that my explanation may not be very coherent or comprehensive.  In other words, I realize I’ve fallen short.

Be sure to ask if you have any further questions.

If you’d like a few more thoughts on posture and the Eucharist, click HERE for an old post of mine.

*My family has since then been very supportive of my decisions.  How I love them!
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Communion in the Hand Debacle: Cardinal Sarah Weighs In

As Bishops finally begin to allow for public Masses, many of the Catholic faithful find themselves in a difficult situation, for now some bishops are demanding that reception of the Holy Eucharist be in the hand only.  This is a tragedy and a crisis of faith.

It should come as no surprise, however.  Remember this?Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics believe bread, wine used in Communion are symbolic

According to this Pew Research Poll from last year, 69% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Therefore, most bishops will have no problem forcing Catholics to abandon it’s age-old tradition of receiving our Lord on the tongue all in the name of Sanitation.

But for the rest of us, those who have come to believe in the Church’s teaching and have come to understand her reasons for receiving on the tongue, this will be a heart-rending moment.  What to do?

For those who wish to be assured of their right to receive on the tongue–and you do have that right, regardless of what some bullying bishops may say–I will only direct you HERE where Fr. Z hashes it out once again.  Let me repeat, you have a right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue, regardless of what your bishops or priests may be saying.

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Enter Cardinal Sarah.  (Picture from Wikimedia Commons.)

And if Fr. Z isn’t enough for you, read Cardinal Sarah’s latest statement HERE.  As many of you know, Sarah is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  Let me put a few of his pointed remarks below:

“Nobody can prevent a priest from confessing and giving communion, nobody has the right to stop him. The sacrament must be respected. So even if it is not possible to attend Masses, the faithful can ask to be confessed and to receive Communion.”

“In Mass the priest has to look at God, instead he is getting used to looking at the camera, as if it were a show. We cannot go on like this.”

“There is already a rule in the Church and this must be respected: the faithful are free to receive Communion in the mouth or hand.”

“…the heart of the problem is the crisis of faith in the priesthood.”

In short, should you find yourself in this difficult situation wherein your bishops or priests are not allowing you to receive on the tongue, remember to be calm.  Likely these bishops and priests were not formed well in seminary after all, and heavy-handed bishops can make priests’ lives miserable for not obeying their worldly whims and fancies.

In any case, after asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, consider pointing your priest or bishop to Cardinal Sarah’s latest statement.  If he is still obstinate and refuses to give you Holy Communion on the tongue, remain steadfast and pray in your pew.  Don’t capitulate.  You will be vindicated at a later time, maybe in the next world.

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First Communion During Coronavirus

Our daughter was slated to receive her First Holy Communion during the Traditional Latin Mass for the first Sunday after Easter, often called the Octave Day of Easter or Low Sunday.  But with the disordered state of affairs in our country, and more tragically in our Church, our priest–may the Holy Angels protect him–moved it up.  He didn’t want to risk something worse happening, and neither did we.

So yesterday morning, in the dark, we drove to our parish and prayed the Mass.  It was a Low Mass with my husband serving.  Only our immediate family was allowed in the body of the church.  No grandmas and grandpas.  No aunts, uncles, and cousins.  No friends.  (We are a family of 9.  10 people being the maximum number allowed anywhere these days.)

In fact, we didn’t even get to receive communion during the Mass.  It had to be afterwards.  Nor did we get to take photos with father either.  He was incredibly busy administering the Sacraments to other people, including hearing Confessions that apparently didn’t end until 4 hours later.  (The line was literally out the door–social distancing and all that.)  God bless his soul.

But we didn’t mind any of these things.  We were just thankful.  Thankful that Paul was home, and thankful that our Lord Himself came to dwell within our daughter’s soul for the very first time.

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This is she, praying before the Mass.
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My husband is off to the right.  That’s a camera off to the left.  The whole thing was online too.
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And here she is, moments before receiving Him.  She was beaming.  I shall never forget it.  May Jesus hold her ever close to His Most Sacred Heart.
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Passion Sunday and Veiling Images

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

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

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

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

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

My Old Post From Last Year: Passion Sunday

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

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

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

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

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday it’s omitted and will be until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria.  Both are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

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

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

Veiling of Images

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

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

This tradition began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

So if you’ve never done it before, try veiling a couple of images in your home.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

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His Mother is Weeping

Dear Readers,

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

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

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

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

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Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Charles Borromeo, pray for us.

St. Gregory the Great, pray for us.

St. Miguel Pro, pray for us.

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

 

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My Big, Fat, Shove Tuesday

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

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

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Go to Confession!

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

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

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

Are you ready for Lent?

And Just For Fun:

Here are few photos from the last week or so.

Photo #1:  The New Triple Bunkbed

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

Photo #2:  Kids Skipping Along With Their Cousins

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

Photo #3:  My Sister

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

Photo #4:  My Sister Without Coffee  😉

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

Photo #4:  Grandma, Grandpa, and Another Aunt

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

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

Photo #5:  Some of the Children Enjoying Fat Tuesday

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They were singing songs and dancing.

See you in Lent!

 

 

 

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

 

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I Picked Up a Hitchhiker

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

Backup a Bit

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

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

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

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

I boldly tried again, “Get in!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Septuagesima Sunday is Coming

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

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

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

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

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

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

Prayer:

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

Fasting:

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

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

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

Almsgiving:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Lastly, a Lenten Challenge

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

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

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

Call Me Catholic

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.

Call Me Catholic

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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