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October 7th & the Battle of Lepanto

Happy feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary!  This feast has a rich history, which I do not have time to relate.  (Click HERE for it at New Advent.)

However, many of you may know that this day was originally named Our Lady of Victory to commemorate the naval victory of the Christian fleet over the Turkish fleet in the gulf of Lepanto in the Adriatic Sea in 1571.

Every October 7th our family reads G. K. Chesterton’s famous poem, Lepanto.  If you’ve never read it before, give it shot!  Chesterton covers this historic battle very well, and it reads like a marching army.  We love it.  May God bless the souls of Don John of Austria and Pope Pius V!

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The Battle of Lepanto.  Artist unknown.  It sits in London now.  Can you see the different flags?
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Fr. Fessio of Ignatius Press Speaks Out

Anyone still following the latest in the Church Crisis?

I came across this article from LifeSite News, wherein Fr. Fessio of Ignatius Press speaks out about Pope Francis’ silence.  It caught my attention for a number of reasons:

  1. I’ve always admired Fr. Fessio.
  2. I love Ignatius Press.
  3. Apparently Vigano reads Michael O’Brien, as he mentioned Father Elijah.*
  4. Anyone who has read anything of O’Brien’s finds his writing eerily prophetic.
  5. And finally, Fr. Fessio takes the words right out of my mouth, “Be a man.  Stand up and answer the questions.”

Here’s an excerpt from the article.  If you’re interested, click HERE for the whole thing.

“He’s attacking Viganò and everyone who is asking for answers,” Fessio told CNN. “I just find that deplorable.”

“Be a man. Stand up and answer the questions,” he added.

The publisher-priest told LifeSiteNews that he meant no disrespect for the Pope by saying this. Fessio observed that words said in conversation look “worse” in print but defended his opinions.

“I think the idea that I’m expressing there is a valid idea, and even if I tempered it somewhat, I think it should be said. And maybe … it will help the Pope to have some straight-talking. He seems to want to have openness, doesn’t he? He talks about frankness and openness and don’t be afraid to say what’s on your mind.”

“So I said what was on my mind–and not just my mind; it’s on a lot of people’s minds.”

Thank you, Fr. Fessio.

*Haven’t read Father Elijah?  Pick yourself up a copy today and be prepared to stay up all night, because it’s that good.  You won’t be able to put it down.

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An Act of Generosity & Ember Days

An Anonymous Act of Generosity

Two Sundays ago the children woke up extra early and were especially crabby.  (Oh wait, that was me!)  So my husband and I decided to attend an earlier Mass at a different parish, so that we could be home at a decent time for naps.

Now, our family is a little conspicuous wherever we go for a two reasons:

  1. We’ve got 7 children under the age of 12 and therefore take up a whole pew.
  2. The girls and I veil.  Even at the Novus Ordo.  (Don’t know what veiling is?  Click HERE.)

So in we walked with our troupe and commenced praying the Mass, which went fairly well.  There was only one incident when the baby pooped out her whole outfit.  Once I discovered that, I quickly exited to the back of the church and began hunting for a bathroom.

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This picture has nothing to do with my post.  It’s some wild flowers the girls picked the other day.  Aren’t they pretty?  Aster, fleabane, goldenrod, sunflowers, and dotted blazing star.

And I wasn’t the only one looking for a bathroom.  Lo and behold, another mother was in the same predicament as I was.  We both had visibly messy babies.  Eventually we found the ONE bathroom, which was of course locked and in use, with a line running back into the entrance/narthex area.

What to do?  The other mother suggested that our Blessed Lord surely wouldn’t mind if knelt right down and changed our babies in the church narthex, in front of scores* of people.  So we did.

Anyway, as I said earlier, everything else went as usual with no major incidents.  As we left the church, however, I happened to glance into my purse/diaper bag and noticed a wad of cash, which was amounted to $80.  I asked my husband if he had put that in there?  Nope.

Then my 5-year-old chimed in, “Mom, I know who put that in there!”

“Who?”

“That really nice, old lady behind us.  She tucked it in your purse when you weren’t looking, but I was.  I gave her a big smile.  Mom, she winked at me.”

I stopped in my tracks.  I couldn’t believe it.  Someone actually gave us money for going to church!?  What an act of kindness!  What a beautiful thing to an overwhelmed mother, who was just worrying about what in the world to feed her huge and ravenously hungry family!

I turned to my husband and said, “Dearest, the Lord wants us to dine out for lunch today.  Betake us to thy favorite restaurant.”

Whereupon he responded, “Certainly, my Dear.  How about the local diner?”

O glorious day!  And may God bless that most generous woman!

Reflection

I was seriously overjoyed at that woman’s act of charity.  It absolutely made my day, which got me thinking.  When’s the last time I did something kind for someone else?

Maybe I could pay for someone else’s coffee the next time I hit up the drive-thru?

Ember Days

Lastly, this Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday are Ember Days.  If you’ve never observed them before, consider it.  (Click HERE for a brief explanation.)

 

 

*The church was overflowing into the narthex area, which is a good problem to have, considering the state of affairs these days.
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Another Word About the Crisis: Fr. John Lankeit Responds

If you’re following the current and deplorable scandal, then you’re likely reading about Archbishop Vigano and his courageous 11-page letter, which reveals some truly disgusting information about many higher-ups in the Church, Pope Francis included.

As many of you are rightly outraged, I offer this insightful homily by Fr. John Lankeit in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Click HERE for it on YouTube.)

I promise it’s worth it.  He describes how it is that priests/bishops/cardinals become “Fr. Judas Iscariot.”  It begins with small betrayals, small disobediences.  Then, if it’s not stopped, it escalates.  I know I’ve seen this at the Mass, just as Fr. Lankeit describes it.

Luke 16: 10

“He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.”

Let this be a reminder to us all.

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A Word About the Present Crisis

The present crisis in the Church is disgusting.  I’m sure you’ve all read about it.  I mention it because I’ve come across something refreshing.  It’s a homily given by Fr. Robert Altier.

When I came back into the Church in 2003/2004, Fr. Altier was instrumental in deepening my understanding of all things Catholic.  I took his classes then being offered at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul.  He was fantastic.  My friends and I had him over to our house to bless it according to the Old Rite.  It was powerful.

This priest says it like it is.  When’s the last time you heard a homily like this?

Click HERE for it at Fr. Z’s blog.

If you’re up for it, drop a line in the comment box.  Let us know what you think.

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Your Friendly Reminder: Go To Confession!

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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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A Wedding at Assumption Abbey, Westworks, & a High Altar

My family and I had the privilege of attending a wedding this last weekend at a most beautiful church in the middle of nowhere.

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Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND, Middle of Nowhere.

This was a treat for us for many obvious reasons, but I’d like to specifically point out one:  This church is beautiful.  Just look at that westwork!

Don’t know what a westwork is?  It’s the grand entrance of a church flanked by two towers, that should face the west, as one always entered in from the west, to worship toward the east, the Rising Son.  (This was back in the day when everyone faced the same direction during Mass, with the priest leading everyone towards the East, the Rising Son – Ad Orientem.)

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Here’s another westwork in Europe.  Notice that the two towers are different.  It’s because they were built in different time periods.  Quiz.  What famous cathedral is this?*

Of course, not every church could always be built facing the west, which is how we get terms such as, “Liturgical East.”

Back to Assumption Abbey.  This particular church in Richardton, ND, faces the south.

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Here’s an interior shot of Assumption Abbey.  Note those glorious rose windows and flying angels!

If you look closely at the above photo, you’ll notice that the baldachin or baldacchino and high altar are still in place, even though they’re not being used.  The high altar is right underneath the baldachin, but is difficult to see, as it is not lit up.

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Check out this baldachin.  It’s Bernini’s in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.  Now that’s how you do a canopy and a high altar!

Because the high altar in Assumption Abbey is not in use, there was a little confusion among all the wedding-goers.  Where was one to genuflect?  I noticed that most people genuflected anyway to the (beautiful) empty Tabernacle in the high altar, but the rest of us had to look around.  Just where was Jesus?

We found him.  He was off to the side, in an obscure-looking wooden structure, with no visible tabernacle lamp.

I’d love to see Him restored to His former place of glory – up front and center.  But alas, nobody’s asking me!

The Wedding

The wedding Mass was beautiful.  Fr. Josh Waltz delivered a fiery homily, such as I haven’t heard in awhile.  He’d point to the crucifix and say, “You think you know what marriage is about?  It’s about that.  (Pointing to the crucifix.)  Suffering and sacrifice!”  Then he specifically addressed any husbands out there and commanded, “Men, do you think that’s weak?  No.  It’s hard.  Learn to die to yourselves!  That’s what real men do.”

I’m pretty sure I saw some wives kicking their husbands under the pews.

But not me, because I had to stand in the back with a crabby baby.

In all, it was a great afternoon.  May God bless that newly married couple!

Parting Humiliation

Well, I’ve been humbled.

You see, as we were frantically scrambling to get out of the house that day, our 5-year-old could not find her church shoes.  She couldn’t find any shoes, except her dirty, old flip flops.  What was I to do?  There was no time to stop and buy a new pair.  She couldn’t wear her 11-year-old sister’s shoes.  And she certainly couldn’t fit into her 2-year-old sister’s shoes.

I thought about letting her go barefoot, like a discalced nun.  Then I thought maybe just give her a pair of clean socks?

In the end, she wore the dirty, old flip flops to the wedding.  Sigh.  Hopefully no one noticed!

 

 

*Chartres Cathedral in Chartres, France.  By the way, it’s westwork really does face the west.
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Slow Down This Summer

The children of their own accord made a little shrine in our trees the other day.  (They affectionately call these trees, The Wildness.)  They gathered lilacs and other flowers in bloom, made blue sashes with star badges, and used sticks for swords.  They also made a little flag.

It was all in honor of Mary, Our lady, Star of the Sea.  I have no idea why they chose this title, especially since we live nowhere near a sea.  (Does the Missouri River count?)

After making all their preparations, they marched my husband and I outside and made us all stand in a line with the 5-year-old leading the way with the flag.  Then, we sang their favorite Marian song, Regina Caeli, as we walked through the yard and Wildness to their prepared shrine.  Once there, the boys made us walk through their swords, which were meant to be something like the Knights of Columbus, and we solemnly knelt down and prayed, asking for Mary’s intercession for our family.

It was sweet and beautiful.

But you know what?  They wouldn’t have done this or had time for it, if we constantly shuffled them around from one activity to another.

Dear families, slow down.

Put the screens away.  Let your children play and use their imaginations.  If they complain of boredom, make them lie out on a blanket under a tree and stare at the leaves and the sky.  Give them a notebook and make them write down 50 things they can see.  Clouds?  Bark?  Ants?  Blades of grass?  Birds?

Maybe you will want to join them?

Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Pray for us!

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This is their shrine in the Wildness.  Note the badges and “swords.”  The badges say, “Our Lady, Star of the Sea, pray for us.”  The boys even put on blue shirts, in honor of Mary.
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He is Risen, Alleluia!

Since the children are busy finding their Easter baskets at the moment…I thought I’d send a quick note.

Happy Easter!

We attended the Easter Vigil last night, which lasted about three hours.  One of my favorite parts was the singing of the Exsultet by our Deacon.  And boy oh boy, can that man sing!  It was moving and beautiful to stand there in the flickering candlelight and hear him proclaim, “This is the night!”

During the singing of the Exsultet, I was a bit distracted, however, because I had to make sure none of my children started anything on fire.  (Everyone holds candles.)  Really, I must most concerned about my husband because he was holding the crabby toddler, who insisted on holding her own candle.  But we made it.  It was only the 7-year-old with ants in his pants that got wax everywhere.

In any case, may the Resurrected Jesus bring joy to your hearts!

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View out my front door.  Looks like the children did get their White Easter.