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Advent is Here!

Last Sunday we began the holy season of Advent.  So I’ll offer a few thoughts and ideas on what works for our family to keep this season holy and prayerful.  If you have any great traditions or ideas, I’d love to hear about them too.

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My Drummer Boy is ready to start the season off with a bang.  But with only one drum stick.  The other one is lost.

Where to we start?

Lately I’ve mentioned the importance of Confession and Adoration.  While we never quit going to Confession throughout the year, our family has taken a three-month hiatus from Adoration, as we were into the chaotic business of packing and moving and switching parishes.  Now that that’s over, it is our top priority to get back to a weekly holy hour, beginning this week.

This is a difficult thing, however, as we feel strongly that not only my husband and I ought to have an hour, but that all those children who have received First Holy Communion should too.  So, we just have to make it a priority, which sometimes means saying no to other things, while also getting creative.

My hour will be during the evening and by myself, as I’m home all day and need a break.   My husband’s hour, however, will be in the morning before work, and he’ll take the four older children with him.  This is doable because after the holy hour, two of the children will walk over to their school, one will join her homeschool coop, which happens to be at our parish, and the last remaining child will get picked up by me.

Complicated?  Yes.  Worth it.  Double Yes Yes.  Prayer is the most important thing we can make time for.  It is our top priority.

Advent Prayer Intentions

This Advent we will be of course offering prayers for our Church, but also specifically for our son who suffers from migraines.  Lately they’ve become more intense and debilitating, which landed us back at his neurologist’s office.  After an MRI, we discovered that he has a Chiari I Malformation, which is fancy talk for the lower brain extending too far into the spinal cord.

We don’t know if this is causing his migraines, so we’ll be traveling to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis to have a specialized, pediatric neurologist examine him.  We hope to find some answers.  And if you think of it, please pray for him.

And now the Fun Stuff

Of course we’ll be lighting our Advent wreath every evening at dinner.  The children love this because we shut all the lights off, light the candle, and sing two verses of O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Then my husband prays the Vespers Responsory and the Magnificat Antiphons, with the O Antiphons being the last seven days of Advent.  It’s beautiful.

As many of you also do, we have our nativity set out too.  Well, just the stable, shepherds, Drummer Boy, and the animals, as Mary and Joseph are traveling.  We start them off somewhere else in the house and move them closer every few days or so.

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We put our Nativity Set on the lower ledge of the fireplace, so that all the children can easily play with it.

And for school?  During Midmorning Prayer Time, our hymns will reflect the season.  Our favorite is On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry.  And we’ll be listening the Benedictines of Mary Advent at Ephesus during all hours of the day!

And for poetry?  I’m still looking for a good piece.  Anyone have any ideas?  Drop me a line.

I pray your season of Advent may be prayerful and fruitful!

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Even the baby gets to play with the Nativity Set.  Those plastic pieces must taste good!  She tried them all.
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Advent and Nativity Sets

It’s cold outside, and it’s Friday.

So, it’s time to think about Nativity Sets.  Yes, I know Advent isn’t here yet, but some of us prefer to plan ahead for such things, so as to avoid stress and anxiety later.  Plus, I like to scatter the cost of Advent and Christmas over a couple of months, so December’s budget isn’t sky-high.

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And here’s my Nativity Set.  I know the quality of the photo is poor, but I took this a year ago with an old-fashioned camera.  You know, those digital ones that nobody has anymore.

Since most of us are home all day long, this matter of Nativity Sets is important for a couple of reasons.

  1. We are Catholics, and as such, have some sweet liturgical seasons, which ought to be celebrated in style.
  2. This is about our children after all.  What kid doesn’t like to mess around with nativity sets?  Think of it as a hands-on, Montessori-style education.
  3. Lastly, in as much as we can, we ought to make the space around us beautiful.  Hence, if you don’t already have one, buy a good, indestructible Nativity Set.

Now I am biased about nativity sets and strongly prefer Fontanini Nativity Sets mostly because I inherited a beautiful one, complete with a little stable, featuring an electric fire, along with Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  But here is why Fontanini really is the best:

  1. It’s indestructible.
  2. Your children can chuck these beautifully painted pieces across the room.  Not that my children would do such a thing…
  3. There are myriads upon myriads of sheep, cows, shepherds, angels, and villagers available to play with–er–for purchase.
  4. Did I mention that these pieces don’t break?  (If you have boys, you will automatically know the importance of imperishable and everlasting nativity figures, or anything else for that matter.)

And so naturally one more question arises.  1.)  Which is my favorite nativity figure?

The Drummer Boy of course is my favorite accessory piece.  Everyone knows that a poor little drummer boy drummed on his drum for Jesus and Mary Christmas morning.  Jesus even smiled at him.  I’m pretty sure the drummer boy is in the Bible; in fact there’s a most beautiful song about it.*

Our family purchases a new figure every year, and this year we bought two camels.  I would have bought three camels, because that makes the most sense, but our budget only allows for only two.  We had to order them, however, so there not here yet.

Later next week I hope to have a post on a few more Advent things we do as a family.

 

 

*For your listening pleasure, HERE is one of the best Christmas songs ever.  I think this song is also in the Bible.**  (To those of you who prefer not to listen to music outside of its proper liturgical season, don’t listen to it!)
**Just kidding about the Drummer Boy being in the Bible.  Although if I were some kind of reforming heretic and enjoyed messing with the Bible – you know taking books out that I didn’t like and adding others – I’d for sure insert the Drummer Boy in the Christmas story.  You’d find it in the Gospel according to Kim.
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Cardinal Sarah, Mother Theresa, and One Mad Mom

I came across two articles this morning that are worthy of your attention.

  1. Anytime Cardinal Sarah speaks up, it’s worth noting.  LifeSiteNews published part of his speech at a conference in Milan this week wherein he speaks of both JPII and Mother Theresa’s love for the Eucharist.
    The cardinal recounted Mother Teresa’s own words: “Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.”
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    Have you read this yet?

    Or This?

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    Sarah’s Power of Silence.  I can’t think of a better Christmas gift.
  2. Have you ever heard of One Mad Mom?  (Hey, look!  I’m not the only one.)  For any of you struggling with anger right now, she’s got a great piece about sticking to the facts and not jumping into the deep.  I needed to hear it, especially with the death of Bishop Morlino.  (May he rest in peace!  And may God send another holy bishop to that diocese!)
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I Am Mad.

Usually I like to keep the content of these pages positive, but I have to speak up, if only once.  So today, if you’re not interested, I’ll see you at a later post.

I am angry about the Homosexual Church Crisis.

I am angry because of all the silence from the bishops.*  Those of you who may be following what’s going on in the Church know what I’m talking about.  The inability of our bishops to do or say anything helpful is supremely frustrating.

Lately my husband and I have been watching Dr. Taylor Marshall on YouTube, and he’s making a lot of sense.  But just yesterday I came across Fr. Mark Goring, and I think he nailed it in one of his recent videos.  Click HERE for it.  You’ve got to watch it.

No really, like right now.  It’s only about 6 minutes long.

Now I know that Bishop Strickland of Texas spoke up at the USCCB conference, but did my bishop, Bishop Kagan?  I don’t know.  Did yours?  I tried contacting my bishop’s office, asking if he has released any statements, but I got no response.  I tried searching our diocesan website, but I found nothing.  Just more silence.  (Please, somebody, correct me if I’m wrong about this.)

Are there any priests speaking out about all this terrible business from the pulpit, for the laity to hear?  I did hear one good homily when the McCarrick Filth first broke a few months ago, but I haven’t heard anything since.  It’s like the Elephant in Room.  It’s the biggest issue of our day, and nobody wants to talk about it.  Meanwhile, the liberal media bashes the Catholic Church on all sides.  What are Catholics to believe?

I don’t want the same old solutions to these sordid problems.  I think it was G.K. Chesterton who once said that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect different results.  How are meetings, meetings, and more meetings helpful?  Especially when Rome, i.e. Pope Francis, ties everyone’s hands and won’t let anybody do anything.

Not that that matters.  Did you know that two-thirds of our bishops voted to not have McCarrick investigated at the USCCB meeting last week?  Two-thirds!  To my unsophisticated mind, that means that only one-third of our bishops in the US are worth anything.  Jesus’ words in Luke 18:8 ring loudly in my ears, “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?”  My goodness, bishops, speak out!

Meanwhile, the confusion only gets worse and worse.  Priests, I beg you, start speaking out from the pulpit about this.  We want to know what’s going on, and we want to be shown the path to Eternal Life.  Give us the hard, moral truths.  We want it!  LifeSiteNews gets it.  Click HERE for their latest article, quoting Msgr. Charles Pope.

The rest of you, sign up for a weekly Holy Hour and go to Adoration.  And even though I don’t remember the last time I heard a priest speak about Confession from the pulpit, I’ll say it –  go to Confession!  Today, if possible.

And pray for our cardinals, bishops, and priests.  And especially for our Holy Father.  May this terrible Homosexual Crisis be dealt with soon.

 

*I just came across a video highlighting the few, the very few bishops who did say something at the latest USCCB meeting.  It’s painfully short, but nevertheless, these men are the Heroes of the Day.  (Along with Archbishop Vigano.)  Click HERE for it.

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Vigano Nails It

If you’re following the Church Crisis, I offer you Msgr. Charles Pope’s Reflections on Archbishop Vigano’s Courageous Third Letter, which first appeared in the National Catholic Register yesterday.  (Click HERE for it.)

Msgr. Pope begins his article with the following:

As I finished reading Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s third letter, I had an immediate sense that I had just read something that is destined to be one of the great pastoral and literary moments of the Church’s history. There was an air of greatness about it that I cannot fully describe. I was stunned at its soteriological quality — at its stirring and yet stark reminder of our own judgment day.

Finally, I want to encourage you to familiarize yourself with this terrible crisis because whether you realize it or not, it effects you and your family.  Homosexuality is the defining issue of the day.  And are you comfortable naming it?

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Archbishop Vigano.  Pray for him.  He is doing great work.
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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.