Life is Worth Living

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

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

My May Favorites:

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

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

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

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

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Here it is, empty.  We drank it all.

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

I groaned, “Yes.”

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

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

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

Life is Worth Living

Spring is here! A Poem to Celebrate!

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

It is spring, after all.

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

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

Winter [read spring] in South Dakota

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, dear!

Life is Worth Living

My Favorite Dress: A Tale of Pride & Woe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whoa.  My heart pounded.  What?

“Do you love this dress more than Me?”

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

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

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

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Not much of a dress, I know, but nevertheless, goodbye, dress.
Life is Worth Living

7 Things I’m Grateful For

In the traditional calendar, today is the feast day of St. Gabriel the Archangel.  He immediately precedes the Annunciation, which is tomorrow.  This makes perfect sense, as he appears to Mary, asking her to be the mother of Jesus.  Happy feast day!

In honor of St. Gabriel, I’ll offer 7 things I’m grateful for.

  1. The Canada geese have been flying overhead all week.  (Yes, it’s Canada geese, not Canadian geese.  I’ve been corrected!)
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    Here they are above our home.

    And here is a close-up of what they look like for those of you not familiar.  These things are big.

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    This is not my photo, it’s Chuck Szmurlo’s from Wikimedia Commons.

    We greatly enjoy their raucous honking and the fact that they all land in the cow pasture across the road.  It’s great fun.  The children and I like to walk down the gravel road to see how close we can get to them.

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    This is a look into the cow pasture yesterday morning.  If you look closely, you can see geese flying above the dead tree and some more out on the ice, waiting for it to thaw, I suppose.
  2. As you can also see from the photo, our snow is finally melting.  This is not only glorious, but great fun for the children, as they  stomp around in the mud and make “rivers” for the water to flow down into the ditch.
  3. We’ve seen other birds too–little chickadees and killdeer.  No robins, though.
  4. The ducks will all be returning soon, and we’ll be doing our annual Duck Day tour wherein we listen to Peter and the Wolf and identify ducks by name.  I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
  5. I am currently reading Fr. Calloway’s 10 Wonders of the Rosary, which came out earlier this year Maybe I’ll post more on it later.
  6. I gave up wearing my winter coat, for the most part.  Anything above 30 degrees is spring-like enough for me!
  7. My favorite local restaurant, Anima Cucina, has some great meatless entrees.  My husband took me there a Friday or so ago.
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    My husband’s dish.  These are sardines with cherry, basil, and mint.

    And even though I am not a vegan, I ordered their vegan sandwich.

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    This thing features meatless chicken (whatever that is), brie, radicchio, and an olive tapenade.  Delicious.

    What are you grateful for?

     

Life is Worth Living

You Took 7 Kids Where!?!

We loaded up all 7 children and took them to a museum this morning.  And out to eat.

 

Are You Nuts!?!

Yes.  Yes, we are.

But you see, one gets desperate in the wintertime when we’ve had about four weeks of subzero weather.

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Here we are, finally ready to go.  It was quite the production just to get loaded up, as we had to do it twice.  The first time, the baby decided to load her pants and blow out her entire outfit.  So then we had to unload and then reload again, with clean clothes.

So today we drove even further north (not kidding) and made it to a  museum called the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn, ND,* where a kind lady met us at the door to charge admission.  This lady took one look at us all, and then decided that we qualified for the Group Rate because we had so many children that she couldn’t do the math to figure out how much to charge us for entry.

Now, did I learn anything at this museum?  Nope, because I was too busy either holding the baby or corralling the little children.

I did notice, however, this sign:

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Enter a caption

After I read that sign, I decided it was a very good thing to be born now, in these days, than to be alive 150 or so years ago.  Can you imagine daily killing rats!  Oh, no thank you.  I’ll gladly change dirty diapers all day.

Back to the Museum

My children thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  Thankfully at this museum there were a few wooden chests lying around that one could open up and feel free to get into the spirit of things by dressing up.

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Here’s a shot of the children sporting some fancy furs.

And here are the boys in some other fun coats and hats.

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So in all, the museum was a success.

And so was eating out.  I was a little nervous about this, but we just do what all sensible parents do.  We bribe them.

“Now children, if you’re really good at the diner, we’ll stop at the gas station and buy you fountain pops and candy for the ride home.”

“Yay!”

And that, my friends, is how you do it.

At the diner, I was very thankful that the waitress brought out their milks right away, as this gave them something to do.  But even better was that the milks had lids.  (See photo below.)  No sensible parent buys drinks for children without lids.

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Note the lids.

Secondly, while we waited for the food, I remembered that I had a pack of cards in my purse, so I gave it to the children, and they played Up and Down the River.  This kept them pretty quiet until the food came.

This was one of our most successful Dining Out Trips, for there were no major incidents.  So of course we drove straight to the gas station and bought them fountains pops and candy.

We listened to Anne of Green Gables on the way home.  I love that book.

Happy Presidents’ Day Y’all!

 

*Of course, after the initial fiasco of changing diapers and running back into the house for sundry objects – hats, sunglasses, water – we had to drive straight to a coffee shop.  One must be properly medicated with caffeine to survive this kind of endeavor.  And then we drove north towards the Arctic Tundra.  Might as well be in Canada.

 

Life is Worth Living

Lipstick: It’s Not Just For Your Grandmother. Most Popular Fun Post of 2018

As we’re nearing the end of the year, I thought I’d look back on my stats.  Today I’m reposting my Most Popular Fun Post of 2018.  Obviously this resonated with a lot of you.  Pass it on to your friends!

Later this week, I’ll repost my Most Popular Serious Post.

But today, enjoy a little lighter fare!

Lipstick: It’s Not Just For Your Grandmother

A week or so ago, I mentioned something very important in my post on How to Survive Barfing Children.  (Click HERE for it.)  You’ll notice that Point Number 2 mentions Lipstick.

It occurred to me yesterday afternoon that many of you may not understand this one.  You see, I grew up around a grandmother who was convinced that lipstick was the key to a great life.  Ok, other things were important to her too, like family and big jewelry, but there is something simple here that she taught me.

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Grandma Martha.  Not only did she always wear lipstick, but she also never left the house without a Big Fancy Hat on too.

While of course one can go overboard with relying on material things for happiness, there is something to say about a little dash of color and an attempt at looking well put together.  I always go back to what Paul Harvey, the decades-long, iconic radio broadcaster, had to say about it all.  You will always perform better if you dress the part.  Statistics prove it.  (Click HERE for a Wall Street Journal article on that.)

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Paul Harvey.  My grandmother named my father after him, literally.

My grandmother knew this secret—attempt to dress well, throw a little lipstick on, and Bam!  Most of the time, you’ll feel better.  No, it won’t solve all your problems, but it might help.

Now I know that many of you do not wear lipstick.  In fact you may not even own any brightly-colored fun-in-a-tube.  This is too bad because after all, St. Thomas himself speaks of it in his Summa Theologiae.  (Click HERE for that one.)  If there are any further lipstick naysayers, please know that I understand.  I was once one of you, as I gave it up for a time, just to see what it was like.  (I was miserable.)  And truly, I suppose it’s not for everyone.  (Like those with a vocation to the Carmelites?)  But for me, I had to go back to lipstick, because it’s just that fun.*

Some of you, however, may be thinking, “Yes, yes, lipstick is fun and all, but what will my husband think?”  Well, try it out.  Tonight when he arrives home, greet him at the door with your lipstick on and his favorite drink in your hand.  It will be impossible to not smile at that moment.  Lipstick is so powerful, after all, that you may even be wearing sweatpants, and you’ll still have fun.

So, when there just isn’t enough coffee in the house and your hairspray runs out and it’s -20 degrees outside and your children are all screaming…quietly walk to a mirror and brighten your day with a splash of hot pink.

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Or red.  I prefer red lipstick.
*Do I need to say, “all things in moderation?”  One probably shouldn’t own bags and bags of makeup?  You know that, right?
Life is Worth Living

Almost There! Photopost

It’s almost Christmas, and we’re getting ready!

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We hope you’re eating lots of cookies and chugging the sprinkles like this gal.
  1. A few weeks ago, here’s how I worked on my Christmas cards:

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    I love Asiago and red wine.
  2. And here is how I scrubbed onesies full of poop.  (Laundry doesn’t go away during the holidays.)  It just so happens that a dear friend stopped by and gave me the coffee.  May God bless her thoughtfulness!

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    Cheers!
  3. Here is my son traveling to his doctor appointment wherein we didn’t discover much of anything.

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    He says thank you for all the prayers!
  4. Here is our sweet Christmas tree.  It has a gaping hole in the back.  But that’s what you get when you wait until two days before Christmas Eve to buy one.  (As of last year, we decided to wait until the last possible moment to get one.  Oh the excitement!)  Then we decorate it on Christmas Eve.  Click HERE for last year’s Sweet Thang.

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    For the record, this tree was $11.25.
  5. And, here are the rest of the children helping with the cookies.
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I’m not sure if you can see it, but those cookies on the left are supposed to be Spritz.  They’re the worst ones I’ve ever made for two reasons.  1.  We had no almond extract.  2.  We also had no cookie press.  However, they are still edible.

In any case, I pray that your Christmas may be holy and jolly!  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

Life is Worth Living

Cocktails, the End of a Successful Hunt, and the TLM

The other day, well, I mean the other month, my husband made a few drinks.  I meant to share them with you then, but I forgot because I was busy.  So, I’ll share them today because they’re good, and we’re celebrating the end of a successful Hunting Season.

Now I’d like to share a photo of my husband’s dead deer too, but there isn’t one.  You see, he had a Doe Tag and according to him, “Does are hardly worth taking photos of.”  So not only will there be no photo of him with his deer, but there will of course be no antlers to mount on the garage walls.  The boys were seriously disappointed.  One can never have too many antlers on one’s walls apparently.

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Some antlers on our garage wall.
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A pile of antlers that haven’t made it to the wall yet.

 

Brandy Alexander & a Sidecar

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Which one is mine?

On to drinks.  As I said, we’re celebrating a swift end to the Hunting Season, and I’d like to highlight two of our favorites: a Brandy Alexander and a Sidecar.

The drink on the left is a Brandy Alexander.  My husband and I began drinking these after reading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, in honor of Anthony Blanche.  Those of you who have read the book or watched the (good) version of the movie (with Jeremy Irons) know what we’re talking about.  There’s a scene wherein Anthony Blanche downs three of them in a row, which is a bit reckless, no?

Normally a Brandy Alexander is made with cream, but as we never have any on hand, my husband makes them with whole milk, which of course is not as creamy, but still good.

Brandy Alexander:
Equal parts Brandy, Creme de Cocoa, and Cream

Sidecars are way too strong for me, but my husband insists that they’re classic and tasteful.  I’d probably be rather drunk if I attempted one.  Nevertheless, here’s how they’re made.

Sidecar:
3 parts brandy, 1 part lemon, 1 part triple sec

Enjoy!

And lastly,

The Traditional Latin Mass

A good friend of mine sent me an article written by Jake Neu and published in Crisis Magazine this morning.  It’s excellent.  (Click HERE for it.)  It’s also interesting that more and more people are choosing to attend the TLM.

A big Thank You to Jake Neu.  Your sentiments are mine as well.

Life is Worth Living

Opening Day of Deer Season: A Solemnity

Now there are seasons that we celebrate in this household.  You know, like Christmas, Lent, Easter, Hunting, and Advent.  It just so happens that we’re about to embark on Hunting Season this weekend.  Today is in fact Opening Day for North Dakota.

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My husband celebrating Deer Season a year or so ago.

Like any other solemn undertaking, we begin this season with many prayers.  For example, the following prayer may be found in the Divine Office in the Proper of Seasons:

O Lord, please let my husband shoot a deer within the first hour of hunting.  You know, O Lord, how I cannot survive another Saturday without his presence.   I’m afraid I might yell.  And look like this:

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Help me.  I need You.  Amen.

As you know, Hunting Season commences with a Class 2 Feast Day, which is of course properly called Opening Day.*  You might also recall that at the recent Youth Synod in October many reforms were suggested by the youth to the Holy Father in the hopes of elevating this most important day.*

Suggested Reforms Coming Out of the Latest Synod

  1. Holy Father, We the Youth ask that Opening Day may be made a Solemnity and a Holy Day of Obligation wherein in all Youth are required to abstain from school and made rather to walk the glorious fields of God’s creation with a gun.
  2. We the Youth ask that this synod might be renamed from “Walking Together” to “Walking Together With Guns.”
  3. We the Youth ask that St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters, be made a Doctor of the Church.
  4. We the Youth also propose Orange Vestments to be worn during these solemn  of days.

I’m not sure if the Youth were successful in any of these endeavors.  I do know, however, that our household will also be praying the following prayer, which may found somewhere in the Bible.  I think Moses prayed it in the Wilderness with those stubborn Hebrews.

O Lord, you see that our freezer is empty.  We humbly ask that you might provide a 30 Point Buck to fall within sight of my husband’s .243 Rifle.   For You are All Powerful and Glorious forever and ever.  Amen.*
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Happy Deer Season y’all.
*Not really.  Nope.  These things never happened.  This is nowhere in the Bible.
Life is Worth Living

Winter is HERE: A Poem to Celebrate!

Now I know that some of you live in warmer climates.  You know who you are.  You’re probably reading this on your iPhone, sitting on your deck, listening to birds sing, while the rest of us are freezing our tushies off and drinking anything hot to stay alive.  I’ll have you know that the windchill was zero this morning.  Zero.  (Yes, it called for an extra cup of coffee just for coping reasons.)

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This was the view out my front window.  Not really…

Anyway, I wanted to brighten everyone’s day with a little poetry.  My daughter recently came across a lovely poem in an obscure South Dakota centennial book.* The author is unknown, and I’ve typed it below for your enjoyment.  Of course one might substitute “South Dakota” for “North Dakota.”

And I must warn my sensitive readers, this anonymous author uses the word butt.  Goodness, the language some people use these days.

Winter in South Dakota

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

Oh, how I love South Dakota,
When the snow’s up to your  butt.
You take a breath of winter in
And your nose gets frozen shut.

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

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*Celebrating 125 Years of History and Growth, pg. 17.  Email me later if you actually want the publisher, etc.  I don’t have the book in front of me at the moment, and I’m too cold to get off the couch right now.  Happy Winter!
Life is Worth Living

Wherein I Offer 3 Articles You Must Read

This last week my family and I moved to a new home.  Deo gratias.

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This is me celebrating with a glass of port at my in-laws.  Not at my new house.  More on that later.

As you can imagine, I am busy unpacking.

So today I offer 3 articles that you should read.  They all come from New Liturgical Movement. And if you have a spare minute, do yourself a favor and read one of them right now.

Here they are:

  1. I’m sick of ugly buildings.  Are you?  David Clayton spells it out for us HERE.  And I’ve added two photos for your contemplation.
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Photo #1.  Ugly Building.  The Capitol of North Dakota.
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Photo #2.  Beautiful Building.  Cathedral of St. Joseph in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

 

2.  Do you have sons?  If they are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, what kind of seminary would you have them attend?  Dr. Kwasniewski writes about this by showing different vocational videos.  One is demanding and requires sacrifice; the other is wishy-washy and features happy-go-lucky seminarians and cardinals.  Click HERE for it.

3.  Why, oh why, can’t we get this right at Mass?  Music matters.  Music becomes a part of us, and if we continually fill ourselves with emotional schmaltzy jingles, then that’s what we’ll become.

Cardinal Sarah gets it.  You should just read what he writes HERE about Gregorian Chant.  My husband has been reading this article out loud to the children (well, and me too) at supper.

You might also consider buying both of Sarah’s books.

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Now here’s a man.  God or Nothing.
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The Power of Silence.  Your library is incomplete without both of these.

And one more thing.  An invite.

If you happen to be in the Bismarck/Mandan area, and would like to experience the Mass of the Ages, come to Christ the King Catholic Church this Sunday, October 28, at 11:30am.

Fr. Nick Schneider will offer the Extraordinary Form the Mass.  You know, the Mass that St. Maximillian Kolbe celebrated.  The Mass that St. Thomas Aquinas wrote about.  The Mass that St. Therese the Little Flower loved.

And there’s a potluck afterwards, if you want to stay and visit.  I’d love to meet you.