Life is Worth Living

Ramshackle Vans – The God of Majesty Hath Thundered!

I was rolling my 15-passenger Ford E-350 “Sweet Ride” into the parking lot of a grocery store the other day, with all my seven children, when I thought, I love my job.

Here I am, on a lovely summer day, just picking up a few necessities–wine, beer, cheese, and olives–on my way to a friend’s house for iced coffee and a chat on her shady deck. I was looking forward to our boys shooting each other with laser guns, our girls braiding each other’s hair, and the babies toddling in the grass.

Motherhood is glorious, and God is good.

Back to the grocery store and my van… I left the children in the van listening to The House on Pooh Corner and ran in and then out with my necessities. By the time I returned, the van had up and died. It wouldn’t even turn over.

Ah, well. I had a choice at this point. I could cry and lament my bad luck or I could laugh it off and call my husband at work. I chose the latter.

Since it was hot out, I had firstly to remove all the children from the sweltering van and direct them to some grass by the highway. They weren’t thrilled about this, but they did dutifully stand there and pray to St. Joseph for the van to somehow miraculously start, for they desperately wanted to play with their friends.

While on the phone with my husband, he wanted me to try to fix it myself. Right! I know nothing about vehicles, let alone crippled, 15-passengers vans. I did figure out how to open the hood, however, and I was proud of myself for this feat. Then he had me find the battery, which I also located, I think.

Things quickly turned downhill when he next directed me to find a special tool that he kept in the side door of the van and wanted me to adjust some bolt or other on the battery. Or at least I think it was on the battery. I’m not sure, for I never did find the tool or understand what in the world he meant.

Nothing would do, but that he would have to come. In the meantime, I called my friend, who thankfully lived nearby and asked if she might come get the children? Of course. This bit of information quickly lifted the morale of the children, and indeed, they were speedily rescued, packed in, and whisked away in her sleek minivan to summer bliss and frivolity with nary a care.

I alone remained, standing in the shade of our forsaken van, contemplating my plight.

I stared at the car next to me. In it sat a shaggy-looking man smoking his cigs. He watched the whole show and never once offered his assistance. A kind old woman did offer hers, however. May God bless her kindness. I waved her on.

The sweat trickled down my neck. I thought about cracking a beer, for this is the state of Wisconsin after all, but I didn’t want to open the cooler for fear of warming those precious cheeses.

I watched a giant motorhome amble into the parking lot. I scratched a mosquito bite.

Then I remembered my tiny Pocket Psalms. I reached into my purse and randomly opened to Psalm 28 and read it aloud to the passing clouds.

In due time, the Man of My Dreams appeared. He immediately located the mysterious tool–a wrench apparently–and proceeded to wiggle things around. He loosened and tightened this and that. Then, he got out the jumper cables and saved the day.

My Husband, bless his soul!

The van roared to a start, and Psalm 28 rang in my ears, the God of majesty hath thundered!

I sweetly thanked my Knight in Shining Armor and drove straight to my friend’s house for a peaceful afternoon.

Book Review

Books in Brief: Summer Reading

Has anyone read anything good this summer? Today I’ll highlight a few I’ve enjoyed.

The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome

by Joseph Pearce

I recently finished Joseph Pearce’s The Quest for Shakespeare from Ignatius Press. In this book, Pearce gives all the evidence for Shakespeare’s Catholicism. I’ve always wanted to read this book, since it was published in 2008, but I never got around to it until last week. As it turns out, I was missing out!

Did you know that Shakespeare’s father was a registered recusant Catholic? Or that Shakespeare was taught by Catholics and married by a Catholic priest? Think about that and remember it was verboten to be a Catholic in England at this time under the Great Persecutor, Queen Elizabeth.

Remember the great martyrs? St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, St. Edmund Campion…among hundreds of others? If one wasn’t downright tortured for being Catholic, one was heavily fined for failing to attend Anglican services in the least. And guess how many Anglican services Shakespeare attended? None that we know of. And we know this because copious records were kept by the government for the express purpose of collecting fines to financially ruin Catholics.

I could go on with more interesting details, but you should just read it.

If you don’t want to take my word for it, here’s Peter Kreeft’s endorsement, “In this book, he [Pearce] proves it [Shakespeare’s Catholicism] historically. I mean proves it.” Or, perhaps you’d like Anthony Esolen’s words? “Pearce shows that Shakespeare himself was such a dutiful servant, ever dutiful to the Queen, but to God first. He does not leap to conclusions, but builds a case that is meticulous, reasonable, and convincing.”

The Quest for Shakespeare would be a great read for your high schoolers too.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta Trapp

This is another one of those books that I’ve always been meaning to read, but never did, until two weeks ago. I don’t know about you, but I grew up watching Rodger and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music and loving it. (Naturally, as little girls, we shut the movie off after the wedding because the Nazi part was too scary.) I’m so glad I finally purchased the book and read about the real Trapp family.

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a sheer delight. There was much that the movie got right, and then, there was much that was left out too. Did you know that Maria and the Captain actually dined at a restaurant in Salzburg, sitting at a table near Hitler? (They were disgusted.) Or that after they fled to the United States, the infamous Heinrich Himmler–the main architect of the Holocaust– confiscated their estate and ruined their chapel?

Above all, I was impressed with the faith of this family. You, too, might find it inspiring. In the very least, the way in which Maria and Georg became engaged was downright sweet and comical. (The movie gets it wrong.)

Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B Gilbreth Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

I read this book a few years ago and had memories of laughing so hard, my sides ached. Naturally, I’d want to pick it up again, so I did.

Do you need a laugh? Do you come from a big family? Or have lots of children yourself? Then you’ll love this hilarious book.*

By the way, the book is way better than either the old movie or the new one. Both movies are a disgrace in comparison to the book.

The Catechism of the Council of Trent from Baronius Press

No, I did not read the whole catechism. Rather, my local book club, Rad Reads, read the section on marriage and then compared it to John Paul II’s catechism on marriage. It’s incredibly telling how different they are. We had lovely, heated discussions. We also read Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical, Casti Cannubii, which is also on marriage.

Now, if you want something interesting to read with your husband, pick up the Catechism of the Council of Trent, flip to the fifteen or so pages written specifically on the Sacrament of Marriage, and pour yourself a glass of wine. You won’t be disappointed.

What am I reading now?

I’m currently reading Nothing Superfluous by Rev. James Jackson, an FSSP priest, for my next Rad Reads discussion. This book details the theological meaning behind different actions and prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass. I’m really enjoying it so far.

I also hope to peruse another Dorothy Sayers detective fiction soon.

How about you?

*Note: I’d only recommend this book to a mature audience, as the older daughters tend to be worldly, etc. Also, unfortunately, there are problems with the Second Commandment.

Call Me Catholic

Question: How Does One Begin Praying the Breviary?

I received a question the other day, which I’ll post below with a few of my thoughts.

Question:

Kim, I am inspired by your daily recitation of the liturgy of the hours. What prayers of the Divine Office do you pray everyday? I had bought compline books and wanted our family to pray that every evening but that has not happened yet. Any suggestions for getting started?

First of all, thank you, dear Reader, for the question, which I’ll break into two.

Question #1: What prayers of the Divine Office do you pray every day?

Our family uses the Roman Breviary from Baronius Press. These books are excellent because they have Latin and English side-by-side.

But we didn’t begin our marriage praying this breviary. In the beginning we prayed the red Christian Prayer book, which I’m sure many of you are familiar with. A few years ago, however, we made the switch to the Roman Breviary for various reasons. (Mostly, we wanted to pray what the Church had been praying since time immemorial, not just since 1976, and we wanted its fullness.)

The Roman Breviary has all the traditional hours in it, which is why it’s a three volume set. Now, if I actually prayed all those hours, I wouldn’t get my work done. Therefore, I only pray two: Lauds and Compline.

As you frequent readers of the blog will know, the older children join my husband and me in praying Lauds every morning, but just my husband and I pray Compline in the evening, after the family rosary. My husband, however, prays more. If he’s up early, he’ll do Matins, and then, in the late afternoon he prays Vespers on his work break. The other minor hours, like Terce or Sext, might get prayed during Adoration some time during the week, but sometimes not. It’s just nice that they’re there as an option.

Here’s where Wednesday Lauds begins…

Question #2: Where should one start?

So, let’s say you own a breviary or some Liturgy of the Hours book and are wondering, where to start? I’d suggest beginning with whichever hour makes the most sense for you and your schedule. Of course I think it’s best to begin and end each day with prayer, so perhaps Lauds and Compline might be good options, but anywhere is better than nowhere.

Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of making it a priority.

Lastly, Satan hates families that pray together. Therefore, you’ll be sorely tempted to not do it. Therefore, do it! This is especially important for those of you with children, for whether you know it or not, you’re modeling how a life of prayer is done. You’re children see you, and your actions matter. If they see Dad every morning, day in and day out, praying Lauds, chances are, they’ll pray Lauds, especially if you provide them with books and invite them in. On the contrary, if they see Dad hurriedly rushing out the door every morning, neglecting his prayers, they will understand that this is not important.

And finally, don’t be overwhelmed by the whole thing. The breviary can be a complicated book to navigate. If you feel drawn to it, just dive in and don’t worry about missing a feast day or some special commemoration. God sees your heart and will be pleased with your efforts.

If, however, you’re looking for more information on the Roman Breviary, I strongly recommend reading Pius Parsch’s book The Breviary Explained. My husband couldn’t put it down.

And Just For Fun…

The Eldest is learning how to play the organ.

Every Friday, during practice, her younger brother throws himself at her feet (literally) and watches those pedals move. Of course he begs to play too, and she willingly obliges from time-to-time.

Lovely view, no?