Call Me Catholic

Kids and Lent

It’s not too late!  Would you like any ideas for your children during this Lenten Season?  If so, read on.  If not, I’ll see you next time.

The Children: Lent 2021

Before you read on, however, I want to remind you that all families are different, and just because the following works for us, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll work for you.  I only offer this with the thought that it may give you an idea or two, if you’d like one.

Without further ado…

The 3 pillars of Lent are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  So I’ll break it down for you.

Prayer

The four older children join my husband and me every morning for Lauds.  I’ve written about it here.  Even though we’ve been doing this for years, most mornings the children are in a drowsy stupor.  We’d like for them to be more intentional during this time, if possible.  So we’re working on it.  The Eldest has her own breviary; it’s likely time to invest in books for the boys too.

At breakfast every morning I normally read aloud from the Bible, but during Lent, I’m reading the Mass propers and readings from our 1962 missal, this is especially beautiful because the readings correspond to the Stational Churches, which my husband reads in the evening.

If you’re not familiar with the Roman Stational Churches, you’re missing out!  They are ancient; they are holy.  Click HERE for the particular booklet that I’m talking about, which is available from Biretta Books.  (Or was available.)  NLM, however, does a great job of posting actual pictures of the churches in Rome with commentary.  Click HERE for an example.

We are also praying St. Alphonsus Liguori’s Stations of the Cross in our home every Friday night.  A few years ago my husband had ordered a bunch of those booklets from Tan Publishing.  When Friday night rolls around, the girls and I grab a copy, the boys process with lighted candles, and my husband leads the prayers in front of homemade plaques that a dear friend of mine gave me a few years ago.  It’s lovely.

Fasting

The children are all too young to do any serious fasting, but they’re not too young to begin somewhere.  Since all them are capable of abstaining from desserts and candy for 46 days, they do that.  Of course we don’t eat meat on Fridays, but that’s a given.  We do that all year around anyway.

But the older children can do more.  On Fridays, they eat plain bread for breakfast, and then during Lent, they add a day–Wednesdays.

Almsgiving

As the children don’t earn any money at all, this one’s out.

Let Us Know!

If you have any other great ideas, I’d love to hear about them.

Lastly…Need a boost?  My husband and I greatly enjoyed Patrick Coffin’s interview with Tony Roman, a restaurant owner in California who’s fighting back.  (How I wish more men would follow his example.)  His heroes are Jesus Christ and George Washington.  Watch it now, for I’ll bet it gets censored and disappears.

Life is Worth Living

Travelogue: Sconnie Edition. One Night of Freedom!

Last weekend, my husband and I enjoyed a night away from home. My inlaws–bless their souls!–drove 600 miles to watch, feed, bathe, and drive around 7 obnoxious, giggling children. What’s more, they willingly lent us their clean 2019 Ford Edge to cruise around in while they endured our messy, sticky 15-passenger van.

Anyway, after stuffing an extra skirt and a few books into a bag, we were off. The children didn’t even say goodbye to us. They were too busy playing Rummikub and Sequence with Grandma and Grandpa.

Naturally, the first thing we did on our Tour De Force was to buy cappuccinos. Then we were off into the countryside of beautiful Wisconsin. Or rather, perhaps I ought to say, the forests of Wisconsin? This was exciting because we live on the Mississippi River, which is on the western border, and I had never been past the town of Sparta, which is only 30 miles away.

Our destination? Wausau, which sits bang in the middle of the state. Why Wausau?

  1. It’s past Sparta, hence new territory for us.
  2. It’s only 2 and half hours away.
  3. The route drives by two ancestral cemeteries of my husband’s family.
  4. Wausau boasts a lovely restaurant, Tine & Cellar.
  5. And it has a GORGEOUS TLM church, St. Mary’s.

The Drive

Now, I’ve lived most of my life in the Dakotas where we know how to do long, straight highways. We do highways so well, in fact, that we can legally drive 80 mph on them because they’re nice and straight. But Wisconsin? Oh, no. They do not do long, straight highways. They would much prefer to curve all over the place and go up and down and up and down. Why level this hill? That would require too much work. Let’s just go up! What about this little stream? Should we build a bridge across it? Nope. Too much work. Let’s follow it and swerve about everywhere. Bah!

Ah, well. Sconnies are just different, I guess. I will say, however, that it is beautiful, even in -20 degree weather.

And did you know, if we passed one Trump flag, we passed a million? These people are passionate about Trump. They don’t even care that Biden was sworn into office. It was Trump everywhere–Trump signs, Trump flags, Trump billboards. I actually saw one woman pause in her shoveling, lean over her Trump sign affectionately, and adjust it carefully so as to afford optimal viewing pleasure to her Trump-loving neighbors. Truly, I was wishing we had some Trump flags streaming out our car windows so that we could fit in.

Example of a typical Sconnie house in the country.

The Cemeteries

As I said earlier, we chose Wausau because the route put us in the path of two ancestral cemeteries of my husband’s family. The first cemetery was in Arkdale, which is no longer a town, I don’t think anyway. It’s just in the middle of a forest on some gravel roads. At least I think they’re gravel roads. You see, it was snowing and nobody bothered to plow those roads, so I don’t know.

Anyway, we found the tiny cemetery, and as it was -20 degrees outside, I sat in the warm car while my husband ran about in two feet of snow looking for the Lecy family. He looked awfully cold out there, so I rolled the window down and yelled, “Shall I put your seat warmer on, Dearest?” (Seat warmers are a luxury that we only get to experience when driving our parents’ vehicles; they make us giddy with delight.)

My husband did find some tall Lecy headstones, but unfortunately, he wasn’t able to dig down to the actual graves of Christopher Lecy and his wife, Helga. (We don’t know when Christopher died, but we do know from family records that Helga died in 1865.) Sigh. All that work.

It is rather stupid to go grave finding in February.

On to the next cemetery!

Before driving to the New Miner cemetery, however, we discovered that we were hungry from our grave finding efforts and needed a restaurant first. Since the nearest, sizable town to Arkdale was Necedah, to Necedah we went.

Necedah has a population of 916 people, so naturally it has a Main Street Cafe. It’s one of those local cafes that serves like five breakfast dishes and five lunch entrees, all accompanied by french fries. I picked a chicken sandwich; my husband had a burger. The floor sloped and the table was greasy. The ceiling fan above us had inches of dust perilously drooping off of it. The bathroom was down a creepy flight of stairs that have never been cleaned. The toilet, however, was new and spotless. What a surprise! It felt like an adventure.

I met the owner of Main Street Cafe. He was a spry, old man who had come into the restaurant a few minutes after us. He squinted and mused, “Well, I have to eat here, or I won’t get anything to eat.”

New Miner Cemetery

After we paid our bill, which was hand-written on those old green tickets (you waitresses of some years will know what I’m talking about), we drove to the New Miner Cemetery. Like Arkdale, there is no town here, but there is a church–St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran. There are also no woods here because “New Miner” is in Cranberry Country. Cranberry Country means lots of little sunken fields, much like what I would imagine rice fields to look like.

But I digress, New Miner Cemetery. Once again, my husband ran around the graveyard, as respectfully as possible, and attempted to locate his great, great, great grandfather, Jakob Jakobs Norsby, who died in 1910. His wife, Merit Olsd, was also buried here in 1899. But he couldn’t find the graves due to the extreme cold and deep snow.

Husband, looking for graves in two feet of snow and windchills nearing -30 below.

And that was that. We’ll go back in the spring, like sensible people.

The rest of the drive to Wausau was uneventful. We twisted and turned onto many different roads. (Alas, one must remember that Sconnies prefer roundabout ways.) We listened to Tim Flanders and Kennedy Hall discuss fasting. (Excellent podcast HERE.) We arrived in Wausau and checked into our hotel.

Later this week I’ll post Part 2 for those of you who are interested.

Call Me Catholic

Septuagesima Sunday is Tomorrow

Tomorrow 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 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.  Tomorrow, we’ll be at Septuagesima.

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 the 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 learning to pray the breviary? Lauds? Compline?
  4. For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?
  5. How about a daily 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.
800px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Molteni_Giuseppe,_La_confessione.jpg
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.

But NOT if you’re pregnant or nursing. Goodness, mothers, be careful with this one. I’ve written about it before. Here.

Almsgiving:

This one’s a little tricky, as every family is in a different place financially.

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% and so on.

A true tithe would be a full 10% of your income, however.  (The word tithe means one tenth.) If you really want a challenge, and are already tithing 10% of your income, then give 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? Or St. Therese the Little Flower? Or Padre Pio?

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. Who cares, you know? Everyone has to start somewhere.

Some of you, however, may not have access to any Mass or Sacraments at all, and my heart breaks for you. Truly. Just the other day I received an email from a gentleman in South Africa. They are starving for Truth there. For that matter, people are starving for Truth everywhere. In Canada, too. For example, there’s this piece written by one of my favorite writers at OnePeterFive, Dan Millette. My heart breaks for his family. What a difficult situation.

In any event, God does know of your particular situations, and He cares.

May God bless you all this Lent.

*Want more about Septuagesima Sunday? Click HERE for a piece at New Liturgical Movement

Call Me Catholic

8 Things I AM Doing This Advent

Today I hope to detail a few things that our family will be doing this Advent, which officially begins this afternoon after the praying of Nones, which precedes Vespers.

I want you to remember, however, when reading this list, that this is just what works for our family. Your Advent may look a bit differently, and that’s ok!

8 Things I AM Doing This Advent

  1. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This one should be obvious, except that it isn’t in our current deplorable state of affairs… Of course we’ll be attending Mass on all Sundays and Our Lady’s feast day December 8th, but we’ll also be attending Mass on December 12th, which is Our Lady of Guadalupe. There may be other days too, but these are the For Sures.

2. Confession. Again, I shouldn’t have to mention confession, except that I do because I think people aren’t going. Look, if you’re not going to confession at least every month, you’re risking your soul. We’re talking about eternal life here. I don’t care about any potential health concerns. Go to confession!

This stuff is important. It’s basic catechism. Most of you know that if you should happen to die in Mortal Sin, you’re going to Hell. But venial sins and imperfections need to be confessed regularly too, as there’s a tremendous of amount of grace given in this Sacrament. So, go to confession!

Really, there’s no excuse, unless you can’t find a priest willing to do his God-Given Duty. In that case, say an Act of Contrition, make reparation for your sins, and keep looking for a priest. There are good priests out there.

3. Fasting. While Advent isn’t as penitential as Lent, it is still meant to be a time of fasting. In our household, everyone old enough to receive Holy Communion eats plain bread for breakfast every Friday throughout the year, including Advent. During Advent we step it up a bit–no candy, sweets, or desserts. My husband–no stranger to year ’round fasting–adds an additional day of fasting from food. He normally fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays, and this year for Advent, he’s adding Mondays. I only mention this to inspire you. If you want more, watch Dr. Marshall’s short, 15-minute video on fasting and Advent.*

Me? If I’m pregnant or nursing, fasting is out. As it is, I’m not pregnant or nursing, so I’ll be fasting, but only on Fridays, which I find incredibly difficult, probably because I need more practice.

Lastly, my husband and I are accustomed to drinking a glass of wine maybe three nights a week with dinner. During Advent? We’re cutting it back to only one night.

4. I am doing additional penance. Look, I need to. Not just for my sins, but look around. The world needs Christians willing to do penance. I wasn’t going to mention it, but then I thought, hey? Sometimes it’s encouraging to hear that others are doing extra penance. So, I’m taking cold showers every Friday, which I will continue even when Advent ends. (Again, I wouldn’t do this if I was pregnant or nursing, but I’m not.)

5. Our family will be observing a traditional meatless Christmas Eve. When I was a little girl, I thought it funny that my dad’s family always ate Oyster Stew on Christmas Eve. Now I wonder, was it intentional? I don’t know, and I can’t ask my grandma because she died years ago. In any case, we’re bringing it back.

6. Advent Wreath. Who doesn’t love lighting candles in the dark? Every evening, as we gather at the dinner table to pray before eating, the children run around and shut off every light in the house. Then, they light the candles according to the week.

7. O Come, O Come Emmanuel. After lighting the Advent Wreath, we all sing at least two verses of “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” in the dark. Maybe this year in Latin? We’ll see tonight.

8. Setting up the Nativity Set. Naturally we’ll be setting up the Nativity Set today. In fact, I’m going to cut this post short–to do just that. Maybe I’ll post a few shots of it later on. The children do so enjoy playing with all the animals and the stable. They usually can’t reach Mary and Joseph, however, as I place them high up on shelves to travel around the house.

Lastly, if you have any questions, be sure to ask. Sometimes I assume something is clear, when it isn’t…

I hope you all have a blessed Advent!

*Want another family’s take on Advent? Dr. Marshall and his wife, Joy, discuss what they do HERE.

UPDATE: A few hours later…the nativity set is out!

And where are Mary and Joseph?

In a different room, making their way to Bethlehem…

Life is Worth Living

A “Sanitary Dictatorship”

Just what are we to think of these wild times?

The oft-quoted Charles Dickins’s A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

Personally, I think Bishop Athansius Schneider nails it HERE at LifeSiteNews.  (Be sure to read it.)  He notes that not even the Third Reich dared to do what’s happening to us right now, especially as pertains to the government and the Church.  In his latest book, Christus Vincit, he warns of a coming One World Government, which in the article above, he refers to as a “Sanitary Dictatorship.”  Frightening, no?

But you know who else was predicting this years ago?  Catholic author Michael O’Brien.  Have you read any of his literature yet?  If not, pick up Father Elijah.  You likely have time on your hands, after all.  And that book is a page-turner.

What else can we do besides read great literature?

Of course we need not despair, even though I am tempted to.  Early last week, right before the Terrible Ban on Everything, our family went to Confession, and alas, I did confess despair.  My priest–God save him!–quietly asked me if I was familiar with the Gospel passage about Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm from Matthew 8?

“Yes,” I responded.

“And when the disciples woke Jesus, what did he say to them?”

“Why are you afraid, O ye of little faith?”  I sighed.

My priest continued, “But I don’t want you to dwell on that.  Rather, I want you to remember that he was in the boat.  He was there all along, in the storm, and he’s here now.  I want you to thank Jesus for being in the boat with us.  He hasn’t abandoned us.”

I found great comfort in that, and it’s been my prayer lately.  Thank you, Jesus, for being in the boat with us.

Besides personal prayer?  What else?

Here are a few other thoughts:

  1. While I hate to encourage more screen time, I will say that Dr. Taylor Marshall and John Henry Weston are spot on HERE.
  2. But more importantly, are you saying a daily family rosary?
  3. I know I talked about the difficulties of fasting recently, but are you fasting?  Even if it’s something small?  Perhaps you could give up creamer in your coffee?  Or refrain from adding salt or pepper to your dishes?  Or give up ice cubes?  Anything is better than nothing!  Start small, if you’re new to this.
  4. Get yourself to confession.  Today.  Who knows where this is going to end?  If the governors of California, New York, and Illinois can put everyone on “house arrest,” then your governor can too.  Call or email your pastor.  If he’s worth his salt, he’ll figure out a way to legally hear your confession.
  5. Encourage your pastor to do 24-hour Adoration, if your state’s not on “house arrest.”  Even if no more than 10 people could legally attend, and of course observing “social distancing” laws of 6 feet, this would be a beautiful way to keep Churches open.
  6. And finally, encourage your priest to do processions.  I will be eternally thankful to our priest for noticing which way the wind was blowing last week, for we had a lovely procession with prayers against pestilence last Sunday.

But we need more processions.

Daily processions.  Perhaps priests could walk the streets with a Cross Bearer and two Acolytes, while reciting the Litany of Saints and Prayers against Pestilence.  This could be done daily, at say 3pm.  The faithful could park their cars along the way and pray.  Or the more bolder of the faithful could follow behind, keeping “social distancing” laws of 6 feet.

No really, processions are so important that I’ll leave you with two examples of exemplary priests from the past.  I pulled this information from newadvent.org.  It’s an online Catholic Encyclopedia.  We really need to get this done.

  1. St. Gregory the Great and the plague in Rome.

    As the plague still continued unabated, Gregory called upon the people to join in a vast sevenfold procession which was to start from each of the seven regions of the city and meet at the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin, all praying the while for pardon and the withdrawal of the pestilence. This was accordingly done, and the memory of the event is still preserved by the name “Sant’ Angelo” given to the mausoleum of Hadrian from the legend that the Archangel St. Michael was seen upon its summit in the act of sheathing his sword as a sign that the plague was over.

  2. St. Charles Borromeo and the plague in Milan.

Personal visits were paid by him to the plague-stricken houses. In the hospital of St. Gregory were the worst cases; to this he went, and his presence comforted the sufferers. Though he worked so arduously himself, it was only after many trials that the secular clergy of the town were induced to assist him, but his persuasive words at last won them so that they afterwards aided him in every way. It was at this time that, wishing to do penance for his people, he walked in procession, barefooted, with a rope round his neck, at one time bearing in his hand the relic of the Holy Nail.

Now those were men.

 

Motherhood & Parenting

Is Fasting For Mothers?

Prior to the beginning of Lent, nearly every year, I am tempted to bitterness and resentment.

Why, you may ask?  Mostly because I’m a whiner, but also because I’m a mother.  A mother of 7 children, all under the age of 14, and I am almost always nursing or pregnant.  While I know that there are mothers out there who find motherhood easy and breezy, I do not.  On the contrary, I find motherhood difficult, for it involves great suffering and great sacrifice.

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My house on any given day.  Lots going on!

And then Lent rolls around, and I’m tempted to think to myself, I never left Lent last year!  I was up four times last night.  The baby screamed all day.  I have stains on my shirt.  I spent a 1/5th of this year in a hospital for my son.  We just moved 600 miles.  We have no friends.  I already fast every Friday, and now I’m supposed to do more penance?  I think I’ll drink another glass of wine…

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My house on a bad day.  Mea culpa.

This kind of thinking does no good, and when I catch myself at it, I consciously reject it, for I’m only thinking about myself; I’m not thinking about Jesus, and I’m not thinking about my eternal salvation or that of others.

And of course motherhood is worth it!  I’m just saying there are moments when extra penance is incredibly difficult and perhaps not advisable in certain situations.*

Enter Simcha Fisher’s Thoughts

But, truly, I wonder about women–mothers, in particular.  Is extra penance and/or fasting for mothers in general?  Simcha Fisher has an interesting piece HERE at The Catholic Weekly.  I think she makes a really good point.  Go read it.

Or it’s HERE on her blog.  Seriously, go read it.  I know that some people consider her a bit edgy, but boy, can I relate sometimes!

Enter Ember Days

Last week I finished my very first Ember Days of fasting.  It was so difficult.  By the time Saturday rolled around, I literally couldn’t move and crashed on the couch.  My husband–no stranger to fasting–looked at me and said, “Enough already, Kim.  I know it’s only 2:30pm, but go eat.  You’ve done a good job; you haven’t complained to anybody except me, but now, go, eat.”

I hesitated a moment, then walked to refrigerator and ate a leftover sandwich, for I was exhausted and famished, and for a brief moment, I felt guilty.  Couldn’t I just make it a few more hours until dinner-time?

No.  No, I could not.

Even though I couldn’t make the full 3 days, however, it was still worth it, for I need to fast and deny myself periodically, but I also need to be attentive to my particular situation.  If I’ve been up all night with sick children and am sleep deprived, it may not be a good time to take on extra penance.

Dear Readers, I’d love to hear your thoughts or any inspiration you may have.

 

 

*In the very least, do I need to say that I don’t fast when I’m pregnant or nursing?  I probably should clarify that.  Let me repeat: I don’t fast when I’m pregnant or nursing, nor do I recommend it.
Call Me Catholic

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.

800px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Molteni_Giuseppe,_La_confessione.jpg
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.

Book Review

Holy Hacks & The Writing on the Wall

Patti Maguire Armstrong has a new book out called Holy Hacks.  It has some great and practical ideas for living out our faith.

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I love the size of this book.  It’s small and fits easily in my purse/diaper bag.

When I read this book, I was struck again by the importance of Date Nights with my husband.  Seriously, people, when’s the last time you spent some one-on-one time with your husband or wife?

In any case, Armstrong splits this book up into chapters, offering tips for growing in holiness in different areas of our lives: relationships, spiritual protection, evangelizing, against gossip…

If you’re in a rut, get this book and do a few of things she suggests.

There’s also a chapter on Lent with some great ideas for fasting and abstaining.  My two favorites in this section are:

  1. Abstain from something at each meal…St. Francis de Sales advised people never to leave the table without having refused themselves something.
  2. Intentionally wear clothing items you don’t particularly like to reduce your attachment to appearance.  (Ouch, this is a good one!)

In short, I found her little book inspiring.  You may too!

Parting Trifles: The Writing on the Wall

It’s been so cold here lately that my children have taken to some creative playing.

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Here are the little girls playing house with my kitchen stuff.

And then, here is some other creative playing.  My two-year-old had some fun with a pencil on the wall.

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Ugh.

Here’s a closer shot of her “artwork.”

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I was going to erase it, but it was so darkly scribbled on, that I couldn’t.  My husband had to paint over it.  Twice.

In any case, I hope your lent is going well!

 

Call Me Catholic

Ash Wednesday & Fasting

Good Morning, and Welcome to Lent!

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Just got back from Mass.  My ashes are stuck in my forehead creases.

If you’re looking for a really good video on fasting, look no further!  Dr. Taylor Marshall and Timothy Gordon knock it outta da park HERE.  The history of the tradition of fasting is fascinating, but my husband and I were really inspired by what these gentlemen are  doing.

Seriously, watch it tonight with your spouse.  Again, it’s HERE.

Call Me Catholic

It’s Sexagesima Sunday

Yep, this Sunday is Sexagesima 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 Sexagesima.  Clear as mud?

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?  (There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.)
  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 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 got one this Sunday at Christ the King Church in Mandan at 11:30.  I’d love to see you there.

Call Me Catholic

TLM Question and Response

[Note:  For whatever evil reason, my computer will not let me format the paragraphs correctly on this post.  My sincere apologies to all of you!]

Occasionally I get emails and questions from you Readers.  Recently the following was sent to me:

“If you don’t mind my asking:  other than prayer and fasting (!),  what have you found most helpful in working toward the goal of a Latin Mass?  Whom do you work with, make contacts with, and how do you present the idea to the parish or the diocese?  I’m struggling to find inroads to accomplish this here where I’m at.  Thanks for whatever you can share.”

First of all, thank you, dear Reader, for the question!  I do have a few thoughts and ideas. For those of you who are interested, read on.  For those of you who are not, I’ll see you next post.

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Have you ever been to a TLM?  It’s awesome.  This picture comes from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

Traditional Latin Mass Question and Response

In our diocese, we’ve been working for about ten years to get a Traditional Latin Mass here every Sunday, and we’re still not there!  (We currently have a priest willing to celebrate every fourth Sunday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan.)  So I can fully understand your plight, and here’s what I have to offer.
Yes, of course prayer and fasting should be your top priority in promoting the Latin Mass.  While I am not always able to fast because I’m  A. wimpy,  B. usually pregnant, or  C.  forever nursing a baby, my husband in particular is always fasting for this very thing.  In particular, he fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays for this intention (and others).
I point this out not to embarrass him, which I know I just did, but because many of us simply need to hear that there are real men out there actually sacrificing for their families in a tangible way.  They are fasting.  My husband thinks that the Latin Mass is worth fighting for on a spiritual level.  So he really abstains from food two days a week, and it’s hard some days, especially when the office brings in donuts and pizza.
In any case, the single most important thing, after prayer and fasting, is to have a priest who either wants to celebrate the Extraordinary Form, or who is willing to learn.  And this is likely out of your hands.  Fortunately here, about ten years ago, a good friend of mine was ordained, and he wanted to learn.  So we made it happen.  We paid for him to go to Chicago, to St. John Cantius, to learn.  When he returned, he was able to offer weekly Friday masses.  After a few years, he was transferred, but another priest here offered to celebrate the monthly Sunday mass.
Along the way, we’ve had to pay for other things – vestments, books, other liturgical items.  I point this out because if you want it to happen, you’ve got to make it as easy as possible.  Pay for everything.  Willingly.  Find others who will help, if possible.
Not only should you be willing to pay for everything, but you also should be willing to help out in every way possible too.  Fortunately we’ve got some great families around here who help out at every Mass.  For example, a couple of dads are permanent ushers.  My husband trains all the altar boys and is permanent sacristan.  You want it; you gotta do it.
And it’s not always easy.  Do I like the fact that my husband is busy for a full half hour before every Mass and at least that after Mass?  Nope.  Because it means that I’ve got to herd and corral 7 children by myself while we wait for him.  But if it means worshipping at a TLM, bring it on.
Also, what about music?  The beautiful thing about the TLM is that one need not suffer through horrible, Marty Haugen jingles complete with guitars and tambourines.  Thank God.  But it isn’t always easy to find musicians.  When you do, pay them well, if possible, and send them yearly to the Sacred Music Colloquium put on by the Church Music Association of America.  In fact, go yourself.  You won’t regret it.
Finally, there are two more things you can do.  Write a brief letter to your bishop kindly requesting a TLM.  Do it annually until it happens.  And don’t expect results over night.  (For anyone interested, I’d be happy to show you an example of a letter.  Drop me a line.) And secondly, keep educating yourself on the TLM.  The resources are inexhaustible.  I’d particularly recommend anything by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski.
Speaking of Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, have you read this yet?

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It’s next on my list.  HERE’s a good review of it.

Lastly, take heart, dear Reader!  So many more people are looking for a deeper, richer experience at Mass.  All over the world there has been an upsurge in both TLM Mass attendance and those desiring to attend a TLM.  Hang in there.  We’re a young crowd with lots of babies.  It’s not going away.

P.S.  I realize there’s a formatting issue with my paragraphs on this post.  I’ll see if I can’t get my Web Master to take a look at it.  My apologies for any difficulties in reading.

 

Call Me Catholic

Lent: It’s Upon Us

Here we are, on the threshold of this great season of Lent.  Have you thought about it yet?

Septuagesima, Sexagesima, & Quinquagesima Sundays

In the Old Calendar, the three Sundays prior to Ash Wednesday were specifically dedicated to preparing one for Lent.  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.  Today, we’re at Quinquagesima Sunday.  Clear as mud?

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!  How are you going to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

(Want more on information on these pre-Lenten Sundays?  Click HERE for a New Liturgical Movement article.)

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

Prayer

If you’re not already setting aside a specific time every day to pray, you need to.  I am the mother of six little children.  If I can do it, you can.  And if it’s at all possible, make that prayer time the first thing you do every day.  Get up before everyone else.  If you’re new to this, start small.  Start now.

For those of you who are married, are you praying with your spouse?  Every day?  If not, start small.  Start now.

Fathers, are you blessing your children every day?  If not, do it.  You represent Christ in your household, and your family needs you to set the example.  (Bless your wife too; she needs it.)

Are you accustomed to daily prayer already?  Consider adding Night Prayer.  There’s an excellent book, The Office of Compline, by Fr. Samuel Weber.  It’s in both Latin and English.  And it’s beautiful.  (Click HERE for it on Amazon.)

For those of you with children, are you praying with them every day?  If not, do it.  Consider a family rosary.

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 week or so.

800px-Artgate_Fondazione_Cariplo_-_Molteni_Giuseppe,_La_confessione.jpg
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.  Start now.  Give up one meal a week.

There are many ways to be creative with this one, by the way.  If you’re pregnant and cannot fast, consider eating one meal in a way that you wouldn’t like.  For example, you’re having an egg sandwich for breakfast, eat all three pieces separately – toast by itself, egg by itself, and cheese by itself.  It’s not as fun.  You get the idea.

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.

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.

May God bless you abundantly this Lent!