Christ-Like Minimalism

Reminiscing: Happier with Less

I grew up on a farm. No, wait, allow me to back up even further.

My great, great grandfather purchased an acreage in South Dakota where he raised his family in the early 1900s. Eventually this property was handed down to my father’s dad. In other words, my father grew up on this farm. He was the baby of the family–the eighth of eight.

Now my dad’s father was a tinkerer, smart with machines, and generous with everyone. Unfortunately, he was not clever with finances, and the family soon went into debt, by purchasing new-fangled tractors and equipment and snow mobiles and accessories… Even though they had the largest chicken operation in the state, which was housed in a most beautiful 3-story barn, they were sliding into ruin.

Then it happened. The State came, with police and trucks, and literally began hauling equipment and things away. The farm was forfeit, lost. As a young man, my father watched it all with wide eyes. His parents were forced to move off the family farm and into a trailer house in the nearest small town. It was earth-shattering and heartbreaking. My father would inherit nothing.

My Grandparents, who lost the family farm

Naturally it was a very difficult thing for the whole family, but fortunately, it did not tear the family apart. Only, my father vowed to never make the same mistakes as his father and thereafter became a very neat and organized man, for he just purchased his own new farm complete with a trailer house, a small shed, and and an old hog house.

This is the original little trailer house, situated on a new farm, that my parents bought in 1981. Humble beginnings, no?

That was a long introduction, and perhaps not getting to my point quickly enough. For why am I bothering with this?

Combining beans with my Dad and my sister. I’m on the left.

I want to illustrate that ever since I was a little girl, I was taught to be very careful with things, or possessions. I was taught that everything must be neat and clean and paid for. There was to be no chaos or clutter anywhere, and unused items were to be disposed of.

And I was happier for it. I wasn’t bogged down with an excessive closet of clothes or with a jumble of shoes on the floor. My car, when I got one, was expected to be spotless, otherwise I wasn’t mature enough to have one.

Mowing the lawn with Dad.

I was formed, in a way, for a minimalist life, and it has never been difficult for me to live with less.

This is not to say, however, that I’m the standard of perfection. Far from it. I have my faults and eccentricities. (I do own two sets of china that I have no intention of parting with. Not to mention my hundreds of books…) But I do try.

For example, earlier this year during Lent, I gave up lipstick because I didn’t want to be attached to it. I wanted to live more simply, and I’ve got to say, it was a relief to me and I’ve never gone back.

Currently I’m wondering how I can simplify my wardrobe. You know I’ve got about 5 everyday skirts for both a cold season and a warm season. But I’m wondering, is it all necessary? Since I like all my skirts to hit mid-calf anyway, why not just get rid of the “warm season” skirts? Ah, well, we’ll see.

I can say one thing, however, I have never regretted giving anything away, whether it be an unused end table or an extra kitchen utensil.

Less is better. (Unless, of course we’re talking about books!)

Carefree swimming with my cousins. I’m sitting in the pool up front.

Lastly…

I’ve been asked quite a bit about both Fr. Altman and Pope Francis’s latest Motu Proprio. If you’re interested, do check out Dr. Taylor Marshall on both accounts. I’ll link them HERE and HERE respectively.

If you’d like more about the implications for TLMers, Cameron O’Hearn interviews one of my favorite theologians, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski HERE.

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He Made It One More Sunday

It shouldn’t surprise me–the incredible amount of interest in the fate of Fr. Altman–but it does. For those of you who are interested, he made it one more Sunday at our parish. (Remember, this whole process could take awhile.)

Naturally our church was filled with visitors today, making Communion twice as long. Not that we cared. I spoke with one family that drove three hours with their five little children. Two old ladies, from somewhere far away, sat in front of us, asking my daughter to set their missal ribbons and loving every minute of it. I met two other families from California afterwards, and LifeSiteNews filmed it all.

Of course Father’s local, faithful families were there too. We wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

A Happy Trinity Sunday to all of you!

I’m sorry I don’t have any new photos this week, but as you can imagine, it’s nice to just be and pray at Mass.

P.S. I am going on vacation for a few days. It might be a week or two before I update here.

P.P.S. We’re moving into our Summer Schedule. I hope to write about that soon.

This photo is from a few weeks ago, but today’s vestments were the same for Trinity Sunday.

P.P.P.S. All right, I know this is a ridiculous number of post scripts, but I have to link to my sons’ favorite server video. Likely you’ve already seen it, as it’s a year old, but it’s hysterical. Watch it again for fun HERE.

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Father Altman’s Last Sunday?

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday–a glorious day in honor of the coming of the Holy Spirit. In spite of the great liturgical beauty, however, it was also heart-rending, as Father Altman announced that the bishop is requesting his resignation. Apparently there are powerful people out there who do not like Father’s clearcut teaching, and who are applying pressure on the local bishop to silence him.

I understand there is a canonical process to be followed, and things may still turn out favorable for our parish and Father, but we also know from John 15, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” We are not very hopeful.

The whole situation is rather ironic, though. A faithful priest, preaching the Truth, is silenced, while other vocal priests, preaching open heresy, are promoted and adored.

In the very end, Truth will prevail. It just might not be on this earth.

If you’d like more, click HERE for LifeSiteNews.

Photos From Pentecost Sunday

Father Altman silently praying the Sequence while the schola sings the corresponding verses in Latin.

I apologize for the haziness of the photos; it’s all that lovely incense, however.

Father always prays a thanksgiving after Mass with the altar servers. I cannot tell you how beautiful it is to witness this. How many priests take the time to pray a thanksgiving? Let alone with the altar servers? (Photo submitted by a reader.)

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Ascension Thursday, Not Sunday

Yesterday marked exactly 40 days since the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This is known as the feast of the Ascension. Since Easter Sunday is always on a Sunday, then the great feast of the Ascension, is always on a Thursday.

Since Vatican II, however, many dioceses have transferred the feast of the Ascension to the following Sunday. I think this does a disservice, however, to the faithful for at least two reasons, if not more.

  1. The original Holy Spirit Novena becomes muddled at best and completely lost at worst. You see, prior to ascending into heaven, Christ commanded the disciples to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which they did for nine days. (From Friday to the Vigil of Pentecost.) After praying for nine days, the Holy Spirit did indeed come. We name this feast Pentecost as it comes exactly 50 days after the Resurrection. (Pentecost meaning 50.) Moving the Ascension to Sunday, corrupts the original plea to pray for nine days. (The word novena comes from the Latin word for nine.)
  2. The Pascal Candle, which symbolizes the Risen Christ, loses significance. On Ascension Thursday, after the Gospel reading, the Pascal candle is extinguished. Remember, the Pascal Candle symbolizes the Risen Christ. Therefore, it should not remain lit once Christ ascends into heaven, which again, happens on a Thursday. This “extinguishing” serves as a reminder to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. If the feast day is moved, however, the candle loses significance.

There are others who have written at length about these things. If you want more, Fr. Z wrote a short bit HERE on the absurdity of Ascension “Thursday Sunday.”

Photos For Fun

I snapped a few shots yesterday of the Ascension Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman. Note the Pascal Candle and remember to begin praying the Holy Spirit Novena today!

Incensing the altar, prior to the Gospel reading.

The reading of the Gospel. Note the Pascal Candle off to the left, which is still lit.

Extinguishing the Pascal Candle* after the Gospel.

The Sanctus.

*The altar boys affectionately nicknamed our Pascal Candle “Terror of Demons,” after noting the prayer that “every evil device of Satan depart” at it’s blessing on Holy Saturday.

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The 8th Day: Low Sunday

Easter is so important that it gets an octave, or eight days, not just one. Easter Sunday, or High Sunday, is the first day of the octave and today, the eighth day, is the last Sunday–Low Sunday.

I love octaves. It’s the only time when “time” is suspended, as one day is drawn out over eight.

To make matters more complicated (or fun!) there are a few other names given to today too–Dominica in Albis and Quasimodo Sunday. The former is so called because the neophytes, or the newly baptized at Easter, would now lay aside their baptismal garments, which were white. The word “Dominica” has refers to the Lord’s Day and “albis” refers to the color white.

The name “Quasimodo” comes from the introit for today which reads, “Quasi modo geniti infants…” This means, “As newborn babes..” It was a common practice to refer to particular Masses by the opening words of the introit.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also Divine Mercy Sunday in the the New Calendar. Deo gratias!

In honor of this glorious day, I snapped a few photos of the Traditional Latin Mass at St. James the Less with Fr. Altman presiding.

The canon of the Mass.
The servers are about to pray the Confiteor before receiving Holy Communion.
The servers line up for the Last Gospel, which Fr. Altman reads in the background.
The Recessional

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Photo Post: All Souls’ Day TLM

This evening we attended a beautiful Missa Cantata for All Souls’ Day. It was a Requiem Mass celebrated by Fr. Altman.

If you’ve never attended a traditional Requiem Mass, I promise it’s worth whatever sacrifice one needs to make to get there–time, travel, enduring tired children, etc. The prayers alone are striking and heartrending. I’m thinking in particular of the Sequence, or the Dies Irae (Day of Wrath). Tonight, I was struck by verse 14, “Worthless are my prayers and sighing, Yet, good Lord, in grace complying, Rescue me from fires undying.”

For those of you who are interested, I will post a few photos and captions below.

St. James the Less Catholic Church, prior to the set-up for Requiem Mass.
The Catafalque, or empty coffin is prepared and candles are lit.
Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you shall return.
Praying prior to Mass, lights are still on.
Almost all lighting extinguished. Mass begins with, “Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.” Eternal rest give unto them, O Lord.

Praying the Dies Irae.
Father’s homily wherein he reminds us that the forces of Mordor are now moving. And we know who wins that war. (Tolkien, Lord of the Rings reference.)

The torchbearers enter and kneel for the Sanctus.

The Mass has ended. Father is putting on his cope for the Absolution, which are the final prayers at the bier or catafalque.

The Absolution.

Incensing the catafalque.

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Is Your Home Blessed?

Last January we moved 600 miles to a new home in a new state. Within a day or two, literally, I called the Church’s office and scheduled a home blessing with our priest, Father Altman. He came out within a few days and prayed the traditional blessing for homes and doused the place with Holy Water. And I mean doused every nook, cranny, and closet. Then he celebrated a TLM in the living room.

The place had been thoroughly sanctified.

This Fall, however, I noticed a few “Black Lives Matter” signs showing up in the neighborhood, along with those “We Believe” signs, wherein such slogans as “Science is Real” and “Love is Love” ramble on in rainbow colors. I thought about our 1 acre yard that hadn’t been blessed. It made me uncomfortable.

So, a few weeks ago, I called the Church office again. Would Father mind coming out to bless the yard, our two Mary statues, and a Jesus statue?

He came out on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and blessed an entire canister of salt and a container of Holy Water in Latin, according to the Old Rite with all the sweet exorcisms. Then he prayed from the Rituale Romanum, and we processed around the perimeter of the whole yard and sanctified the property. He ended with celebrating another TLM in our living room.

Blessing the yard.
Prayers after Mass. (The boys served.)

Dear Readers, if you haven’t had your house blessed, you should really get it done while you can. Don’t delay on something so important. And if your priest will do it, ask for the Old Rite. It’s richer. Do the homework and compare the prayers; you’ll be astonished at what was left out in the later Book of Blessings.

If you’d like more information about the use of Latin or English, click HERE for Fr. Z’s explanation. Or, if you’d like to hear Fr. Altman explain the difference in blessing Holy Water according the Old Rite and the New in an interview with Patrick Coffin, click HERE and skip to 1 hour 28 minutes.

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Rosary Rally for Fr. Altman

We attended, as usual, Fr. Altman’s 11:30 TLM this morning.  As we pulled up, a half an hour early because the boys were serving, we noticed the crowds milling about outside–men in suits, ladies in dresses, veils blowing in the wind, and little children running everywhere.

Of course we expected a larger crowd, as the Rosary Rally was later in the afternoon, but this was something!  Since moving to the area, today’s Mass was the fullest I’ve ever seen it.

Prior to Mass, I had to take the 2-year-old to the bathroom and was met with a fifteen minute line, which was interesting.  A woman from Colorado had driven all night with her family and was apologizing for her red eyes.  Moms from Montana were straightening out their dresses.  An old lady from northern Wisconsin was chatting with some Minnesotans about stumbling upon Fr. Altman and thanking the Lord for his courage and witness.

Well, anyway, we eventually made it back to our pew for Mass–it was a beautiful High Mass with all the bells and smells and eight altar boys.  I thought the Collect was especially striking:

Let Thy continual pity, O Lord, cleanse and defend Thy Church: and because it cannot continue in safety without Thee, may it ever be governed by Thy goodness.

And how was Fr. Altman’s homily, which was not live, due to restrictions put forth by Bishop Callahan?

It was short and surprisingly, nonpolitical.  He seemed tired, and my heart went out to him, as I have some idea of how this week went for him.  The office was bombarded with phone calls, emails, and letters–most of which, I understand, were positive and encouraging, but the few that weren’t, were vile and disgusting.  New measures of safety were taken this last week, and anybody who was paying attention at Mass will have noticed a few gentlemen monitoring the activity of all present.

In any case, after Mass I found myself visiting with a young lady from Chicago.  She and her father drove here to support Fr. Altman and were presently on their way to the Rosary Rally, where Fr. Heilman would be leading the community in prayer.  We, too, were loading up the van and driving straight to the Cathedral, for what kind of crowd would we find there?

We weren’t disappointed.  We parked a few blocks away and followed the dads and moms and teenagers and babies and grandmas and grandpas and you-name-it.  The crowd wrapped around the Cathedral block.  When Fr. Heilman showed up, cheers and clapping erupted on both sides of the street and everyone attempted to move closer.  The local TV/News station filmed it all.  I think they were about the only ones wearing masks.  And there certainly wasn’t any social distancing.  (We’re all family, right?)

Fr. Heilman spoke movingly about watching Fr. Altman’s videos and feeling, sensing in his gut that here was something.  This was truth–finally!  He knew he had to back Fr. Altman.  He compared our whole insane situation in the Catholic Church, with its very few courageous leaders, to those brave men who sacrificed their lives on the beaches of Normandy.

Indeed, he told the story of his sister-in-law’s father, who fought on those beaches and survived.  That man found himself in the chapel of a bombed-out palace.  As he was crawling to safety, he came across a large crucifix, which was lying on its face.  He reached out, turned Jesus over, and something fell out of the skullcap.  He thought it might be something important, so he put it in his pocket.  Later, back in the States, he found that he had saved a relic of the True Cross.

At that moment, Fr. Heilman unveiled that very relic.  We fell to our knees, and then Fr. Heilman began reciting the rosary.

I’d like to say it was a deeply prayerful moment for me, but alas, I have seven children.  One was digging in the gutter and another was piling leaves on someone’s car.  A drone was humming overhead videoing the whole thing.  Others with video equipment were strolling about, filming the crowds.  And my knees ached from kneeling on concrete.  (I’m such a wimp.)

Nevertheless, I was happy to be there–happy to support Fr. Altman.  May more priests find the same courage to speak out.

Here we are, meeting up with friends, in front of the Cathedral.
Entering the crowds.
Fr. Heilman reveals the relic of the True Cross, saved from WWII.

Lastly, if you haven’t had a chance to watch Dr. Taylor Marshall’s recent interview with Fr. Altman, click HERE. It’s excellent and worth your time.

Life is Worth Living

Rainy Days

It has been raining here for the last 3 days. This gets to be a bit much for someone unfortunately affected by coldness and wetness and cloudiness. Blech.

The children, however, don’t mind the rain as much. Here they are, between rainfalls, fascinated by all the water.

Then add to the perpetual dreariness of the weather the state of our culture…ah, not an uplifting combination, especially for those of us following the plight of Fr. James Altman.

Many of you know that he’s our pastor here in Wisconsin. If you think of it, remember him in your prayers, as he’s being harassed with truly vile and despicable emails and phone calls, as he becomes internationally known for his courageous stand against Democrats. (See HERE for his inspiring video.)

Thankfully, not all the publicity is negative, however. Bishop Stickland of Tyler, Texas, has publicly supported him. Praise God. I understand there’s to be a Rosary Rally at the Cathedral in La Crosse this Sunday at 2pm to show support for Father, too. We’ll be there.

Again, may God and His Holy Angels protect St. James the Less Parish, Fr. Altman, and the surrounding area.

So, what am I doing today, in these Dark Times?

Naturally, we’re doing our normal prayers and school work for the day, but then, we just had to take an hour off this morning. We drove in the rain to a local coffee shop and bought cappuccinos, for who doesn’t like something hot on a cold, dreary day? We delivered one to my husband, who greeted us with a big smile. Then, we drove home and blasted Maria Van Trapp (Julie Andrews) singing I Have Confidence. It was an uplifting drive.

Prior to all the rain, we spent a few hours at one of our local apple orchards picking apples, eating apples, and running through the corn maze. Perhaps if the rain clears, we’ll go again this weekend.

Enjoying Van Lin Orchards.

I learned how to can tomatoes a few days ago. It was a messy, but fun ordeal. My mom instructed me and my sister-in-law on how to make pasta sauce, salsa, and stewed tomatoes. Thank you, Mom!

My sister-in-law is peeling tomatoes. I was chopping peppers and onions to boil with the pureed tomatoes.
Here’s our “Stockpile” in the basement. Notice the jars of canned tomatoes; they’re 3 deep.

Anyone else have any ideas for pleasant outings or doings?

P.S. WordPress changed many settings on me the other day. Please excuse any editing issues, as I work my way through a new system. Ugh! Technology.