Call Me Catholic

Passion Sunday is Coming

Passion Sunday is only a few days away.  Get your purple cloth ready!

Here’s a shot of our mantel from last year:

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In our home, I only veil the images where we gather as a family to pray, which happens to be the living room.

Passion Sunday is also Judica Sunday

On Passion Sunday, Psalm 42 is highlighted in the Introit and pleadingly states,

“Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man: for Thou art God my strength.”

“Judica” is the latin word for “judge,” which is where we get the name.

If you’ll remember in the TLM, Psalm 42 is also prayed every Sunday during the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, but on Passion Sunday these prayers are omitted and will not return until Easter Sunday.  This is something like the Gloria and the Alleluia, which disappeared earlier, however, at the beginning of the “Gesima” Sundays.  All of these are omitted because they are associated with the Paschal joy of the Risen Christ.

In other words, we have this stripping away of Pascal references in order to sharpen our awareness of Christ’s Passion, which is why we refer to these final two weeks of Lent as Passiontide.

It’s beautiful how it all comes together.

Veiling of Images for Passiontide

My children always look forward to Passion Sunday, if only to see the images disappear from our fireplace mantel and the church.

All statuary in St. James the Less are veiled for Passiontide, except those way, way up high on the crossbeam.

This tradition of veiling images began sometime in the ninth century to reflect the readings of the TLM.  For example, the Gospel for Passion Sunday is always John 8 wherein the Jews take up stones to cast at Jesus, but he mysteriously passes through the crowd unseen and then hides.  Therefore, the veiling of images reminds us that Christ’s Divinity was hidden at the time of His Passion and death.

Think about that for a minute.  Again, it’s astounding how all these things come together.  Of course His Divinity was hidden!  Otherwise everyone would have believed, not just that centurion at the foot of the cross.

Secondly, veiling also strips us of visual stimuli.  Throughout the year we may become accustomed to looking at and praying with our crucifixes and icons, and so taking them away for a time helps us paradoxically to become more aware of them.

Seriously, I’m always excited for Easter Sunday for the obvious reasons, but then, how exciting to see these beautiful statues again!

Give It a Try

If you’ve never veiled your images at home before, give it a try.  It’s pretty easy to do.  I just bought a yard of purple cloth at Hobby Lobby and cut it into squares.  I’ve also heard of families using purple tissue paper in a pinch.

And speaking of veiling…

Ah, what a lovely thing to do for love of Jesus. Dear ladies, have you ever tried veiling yourself? We, too, “hide” ourselves to be only visible to Him.

Christ-Like Minimalism

Decluttering For Lent

I’ve been trying to declutter a few areas of my life for Lent–spiritually and physically. I want to get rid of the noise. You know, the things that keep me from hearing Jesus.

In prayer, I’m often distracted and don’t even realize it. For example, when I’m praying the psalms in the morning, I’m not thinking about them. I’m thinking about my coffee. Or the sick kid, or my grocery list, or the hole in my sock. Anything, but what the psalmist is trying to say to me. I need to get better at listening.

I want to be intentional. I want to be present to Jesus everywhere, at all times.

Then there are the things or the “stuff” of my life. How many cookbooks do I own and never consult? Do I really need more than five skirts per season? How many nights a week should one have a glass of wine?

Or better yet–one that hurts a little–why do I like bright lipstick so much? Why? Is it perhaps because I’m vain?

Alas! I have so many attachments.

And little by little, I’m asking Jesus to scrape away the filth and the clutter, which reminded me of a true story I wrote about a couple of years ago. It’s about a family whose house burned down. I’ll post the whole thing below.

The Family Whose House Burned Down

A few years ago a local family lost their entire house to a fire.  It was devastating, as they only escaped with the clothes on their backs.  Somehow I got wind of it all and heard that they were living in hotel room and were asking for household supplies to start over again.

So I thought, what can I give?  I went to the basement and grabbed our extra suitcase.  (I thought they might as well have that.)  And I began to fill it.  I had an extra quilt.  I had a whole set of unused kitchen towels.  I had a few kids’ games that were never used.  I found so many things that I filled the suitcase and had to get a garbage bag.

Then I found my beautiful set of extra silverware that I had never used.  I held the wooden box in my hands.  It was a gift that someone had given to us for our wedding.  I didn’t want to part with it, partly because I worried about what that person would think should she find out and partly because the set was complete and like I said, beautiful.

I started to put it back on the shelf, but something inside me said no.  This lovely silverware set was not meant for me.  It was meant for this poor family, and so in the end I gave it too.

The next day I drove over to the hotel and gave them my things.  The mother of the family was so thankful.  So thankful.  But you know what?  I was the one who was thankful for the opportunity to give.  I walked away with Love burning in my heart.

Of course when we simplify or declutter our homes and give things away, we don’t always get to see who might benefit from it all.  But that one time I did get to see.  And it was worth it.

But it is always worth it, no matter what.  For giving our things away teaches us detachment from them, and more importantly, it teaches us Love.

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.

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.
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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.

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

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

My Big, Fat, Shove Tuesday

Today is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which in years past was known as Shrove Tuesday.  Shrove comes from “shrive,” which means to rid oneself of one’s sins and seek penance.

In other words, have you gone to confession lately?  No?  Now’s the time!

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Go to Confession!

Nowadays we think of the day before Ash Wednesday as Fat Tuesday, wherein one eats all foods that used to be verboten during Lent: butter, eggs, fat…candy, desserts, all things richly decadent, etc., etc.

This morning, after a breakfast of toast and strudel, we drove over to Caribou and ordered Turtle Mochas for all the children and a Mint Condition for me.  It was delicious.

Tomorrow, however, we can kiss those sweets goodbye for a time.

Are you ready for Lent?

And Just For Fun:

Here are few photos from the last week or so.

Photo #1:  The New Triple Bunkbed

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The boys have been sleeping on the floor ever since we moved here because their bed hadn’t come yet.  We had ordered this Fun Thing from Wayfair, but it took a few weeks to get here.  The little girls are ragingly jealous of it.  They want one too.

Photo #2:  Kids Skipping Along With Their Cousins

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The kids’ cousins came to visit.  Of course we took them to see the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Photo #3:  My Sister

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My sister drove all the way here and surprised me with a visit.  It was fun.

Photo #4:  My Sister Without Coffee  😉

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We had such a great time together with my brother.  I love you both.  Even without your coffee in the morning!  And even if you wear SDSU gear in Wisconsin…goodness.  One could get beat up around here for that.

Photo #4:  Grandma, Grandpa, and Another Aunt

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My husband’s family came to visit too.  Guess where we took them?*

We also went hiking at Great River Bluffs State Park.  I can’t wait to do that again.  It’s very lovely.

Photo #5:  Some of the Children Enjoying Fat Tuesday

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They were singing songs and dancing.

See you in Lent!

 

 

 

*Naturally we took them to the Shrine.  Have you been there yet?

 

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.

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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 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.

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Jomo and Silent Retreats

Jomo What??

The other day I came across a curious acronym – JOMO.

Now I know that some of you are much more up-to-date on these things than I am, so you likely have an idea of what it stands for.  For the rest of you (and me) it means: Joy of Missing Out.  It’s a play on the famous “Fomo,” Fear of Missing Out.

This caught my attention because my husband and I joke about Fomo every time we get a new email suggesting another activity for our children, or I listen to another podcast about someone else’s family doing great things out in the world.

Now don’t misunderstand me, I am glad that extra activities exist, and I am glad that other families do great things, but I also know that I’ve got to be comfortable with where we’re at and not fear missing out.

This is where Jomo comes in.  For it’s true, there is great joy in missing out.  We say no to many things and prefer to be together as a family.  Instead of running our children to multiple sporting events or musical performances, we limit these things and stay home.  Our children ice skate in the backyard and build snow forts.  We have friends over for coffee.  We pray the rosary together every evening.  We play Up and Down the River with gummy bears.  We laugh with our children.

No, our home isn’t always peaceful.  Quite the contrary.  Most evenings someone’s crying or whining.  My point is that family life seems to have been lost or tossed aside in this modern world, and it’s worth fighting for.  It’s worth it, to be home with the children in a meaningful way.

So the next time you’re tempted to say yes to another commitment, maybe pause a moment to reflect.  Will this bring joy to your lives?  Or will it result in more running?

Silent Retreats

One beautiful thing you might consider doing this Lent is signing up for a silent retreat.

As we’re now in the middle of Lent, and most of us are trying to step it up a notch, I want to strongly encourage all of you to sign up for a silent retreat this year.

You all know how important it is to step back in silence from time-to-time to be with God.  I’m sure I don’t need to convince you.  The hardest part, however, is actually going.  Of course Satan hates silent retreats.  He’ll do anything to prevent you from spending time with God.  In fact, retreat masters will often tell you to expect all kinds of obstacles to appear, especially at the last minute.

Let me give you an example.  Two years ago I was signed up to attend a private silent retreat with a small group of mothers, but just hours before the retreat was to begin, our Retreat Master was forced to cancel.  So we were left wondering if we should still go, without a Retreat Master?  Well, we decided yes.  After all, what harm could come from spending time alone with God for a weekend, even if it wasn’t directed?  And I am so glad we did!  For God always provides, and He sent an excellent priest at the last minute to replace the previous one.  We had a Shepherd and the Sacraments.

In any case, you all need to go on retreat, or into the desert, if you like.  And since I can’t ever get enough of Cardinal Sarah, I’ll leave you with a quotation from his book The Power of Silence.”

It is vitally important to withdraw to the desert in order to combat the dictatorship of a world filled with idols that gorge themselves on technology and material goods, a world dominated and manipulated by the media, a world that flees God by taking refuge in noise.

Did you read that?  It is vitally important!

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This is a life-changing book.

Cardinal Sarah

Cardinal Sarah has two of the greatest books ever written out now – God or Nothing and The Power of Silence.  Buy a copy for yourself and your priest.  You won’t regret it.
I understand he’s got a third book in print too, but it hasn’t been translated into English yet.  When it is, I’ll be sure to get it.

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Now here’s a Man of God, let me tell you.  This book is awesome.

 

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

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.

Book Review

Book Review: Perfectly Yourself by Matthew Kelly

A while back a friend of mine gave me Matthew Kelly’s latest book Perfectly Yourself, so I read it over Lent.  It was exactly what I needed.

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Let me begin by quoting a funny, but insightful passage from the book:

I have seven brothers, and as you can imagine, as children we could be quite a handful from time to time.  When we went altogether too far, my mother would send us all to the laundry room.  That meant we were going to get a spanking, usually with a wooden spoon.  We couldn’t all fit into the laundry room , so some of us would sit around outside.  Nobody wanted to be first, because everybody knew she would be tired by the time she got to the end, but sometimes she started with those inside the laundry room and sometimes with those outside.
Having sent us to the laundry room, my mother would then go and make herself a cup of coffee and sit at the kitchen table and drink it slowly before coming to spank us.  I asked her several years later why she used to do this, and she told me that she used to get so angry at times and that she never wanted to beat us out of anger, but she needed to spank us out of love.

This passage really struck me.  How many times do I discipline my children out of anger and frustration?  (Click HERE for my post on Yelling.)  All the time.  Sigh.  I’m always confessing it and always vowing to improve, but am I really working on this?  Nope.  Kelly convinced me that I need an action plan.

Thumbing Noses

Now I know that in some circles Kelly is scoffed at.  I’ve personally come across it, and I’m not really sure why.  Perhaps for some he’s not “Catholic” enough in his approach to writing and speaking?  For it is true; he appeals to all kinds of people – Christians and nonChristians alike.  I guess I would argue that it’s not his mission to explain or defend Catholic doctrine and theology, but rather, his mission is to inspire everyone to live better lives, which is appealing to all people, at all times.

And I need to hear his message from time to time.  And I need his practical advice, which this book gives.  If you find yourself in a similar position, I strongly recommend reading Perfectly Yourself.  This is not a book to thumb your nose at.  Rather, put your nose in it, and read it.

By the way this book isn’t all about discipling your children either.  It’s set up as nine chapters or lessons that help you take a good, hard look at your habits and lifestyle.  Kelly encourages you to do the next right thing.  He wants you to grow in virtue.  He tells you to simplify your life and quit with all the worrying.  And all along there are practical suggestions and interesting stories.  It’s truly inspiring.

Like Matthew Kelly?

My brother, Rodney,  is a avid Matthew Kelly fan.  In fact he’s an ambassador for Kelly’s Dynamic Catholic program.  (Click HERE for the Dynamic Catholic website.)  Rodney insists that it was Kelly’s website, daily videos, and books that saved him from the cesspools of our culture.

I asked him what he thought of Kelly’s work.  He said, “Nobody teaches you anything any more.  You go to Mass, which is of course a good thing, but it’s meaningless unless you know what’s going on.  And I was sick and tired of not knowing anything.  Then I came across Kelly’s books and website, and they are the best thing ever.  And he’s not boring.  It’s all engaging.”  And Rodney went on and on and on…  This all coming from a young man with a rocky past – a marriage, two children, a divorce, and an annulment – all by the age of 27.

My point is that Kelly’s writing appeals to all walks of life.

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I also recommend all three of these Kelly books, especially The Seven Levels of Intimacy.  My husband and I read that one together.  It was excellent.  It inspired us to have regular Date Nights.

 

Call Me Catholic

Good Friday, Allegri, and A White Easter

Today is Good Friday.

Now I know that I ought to be focused on the passion and death of Jesus Christ, and I am, but I am also a mother.  Therefore, I must plan ahead for my family accordingly.  And this entails preparing any necessary music that my family will want to sing and listen to for the appropriate liturgical seasons.

So today, our family will listen to Allegri’s Miserere Mei, Deus.  (Click HERE for it on YouTube.)

This piece has an interesting history, by the way.  It’s title comes from Psalm 51 and means, “Have mercy on me, O God.”  It was composed in the seventeenth century and was reserved exclusively for use in the Sistine Chapel during Lent.  In other words, nobody else was allowed to use it anywhere.  Well, the story goes that 14-year-old, smarty-pants Mozart was visiting the Vatican during Lent and heard this song performed.  He simply went home, copied it out from memory, and that was that.

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Michelangelo’s Last Judgement.  This beautiful fresco can be found in the Sistine Chapel, where Allegri’s Miserere Mei, Deus used to only ever be sung.

And now for Easter.

I know that you are all familiar with Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas.”  But maybe you’re not familiar with the Easter version?  My children began singing this a few days ago, so I thought I’d send it along, so that you might have a new song to sing Easter Sunday.  This song is especially appropriate for those of you living in colder climates, like mine, where it snows forever and ever.  Amen.

White Easter by Kim Heilman & Kids

I’m dreaming of a white Easter,
just like the ones in North Dakota.
Where the Easter Bunny skis and children listen
to hear Alleluias at the Mass.

I’m dreaming of a white Easter
with every Easter basket I fill.
“May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Easters be white!”