Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Pressed Petal

The Forsythia bush is also known as the Easter bush

Hail Holy Queen!

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed art thou among women...."

Along with the blossoming flowers and the warmer spring air, May is first and foremost a month devoted to the Queen of Heaven.  Ven. Teresita Gonzalez Quevedo had a particular devotion to Our Lady, as shown in the book, Mary Was Her Life, and each May she became more silent, self-sacrificing,and intent on offering herself in little acts of generosity. What an example for each of us! 

The Rosary is a special prayer designed by Our Lady herself to offer us protection, grace, and strength to do the will of God.  St. Louis de Montfort says, "“Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood.”  Pope Blessed Piux IX also put his trust in this heavenly weapon by stating, "give me an army who says their Rosary, and I will conquer the world."

I think its particularly important for families to say their Rosary every night....and not just individually, but as a family.  "When two or more gather in my name, there I will be also." (Matt. 18:20)  A family that prays together, stays together. 

Let's renew our efforts this month to grow closer to our Mother Most Holy.  It is through Her Immaculate Heart, that we will most surely find our way to Jesus.
Promises for Reciting of the Daily Rosary:

1.  Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive single graces.
2.  I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3.  The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4.  The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5.  The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
6.  Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
7.  Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8.  Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9.  I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination

A Little Bookworm

 "No man can be called friendless who has God, and a good book to read." -Elizabeth Barrett Browning

If you are like Violet and I, books are a necessity of life.  Without a good book resting on our bedside table, and another one on our coffee table, and another one in our purse, and another in the car.....etc. etc. etc....(all of which we ARE actually reading from!), life as we know it would simply cease.  There's a charm about books that is totally unlike anything you'll ever encounter elsewhere.  Sure, you can watch a movie, you can listen to music, you can write....but that's never quite like the feeling you get when you nestle down, open the pages of a book, and allow the words to engulf your mind and fill your heart.  When I was a little girl, my favorite thing to do was take a good book, and go find a quiet spot someplace all alone to read.  Sometimes that was sitting on the porch.  Sometimes it was finding a tree half hidden in the woods with a branch that God must have created specifically for me and my book.  Or sometimes it was just laying on my bed next to an open window, breathing in the fresh air and the marvelous world of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, or C.S. Lewis. 

I'm excited for my daughter to get to the age where she too can appreciate the world of books.  Though only 5 months old, I already have begun instituting her little library collection.  Everything from board books of learning colors and opposites, to Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I want her to enjoy escaping into the world of Imagination just as much as I did. (and still do)

Recently, I stumbled across a site that offered discount books! (there's our favorite"d" word:!) offers a variety of ficition, history, children's books and much more at half off the usual price!  So whether you're looking for a book for your children, a new cookbook, or a special gift for a friend, this is a very handy website to add to your favorites!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Today is such a special day
For many may not know
That there is a celebration
Which began some years ago.

Yes the Royal Wedding
May be happening today
Yet there is quite another
Who deserves a huge "Hooray!"

To our precious little Violet
Won't you help me to say
We wish you all the best
Happy, Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Violet!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Under the Umbrella

I really should be grading papers right now, but it's been rainy and gloomy for weeks, and I need a mini-break!

We're studying "watery earth" in my 4th grade class right now, so I have been especially aware of what the weather has been doing lately. (We even went on a field trip to a water reclamation center, which was fascinating!) Right now I am drinking a hot cup of tea to try to prevent any sick bugs from sticking to me. The fact that I have not caught an illness yet is a miracle what with my severe lack of sleep and nutrition and excess of stress!

Somehow over the last few minutes, I've developed the urge to become the owner of an ultra-chic umbrella. I've also made the discovery that in order to find a truly feminine and classy umbrella, one must go to England. They certainly have a monopoly on cute "brollies" (British speak for umbrella).

Check out this amazing rain gear! If I could sport one of these, I would hope it rained every day! But then I'd also develop a sudden urge to find the perfect pair of Wellies...

This is the INSIDE of the umbrella!

The Recipe Box

"Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all." Harriet Van Horne

Looking for something yummy and delicious to do with Chicken??  This very healthy Chicken recipe is delicious!  I made it for my hubby last night, and we really found it tasty.  A few things I did differently--I marinated it in balsamic vinegar all day; also diced up the tomato to scatter on top of the chicken rather than keeping it whole (but you could also use canned diced tomatoes if you didn't have whole), and I used minced garlic rather than garlic cloves.  You could also scatter olives and feta cheese on top if you wanted.  We served it with Sweet Potato and broccoli, a little salad...and whaaallaaa!  A delicious, healthy meal to indulge in!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Morning Moments

I'm sitting at my kitchen table, (with every candle in the house lit to try chasing those evil smells away from my daughter's diapers!) and thought maybe it was time for another "morning chat".   Actually, if the truth be known, my husband was on my blog a few days ago, (yes, he reads it!), and suggested making some posts about day to day living in our house.  When I brought up the argument that most people probably didn't want to hear the complainings, ventings, etc of an ordinary housewife/mother...he reminded me that THAT was exactly why Violet and I had started this blog in the first place!  Not to "complain and vent" per say, but to share our experiences and let other, in my case mothers, know they aren't alone out there. 
So, if you care to....light a cozy candle, pick out one of your favorite mugs, make a pot of tea (or coffee!), and join me for a little morning chat!

This Easter was our second Easter being married, and our first Easter as parents!  And I have to tell you, I felt like a little kid again making up a basket for my husband of all his favorite things, and dressing my daughter up in her pretty purple Easter dress and bonnet. (not to mention the bloomers underneath!)  I wish I could say we enjoyed a gorgeous, blessed Mass....but I really can't, as I spent almost all of it outside the church on the front steps with a shrieking daughter who thinks, at five months, she's should be able to try her hand at walking.  No she can't walk yet....key word being yet....but I swear she's going to skip the whole "crawling phase" and head straight to running.  That child doesn't know the definition of --sitting still---!  But then again, that's how I was as a child so apparently God is having some fun making me feel my parent's pain!  I had to constantly remind myself that God knows the wishes of my heart to attend Mass fully, and that I'm receiving just as much grace in pacing the outside steps of the Church with my squirming baby, as I would kneeling there in prayer.  Praise the Lord for an understanding Heavenly Father! (and a helpful husband who's willing to share the load!)

We enjoyed a lovely day with my in-laws, and a delicious Easter dinner complete with Romanian wine brought back by my sister-in-law, and a ham we nicknamed "Bob" due to its enourmous size!  (which by the way..never do that; never name the meat you are about to eat. Far too personal afterwards, I must say!)  As the holidays come and go, and we, as a married couple spend them with each of our families, its interesting to see the different ways each family has of making the day special.  I do admit, it was an adjustment at first for me. Afterall, you spend years celebrating a holiday a certain way, and then all of a sudden, it changes!  But with my husband's help, I've come to realize that marriage is about opening your mind to different perspectives, and having the ability to take a little from both worlds in order to form your own.  Monday was spent with my family, and my little Lilybug met her great grandparents for the first time!  Naturally, she put on her best behavior, right up until the food was served.  I think she feels a little left out that she ends up with a stupid bottle of milk when everyone around her is chowing down on ham, cornbread, and beans!  I can't say that I blame her though!  Naturally, at each family's house, there was enough chocolate, candy, and deserts to make everyone feel fat!  (but my goodness, it was delicious!)

Its amazing to me how the holidays come alive when there's a child in the house.  Lilybug is ony 5 months, but brings out the "hidden child" in everyone. My husband and I have spent a great amount of time discussing how we want to raise our children, what traditions we want to carry on for them,  how we plan to make the spiritual, true meaning of holidays the focual point...and we both agreed it makes us so excited for Lilybug to get to an age where we can start sharing our Faith with her!  I realize that it won't always be easy, and though its a terrifying thought that this little soul is in our hands to fashion and mold for the glory of God, having a child has brought us both closer to our Faith, in preparation for passing that Faith on to our next generation.  A huge responsibility, but one we are eager to begin!
Well, I suppose since I've finished my cup of Chocolate Mint Oolong tea (which according to my sister-in-law, is supposed to be good for weight loss!), and my little Monkey is awake from her oh so long nap, that's my cue to bring my "morning moment" to a close.  I wish you all a very blessed and holy Easter week and may Our Lady, Mother of all, grant all of you the grace to persevere in your own day to day struggles!

Enjoy your day!

Here are a few Easter pictures to share!

The Little "Easter Lily"

"Mommy, when can WE get a piano??"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Pressed Petal

The Evening Primrose is also known as the Easter Candle

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Christ the Lord is Risen!  Alleluia, Alleluia! 

Happy Easter to all!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Painting a Picture

Holy Saturday dawns.  The apostles awake in the deepest mourning, hoping as they begin to open their eyes that yesterday's events were all just a bad dream.  Maybe Jesus is still among them.  Maybe the cruel torments and the horrendous Crucifixion never really took place.  Yes, that's it!  Jesus is not dead; any moment now, He will walk into their presence and preach some mystical and symbolic reason for why they dreamt such a horrible dream concerning His death.  But thankfully, it was only a dream!  Wasn't it?  They open their bloodshot, tear-stained eyes only to have the full reality slam down upon them.  Jesus is not here.  Jesus was crucified....and is no longer among them.

Their grief escalates to the highest degree, as they bury their heads among each other, weeping for their loss.  Glancing about the room, where only days before they had celebrated so gloriously the new Passover, they feel alone...the room is empty without their Master to comfort them.  They tremble with fear.  Will the Romans now come searching for them??  Will they also be put to death for following the Lord Jesus?  The atmosphere about the room is one of trepidation and anxiety; all unsure what to do next.

Yet in the same building, in an adjacent room, sits one who keeps a vigil of sorrow, yet not without a confident expectancy.  She bows her head in prayer, and upon her knees she offers all her sufferings to her Son, asking Him to comfort the hearts of His beloved apostles.  The Most Holy Virgin waits.  She gazes upon that bare altar where the Most Holy Species of Her Son's Body and Blood had rested, and she waits and prays.

She remembers the promise her Son made to them concerning His Passion and death...the promise that His apostles have forgotten in their grief.  "...and on the third day, the Son of Man will rise again."  On the third day....

For now, they have only to wait and pray.  Wait, and pray.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Pressed Petal

The fascinating Passion Flower ("Passiflora") became known to the West around A.D. 1610, when an Augustinian friar named Emmanuel de Villegas visited Rome from Mexico, bringing drawings to Jacomo Bosio, a monk who was writing a treatise on Christ's Passion. Bosio looked at the drawings, but was tentative about including mention or drawings of them in his narrative as they looked so strange he figured the drawings given to him must be exaggerated. But more drawings came, and visiting Mexican Jesuits assured him that the flowers were quite real. He saw... 
  • In the flower's three bracts, a symbol of the Trinity 
  • In its corona filaments, the Crown of Thorns,
  • In its stigma, the 3 nails and the column at which Christ was scourged.
  • In the stamens as "five spots or stains of the hue of blood evidently setting forth five wounds received by our Lord on the Cross." 
  • The leaves of the plant are shaped like St. Longinus's spear, and their undersides bear round spots signifying the 30 pieces of silver for which Christ was betrayed by Judas.  
  • The flowers opened for 1 day, and then closed back up into their bell-like shapes. This, was similar to "in His infinite wisdom it pleases Him to create it thus, shut up and protected, as though to indicate that the wonderful mysteries of the Cross and of His Passion were to remain hidden from the heathen people of these countries until the time preordained by His highest Majesty."

There are over 600 species of Passiflora (some with edible fruits -- "passion fruit"), so they come in all colors -- white, yellow, pink, red, purple, blue. They are found all over the world. Passiflora is known in Spanish not only as "flor passionis," but as "flor de las cinco llagas" -- "flower of the five wounds."

From Mary Gardens 

The Pieta

This is my favorite depiction of Christ's Passion. The French artist, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, used his wife as model for the Blessed Mother and the angels, which is why they look so similar. This painting is especially moving because it was painted in 1876 just after Bouguereau lost his own son and infant daughter. Just a year after it was painted, his wife and infant son followed them in death. The brushstrokes seem to be painted by someone who knew this kind of grief intimately.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Would You Not Watch One Hour With Me?

One of my favorite memories in college was having the opportunity to attend Maundy Thursday Mass. My first experience with the traditional services, I was amazed to watch the priest actually washing the stinky feet of 12 young men of the parish. The humility of this act was astonishing. The gymnasium of the college was packed shoulder-to-shoulder, one could feel the "excitement" in the air that echoed what the Apostles may have felt during that Last Supper. The stripping of the decorated altar after Mass was striking. The bare and sudden coldness of the church was overwhelming. The Passion begins.

Immediately after Mass, hundreds of people filed out to walk solemnly to the chapel, which acted as an altar of repose for the Blessed Sacrament. This tradition stems from Our Lord asking "Could you not watch one hour with Me?"

This year, I am not fortunate enough to be able to attend Mass-- one more sacrifice to add to the till before Sunday! I was surprised to learn that there are even more Holy Thursday customs in other countries:

  •  Some faithful wake up in the middle of the night to make visits to keep a spiritual vigil in the Garden of Gethsemani with Jesus.
  • In Germany, Maundy Thursday is known as "Green Thursday" (Grundonnerstag), and the traditional foods are green vegetables and green salad, especially a spinach salad. 
  • In Latin countries, Jordan almonds ("confetti") are eaten today and also throughout Eastertide. 
  • When the Kings and Queens of England were Catholic, they would also wash the feet of 12 subjects,  as an example of service and humility. They would also give money to the poor on this day, a practice is said to have begun with St. Augustine of Canterbury in A.D. 597, and performed by Kings since Edward II. Today the footwashing isn't done (it was given up in the 18th c.), but a special coin called "Maundy Money" is minted and given to the selected elderly of a representative town.
On this day, a plenary indulgence can be gained by reciting the Tantum Ergo,
a hymn written by St. Thomas Aquinas.
Will you not watch one hour with Him?

On this Holy Thursday

"O my daughter!  would that the believers in the holy Catholic faith opened their hardened and stony hearts in order to attain to a true understanding of the sacred and mysterious blessing of the holy Eucharist!  If they would only detach themselves, root out and reject their earthly inclinations, and, restraining their passions, apply themselves with living faith to study by the divine light their great happiness in thus possessing their eternal God in the holy Sacrament and in being able, by its reception and constant intercourse, to participate in the full effects of this heavenly manna!  If they would only worthily esteem this precious gift, begin to taste its sweetness, and share in the hidden power of their omnipotent God!  Then nothing would ever be wanting to them in their exile.  In this, the happy age of the law of grace, mortals have no reason to complain of their weakness and their passion; since in this bread of heaven they have at hand strength and health. It matters not that they are tempted and persecuted by the demon; for receiving this Sacrament frequently they are enable to overcome him gloriously. 

...I tell thee truly, my dearest, that Lucifer and his demons have such a fear of the most holy Eucharist, that to approach it, causes them more torment than to remain in hell itself.  Although they do enter churches in order to tempt souls, they enter them with aversion,. forcing themselves to endure cruel pains in the hope of destroying a soul and drawing it into sin, especially in the holy places and in the presence of the Holy Eucharist.  Their wrath against the Lord and against the souls alone could induce them to expose themselves to the torment of his real sacramental presence.

...Whenever He is carried through the streets they usually fly and disperse in all haste; and they would not dare to approach those that accompany Him, if by their long experience they did not know, that they will induce some to forget the reverence due tot their Lord.  Therefore, they make special efforts to tempt the faithful in the churches; for they know what great injury they can thereby do to the Lord himself, who in his sacramental love is there waiting to sanctify men and to receive the return of his sweetest and untiring love.  Hence, thou can also understand the strength of those who prepare themselves to partake of this bread of the angels and how the demons fear the souls, who receive the Lord worthily and devoutly and who strive to preserve themselves in this purity until their next Communion.

...I wish thee also to hear, my dearest daughter, from my own mouth, what were my sentiments when in mortal life I was about to receive Holy Communion....I was preserved from original sin and, at the instant of my Conception, I received the knowledge and vision of the Divinity.  I knew more than all the saints; I surpassed the highest seraphim in love; I never committed any fault; I constantly practiced all the virtues in a heroic degree and in the least of them I was greater than all the saints in their highest perfection...Yet I thought myself to have been fully repaid by being allowed to receive Him even ONCE in the Holy Eucharist; yea I did not consider myself worthy of this one favor.  Reflect then what should be thy sentiments, and those of the rest of the children of Adam, on being admitted to the reception of this admirable Sacrament."

The Mystical City of God Ven. Mary of Agreda  (Our Lady's words to the religious)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Thousand Words

Yes, I'm where's the rest of the gift?

Weapon of Mercy

The date is February 22, 1931, as one simple religious nun prays in her small cell in the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Cracow, Poland.  Unbeknowst to anyone, this young nun is about to cooperate with the Divine Savior in making known to the world His limitless Mercies. 

"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I became aware of the Lord Jesus clothed in a white garment. One hand was raised in blessing, the other was touching the garment at the breast. From the opening
of the garment at the breast there came forth two large rays, one red and the other pale. In silence I gazed intently at the Lord; my soul was overwhelmed with fear, but also with great joy. After a while Jesus said to me, 'paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the inscription: Jesus, I trust in You.'"

Some time later, Our Lord again spoke to her again:

"The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous; the red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. These two rays issued forth from the depths of My most tender Mercy at
that time when My agonizing Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross....Fortunate is the one who will dwell in their shelter, for the just hand of God shall not lay hold of him."

By 1935, Our Lord had a special plan for bestowing his mercies and graces on the world.

"In the evening, when I was in my cell, I saw an Angel, the executor of divine wrath. He was clothed in a dazzling robe, his face gloriously bright, a cloud beneath his feet. From the cloud, bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning were springing into his hands; and from his hand they were going forth, and only then were they striking the earth. When I saw this sign of divine wrath which was about to strike the earth, and in particular a certain place, which for good reasons I cannot name, I began to implore the Angel to hold off for a few moments, and the world would do penance. But my plea was a mere nothing in the face of the divine anger. (...) At that very moment I felt in my soul the power of Jesus’ grace, which dwells in my soul. When I became conscious of this grace, I was instantly snatched up before the Throne of God. (...) I found myself pleading with God for the world with words heard interiorly. As I was praying in this manner, I saw the Angel’s helplessness: he could not carry out the just punishment which was rightly due fors sins. Never before had I prayed with such inner power as I did then. The words with which I entreated God are these: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ for our sins and those of the whole world; for the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us. 

The next morning, when I entered chapel, I heard these words interiorly: Every time you enter the chapel, immediately recite the prayer which I taught you yesterday.When I had said the prayer, in my soul I heard these words: This prayer will serve to appease My wrath. You will recite it for nine days, on the beads of the rosary, in the following manner: First of all, you will say one OUR FATHER and HAIL MARY
and the I BELIEVE IN GOD. Then on the OUR FATHER beads you will say the following words: Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ,in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. On the HAIL MARY beads you will say the following words: For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. In conclusion, three times you will recite these words: Holy God, Holy Mighty One,
Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us nad on the whole world" (Diary, 474-476).

"Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this chaplet (...) Write down these words, My daughter. Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognize My unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of My mercy; let them profit from the Blood and Water which gushed forth for them" (Diary, 848) .

"Say unceasingly the chaplet that I have taught you. Whoever will recite it, they will receive great mercy at the hour of death. Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy" (Diary, 687).

Promises to those who recite the Divine Mercy Chaplet:

  • "It pleases Me to grant everything souls ask of Me by saying the chaplet. When hardened sinners say it, I will fill their souls with peace, and the hour of their death will be a happy one.
  • Write this for the benefit of distressed souls; when a soul sees and realizes the gravity of its sins, when the whole abyss of the misery into which it immersed itself is displayed before its eyes, let it not despair, but with trust let it throw itself into the arms of My mercy, as a child into the arms of its beloved mother (...).
  • Tell them no soul that has called upon My mercy has been disappointed or brought to shame. I delight particularly in a soul that has placed its trust in My goodness.
  • Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the merciful Savior"
  • "At the hour of their death, I defend every soul that will say this chaplet as I do My own glory (...). When this chaplet is said by the bedside of a dying person, God's anger is placated and his unfathomable mercy envelops the soul" (Diary, 811).
(A plenary indulgence under the usual circumstances can be obtained for the person who recites the Divine Mercy Chaplet for nine consecutive days beginning Good Friday and ending Divine Mercy Sunday)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Pressed Petal

Another of the first flowers to bloom in spring is the daffodil, which is also known as Our Lady's Star. The daffodil happens to be my favorite flower (and I'm not ashamed to admit that I also believe them to be the most cheerful flower even though I've been teased for it). A friend and I even once traveled to a nature park for the sole purpose of frolicking in their daffodil fields one spring...It's always a joy to see them pop their golden heads out as they trumpet, "Spring is upon you!"

As I was walking to my car after student teaching yesterday, I noticed dozens of daffodils blooming around the school that I had never even noticed! I guess that shows how busy I've been. Glad I noticed them before they disappeared, I'm looking forward to having a constant reminder of the Blessed Mother as I begin and end my day there.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Violinist in the Subway

Early on one cold morning in January 2007, world-famous violinist Joshua Bell took his violin and prepared to play the most challenging venue of his life: a subway station in Washington, D.C. Would anyone recognize a truly accomplished virtuoso...or would he go unnoticed by a culture so forgetful of class and true talent?

As a casual appreciator of classical music, this story haunts me. Would I have passed him by? Would I have been able to recognize one of the best musicians alive? Never having learned an instrument and admittedly sometimes dozing off during concerts...I don't know. I don't think I am alone either. True appreciation for classical music has gone by the wayside.

Playing technically challenging pieces on a 3.5 million dollar instrument, Bell played on for about 45 minutes.

 In the end, the professional artist made just over $32. And of the hundreds of people flooding past? Only a small handful stopped briefly for a moment. Only one recognized him.

This story reminds me of a passage from one of my favorite children's books, A Cricket in Times Square. Poor Chester Cricket, who has been living in the New York subway, is about to leave his temporary home and head back to the meadow. As he has recently discovered his gift for imitating classical music with his legs, he gives one final concert for his friends. For that brief moment, everyone in the subway stops. Chester watches as the people begin to sway gently to his cricket song, and it reminds him of the meadow when the long leaves of grass would blow in the wind to the melody as he would play his music. Their busy lives slow down, and they hear the music.

Read The Washington Post article here

Love Among the Sugar Cane

Arranged marriage is a thing of the past…or is it?

One rainy evening a while back, some friends and I stumbled upon a 20/20 episode about arranged marriages. Surprisingly, it's not only still alive and well, but it is thriving in the United States!

Fascinated at its rising popularity, I decided to do a little research. The connotation of arranged marriages in American culture (and probably most Western cultures) is that of a kind of curse certain to doom one’s life to eternal unhappiness-- beautiful young women trapped in relationships with gnarly old men and the like. But is that a fact or merely a cultural misconception?

As I dug deeper, I wanted to know how those cultures that embraced it explained it to those of marriageable age. Certainly, it must be a convincing argument since waves of young men and women are not fleeing to the U.S.

One man explained how marriage was compared to eating sugar cane: Western cultures marry for love. This is like eating sugar cane from the sugary sweet bottom part up to the bitter top. They begin head-over-heels in love, and (typically), it goes downhill from there. In their culture, however, arranged marriages are like eating the sugar cane top down. They believe that a relationship gets sweeter and deeper as the couple gets to know each other more. Is it just me, or does that make a lot of sense?

An astonishing 90% of marriages in India are arranged. In these cultures, it’s not uncommon to advertise for partners, including a clear “check list” of expectations. Marriage is looked at much more practically and as a family decision, which is why some say it works. Who knows you better than your family? In Jewish cultures, it is sometimes a family friend or wise woman in the community who is a matchmaker. And in the US, more and more singles are turning to matchmaking services.

While to most American women, the prospect of spending the rest of their lives with an (almost) complete stranger is horrifying-- But in a society where over ½ of unions end in divorce, arranged marriage is enough to make a single woman wonder…

Want to learn more about arranged marriages?
Arranged (a great movie we've reviewed on arranged marriages)

Difference between Men and Women

 Let's say a guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Martha. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Martha, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then, there is silence in the car.

To Martha, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Fred is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Martha is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily towards, I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Fred is thinking: that means it was...let's see...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...lemme check the odometer...Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Martha is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed - even before I sensed it - that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Fred is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Martha is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Fred is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty...scumballs.

And Martha is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Fred is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their...

"Fred," Martha says aloud.

"What?" says Fred, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have...oh dear, I feel so..."(She breaks down, sobbing.)

"What?" says Fred.

"I'm such a fool," Martha sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Fred.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Martha says.

"No!" says Fred, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just's that I...I need some time," Martha says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Fred, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

"Yes," he says. (Martha, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

"Oh, Fred, do you really feel that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Fred.

"That way about time," says Martha.

"Oh," says Fred. "Yes." (Martha turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

"Thank you, Fred," she says.

"Thank you," says Fred.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Fred gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a college basketball game between two South Dakota junior colleges that he has never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it.

The next day Martha will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification.

They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it either.

Meanwhile, Fred, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Martha's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: "Norm, did Martha ever own a horse?"

And that's the difference between men and women.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just a Mom

The waitress peeks around the carrier to see my smiling daughter peering back up at her. 
"How adorable!  How old is she?"
"About four and a half months," I reply, proudly glancing at my little one.
"I have a six month old.  It's so hard to leave them, isn't it?  When did you go back to work?" she asks as she continues to write my order.
"Oh, I'm not working...I'm lucky enough to be able to stay home with her."
Now, at this point, you would think the response could be something similar to...that's wonderful! or simply I bet you enjoy that!  Right?  Wrong.  Not in today's world anyway.

The waitress half rolls her eyes, as she nails me with her response.  "I could never do that.  Just sitting at home all day, not doing anything?!  I'd go crazy.  Plus....I don't think I could take my son 24/7.  I need "me" time, ya know?"

Now its my turn to roll my eyes as the waitress turns and walks away.  Oh, that's right, I think to myself. I'm "just a Mom."  Caring for a child all day, and all night....that's not "doing anything.  I forgot.

Unfortunately, suprisingly enough, this is the "grudge" the world has against Moms.  They don't work.  They stay at home doing nothing.  Cooking?  Cleaning?  Laundry?  C'mon...that's not real work.  That's just playing house.  If you want to be a "June Cleaver" and keep your pretty little dress from getting dirty in the real world, that's fine, I guess.  How sad.

Even though I've just recently entered into this "Just a Mom" world, I'm quickly starting to learn just how biased people are against a "stay-at-home" Mom.  (We're obviously too weak to get real jobs.)  And if that's not the mentality I get blasted with, I get the second half of this waitress' response.  "I could never deal with my son 24/7."  Oh, but excuse me...isn't that why you had a son in the first place??  Or was it just to make a "doll" out of him and place him on the shelf at the daycare when you're tired of playing? 

A Mother is never "just a Mom."  She's a committed individual who, through the grace of God has been allowed to cooperate with Creation!  How awesome a thought is that??  For nine months, that child grows inside of her, is a part of her...and suddenly that job is not important once the child is born??  How does that make sense?  A child (and not just as an infant), NEEDS their Mother.  They DEPEND on their Mother.  Mentally, emotionally, physically. And if that Mother is off working an 8--10 hour shift every day, how she going to continue to nourish that child?  (Now, I do understand there are certain cases where the Mother has to work...but I'm referring more to the mentality of most mothers who feel they "aren't doing anything" if they don't go out and have their career.)

Being a "Mother" IS a job in and of itself, and its such an importantly vital job for the family.  Unfortunately, most Mothers in today's society don't understand how crucial it is for them to BE in the home.  They are the heart of the family, and just as a body can not function without the heart, how does a family function without the Mother?  Sometimes, it can be a real sacrifice for the Mother to stay at home...especially considering these economic struggles.  But I give an awful lot of credit to all those Moms who realize their true role, and stick by it IN the home. 

May the Blessed Mother Mary, the ideal and purest example for all Mothers, give us all the strength and courage to fulfill our duty of Motherhood.

10 Things Never to say to a "Stay at Home Mom":

1. When the kids are older, do you think you'll get a real job?

2. How June Cleaver of you!

3. Oh, so you don't work?

4. Since you have extra time on your hands, could you whip up a few dozen brownies for the bake sale tomorrow?

5. All day with your kids? I can't even imagine.

6. I'm jealous. I wish my husband were rich so I wouldn't have to work either.

7. What do you do all day, anyway?

8. I'm sure you're not the only one who's ever wasted money on a college degree.

9. That explains why your son is so clingy!

10. Weird. I assumed your house would be superclean.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Pressed Petal

The Judas Tree is rumored to be the kind of tree that Judas used to hang himself after betraying Our Lord. A beautiful tree, it blooms with pink flowers in the Spring.

Hunchback of Castello

Born a hunchback, midget, blind, and lame, Blessed Margaret of Castello is the perfect example for this Lenten season.  At only six years old, her unfeeling parents were so ashamed of their daughter's appearance, they caged her in a tower for fourteen years.  She was unable to leave, however; due to the grace of God, she was able to attend Mass and the Sacraments, thus giving her the grace to suffer graciously.  Finally, not knowing what else to do, her parents took her to the Shrine of Fra Giacomo, selfishly demanding a cure.  When no cure occurred, Margaret's parents decided they could not bear to have such an ugly daughter as one of their own, and abandoned her.  Left to herself, the young girl became a Dominican and spent the rest of her life in prayer and works of mercy.  April 13th is marked as the anniversary of this special saint's death, and should also serve as a reminder for us, that suffering is the hidden, yet glorious pathway to Heaven.

"The Life of Blessed Margaret of Castello" is an inspiring biography of this saint's life.  To illustrate how devoted Blessed Margaret was to offering all her sufferings for Our Lord, and to give us added motivation for the rest of this Lenten season, here is an excerpt taken from the book, Chapter 4, "Margaret's Sufferings":

"With Margaret, to know was to act.  She possessed so generous a nature that she felt she had given nothing to God so long as anything remained to be given.  With her, therefore, there could never be any question of compromise or of half measures.  Since she had chosen to serve God, she would do so with her whole heart, her whole soul and her whole mind.

'It isn't the body that is important, Margaret,' cried the chaplain.  'It makes little difference what sort of a body you have, because in a few short years it will crumble away to the dust.  The thing that counts is your soul; that lives forever.  God created it to His own image and likeness.  Just think, Margaret!  God is your real Father.  He tenderly loves you and He asks you to love Him in return!'

The teaching of the chaplain filled the child with joy and hope. It safeguarded her disposition against the cruel jibes of her parents concerning her physical appearance.  It fired her with determination to do everything she could in order to make herself worthy of such divine love.    The example of the savior in undergoing voluntarily the greatest suffering for the salvation of the human race made  a profound impression on Margaret.  She often reflected on the subject, and she began to comprehend what the Savior was trying to teach pleasure-loving mankind.  She understood more and more the immensity of God's love which impelled Him to go to such extremes in order to save His children from their folly. 

There was nothing morbid in Margaret's character.  She had a sunny, cheerful disposition, and she naturally shrank from pain and suffering.  Btu she knew that to grow in virtue and thus approach closer and closer to God, the road she must travel along was pointed out by her Saviour.  As she wanted God more than anything in the whole universe, she was resolved to accept the divine invitation and to follow her Savior even to Calvary.  Hence, although the action of her parents was an agonizing blow to her, Margaret realized that God had permitted this to happen for her own good, and she forced her reluctant human nature to accept the blow as a special gift from God.

More than ever, she neglected nothing whatever which could help her gain her objective.  She not only accepted the sufferings inflicted upon her, but she even sought suffering.  Thus, she bound herself at the age of seven to a strict monastic fast--a fast extending from the middle of September to the following Easter.  But this was not penance enough for the young girl.  She devised a fast of her own to cover the rest of the year, that is from Easter until the middle of September, during this period she fasted four days a week.  On all Fridays of the year, the only  nourishment she would accept was a little bread and water.  Still she was not satisfied that she was doing enough.  She somehow secretly obtained a hairshirt and began to wear the penitential garment before she was seven years old."

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seder Meals?

Seder meals violate the 1st Commandment???

The Mass Revisited

St. Padre Pio once remarked, "It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass."  He was echoing the sentiments of St. Leonard of Port Maurice who had said, " I believe if there were no Mass. the world would have sunk into the abyss under the weight of its wickedness.  The Mass is the powerful support which sustains it."

Power of One, Single Mass
  • At the hour of your death, the Holy Masses you have heard devoutly will be your greatest consolation.
  • Every Mass will go with you to Judgment and plead for your pardon of sins.
  • Through the Sacrifice of the Mass, Our Lord supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.
  • By piously hearing Holy Mass, you offer the greatest consolation to the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
  • Through Holy Mass, you are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes that would have otherwise befallen you. 
  • You shorten your Purgatory through every devout Mass.
Spoken from the Saints

"No human tongue can enumerate the favors that trace back to the Sacrifice of the Mass.  The sinner is reconciled with God, the just man becomes more upright, sins are wiped away, vices are uprooted, virtues are increased, and the devil's schemes are frustrated."  -St. Lawrence Justinian

"Without the Holy Mass, what would become of us?  All here below would perish, because that alone can hold back God's arm."  -St. Teresa of Avila

"Without the Mass, the world would already  be destroyed by the sins of men ages ago."  -St. Alphonsus de'Ligouri

"Know O Christian, that the Mass is the holiest act of religion.  You cannot do anything to glorify God more, nor profit your soul more, than by devoutly assisting at it, and assisting at it as often as possible." -St. Peter Julian Eymard

How the Angels pray for us during the time of Holy Mass

"It is impossible to deny or doubt that the Angels are present at Holy Mass.  The Catholic Church teaches it, and the Psalmist does the same when he says, "He hath given His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all they ways." (Ps. 90:2)  from this we know that they go about with us everywhere, that they are to us ministering spirits, and are ever ready to help us.  Oh how delighted they are to accompany us to Holy Mass!  How eagerly they do all they can to keep us from inattention or irreverence!  We know there are at least as many Angels as there are people in the Church, because everyone has his Guardian Angel to assist him in his prayers and to adore with him Christ present upon the altar.  Therefore, be sure that you ask your Guardian Angel to hear Mass with you and for you, and in your name to worship the Divine Victim.  Thus, what is wanting in your prayer, will be made up by him, and the Holy Sacrifice will be more acceptable to God Almighty."

"That the Angels pray for us St. Chysostom states int he most explicit manner:  "when thee priest at the altar offers the Stupendous and Sublime Sacrifice, the Angels stand beside him, and all around the altar are ranged choirs of heavenly spirits, who raise their voices in honor of the Victim who is immolated.  Thus, it is not lowly mortals alone who call upon God; The Angels kneel before Him; the Archangels plead on behalf of men. It is their most propitious time; the Sacred Victim may be said to be at their disposal,  Through Him they urge their petitions....How cheering for us to know that the Holy Angels pray so earnestly during Mass for all who are present, that they implore mercy for us poor sinners.  For the supplications the Angels proffer are more potent than those which we mortals send up to Heaven, for the Angels are inflamed with the love of God; they behold Him face to face; they speak with all the devotion of their pure hearts. Consequently, they obtain what they ask of God more readily than we do, with our cold, careless petitions, so full of distractions., Wherefore, if you will unite your prayers during Mass with those of the Angels, they will pierce the clouds and will obtain a favorable hearing more certainly than if you had offered them at home and alone."

(The Incredible Catholic Mass--Fr. Martin von Cochem)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lenten Meditations

Shortly before Lent, I found  this audio disc with a recording of Anne Catherine Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. My husband and I have been listening to it on our way to Mass every Sunday and it's an excellent way to, not only prepare for Mass, but also to learn about the particulars of Our Lord's Passion.  Whether you read it or listen to it, this is is a definite must have as we approach Holy Week!

Another excellent resource for Holy Week is Sr. Mary of Agreda's "The Mystical City of God".  Though it may look a bit intimidating at first due to its size, there are so many valuable reading selections enclosed. This is a book I read every Lent over and over.  She gives vivid descriptions of Our Lord's Passion and death, Our Lady's ponderings, the feelings of the Apostles, and most interesting, the sly and deceitful workings of Satan during that time.  Even if you just pick it up to read those selected chapters, it will make your Holy Week all the more fruitful!

Friday, April 8, 2011

This is War!

My student teaching experience lately has been a...challenge to say the least.

Walking back to the classroom after lunch today, I resolved to stop thinking like a teacher...and start thinking like a soldier: This is war.

Believe it or not, it's actually helped! Instead of looking at lesson plans, I'm trying to visualize them as battle plans. Instead of looking at pupils...I see them as troops. The most important mental shift I've adopted is that although I take marching orders from my captain (the classroom teacher), my allegiance is to the General alone (God).

To assist me in this battle, I have no weapon but the rosary. I'm dusting off one of my favorite rosaries for this task- my combat rosary. They are called combat rosaries because volunteers make the rosaries and ship them to soldiers. These rosaries are made of plastic and parachute cord, so they are "military friendly" because they contain no metal parts. Here's where I got my combat rosary. Affordable, and pretty indestructible, these rosaries are great reminders of the Spiritual Battle we face every day.

So, I send you off into your own daily battle with the old battle cry of the Crusaders, "Deus Vult!" (God Wills It!)

Before Omaha Beach, D-Day (June 1944)


I am thankful...that my daughter slept so well during the night!  For the past 2 weeks she has been sleeping horribly, waking up and squirming every hour.  But last night she only woke to feed at 2am, 5am, and then was finally up for the morning at 6am!  It felt so wonderful to get some sleep!  Amazing how much one's perspective on life can change when you get some sleep!

I am praying for...a smooth, stressfree move to California, and that everything goes well in signing our new rental!  We're so excited to be able to move out of an apartment and move into a place with more room and storage!  If all goes well, this house is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath...with a beautifully landscaped backyard for Lilybug to play in!  And it'll only take hubby 10 mins to get to the base, and we'll only be 16 mins away from church!  (versus the 60+ we drive right now!) 

I am excited about the progress of my new niece!  For those who may not know, "Lovebug" was born on March 31st through C-section.  She was born with a large omphalocele and will need to be hospitalized for the next few months as they try to "pressure" the sac back into the stomach.  She's quite the fighter though, as her weight has been steady, she's no longer on the ventilator, she's drinking from a bottle, and she has just recently been moved into her own "bedroom" and crib!  They hope within a few months that as soon as the skin grows around the omphalocele, they'll be able to bring her home! 

The Saint of the day is...St. Julie Billiart  A sister in the order of the Sisters of Notre Dame, St. Julie's constant motto throughout her life was "Oh! How good God is!" 

Around the house...hubby comes home today!  He was on duty overnight, so both Lilybug and I will be excited to see him this afternoon.  Lilybug is currently "singing" in her swing (I have a feeling that "singing" is on the verge of being transformed into high pitch squawking in a few moments...)  Was able to clean yesterday, so nothing is tooooo pressing today.  It's such a wonderful feeling to sit in one's own CLEAN, ORGANIZED house. :)

On the menu...Baked Haddock!  Yumm....hubby isn't too fond of fish, but he does like this receipe!  I just lay the fillets of haddock in the pan, crush up a mixture of Ritz crackers, melted butter, garlic salt and other spices and pour that on top.  It comes out very tasty!  I'll serve it with crescent rolls, broccoli and rice.

Outside my window..."I see trees of roses too, I see 'em bloom, for me and for you...and I think to myself....what a wonderful world!"  ;)  Spring is on its way.  Not sure of the temp out there yet, but it sure looks beautiful.  I think Lilybug and I will have to indulge in a little "stroller stride" this afternoon!  Maybe hubby will come too!

My goal for today...fold the laundry! I hate having my husband walk into a house that has laundry piled high, and dishes in the sink.  So I always try my best to keep things orderly and clean for him.  So Mr. Laundrybasket?  Beware...I'm coming at you today!

Enjoy your Today!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Keeping the "Little" in your Daughter

FamilyLifeToday is a website with Christian talks and guest speakers, that address many issues concerning marriage, family, and relationships.

Today's talk is by Dannah Gesh, speaking about how to keep your daughter innocent through 6 steps to guarding her purity.  This hit home for me, considering I have a new daughter and my concern is to raise her as a strong Catholic, who understands her duty to morality and purity.  Before she can really understand that though, I have to be an example for her, and guide her.  It's a huge responsibilty and one I pray daily for the grace to accomplish.  With Barbie dolls, Disney movies, and the ever increasing trend in revealing clothing, you start to understand just how "nit-picky" you really DO need to be to guard your children.

Prayer to Obtain a Christian Atmosphere in the Home
Lord Jesus Christ, You are the way and the truth and the life; and it is by following you that we will most surely find the way to our Father in Heaven.  Help me instructed by You and Your example, to create a truly Christian atmosphere in my home.  May there be in all things a deep and true family life in our home--and a family life patterened after the holy family at Nazareth.  May You always be a guest at our activities, our conversations, our recreations--in a home that is truly and meaningfully centered around you.  May Your picture and that of Your Mother on our walls be treasured reminders of Your love for us and a token of our love for You.  May the Word of God, and other books and literature that tell us of You, lead us to a closer knowledge of You and be welcomed and read by every member of the family.  May the thoughts expressed in our home be uncomplaining--at one with Your thoughts and those of Your Holy Church.  May there be a deep respect for all things holy, and may my children learn from me and their father, a love of family prayer and of the sacraments.

May charity of speech reign in our home--Teach us tolerance for all our neighbors that will be free from all littleness--and free from all prejudice based on race or religion.  May our ways be ever gracious in imitation of Your own; and may we show a special regard for the aged, the underprivileged, the handicapped, and infirm.

And, in all things that I expect of my children, and that I want to characterize in my home, let me be an ever convincing example. May my words always be words I may invite You to utter with me; my thoughts in unison with Yours; my feelings ones I may ask you to entertain with me; and may the interpretations and judgments I make be such that I may expect you to share them with me.  So in all things, may I, together with my family, be so directed by the inspiration of Your grace, to be completely one in You.  Amen.