Tuesday, December 26, 2006

From Papa

"God’s sign is simplicity. God’s sign is the baby. God’s sign is that he makes himself small for us. This is how he reigns. He does not come with power and outward splendour. He comes as a baby – defenceless and in need of our help. He does not want to overwhelm us with his strength. He takes away our fear of his greatness. He asks for our love: so he makes himself a child. He wants nothing other from us than our love, through which we spontaneously learn to enter into his feelings, his thoughts and his will – we learn to live with him and to practise with him that humility of renunciation that belongs to the very essence of love. God made himself small so that we could understand him, welcome him, and love him."

Monday, December 25, 2006

Behold! He Comes!

“Long lay the world
In sin and error pining…
‘Till He appeared
And the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope
The weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks
A new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees!”

Traditional Christmas Carol

~ ~ ~

During this beautiful season, may each and every soul may feel its worth, and come to gaze with wonder upon this living mystery of God become man. For He has come! Wisdom...Saving Lord...Root of Jesse...Key of David...Radiant Dawn...King of Nations...Wonderful Counselor...Mighty God...Everlasting Father...Prince of Peace...
Awed by the thrill of hope, captured by His gaze of love, may we fall on our knees…rejoicing!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

O Emmanuel...

"O Emmanuel,
God with us,
King and lawgiver,
Desire of the nations,
Savior of all people,
Come and set us free,
Lord our God!"
Isaiah 7:14 ~ "The Lord himself will give you this sign: the Virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him... Emmanuel."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Danielle Does it Again

Danielle Bean (or Mrs. Bean, as I usually refer to her myself) has, in her wonderfully-gifted way, given another hit-to-the-heart wake-up call. I'm sure I'm not the only one who needed it. Be sure you take a trip over to Danielle Daily to read her brilliant article Keeping Christmas!

O Rex Gentium...

“O King of all the nations,
the only joy of every human heart;
O Cornerstone that makes us one:
Come, deliver man,
whom You formed out of the dust of the earth."

Isaiah 9:5 ~ “For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 2:4 ~ “He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”

What are the O Antiphons? Read Special Christmas Countdown.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

O Oriens...

O Rising Dawn,
Radiance of the Light eternal and Sun of Justice;
come and enlighten those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death!

Isaiah 9:1 ~ “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown.”

What are the O Antiphons? Read Special Christmas Countdown.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Special Christmas Countdown...The "O Antiphons"

The seven O Antiphons (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Liturgy of the Hours, or the special universal prayers that all Catholic priests and religious offer each day. They are offered during the Octave before Christmas Eve (December 17-23), a time which is called the "Golden Nights." Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah). They speak of man's desire and longing for God, a longing which has existed throughout the history of God's people from the beginning of time through Abraham, Moses and David, fulfilled on the night when Emmanuel (God with us) was born.

If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one - Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia - the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come." Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, "Tomorrow, I will come." So the O Antiphons not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation, but bring it to a joyful conclusion.

- As explained on CatholicEducation.org, FishEaters.com, and Domestic-Church.com

The O Antiphons are a magnificent example of what priceless teaching and poignant reflection can be given us, the lay faithful, by glimpsing into the Liturgy of the Hours devotions. Their depth instills anew the wonder and beauty of our Catholic Liturgical Year.

December 17th began the Antiphons with O Sapientia (O Wisdom), followed by O Adonai (O Lord of Israel) on the 18th and O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse) yesterday.

And now, today we pray:

O CLAVIS DAVID [Key of David],
and Sceptre of the House of Israel,
You open and no man closes;
You close and no man opens.
Come and deliver him from the chains of prison
who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death!

~ ~ ~

Isaias 22:22 ~ And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder: and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut, and none shall open.

Isaias 9:6 ~ For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us, and the government is upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God the Mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.

I can't take the credit

for having written this, but it did bring me a good chuckle today! Enjoy!

The Fourteen Days of Homeschooling
Compliments of Cecelia Harkins
Sung to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

On the first day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"Can you homeschool legally?"

On the second day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"Are they socialized?
Can you homeschool legally?

On the third day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Can you homeschool legally?"

On the fourth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"What about P.E.?
Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Can you homeschool legally?"

On the fifth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
What about P.E.?
Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Can you homeschool legally?"

On the sixth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.?
Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Can you homeschool legally?"

On the seventh day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"Look at what they're missing!
How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.,
Do you give them tests,
Are they socialized,
Do you homeschool legally?"

On the eighth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"Why do you do this?
Look at what they're missing!
How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.,
do you give them tests,
are they socialized,
do you homeschool legally?"

On the ninth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"They'll miss the prom...
Why do you do this?
Look at what they're missing!
How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.,
do you give them tests,
are they socialized,
do you homeschool legally?"

On the tenth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"What about graduation?
They'll miss the prom...
Why do you do this?
Look at what they're missing!
How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.?
Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Do you homeschool legally?"

On the eleventh day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"I could never do that.
What about graduation?
They'll miss the prom...
Why do you do this?
Look at what they're missing!
How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.?
Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Do you homeschool legally?"

On the twelfth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"Can they go to college?
I could never do that.
What about graduation?
They'll miss the prom...
Why do you do this?
Look at what they're missing!
How long will you homeschool?
What about P.E.?
Do you give them tests?
Are they socialized?
Do you homeschool legally?"

On the thirteenth day of homeschool
I thoughtfully replied:
"They can go to college,
yes, you can do this,
they can have graduation,
we don't like the prom,
we do it cuz we like it,
they are missing nothing,
we'll homeschool forever...
We give them P.E.,
and we give them tests,
they are socialized,

On the fourteenth day of homeschool
my neighbor said to me,
"How can I get started?
Why didn't you tell me?
Where do I buy curriculum?
When is the next conference?
I think we can do this,
if you'll help us,
we will join a sports team...
and we'll homeschool legally!"

Friday, December 15, 2006

A bit of follow-up...

Little did I know that my post about voting for SpunkyHomeschool versus Michael Bérubé in the the Weblog Awards would end up being quoted on his blog, sending me the highest traffic that day that I've ever experienced. A surprise, to say the least! Which also made for some interesting developments -- making it necessary for me to bring here some clarifications that Mr. Bérubé kindly made for us on his and IvyGate's (another leading contestant for the Weblog Best Educational Blog Award) comments during the race.

In his own words:

The point is this. We really were kidding. But in pretending to be people who take weblog awards way too seriously, we apparently crossed some people who take weblog awards way too seriously. I have nothing against Ms. Braun [Spunky] or her family, and wish them the very best.

Apparently, this whole incident is a good example of the mis-communication that our modern snazzy methods of communications can bring upon us sometimes. :) We homeschoolers are all-too-familiar with warring attitudes towards us…and the truth is there are many folks on the web who make remarks such as his and are serious. For those of us unfamiliar with Mr. Bérubé's style of irony, it was only natural we would take his remarks literally. It was a welcome development to learn that it was all not quite as heavy as we thought. :)

One a positive ending note, it was heartening to read very cordial comments by both SpunkyHomeschool and Mr. Bérubé on each other's blogs. The closing graciousness shown by each was an appreciated outcome to all this!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Drum Roll...

TheRebelution.com: Join The Modesty Survey

"Join other Christian young men and women in TheRebelution.com’s new and exciting project: The Modesty Survey. The Modesty Survey allows any girl to submit anonymous, modesty-related questions to Christian guys and to receive (multiple) anonymous replies. It’s the discussion you’ve always wanted to have."

Read the rest and find out how both gentlemen and ladies can participate by clicking here or on the above logo! But girls, you'll need to act fast, because the deadline for submitting your questions is tomorrow (December 15th).

I can't wait to see the results of this! As a young woman active in the modesty movement, I quickly learned that there is nothing so powerful and so moving for us girls seeking true modesty and real beauty, and nothing with such effectiveness at reaching those girls’ hearts who may even not be seeking modesty, as the testimonies and humble, honest pleas of Godly young men. I think sometimes it can take just one Godly man to drive home with sure force the message that scores of girls could have been trying to share with another girl. Sadly, it’s far too rare that young men (or fathers!) do speak up about this topic…but when they do, feminine ears perk up!

Please join me in prayer that this project will truly bear wonderful fruit for God's Kingdom!

Homeschoolers Unite!

Even though the 2006 Weblog Awards voting ends tomorrow, we can still affect the results!

In short, the two top blogs competing (very closely, I might add!) for the Best Educational Blog award are... liberal Michael Bérubé and SpunkyHomeschool, a dedicated, witty, and devout Christan homeschool mom.

This has really and truly come down to a battle of Christian ideals versus Secular ideals, Godly values versus Godless values. As reported on the ever-fantastic blog The Rebelution, "Michael Bérubé recently commented... 'The important thing is that...I crush the homeschoolers.' "

To get the whole scoop, click here.

To help SpunkyHomeschool win, you can vote once per day per computer by clicking here. Get your friends to vote too! But HURRY: voting ends tomorrow (December 15th)!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Today's Encouragement

"Girls are like apples on trees.
The best ones are at the top of the tree.
Boys don't want to reach for the good apples
because they are afraid of falling and getting hurt.
Instead they get the rotten apples from the ground
that aren't as good, but easy.
So the apples at the top think
there is something wrong with them,
when in fact they are amazing.
They just have to wait for the right boy,
the one who will risk everything,
who's brave enough to climb
all the way up to the top of the tree."

- Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Glorious Words

"The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral -- a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body...The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God's creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation...What on God's good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?"

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Strength in Weakness

Crystal at Biblical Womanhood had a post last week that's very worth reading. She very eloquently and beautifully wrote about something God has really been teaching me in recent weeks: to not only talk about relying on Him, but to do it. Two very different things. There are times when I feel so tiny, so inadequate, stretched so thin -- and all I can do is remind myself over and over, "Christ is my strength". What a consolation at those moments to know that no matter what kind of roller-coaster our emotions may take us on, Christ is the rock. And daily, hourly, each moment, we must learn to lean on Him. At times this means discomfort, maybe even storms. We just have to make sure that the more fiercely the winds blow, the more heavily we lean on His strength. And trust that in the end, there will be a rainbow.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Turkey Soup Recipe

Well, no one expressly asked for it, but I thought I'd post it anyway...and maybe a few of you who've never had turkey soup will enjoy trying something new!

From: The Halbur Kitchen

Directions for homemade broth:
Cook 1 large turkey in your roaster or pan with water in the bottom covering half the turkey. After the turkey is cooked, pour off the broth. To make extra broth, save all the turkey bones, skin, etc. Place turkey waste in a large pot, cover with water and slow cook for 6 to 8 hours. (We usually cook ours overnight and wake up to turn it off). Pour off broth and discard waste. If you desire low-fat broth, let all broth chill in your refrigerator until set. The fat will float to the top and harden. It can then be easily discarded.

Add the following measurements of ingredients to about 8 cups of broth. If you have more than 8 cups, you can just add more of each ingredient. Some people may like to add more or less of each ingredient anyway, depending whether they want more broth in their soup or more stock. Therefore, the following is a guideline.

- 2 cups brown rice or noodles (If rice, add as soon as you start cooking soup. If using noodles, add 10 minutes before soup is done.)
- 1 large chopped onion
- 6 or more cloves of fresh garlic
- 2 cups cut-up turkey meat
- 3 cups largely cut carrots
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- "Mrs. Dash" seasoning OR "Pleasoning"
- Other favorite soup seasonings if desired
Note: No MSG or boullion is needed for a good turkey flavor if you make your own broth.

1 to 2 cups of the following ingredients can be added to your soup. We have tried them all, and have found that any or all of them are very tasty.

- Green peas (add at the end otherwise they’ll get mushy)
- Grated zucchini
- Chopped broccoli
- Chopped cauliflower
- Chopped green beans
- Any of your other favorite vegetables

Cooking Directions:
Add all ingredients and simmer soup until carrots are soft. If you used rice, is should be soft as well as broccoli, cauliflower, etc. We usually serve the soup with cheese and crackers. Note: We often freeze our leftover soup in labeled plastic containers...a great "instant" meal and a much healthier alternative to TV dinners. :)
Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Day for Gratitude

"The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God...

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."

- from Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation
October 3, 1863

No matter what the trials in our live, each of us truly has much to be thankful for. Today is a day to take a few moments to stop. To slow down. Amidst all the wonderful warmth and bustle of celebration and reunion, don't forget to reflect a bit quietly too. To gaze with your heart full at those simplest things in life that really are the greatest gifts. To marvel at the never-abandoning providence of our God. And to wonder at the love of such a Creator.

I wish you all a truly grace-filled Thanksgiving. May our hearts learn to be grateful all the year through!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Poll for Fun: Sopa de Pavo!

In addition to my sister's cake last night, I was kept busy for several hours cooking up a gigantic batch of turkey soup. That's right, turkey soup (sopa de pavo, as we had fun referring to it with our Spanish friends).

You can laugh, but for me, turkey soup has been a part of my growing up. So has turkey-eating all year round, for that matter! So it wasn't until recently that I realized most folks...haven't. Don't ask me why. Neither the visiting friend, the piano student who came for a lesson, nor the person I spoke with on the phone last night had ever heard of, much less tasted, turkey soup.

So, it being Thanksgiving week and all, I thought we should have a little fun here. How many of you lovely blog readers have heard of turkey soup before...or tried it? Leave a comment! Or maybe we're not isolated, and it's a long-standing family dinner for you, too. Let us know. :-)

And just maybe, if you ask, I'll post our special recipe so you can have a scrumptious way to use up all your leftovers on Thursday!

Theology and Cake

Last night, as my sister mixed a big double-batch of our favorite Chocolate Zucchini Cake, a friend who happened to be visiting looked at the bowl's flour-and-cocoa-and-oil-mountain and jestingly quipped, "That doesn't look like much!".

But we all know, of course, that somehow -- almost magically! -- all those various ingredients poured together, mixed up, and baked, will come out all right. Even wonderful.

It's a little like us. We don't look like much sometimes, but the Master Maker keeps smiling and adding, mixing and fixing, stirring and sweetening. And we have to trust at the end, we'll come out all right.

Even wonderful.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Be Strong!

by Malthie Davenport Babcock

Be Strong! We are not here to play, to dream, to drift;
We have hard work to do and loads to lift:
Shun not the struggle-face it; 'tis God's gift.

Be Strong! Say not, "The day's are evil. Who's to blame?"
And fold the hands and acquiesce-oh, shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely in God's name.

Be Strong! It matters not how deep intrenched the wrong,
How hard the battle goes, the day how long;
Faint not-fight on! Tomorrow comes the song.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Better Late Than Never...

At last, the long-ago-promised "All Saints" post!

Saints-in-the-making... portraying heavenly models at our homeschool "All Saints" Party:

Claire as Servant of God Queen Isabel the Catholic of Castille, Sarah as Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Veronica as Saint Galla, David as Saint Padre Pio.

"Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You. Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often. Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life and without You I am without fervor. Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light and without You I am in darkness. Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will. Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You."

- from Padre Pio's Prayer after Communion

Prayer to Saint Galla:

Saint Galla, we bring to your feet all widows, those poor and suffering, those ill and dying. Comfort them with the same love and compassion you gave to such souls while on earth. From heaven, teach us how to be humble servants.


Feast: October 5

Catherine of Alexandria:

Patroness of Aalsum, Nederlands; apologists; all craftsmen who work with a wheel (potters, spinners, etc.); archivists; attornies; barristers; diocese of Dumaguete, Philippines; dying people; educators; girls; Heidesheim am Rhein, Germany; jurists; knife grinders; knife sharpeners; Kuldiga, Latvia; lawyers; librarians; libraries; Mähring, Germany; maidens; mechanics; millers; nurses; old maids; philosophers; potters; preachers; scholars; schoolchildren; scribes; secretaries; spinners; spinsters; stenographers; students; tanners; teachers; theologians; turners; University of Paris; unmarried girls; wheelwrights; Zejtun, Malta

"Lord, in whose hands lies the sway of kingdoms, I humbly beseech Thee to hear the prayer of thy servant, and show forth the truth, and manifest Thy will with Thy marvellous works: so that if my cause is not just, I may not be allowed to sin through ignorance, and if its just, Thou give me wisdom and courage to sustain it with the aid of Thine arm, that through Thy grace we may have peace in these kingdoms."

- Favorite prayer of Queen Isabel the Catholic

It shows up a little faint in the picture, but I am holding a map of the US...most of us have heard Queen Isabel's name, but only briefly in connection with Columbus. Very few of us know how deeply spiritual this woman was!

“Although there would be nothing but stones, I would continue there while there may be souls to save.”

- Queen Isabel's response when told that America had not the riches of the East

A few from the "army" of Saints!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Because This Made Me Smile

You think English is easy???
Can you read these right the first time?
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting, I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let's face it: English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"? Why can you make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the uniqueness of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

AND...There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is "UP."

It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the
secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends. And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver; warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. At other times the little word has real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions. If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of our time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP. When it doesn't rain for awhile, things dry UP.

We could go on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP!
Have a joyous day!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Let us pray

that God will bless those politicians and Americans who are striving to honor Him and that those who are not will soon have a conversion.

Hope you voted today...voted in God's honor.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I know...

...you're all dying to see the great post Claire recently hinted about, but you might need to wait a few more days. In a few minutes we're heading out of town for the weekend... so sit tight, and we'll be back before you know it!

Best wishes and many blessings from,
One of Claire's great sisters :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Happy All Saints Day!

I had a lovely post all planned, but since I'm supposed to be sleeping it will have to wait until tomorrow.

All you Holy Men and Women,
Saints and Soliders of God,
Pray for Us!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

9 Day Countdown to Election Day

We received the following story in an email the other day...

"During the George Bush vs. Al Gore debacle in Florida, a group of concerned Catholics from the Bishop's Conference in DC started a Divine Mercy Novena to pray for the results of that election to be ended peacefully and according to God's will. The day after the Novena, George Bush was declared the victor. Truly a grace of Divine Mercy as the battle against him was fought long and hard."

The message went on to suggest the praying of a novena for this year's elections. What a truly marvelous idea! And a truly powerful yet utterly peaceful way to positively sway the results. Spread the word amongst the faithful and on your own blogs! Of course, you could do any devotional novena of your choosing, to any favorite saint, but I suggest a novena to the Divine Mercy by offering the chaplet each day specifically for this intention. (And if you're ambitious, you could even add the specific novena prayers for each day!).

To end on election day (November 7th) means beginning today (October 30th), but since many of you may not read this until tomorrow morning, don't worry -- just start right up and you'll be praying over election day. No less efficacious, I'm sure!

Chaplet Opening Prayer...
"You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us."

"O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in You!"

Chaplet Closing Prayer...
"Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in dificult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen."

To learn how to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, click here or here.

Jesus, I trust in You!

A Really Great Quote!

Seen on a forum this week...

"A woman's heart should be so close to the Lord,
that a man would have to seek Him to find her."
~ Unknown

I love that! Ladies...it's time to reexamine ourselves. How close are our hearts to our first Beloved? And any gentlemen who may be reading...remember that if you'd seek a woman's heart that will rest secure in your love, seek one that already knows how to rest secure in HIS Love.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


When I turned ten, I began a tradition of composing a special poem each year on my birthday (usually writing it at the same time I was born). Hence, a "poetry post" today with the latest: my eighteenth birthday poem, for your enjoyment...

Time passes by, each moment slips
Into the sea of the past
Moments of joy…moments of sorrow
Not a one of them will last

Daily I rise; daily I wake
And breathe of each new day
Moments of grace…moments of waste
Which will be my chosen way?

Will I breathe each breath for You
And with each, live Your Life?
Or will I throw each breath away
In wasted, joyless strife?

Will my heart be filled with You
And pulse for You each beat?
Or will it pulse unfeelingly
And loveless throbs repeat?

I want to speak, and think, and act
Your Love in all I do
To live, and move, and breathe, and give
Each moment back to You

-Claire Joann Mary Halbur
March 01, 2006

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Wisdom from a Bumper Sticker

I was out running several errands this afternoon. You know the story: traffic, parking-lot-zoos, checkout lines galore, etc., etc. And then, of course, a nicely up drawbridge to greet me as I turned a corner to cross the river toward the other side of town. With a continually-rotating list through my head of a hundred things yet-needing-to-be-done-today, sitting at a bridge wasn't exactly what I would have chosen to stop for at that moment.

But then, right in front of me, was a particular bumper sticker on a particular car. Well, not exactly... it was actually a little sign in the back window with a quote. And it read:

The only way for evil to triumph
is for good people to do nothing.

I remembered hearing that somewhere before. But whether you've heard it or not, take one moment (even though you're not stopped at a drawbridge) and stop. Now read it again -- only substitute the word "me" in place of "good people". The only way for evil to triumph is for me to do nothing.

What are each of us personally doing to conquer evil with good? In our own hearts? In our families? In our country? In our world? We just can't afford to sit back and wait for someone else to defend the Truth. Remember: God doesn't call the qualified...He qualifies the called!

A Peek

at some of what's kept me busy today!

...a nice big mailing to folks around the US (and beyond!) who've requested my resources.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Way upon a several-months-ago, a few of you requested some photos of my graduation gown. I didn't forget! Here are some snapshots from the Illinois State Fair in August, where I modeled the dress in the Fashion Revue. Enjoy! And pardon the blurriness - all the "action" photos were that way since my sister took them from the back of the auditorium, and I was moving. :)

On stage

Doing a turn...a good view of the 15-inch ruffle

A side-view: visiting with the Bishop on Graduation Day

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Since It's Late

and I should be in bed rather than typing up a post, take a trip over to Danielle Bean for some inspiration from her latest beautiful post Hand in the Dough. You'll see why she's one of my favorites...and why I call visiting her corner of cyberspace my "Daily Dose of Delight from Danielle"!


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What a Treat!

Tonight, I had the rare and special treat of sitting in a movie theatre...to enjoy a real film. Several months ago, when visiting friends brought with them the movie Love Comes Softly, we fell in love with it immediately - and equally enjoyed its sequels, Love's Enduring Promise and Love's Long Journey. Now the next epic is in the theaters (and the first of the series to be so!).

Love's Abiding Joy does, indeed, live up to its title. All I could think afterward tonight was: wouldn't our world be a different place if all movies were of the same beautiful quality as this one? The same interplay of resounding, timeless themes? The same tender, yet down-to-earth portrayal of Faith? The same centeredness around home, family, and the things that deep down every one of us hold most dear? The same uplifting trueness to truth?

I pray for the day when we may see a resurgence of such qualities in not just one movie of ten showing on the big screens of a given theater, but...all of them.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Reflection for Today

from Mother Teresa

"It is easy to love those who are far away. It isn't always easy to love those who are right next to us. It is easier to offer a dish of rice to satisfy the hunger of a poor person, than to fill up the loneliness and suffering of someone lacking love in our own family."

How absolutely true!

Lord, I beg today for the grace to see You not only in the sometimes distressing diguise of my neighbor, but in the sometimes distressing disguise of those within my own home. May I serve them with Your Love, Your Heart, Your Joy...especially when I feel least inclined to do so. Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Today's Dose of Chesterton

"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."

"Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another."

"The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people."

Not many of us possess such a combination of both profundity and wit, eh?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

No, I Haven't Fallen Off the Face of the Earth...

...I've only been working hard on it! Life is far from dull, and (sadly) my blog has been untentionally abandoned for what seems a very long time. My apologies! And I commend anyone who may still be visiting!

What have the last few (okay, several) weeks held? Well, the Rosary Walk for Life was a tremendous success -- and an amazing example of God's faithful Providence. For months, we'd been praying for good weather. Since the scheduled walk from Church to the Abortion Clinic was 1-1/2 miles each way, we petitioned heaven for at least no rain. And then, the week before came all the threatening forcasts...my grandma, God love her, is our "resident" meteorologist. Meaning that she watches the weather channel like a hawk and makes it her personal duty to inform each of her 11 children (stationed at various places around the country, I might add) of the up-and-coming predictions for their area. This becomes even more necessary when she knows of any important event, much less an outdoor event. So, as you can imagine, the last few days leading up to the Walk on the 23rd were peppered with phone calls. And the news only became less and less promising. Not just ordinary rain predicted, or plain old thunderstorms, but threats of hail, tornadoes, and flooding were all in effect for -- you guessed it -- Saturday, September 23rd. All we could do was keep on praying. After all, it's not too hard for God to stop a tornado.

The morning of the 23rd dawned foggy and gray. A really good crowd of over 250 still showed up (praise God for folks who know how to brave weather forecasts!) and even though the sun didn't show, raindrops didn't either. For the entire duration of the walk, the sky held, the wind stayed gentle, and everything remained composed. We prayed 20 decades of the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, two litanies, scores of songs, and walked the 3-mile-round-trip to the clinic and back. And then, barely ten minutes after we got back to Church for closing benediction, it...rained. And poured. Rivers.

But we'd already experienced rivers that morning. Rivers of mercy, of Divine tenderness, and of Fatherly gentleness. God is good!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Special Announcement

This Saturday, September 23rd, I am excited to be a part of the Rosary Walk for Life being held in Downers Grove, Illinois to pray for and end to abortion and specifically, the closing of Access Health Center/Abortion Clinic.

So again, for anyone in the remotely near area, consider coming! Holy Mass will be celebrated at 9am with Bishop Roger Kaffer (Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Joliet) at Divine Savior Catholic Church in Downers Grove, followed by a 1-1/2 mile walk to the abortion clinic praying the rosary. Also included will be a special blessing of the brand new Pregnancy Care Center opening a few doors down from the abortion clinic: Woman's Choice Services - South.

And once more, for all those rest of you scattered far, kindly unite with us in prayer in a special way this Saturday! For more information or details, feel free to call Sarah (my sister, and the organizer of this event!) at 815 727-3018.

"I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself."
-Mother Teresa

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Glimpse at Our Family Camping Trip, Part 3

An enchanting view: the creek that runs into the Lake

Enjoying Lake Michigan...and our WholesomeWear swimsuits!

Daddy gallantly rigged up a badminton net off the clearance rack, some $.99 plastic poles, and thick branches to make a "volleyball court" on the beach for us. Hours of fun!

The girls playing peek-a-boo from behind Mom and Dad. You can see a bit of our raft (which we jokingly call "our boat").

Daddy giving his impish grin. ;) (Does it look anything like the volleyball?)

David enjoying the "kiddie pool" creek

The boys just can't get by without shinnying up a few trees, you know! ;)

Wooded dunes against a blue sky!

"Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let thy glory be over all the earth!"
(Psalm 57)

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Glimpse at our Family Camping Trip, Part 2

"D & D" having fun on the rocks...and giving Mom a near-heart attack

Dad and Mom enjoying a spectacular lake sunset

Visiting the USS Silversides -- what a field trip!!

Dad made the most of every teachable aspect of the place...here we are learning all about torpedos!

Grassy dunes, blue skies, and beautiful water

Happy 14th Birthday, Veronica!

And I remember the day she was born...

Another shimmering beach sunset

Our view while sitting atop a dune, continuing our tradition of singing "How Great Thou Art" as the sun sinks beneath the lake's edge...


Praise God! The Wash for Life was a great success. Stop by the website to see some of the amazing results from youth groups around the country! Our group didn't wash the most cars or raise the most money (by any means), but we pray that many unborn babies will still be helped through our efforts! Thank you all for your prayers.

Friday, September 15, 2006

How Did I Know Your Car Was Dirty?

Well, tomorrow we can fix that! Saturday, September 16, 2006 is the First-Ever Annual CAR WASH FOR LIFE - a new, nationwide pro-life youth event. Youth Groups around the country are sponsoring Car Washes with 100% profits benefiting their local crisis pregnancy center/pregnancy care center.

Check out the great website all about it at www.washforlife.org and find a Wash in your area! (And if there isn't one, well, make sure you're the one to organize it next year.)

And hear, hear! Our very own Saint John Bosco's League of Extraordinary Catholics Youth Group is hosting a Wash at K-Mart here in Joliet, IL (at the intersection of Larkin Ave. and Jefferson St.). So for any and all of you remotely nearby people, tell your family and friends to bring their dirty cars and their pockebooks! We'll be out there from 10am-3pm at your service, accepting donations great and small in exchange for making your vehicle sparkle. And we'll even have some homemade baked goods and lemonade right there for you, too. All our proceeds will be benefitting the brand-new Woman's Choice Services Pregnancy Care Center opening right next-door to our local abortion clinic!

And please, all of you, keep this nationwide effort in your prayers! Even if you aren't near a Wash tomorrow...consider making a holy hour, or going to Mass just for the intention of this project. From across the country, you can help us too. And hey, if you have your own blog it wouldn't hurt for you to mention and link this event there also. Let's show America that we are a PRO-LIFE GENERATION!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Glimpse at...our Family Camping Trip!

I could go on and on about our beautiful week, but I think the photos say it all. And to give you an idea of all I've been doing the past few days...I wanted to get this up on Sunday.


The breakwater we walked out on

Me on the rocks...a perfectly lovely backdrop by the Master Artist!

Sarah and a sailboat

Three sisters...

...enjoying breeze and beauty!

Dad and Mom...a rare photo of dad smiling (he's just not a "picture person") ;)

Lighthouse in the sunset

All of us!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Prudence is Calling

that I (sadly) take a hiatus this week from blogging. A host of meetings - one each day, in fact! - and numerous preparations for my Fall schedule will be demanding my time...especially because next week we leave on our real family vacation: camping in Michigan! And since I do have to leave a little time for sleep, the blog will have to rest for a bit.

It's unfortunate that this "time off" right now happens to be when I have about a dozen great posts in my head just waiting to be typed...but don't worry, I'll keep them there and you'll hear from me again on September 10th! Hopefully they'll just improve with age and be a little better seasoned when they do come to you. ;)

Friday, August 25, 2006

THE Question, Part 2

My many discussions off-shooting from THE Question have exposed me to what I call an American “stereotype”… that somehow, your life is on hold till you go to college. What most folks have no idea of are some of the other tremendous opportunities for service and experience in your “after high school years”. For two examples, the National Evangelization Teams (NET), or traveling dramas with Leonardo Defilippis' St. Luke's Productions.

While a College education is a good thing, it's not necessarily for everyone. For some reason, the minute we turn 18, we’re just supposed to be itching to leave home. Certainly a healthy spirit of independence is good -- but that doesn't mean every young person must leave home that quickly. Think for a moment what most young adults go to college for: the learning, the degree, the friends, the “life skills”, and the biggie: the experience. For one thing, it’s interesting to note how many working adults are for whatever reason not even using their college degree in their job. And second, who’s to say that one can’t learn, enjoy friends, gain life skills and healthy independence, and expand your experience aside from a college campus? My dad often likes to point out that many homeschooled students are privileged to graduate from high school with well-rounded life skills (such as those being learned by many college students) already developed.

I am not in any way discouraging or being unappreciative of higher education, I am merely pointing out that many young adults turn 18, graduate high school, move from home, and leave for college simply because it is “the thing to do”. And this shouldn’t be anyone’s main reason. One who goes to college should do so not just because it’s expected of them – but with the whole-hearted intention to make the most of such an opportunity.

My generation is very blessed to have the option of many outstanding Catholic colleges that have been founded within the last 20 years. I receive newsletters from and know students at such places as Thomas Aquinas College in CA, Magdalen College in NH, Christendom College in VA, and University of Dallas – all fantastic, orthodox, relatively small, and very formation-strong Catholic Colleges (among others). It is exciting and wonderful to see the well-formed and truth-equipped youth adults who come from these places, and great to explore these options as my first probabilities if I am called to go to college.

As for this year, I'm remaining at home to continue praying and discerning God's plan, as well as continue directing my movement, which by the grace of God is growing all the time. I smile because it seems that many who hear this assume I’m to have so much time on my hands…when in truth, I’m already realizing that I need to be careful not to over commit! I am thrilled to be teaching Religious Education at two different parishes this year (to 7th and 8th grade, and preparing them for Confirmation!). In addition, I am continuing violin lessons and active involvement in several church choirs, cantoring for Mass, as well as teaching piano and violin students from my home and being hired as assistant teacher for the Joliet Area Suzuki Strings Group. I have one more year in 4-H and will be blessed to remain a member of the Little Flowers Catholic Girls Club, as well as participating in this year’s unit study with the Saint Faustina Club on China. Mix in tutoring my sister in English/grammar, sitting in on a weekly Physics class taught by a homeschool dad, assisting with the Little Flower Buds Club, and various babysitting jobs, and “bored” will continue to be a word without use in my vocabulary. :) In between all this, I hope to find time for sewing and art projects, reading, writing, journaling... and of course, blogging!

THE Question

It's the question I'm asked by everyone from the next-door neighbor, to all my aunts and uncles, to all the elderly ladies from church. It's a question accompanied by [mostly] well-meaning cordiality, [sometimes] curious expressions, [frequently] followed by surprise and [often] followed by opinion. Of course, there are several variations.

"Are you going to college?"
"Where are you going to college?"
"What are you going to do now?"
"What are your plans?"

I always smile at that last one. Apparently, it's a must nowadays to have your "plans made". Apparently, it's a prerequisite to happiness, to fulfillment. Certainly, I can make plans. But I really only have one – to find God’s plan, and follow it. After all, why exert yourself to make “your own” plans when there’s a grand master plan already prepared for you?

This is not just wishful thinking, feel-good belief, or silly idealism. Not one of us is an accident. We are not merely a name, a number, or just somebody stuck here by our Creator and then left to figure everything out on our own. Each of us was willed. Each of us was created by the Master for a purpose. Each of us has a special mission. Each of us has a unique calling. Each of us has a specific vocation that no one else on earth can fulfill in the same way.

It’s really very simple. We seek to find, know, and follow the plan of the Master, and in return, we find real happiness. We find real fulfillment. We find real joy. Not necessarily always comfort and pleasure, but happiness. True happiness. Deep fulfillment. Lasting joy. And any human being who has ever walked the face of the earth longs for these three more than anything else.

So the simple answer to THE question is this: What am I doing now that high school is over? Seeking to follow the Plan of the Master, to find and follow my vocation – not only for my life, but for each moment.

It is quite common nowadays for this word “vocation” to be used in a limited sense only to mean a religious calling (i.e. the vocation of becoming a priest or consecrated religious), when in reality EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US HAS A VOCATION. The word vocation comes from the Latin vocāre, meaning “to call”. And each one of us has a calling…and therefore has a vocation, whether it be to Holy Matrimony, the Consecrated Life, or unconsecrated single life in service to Christ and others.

4. a divine call to God's service or to the Christian life
5. a function or station in life to which one is called by God:
the religious vocation; the vocation of marriage (examples actually given and italicized)
To be continued…

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I'm Still Here!

I had hoped to have some photos for you of where I was this past weekend, but alas! The computer and the camara have made a pact against me and refuse to upload them. ;(

The past two days that I have been home have been taken up with major house-cleaning, de-junking, and organizing. You know, trying overtake the stuff that multiplies before it completely overtakes you.

Have a blessed day and adieu for now!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Yesterday's Feast: The Assumption!

What an amazing, beautiful mystery -- our Lady's Assumption into Heaven. What prompted her Son to exult her body with this great gift? Her perfect purity. She was the lily untarnished by any stain of sin. The one who, without hesitation, said "fiat" to the Will of God. The one who was full of grace. The one who exclaimed: “Magnificat anima mea dominum…My soul magnifies the Lord!” Think about it: Mary's soul was so clear that it not only reflected the image of God – it magnified Him! This lily was too spotlessly pure to be allowed to decay on this earth. She was assumed in glory, taken body and soul to Heaven with Her beloved Son. What a reward! Indeed, the keeping of purity does not go unmerited by the King. Great things has He in store for those who have fought the battle...and won.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

24 years ago, you began a new life together...
and started an adventure
Through joys and sorrows, sickness and health,
you have stayed together...
And now, 24 years and four children later,
you're more in love than ever.

In a world which fears commitment, despises sacrifice, and no longer reveres marriage, thank you for being a living, loving example of this beautiful Sacrament! I love you both.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Lesson on Stage

Tonight, I happened to re-read this true story that I wrote back in 2003 and included in a newsletter I would send out to family and friends. It brings back such a powerful memory of this lesson that I thought I'd share it with you, my blog friends...

I have been blessed to be a part of yearly Catholic dramas as a member of The Little Flowers Catholic Girls Club since I was 8 years old, and in June 2003 I had the incredible privilege of playing Joan in our play “Saint Joan of Arc”. That unforgettable experience, and a true lesson of grace, was forever imprinted upon me in a rather unusual, but truly Providence-guided, way…

At our play practices during the week leading up to the performance, I was really “feeling” and getting into the role, and was finding it wonderful. People were commenting that I had “found my part”. However, on the night of the last rehearsal, I felt strange. I couldn’t feel any of the emotion of my part and wondered what was wrong with me. After the practice I told our leader about my dilemma and she assured me with a saying that her mother – who used to be in the opera – always said: “Bad rehearsal – good performance…good rehearsal – bad performance”. I hoped she was right and that it was just exhaustion from a full week of rehearsals.

So I went home to bed, slept late the next morning, and kept praying throughout the day that, when the performance came, I would act well and for the glory of God. But that night, when we began the performance, I began to get nervous…because I felt too composed! It was too much like the night before…I wasn’t “feeling” my part. I know it sounds strange – nervous about being too composed! Now, I am usually not nervous when I’m acting. It’s such a fun thing for me that I just enjoy myself and can’t even remember a time when I felt “fluttery”. This was the first time. That was when I came to the realization that whether I felt the part or not, I still had to be Joan. Not just play her – be her. I had to re-live Joan for the audience. It didn’t matter if I felt like a dud or like a spark – I was Joan and I had to be her.

So what did I do? I prayed. Every scene, every wait, every pause between scenes, every time I was not speaking, I begged for the grace to really be Joan. And do you know what happened? As I went along, determined to give the part my all whether I felt right or not, the emotion just came.

But I was still slightly doubtful about the last scene. That was the scene where I had to be intensely dramatic and real. I kept praying, and as the stage crew prepared the scenery for the burning, I was asking everyone back stage to pray for me as well (which I was later able to look back on and recognize the gift of those friends lifting me up at that moment!).

Then it was time. The curtain opened. I was led out and tied to the stake. I could feel fear gripping my heart as I imagined myself really about to be burned, but inside I was still praying, praying, praying. And then the most beautiful thing happened to me. When I began to cry out the name of Jesus (Joan’s last words were “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over), the tears began streaming down my cheeks. There was nothing fake about those tears. And the emotion was unbelievable. It was the most wonderful mixture of pain, sadness, and yet joy and peace at the same time. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. It felt, as I described afterward, as if I was let go…I was freed. I was really acting…I was really Joan. I felt like I had reached an intimate connection with her…with what she felt when those flames leapt around her. And my “flames” weren’t even real! (A scenery rig with fans, yellow chiffon, and lights was my “pyre”.)

People told me that I acted well. They said I made them cry. But I know that it wasn’t me…it was totally God’s grace working through me. It was an unforgettable experience of faith – of what the Lord can do for you if you rely on Him. I knew afterward that my nervousness had a much deeper meaning than just feeling “too composed”. It was all part of God’s plan to teach me to have more confidence in Him than I do in myself, and that when I beg Him to give me His strength instead of relying on my own, He will give me what I ask for and much more.

What a beautiful truth! If you ask the Lord to use you for His glory and not your own, if you put complete trust and confidence in Him, He will use you to do unbelievable things! Imagine what we could do if our entire generation realized this and placed their lives and energies in God’s hands. We could change the world! I challenge each one of you to hear and respond to the call - and above all, to trust Him.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What are Your Seeds?

One specific verse from this past Thursday's Reading at Mass (2 Cor 9:6-10) caught me and held on:

"Brothers and sisters:
Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully...
God loves a cheerful giver."

I could not but think: How many seeds do I sow? Each day? Each hour? Am I sowing bountifully the seeds of faith, hope, and love? Or bountifully the seeds of mistrust, discouragement, and selfishness? If it is bountifully of the first, I shall reap the fruits. If it is bountifully of the second, I shall soon be entangled in weeds. If only we would remember this as we go about our daily interactions. What seeds are we sowing with our thoughts, our words, our actions, our attitudes?

And the last phrase: "God loves a cheerful giver." The key word here is cheerful. When I give, is it grudgingly, half-heartedly, pridefully? Or is my giving marked with a spirit of true Christian joy?

Lord, help me each moment to sow more bountifully the seeds of good...and more sparingly the seeds of evil. Help me to be a cheerful giver.

A Marvelous Article

by Elizabeth Foss is at Catholic Exchange today "On Being Ladylike". Check it out!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Saint Clare, Pray for Us

Today is my feast day! And also the Feast of Saint Philomena, virgin and martyr - one of my favorites.

This morning we were blessed to attend a beautiful Mass at our nearby community of Poor Clare Colletines, celebrated by our new Bishop J. Peter Sartain. And tonight I started reading a simply splendid book: Michael O'Halloran by Gene Stratton-Porter...

Hopefully a "real post" will come tomorrow!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Something for Fun

My "five senses favorites"...

To Taste: Ice-cold homemade fruit smoothie, Fresh-steamed asparagus, French bread with garlic butter, juicy, cold fresh fruit, spinach lasanga

To Hear: harp, violin, piano, a baby's cooing, a sacred chant choir, an orchestra, the wind rustling through a tall aspen tree

To Smell: Sacred Chrism oil on the forehead of a newly baptized or confirmed (rapture!), any fresh flower, baking bread, simmering applesauce, cinnamon

To See: Beautiful churches, a family together, a baby's tiny hands and toes, a field of flowers, a majestic mountain, a clear blue sky

To Feel: Rose petals, a baby in my arms, the breeze against my cheeks, gentle sunshine on my face, the hug of a child, sand under my bare feet, smooth satin between my fingers, God's Love!

What are your "five senses favorites"? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Pleasantly Surprised

Last evening, when my mom and dad needed their eyeglasses adjusted at Sears, I went along. Since it has been a very loooong time since I have been to the mall - and anytime within the past 5 years or so when I have, the clothing selections have been not only expensive, but completely undignified and unfeminine - I was somewhat eager to see what they have available this season. Granted, Sears was the only store I was in...but for one store, I was truly pleasantly surprised! Any lady who has felt like she's going in circles in recent years looking at "regular" stores for feminine, modest, and lovely clothing doesn't have to make that claim anymore. Tons of jackets, blazers, classic blouses, and gorgeously long, flowey skirts in fun colors and prints filled the racks I browsed through yesterday. Certainly, there were racks which obviously needed avoiding all together -- but there were plenty that didn't. And the prices too were really not that bad. Mom and I purchased eyelet jackets, originally priced at $58 (meaning that typically we wouldn't even look at them), but clearanced for $9.99!

And Sears isn't the only department store with nice clothing selections this season. We found versatile, comfy tiered denim skirts and lightweight linen jackets at Wal-Mart this spring (White Stag brand), and the many of the clothing photos featured on Kohl's website are very promising.

And I loved the little write-up that I read on the tag of one of White Stag's skirts at Wal-Mart the other day... "here at White Stag, we wear our skirts the way you would your comfy jeans!" I must say, it's nice to see someone catching on!

Perhaps I should have titled this "A Nice Flip to my Shopping Adventure"?

Monday, August 07, 2006

Qui Est Veritas?

After experiencing "The Passion of the Christ" for the first time on April 15, 2004, I went home and composed a number of writings from my reflections -- including the following: Qui Est Veritas? (What is Truth?). Since this blog was non-existent then, permit me to share it with you now...

What is truth? Truth…the undeniable longing of every soul, the quest embedded in each human spirit, the continually undefined mystery, the searching of every human heart…

Down through the ages, from the beginning of time, mankind has engaged in a continual search to find this essence of fulfillment. This quest of humanity is summed in the three words spoken by Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate in the year 33 A.D.: Que est Veritas? What is truth?

The very circumstances of his statement reflect the extent of how blind humanity can really be to truth – or perhaps the hesitance of man to embrace truth once exposed to it. For Pilate asks this question while standing before the very essence of Truth Itself: the second person of the Blessed Trinity, Divinity present in flesh, the God made Man…a living, breathing, walking, speaking embodiment of truth. Yet with this fullness before his very eyes, Pilate asks in confusion and wonderment: Que est Veritas? What is truth?

How does one attempt to define this mystery? The explanation of truth can be both very complex and very simple. Great philosophers and theologians may spend years, or even a lifetime, working toward understanding and defining the essence of truth, and yet it – like many other great mysteries – can often be simply and confidently unraveled by a small child.

Truth is beauty, and beauty is truth. Purity is truth, and truth is purity. Nothing is this world or outside of it that is good, pure, and beautiful is without truth. This truth may stand out clearly and recognizably, or it may be difficult to see. Mankind’s most formidable trio of enemies – the world, the flesh, and the devil – never cease attempting to combine what is not true with the good and the beautiful. In many areas of society and culture today, they have succeededin luring and confusing human beings into following what appears beautiful, but in reality, is whitewashed poison containing no fragments of goodness or truth.

Could this be the reason for so much discontentment and unhappiness in our world today? Man, who was created with an inborn gravitation toward goodness, beauty, purity and truth, is turning in all the wrong directions to find it. None of the avenues endorsed by our current pagan culture will ever lead mankind to fulfillment. The human race will be left searching until it turns to God…the creator of good, the essence of purity, the well-spring of beauty, and the source of truth.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Lead, Kindly Light

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

Meantime, along the narrow rugged path, Thyself hast trod,
Lead, Savior, lead me home in childlike faith, home to my God.
To rest forever after earthly strife
In the calm light of everlasting life.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's Father's Day!

No, I don't have my dates mixed up: today is the Feast of Saint John Marie Vianney, the awesome patron of parish priests. A truly amazing and beautiful saint...an unwavering prayer warrior, untiring confessor, fighter of the devil, and lifelong servant of Christ and His Church. If you don't know anything about the Curé of Ars, I challenge you to read his life story!

My favorite quote from the Curé:
"You either belong wholly to the world, or wholly to God."

Wish a blessed feast day to all our beloved priests!

Dress for Mass, Part 2

For part one, click here.

Casualness and Immodesty. While they seem like separated topics, in many ways they are actually connected. They even often go hand in hand.

A large factor of our modern society has been the rise of “casualism”. It is considered quite acceptable to show up for church, work, or dressy social events in clothing that is loungewear by nature, if not downright sloppy. And while perhaps some may be fond of the attached comfort they consider to go along with casual-wear, there is a downside. Have you ever noticed that, overall, the simple things in life have less meaning for us (as a whole) than they did 50 or 80 years ago? How much more it takes to satisfy us, to make us happy? Part of this is the attitude that “casualness” has helped to foster. These ideals are not isolated to a small compartment, but stretch to affect our whole personhood.

A far too “casual” attitude has been taken toward the Sacred – the sacredness of marriage, the sacredness of worship, the sacredness of life. We live in a culture of instant gratification, of focus on self, and of little respect. For example, many devout Catholics notice and grieve at the sad lack of respect and reverence for our Lord’s true presence in the Blessed Sacrament. If your Churches are as ours are here, then you’ve witnessed many Catholics completely fail to acknowledge the presence of their God (no genuflection, loud talking in Church, etc.).

A young lady in an email pointed out to me that she thinks of Mass as a place where she meets God as a Father, a Brother, and a Friend…and therefore she believes casual (yet modest) attire is appropriate. Yes, Mass is a place where we are meeting our God as Father, Brother, and Friend – but also as Lord. As king. As the infinite Creator of the Universe. And while we are quite free and appropriate walking into a room with our Dad or Brother and putting our feet up on the couch while visiting with him, I’m sure you would agree with me that this would be unacceptable in Church. The point I am making here is that while “casual” does not automatically mean “evil”, the attitude it fosters can be unhealthy in certain times and places. It can easily lead us to take supernatural gifts for granted. The preparation we make before going somewhere or doing something typically sets the level of awe or excitement or respect we have for that occasion – either consciously or subconsciously.

So yes, I believe we should always be dressed – interiorly and exteriorly – with neatness, care, and respect for Mass. This doesn’t mean that you have to be in a formal with nylons and an up-do, but that enough time and care should be taken to reflect in your dress and demeanor (as mentioned in Part 1) the sacredness of the sacrifice you are participating in. The Mass is not just an “ordinary” activity. It is the eternal sacrifice of Calvary continually offered to the Father – and we are privileged to be a part of it! We can ever have too much reverence for this amazing gift.