Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Little Girl Again

We took a family "rosary-walk" tonight at dusk — such a tranquil time. All was still. The inky silhouettes of the trees lay against the smooth indigo sky.

Dad likes to for us all to stay near each other as we pray the rosary, so he has us walk in two lines of three, holding hands. For a time, I ended up between Mom and Dad. It's been a long time since I've had one of my hands in each of theirs. It was comforting and secure...for a bit I felt like a small girl again.

I am infinitely blessed with parents who are selfless, wise, and so present. Any gifts and strengths that have been cultivated in me have been largely from their loving training. From the haven of a home filled with Faith and growing in love by the grace of God working through and despite our human struggles.

This kind of home is recognized by many, including our Holy Fathers, as crucial to the growth and health of society.

“Many people ask: why are families so important? Why does the Church so insist on the topic of marriage and the family? The reason is simple, even if not everyone can understand it: the future of the human person, his happiness, his capacity for giving life meaning all depend on the family… As the family goes, so goes the world.” (John Paul II)

“The family is a kind of school of deeper humanity. But if it is to achieve the full flowering of its life and mission, it needs the kindly communion of minds and the joint deliberation of spouses, as well as the painstaking cooperation of parents in the education of their children.” (Gaudium et Spies: The Church in the Modern World)

“Today, if they are to give a truly human face to society, no people can ignore the precious good of the family, founded on marriage.” (Benedict XVI)

Let us pray for the healing of the family. For the restoration of homes where prayer, work, play, and service foster the kind of unity that in turn, strengthens all of society!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Simple Joy

is taking a walk home from Mass with your ten-year-old brother on a breezy Spring morning and laughing together at all kinds of wonderful discoveries.

At a squirrel that didn't realize we were near him (and nor did we, for that matter) until we were right next to his little tree, and then bolted for dear life across the sidewalk...about two feet in front of us.

At tulips with pointed petals.

At what David says he was "99.9 percent sure" were springs of poison ivy growing along the sidewalk. "Add about a million nines after that point," he said. I believe him, too — that boy has a positive knack for spotting and correctly identifying poison ivy.

At random patches of perfect violets, especially the variegated ones that are white along the edges but the loveliest pale purple in the middle. We both exclaimed at those... and tried to capture them with the cell phone camera.

At the charmingest house (I know, that's probably not a word, but it should be). Don't ask me why I've never noticed it before. It looks like it could be right out of a book, or a movie. Ivy clung to the antique yellow stone walls, complete with arches and such. The fact that it was somewhat set higher than the road added to its allure. Even the yard was unusual, with a little brick walkway along the house and things growing here and there. We felt like were looking at a kind of cross between a Victorian cottage, English Tudor, and miniature castle!

At little white blossoms growing directly from the fat limb of a tree!

At a literal blanket of petals in one yard — the work of the big, beautiful magnolia succumbing to the tugging breeze.

...At the gentle beauty of spring, bursting forth in all its splendor.


Last night, thanks to the invitation of a professional violinist with whom we've had the chance to become aquinted with recently, I had the opportunity to see Rachel Barton play in person — for free! (It was a final rehearsal for the a nearby concert she's playing this weekend...we all got to go.)

It was sublime. So incredible that a person can take that instrument and bring from it such sweetness! It's the kind of sound in which one can simply melt. Just amazing.

Our violinist friend summed it up exactly, I think: "She has an absolute gift from God".

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Secrets of the Eucharist

Let's just continue our Sacramental theme, shall we? :) We hosted a meeting tonight for the parents of our First Communicants at St. Joseph's, and so last week I searched around for a Eucharistic "teaching" film to show them. I found Seven Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn.

All of us really need to make sure we are continually re-energizing our understanding of what and Who the Eucharist is. If we don't, it can all too easily become thoughtless monotony.

This talk, based off of Mr. Flynn's book by the same name, does just that: wakes and shakes us up to profound reality of this gift! He highlighted how the effectiveness of the Sacrament is directly proportional to our participation in it. He takes what may sound at first like simple or even obvious points and completely lights them up. For example: the Eucharist is alive. When we receive our Lord, it is not the dead Jesus but the living one! We receive the presence of the whole Trinity as Father and Holy Spirit come to us with Jesus! We receive the presence of all of heaven, angels and saints, as they come to us with Him!

I especially loved Mr. Flynn's explanation of Spiritual Communion. Wow... it's so much more than most of us think! He shares a beautiful prayer: "Jesus, lock me in the tabernacle with You." There is a lot to be meditated on in that tiny little prayer...

What I most appreciated was how everything he explained was based off of writings of the Popes, Saints, and Divine Revelations such as Our Lord to St. Faustina. So solid. So good.

At the very end, he mentions how a whole chapter of Pope John Paul's Eucharistic Encyclical was dedicated to Our Lady. He then goes on to share some of the most beautiful titles for her... such as the First Tabernacle, the first Eucharistic procession (when she bore Jesus and went to Elizabeth!), and the Living Monstrance.

He also drove home how crucial it is for us to enter into communion with Our Lord, not just passively receive Him. It really struck me when he said that one could receive Holy Communion every day of their life, but remain unchanged if they're not desiring and working toward and praying for closer union with Christ!
The summary of it all is this: we can transform both our own lives and life of the Church through the life and power of the Eucharist... if only we desire it.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sealed in the Spirit

Tonight, the twenty-one students of my Religious Education Class at St. Joseph's in Joliet received the Sacrament of Confirmation at the hands of our Bishop J. Peter Sartain. Preparing them the past two years, and being intimately involved in the Liturgy and celebration has in a very tangible way been somewhat of a "reliving" of my own Confirmation eight years ago. The articles, stories, quotes, and teachings that I've looked up and prepared for my students have been just as much a blessing for me.

I especially love this excerpt which I found in an article on (that website is a gem!):

Confirmation marks one's spiritual growing up. With Confirmation he is launched on the social aspect of his spiritual life, with which goes an even greater obligation to pursue his own sanctification. But self-sanctification is now dependent upon his relationship with all men. With Confirmation, he is equipped, by the strengthening in him of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to look at the world with new eyes, to desire its conquest for Christ with new love. He sees more clearly (if he is helped to see by his parents and teachers) what it means to be a member of the Mystical Body. Like a cell in his own body, he is a cell in the Body of Christ. Each cell is important, a part of a whole. Without it, the whole would be less whole. If one cell is sick (in sin), the whole is less well. Now he begins to see that it is up to him, as well as to the other members of the Body, to work for the total health of the Body; not only that — but to work for the further growth of the Body.

The absolute beauty of the Mystical Body of Christ is something that has, and continues to leave me awestruck — especially in the last year or two. Recently a seminarian friend coined a phrase that I thought summed it up perfectly: the interconnectedness of the Body of Christ. It is so, so much more connected than I think any of us realize. It's incredibly powerful to realize the truth of the above text: we literally and directly affect the life and health of the whole body. Amazing!

It was truly bittersweet to watch my spiritual children receive this Sacrament tonight. It's near the end of our time together so far (only 3 more classes before the school year ends), but I hope and pray that much more than an end, it is a bright new beginning for them. One of my students' mothers asked me tonight if I was nervous. And while I wouldn't describe myself as that, there were plenty of other emotions swirling around my mind and heart this evening.

And oh, but I so love our bishop. I was cheering (silently, of course) from the choir loft as he gave his final message to the youth. With authority and yet tenderness, he said some of the very same key points I've tried so hard to drive home for them this year: Confirmation is not the same thing as graduation. This doesn't mean you are done learning the Faith. This doesn't mean Religious Education is done for you!

Forgive me if I my reflection here is somewhat disjointed tonight. I wish I could summarize here somehow the culmination of graces for me the past few months. I feel as though I've had greater contemplation, and less spoken words than typical for me (perhaps my family wouldn't agree, but it seems so to me!). I am usually one to whom words come fairly easily, even about relatively awkward or in-depth topics. There are plenty of times lately, however, when I'm caught up in a kind of interior thought and find myself not saying much... or it's almost difficult when I do.

It might sound strange, but at times like these there is such a strange mixture of emotion when it comes to writing (at least, to blogging). My head and heart are simply brimming with things about which I wish to write, but interestingly, I'm almost reluctant to do so... as if I'm fearful that I won't have the time to do justice to the beauty or depth of the topic.

The Holy Spirit was indeed present in a very real way tonight. And He has been in many of our classes. There are days when I can stand up in front of those twenty-one seventh and eighth graders and know that He has taken over the words coming out of my mouth. And then I wish the clock would stop moving! I just hope that I have given these young people a glimpse into the treasure chest (rather, the gold mine) that is our Faith.

Father, grasp them in the palm of Your Hand. Son, encircle them in the abode of Your Heart, Holy Spirit, inflame them with the all-consuming fire of Your Love!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Glimpses just a few of the goings-on of the past few weeks! Perhaps this can make up a bit for my extended absence here. :)

St. Faustina (a.k.a. Sarah) visited our parish for a special presentation!

"My Jesus, I want to love You as no human soul has ever loved You before; and although I am utterly miserable and small, I have nevertheless cast the anchor of my trust deep down into the abyss of Your mercy, O my God and Creator!" (Saint Faustina Kowalska)

Sarah was a Confirmation sponsor a few weekends ago, and Veronica made these beautiful nosegays for her and her goddaughter

A close-up

Suzuki music lessons have kept me busy!

My little students are so enjoyable

Spending quality time with Grandma Jan at her favorite place: Culver's. (Actually, this was back in March, but I thought I'd include it anyway!)

A sweet moment...

Appassionata played and sang for a First Communion a few weeks ago

Veronica, inspired by online photos of a "Friends" necklaces priced at $40 each, turned around and made these for a fraction of that!

My goddaughters (Veronica and Amanda) modeling their new necklaces

A baking project -- by many hands!

Our young griller... now that the weather's warming, he's done quite a bit of this lately!

At a recent Little Flowers Senior Club meeting, we had the opportunity to decorate cakes. As this is not something I often have the time for, it was a lot of fun!

Sarah's cake...

...and mine.

Easter 2008 Snapshot

Blessings! I hope and pray to be able to "return" with some more substantial writing soon.


Mrs. Hammond just had this quote from St. Ambrose on her blog...
"Chastity will be lost where the distinction between the sexes is not observed."

-St. Ambrose of Milan (340-397AD)
Are we seeing it... or are we seeing it?

Sunday, April 06, 2008


Lady Clare from Romance and the Roses very sweetly awarded me with this a few weeks ago. Thank you, Clare!

I'm supposed to award it to ten others, but I think I will just keep it simple and say that if you're on my sidebar, you are one of my favorites and I hereby award it to you!

The occasion calls for a quote :)...

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."


Book Bomb Praise Report!

Well, Spring is here (I think), and so am I! I've so many post ideas swirling around in my head that I need to make time to write!

First of all, I neglected to follow-up after my Do Hard Things Book Bomb plug. Thanks to our Lord's goodness prompting thousands of passionate youth and adults who have faith in our generation, on March 25th we took Do Hard Things from #625 to #5 of's bestsellers and #1 in the Christianity section! I hope and pray this is indicative of a transformation happening in my generation. Glory be to God for the great things He has done!

If you haven't heard of this book yet or you're wondering what on earth a "book bomb" is, visit here.

Charlton Heston... Rest in Peace

"I've played three presidents, three saints and two geniuses...
and that's probably enough for any man."
"Political correctness is simply tyranny with manners."
"You can spend a lifetime, and, if you're honest with yourself,
never once was your work perfect."
"It's been quite a ride. I loved every minute of it."
-Charlton Heston