Sunday, November 28, 2010

First Sunday of Advent

Exert, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy power and come; that by thy protection we may be freed from the imminent dangers of our sins, and be saved by thy mercy.
                     Collect from the First Sunday of Advent

Today is the first day of the new year.  And it's the end of the world, again.  So we pray, "Lord Jesus, come and save us."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Last Sunday after Pentecost

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful; that, becoming more zealous as to the fruit of the divine work, they may receive the greater remedies of thy goodness.
                         Collect from the 24th and Last Sunday after Pentecost

This is all about cooperating with grace.  We should respond intentionally, with a will, to the promptings of grace.  If we do so, God will give us greater graces to do greater works.  It is a picture of progress in holiness:  do the small things according to the grace you are given, and do those things to which you are called because they are the duties of your state in life, and furthermore do them wholeheartedly, and God will grant you greater graces to do greater things, to which you again respond wholeheartedly and grow in holiness.  We should all be concerned about growth in holiness, because the end of the world is at hand, and we know not the day nor the hour.  Let us, therefore, strive to gain the greater remedies for our sinfulness from the goodness of God.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Meal Planning

Life around here is a little unpredictable.  What is appropriate for dinner sometimes depends on whether the baby is being quietly happy and cooperative, or fussy and difficult, or I am exhausted because she has been fussy and refusing to nap all day.  It doesn't really work right now for me to plan out specific meals on specific days.  I also don't have time I want to spend of writing a new meal plan every week.  On the other hand, having no plan means it gets to be dinner time and everyone is hungry and I have nothing quick and simple to fix.  That in turn results in grumpiness.

My current approach is to have about ten standard meals and keep the ingredients for them on hand all the time.  When I run out of something, or it gets low enough that I can't make that recipe again, I write it on my grocery list, which is stuck to my refrigerator with a magnet along with a pencil.  I periodically change some of the recipes in this list to keep things from getting boring. 

This solution works pretty well for me.  When dinnertime rolls around I just go to my list and pick something appropriate for today's situation.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Several years ago I was at the house of friends and saw their two-year-old doing something I knew she wasn't supposed to be.  I frowned at her (I gave her what I call the "teacher look" -- you know, the one that says, "I see you misbehaving and you better quit before I have to come over there.") and she stopped, put her lower lip out, and cried.  I felt pretty proud of myself.  After all, I got a two-year-old to stop misbehaving with just a look.  (The middle school kids I was teaching in school at the time? They were not at all impressed by my teacher look.  I don't think it works above about seven years of age.)

Today my baby fussed.  Why?  She was asking for my attention.  I, being involved with something else, frowned at her (just frowned, nothing like the teacher look).  She cried.  I felt like crying, too.


So I told her I was sorry, and I picked her up and cuddled her, and I left what I was doing on the floor, abandoned, until she took a nap half an hour later.

If I were a saint, I would never frown at a baby.  As it is, hopefully I'll do better for at least a week ... or maybe a day ... a couple of hours? ...

Mea culpa.

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 6)

1.  I've been thinking about the reasonableness of the Catholic Faith.  It is interesting that the healthy way to live is also often the moral way to live.  For example:  it has been recently in the news that "the pill" is a carcinogen on a level with things like asbestos and cigarette smoke.  If you've been leading a moral life according to the teachings of the Catholic Church, then you've got nothing to worry about, because you haven't been using any form of artificial "birth control."

2.  I threw together a dinner last night that my husband and I really liked.
Anne's Jambalaya with Beans
In a large skillet combine 1 cup white rice, 2 cups water, 2 cups pinto beans (a little more than one can), 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes, 1 small onion (chopped), 1/2 pound smoked sausage (chopped), and 2 teaspoons Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning.  Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until rice is done, about 15 minutes.

3.  I've been talking about images again, so here's another picture from the dining room.

4.  My baby has been watching me eat, which caused me to realize that I have some bad habits, and that I'm lacking some good ones.  Yesterday was a pretty good day;  I haven't had peanut butter or crackers all day, and I said the grace before meals out loud before breakfast.

5.  This is horrifying.  Rutgers University Professor Helen Fisher, of the Center for Human Evolution Studies was on the Joy Behar show and described having lots of children as littering.

6.  Happy feast day to all the Elizabeths out there!  Today is the traditional feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.  In only 24 years she was a wife, a mother, a widow, and finally wore the habit of a third order Franciscan.

7.  It's time to go attend to my baby.  My monastic bell is fussing.  My little vox Dei is calling.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Small Successes

1.  Baby and I survived and even enjoyed my brother-in-law's wedding and reception last weekend.  If only wedding reception bands weren't so SO loud it would have been perfect.  Such events are a little more complicated with a nursing not-quite-five-month-old (including the standing up in the bathroom feeding) but we managed, and it was really pretty good.  It helps, of course, that my husband is very helpful about holding her part of the time so I don't get totally exhausted.

2.  I have a pound of dry beans almost done in the crock pot.  They just need to be portioned out and frozen and then they'll be ready and waiting to go in anything I want to put beans in.

3.  I washed our sheets yesterday for the first time in far too long, which means that I was on top of the rest of the laundry enough to be confident I could finish and have them back on the bed before bedtime.  That, in turn, was because I got five loads of laundry done the day before.

Happy Thursday!


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good Example

It seems to me that the easiest way to teach a child to do something is to do it yourself.  Children are sponges; they absorb and imitate everything.  Having a baby who is newly interested in watching me eat is causing me to rethink my eating habits.  Is what she's seeing me do what I want her to learn?  Not really.

So what needs to change?  I should eat healthier things.  I should snack on fruit instead of peanut butter or crackers.  I should be sure to pray out loud before and after eating.  These are the habits I want my daughter to have, so these are the habits that I must form in myself.

St. Gregory the Wonderworker Daybook

Today the Church Celebrates ...
St Gregory the Wonderworker.  He was consecrated bishop over a flock of seventeen, and at his death, there were only seventeen pagans left within the territory of his diocese. 

I am thinking ...
about what to make for dinner tonight.  There's some sausage in the refrigerator saying it's time for jambalaya.

I am praying ...
for a daily extraordinary form Latin Mass in our area.

I am wearing ...
a blue long-sleeved t-shirt and a khaki skirt.

I am creating ...

I am reading ...
The Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Osten.  I just started it.

Outside my window ...
a beautiful, sunny, cool day.
I am listening to ...
silence.  The baby is asleep.
I am thankful for ...
a happy, healthy, sleeping baby.

From the kitchen ...
buttermilk pancakes last night for dinner.  I had the last two as a peanut butter sandwich for lunch today. Yummy.
One of my favorite things ...
reading with my baby.  This morning we read six or seven picture books while lying on our backs on the floor.  I'm excited to have a baby old enough to be occasionally interested in books.
A picture thought I am sharing ...
I've been talking about images, and then more images, so here's one more:
from the Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Images -- Part 2: According to Cardinal Ratzinger

I have always been unusually sensitive about idolatry.  When I was in elementary school I went to a (protestant -- I'm a convert) Christian summer camp.  At one point at that camp, we were talking about the episode in Exodus when Moses is up on the mountain getting the ten commandments from God, while Aaron is down at the base of the mountain with the people.  The people give Aaron all their gold jewelry and Aaron forms it into a golden calf, which they then fall down and worship.  At the summer camp, in order to try to explain to a bunch of elementary school children what idolatry is, they played a pretend game with the "pizza god" that if you danced around this thing then the pizza god would give you a bite of pizza in your mouth.  All the other children danced around the thing and pretended to chew a bite of pizza.  I sat stubbornly on the bench and refused to participate.

Protestants sometimes characterize the Catholic use of images as idolatrous.  It is not.  In The Spirit of the Liturgy, Cardinal Ratzinger explains why (brief summary):  The invisible God has become man and has made Himself visible to us.  Even in Old Testament worship, images were not totally unknown:  the ark of the covenant had two cherubim of beaten gold on the cover, as God commanded Moses.  Icons (and all good sacred art) come from prayer and lead to prayer.  They are intended to draw the mind and heart to God.  Because of all this the Second Council of Nicaea regards iconoclasm as a denial of the Incarnation.  The Catholic use of images is not idolatrous because there is no worship of images, but only of God (even images of the saints are also images of God, because in conforming themselves and their lives to the will of God, the saints become more and more transparent, so that we can see God working in them).  The images are a sort of window into heaven.

On that note, here are a couple more of the image in use in our home:

A San Damiano Cross over the bed

St. Philip Neri

Sunday, November 14, 2010

25th Sunday after Pentecost

Grant, we beseech thee, O almighty God, that, ever meditating on such things as are reasonable, we may, both in word and deed, carry out the things which are pleasing to thee.
              --- Collect from the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany

Far from what secular and atheist men would have us believe, the Catholic Faith is reasonable.  It all hangs together and flows from one thing to another such that it must be all true or all false (I say this as a convert who came to precisely this conclusion, which was a central point in my conversion).  But if it is all false, then whence are we?  No, even the conclusion that it is all false is unreasonable; the very existence of man demands a Creator.  Let us then meditate on our reasonable faith, which with the grace of God will lead us to do and say things which are pleasing to Him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol. 5)

1.  We celebrated Martinmas yesterday with a rehearsal dinner for my brother-in-law, who is getting married tomorrow.  Many prayers that they will have a long and happy life together. 

2.  Since I was talking about images the other day, here's one from the dining room.  It's a picture of the walk to Emmaus, which seems appropriate for the place were we eat our meals.

3.  Here is more proof that Holy Mother Church is generous:  she offers to those of the faithful who have been in the habit of saying some prayers a plenary indulgence, even if there is no priest available to give the apostolic blessing.  I like to think of myself as a reasonably well informed Catholic, but I didn't know about this one until a few days ago, and (please forgive me for repeating myself) I think everyone should know about it.

4.  In addition to being the feast of St. Martin of Tours (a Roman soldier), yesterday was also Veterans Day.  My husband, who keeps track of such things, wore a poppy in his lapel.  Let us remember and pray for all soldier and veterans, both the living and the dead. 
St. Martin of Tours, intercede for all soldiers.

5.  In the place where we lived previously, people were very conscious of the church being the house of God.  People did not have conversations inside the church before and after Mass, in fact, this silence was one of the first very obvious differences I noticed as a convert:  Protestants come into the church on Sunday morning and chat with their friends and mill about until the service starts, while Catholics come into the church, genuflect, find a place in the pews, and kneel down in silence.  Where we live now, that doesn't happen as much, and particularly after Mass, people are a lot less careful to go out of the church to chat.  I miss that silence.  It is a very noticeable testimony to the Real Presence of Christ.

6.  I really enjoyed reading this the other day, because I had already been thinking of the baby's cry as my monastic bell. 

7.  One more thing that makes me happy:  the Roman Martyrology arrived yesterday, and my husband read the day's reading after Vespers.  Yay!

In case anyone is interested, we found it at Preserving Christian Publications.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Martinmas daybook

Today the Church celebrates ...
St. Martin, bishop and confessor.  Martin was the first non-martyr to be recognized as a saint.  He was a soldier in the Roman army as a young man.  According to legend, he met a mostly naked beggar, and because it was cold, cut his cloak in half and gave half to the beggar.  That night in a dream Martin saw Jesus wrapped in this half cloak.  This happened while he was still a catecumen.  Martin went on to be a bishop, and died around 397.  

I am hearing ... 
Mozart violin concertos.  Who knew that my collection of classical music from a music degree would be put to such regular use!

I am thinking ...
that every Catholic should know that there is a plenary indulgence available at the point of death, even if there is no priest available.

I am wearing ... 
a black t-shirt and a linen print skirt.  Somehow, even though the weather has cooled off a great deal, it still seems like summer, or maybe the very beginning of autumn.  Perhaps because the baby and I are just barely beginning to have a routine, and that feels like the beginning of the school year.

I am going ...
to a rehearsal dinner tonight.  My brother-in-law is getting married on Saturday.  Hopefully my baby will cooperate and we will all enjoy the evening (it's kind of hard to enjoy such events with a cranky baby).

From the kitchen ...
apple crisp.  I bought some apples a couple weeks ago that were a big disappointment.  I find baking improves such apples immensely.

Also, we had tuna salad again last night.

I am creating ...
A Christmas dress for my little girl.  I have the fabric washed and the pieces cut out.

I am praying ...
the Angelus.  I'm not getting all three in every day, but I am remembering at least one.  Mostly, when I stagger out of bed sometime between five and seven in the morning to feed the baby, I'm still to asleep to remember.

I am thankful ...
for a husband whose taste is very similar to mine.  It makes choosing artwork for our home enjoyable.

I am reading ...
picture books to my baby.  My mom brought all of my old books to me last weekend, and we are having fun reading them.

A picture thought I am sharing ...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

On Images

Before I was a Catholic, I belonged to several varieties of protestant churches.  While we are not the iconoclasts that we once were, and religious artwork is not entirely absent from protestant homes and churches, this artwork in general has little purpose beyond decoration.  One of the things I love about the Catholic church is that images are used as objects of devotion and aids to prayer. 

When my husband and I set up our household together, we wanted to make sure that anyone who came in our door would immediately know they were in a Catholic home.  However, we have selected artwork that is to our taste (my husband intensely dislikes what he calls "chubby babies with wings"). 

Since we're talking about images, here are a few pictures.

This is what we have displayed on the mantel piece.

An image of the annunciation
thee icons showing Jesus, Mary, and Joseph

a statue of St. Michael the Archangel

a standing Crucifix, in the center

A statue of the Virgin and Child

A prayer by Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman
 This is in the first room one sees upon entering our home.  There are images in every room of the house (except the bathroom -- we thought the humidity might damage things).  I will post more examples later.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Plenary Indulgence

Here's something every Catholic should know:

There is a plenary indulgence available at the point of death.  Ordinarily this is in the form of the apostolic blessing given by a priest.  However, if a priest is unavailable, the indulgence may still be gained, so long as the person has been in the habit of saying some prayers during his life.  The use of a crucifix for gaining this indulgence is suggested but not required.  In general, one must be baptized, not excommunicated, and in the state of grace; and one must have at least a general intention of gaining an indulgence in order to be capable of gaining an indulgence.  At the point of death, the Church supplies for the usual three conditions (Sacramental Communion, sacramental confession, and prayers for the pope). 

All you have to do to avoid purgatory is:
  1. Be in the habit of saying some prayers.
  2. Be in the state of grace.
  3. Intend to gain this indulgence.
So.  Now you know.  Now, since it's November and the "Month of the Holy Souls" go offer your indulgences for all the souls that are in purgatory.  Pray for them; they'll pray for you -- another good way to avoid spending a long time in purgatory.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

24th Sunday After Pentecost

Preserve, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy family by thy constant mercy; that, as it leans solely on the hope of heavenly grace, it may always be defended by thy protection.
                 Collect from the 5th Sunday after Epiphany

I think this Collect is similar to the Our Father:  "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us."  This is conditional.  The Father will forgive us if we have forgiven our neighbor.  We will be defended by God's protection if we rely solely on the hope of heavenly grace.  This reminds me of the parable of the bad steward, which concludes "make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity, that when you shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting dwellings."  I believe this conclusion is, at least on one level, sarcastic.  It rebukes those who would rely on earthly things rather than the help of heaven, and points our that those who are worldly are often more zealous about their business than Christians are about the things of heaven.  Let us remember to be zealous for the things of heaven, where our treasure and our hearts should be.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The House of God

Tomorrow, my sweet baby, we will go to the house of God.  Because it is the house of God, I will wear a pretty skirt and shirt, and my Sunday shoes, and a chapel veil.  Because it is the house of God, I will dress you in a pretty dress, and your daddy will wear a coat and tie.  Because people are there to pray in the house of God, we will be quiet in church.  When you are happy and start to coo, even though I am glad you are happy, I will say, "shh" instead of striking up a conversation with you like I would at home.  This is not our house; it is the house of God.

Friday, November 5, 2010

7 Quick Takes (vol. 4)

1.  I'm trying to remember to pray the Angelus morning, noon, and evening.  (post ideas about reminding myself)

2.  My baby has apparently decided that the carseat is a good place to poop.  Since the episode last Saturday, she has done it several more times, including one that necessitated changing a diaper in the cemetery.

3.  I love this post from Testosterhome.  I have had similar experiences recently; when I finally buckle down and clean up the clutter that has been bothering me, it makes me happy to look at it for several days.  Amazingly, this seems to spill over into every part of my life, making me generally more cheerful, patient, and mindful of things that need to be done.

4.  We had tuna salad sandwiches last night for dinner, even though it wasn't Friday.  Tonight will probably be some sort of beans and rice concoction.  When I get that perfected, I'll post my recipe for that as well.

5.  I've been thinking about good example.  How do I teach my child to pray if she doesn't see and hear me do so?  Better pray.  Out loud.  Every day.   How do I teach her to eat well?  I guess I should eat better myself.  And the list goes on.  I will be posting more about this later.

6.  Happy Name Day (yesterday), Charlotte at Waltzing Mathilda!  One of my names is also a derivative of Charles, and although my parents had no such thing in mind when naming me (I am a convert), I claim Charles Borromeo as a patron as well.

7. This is what I do while standing up rocking my baby until she falls deeply asleep enough so that I can put her in her crib.  It sure makes five minutes go by faster.
Find more Quick Takes at Conversion Diary

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday Recipes

On all the Fridays of the year, we abstain from meat.  We do this because it is a penitential day.  According to Canon Law
Can. 1250   All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the universal Church.  
Can. 1251  Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities.
The USCCB has allowed for some other form of penance to be substituted on the Fridays outside of Lent, but "give first place to the abstinence from flesh meat."

So here's one of our favorite meatless recipes:

Anne's Tuna Salad Sandwiches
2 5-oz. cans of tuna
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 Tablespoons Tiger Sauce
Flake tuna, and stir in other ingredients.  Serve on bread for sandwiches. 

This serves two adults for dinner.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Here's another indulgenced prayer that takes about a minute to say.  Traditionally, the angelus is said at 6 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm, and a partial indulgence is granted to those who recite it at any or all of these times.  I realized today that I am generally holding a baby and walking around at all three of these times, so a memorized prayer would be really easy to do at those times.

Here's the text of the prayer in Latin:

     V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariæ.
     R. Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Amen.
     V. Ecce Ancilla Domini.
     R. Fiat mihi secundum Verbum tuum.

Ave Maria...
     V. Et Verbum caro factum est.
     R. Et habitavit in nobis.

Ave Maria...
     V. Ora pro nobis, Sancta Dei Genetrix.
     R. Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.

     Oremus: Gratiam tuam quæsumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde; ut qui, angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui Incarnationem cognovimus, per passionem eius et crucem, ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

And here is the prayer in English:

     V.  The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
     R.  And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.
     V.  Behold the handmaid of the Lord.
     R.  Be it done to me according to thy word.
Hail Mary ...
     V.  And the Word was made flesh.
     R.  And dwelt amongst us.
Hail Mary ...
     V.  Pray for us, O holy mother of God.
     R.  That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
     Let us pray.  Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection; through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

All Souls Daybook

Outside my window ...
it's a grey, stormy day today.

I am hearing ...
raindrops hitting the windows. 

I am thinking ...
about the holy souls in purgatory and the church's very generous rules for gaining a plenary indulgence on their behalf during this week after the Feast of All Saints.

I am praying ...
to Our Lady of Prompt Succor.

I am thankful ...
that our priest has decided to have an extraordinary form Mass today.

From the kitchen ...
just sandwiches for dinner tonight.  After the extra effort to get the baby ready and rehearse the music, and then sing the propers of the Requiem Mass, and then take care of the baby again, and then stop by the cemetery on the way home, we were exhausted.  So we had sandwiches and rested.

I am wearing ...
black for All Souls.

I am reading ...
Guiding your Catholic Preschooler.  I'm not sure about this one yet.  Maybe it's just that I've only ever been a Catholic adult, so I'm having trouble seeing the Catholic faith through the eyes of a small child.

A picture thought I am sharing ...

Monday, November 1, 2010

Feast of All Saints

O almighty, everlasting God, who hast granted us to venerate in one solemnity the merits of all thy saints; we beseech thee, that as our intercessors are multiplied, thou wouldst bestow upon us the desired abundance of thy mercy. 
               Collect from the Feast of All Saints

With so many to pray for us, let us not forget to pray for the dead.  All this week (November 1st through 8th), "a plenary indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who ... devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, if only mentally, for the departed."  (from the current Manual of Indulgences)  It is also necessary to be free from attachment to any sin, receive a sacramental confession, communion, and pray for the intentions of the Pope. 

The document The Gift of the Indulgence states that it is sufficient to have made a sacramental confession "within several days (about 20)" before or after doing the prescribed work.  This is much more generous than the old requirement of "within the octave" and this permission is still in effect (not only for the Jubilee year).

Since the church is so generous, let us not fail to send this abundance of mercy to the aid of the poor souls in purgatory.