Thursday, April 29, 2021

Books, books, books!!!

It feels like Christmas! I was writing up some book reviews for our parish newsletter and visited Tan Books to get links and I knew it'd be dangerous territory because there's never anything that I don't want. They had amazing deals, $5 books, and I a big way. I dare you to check them out and not have something in your cart. 

I've been reading out on my back porch, taking in the scent of jasmine as it wafts on the breeze. But I really should finish those book reviews. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Growing, growing, strong!!!

My children with their friends at a formal dance. So lovely! Most of them have spent a spring break or two with us. Max et. al. will be starting a new chapter in their lives.  Oh, may the good Lord direct all their steps. What a terrific foundation they have received at Ave Maria University. Deo gratias!

Friday, April 16, 2021

Caroline: Little House, Revisited

Every once in a while you come across a book so exquisite, words fail you. Today I started reading Caroline: Little House, Revisited by Sarah Miller and I am in awe. She is a beautiful writer, a bold one, taking on the voice of her character. She inhabits Caroline--Ma Ingalls--of the Little House books so perfectly, I'm lost in her. If you loved the Little House books, you will love Caroline.

I learned about Sarah when she used to hang out on the Blueboards, a generous contributor. Sarah's first book was Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller in Annie Sullivan's voice. I loved Helen's autobiography so it was a joy to read from Annie's POV. This is Sarah's strength--to immerse herself completely in the person she's writing about, truly bringing history to life.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Divine Mercy and Strawberries

Divine Mercy image in Vilnius
Eugeniusz Kazimirowski (1873-1939)

On this eve of Divine Mercy and our 12th anniversary of reception into the Church, my heart overflows with gratitude for all the blessings and so I share a prayer to three united hearts that resemble strawberries.

Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee.

Heart of Mary, I implore thee.

Heart of Joseph, pure and just,

in these three hearts

I place my trust.


For the Sake of His Sorrowful Passion by Meggie Daly has beautiful meditations for praying the Divine Mercy chaplet. And Fr. Gaitley's book on 33 Days to Merciful Love is embracing our own littleness and brokenness like St. Therese and trusting and allowing Jesus to make us saints. A must-read. 

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Happy Easter!!!

Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. For this He was born and for this He died. Easter Vigil was so beautiful, listening to salvation history, and then celebrating the entry of the newest members of our family. Truly, it's like being at the gates of heaven. We had a beautiful High Mass for Easter Day--first time ever. We must do it again! Deo gratias!!!

Our citrus flowers--lemon, tangerine and grapefruit (ready to burst open)--are all so fragrant. Love them. A blessed and beautiful Easter to all. He is Risen! Alleluia!!!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Holy Saturday Musings with Links and a Poem: LIMBO

Jimmy Akin has an interesting piece about pinning down the date of Jesus' Crucifixion
Descent of Christ from the Cross
 ~ Jean Joseph Weerts (AD 1847-1927)
and it's April 3, AD 33.

Saturdays are devoted to Mary. If her greatest joy had been to hold the baby Jesus, then the greatest sorrow occurred when she held the dead Body of her Son on Good Friday. Yet, she in her sorrow had the fullness of the faith even though everybody had lost it--the Apostles and holy women did not expect the Resurrection even though Jesus Himself spoke about it! There is a beautiful and more thorough explanation here from which I quote: "It is precisely the day that reminds us of the tragic hour of doubt and abandonment... Until the triumph of the Immaculate Heart comes we are living a great Holy Saturday in which one would say that everything we love lies in the grave without balms and in disorder, contempt, hatred and abandonment." 

I've been spending a lot of time with St. Joseph and it's clear that his greatest sorrow was knowing that the beautiful Child would one day suffer and His Mother will share that pain and sorrow and he would not be there to protect them. And so I repost: In the Apostles Creed, which we recite daily, we speak of Jesus descending into hell. This is not the hell of the damned, but simply the abode of the dead, before the gates of heaven were opened. And here's a beautiful poem about it:

Limbo By Sister Mary Ada, OSJ
The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before the wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”
A murmurous excitement stirred
All souls.
They wondered if they dreamed –
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.
And Moses, standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
All blossom-boughed.
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
With water
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas,
The one old man who had not stirred
Remembered home.
Andrea di Bonaiuto (AD 1346-1379), Descent of Christ to Limbo

And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.
No canticle at all was sung
None toned a psalm, or raised a greeting song.
A silent man alone
Of all that throng found tongue –
Not any other
Close to His heart.
When the embrace was done,
Old Joseph said, “How is Your Mother,
How is Your Mother, Son?”

Friday, April 2, 2021

Good Friday Reproaches

I learned about the Reproaches only a couple of years ago when our choir director started singing them during the veneration of the Cross. They are powerful--Christ crying out to His people from the Cross. My favorite version is the chant alternating with polyphony composed by Victoria

My people, what have I done to you
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you out of Egypt,
from slavery to freedom,
but you led your Savior to the cross.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

Holy is God!
Holy and mighty!
Holy immortal One, have mercy on us!

For forty years I led you
safely through the desert.
I fed you with manna from heaven,
and brought you to a land of plenty; but you led your Savior to the cross.

Repeat "Holy is God..."

What more could I have done for you.
I planted you as my fairest vine,
but you yielded only bitterness:
when I was thirsty you gave me vinegar to drink,
and you pierced your Savior with a lance.

Repeat "Holy is God..."


For your sake I scourged your captors
and their firstborn sons,
but you brought your scourges down on me.

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I offended you? Answer me!

I led you from slavery to freedom
and drowned your captors in the sea,
but you handed me over to your high priests.
"My people...."

I opened the sea before you,
but you opened my side with a spear.
"My people...."

I led you on your way in a pillar of cloud,
but you led me to Pilate's court.
"My people...."

I bore you up with manna in the desert,
but you struck me down and scourged me.
"My people...."

I gave you saving water from the rock,
but you gave me gall and vinegar to drink.
"My people...."

For you I struck down the kings of Canaan.
but you struck my head with a reed.
"My people...."

I gave you a royal scepter,
but you gave me a crown of thorns.
"My people...."

I raised you to the height of majesty,
but you have raised me high on a cross.
"My people...."

Another favorite is the Taize chant: Jesus, remember me when You come into Your Kingdom. I was so honored to lead it off because it is a prayer I make many times throughout the day. I heard it the first time when we were entering the church and I cried and cried because this was my desire, coming home to my Love, may we never ever be separated from Him ever again. I love how we pray not just for ourselves and but for the whole world. Our pastor gave a beautiful homily on why our dear Jesus had to die on the Cross. Here's the link to our Good Friday liturgy. Tonight, we watch The Passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Lamp, Lenten Feasts, and Admiration

We've had such a beautiful time with our church family for Laetare Sunday and the Feast of St. Joseph. We've entered Passiontide but as our pastor reminds us, Lent is 40 days but Eastertide is 50.  Might I suggest Ten Easter Eggs for the little ones in your family? I'm so delighted it's still in print. I wonder if total sales have exceeded 100,000. They were close to 90,000 in 2019 and I've not received a statement since.

Below is Michael's cousin--there's definitely a family resemblance though Michael cannot grow such an impressive beard (his brother can). I can't wait to see Max et. al. during Easter break and have a celebratory reading of his letter to the editor published in its entirety in The Lamp. I might be asking him for advice on publishing in Catholic magazines next. So proud of him. And he's so proud of his father, looking very cool posing next to his Alfa Romeo. Ah, those were the days of fast cars and our guardian angels working overtime. Deo gratias! 

It's definitely spring here with pollen everywhere. I took this picture from the porch where I was hanging out the wash and looking in to see Jules cuddling up to Michael. Such a sweetie. 

And today--Happy Feast of the Annunciation and the Feast of the Good Thief Dismas! Legend tells us that Good Friday occurred on Mar. 25th and I love its circularity (I wrote about it when it did happen in 2016) and this is what Ap. Fulton Sheen said about St. Dismas in Life of Christ

“A dying man asked a dying man for eternal life; a man without possessions asked a poor man for a Kingdom; a thief at the door of death asked to die like a thief and steal Paradise. One would have thought a saint would have been the first soul purchased over the counter of Calvary by the red coins of Redemption, but in the Divine plan it was a thief who was the escort of the King of kings into Paradise. If Our Lord had come merely as a teacher, the thief would never have asked for forgiveness. But since the thief's request touched the reason of His coming to earth, namely, to save souls, the thief heard the immediate answer: 'I promise thee, this day thou shalt be With Me in Paradise' (Luke 23:43) It was the thief's last prayer, perhaps even his first. He knocked once, sought once, asked once, dared everything, and found everything. When even the disciples were doubting and only one was present at the Cross, the thief owned and acknowledged Him as Saviour.”

Friday, March 19, 2021

Litany of St. Joseph and Litany of Humility

I've been reciting the Litany of St. Joseph since last year when I consecrated myself to Jesus through him, placing myself under his protection. Truly, I am thankful for his fatherhood given how much I have longed for my own father in the wake of our fractured family life. It is only after our conversion that I have had  consolation in having spiritual fathers--St. Patrick, St. Alphonsus, St. Padre Pio--but St. Joseph is the perfect father. One of my favorite titles of St. Joseph is "Terror of demons" and the reason for it is St. Joseph's humility, so I often pair his litany with the Litany of Humility, which I still find very difficult to recite regularly but somehow God gives me the grace to do so. And He continues to transform me. So today on St. Joseph's Feast Day, I post both litanies. Happy Feast Day! Deo gratias!   

Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Joseph, pray for us.
Illustrious son of David, pray for us.
Light of patriarchs, pray for us.
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us.
Chaste guardian of the Virgin, pray for us.
Foster father of the Son of God, pray for us.
Watchful defender of Christ, pray for us.
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us.

Joseph most just, pray for us. 
Joseph most chaste, pray for us.
Joseph most prudent, pray for us.
Joseph most valiant, pray for us.
Joseph most obedient, pray for us.
Joseph most faithful, pray for us.

Mirror of patience, pray for us.
Lover of poverty, pray for us.
Model of workmen, pray for us.
Glory of home life, pray for us.
Guardian of virgins, pray for us.
Pillar of families, pray for us.
Solace of the afflicted, pray for us.
Hope of the sick, pray for us.
Patron of the dying, pray for us.
Terror of demons, pray for us.
Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord!

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord!

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us!

V. He made him the lord of His household, R. And prince over all His possessions.

Let Us Pray
O God, Who in Thine ineffable Providence didst vouchsafe to choose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of Thy most holy Mother, grant, we beseech Thee, that he whom we venerate as our protector on earth may be our intercessor in Heaven. Who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

Some wonderful books for you to learn more about St. Joseph in this year dedicated to him, the first in the Church's 2,000-year history. I've copied the lace cards from: Holy Card Heaven

O Jesus meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being wrongedDeliver me, Jesus.
From the fear of being suspectedDeliver me, Jesus.
That others may be loved more than I,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That in the opinion of the world, others may increase, and I may decrease,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should,
   Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Laetare Sunday 3/14 was Pi Day, yesterday John 3:16 Day, and today St. Patrick's Day, which also happens to be my baptism day! Born in Christ! 

Here's a hymn, translation of St. Patrick's breastplate, most beautifully sung by the Corpus Christi Male Chorale. It might be the best 5 minutes you spend today! A happy day to you!

I bind unto myself today

The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same
The Three in One and One in Three.

I bind this today to me forever
By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;
His baptism in Jordan river,
His death on Cross for my salvation;
His bursting from the spicèd tomb,
His riding up the heavenly way,
His coming at the day of doom
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
Of the great love of cherubim;
The sweet ‘Well done’ in judgment hour,
The service of the seraphim,
Confessors’ faith, Apostles’ word,
The Patriarchs’ prayers, the prophets’ scrolls,
All good deeds done unto the Lord
And purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
The virtues of the star lit heaven,
The glorious sun’s life giving ray,
The whiteness of the moon at even,
The flashing of the lightning free,
The whirling wind’s tempestuous shocks,
The stable earth, the deep salt sea
Around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
The power of God to hold and lead,
His eye to watch, His might to stay,
His ear to hearken to my need.
The wisdom of my God to teach,
His hand to guide, His shield to ward;
The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility.

 I bind to me these holy powers.
Against all Satan’s spells and wiles,
Against false words of heresy,
Against the knowledge that defiles,
Against the heart’s idolatry,
Against the wizard’s evil craft,
Against the death wound and the burning,
The choking wave, the poisoned shaft,
Protect me, Christ, till Thy returning.

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity,
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.
By Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Text attr: Patrick, c. AD 372-466; Hymn by Cecil F. Alexander (AD 1818-1895); Music by Charles V. Stanford (AD 1852-1924)