Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ten Easter Eggs

Some books are good enough to EAT! And some babies too! Thanks to Sharon Chriscoe for the lovely photos.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Blessings!

Resurrection by Fra Angelico 1440
Such a joyous night! To remember salvation history and our own reception into the Church. If Lent was about mortification and putting to death just one evil in our lives, then Easter is about letting one virtue arise! Alleluia!!! May this Easter joy be yours now and always!

I was looking through some artwork and came across a page dedicated to Bible art. Look through. Which one is your favorite? I almost picked the Rembrandt because I love the way he plays with light and dark, but in the end, this painting by Fra Angelico is the one I kept coming back to because it has a storied quality. And if I were illiterate, this is what would bring this amazing story back for me.

We sing Hail Thee Festival Day every year and I never get tired. I didn't realize it was such an old hymn. Text was written by Venantius Fortunatus (530-609) and translated by Maurice Frederick Bell (1906). Enjoy!

Refrain: Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day that art hallowed forever;
day wherein Christ arose,
breaking the kingdom of death.


Lo, the fair beauty of earth,
from the death of the winter arising,
every good gift of the year
now with its Master returns. Refrain

He who was nailed to the Cross
is God and the Ruler of all things;
all things created on earth
worship the Maker of all. Refrain

God of all pity and power,
let thy word be assured to the doubted;
light on the third day returns:
rise, Son of God, from the tomb! Refrain

Ill doth it seem that thy limbs
should linger in lowly dishonor;
ransom and price of the world,
veiled from the vision of men. Refrain

Loosen, O Lord, the enchained,
the spirits imprisoned in darkness;
rescue, recall into life those
who are rushing to death. Refrain

 Ill it beseemeth that thou,
by whose hand all things are encompassed,
captive and bound shouldst remain,
deep in the gloom of the rock. Refrain

 Rise now, O Lord, from the grave
and cast off the shroud that enwrapped thee;
thou art sufficient for us;
nothing without thee exists. Refrain

Mourning they laid thee to rest,
who art Author of life and creation;
treading the pathway of death,
life thou bestowedst on man. Refrain

Show us thy face once more,
that the ages may joy in thy brightness;
give us the light of day,
darkened on earth at thy death. Refrain

Out of the prison of death
thou art rescuing numberless captives;
freely they tread in the way
whither their Maker has gone. Refrain

Jesus has harrowed hell;
he had led captivity captive;
darkness and chaos and death
flee from the face of the light. Refrain  

Saturday, March 26, 2016


Andrea di Bonaiuto (1346-1379), Descent of Christ to Limbo

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. I don't speak Greek, but that's how it was explained to me. 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.
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, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. ~Isaiah 53:5 (700 B.C.)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~John3:16

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
~1 John 4:10



Both paintings are by Giovanni Batista Tiepolo (1696-1770). Holy Week. Good Friday. The day when Jesus won salvation for all men. But today, March 25th, is also the day we celebrate the Annunciation, the date when God became man in Mary's womb. There is something poetic about these two important days coinciding. It's the event horizon. Time stops. I have no words to express myself. But here's an interesting article that attempts. And another. Good food for thought. And even more here and here.

I repeat this verse from the Exultet: "O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer."

And I return to Mary -- her joy and her sorrow. But today her soul is pierced through. This 13th century hymn to Mary has been put to music by many. We typically sing a simple tune when we do Stations of the Cross, and a 4-part arrangement by Zoltan Kodaly on Good Friday, but I just discovered this highly expressive, polyphonic version by John Browne (1425-1505). Enjoy! Mary Undoer of Knots, pray for us.   
Stabat mater dolorosa
juxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Cuius animam gementem,
contristatam et dolentem
pertransivit gladius.

O quam tristis et afflicta
fuit illa benedicta,
mater Unigeniti!

Quae mœrebat et dolebat,
pia Mater, dum videbat
nati pœnas inclyti.

Quis est homo qui non fleret,
matrem Christi si videret
in tanto supplicio?

Quis non posset contristari
Christi Matrem contemplari
dolentem cum Filio?

Pro peccatis suæ gentis
vidit Iesum in tormentis,
et flagellis subditum.

Vidit suum dulcem Natum
moriendo desolatum,
dum emisit spiritum.

Eia, Mater, fons amoris
me sentire vim doloris
fac, ut tecum lugeam.

Fac, ut ardeat cor meum
in amando Christum Deum
ut sibi complaceam.

Sancta Mater, istud agas,
crucifixi fige plagas
cordi meo valide.

Tui Nati vulnerati,
tam dignati pro me pati,
pœnas mecum divide.

Fac me tecum pie flere,
crucifixo condolere,
donec ego vixero.

Juxta Crucem tecum stare,
et me tibi sociare
in planctu desidero.

Virgo virginum præclara,
mihi iam non sis amara,
fac me tecum plangere.

Fac, ut portem Christi mortem,
passionis fac consortem,
et plagas recolere.

Fac me plagis vulnerari,
fac me Cruce inebriari,
et cruore Filii.

Flammis ne urar succensus,
per te, Virgo, sim defensus
in die iudicii.

Christe, cum sit hinc exire,
da per Matrem me venire
ad palmam victoriæ.

Quando corpus morietur,
fac, ut animæ donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
be Thy Mother my defense,
be Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.
— Translation by Edward Caswall, Lyra Catholica (1849)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Ten Easter Eggs

Photo by Katie Kennedy
I'm so excited!!! I'll be doing my first bookstore reading this Saturday, Mar. 26th at 3 pm at the Mount Pleasant Barnes & Noble. If you all are out and about and have little kids to entertain, please stop by!

Here's the link: https://stores.barnesandnoble.com/event/9780061772726-0

Monday, March 21, 2016

Alabaster Box

Holy Week has begun! My reflection on today's Gospel is up on CatholicMom :) I hope you will take a look. This is only my second piece for a Catholic publication and it pleases me like nothing else.

ETA: Our priest exhorted us on Palm Sunday to insert ourselves into the Passion narrative and see whom we are most like, and how we can be more like Jesus.

Enjoy this beautiful song, Alabaster Box, by Julie Meyer. I first heard it sung by Donna Earnhardt at Write2Ignite.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ten Easter Eggs

What joy to see that smile! Irene is a young friend who has battled leukemia and WON!!! Praise God!!!

Folks, this is why I write books.

Only a week before Easter, so order your copy now. But do not fret if book-shops are out of stock, Easter lasts 50 days!!! Thank you for your support. I pray Ten Easter Eggs stays in print for many, many years to bring happiness to many more children.

A happy St. Joseph's day!!! Special prayers going up for all fathers.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Foot-steps and Paw Prints in the Pollen
Happy St. Patrick's Day!!! Today is also the anniversary of my baptism and what an auspicious date to be brought into the life of Christ! I will always be thankful to my mother and father for this because I couldn't have done it on my own. I was like the paralytic who needed to be brought in by his friends and lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. We always celebrate the date of our reception (Apr. 11) into the Holy Roman Catholic Church. It is also the Feast of St. Gemma Galgani. I didn't even know of her existence until just two years ago. A dear friend introduced me to her because of the chronic migraines and I will always be grateful she acted upon her inner promptings. I do believe we have them for a reason! Coincidentally, St. Gemma died on Easter Vigil (this is when catechumens are baptized, confirmed and receive first Holy Communion). I believe she will be a special companion to our children as she's for me. There is such a joy in having heavenly friends on this earthly journey. 

But I digress. Here is St. Patrick's Breastplate: I bind unto myself -- I love it. Be sure to listen to the very end (there's a descant at the end. It's my favorite recording). How often I've sung it to myself when ill. It is powerful. I can fear no evil even in my weakness.

By God's grace and your prayers I'm doing so much better and happily practicing new music for Triduum. For those observing Lent, it's almost over ... I hope it's been happy and fruitful. This Lent has been hard and long for us but I look forward to celebrating our 7th anniversary of reception into Holy Mother Church and welcoming all the Neophytes. Our prayers are with you.

Hymn of St. Patrick -- lyrics for you to sing along :)

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 day to me for ever,
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 starlit 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.

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 today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

Saturday, March 12, 2016


Spring springs upon us. These past few days have been so gorgeous and warm, with birds and squirrels chattering everywhere, the flowers in bloom, and me out on the back porch to soak it all. I've been reading and writing out here in my comfortable rocker that's as old as this cat (18 yrs). She's a good supervisor, giving me the look to get back to my writing. So here I am. Still distracted.

Here's wishing everyone a beautiful spring. Remember to spring forward tonight!


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Little One, God Loves You

http://www.booklookbloggers.com/art/_240_360_Book.1847.cover.jpg Little One, God Loves You written by Amy Warren Hilliker, illustrated by Polona Lovsin is an adorable book children will want to read over and over again because of the bright illustrations and the simple rhyme that flows off the tongue about God’s love and our purpose. It is Purpose-Driven Life for toddlers! It’s a perfect gift for Easter!!! Especially if you pair it with Ten Easter Eggs by yours truly :)
Thanks go to BookLookBloggers for providing a review copy. I've cross-posted on Amazon.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Weaver

The Weaver by Benjamin Malachi Franklin is one of my favorite poems and it was reprinted at the very beginning of My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody. That very instant, I knew we could be friends. Poetry is like that.

My life is but a weaving
Between the Lord and me;
I may not choose the colors-
He knows what they should be.

For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side
While I can see it only
On this, the underside.

Sometimes He weaves in sorrow,
Which seems so strange to me;
But I will trust His judgement
And work on faithfully.

'Tis He who fills the shuttle,
And He knows what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest,
And leave Him to the rest.

Not 'til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needed
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

A Fifty-Year Silence

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/236974/a-fifty-year-silence-by-miranda-richmond-mouillot/9780804140669A Fifty-Year Silence:Love, War, and a Ruined House in France by Miranda Richmond Mouillot was an unusual memoir. Slow-moving and rambling, it is not a book that you eat, but rather savor, like memory itself. The author’s beautiful voice carries the book even though the central mystery – why her grandparents separated after the war and didn’t speak to each other – isn’t even really a mystery. Miranda is the grand-daughter of Holocaust survivors and she recalls her childhood, how uncertain she was about her home, her family, as if they could be ripped from her any moment. She is close to her grandmother, Anna, who was my favorite person in this book. Her joy and optimism even in the bleakest of moments is something to behold. Miranda's grandfather, Armand, is someone she gets to know later, in her teens when at the encouragement of Anna, she spends a year with him in Geneva. He’s a cantankerous and fastidious old man, and one has to wonder how the two even fell in love given their different personalities.
I’ve always been interested in Jewish holocaust stories and this is the only the second book I’ve read about people who managed not to get deported to the death centers. Miranda has been taught to carry the weight of remembering, being the only grandchild. So I took the journey with her as she dove into archives and tried to tease out the stories from her grandparents. I especially enjoyed the series of miracles that saved both Anna and Armand from death. And one can see how these terrible circumstances bind people together, because to love one another is all one has sometimes. But after the war, they led very separate lives, a pregnant Anna, working as a physician, and Armand working as a translator at the Nuremberg trials. Miranda concludes that what he learned at those trials couldn’t coincide with a world in which there was love. It was trauma he had no words for. There is no fairy-tale ending (oh, how I wanted one) but there was closure. The very house that Armand and Anna bought, brought Miranda’s husband into her life.
The writing is superb! I did find the self-absorption of the author a bit tedious, but she was trying to discover herself and she’s honest about it. I imagine this book will become a family treasure and I hope she has a big family so that the weight of stories isn’t so heavy.
Thanks to Blogging for Books for providing a review copy. I am also posting it on Amazon