Feastday Highlights: The Queenship of Mary

This feast means a lot to me, because it marks the anniversary of my heart diagnosis. Friday will be one year since I found out that I have a faulty ticker. It is also the date that I made my Total Consecration to Mary when I was in my late teens. I have placed all these concerns in Mary’s hands, and she has kept me close in her mantle, being such a good Queen Mother to me.

I just posted some short thoughts at Catholic Culture:

The Queenship of Mary on August 22nd is a title of Mary that is more difficult to grasp in this more “democratic” era. Most queens around the world are ceremonial and symbolic and do not rule a county. Revisionist history presents most queens as corrupt or power-hungry. The Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen does not fit any of these descriptions.

This is one of the more recent feast days of Mary, established by Pius XII in 1954 for the Universal Church on May 31st. The revision in 1969 of the General Roman Calendar moved it to the eighth or octave day of the solemnity of the Assumption to stress the connectedness of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption and Queenship.

Read the rest at Catholicculture.org:

Feastday Highlights: The Assumption

The month of August has only one solemnity, and it is also a Holy day of Obligation: August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, body and soul into heaven. This feast has the juxtaposition of being one of the oldest feasts of Mary dating back to the 6th century but also has the most recent declaration of the dogma of Mary’s assumption in 1950.

The feast of the Assumption is closely connected to the other Marian dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Mary was conceived without Original Sin, which we celebrate on December 8. She remained stainless from sin, and so the Assumption is the result or outcome of being sinless. Her body was too pure to remain on earth to decompose, so it was taken up by God to be united with her soul.

The main tradition of the Assumption is that the Blessed Mother died in the presence of most of the Apostles (St. Thomas was missing) and her body was laid in a tomb. Later the apostles brought St. Thomas to see the tomb. It was then they discovered  that Mary’s body was gone and the tomb was filled with beautiful and fragrant flowers. Read the rest at Catholic Culture

Restoring a Catholic Culture through Liturgical Cooking: Early August Thoughts

I’m currently reading Eternity in Time: Christopher Dawson and the Catholic Idea of History edited by Stratford Caldecott and John Morrill. It is a collection of essays by various authors honoring Christopher Dawson’s life and work as a Catholic historian. Throughout the years I have been influenced by Dawson in his vision and purpose of his work. His daughter Christina Scott explains “he was inspired by a single idea, namely, that religion is the soul of a culture, or to put it simply, faith and culture are one…he saw how Western civilization was born from a complete fusion of the Christian faith and a Christian way of life, which came be called Christendom.” (p. 15).

Dawson saw Europe in the Middle Ages as the time this spiritual unity was very closely achieved.  Further in the book in the essay Christopher Dawson and the Catholic idea of history, Dermot Quinn explained:

It was…an age in which the implications of spiritual unity were worked out and made manifest in the life of a society. In the secular sphere, ‘a new democratic spirit of brotherhood and social co-operation’ arose, along with growth in communal and corporate activity. In the ecclesiastical sphere, the Church became responsible for education, art, literature, the care of the poor, the comfort of they dying: not institutional obligations but the duties felt by men towards men….But medieval spirituality joyfully embraced the goal of Christian brotherhood…. Separation between faith and life, or between the spiritual and material was avoided, ‘since the two worlds [had] become fused together in the living reality of a practical experience’. Francis made that Augustinian fusion a reality, St Thomas gave it philosophical authority. It was Aquinas who recognized the autonomy of natural reason in epistemology, ethics, and politics, precisely because he recognized the incarnational implications of that autonomy….

This was the medievalism Dawson celebrated: an era and a people transformed by the power of the gospel. Here was no exercise in mere pietas, no lament for lost centuries. The importance of those centuries was ‘not to be found in the external order they created or attempted to create, but in the internal change they brought about in the soul of Western man’. Dawson loved Langland’s great visionary poem Piers Plowman, thinking it ‘the last…most uncompromising expression of the medieval ideal of the unity of religion and culture’. Notice the implication: culture was not swallowed up by religion by was transformed and transcended it, so that Incarnation itself begins to be understood in and through culture, not apart from it. (pp. 80-81)

Now we can’t turn back the clock to try to live as medievalists, but restoring and living a Catholic culture should be our daily aim. And the Liturgy especially through the Liturgical Year is the gift of the Church as the central guide to help us live that Catholic culture…..

Read the rest on how I connect liturgical cooking, St. Dominic, St. Lawrence and St. Clare on how we can restore a Catholic Culture….

Prayers, Please

My little sister Frances (or affectionately known as “Fuzzy”) is expecting number 5, due in early October. She’s having problems with one of her kidneys again. She has a kidney stone and had a procedure to insert a nephrostomy today.

She was feeling much better earlier in the day, but now there seems to be some complications and they are suspecting a blood clot.

To make it even harder, today is her second son’s (my godson) 6th birthday. I was in the hospital for my son’s 6th birthday, so I know how hard that can tug on a mother’s heart.

Please pray that she can come home soon feeling better with the baby still tucked in safely.

Update 9:00: No blood clot, but pneumonia in the right lung and fluid in the left. She is beginning antibiotics and steroid shot for the baby’s lungs.

The Feast of the Transfiguration

Interspersed throughout the Season of the Year (Ordinary Time) are feasts of Our Lord that are not directly connected to the Temporal Cycle, but integrated in the Sanctoral Cycle. There are two cycles within the Liturgical Year, Temporal (or Proper of Time) and Sanctoral. The Temporal Cycle celebrates the mystery of the redemption and takes preeminence over other celebrations outside of the cycle. It is not just composed of the Easter and Christmas cycles of feasts, but the 33 or 34 weeks of Ordinary Time are also an integral part of the Temporal Cycle. The Sanctoral Cycle consists of the feasts of devotion of Our Lord and Our Lady and feasts and memorials of the saints through the year.

The Feast of the Transfiguration on August 6th is an example of this type of feast of Our Lord. The placement of this feast within the Liturgical Year has no relation to any other feasts or seasons. This feast was established early in the East Syrian Church in the 5th century, and then it appeared in the 10th century in the Western church and quickly spread due to the enthusiasm and interest in the Holy Land and the sites related to the events of Jesus’ life. Pope Calixtus III added the feast to the universal calendar in 1457 in gratitude for the victory of the Franciscan monk John Capistran and John Hunyadi of Hungary had over the Turks the preceding year…..Read the rest at Catholic Culture

E-clutter p.s.– Organizational Help

I can’t believe I omitted one of the biggest categories of e-clutter for me. Want to know that area?

It is Organizational Help.

I am naturally an organized person, but there is always room for improvement, especially when it seems like this is a sinking ship in cleanliness and schoolwork. Years of crisis adds more problems.

And that is the category that is offered most online. It seems everyone needs help in this area. I had so many printables and files in this subject area.

First there are the Planners, whether they be daily, monthly, yearly.

There is the Educational scheduling or lesson plans, whether they are oriented to out-of-the-box curriculum, Charlotte Mason, Classical, generic, Traditional Catholic or the current calendar.

Then there fabulous schedules and planning helps for different subjects: Nature study, Art, etc. History is a big category. There are so many timelines or Book of Centuries interpretations.

Finally there is the area of housecleaning and home management with all the schedule helps and task lists.

  • Menu helps
  • Grocery lists
  • Cleaning rotations
  • Task assignments

Buying or downloading these will not make me more organized. They have to be utilized. The problem I see if I constantly am looking for the perfect planner and schedule and always starting over, the real work at home doesn’t happen. I’m bogged down by the details.

For me, I need to pick one and stick to it. If there are kinks it will take some time to iron it out. Truly there is no perfect planner….because everyone is unique. We have to tweak to find the right thing.

But this is where I try to apply the principle of sticking to something. Unless it is seriously broken, we need to continue with the time and money invested, whether it’s with my planner or curriculum. Next year maybe I will try something new, but I need to be honest. Is the problem with my implementation and NOT the planner or curriculum?

Paper and E-Clutter

I’m coming up for air. I have so much to share, but it’s going to take a while to catch up. This week I’m focusing on school planning. Most of the world is already done with planning, but this summer has been filled with some medical ups and downs. I really needed to feel better, but I also needed to gauge what my energy and activity levels will be this year before I could solidify plans. I’m not in crisis mode as I was last year with my heart problems and open heart surgery and recovery. Last year reflected our crisis and then recovery mode; our school work was very, very streamlined. This year I’m continuing the recovery mode, but I’m also recognizing that while I’m improved, I will have heart issues the rest of my life. I have a chronic condition, and so must be honest in my evaluations and not overplan and have too much busyness.

Today I’m talking about paper and e-clutter. I have had some revelations regarding this for my own household. It started with my computer giving some indications of early death, but I’ve been giving it a band-aid approach until I save up enough to replace it. One of these temporary fixes was to delete extraneous files since I had a full memory.
Continue reading

7 Quick Takes — Various and Sundry Weekend Edition

— 1 —

Happy feast day to me and to all those named after St. Anne or St. Joachim. I wrote a post at Catholic Culture about how I have grown up with my patron. I’m bummed that the site was down a large part of today, but it’s back up and you can take a peek. It’s probably one of my most personal posts on the site, but a patron saint should be personal and be part of the family, right?

— 2 —

Here in Virginia we have a rather mild and rainy summer, and I’m really enjoying it. Unfortunately, my garden isn’t quite as happy. My tomatoes are taking longer to ripen and I have leaf spot on the plants. I’m applying copper to help. I lost one plant. I’m not sure if it was the fungus, but I have there were no other signs of invasion. Hopefully I’ve caught the leaf spot in time to reverse the problem for the rest of the tomatoes.

Last year in my front garden my chocolate mint shriveled and died. I was sure someone had sprayed weed killer it was so dead. But no, it was also a fungus…the mint came back this year with all sorts of rust. I didn’t think it was possible to kill mint, but meet the person who did…at least for one season. I’m following the instructions to keep pulling it up if I see signs of the rust returning.

— 3 —

We had our allergist trip this week for my older son and me. This time we only did food allergy testing. Things haven’t changed for my son, as we suspected. He’s still allergic to eggs, wheat, and dairy.

My husband and I watch cheesy movies Hallmark movies together when we want to unwind. One movie recently had a scene where the male star ate strawberries and had an allergic reaction. The reaction was anaphylactic with hives and swelling and breathing difficulty. All they did was give Benadryl and a creme and he was good to go. That scene made me so upset, because there is such a misunderstanding to what a true allergic reaction is compared to an intolerance. There needed to be an epinephrine injection when someone has that intense reaction. Benadryl isn’t going to cut it.

Speaking of injections, I now have the smaller convenient Auvi-Q, which will be so much easier to carry. I never want to use it, but I’m glad I can carry it around more easily.

— 4 —

I’ve been going to the swimming pool during the week with the boys. This is a huge change for me as I usually hate swimming. But we are all enjoying it. I’m soaking up more Vitamin D which has given me more energy. I wasn’t working on getting a tan, but I seem to have gotten a little color…I’m usually so pale, but it’s kind of nice to not look like a beached white whale.

— 5 —

The tan is a help for the wedding we will be attending next week. I found the dress on Thursday, less than half price, too. The fabric is perfect — cotton linen with embroidery, not the slinky man-made fabrics I don’t like to wear. I’ve got a shrug or shawl to wear, but I might even go bare-armed.  I’m not sure what shoes to wear, that’s the final touch.

I didn’t get in shape or lose weight as I had hoped this summer. All these medications wreaked havoc on my plans, and they seem to not help in losing weight. I’m off the sugar, dairy, alcohol and doing low carb and adding extra exercise, but I don’t think this scale is going to budge much. Sigh. I’m learning humility.

— 6 —

My husband and sons are working on painting the front porch. The front boards had some issues, so my husband was debating whether or not to replace or just paint over them.

I slept late yesterday morning and awoke to this:
photoNo turning back from this! There were further hiccups — the boards are a size they don’t make anymore. It was complicated, but he worked it out. They painted the first coat today…and I didn’t get any pictures. I was too busy getting paint out of clothes and carpets. But my husband was thrilled to see how our 11 year old is becoming such a reliable assistant. Our youngest is helping, also, but it’s still about the process, not getting the job done.

— 7 —

 On the medical front, first I’m asking for prayers for my cousin, who has stomach cancer. Her tumor was removed this week, and she’s in a lot of pain. Also, please pray for my mother, who has both shingles and probably West Nile virus. She’s on the mend, but needs lots of recovery time.

My last medicine was giving me daily migraines so I had to switch medications again. This is my third one. I’m having difficulty adjusting to the effects. The last three days I didn’t have a need to set my alarm, thinking I would wake up early naturally, but ending up waking up near 9:00. It’s like I’m a teenager again! That’s not the only issue, but I’m hoping it will get better than the last time. It’s like I’ve lost the month of July just to trying my medications.

For more Quick Takes, visit Svellerella, who is hosting this week.

Our Family Ties with Saints Anne and Joachim

Many years ago as a small baby I became a member of the Catholic Church, baptized as “Jennifer Ann” in St. Anne Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. Being named after the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus always felt as a special privilege. As time has passed, my relationship has grown from simply understanding St. Anne as a patron saint, to understanding her role as special family member of Christ and how she interceded for my vocation as a single woman, now wife and mother. There is also a special closeness when I think of the role of grandparents in our lives, and it will deepen even further when (or if) I become a grandmother.

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy explains that

it is always useful to teach the faithful to realize the importance and significance of the feasts of those Saints who have had a particular mission in the history of Salvation, or a singular relationship with Christ such as St. John the Baptist (24 June), St. Joseph (19 March), Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), the Apostles and Evangelists, St. Mary Magdalen (22 July), St. Martha (29 July) and St. Stephen (26 December).

Now Saints Anne and Joachim do not appear on this list because they are not mentioned in the Bible, but they played a large role in our salvation history. It is a fact of life that a human being must have parents, and usually those parents become grandparents at some point. The Church understands and values the importance of family and family relationships. We have already experienced a few feasts (like the Visitation and Birth of St. John the Baptist) that illustrated the closeness of family ties. The family relationship is key with our relationship with God, as Abba/Father, and Jesus as our adopted brother. The family relationship is used as imagery throughout the Scriptures, but the emphasis of Jesus with his physical family on earth is also beautifully reflected in our liturgy.

It is looking at these family ties that help us understand and pray for intercession from this saintly couple. (Read the rest at Catholic Culture….)

Mary and Martha and our Place in Bethany

I had not planned a vacation, but the past couple of weeks became a vacation by default with health concerns and funerals and family events. I hope to be back more in the swing of writing, especially as the Church celebrates some of my favorite saints at the end of July.

Within a week we celebrate the memorials of St. Mary Magdalene (July 22) and St. Martha (July 29). The true identification of St. Mary Magdalene is not quite clear. The Greek Fathers gave her a separate identity than Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, but most Latin Fathers say she is one and the same. Father Saunders explains the confusion, but ends by agreeing with the Latin Fathers. I am in his camp – I have always thought Mary Magdalene was the sister of Martha. The Church places the two saints’ feast days so close to each other, treating them as they are sisters. After all, if Mary chose the better part, where is her separate feast if she is not Magdalen?…. Read the rest at Catholic Culture