Solemnity of St. Joseph

My birthday weekend was wonderful. Thank you all for the happy wishes and prayers. I have so much to be grateful this birthday, and I truly pray that this year will be uneventful, but full of growth and happiness and normality.

“God’s ways are not our ways”…but I can hope a little

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of St. Joseph. This is a busy week for us, so I haven’t had much time or energy to do extra celebratory foods. I’m not apologizing — I am keeping things simple while I recover.

I did write a little post on Catholic Culture: Solemnity of St. Joseph: A Family Celebration.

And I finally uploading a 2014 supplement for the Lent for Children Daily Display. This contains only the Solemnities of St. Joseph and the Annunciation. Lent for Children Daily Display 2014 supplement

 

St. Joseph’s Novena Starts Today

josephToday (March 10) begins the novena to St. Joseph, whose Solemnity we celebrate on March 19.

There are a variety of choices of novenas to pray, but my favorite is this Traditional Prayer:

Oh Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son, all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.

Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of the departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

I don’t think I’m up to doing a St. Joseph Altar this year, as I’m still on the road of recovery from my open heart surgery. My past posts on St. Joseph are here.

Do visit the FABULOUS Virtual St. Joseph Altar by Evann.

Celebrating the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Today, February 22, is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. We like to celebrate the namedays of both first and middle names in our family. For both our boys, their middle name saints have two feast days in the Liturgical Calendar, so it evens out the celebrations. Today is our youngest son’s nameday, and he has looked forward to it for 2 weeks!

Today was particularly busy, so I didn’t have a chance to post this sooner.

The first thing this morning was a piano festival for son #1. We know did very well, but official scores have not been posted yet.Gregory Festival 2-22 This is his first year of playing, and he is progressing nicely and really enjoying it. It’s a joy for me to see and hear.

The rest of the day we spent doing some family shopping and a few treats for younger son. He’s the one who takes random pictures of himself on my iPhone when I’m not looking:

random photo

I enjoy capturing him just enjoying life. This was from one of our walks this week, as we watched the snow melt.

Nicholas WalkBoth sons have such a happy disposition, enjoying life at all times.

But back to the feast day. This feast brings so many memories. Remember last year? February 11 Pope Benedict announced his resignation, and February 28 was his official last day as pope. Last year so soon after this feast day the chair of St. Peter was empty — sede vacante. Pope Francis was not elected until March 13.

We learned so much about the papacy during this transition last year. We cried, we prayed, we watched the smoke from the chimney with great anticipation with the rest of the Church. In the meantime we learned about the history of the papacy, the multitude of pope saints, the richness of the traditions.

I was hoping for a good picture book for the papacy, not just on one pope and came up short last year. And now there is the perfect book. I read Jeff Mirus’s review, Children’s Guide to the Papacy and knew this was the book for this feast.

Ourholyfatherthepope

Our Holy Father, the Pope: The Papacy from Saint Peter to the Present by Don R. Caffery, illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudesson is a beautiful book printed by Magnificat and Ignatius Press. My husband was able to purchase a copy before the feast at the CIC in DC, so I was thrilled to be “on time” for a feast day!

I can’t share snapshots of the pages right now (I might add them or do a separate post), because my nameday son is snuggling up with it tonight. Suffice to say the book covers all the aspects of the papacy, beginning with St. Peter and his life, with various illustrations of Pope Benedict, Pope Francis, and Pope John Paul II, which keeps the book in touch with current events.

The book is oversized, and while it is not text-heavy, the fact that there are so many pages the reading could be divided into several days. The section on St. Peter could be reread on his feast he shares with St. Paul on June 29. I also will pull this book out on days of remembrance with our popes, such as March 13, for Pope Francis’ election anniversary.

Two thumbs up and highly recommended — I’m really excited to have a new book to add to our Liturgical Year picture books.

Company of the Saints: Favorite Saint Books

Joining Meredith at Sweetness and Light for her new series Keeping the Company of the Saints.

The saints play a role in our daily lives: our prayers, our conversations, our reading and our daily education. I couldn’t resist Meredith’s invitation to talk about books — one of my favorite subjects, and our saint books are like a second family to me!

We own many saint books, both individual biographies and collected lives of the saints. I’ve been using our books even more often as I’m currently writing about the Liturgical Year and saints days at Catholic Culture. It’s hard to pinpoint our favorite books…but a few that we refer to almost daily: Continue reading

Advent 2013 Resources

This is an update for Advent 2013 re-post of all the Advent Resources on my site or written by me:

Advent begins later this year, December 1, so it’s a shorter Advent this year. I have updated the files for Advent 2013, such as the Advent Cards and calendar.

I have a lot of preparation to do before my heart surgery, so I didn’t have time to update my Advent Alphabet as I had hoped, but my friend Lindsay created some Alphabet Cards that could be printed double-sided so her child could do the work on his own. She combined some letters so that every year it could begin on December 1st, like most Advent calendars do. See below under “Reading” for her file. I was hoping to update the list and make something more printable and easier to follow, but maybe next year when I will have a first-grader and I should have more energy!

All my posts on Advent can be found if you choose the category “Advent” in the sidebar. Also in the top menu there is “Living the Liturgical Year”, and the sub-page is Advent and Christmas which contains many printable pages I have on this website.

This looks daunting: but don’t be overwhelmed! This is a collection of our family’s traditions over the years. Just be aware of two things: 1) our traditions have developed over time, and more have been added over the years and 2) no year ever looks the same, and not everything is celebrated the same way. Sometimes feasts are not celebrated at all!

For the Christmas season and all related posts, see Christmas is Not Just One Day, But a Season: Resources Page. The Christmas page is less full, so all recipe and cookbook related links will be on that page.

Continue reading

On Humility

The Advent and Christmas seasons really bring to mind the virtue of humility. The Joyful mysteries are chock full of examples of humility in the early life of Christ. This is huge work in progress in my life.

I love praying the Litany of Humility

And recently someone pointed out this excellent examination of humility by St. Josemaria from The Furrow, no. 263:

Allow me to remind you that among other evident signs of a lack of humility are:

—Thinking that what you do or say is better than what others do or say;

—Always wanting to get your own way;

—Arguing when you are not right or — when you are — insisting stubbornly or with bad manners;

—Giving your opinion without being asked for it, when charity does not demand you to do so;

—Despising the point of view of others;

—Not being aware that all the gifts and qualities you have are on loan;

—Not acknowledging that you are unworthy of all honour or esteem, even the ground you are treading on or the things you own;

—Mentioning yourself as an example in conversation;

—Speaking badly about yourself, so that they may form a good opinion of you, or contradict you;

—Making excuses when rebuked;

—Hiding some humiliating faults from your director, so that he may not lose the good opinion he has of you;

—Hearing praise with satisfaction, or being glad that others have spoken well of you;

—Being hurt that others are held in greater esteem than you;

—Refusing to carry out menial tasks;

—Seeking or wanting to be singled out;

—Letting drop words of self-praise in conversation, or words that might show your honesty, your wit or skill, your professional prestige…;

—Being ashamed of not having certain possessions…

Making notes to add to my examen.

Prepare the Way of the Lord: Advent Resources

Updated for Advent 2013.

Advent begins later this year, December 2, so it’s a shorter Advent. I’m excited because there will be one week between Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent — it’s always helpful to have that time to prepare. I’m currently updating some of my plans and files for 2012 (Liturgical Year 2012-13). I haven’t quite finished all my updates, especially for my reading plans, but keep returning to this post for the links and updates:

All my posts on Advent can be found if you choose the category “Advent” in the sidebar. Also in the top menu there is “Living the Liturgical Year”, and the subpage is Advent and Christmas which contains many printable pages I have on this website.

This looks daunting: but don’t be overwhelmed! This is a collection of our family’s traditions over the years. Just be aware of two things: 1) our traditions have developed over time, and more have been added over the years and 2) no year ever looks the same, and not everything is celebrated the same way. Sometimes feasts are not celebrated at all!

For the Christmas season and all related posts, see Christmas is Not Just One Day, But a Season: Resources Page. The Christmas page is less full, so all recipe and cookbook related links will be on that page.

Continue reading

The Way of Trust and Love

Have I mentioned how much I love all of Father Jacques Philippe’s writings? I do think I’ve quoted him here from time to time. If you’re looking for profound, deep, power-packed yet practical and down-to-earth spiritual writing — Father Philippe is the author for you. And each of his books is short and sweet — another bonus for busy moms!

I’m reading his latest book, The Way of Trust and Love – A Retreat Guided by St. Thérèse of Lisieux, printed by Scepter. There is also a Kindle version available. Oh, and Sacred Heart Books and Gifts also carries this and most of Philippe’s books in print version, at a discount. Linda has such great taste in books!

My favorite spiritual book for over 20 years has been I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Father Jean C. J. d’Elbée. After disliking St. Therese as a young girl because she was syrupy sweet and melancholic, I wholeheartedly embraced her since I was in my 20s. She is definitely my favorite saint, due mainly to how Father d’Elbée really captured The Little Way and showed how Confidence and Trust is what I really needed. I was failing so often, and trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps. No need anymore, because Jesus loves me not in spite of my failing but because of my failings!

It was this book that helped me pick my husband. When we first met, he asked for some recommendation for spiritual reading for Lent, so I mentioned this book. He read it, and  loved it — and I knew he was the right man for me!

So fast forward to the present. I have enjoyed all of Father Philippe’s books. The underlying theme in all his books is The Little Way, or Way of Trust and Love. The Way of Trust and Love most clearly defines it, and it is as rich as  I’m not even finished and I find myself pondering just a small sentence for a week or so. I find this book echoes and even goes deeper in some areas as I Believe in Love.

To share a few quotes, here is Father’s introduction of what is The Little Way:

So what is this little way? It is the spiritual journey undertaken by Thérèse, a genuine path to holiness, but a path accessible to everyone, so that nobody can get discouraged, not even the littlest, the poorest, or the most sinful–so that everyone can discover a path of life, of conversion, open to him or her.

He shares the background that she was looking for an elevator to take her straight to Jesus.

Where could she find this elevator? Where did Thérèse go to look for it? To the Bible.

This is worth noting. Thérèse had a great love for Holy Scripture. All the lights that guided her along the way, all her great spiritual intuitions, she found in Scripture. Every time a question came up that upset her a little, she went to the Bible to find the answer. She received astonishing lights that enabled her to acquire a deep understanding of the Scriptures….

The Bible is not a privileged possession of Protestants: all believers, absolutely, must be nourished on Scripture. It is particularly vital for today, and we should ask St. Thérèse to obtain this grace for us. We live in a world with a lot of confusion and many contradictory messages…Only God’s Word, passed on to us in a special way in Scripture, has the necessary depth, clarity, and authority to help us find our way. Only Scripture enables us to discover the truth, not as something abstract, but as God’s presence in our lives and the very specific way he offers us day after day.

True, Scripture is sometimes enigmatic and hard to interpret. However, if we spend at least ten minutes a day reading it, meditating on it, and praying about it, it will speak to our hearts. We should never let a day pass without taking some minutes to read and pray about a text from the Bible such as the readings for that day or a psalm….

His little parenthetical remark really struck me:

To express her gratitude she once again makes use of the Bible, quoting from Psalm 71 (we will never find anything better than the psalms to express our praise):

I’ve been thinking how rich are the Psalms. I love praying the Divine Office, and I just am amazed on how these prayers, written centuries ago echo my heart’s prayer to God. The Psalms ARE perfect prayers!

Finally, my reading today was on humility, on what it is and what it isn’t. Such powerful words that really struck home:

People sometimes have a false idea of humility. Real humility isn’t condemning or despising ourselves, saying scornfully to ourselves, “You’re worthless, you’re useless.” Just the opposite: it is accepting ourselves peacefully as we are–our littleness, physical limitations, psychological weaknesses, lack of courage or virtue, the difficulty we have in praying, all the wretchedness present in our lives, whether physical, mental, or even spiritual. Being humble means consenting to our inner poverty. First of all, recognizing it, because sometimes we don’t want to face it, but above all accepting it!

With a bit of clear thinking, we can manage more or less to see our inner poverty. But accepting it is more difficult. We would all like to be more intelligent than we are, stronger, better-looking, more virtuous, more spiritual, more this, more that, in any and every sphere of our lives. We can easily get discouraged by the way we are.

Now, very often what prevents God’s grace from acting in depth in our lives, and is therefore a kin of sin, is this failure or refusal to accept ourselves as we are: our past, our mistakes, our physique, what we are on the human level, our psychological make-up, our weaknesses, and all the rest.

So well put! How often do I feel discouraged by my lacks — not losing weight, not organized, not disciplined, my school year and prayer life in the hopper.

So that’s a little taste of the writing. It’s all very applicable to MY life and I’m so grateful to St. Therese and Father Philippe.

Another reason St. Thérèse is a favorite saint in our family? We were engaged to be married on October 1, her feast day! It was a deliberate choice of Dh, and a very fond memory for me.

St. Clare of Assisi

I’d rather be blogging. I know there have been few posts this summer, but really I do like to write. I write in my head all the time. But it’s crunch time over here. We’re in the middle of painting on our main level, which includes our school area. Suffice it to say, that the school year hinges on me using all my spare time to scrape off wallpaper. After that there’s painting, then purging, reorganizing, and THEN planning for school. It’s a mad rush.

Squeeze in there new window treatments, some made by me, and possibly new floors…although I will do school planning first. It’s August, after all!

But I had to take a little break and share this new blog for the feast of St. Clare: Food and Festivities of the Christian Year. We had a new babysitter this spring, and I chatted with her as I was picking her up and driving her home. We talked about the Liturgical Year and how it’s been one of my favorite subjects, when she said her mother’s friend was working on a cookbook on the Liturgical Year. I had not heard of her (later I found she is mentioned in the Foreword of Evelyn Vitz’s cookbook), but I was eager to meet someone who shared the same love. Colleen did not disappoint. She is so lovely and faithful. She is so more seasoned than I, so I love to read and hear her perspective. When she reopened her blog, I had to share it!

Her post today on St. Clare is wonderful — what a clever (and delicious) idea of eclairs!

This feast of St. Clare ends the 800th anniversary of the Poor Clare nuns. I’ve written before how special this saint is to our family, particularly to my mother, who is a Third Order Franciscan.

I am looking for a good biography about St. Clare. My favorite author, Mother Mary Francis, wrote one on St. Collette, but not St. Clare. Her other books all glean wisdom from their Holy Mother Clare, but it’s not quite the same.

Next week I’ll be able to announce another special project I’ve been working with Colleen. Stay tuned!

St. John Vianney

I can never forget that August 4 is the feast of the Cure d’Ars. I was 16 and entered the convent on that day. Our family lived in Louisiana, the convent was in Boston. I was sent home on November 4 — exactly 3 months later. It was simultaneously a testing time, a trying time, a wonderful time, a memorable time.

So August 4 made an impression on me, and now 29 years to the day, it still brings back vivid memories.

But that wasn’t the point of this post. I started thinking about the date, then the saint, then the books I have really liked about St. John Mary Vianney. And since I love to talk about books….here I am!

I haven’t seen many people talk about the Children’s books by Magnificat, also distributed by Ignatius Press. I’ve been requesting my library to carry them, especially the saint biographies. I have been super pleased! The illustrations are beautiful, not cartoony. The text really paints a human portrait of a saint, but not written in childish text. The biographies have inspired my boys to imitation of virtues and prayerful life. What more can I ask from a saint biography? These biographies are the answer for shorter books before a child is ready for chapter books.

John Mary Vianney: The Holy Cure of Ars is the first in the series we read. The book truly captures his life and service. The book accurately portrays the beloved priest of Ars but in a loving and inspiring manner for children. Reading this book aloud to my boys made me love this little saint all over again.

The Chapter book I highly recommend is The Man Who Fought the Devil by Eva K. Betz. She is one of my favorite Catholic authors. Neumann Press has reprinted this wonderful book. I have to admit that I was a little scared in reading about his fights with the devil (but a “good” scared, such “fear of the Lord” and doing what’s right!). But if your child is super sensitive, hold off until he/she can handle it a little better. But as far as gripping and well-written biography, this is excellent. I haven’t listened to the recording so I can’t recommend it or not (Librivox is SUCH a mixed bag!), but there is a Librivox recording. The image on the Librivox page is the front cover of the original book. Neumann Press reprint doesn’t have this image.

For teens and adults, the classic by Abbe Francois Trochu The Cure D’Ars : St. Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney is a MUST read, although don’t read before bedtime. I read this as a young woman, and was a little scared by the devil’s nightly visits. Now that I’m older I realize I’m too sinful to have the devil spend so much time on me, but rational thought doesn’t always flow at night-time. Otherwise, such an inspiring and wonderful look at this humble and holy saint.

I know I’ve been quiet, and I have lots of posts planned, but in time!