From Filipina

Humans + Animal Behavior: Offensive or Not?

The Internet seems to have lost its collective brain cells again, this time thanks to boxing superstar and pride of the Philippines Manny Pacquiao’s statement on same sex “marriage”, saying,

Common sense lang. Makakita ka ba ng any animals na lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae? Mas mabuti pa iyong hayop, [chuckle] marunong kumikilala kung lalaki lalaki, babae kung babae. O di ba?  Ngayon kung lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae, e mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao.

Celebrities, politicians, and other netizens took to social media to express their disgust and disapproval…. and this is where it gets funny. People are so offended that Manny Pacquiao compared homosexual behavior to animal behavior, AND YET, they use ANIMAL BEHAVIOR to defend homosexuality! In fact, animal behavior was the number one argument they used.

Screenshot (130)

So let’s get this straight. When it’s Manny Pacquiao comparing them to animals, it’s offensive, because RELIGION… but when they compare themselves to animals, it’s not offensive, because SCIENCE?

Thus it is NOT that Manny Pacquiao compared them to animals that’s offensive here, oh no, it is that Manny Pacquiao DARED to point out THE TRUTH as consonant with his religious beliefs.

Let’s have a moment of honesty here, shall we, folks?

Following animal behavior defenders’ logic, Manny Pacquiao’s views on homosexuality would be ACCEPTABLE if only he didn’t express them from his point of view as a person of faith. If Manny Pacquiao were an atheist saying homosexual behavior is animal behavior, he would be embraced by the LGBT community for proclaiming exactly THE TRUTH that they use to defend themselves!

You know, there used to be a time when being compared to an animal was considered an insult. Parents taught their children civilized behavior. Table manners, learning to take turns and share, treating others as one would like to be treated… inside and outside the home we expect people to act exactly like they’re supposed to: like human beings.

We took pride in being CIVILIZED, EDUCATED, even WELL-BRED. Many of those behaviors that we call MORAL were/are part of the whole Judeo-Christian set of beliefs, though we rarely thought of them that way. But now we find it offensive when we are reminded to act like human beings. What have we become?

Besides the obvious cognitive dissonance, one can’t help but question the animosity displayed towards Manny Pacquiao. Everyone is proud of him, proud of him representing the Philippines at the boxing ring, but please oh please keep your religious beliefs to yourself because you then become a national embarrassment? Who’s discriminating now? Tolerance for all, but not for Manny or anyone else unless they (we) all buy into something that goes against their (our) faith?

For the record, Manny Pacquiao has apologized for his words. Indeed, it is not charitable, Christian behavior to compare people to animals, no matter how they act, precisely because we were created to be higher than animals.

God created mankind in His image; in the image of God He created them; male and female — He created them. God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth. God also said: See, I give you every seed-bearing plant on all the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be your food, and to all the wild animals, all the birds of the air, and all the living creatures that crawl on the earth, I give all the green plants for food. And so it happened. – Genesis 1:27-30

This is why we think, we reason, we love, we exercise self-control. We have intelligence far above animals, and we can put our instincts, our emotions, our thoughts, our desires, under the control of our will. We can make decisions on wrong and right behavior. We understand concepts like “common good”. We know that all our actions have consequences, and can therefore choose, time and again, to behave in a manner that neither hurts another person or ourselves, and that includes, whether we like it or not, sexual behavior.

Culture of Life Rising (Abortion Compilation) | August 2015 – January 2016


I haven’t been able to blog much lately. Busy with several projects and expect to remain this busy until the latter half of the year. Also need to declutter my digital space badly, so for a while, my posts here will probably consist of compilations — articles I’ve read and saved on various notepads (by topic) and really need to process somehow. I’ve grouped them by sub-topic to make it easier to find them again when I need them. Hopefully my groupings will be helpful to you too.

Through the Eyes of Faith
Marching for Life, Mother Teresa, and Mrs. Clinton
Chiara Corbella Petrillo: 21st Century Witness to Love
Letter from a Pregnant Nun Who Was Raped
There is no equivalence
Laughing at dead babies and the avenging conscience
Pope Francis on Abortion’s “Innocent Victims:” “It’s Wrong to Look the Other Way or Remain Silent”

Conversions of the Heart
NBC’s Gifford Blames Abortionist Kermit Gosnell for Real ‘War on Women’
“The toughest part of a D&E abortion is extracting the baby’s head”
I Don’t Know if I’m Pro-Choice After Planned Parenthood Videos
Pro-choice, but with open eyes, heavy heart
A Tale of Two Baby Boys Slated for Abortion
A Millennial’s Take on the Culture’s Acceptance of Abortion

In the Year of Mercy
When my abortion is forgiven by the Catholic church, I will be free — Note that the sin of abortion has always been considered forgivable (as all sins are) by the Catholic Church, but its gravity is not in the same league as talking back to your parents, let’s say, and therefore someone confessing this sin would have had to receive extra guidance than would typically be available in the daily/weekly Confessional. In allowing the sin of abortion to be forgiven via regular channels, Pope Francis a requirement that was considered a huge burden by many (mostly from misunderstanding), but at the same time it also places a much larger responsibility on priests. If you don’t understand this, consider your child coming to you and confessing that he has murdered someone. What would you say and do, how would you react? THAT’S how heavy that burden is — there’s no way to take it lightly, not by the sinner, and not by the priest in the Confessional.
On Pope Francis and abortion: a reply to Fritzie Rodriguez
Pope Francis on reconciliation for abortion
Holy Year Gestures on Abortion and the SSPX: 12 Things to Know and Share

Non-Believer but Pro-Life
You Can Be An Atheist And Still Be Pro-Life

Hippocrates Who?
Abortion workers reveal disturbing facts about abortion industry
How the ‘abortion pill’ Mifegymiso could change reproductive health
Suppressing Awareness Regarding Breast Cancer
Since Abortion Was Legalized in the U.S., Women’s Risk of Breast Cancer Has Quadrupled
Abortion is the Primary Preventable Risk Factor for Breast Cancer
New Docs Confirm UMass Purchased Fetal Cadavers for Use in Humanized Mice as StemExpress Dumps Planned Parenthood
Boston Children’s Hospital Has Been Using Brains of Aborted Children in Research for Years
Why We Don’t Need Fetal Cells to Conduct Life-Saving Research

Surrogate defies biological parents’ abortion demand

Tales of the Misled, Corrupted and Pseudo-Scienced
Woman charged with attempted murder in failed abortion
Herbal Abortion Experiences in the Philippines
Poll: More Than 40% of Women Having an Abortion Attend Church, 70% Say They are Christians
Catholic Colleges Collude with Planned Parenthood
‘Leftovers’ Star Amy Brenneman: Abortion is Being ‘Demonized’
Back to Science Class for the Science Guy
I am pro-abortion, not just pro-choice: 10 reasons why we must support the procedure and the choice

The Hard Cases: Rape, Incest, Life of Mother
Philippa Taylor: Abortion is no answer to children conceived through rape or suffering fatal fetal abnormality
Report from LTI speaker Jannique Stewart, on her debate at Florida Atlantic University with Dr. Ethelene Jones of the ACLU and former director of Planned Parenthood
Catholic Hospitals Are Right, Abortion is Rarely Medically Necessary

Culture of Life Rising
Pro-life activist heads to court to defend undercover videos
Closed Planned Parenthood Facility Purchased by Pro-Lifers Re-Opens as Pregnancy Center

It is increasingly clear to me that as the culture continues to degrade we are wasting valuable time trying to change the minds of college students. Unlike most HS students they have been fed a bunch of lies from their liberal teachers and pop culture for too many years. Also, HS students are not generally as sexually active as college students and, therefore, have not developed sophisticated coping mechanisms for defending immoral behavior.

On the other hand college outreach represents a good training ground for our staff, interns and volunteers because we get to respond to the party line pro-abortion arguments. – From From Mark Harrington and Created Equal

Meet The Pro-Life Millennial
Taking Back Our Pink
The Wall of Secrecy Is Crumbling…
#ShoutYourAbortion? How Could Anyone Shout Her Abortion?
I’m a Pro-Life Female Attorney, I Didn’t Have to Abort My Baby to Advance My Career
When Abortion Suddenly Stopped Making Sense
Can National Pro-Life Health Centers Become the Cure for Planned Parenthood?
Now hospitals are saving babies born at just 22 weeks: Medical advances raise new doubts on abortion limit
Planned Parenthood issue isn’t going to go away

Master Manipulators
The three types of men who support abortion
Reuters Agrees to Correct Questionable Abortion Statistic
Watch the Shocking Scene From ABC’s ‘Scandal’ That’s Being Lambasted as ‘Stomach Churning’ — and Listen for Song Playing in Background
Obama Administration Paid for Research Using Intact Human Brains From Aborted Babies
New Abortion Panel Bought & Paid For
Baby Development… and Murder
Liam Neeson and Amnesty International get abortion wrong
Obama Science Czar Hides E-mails
Woman: Planned Parenthood pressured me to ‘donate’ my aborted baby
Now We Know Why Reporters Won’t Cover The Planned Parenthood Videos

The Real War on Women
‘One Child,’ by Mei Fong
Naresh Patel, who attempted “abortions” on non-pregnant women, sentenced to 18 days
The Fashion of Abortion
Dr. Drew is Deluded: Blah Blah Blah

On Killing Abortionists
Killing Abortionists: A Symposium

Abortion Law
Supreme Court Review Puts Abortion At A Crossroads
Supreme Court agrees to hear biggest abortion case in two decades
The Surprising Ways Other Countries Think About Abortion

Wisdom for the Battle
4 Reasons Pro-Lifers Need to Stop Doing This
If abortion kills children, act like it.
The Surprising Ingredient To Creating A Pro-Life Culture
The Myth of the Pregnancy Rewind
‘We Are Ambassadors to the Pro-Life Cause’
What are The Best and Worst Biblical Arguments for the Pro-Life View on Abortion?
A Letter to Jennie

First Person
The Timeline Of What It’s Really Like To Go Through An Abortion
Archbishop Cupich’s Seamless Bulletproof Vest for Pro-Choice Politicians: An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Chicago on Planned Parenthood and Poverty

Religious Liberty
Southern Nazarene Universty v. Burwell

Abortion Survivors
Why Abortion Survivors’ Stories Should Be Heard

The Truth Will Out
UN Data Backs Pope on Abortion and Contraception, Climate Alarmists Disappointed

Voices of Sanity
I Should Be Able To Murder You In a Safe, Clean, Legal Way
Abortion Is The New Slavery
A Miscarriage of Humanity: A Brief History of Abortion Arguments
Wouldn’t More Women Die if Roe Fell?
Feminism and the Unraveling of the Social Bond

Folks, when are we going to learn that abortion empowers men and not women? There is an article on Slate about Jacqueline Smith, a woman who died in an illegal abortion in 1955 (link in the first comment). They are trying to use it to make the case for legal abortion of course, but it actually makes the case against it.

Jacqueline Smith was in College, away from her family. She found out she was pregnant and she thought her boyfriend was going to marry her but he told her that she was going to have an abortion. Sounds familiar? This is exactly what happened to me 21 years ago.This happens all the time. Men coercing into/forcing abortion on women who comply out of fear.

The difference is that Smith’s controlling boyfriend arranged for a butcher to come to his apartment and the botched abortion sadly claimed her life but the narrative is still the same. – Beatrice Fedor

Permanence and the Intimacy of Marriage

A recent conversation with the 6-year-old alarmed me. He was sitting on the couch as I folded laundry and out of the blue he burst out, “I think I want to have a child, but I don’t think I’ll get married.”

I tried to answer calmly, “Why not?”

“What if she divorces me?”

So I hugged him, and gave a short, gentle explanation suitable for 6-year-old ears… that God designed marriage for having children, that children need a mom and a dad, that marriage is supposed to be permanent, that Dad and I are never getting a divorce, so in case he was worried, he needn’t be.

Goodness gracious. Here I was thinking that we’ve been able to keep him untouched by the brokenness around him. So much for innocence.

How do you reassure a child that if or when he gets married, his wife won’t divorce him? You can’t, so I didn’t.
Instead we talked a bit about marriage preparation, and getting to know someone really well before marriage, as lightly but as well as I possibly could. One doesn’t always have the proper (customized-to-a-6-year-old brain) words when these things come up, unfortunately.

“But what if SHE’S not prepared?”

“Well, you know how we pray for our children’s vocations and future spouses when we say our Rosaries? If God calls you to get married, don’t worry, we’re praying for her now, so hopefully her family is preparing her well too.”

He finally went back to drawing the cover for his next book. Whew.

In a previous post, I said that my hubby and I eliminated the word “divorce” from our vocabulary early on.  Back then, most of the people in our circle still came from intact families. Today, our children are surrounded by those who are products of divorce. Our normal isn’t theirs. So in an age where the permanence of marriage is no longer a given, how do we mentor our kids for it?

We should, of course, continue working on our marriages, and SHOW them what commitment, permanence, stability are all about. How we live our marriage will do so much more for our kids than anything we verbalize, and we need to go much further than simply telling them that marriage is a permanent and indissoluble institution.

My own concept of marriage is perpetually tethered to this one night embedded in my memory, when as a child I woke up in my parents’ bedroom — the family room, a similar practice we continued with our kids until they were ready to move to their own rooms — to conversation at perhaps two in the morning. They were discussing investments, disappointments, plans. Since I was little I didn’t understand much, but what stayed with me was the calmness of it, the respect, the natural flow of thoughts being exchanged, the intimacy… all before I even knew what intimacy was.

Surveys list a seemingly unending list of reasons for divorce. In the past it seems the major reasons were conflicts over the raising of kids, over in-laws, or over money. In more recent years, I’m guessing due to the rise of no-fault divorce, the list has expanded to include almost anything and everything under the sun, and yet looking at these lists, it is easy to see that so many of them can be traced to one main root, and that’s a lack of real intimacy.

What is intimacy? It is a deep KNOWING of the other, and comes from the Latin word intimus, or innermost.

There are close to 1500 instances of the word “know” in the Holy Bible. When the angel Gabriel visited Mary, to announce that she had been chosen to become the Mother of our Savior, her one question was “How can this be, since I don’t know man?” I’m no theologian or philosopher, but I do understand that even in Scripture, the word “know” is sometimes Biblespeak for physical intimacy. But it is also very much tied to certainty and trust, as shown in the other passages. Genesis of course is where we find God’s command with regards to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and we all know what happened with that command.

I will leave the deeper analysis to Bible scholars — but I think you’ll agree that we were designed, hardwired, to have this hunger to KNOW, and BE KNOWN. In choosing a spouse, that’s what we ultimately search for: someone to reveal ourselves to, and someone who will reveal themselves to us. So if the desire is God-given and natural, what are we doing wrong? And how does that make a difference in how we prepare our children for the permanence and intimacy of marriage?

More next time.

Love and Marriage Sound So Easy: Where Did We Go Wrong?
The 10 Most Common Reasons People Get Divorced

What Nino Read, December 2015

including rereads and partially read

Arts and Crafts:

The Little Book of Whittling


The Sword in the Tree
The House on the Cliff/The Tower Treasure (Hardy Boys)
Get Into Gear, Stilton!
Curious George Visits the Library
The Case of the Mummy Mystery (Jigsaw Jones)
The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook
A Tale of Redwall: The Long Patrol
The Aesop for Children
The Bobbsey Twins of Lakeport
St. George and the Dragon
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny
The Tale of Jeremy Fisher
Tales from Shakespeare (Charles and Mary Lamb)
The Hobbit
The Missing Chums
The Magician’s Nephew
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Nancy’s Mysterious Letter
Berlioz The Bear
Poems and Rhymes (Childcraft)
Simeon’s Gift
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Great Illustrated Classics)
Homer Price


Buffalo Bill: Frontier Daredevil
Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints
Favorite Greek Myths
History Makers: Kings and Queens
Children Just Like Me
Brother Sun, Sister Moon
Albert Einstein (COFA)
Paul Revere
Samuel F. B. Morse
The Ghost at Skeleton Rock
Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules


The Camera
Space Station: Accident on Mir
World and Space
Alexander Graham Bell: An Inventive Life
The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor
One Small Square: Cactus Desert
Engineering (Merit Badge Series)
Math for All Seasons
Where Do Sharks Cross Mountain Peaks?
First Encyclopedia of the Human Body
Albert Einstein: A Life of Genius
How Science Works
Singapore Math 1B and 2A


101 Secrets a Good Dad Knows
Scientific Progress Goes Boink
Marvel Ultimate Sticker Collection
Trail Life USA The Trailman’s Handbook
Time/Life Millennium


obviouly he didn’t read the whole thing, but he learned how to use the DICTIONARY (Merriam Webster)
Large print Word Hunt

also finished 704-word story for NaNoWriMo including illustrated covers.
learning piano

The Cobweb Curtain
The Christmas Candle
Bambinelli Sunday
Saint Francis and the Nativity
Nutcracker (Maurice Sendak)
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree

What Nino Read (November 2015 Update)


Religion, History, Geography:

The Reader’s Digest Children’s Atlas of the World
On the Mayflower
If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution
Favorite Norse Myths
Thomas A. Edison (COFA)
Abner Doubleday (COFA)
If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake
New Catholic Children’s Bible
The Great Wall of China
The Story of the Pony Express
The Revolutionary John Adams
The Story of the Statue of Liberty
Once Upon a Time Saints
The Monk Who Grew Prayer


The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma
The Moffats
26 Fairmount Avenue
The Story of Ferdinand
The Haunted Showboat
Flat Stanley
A Weekend with Wendell

Singapore Math 2A (Whoops! I did it again! Meant to get 1B and made a mistake >.< But he loves doing this book and isn't stumbling much 😛 ) Science:
Eyewitness Science: Light


The Ultimate Lego Book


Trail Life USA Trailman’s Handbook
It’s Off to Camp, Charlie Brown

– follows along at Mass using Magnifikid, about 75% of the time.
– can lead a decade of the Rosary
– always prompts me to pray at night before bed — his favorite “Angel of God” (besides the family Rosary which he joins in sometimes, sometimes not) plus Goodnight to Jesus, Mary and Joseph and his guardian angel.
– has questions about divorce 🙁
– I made the mistake of getting Book 2A of Singapore Math instead of 1B, but he really loves doing it and can do simple multiplication now, and has even asked that I prepare drills for him (he asked me to put a bunch of subtraction and addition problems he can solve, and I told him those were called “drills”)
– writes very well, but still need to practice lowercase letters as he keeps using uppercase for everything
– has written 700+ words so far for NaNoWriMo
– wants to go bowling for his 7th birthday, but just with family, no friends
– can cut his own nails
– crown popped out day after Halloween and had to see dentist to put it back on
– is quite diligent about brushing and flossing and washing his hands
– participates well when we do our family journaling
– still loves jokes and makes up his own, some really morbid ones 😛
– asked to have and bring his own journal to Mass, copying me (although, I take notes at homily, and he draws whatever, usually Father)
– wants to study ukulele
– asked for a Kiwi Crate re-subscription, so I signed him up again. he loves crafty stuff.

AlDub and The Thrill of the Chaste


Of all the things I could write about here at Patheos, I didn’t think I’d be writing about a Filipino love team. And yet here I am, prompted by this video making the rounds. Here’s a good primer. Since I’m in the US, I comment as an outsider, piecing together what I’ve heard from friends and online sources, but here’s my 2 cents’ worth.

A few basics to understand the AlDub phenomenon:

  1. Filipinos are social media maniacs (and I say that in the most loving way possible). They’re into every new gadget and trend out there, so millions of tweets propelling this pair to world famous status isn’t surprising at all.
  2. Filipinos are nothing if not romantics. Courtship and dating rituals are part of our heritage.
  3. Filipinos are all about family.

Combine those and you get the winning formula that is AlDub. Let’s go a bit farther.

According to the latest survey, there are 2.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) — that means 2.3 million Filipinos separated from their families, often not by choice but by necessity. Family members often have to live in separate continents in order to survive, to finance educations, to seek greener pastures and secure futures, to develop independence and be able to start new families. Government corruption and unfavorable conditions for jobs and businesses in the homeland force people into these lifestyles, which often lead to broken relationships and broken families. Not surprisingly, many of the usual shows portray (and even glorify) what has become the norm for many — infidelity and mistressing.

AlDub is a refreshing break from the usual, and fills the gap that other shows have missed. It is entertainment that spans continents — it’s shared experience — one more way to connect for those who are physically separated. The values it promotes are values parents want to impart to their children: lessons on love, dating, and courtship that they are not able to teach firsthand because they are absent. Fans live vicariously through the celebrities they admire. Sometimes, that admiration even turns into emulation.

AlDub highlights what many Filipinos have gotten right: courtship, within the context of family, because relationships don’t develop and grow within a vacuum. Of course, people tune in for what Filipinos call kilig — roughly translated: THRILL. And though the majority of fans probably won’t even think about this, they tune in because of what Dawn Eden calls The Thrill of the Chaste.

What is kilig about? It’s excitement at POSSIBILITIES. People tune in because they anticipate that this couple will end up together, at least onscreen if not off. But beyond that, this early in the game, and despite historical evidence to the contrary, social media commenters are already imagining a lifetime for this pairing, using words like asawa (spouse), kasal (wedding) and anak (offspring). Though celebrity pairings are rarely permanent, it doesn’t stop people from hoping anyway.

The celebrity relationships that do last are seen as occurring outside of the norm, and therefore unrelatable. And yet people remain in want of stories showing exactly that. But it’s often seen as elusive, and therefore un-sell-able, hence the default to the common denominator which mirrors Filipinos’ lived experiences more: pain, suffering, heartbreak.

That’s something writers and producers could perhaps chew on, though AlDub is an accidental hit and one that’s difficult to manufacture or copy. While intrigue and melodrama will always sell, people’s hearts are most engaged when something hits them at their core — not just their Filipino-ness, but their human-ness. That AlDub fans are attracted to the concept of permanence demonstrates not shallowness, but truth. People are attracted to anything that ultimately speaks to the deepest longings of the human heart: the need to belong, to be loved, to find out what a happy ending is like. For many Filipinos for whom reality = separation, AlDub is not just an escape from the humdrum of daily existence. The thrill, excitement, and anticipation that a pairing could go on indefinitely keeps people watching. It’s the HOPE that they all have for themselves, and for their family. Everyone wants a happily ever after.

I was just about ready to hit publish when I stumbled on this interesting discussion on AlDub and The Four Loves (!!) in the combox of this post: AlDub Love Defines the Country. “You, me and all others who can see beyond the craze must draw up a plan or something to move the love to agape level, which is what Philippine love should be.”

Whether the AlDub pairing lasts remains to be seen, but the positive impact it’s making can’t be denied. Here’s one for starters: AlDub’s contribution to the common good: LIBRARIES!!

More reading:
The Social Significance of AlDub

Mama Mary, the Rosary, and Me


She was there when I learned my first prayers, in bed with my mom waiting for Papa to get home, the Sacred Heart of Jesus image in the hallway lit, as we prayed the Angelus and Mommy taught me how to use her Rosary beads.

She was there as I was growing up, praying the nightly family Rosary, kneeling all together in my parents’ bedroom, at times being overcome with distractions and giggling fits. My cousins and I were a bunch of silly teens; I hardly knew her and gave no thought to what role she played in my life.

When we moved to the US, she was there every morning as my mom and I walked the seven blocks to the bus stop for our daily commute to work and school, in the middle of winter, bundled up in scarves and bonnets and boots, our gloved hands fingering the Rosaries in our coat pockets, mine a silver-beaded one, from an aunt who had visited Rome.

She was there when I was heartbroken and lonely, crying my heart out in front of the Blessed Sacrament. She taught me to cling to her Son no matter what life brings.

She was there when I met my future husband, and when I taught him how to pray the Rosary. She was there the day I said yes, the promise sealed by the green crystal beads that I gave him.

She was there through the pangs of childbirth, and during the busy, stress-filled years of young parenthood, when I’d lose the habit of prayer and find it again… through every illness, major decision, and milestone.

She was there when my husband decided we needed to recommit ourselves to nightly family prayer, and she’s been there for every child who learned how to pray and lead the Mysteries in their turn.

She was there when I made my consecration in 2008, and when the first three kids made theirs.

She was there on my husband’s 50th birthday, when I gave him a brand new Rosary with lapis lazuli beads, the work of my hands.

She was there as our oldest children learned to drive, her motherly love around me as I battled with myself to let go and let God. She was there when our oldest son got lost for two hours in the mountains of West Virginia on a camping trip. And she was there when our 24-year-old’s car broke down in the middle of nowhere in North Dakota, keeping our daughter company as she waited several hours for help.

She was there on our boys’ first road trip, smiling down at me when I texted them that I had finished praying my Rosary for them, and they texted back that they had just finished praying all twenty Mysteries, and I breathed a sigh of relief. She quiets the quaking in me and helps me find peace in the midst of this noisy world.

She was there when our youngest child learned to pray his first Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

She was there when we took my mom to the hospital recently. She held my mom’s heart and mine in hers, as we sat there late at night, praying together, our lives drawn full circle, the faith passed on from mother to child, and then mother to child again. In blessing and in pain, she keeps our eyes on Him Who gives us our purpose and reason for being.

Through it all, she has shown me what it means to believe, believe in, and trust my Creator. Though my stubbornness and pride know no bounds, she has taken me from fiat to fiat, and with every one I utter, I learn to pattern myself after her obedience and her humility. Who else can teach me these lessons best, if not our Blessed Mother, the very first disciple? Where else do I turn when I need to understand that a life of freedom means a life of surrender? Mama Mary has taught me to praise, to worship, with my life. She has helped me listen to the Holy Spirit, to define my vocation as woman, wife, and mother. I’ve celebrated the joyful, mourned the sorrowful, and learned from the illuminated mysteries of my own life, following in her footsteps, praying that as the Lord was magnified in her soul, He will be magnified in mine.

Mama Mary, ora pro nobis!

O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life. Grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Further reading:

Where Did the Rosary Originate?
33 Days to Becoming a Saint
Ring Around the Rosary

What Nino Read, October 2015


Curriculum “after the fact”

What Nino read the past couple of months or so. He’ll be 7 in December, so I guess this is around first grade?

Right now our 13-year-old does a combo of unschooling/homeschooling/co-op schooling, so whenever I’m “on duty” at the co-op, I take the little one with me and that’s our more formal schooling day of the week. So “real” schooling takes place about once a week. The rest of the week, he just reads and does whatever he wants to do throughout the day. It’s mostly books, as evidenced by the long list — and I keep track by listing what he’s read every month or so, just to kinda make sure that all subjects are “covered” in some way. Mainly what he does is take stuff out of the bookshelves, and at the end of the day we pile them up around the bookshelves, until I can’t stand it anymore and have to put them all back on the shelves. THAT’S when I make these posts and document what he’s read.

I do have a box of the “curriculum” I designed for him before the beginning of the year. That’s where I get the books/materials that we use on our official school day each week.

Besides books, he plays outside, and alternates painting, drawing, sketching, play dough, Lego, math manipulatives, board games, and just talking talking talking about the thousand different things that he wonders about on a daily basis, etc. He gets one show a day, usually an educational one, though he’s allowed one 30-minute game a week (usually on my phone or Lego Batman on the XBox), and one non-educational show, like today, when he watched Lego Chima. There are evenings he gets to watch Studio C with older siblings and Dad — with monitoring/censoring done by the older viewers. I’m not too fond of him being exposed to more adult humor, but I figure with siblings and Dad around the bonding is more important than zero exposure to secular culture.

Yesterday, he wanted to learn sewing since I was hemming the hubby’s pants.

Last night he said he wanted to learn cursive, so I need to make up some practice sheets for him for tomorrow.

Today he decided to make fingerprints using paper, graphite pencils, and scotch tape. He’s been fingerprinting all of us.

And since he’s read a variety of biographies and historical events, time to make a Book of Centuries.

Learning happens. 🙂

Religion/Character Education
Little Acts of Grace
Saint Francis by Brian Wildsmith
Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Margaret Mayo
– four prayers memorized so far
– also enjoying Magnifikid subscription

Mad Libs (he’s learning pronouns and nouns and verbs and adverbs and adjectives!!)

The Phantom Tollbooth
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Enchanted Castle
parts of Taggerung
Spider subscription (joined the drawing contest for “really cool school bus”)

After working for several days on the first half (2/3?) of Singapore Math 1 last year sometime, he took 3-4 more days to finish the rest of the book, a couple of weeks ago. So now he’s ready for the next book. This is the type of relaxed Math I love!!
asked me about square root last month so I showed him using tiles
verbal math happening almost every single day with questions on dates, equivalences, money, time, weight, height, etc.
still reads Big Sis’ Life of Fred books when she leaves it lying around.

DK Eyewitness Hurricane and Tornado
DK Eyewitness Space (3 Books in 1 + Workbook + Poster) – he LOVES the workbook and just started doing them one evening and wouldn’t stop!
DK Readers Space Station
The Rain Forest by Gallimard Jeunesse and Rene Mettler
Best Ever Paper Planes that really fly
DK Eyewitness Readers Extreme Machines
The Camera by Gallimard Jeunesse et al.
(eclipse watching)
(informal experiments: paper mache, airplane making)

Molly Pitcher, Young Patriot
Lou Gehrig
Buffalo Bill
The Story of the Spirit of St. Louis
Wilbur and Orville Wright
The Story of the Mayflower Compact
George Washington (Heroes of America)
The Story of Valley Forge
The Story of the Statue of Liberty
Snowflake Bentley
Davy Crockett
Abigail Adams
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
The Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt
Revolution News by Christopher Maynard
Albert Einstein: A Life of Genius
The Story of the USS Arizona
Fun with Hieroglyphs

The Story of Presidential Elections

George Gershwin by Mike Venezia

Pablo Picasso: Breaking All the Rules
I Spy: Mystery

Chess for Kids by Michael Basman
Chess for Children

Field Trips since September:
– Dayton Art Institute
– Cincinnati Museum Center
– Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
– iSpace
– The Atheneaum, for Vespers
– Fossil hunting with Dad last month

also learning to bike
Trail Life weekly activities continue
lots of exploring using scissors, paper, glue
still writes mostly in ALL CAPS
listening to Redwall audiobooks
trying to write in Gallifreyan
learned AMPERSAND yesterday and thinks it’s so cool — and asked me if & could be used in place of “AND” and “END” in spelling words
loves playing with soap in the bath
loves playing basketball and soccer with dad
doesn’t know if he wants birthday party in December or not
wants a new Sonic Screwdriver

Need to get focused on piano lessons.

Introducing: Patron Comics


For over a year now, I’ve watched my friend AJ shed blood, sweat, and tears over his project Patron Comics. He first talked about it in March 2011, and it’s finally here, all in God’s good time. AJ has put his heart and soul into this and gathered the best talents to work on it and I think it’s really paid off, though he still has a long way to go. I am sharing his thoughts here and would like to ask you to support this effort by clicking on his Indiegogo link and making a donation. I currently have a few copies I can distribute for him, so leave a comment with contact information if you’re interested and I’ll send you one. Ultimately what I’d like to help him accomplish is distribution worldwide, as it’s one more way to reach our Catholic youth.

More from AJ himself:

A New Hope

There’s a new project currently taking shape in the Philippines: a project that combines the thrill and wonder that comes with a comic book series and the timeless teachings of the Gospel and of the Catholic Church. This project, brought about by the call for New Evangelization, is intended to teach values to our teens and young adults without compromising the aesthetic and entertainment component of comic books. This project is called Patron Comics.

What is the story about?

The story is about a group of young people assisting their priest-mentor in stemming the tide of demonic possessions in their city. They are taught by the priest to develop their young minds and their talents, and to live lives of holiness even as they struggle with their own personal and family issues.

What, it’s about exorcism? Won’t that scare the kids?

Yes, it is about exorcism, because it is the ultimate good versus evil fight. And the exorcism isn’t just for cheap thrills. In this age when people tend to doubt the existence of hell and the devil, and in this age of moral ambiguity when people see good as evil, and evil as good, it is the impressionable young people that are left vulnerable. We need to re-establish the concepts of moral good and evil back in society, and to strengthen the values that our parents and our schools teach to our young ones in a manner that is enjoyable and not preachy. This is what Patron Comics aims to do.

Why should I buy it?

Every parent, school superintendent, administrator, and catechist should buy this for their children and their students because of the values infused in every page of the comic book series, and the stunning art work done by Gilbert Monsanto. Your children will become hooked on something that will teach them values and the teachings of the Catholic Church for the next several years.

Who are the target readers?

The Patron Comics series can be read by everybody, although the treatment and the content are aimed towards pre-teens, teens, and young adults.

Who is the creator of Patron Comics?


The creator is Anthony James Perez, President and Founder of Filipinos for Life, a group that aims to preserve the sacredness of life, marriage, and family in Philippine society. He graduated as an English Major from Don Bosco College, where under the Salesians he was taught how to serve and love the youth. He has been a speaker for youth retreats, recollections, seminars, and fora for more than ten years. He studied screenwriting for film and TV under the famous Philippine movie writer, Ricky Lee.


Patron Comics – an article from Cristina Montes, over at Ignitum Today

Getting To Yes


When my family migrated to the United States in 1986, I had no idea what God had in store for me. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to finish college and settle down with whomever God had picked out for me, at age 27, after a courtship of at least five years… but God laughed at my plans.

I met my husband the year after we moved here. A serendipitous moment for certain, as we had almost met at least a couple of times before, but finally met under circumstances brought about by people whom we didn’t expect would play a part in our story.

Though he and I were fast friends, he made it clear almost from the start that this was a courtship in progress. He was a man on a mission and he was out to get me, simple as that.

This may sound weird but even as a teen I looked at every guy who expressed interest from a marriage standpoint. Perhaps it was my own parents’ happy marriage that gave me this particular lens. Not to say that I didn’t enjoy male friendships for what they were, but I learned early on how to distinguish boys from men, and I knew I couldn’t marry a boy.

My husband and I had both been broken by heartache, but we were both prayerful people, and we do believe that God designed us for each other. When we met we found that we could go beyond just healing together. By the time we got to pre-Cana we knew each other intimately and knew that married life wouldn’t bring us too many unpleasant surprises.

When I met him, my husband was working for a testing lab, while at the same time completing his Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. I witnessed firsthand how he worked in this small laboratory filled with machinery and all kinds of materials and greasy tools. I saw a person not afraid of hard work.

We had frequent one-on-one dates, but we also spent lots of time with family and friends. We grew as a couple through these interactions and at the same time built up a support group around us, made up of people who shared our values.

I was not the only one he courted. He paid attention and was kind to the rest of my family, especially my grandfather and my two younger brothers. None of it was a put on to impress me. To this day, he’s the same thoughtful man: when we visit my parents he takes the time to check their car, their faucets, their heating, to make sure things are in working order. And he still coaches my brothers from time to time on jobs and other life decisions.

My husband knew he had something good to offer and all he had to do was convince me to accept the gift. He was basically asking the question, would I build a life with him, and carry his crosses and share his joys with him? It wasn’t difficult to get to yes.

Courtship and dating are so misunderstood these days. Many seem to think of them as a dichotomy, but I would like to posit that they are overlapping parts of a healthy whole, and romance an essential element of building intimacy that cannot be overlooked, because it sets the tone for the relationship and how it will grow through the years.

Feelings and emotions have been getting a bad rap lately, but we cannot dismiss them as though they are faulty components of the human psyche. Though our intellect should not be set aside, we are also emotional beings after all, and romance is what feeds emotion. It’s all about developing a couple language, and we developed one that we have been conversing with for the last 25+ years.

While chocolates, roses, songs, and love letters have always been part of the picture where my husband and I are concerned, the enduring themes that I’ve seen played over and over in our relationship are service and sacrifice. I’ve always thought of courtship as a “selling” of oneself, not as a commodity, but an offering or a gift, and here was a man who from the beginning offered me both eros and agape, his hands open, his sincerity unwavering.

My heart breaks when I hear stories today of young people having lost the ability to date, who have no notion of courtship. When he was courting me, I got the message that this man was willing to give up his life for me. Here was someone I could follow, because he follows Christ. And saying yes to my husband was ultimately saying yes to God’s plan for me.

Fried Mini Spring Rolls (Gluten-Free)

There are many many recipes for spring rolls, fresh and fried. This is a simple one I prepare for the kids when they are craving something small and crunchy. I like eating these wrapped in lettuce leaves and dipped in nuoc cham. It can be served with other dishes as part of a meal, or as appetizers.


1 package Vietnamese banh trang

1 pound ground pork or turkey
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled and mashed to a paste with a large pinch of salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) – optional
freshly ground white pepper to taste (black pepper is an acceptable substitute)
large pinch sugar
salt to taste
other optional ingredients: chopped fresh water chestnuts, chopped carrots, chopped jicama — for crunch
Oil for frying

Combine the above in a large bowl. Prepare another deep dish of warm water to dip the banh trang in.

For a quick dipping sauce, whisk the following to taste. What you want is a good balance of hot, sour, salty and sweet.

Fish sauce
Lime juice and/or rice vinegar
Sriracha or garlic-chili paste (or use freshly minced garlic + finely chopped Thai chili)
Water for thinning if necessary

Lettuce leaves for serving

Dip banh trang — one at a time — for a few moments in the water, feeling the ridges with your fingers. When the ridges start to disappear and/or the banh trang is soft and pliable, it’s ready for wrapping. Lay it flat on a cutting board and spoon about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of the pork or turkey mixture in a cylinder shape about 1/2 inch in diameter, all along the length of the wrapper.

Roll it up gently, wrapping wrapper tightly around the filling. The ends can be left open as the rolls will be cut anyway. Cut the wrapped roll into 2 1/2 to 3-inch pieces. Set aside on a baking sheet or flat dish.

I wrap and fry at the same time, using a cast iron skillet and keeping the oil at least 3/4 inch high. You can either cut the rolls into pieces before or after frying.

Fry rolls in hot oil over medium-high heat, 6-8 minutes total or until golden brown, turning several times to keep coloring even. Remove to a baking sheet or dish lined with paper towels to drain. I like to put these in a warm oven until all are fried.

Serve with lettuce leaves and the dipping sauce.

The same recipe can be used to make spring roll wrappers using wheat flour wrappers, which can usually be found in the freezer section of your Asian supermarket. I like Spring Home (pink label) or Wei Chuan brand (red label), or the large square ones that come in the bag with the large blue label (sorry, can’t remember which brand that is).

A fun docu of how rice paper wrappers are made. — You might want to show your kids!

No To Divorce (A Guest Blog Post)

[This is a blog post from Veronica Cleofe-Alejar. Nikka is wife to Dong Alejar, and mother to four, two girls and two boys ages 2 to 10. She gave up her broadcasting career after the Lord converted her, but continues to use her skills and talents in the service of the Lord in church activities. She is also a baker and co-owner of Veronica’s Kitchen. You can read her whole life story and eventual spiritual conversion in Peaceful Wife Philippines.

As a young teenager, I would usually get teary-eyed at old couples who held hands in church. I would stare from my pew, and pray to God, “I want to grow old with my husband like that…”


Well, God answered my prayer and I am growing older with my bestest friend in the world who still holds my hand, kisses me in public, and considers me the “hottest woman on the planet”, eleven years after our wedding and after four (body-altering) children.

This is nothing short of a miracle considering that the marriage of my parents was far from ideal. It was full of deafening silence and a dearth of warmth. I do remember thinking to myself that when I did get married, I wanted it to be full of joy and laughter, because I seldom heard my parents talk to each other with fondness, and they rarely exhibited loving gestures to one another. They even slept in separate beds! I remember that our family outings were the most awkward ever, but despite this, we were a unit. They almost separated at one very low point in their lives, due to the extreme jealousy of Mama over an alleged affair of Papa… but, thank God, they still managed to stay together.

Some would think that given my parents’ “miserable situation”, they should just have separated. “It would be better for the kids to have their parents separate than to be witness to a ‘loveless marriage’”; “If the husband philanders, the wife should not put up with it and leave him to show him that she is not a martyr.”; “The modern woman must not put up with any failings of her husband. After all, he is just a man. One can find another husband!”… or so the modern and feminist society says.

Well, they stuck it out with each other! This, despite that Mama was every bit of a modern, feminist woman. She, it was, who believed so much in superstition, she stepped on her groom’s foot after the wedding, so as not to be “under” her husband. She, it was who had a kick-ass career and who competed with Papa in terms of achievements… But, despite her unsubmissive nature, she stuck it out with Papa even when she could have very well given up on him and their marriage.

When she got cancer in 1992, it was Papa who took care of her. Whereas before, I never saw them hold hands, I then saw them giving each other tender kisses on the cheek or on the lips, and would even hear them locking the master’s bedroom’s door! On Mama’s death bed, she told Papa, “If God would give me a second chance, I will make our marriage work. I will prioritize you…” But that was not the Lord’s Will for her. She died at the young age of 43, but not without first realizing that “Ah, mahal pala niya ako…”


I am now nearing the age that Mama died. In three years, I too will be 43. I have been married for 11 years to a very loving (and handsome) man — my best friend, my lover, my greatest moral support. We were not without our own trials though. I got my mother’s feministic streak and refused to submit to my husband as head of the family. Before the Lord converted me and transformed me in September 1, 2013; I was very prideful, judgmental, self-righteous and controlling. I was, unsurprisingly very miserable and seething in resentment against him. But, if there is one thing I learned from my parents, it was that “marriage is ‘for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part’.” It was from having observed this, that despite our lowest point, I told myself, “I am in this for the long haul, even if it seems so bleak right now…”
Mama was not given that chance to “fix her marriage”. But with God’s Grace and Mercy, I was able to “fix” mine. My whole life journey leading up to that could be read in the blog that the Lord directed me to write and which my husband encouraged me to do after my spiritual conversion. My journey from frenetic wife to peaceful wife can be read in

Divorce is never the answer. The person you said your vows to before the Lord is a flawed and imperfect human being. But wonderfully enough, these very same flaws and imperfections are the very means by which the Lord will use to hone us, smoothen our rough edges, and mold us according to His Image. Marriage, as a sacrament, is truly a married person’s means towards holiness. Use Holy Matrimony as your means to get to heaven.

No Need for Divorce in the Philippines, Part 3 (Q&A)

Image Credit: Maria Go,
Image Credit: Maria Go,

Link to Part 1.
Link to Part 2.

Q. What about people who can’t afford legal services?

A. There are legal aid offices which provide free legal services in the Philippines, though not many.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines has chapters all over the Philippines.

If they are in Manila, they can try the University of the Philippines Office of Legal Aid. This is the legal clinic of UP Law, where all UP Law students have to do internships, under the supervision of a lawyer.

There are two kinds of annulment: civil and church. If someone got married in church, then they he/she would need to get both a civil and church annulment. The first step would be to see the parish priest where the couple got married.

Re church annulments: A church annulment because church tribunals are understaffed. There very few canon lawyers, and canon law procedure is different, so they have to think about matters that non-canon lawyers don’t have to think about. The tribunals are overworked. That said, there are grounds that do not need too much investigation. For instance, if a person was not of the right age when he/she got married, all he/she has to show is his/her birth certificate and the wedding certificate. There cannot be 100% free annulments because there are administrative concerns and those cost money.

If a psychologist is needed, there are low-cost, competent psychologists with the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH).

Q. Divorce allows an abused woman to leave the relationship *and* remarry. Are you against an abused woman remarrying?

A. Several points here.

  1. Abuse itself isn’t solvable by divorce. With regards to abuse itself, there is already Republic Act No. 9262, although as I’ve pointed out before, it only addresses women and children. There is no such corresponding law to protect abused men.
  2. Remarriage sounds easy to “prescribe” for abusive relationships but
    • While we want to be benevolent towards the victim, divorce will also allow the abuser the opportunity to marry and abuse another victim.
    • There are exceptions, but some women have a pattern of getting into abusive relationships. It’s not their fault that they’re abused of course, but the pattern does exist. Abuse is a HUGE issue with so many other interconnected, underlying issues, that we cannot possibly cover it adequately here. Suffice it to say, the answer isn’t a simple “She needs a new husband.” (See Page 2 for a preliminary list on revictimization and other related issues). Note that RA 9262 only covers Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS) but abuse in relationships can happen to men or women and everyone else in between. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the law is useless for those whom it benefits.
    • Acrimonious relationships don’t go away just because of divorce. Consider this nugget from Wallerstein, Lewis and Blakeslee, authors of the book The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce:

      In our study, a third of the couples were fighting at the same high pitch ten years after their divorce was final. Their enduring anger stemmed from continued feelings of hurt and humiliation fueled by new complaints (child support is too burdensome or too little) and jealousy over new, often younger partners. The notion that divorce ends the intense love/hate relationship of the marriage is another myth of our times. Like many divorced people, Karen’s mother frequently called her ex-husband and got into shouting matches. As a result, the children were exposed to the hurt and anger that led to the breakup throughout their growing up years. Millions of children today experience the same unrelenting drama of longing and anger that refuses to die.


    • Divorce may seem like an easy escape, but nothing is easy when it comes to abusive relationships. Divorce can just as easily exacerbate the long-term negative effects on everyone involved. There are no guarantees.

  3. Remarriage may seem an attractive option when we look at things from the emotional standpoint; sob stories abound. And from the Western/modernist point of view, any discussion about divorce is moot. It’s taken for granted that marriage is no longer the permanent institution people once believed it to be.

    But what we do know is this. Divorce has not solved the problems it was supposed to solve. We have more messed up people and marriages today than we did 10, 20, 30 years ago. The sexual revolution has been tried and found severely wanting; divorce is only one of its fruits. Therefore the discussion on marriage and its permanency and indissolubility shouldn’t be tabled.

  4. Neither divorce nor remarriage occur in a vacuum, therefore they need to be evaluated not only in terms of the spouses but everyone else in that immediate circle, especially children.
  5. Once remarriage is allowed into the equation, one has to discuss subsequent marriages. It’s not about thinking “too far ahead” but simply taking the logic to the next step: If I can have a second marriage, why not a third or a fourth?
  6. It’s telling that in the US, “No longer are abuse and infidelity the main reasons given for divorce (although some research suggests infidelity occurs around the time of most divorces). Rather, divorcing spouses routinely claim they have simply “grown apart.” (Source)

What’s really needed:

  1. better preparation before marriage, so people don’t end up marrying the wrong person
  2. better support system — society, friends, programs like retrouvaille for troubled marriages — that help shore up and strengthen marriages rather than help break them down.

Suggested Reading:
The Lamest and Most ‘Gasgas’ Excuses for Divorce in the Philippines (Updated)
Is Divorce the ‘Fire Escape’ of Marriage?
20-point critique of the Explanatory Note in HB 4408: Introducing Divorce in the Philippines

Chicken with Almond Sauce on St. Frances of Rome’s Feast Day, March 9

Today we’re celebrating St. Frances of Rome (click here for her fascinating story), so for dinner I’ve made a chicken dish which dates back to the Middle Ages. Since St. Frances was a good home manager I could imagine her directing the servants to pound the nuts and grind the spices and chop up the herbs for her. We have our modern appliances to help us with this, but if you don’t have a food processor or blender, I’ve provided ideas for substitutions below.


Nut sauces can be found in many different cuisines: Spain’s romesco, Syria’s muhammara, Mexico’s mole. Through all of these there seems to be a common thread running which food historian Rachel Laudan discusses here. Italian pesto is more an herb sauce than a nut sauce, so this particular Medieval almond sauce with its accompanying spices seems to be a marriage between ancient Rome’s moretum and the Islamic-influenced nut sauce. (I am an amateur food historian and would welcome any corrections on this.)

So, without further ado, the recipe, adapted from Redon, Sabban and Serventi’s The Medieval Kitchen.

1 whole chicken, cut into parts (cut yourself (here’s how), or buy already cut pieces)
olive oil for frying
salt and freshly ground black pepper

2/3 cup almonds
handful flat-leaf parsley
handful dill

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
pinch saffron threads

Heat olive oil in large skillet (I use a 12″ cast iron) over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.

Arrange chicken pieces in skillet, leaving space in between so they brown properly. Do this in batches if necessary.

Brown 4 minutes or so, until golden. Turn pieces carefully, browning the other side, 4 minutes more.

After all pieces are browned (return everything to the pan if you did this in batches), add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then immediately lower heat to maintain a simmer, and cook, covered, approximately 35 minutes or until tender but not falling apart.

While chicken is cooking, process almonds and herbs in food processor or blender until smooth.

Grind peppercorns in coffee or spice grinder, or with the use of mortar and pestle. Combine with cinnamon, ginger, and saffron and set aside.

Remove chicken pieces to platter when they are done. Keep warm in low oven, covered loosely with foil.

Add cooking liquid to almond mixture in blender and process until smooth, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper.

Return almond mixture to pan and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently until reduced to a thick sauce. Add chicken pieces to sauce to coat lightly and heat a few minutes more before serving. Alternatively, arrange chicken pieces in platter and serve sauce on the side. Sprinkle with spice mixture.

Suggested substitutions for the sauce:

– store-bought pesto, with or without finely chopped fresh dill mixed in
– almond butter mixed with chopped herbs
– almond flour mixed with store bought pesto

Prayer for St. Frances’ intercession, from Catholic Culture:

O God, who have given us in Saint Frances of Rome a singular model of both married and monastic life, grant us perseverance in your service, that in every circumstance of life we may see and follow you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.