Tagged faith

If The Shoe Fits (Laudato Si’ )

my compost pile :D
my compost pile 😀

Laudato Si’ seems to have been buried under all the hubbub from the SCOTUS decision on same sex “marriage”…. so I’m just now catching up with commentaries and reactions to Laudato Si’, after finally finishing the encyclical, which can be found here, if you haven’t read it yet.

I had to comment though on the, well, childish reactions to the encyclical, because I tend to look at everything from the eyes of a mom, and they reminded me too much of my kids’ reactions to lectures.

“It wasn’t me!”

“I didn’t do that.”

“You don’t understand!”

We’re the parents of five kids. When we need to, we sit them down individually, or in a smaller group of two or three depending on need, and talk to them about specific problems or issues we need to pay attention to and work through.

But most of the time, we give general instructions, that everyone needs to hear, for the good of the whole family, whether there’s one or two or three “guilty parties” in the audience.

Why do people keep getting upset about things the Pope says, that does not apply to them?

Surely there were people who, when Humanae Vitae came out, said, “Yay us! We’re doing exactly as the Church teaches!! ITA with the Pope on this one!!” Others grumbled, or followed begrudgingly. Yet others shrugged and went their merry way. But some are just now looking at HV and saying, “Oh. THAT’S what he meant. Now I get it.” And then you’ve got the reverts and newbies saying “Wow. What awesome teaching! Why did no one ever tell me this?”

So I’m puzzled with the Laudato Si’ comments on how the Pope doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or that he’s condemning guns or air-conditioning or what have you.

If the lesson doesn’t apply to me, then it doesn’t. If I’m already responsible about my use of the earth’s resources — if I don’t waste food or water, if I reuse, reduce, recycle, if I’m not a hoarder — then yay me! If I’m already doing my bit to help other people, keep myself informed about ways to help those who are suffering from lack of water or food, then I can be happy that I’m part of the solution and not the problem. If I’m not promoting abortion or contraception, not advocating for depopulation policies because I believe that’s the solution to the economy or the environment, then the lecture isn’t for me.

If, however, I realize that in my own home or my own community or places where my pocket can reach, there are still things I could work on, then I will wear the shoe, for the simple reason that it fits.

The point is that there’s ALWAYS something that we could be doing more or less of.

My main take from the encyclical is this:

We are stewards of the earth, and we have countless innovations that ARE directed toward bettering life for ourselves and others. It’s when we get selfish that we take things to the extreme, and make gods out of our own creations, and allow these gods to rule us instead. We’ve become humans so far removed from the reality of our own humanity, that too many of us have forgotten our dependence on God’s plan and His providence.

A good place to start: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Here in our own family, we’re talking about how we can be more self-sufficient in terms of food and develop a more personal relationship with the land and with our local farmers. We’re also discussing about how we can help with the water shortage in other places (there are many charitable organizations but which one to support?). And we’ll continue to minimize our personal consumption of the earth’s resources and make good use of what we already have.

If you have specific suggestions on any of these, please share in the comments section. I’d love to explore concrete solutions with you.

My favorite commentaries on Laudato Si’:

The New Encyclical: Laudato Si from Robert Royal
“Laudato Si” focuses on the heart of man and the disorders of our age from William Patenaude
“Laudato Si'” and Romano Guardini from Fr. Robert Barron

What Nino Read, September 2014

the princess and her great-great-grandmother (from The Princess and the Goblin)
the princess and her great-great-grandmother (from The Princess and the Goblin)

Corduroy Makes a Cake

It’s Milking Time (didn’t like this one that much — maybe he can’t relate since we hardly ever drink cow’s milk here)

Cam Jansen: The Mystery of the Carnival Prize

The Best Kind of Kiss by Margaret Allum ***

The Little Piggy’s Book of Manners (a fun way for kids to learn manners/reinforce what we’ve taught them) *****

Little Bo Peep Can’t Get to Sleep (Little Bo Peep plus other familiar characters from traditional nursery rhymes and stories incorporated) ****

A Photo for Greta by Anna Alter – on photography and father/daughter relationship. Cute. **

Disappearing Desmond by Anna Alter — cute book on hiding in plain sight and on being “seen”. **

A Gift of Gracias — on Our Lady of Altagracia — HIGHLY RECOMMENDED ***** Dominican Republic culture , faith, cultivating a spirit of gratitude, January 21

Best Little Wingman – long-time family favorite on father-child relationship, wintertime, how snow plows work ****

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind – **** – Africa, electricity, power & energy, Malawi, drought, poverty, windmills.

Nino’s thoughts when we read this: This reminds me of The Wizard of Menlo Park, Mommy!
Me: Who’s that?
Nino: Thomas Edison! (LOL, I had forgotten – we read about Thomas Edison in My Book House)

Three Scoops and a Fig – Italy, Italian flag, figs, cooking and baking, about being “too little” to do things — this book made Nino want to eat gelato. 😀 ****

The Babe and I – baseball, Great Depression, 20th century, Babe Ruth, Yankees, New York, newspaper boy ****

Goldie Locks Has Chicken Pox – cute rhyming book on — what else — chicken pox ***

Miss Nelson is Back — funny, silly story on substitute teachers (and their tricks). ***

My Friend by Beatrice Alemagna – pictures are fabric/thread collages. simple book on friendship ***

Also read this past month:

Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers — which Nino asked me to read (got it on Kindle) — he had been introduced to Shakespeare via Jim Weiss — we loved most of them except King Lear — that was just tragic and bizarre.


The Wizard of Oz – ** – Meh.

The Princess and the Goblin — absolutely wonderful book!!

The Princess and Curdie — sequel to Princess and the Goblin

both by George MacDonald, a Tolkien favorite. Wish I had read these books to the kids when they were little. Lots of little nuggets on faith, adventure, staying true to oneself, bravery, honesty, integrity, etc. Wow. Nino and I had LOTS of fun with these books and I’d love to get them on hardcover so we can have them on the shelf and he can reread them anytime and re-learn these character lessons when he does.

Living Authentic Lives: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer


He makes the weak of this world mighty only to the extent that they cooperate with a determined and resolute repentance.

Might comes from cooperation with God’s divine will. I’ve found this to be true in confronting venial sin in particular. When I do my best to cooperate with what I know to be God’s will, it is only difficult at first, as I wrestle with following my will vs. His. Once the wrestling is over and I’ve embraced God’s will, I am immediately strengthened, ready and almost eager to battle the next challenge.

Being vibrantly concerned is the first step toward a strong determination to do something about the problem.

Awareness, knowledge of oneself and one’s weaknesses, is essential for any real change to happen.

committing them to rote memory

Fr. Dubay talks about the seven reasons he enumerates in Chapter 6, why deep conversion and deep prayer are key to becoming a completely loving, happy and fulfilled human person. I’m listing them here to help me remember:

1. happiness and fulfillment
2. real love
3. unobscured sight and insight
4. ecumenical effectiveness
5. purification of venial sins
6. inexpressible joy
7. eternity

He then adds four more; here’s the first:

apostolic effectiveness is increased…. lay men and women witnessing to truth, love and beauty by the example of their lives… spouses in their homes witnessing to each other and to their children and their extended families and friends. To bring people closer to God, competency and clarity are important, but they are not enough. Of themselves they do not touch hearts deeply. Personal sanctity and goodness do. It is the saints who light fires.

Every time I read that line, I think, “I want to be that saint who lights fires!!! Help me be that saint, Lord!!”

He also quotes from Frank Sheed’s The Church and I

… for ideas which could call upon a man to change his life, lucidity is not enough. The self of the teacher has to make contact in depth with the self of the hearer.

If we are going to bring people closer to God in work and life our own deepening conversion is indispensable.

This is so true. Just over the weekend someone was seeking my advice — she needs to help someone become holier (she didn’t put it that way, but that’s basically the goal in a nutshell). I pointed out that while she’s helping her loved one, she needs to be working on her holiness herself. And likewise, while I’m giving advice to her, *I* need to be working on my own holiness.

… if husbands and wives really love each other and their children, the best and most effective proof that their love is not mere words is to get rid of their major and minor selfishnesses and to deepen their prayer lives.

And again. I cannot inspire my husband to greater holiness unless I’m working on my personal holiness. I cannot teach my children to be less selfish if they can see that I’m being selfish myself. And I cannot teach them to deepen their prayer lives, when they don’t even see me praying or see the results of prayer in my own life and in my dealings with them.

There is no substitute for authenticity.

True that.

Authenticity, honesty, sincerity, integrity. REAL. A fusing of who we are in our minds, our spirits, our hearts, and our external selves.

An End-Of-Year Examination of Conscience for the Family


Continued from this post on Raising Pro-Life Children Amid A Culture of Death.

There are many versions of an examination of conscience out there. I wrote this for our family, but I share this here in case it might be helpful to anyone else.

Are we praying more?
Have we committed to praying the Rosary?
Do we pray it with reverence, or do we hurry through it?
Have we made our Consecration? (Do we know about Consecration?)
Have we read one encyclical that we hadn’t read a year ago?
Have we brought anyone into the Church? Have we invited a former Catholic to Mass?
Have we shared our faith with other people, not via argumentation, but via genuine friendship? (Excellent food for thought from my friend Angie.)
Are we giving more to charitable causes?
Have we spent time with the sick, the hungry, the elderly?
Have we tried curbing our own materialistic tendencies?
Do we tithe?
Have we read the Catechism more closely?
Did we have, adopt, or sponsor a(nother) child?
Did we support traditional marriage?
Do we read Scripture daily?
Do we pray with the Church via the Liturgy of the Hours?
Have we tried to attend Mass more than once a week?
How often do we go to Confession?
How often do we go to Adoration?
Have we practiced custody of the eyes and ears?
How much of traditional media do we still consume?
Have we read a devotional or spiritual book that we hadn’t read a year ago?
How often do we fast?
Has LOVE been our one encompassing goal in all that we do?
Have we prayed for vocations to religious life? Have we considered our own vocations?
Do we pray and encourage our children’s vocations?
Do we pray for our children’s future spouses?
Did we take time to learn more about at least ONE saint?
Have we given more attention and support to Catholic media?
Do we spend at least 15 minutes daily in silence with the Lord?
Have we practiced holy detachment more fully?
Have we committed to a hopeful attitude and not one of despair?
Have we volunteered our time/talent at our local parish?
Have we praised God daily and seen the blessing in every little thing, including our crosses?
Did we take our time to get to know our pastor/vicar more fully?
Have we gone on pilgrimage?
Have we gone on retreat?
Have we talked to our children and our spouse about faith matters?
Do we take our roles as primary faith educators of our children seriously?
(Husband) Am I the spiritual leader of my household?
(Wife) Have I submitted to my husband?
Have we prayed a novena?
Have we taken time to understand the social doctrine of the church?
Have we been truly thankful for our blessings?

More helpful links:

An Examination of Conscience for Pro-Life groups
An Examination of Conscience for Parents, from Mark Shea

(another work-in-progress, will revisit quarterly)

Where I’ve Been


From Project: Sowing Seeds: 101!! Books to Read in this Year of Faith — includes some of my favorites, some that I’ve been meaning to read, and many that I’ve never heard of before.

Poll: Catholics want pastors to blog. Yes, Father, we do. It would be a great way to dialogue, and keep the conversation going beyond the brief small talk after Sunday Mass.

The Great Tragedy of the 2012 Election

The tragedy of the 2012 election is that in this land of the free and home of the brave, many people were not allowed to vote. Their voices were silenced. Their votes were not cast. Their opinions not expressed. Why?

Because they were dead.

I Figured Out the Problem. You. Sigh. Yes, fellow Catholics. We love you, but sometimes you just really drive us batty. And yes, I know that “you” includes ME too.

A Watershed Election. A Weimar Election?

We may need to be preparing for more direct persecution for religious doctrines and prudential norms. The state in effect has now consolidated its responsibility for all aspects of our lives from before conception to “helping” us to the cemeteries as expeditiously and conveniently as possible. The Church will be deeply divided; those who voted for the president will now claim that they have been “protecting” the Church all along. But, in exchange, the Church will need to “downplay” (read, stop) its strident opposition to the now widely approved “rights” that justify these actions. It will only be necessary on a few outmoded doctrines about sex to change things. In any case, those who gets any assistance from the state must conform to all the laws and mandates of the state, including ones that go against objective standards or subjective conscience.

Some Thoughts on the Five Stages of Religious Persecution: I’m not going to quote. READ IT. ALL OF IT. Looks like we are on Stage 4. Oh boy.

Fr. Z’s Reflection on the Election, wherein he talks about frequent Confession and the Four Last Things. Amen, Father.


The Chef that my daughter works for: Mantra on the Hill on Fox 19

Too Many Brownies, QoTD, Faith Talking, the Menu, Devotion #2

It’s 2:09 am and yes, I’m still awake. Made allergy-free brownies for Aisa’s party with her college friends (+the Walshes) and I forgot that I made it with regular coffee, STRONG-BREWED even… and now everyone’s asleep and I’m still awake. I’m going to be dead in the morning, just when little one will be running around wreaking havoc everywhere. But yum. Haven’t made those in a while and forgot how good they were!

Yena’s Question of the Day:

“Mom, when I’m older, will I go through “the phase” too?”

What phase?

“You know, the one that Paco’s in right now and that Ate Aisa went through….?”

Oh, *that* phase. 😀

I love eight-year-olds!!

So Michael and Amy Walsh and Josh, Aisa’s friend, were talking and talking and talking tonight. Bibles (Douay, 2 NABs, Navarre AND Google — we couldn’t find our RSV-CE) on the table. I interjected a comment or two here and there. Aisa too, of course. But wow, *love* these conversations. I wonder if that’s the kind of exhilaration Augustine and his friends felt all those centuries ago…. talking about the faith, asking each other questions, challenging each other’s beliefs, reasonings, etc., mulling, turning things over, digging, scrutinizing. I *love* being around people with this kind of passion for Christ and for understanding His teachings. It probably could have gone on forever were it not for the kids who were sleepy and the homework (and real work, as in JOB) that the college studes had hanging over their heads…. but yeah, we have to do that again.

Elvin and Candice, if you happen to see this, we missed you. You would have loved it.

Oh and yeah. The menu. We made/served

spaghetti puttanesca
crisp spiced nuts
mild cheddar
smoked whitefish salad with water crackers (I promised Paco we were going to get this and we did, finally!)
warm lentil salad
olive oil citrus cake with grapefruit glaze (Yena made this), and strawberries
iced chai green tea
allergen-free brownies

Michael and Amy brought salmon fish head curry and quinoa
PJ brought some potato casserole with chex mix something that was all kinds of delicious
Alyssa (?) brought a marbled yellow/chocolate cake with chocolate glaze
Josh brought a mesclun salad topped with blue cheese, pine nuts and cranberries
Aaron brought palmiers and pastry cream
and Joe brought quinoa and his guitar
Navid brought chicken that looked very tempting (it’s Friday!)

So it was actually a feast, on a Lenten Friday, no less…. but there were reasons the party had to be held today….

while they use the world and the things of this life, they use all such purely and honestly, and no further than is needful for their condition—such are the truly devout.

To the devout, EVERY SINGLE THING can and will be and is used solely as a tool to draw oneself closer to the Almighty.

Brain Dump # 23409815638

I think I should follow my dd’s example and have a new category: Brain Dump, and password-protect everything, just so I’m not inflicting my no-direction posts on readers…. I often wonder why people come here since the comments box is usually empty. Not that I mind really, when I was blogging mostly food I had many more comments (and less visitors actually) but I had such a difficult time keeping up with conversations and trying to make everyone happy by always replying, etc. I actually like that (it seems) most of my visitors these days are moms like me who understand first-hand how difficult it is to maintain real life AND blog, without having to assume the added responsibility of entertaining people. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy answering people’s questions or offering my opinions, I am Google queen after all and some of my dearest friends have come to rely on my (hah!) expertise when trying to find answers.

But I also appreciate the quiet… the handful of people who comment but are becoming more like IRL friends, unlike others in the past who leave empty words that have no meaning at all…

I am also in a happy state, and quite peaceful at the moment. I wish I could put my finger on the ONE thing that makes it all come together for me these days, but I can’t. Call it a confluence of favorable factors if you must, but really my tendency is to attribute it to NOTHING but God’s awesome Grace. My life is just full-full-full of blessings right now. Sometimes I can’t see straight from the joy of it all. Don’t misunderstand. The first floor of our room right now is looking like a pigsty due to the still-unfinished decluttering, which now includes the basement, because we’re having a garage sale in a few days…. our calendar for the rest of May is as crazy as crazy can get… I have a dear loved one who is going through so much right now my heart is just breaking for him… we have parenting issues from time to time… hubby is as stressed and as busy as one has come to expect….

And I don’t know if it was Consecration last December….. or the trip to Lourdes…. or just the bunch of friends that pray for us…. okay, so I think it’s safe to say, it’s all of those…. and then again, of course, all of those are direct offshoots of… you guessed it, God’s Grace.

Because His Grace *is* enough. And knowing that He’s always there. Always looking out for me, my family, my needs… always knocking down those branches and twigs and overgrown weeds and thorny bushes that stand in my way, so that I can keep my focus on Him… only Him….

This past week I was sorting five boxes of STUFF that Dad brought up from the basement. In them are all these pictures, and letters, and mementoes…. saved up from years before and because of all the moving got relegated to indescript containers that hold no sign of the treasures in them. I had completely forgotten about some of these things… I’m so glad now I didn’t just one day throw them all in the dump in a fit of despair. Though I know we still have a long way to go towards getting rid of our material attachments, I am infinitely grateful I kept these things. You know what the most important finds were? Letters. That I wrote. To God. In the days of my youth, my uncertainty, my loneliness… those days 10, 15, 20, 25 years ago when I felt most down and alone and unloved. There weren’t a lot of those days, thinking back now, though I’m sure that in my young mind those days were hard to bear. But I had been writing to Him, as one friend to another, as a daughter to her Father, as a sister to a dear Brother, as a bride waiting for her Lover…

Often these days I think of how I have grown so much in my faith over the years…. but still I have this feeling of unsatisfaction, of unworthiness, of the overwhelming feeling that the journey is not complete. And no, it isn’t. But often I despair of not having enough faith in God, beating myself up for not trusting Him with every bit of my being. Often I ask Him why He hasn’t given me the grace to be more patient, more loving, more good. Often I am guilty of the sin of presumption. Often I ask why I’m not as holy as this or that person whom I admire. And having found these letters, I’m just amazed. Not at my own faithfulness, though that surprises me in a pleasant way. But at HIS FAITHFULNESS. Because almost every letter that contained a heartache, a concern, a problem…. all of them have been answered. Even the ones that sound most ungrateful or even angry. The ones that haven’t been answered (and really, I haven’t found a major one) stare back at me now and give me one thought: I’ve been faithful to you all these years… I’ve given you your heart’s desires, I’ve provided for you and cared for you and never let you down…. so you don’t have to doubt Me. Because in these letters You have proof that I keep My promises.

Our Lord is Ever Faithful. And though it gives me great shame to see how I’ve doubted Him off and on through my 40 years, I’m mostly just REALLY REALLY GRATEFUL. For all of THESE…. His Gifts. He is One Awesome God Indeed.

Lent in Our Home

Good friend e-mailed last night and asked what Lent looks like in our home, and I realized I hadn’t gotten around to putting our plans here. And since putting stuff here helps us with accountability….

what we do, or at least try to do, in no particular order:

– purple tablecloth at the dinner table
– grapevine wreath on the cocktail table
– little wreaths for the kids, spiked with toothpicks — the kids (and this year, mom too) take out the toothpicks and replace with flowers — the thorns/toothpicks=our sins; the flowers = reparation, sacrifice, mortification, growth in virtue; so by Easter hopefully puro flowers na
– reading/discussing/small activities/crafts for lenten season saints, like st. valentine
– daily Mass, though we’ve been failing lately esp. with the cold front and me getting sick, we’ll start back again on Monday
– daily Rosary
– stations of the cross every Friday, usually at home, with “homemade” stations (coloring activity from 2004, “housed” in popsicle stick frames) — we also use the prayers from the Fourniers’ book, which we cut out and laminated
– meditative readings for kids and adults (i’m using In Conversation with God, and we’re trying to reread Hidden Power of Kindness, Bong got a booklet of meditations at church last weekend so he’s following that)
– major purging of rooms/closets for donations/getting rid of “stuff”
– trying to practice silence (my major failing) at home, trying to keep peace and harmony at all times (ha! we wish)
– if aisa feels like it this year we might do some pysanky (ukrainian easter eggs) — she took a pysanky class a few years ago and taught us how — i’d love to learn how to make this
– aisa sings at choir, so Holy Week there’s Tenebrae, then the Triduum…. somehow we didn’t have these in BF at our parish — what a loss.
– mostly we follow suggestions in the book by the Fourniers — samples here: Domestic Church + Catholic Culture + Catholic Mom; we don’t try to do EVERYTHING, but try to add one or two things every year.
– I also printed out new rosary and stations of the Cross cards from Kathryn’s website
– and a Lenten calendar from Julie — the pages say “2007”, but they’re downloadable, editable pages, so all you’ll have to do is change dates and the year. An awesome resource!