Six Weeks Off FB: (Not the Usual) Lessons Learned

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Growing in our spiritual life means that we sometimes need to do hard things. Leaving Facebook was one of those things for me. I’ve posted before my main reasons for leaving, but as I’ve been gone these six weeks I’ve been working on attaining greater purity and rectitude of intention with regards to the use of social media, and I share these in the hopes that they may help someone else. But first this, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Strong feelings are not decisive for the morality or the holiness of persons; they are simply the inexhaustible reservoir of images and affections in which the moral life is expressed. Passions are morally good when they contribute to a good action, evil in the opposite case. The upright will orders the movements of the senses it appropriates to the good and to beatitude; an evil will succumbs to disordered passions and exacerbates them. Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices.

On becoming frustrated with the slowness and the challenges of pro-life work:

From Father’s homily a couple of weeks ago:

How do you respond when there are tensions in a group? Do you say “I’m fed up, enough for me?” Or do you work through the tensions, accepting that it’s refining, changing, like gold in fire, as you all grow in charity and holiness? Do we allow peculiarities/oddities to grate on us — do we grow in annoyance, or do we grow in affection? Do we recognize that it’s holiness in the making?

From a conversation with my daughter:

Once we’re in the pro-life movement, we just need to accept that people will never not need information and education. We may need to repeat ourselves a hundred times before a message penetrates, takes root, or moves people to action.

On being overwhelmed with human need and suffering, especially those I feel powerless to help with (like Paris over the weekend):

If certain problems are beyond our power to change, at least we can contribute the warmth of our friendship. True love can overcome any obstacle. – In Conversation with God

On becoming upset/annoyed at noise/content:

Jesus does not distance himself from sinners. The life of Christ is a continual reaching out to souls in need. Jesus intends to serve everyone, not only those who follow his call, but even those who seem completely hardened to the divine Word. – In Conversation with God, Volume 5

So much of social media is noise, and the Hide, Block, and Unfriend buttons make it easy to make judgments one shouldn’t make. Where engagement was uncalled for, prayer should have been my automatic response, but it often wasn’t. My knee jerk response was “I don’t want/need to see this.”

I curated my feed so that noise was minimized, but while practicing custody of the eyes and ears is essential, there is also the danger of objectification — “I only want to see/hear from you if what you’re saying/doing enriches me.” Instead of allowing the Lord to bless and sanctify each moment of encounter, I get preoccupied with the CONTENT, instead of the PERSON behind the content. I decry fakeness and demand authenticity, but even when authenticity is on full display I refuse to meet people where they are. I wanted those friendships, but only on MY TERMS.

On being exhausted:

This requires an intense spiritual stamina as compared to the passive state of daily mechanical work; but this stamina perishes in the long run if not refreshed by the eternal wellspring. – Edith Stein/St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Woman

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. – from Isaiah 30:15

I didn’t recognize spiritual depletion because I had not stopped praying daily. My mistake was in assuming that that was enough. I had let it get to the point where I was practically running on empty and felt I had nothing left to give. But what I needed to do was to actively pursue the Lord, even more than before. Because of the work I was involved in, I needed MORE of Him, not less; certainly not status quo. Simply put, I couldn’t give what I didn’t have.

Mindfulness in the age of social media can be tricky, as the pendulum can swing both ways — we can engage too much than is necessary or helpful, but we could go the other extreme of excessive withdrawal from people. Balance can only be reached by a careful consideration of how we engage. As an introvert getting to that balance was important to me.


More helpful reading, if you like, on the next page:

Mama Mary, the Rosary, and Me

Rosary

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
http://familyfeastandferia.com/2015/10/the-family-rosary-a-month-for-renewal/
http://rosaryconfraternity.org/the-rosary/how-to-pray-the-rosary/
http://www.vatican.va/special/rosary/documents/litanie-lauretane_en.html

The Gentle and Arduous Task of Shepherding Little Souls

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Yesterday after supper, the 6-year-old squeezed himself into the space between me and the back of the couch while I tried to catch up on reading. He does this often, using me alternately as pillow, footrest, jungle gym or whatever else suits his mood and restless muscles. It’s like having a cat except mine’s heavier, not furry, and talks. And doesn’t cause fits of sneezing. Usually he reads while I work, but last night after several minutes of performing his usual acrobatics beside, on, and around me, he got serious.

“What if I don’t remember my sins, Mommy?”

It took me a second to focus on what he was saying and recall that we were doing a bit of sacramental preparation the last couple of weeks, specifically Confession. To keep it simple, I had summarized it as “remembering your sins and telling them to the priest who is Jesus’ representative here on earth”. (It will be a while until his First Confession, so please pray for him.)

“I can give you a little notebook, and you can write them in there at night before we pray.”
“Can you write them down for me?”
“Sure.”

I started launching into an explanation of why it’s a good idea to recall our sins at night, so we can pray about them, ask God’s forgiveness, and ask for His help so that we don’t make the same mistakes the next day… but I hadn’t quite finished when he interrupted me, tearing up a bit.

“Kuya and I had a fight last night.” (Kuya = Big Brother in Filipino)

“Yes, you did.”
“I spat at him,” he said, looking very remorseful and sad.

So we covered apologies, and forgiveness, and trying again. And I told him about a close relative who used to do the same thing because it was one of the things he could do when he got into a fight, since being little meant being unable to land punches as effectively as a big person can.

We laughed a bit, but then he got serious and teary-eyed again.

“What if someone always makes you mad? And what do you do when someone kicks you?”

As I probed further, I found out that he had a fight with a friend on a recent camping trip, and the friend kicked him, and he kicked the boy back. Dad joined us briefly to discuss things in more detail, and to plan what needs to be done next: he will sit down with the boys face to face and get to the bottom of things, and give them some instruction so it doesn’t happen again. The boys had been roughhousing at the campout, as boys are wont to do, and there were adults around, but I guess no one noticed much that was of concern to them.

Except that my boy is a sensitive soul and he thinks about these things long after they’ve happened.

There’s the concern, of course, that the boy is a bit older and bigger than him, but I didn’t want to use the word “bully” because I didn’t want my child getting locked into labeling someone who, most likely, is also still learning how to manage emotions and control impulses. That the child belongs to a strong Christian family, friends of ours, puts our minds at ease too.

Beyond this, though, my child was concerned that this friend seems to know just what buttons to push, and that he often ends up getting angry.

I explained how certain people just manage to rub us the wrong way at times. And how there are things that need to be brought to the attention of adults right away, BUT that there are also things that we can choose NOT to get upset or offended about, and that there are unpleasant things in life we can learn to just let go, or avoid altogether if avoidance would be best for everyone concerned. I gave him suggestions on healthy ways to express anger that doesn’t hurt him or someone else. And we talked about how being angry or offended about too many things isn’t a good formula for happiness.

A few more minutes of hugging and reassuring and he was back to making fart jokes.

I’m sure my son doesn’t realize it, but as I’m shepherding his heart and soul, he shepherds mine. He has such a simple and profound way of looking at the world and the bottom line of things. It’s almost heartbreaking to see him grapple with these thoughts and concerns at such a young age, but I am also deeply, infinitely blessed by his musings. What a privilege and a responsibility to tend to the little ones in His flock. I am awed at the wonder of it, and humbled and grateful that God saw it fit to make me his mother. Thank You, Lord.

Today, as we celebrate the canonization of Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, parents of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, I pray that we parents take inspiration from them as we grow our own families. Sts. Louis and Zelie Martin, pray for us!

My Selfish Reasons for Staying Catholic

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[In response to Elizabeth’s question.]

Why am I still Catholic? First and foremost reason before any other is the Eucharist, where my Savior is fully present: body, blood, soul, and divinity. No other Church can offer me what my Savior, the One who died for ME (and FOR YOU!!) gives me at every Mass.

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.

– John 6:53-56

This is where the invisible is made visible, through the physical… through the Sacraments.

I’m still Catholic because Catholicism is where the answers are, and they’re not platitudes or “feel good” answers… which means I get to suffer. (Wahoo!!) Catholicism is the only place where suffering — my own, my neighbor’s, the world’s — make sense. Pain becomes bearable because it’s purposeful.

It’s where self sacrifice hurts for the time being, but we do it anyway because it leads to someone else’s ultimate happiness, which leads to our own. Catholicism calls me to real love, where even the person who has hurt me most is someone I could and should pray for.

I’m Catholic because I love being part of the Mystical Body of Christ. I love not only that I can attend Mass anywhere I go in the world because it’s the same Mass. I get to unite in spirit and pray with all the Catholics around the world, day in and day out. I not only praise my Lord with the Church Militant, but with the Saints and the Angels too.

I love that there are no compromises. I cannot use my confusion to stay lukewarm. I am continuously pursued by Truth whenever and wherever I go. It’s where I am constantly called to (spiritual) perfection, where mediocrity isn’t celebrated. At the same time, it’s where competition makes no sense. We’re all just trying to get to where our outward appearances won’t matter, and our bodies and our intellects won’t have limits.

Catholicism is where I grow in faith, every single day. Even if I had to start at ground zero, there’s still no way to go but up. Going the opposite direction however, and starting at nothing, leads nowhere, because there isn’t a way to believe in less than nothing.

I get to fight alongside the best warriors, each of us wounded, limping, but leaning on each other, and holding each other up.

I’m still Catholic because I want to get to heaven, and see God’s original plan. I want to see what Adam and Eve foolishly gave up. I want to know what it’s like to see my loved ones happy all the time. I don’t want them to get sick, get old, or die. I want to see them wearing the crowns they earned, bearing their crosses gracefully and faithfully here on earth. I want them released from the walls that they built around themselves.

Catholicism is my legacy to my kids. It’s the map they can hold on to for the rest of their lives. When I was growing up, my parents always reminded me that we weren’t wealthy people and that I don’t have a sizeable inheritance to look forward to, that’s why I should prize my education above other things. It’s what will lead me to success. What they didn’t know was that they’ve already given me the best inheritance possible. And I’m passing it on to my children, because it’s the only thing I can offer that goes beyond what this world offers. I want eternity for them. (And just to illustrate, here’s my daughter’s post — she who writes and thinks 100x better than I can. See what I mean?)

Our faith is where every moment has import. Each choice we make has repercussions. Leisure time has meaning when used for silence, for listening to our Creator, for refreshing our souls. Naming kids isn’t just a fun exercise, because of the saints. Continuing to honor and look after our aging parents has meaning, because Catholicism demands that we look at the whole person, from the very beginning of life until that last breath when we take a step into Jesus’ arms. Death itself has meaning, because it’s not the end, only a crossing over.

I’m Catholic because every prayer that I’ve ever prayed has been answered. They weren’t all yeses, but I did get answers. You better believe I have so many more questions! That’s why I can’t wait to have that endless conversation, when I finally come face to face with Him who made me. I do hope He’s got Earl Grey.

Getting to Know God: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

More scraps of meditation while rereading:

Page 32.

stripped of [their] belongings, knowing that [they] owned something that was better and lasting

I’ve only ever been in two situations where I felt so terribly alone and couldn’t cling to anyone else but God. The first was many years ago when we first moved to the US and I was forced to give up everything that was familiar. Life changed and I had to grow up, pronto.

The second one was ~10 years ago when I had to deal with a situation I was totally unprepared for. I remember being on the bed, curled up in a fetal position, and crying out to God to just take it all away. I looked and felt pathetic. But it was another instance of having to grow up quite suddenly.

I could, I suppose, resent those times when God allowed the rug to be pulled out from under me. There have been moments I’ve wallowed in that resentment. But I cannot begrudge Him the seeds that He planted in my heart, of faith just waiting to bloom. They are in full bloom now. But I’m sure there will be other moments of uncertainty, of loss. If I can manage to cling to Him, I know He’ll be there for me yet again, ready to plant more seeds.


Page 33.

This sublime sanctity is not of this world; it has a divine stamp on it.

The only way to sanctify ourselves is to remember at all times that our possessions, our very lives, are temporary. Everyone and everything that we have can be taken away in a heartbeat. If we keep this in mind, we will also realize that the only constant, the only forever thing in our lives is God and who we are in relation to Him.

Further on, in the responsorial Psalm 81, we read that the Lord wishes to feed us “with the best of wheat, and with honey from the rock I would fill them.”

Very much like the saying, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot force him to drink. All that we could possibly need or want to grow our faith is already here…. apps, books, people, churches, charities, radio, blogs, etc. But it takes US actually using these things, reading the books, listening to the shows, interacting with people, to progress spiritually. I have a handful of people who are near and dear to me, and I wish I could shake them sometimes by the shoulders and get them to just ENGAGE. I am out of ideas how to turn the light on for them — so I just pray. If you’re reading this and are moved to prayer as well, please pray with me.


My favorite Catholic apps — these are only the ones I’ve used myself, either on our old iPod Touch (that now belongs to the 16-year-old), my tablet, and lately my phone.

divineoffice
Divine Office

imissal
iMissal

ipieta
iPieta

ibreviary
iBreviary

laudate
Laudate

myyearoffaith
My Year of Faith

catholiccalendar
Catholic Calendar from Universalis


That said, my husband’s example proves one thing: you don’t NEED any of the above-mentioned apps to get closer to God. He’s been constant in his scripture-reading, his prayer life, his Mass-going, his partaking of the sacraments, for years. That’s how he knows God intimately. More than access, it’s really COMMITMENT that’s key.

Heroic Virtue: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

As I grow in my spiritual life over the years, I find that trying to figure out God and my relationship with Him means trying to figure out my husband. When Fr. Thomas Dubay talked about “heroic”, my first thought was: “My husband! OF COURSE!”

My husband isn’t perfect. He’s actually a perfectionist like me, but that’s where the similarity ends. His perfectionism consists of perfecting himself, while mine consists of trying to perfect others and getting frustrated in the process, because obviously the only person I can really change is myself. I can try and mold my children into how *I* think they should be as Christians/Catholics who have a worthwhile contribution to make in the world, but as I’ve said before, in the end it’s not about me.

My hubby’s interior life is admirable. He bears all things, not with a grin, but with a quiet grace. He is not a complainer. He does things simply because he knows they’re the right thing to do. I don’t know how he developed this strength of character and will, but I’m grateful to have such an example in my life. Two words describe him: even keel. My husband is reliable like a well-built ship on a stormy sea. He’s low maintenance, which makes it easy to ignore his unspoken needs, and I have to be careful so I don’t take him for granted, which sadly I manage to do every now and then.

He’s been through a lot especially in his childhood, which I won’t detail here. Suffice it to say it wasn’t exactly a happy one, and there were heartaches at a very young age, though by the grace of God he was also gifted with a couple of great role models and by the looks of it, they made a discernible difference in who he is, this man that I married.

He has been reading the Bible daily for most of his life, from Genesis to Revelation. When he finishes, he starts all over again. That only changed when he married me, because every now and then I’d hand him a spiritual reading book I think he might like, though heaven knows I need it more than he does. Then he goes back to reading God’s Word.

God knows me so well. He knows that reading about the saints, watching movies about them, and reading their writings still wouldn’t be enough to motivate me to virtue. He had to put a living, breathing specimen in my life whom I could emulate… someone who lives his life heroically, almost 24/7/365.

Why do I talk about my husband’s spiritual life instead of mine? Because he’s obviously doing something right. He may not be a great Bible scholar, he may not know Latin or Greek, or have a thorough knowledge of apologetics. He doesn’t have the rules of abstinence and fasting memorized, and he doesn’t know what the GIRM says. After 23 years of marriage, my blinders are off and I do not speak from the point of view of a lovestruck teen. I am not blind to his faults, but there aren’t many. And I know he’s at least several steps ahead of me spiritually, because of the way he lives his life and the way he deals with people and situations around him.

All of us are called to become saints, Fr. Dubay says. My hubby seems to be already halfway there (if not more), so this Lent I am doing my best to follow in his footsteps.

More on heroic virtue:

From Catholic Encyclopedia (I wish I could quote the entire!):

An heroic virtue, then, is a habit of good conduct that has become a second nature, a new motive power stronger than all corresponding inborn inclinations, capable of rendering easy a series of acts each of which, for the ordinary man, would be beset with very great, if not insurmountable, diffulties.

From Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

So, heroic virtue consists mainly in living in the state of grace, hating sin and imperfections and striving to overcome them while carrying out one’s vocation, always accepting God’s will with faith, hope and charity as we go forward during these short years on earth toward the goal of heaven, trusting that God’s providence guides all things. This life may have moments which are dramatic and famous. It will probably be rather plain and obscure. But it is not mediocre.

Radical Transformation: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

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Ash Wednesday in our home is a day of radical transformation. There’s an immediate change in atmosphere: the house is quieter, and my teen is playing chant (a rarity these days, for him).

I woke up to two kids who have purposely given up their hair for Lent. My 16-yo shaved his head again this year to raise awareness and funds for children with cancer and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. My 21-yo gave up her beautiful curls simply because it’s Lent. Later on in the morning, my 11-year-old decided to cut her hair to shoulder length too.

I still get a jolt when I walk into a room and see them. They’re the same children, but different. They sometimes choose to do things that I wouldn’t have chosen for them, but they are on their own lenten journeys. Even if I were the best parent in the world, in the end, it’s not about me. It’s about grace. They do these difficult things and do it with joy. I sit here, get teary, feel humbled, and applaud quietly in my heart. I am in awe at their faith, and the ways they find to express it. Now my children have much to teach me, often, more than I have to teach them. They know the world needs much reparation and that we are not called to be mediocre Christians or Catholics.

Radical comes from the Latin word RADIX — or root. These days we need to dig deep… down, down, down… into the roots of who we are: children of God. When we look at everything in the light of the reality that we are God’s children, our actions then become not the actions of extremists but of people who do things out of LOVE.

In today’s world, this may not be seen as BALANCE. But balance is what we achieve when we return to the Father.

The Prodigal Son

Fr. Dubay writes of “squandered sonship”…”a dissolute life of self-indulgence”…. Those words make one think of drunks, or drug addicts… but we don’t have to first live lives of prodigality to answer the call to radicality. When I allow myself to be slave to my own desires, that is when I’m most caged. Desire is at once fleeting as it is never-ending. There is satisfaction, and then there isn’t. And it’s funny how when that dissatisfaction is fed, it quiets down for a while, and then it rages even stronger. Unbridled desires can grow into full-blown addictions, if we let them. I may not be vulnerable to drug use, or alcohol, or pornography, but I can still be slave to sleeping late, or forgoing my prayer time, or spending too many hours online. As I’ve grown older I’ve found that what my friend writes is so true:

In medio virtus stat: “Virtue lies in the middle.”

“Slavery” to God’s will — it sounds extreme, but it’s what returns us to proper balance. “God first” is the kind of bondage that frees. The more I meditate on His Word, all the while rebelling from my sleep-deprived state, the quieter my mind becomes. The more I give my fiat in the day to day, to HIS plans rather than mine, the greater the peace. The more I obey, the quicker I find freedom.

We may be Prodigal Sons and Daughters, and yet all we need to do is repent, return, once more get back to the radix of our existence. We are welcomed back into the Father’s arms, where we are embraced, forgiven, loved.

Prayer to God, the Father of All Life

8 Weeks after Conception

Eternal God, You have revealed Yourself as the Father of all Life.
We praise You for the Fatherly care which You extend to all creation, and especially to us, made in Your image and likeness.

Father, extend Your hand of protection to those threatened by abortion, and save them from its destructive power.
Give Your strength to all fathers, that they may never give in to the fears that may tempt them to facilitate abortions.

Bless our families and bless our land, that we may have the joy of welcoming and nurturing the life of which You are the source and the Eternal Father.
Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer

For All Your Gifts, Father, Our Thanks.

For the blessings of hearth and home.
For a husband who celebrates his fatherhood with joy and faithfulness
For Your gift of life. Especially new life.
For the children that surround our table, along with their smiles and squabbles.
For the food that You have lovingly provided.
For the livelihood that helps keep us warm and well-fed.
For family to share time with, to love and miss from afar.
For friends who share our journey.
For the gift of forgiveness.
For Your unending Mercy and Love.
Father, we give thanks.

__________________________________________

Father in Heaven,
Creator of all and source of all goodness and love,
Look kindly upon us
And receive our heartfelt gratitude
In this time of giving thanks.

Thank you for all the graces and blessings
You have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal:
Our faith and religious heritage
Our food and shelter,
Our health,
The love we have for one another,
Our family and friends.

Dear Father,
In Your infinite generosity,
Grant us continued graces and blessings throughout the coming year.

This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ, Your Son.
Amen.

Food, Humor, Organization, and Gift Ideas

Luxury for Mom:

Started off the early morning with 1/4 cup of Mariebelle Aztec Hot Chocolate… just enough for me to handle in the dark hours of the dawn…

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Yena’s Quote of the Month: “Mom, what’s the name of that movie, Princess Diarrhea?” (Princess Diaries)… oh my child, so blessedly out of the loop.

Tip for Slow Food Lovers in Wintry Weather:

Take some oxtails from your favorite grass fed beef farmer, put in water in a large heavy pot, bring to a boil, then simmer overnight on LOW LOW LOW. Wake up in the morning to falling-off-the-bone tenderness. Take out meat pieces with slotted spoon, leave pot with stock outside in the cold (32 degrees F here right now), covered. In the early evening an hour before dinner, take pot inside. Scoop out solidified beef fat (could probably use this for a birdseed feeder?), bring stock to a boil, season with salt and add yummy things like peeled quartered potatoes, lots of onions, whole black peppercorns, green beans and cabbage leaves. Return meat to pot and simmer just until all warmed up. Perfect for fall.

Prayer to Saint John Bosco for our Young Driver

O glorious Saint John Bosco, who in order to lead young people to the feet of the divine Master and to mould them in the light of faith and Christian morality didst heroically sacrifice thyself to the very end of thy life and didst set up a proper religious Institute destined to endure and to bring to the farthest boundaries of the earth thy glorious work, obtain also for us from Our Lord a holy love for young people who are exposed to so many seductions in order that we may generously spend ourselves in supporting them against the snares of the devil, in keeping them safe from the dangers of the world, and in guiding them, pure and holy, in the path that leads to God. Amen.

Keep her safe from irate drivers who are impatient to get to where they’re going…

On my to-do-list today:

Off to do my 15-minute-each-room tasks, so I can check them off Toodledo, THE (so-far) perfect online spot to help me accomplish tasks according to GTD principles. Still working on a paper-based organizational tool, but haven’t perfected *my* system yet.

Time To Move Forward

Ora et labora. Pray and work. And so we begin.

Lepanto 2008 is still taking pledges for Rosaries to be said these next four years. We’re almost halfway to the goal of 30,000,000 rosaries pledged. Please sign up today. One of the clearest messages this election left me and my family is that we, as individuals, as a family, as a nation, HAVE NOT PRAYED ENOUGH.

A day before my consecration last year, dh stepped up and told all of us that we are to begin praying the Rosary everyday. Since then, we have, missing 3 days in the past year. But we can do so much more. To help out, I’ve gotten ourselves and a few friends booklets and pamphlets from Rosary Center. Kathryn also has a wonderful set of Rosary Three Part Cards at her blog. We’ve printed these out on cardstock and keep it on our altar, making it really easy for our little one (6 yo) to memorize the Mysteries. We take turns leading the Rosary. I.e., the person leading the Rosary says the Mysteries and leads the prayers for the first Mystery. The next child (older) leads the next Mystery, and so on. Since there are 6 of us, including parents, on any given day, one family member leads and another takes a break from leading. It takes discipline and a commitment, and yes, there have been evenings when we started saying the Rosary too late in the evening and everyone’s cranky and not really cooperating. Our best Rosaries are said early (before dinner) or in the car when we’re driving someplace.

Here’s another Scriptural Rosary for children that may be helpful.

Also, please consider participating in the Inauguration Day Rosary Novena. It begins November 10 and ends on January 20, Inauguration Day. The specific intentions are on the temporary website, and I’m copying them here as well for your use:

  • For the triumph of the Culture of Life in the United States of America.
  • For President-elect Obama, and for all of the leaders of the United States of America, that they will be led personally to Jesus Christ and His truth, and that they will lead our country in a positive direction. Or in other words, as Archbishop Wuerl said, “That our nation’s new leaders be guided in their decisions with wisdom and compassion and at the heart of all of their decisions may there be a deep respect for and commitment to the sanctity and dignity of all human life and support for the most vulnerable among us.”
  • For the hearts, minds and SOULS of the American people, that they will be turned back towards Jesus Christ and the “least of His brethren”.
  • For a renewal of the virtues of purity and self-control, especially among our youth.
  • In reparation for the scourges of abortion, Embryonic Stem Cell Research, euthanasia, cloning, artificial contraception, and all manifestations of the Culture of Death, and especially in reparation for the support and/or complacency that we as American Catholics have shown to these evils.

Litany of St. Thomas More

Prayers for all our statesmen, politicians, and lawyers, and for all of us voting these people into office…

V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ, have mercy
R. Christ have mercy
V. Lord, have mercy
R. Lord have mercy
V. Christ hear us
R. Christ, graciously hear us

V. St. Thomas More, Saint and Martyr, R. Pray for us (Repeat after each invocation)
St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians and Lawyers
St. Thomas More, Patron of Justices, Judges and Magistrates
St. Thomas More, Model of Integrity and Virtue in Public and Private Life
St. Thomas More, Servant of the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More, Model of Holiness in the Sacrament of Marriage
St. Thomas More, Teacher of his Children in the Catholic Faith
St. Thomas More, Defender of the Weak and the Poor
St. Thomas More, Promoter of Human Life and Dignity

V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Spare us O Lord
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Graciously hear us O Lord
V. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world
R. Have mercy on us


Let us pray:

O Glorious St. Thomas More, Patron of Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and Lawyers, your life of
prayer and penance and your zeal for justice, integrity and firm principle in public and family life led
you to the path of martyrdom and sainthood. Intercede for our Statesmen, Politicians, Judges and
Lawyers, that they may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of
human life – the foundation of all other human rights. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Honoring St. Augustine (and his mom)

staugustine.JPG

“Our hearts were made for Thee, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in Thee.”
Sero te amavi pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova!” (Late have I loved thee, O Beauty so ancient and so new!)

Lots of reading and activities here.

Today, we are remembering St. Augustine. Yesterday, it was his mother‘s memorial. These are two of my favorite saint stories — the mother who prayed unceasingly for her wayward son, soooo unwaveringly faithful, that he turned away from sin and became a saint. Here’s what St. Augustine had to say about his own mother. How can a parent not be inspired?

I keep wondering what St. Augustine and St. Monica and all the rest of them are saying up there in heaven after his words have been severely misused by those down here.


And for those of us who are just that wee bit crazy about Latin, here’s a very timely lesson (w00t! This will take us several weeks to dig into!) from Context, Pelosi. from Aliens in this World. Gotta say though, if Pelosi reads Latin, I can’t help but be mighty impressed. But then again, as the Spartans said, *IF*.


We are lucky enough to be the owners of a couple of older volumes by St. Augustine, found at a book sale, they used to belong to a priest! DD-17 has been reading parts of Confessions for her Theology of the Body class, so this is great timing. Especially since she’s graduating at the end of the week, she’ll have PLENTY of time to delve into more of St. A’s works.

The Attack of the Colds. (And the Sleepies.)

Well, it’s official. The Summer Cold has invaded our family. Three of us are down. Tonight we allowed our 12-year-old to skip the family Rosary so he can sleep early — we were praying quite late because Dad and I got home around 9:30 from our dinner date (celebrating 18 years and 7 months of wedded bliss, yeah, baby!!). Well, the 6-yo who got it first pleaded that she couldn’t lead her decade because she’s got a severe case of the sniffles. Her Hail Mary’s sounded like this:

[sniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiif] Hail Mary, full of grace [sniffffffffffffffff], the Lord is with thee.

9-yo volunteered to take over and we were grateful… problem is, he’s got the sleepies, and his Hail Mary’s sounded like this:

Hail Ma[yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwnnn]ry, full of grace, the Loooo[yawwwwwwwwnnnnnn]rd is with thee….

it was one slow Rosary, I tell you. I wonder if the Saints who were hovering near were stifling yawns as well. Wait, there isn’t sleepiness in Heaven, is there?

Prayer Journal

for Papa and Mama’s continued health.
for T and M’s marriage — for strength to persevere through the trials.
for A’s conversion, and a life-changing experience.

Health for Bong always. Protection from temptation. That people will see him for the wonderful person he is, especially those closest to his heart.
Protection for Aisa. And health. That she can always guard her heart wisely. That men will see her worth and want to deserve and be worthy of her.
Protection for Paco. And health. That he will come to know God more. That he will be able to offer his life to the Lord. That he will always make wise decisions.
Protection for Migi. And health. That he will learn to overcome/manage anger. That he will trust our love. That he will be able to overcome any insecurities.
Protection and continued health for Yena. For continued growth in faith in the Lord.

Random prayers:
For the 4real moms — and all of their families, and intentions.

Specific events. 5/22/08

For the upcoming months, that they be fraught with joy and promise. That the path will become clearer for us, especially for Aisa.
For September events. Aisa’s graduation and party in particular.
For the baby’s coming.
For our endless decluttering effort to be over.
For the basement to be completely decluttered and ready for fun.
For the ability to focus on first things.
For discipline in myself and in the kids.