Monday, August 31, 2009

You go to Mass nearly every day?

Don't pray at Holy Mass, but pray the Holy Mass..Pope St Pius X

Well, I try to get to Mass most days..sometimes with the kids and dh..sometimes by myself.

The Holy Mass is a prayer itself, even the highest prayer that exists. It is the Sacrifice, dedicated by our Redeemer at the Cross, and repeated every day on the altar. If you wish to hear Mass as it should be heard, you must follow with eye, heart and mouth all that happens at the altar. Further, you must pray with the priest the holy words said by him in the Name of Christ and which Christ says by him. You have to associate your heart with the holy feelings which are contained in these words and in this manner you ought to follow all that happens at the altar. When acting in this way, you have prayed Holy Mass. Pope St Pius X..again

A friend asked me if I go to Mass on weekdays just to find some peace in my busy days.

Not really.

Someone else told me I am a religious zealot, because of my Mass going and my prayers. Zealot? An excessively zealous person; fanatic .Synonym: extremist, crank, bigot.

Oh, gosh, I hope not.

This same person said maybe I go to Mass and pray because it is the only way I can live with my (apparently horrible) life.
It's not that horrible, really. It is even fun. For the most part.

To be honest, I just go to Mass because I love God. There really is no other reason.

Do we have to go to Mass every day? Of course not.
Are there graces to be received from daily Mass and Communion. Yes. For sure. This act “identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.” (CCC #1419)
Am I better than anyone else simply because I go to some extra masses during the week? Definitely not!

The Eucharist is to be offered to the faithful, among other reasons, “as an antidote, by which we are freed from daily faults and preserved from mortal sins”,as is brought to light in various parts of the Mass. As for the Penitential Act placed at the beginning of Mass, it has the purpose of preparing all to be ready to celebrate the sacred mysteries;even so, “it lacks the efficacy of the Sacrament of Penance”...

For “no Christian community is built up unless it is rooted in and hinges upon the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist”. Hence it is the Christian people’s right to have the Eucharist celebrated for them on Sunday, and whenever holydays of obligation or other major feasts occur, and even daily insofar as this is possible. Redemptionis Sacramentum
You know, it is easy to be a minimalist with our Faith. To do just the minimum required by the Church, to do the minimum to hopefully get to heaven and avoid hell.
In my dry, arid, aching spritual periods, like when I first moved to Sydney and was cynical and a bit cowed by judgement, well, then I tend towards minimalism.
Yet I know, deep down, somewhere in my intellect and in my soul, that the externals affect our interior soul. That, even if I feel desolate spiritually, I can still practice my Faith, still go often to Mass, pray, read the Scriptures and my missal, pray the Rosary..and this practice of my Faith makes the interior disposition match the exterior activity.
Eventually. Through the grace of God. And, in my case, through the serendipitious moving from Adelaide, to Sydney, to our current parish, the Conventual Franciscans, who have helped. Helped without their knowledge. By their prayers, their works, their example, their faith.
And their Masses.
So, I try to go to daily Mass. It is practice for heaven. Every Catholic Mass is participation in the liturgy of heaven. At Mass, we are present with those who have gone before us, with the saints and angels who all join Jesus as He offers His sacrifice on the cross for us . Honestly, it is of eternal importance for us to be there as often as we can.
As often as we can.
The Church is understanding in this regard and so I try not to be stricter than the Church, try not to be a Mass Nazi, making everyone go to Mass with me every day.
But I still try to go. Myself.
As the Ironic Catholic puts it, on the blog of the same name ~ Why Go To Daily Mass?

It's kind of like facebook with God, the angels, and the saints

My Tupperware Party

My first ever!

Like the table? - lots of no cook finger food..and pink champagne.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pray the Mass

Friday was the feast of Pope St Pius X. 1835 - 1914.

St Pius X encouraged frequent reception of the Eucharist by the laity. He codified Catholic doctrines to inspire conformity in the church and rejected modernism .He was a pastoral pope, encouraging personal piety and a lifestyle reflecting Christian values.

The words of St Pius X that I often remember, however, are Pray the Mass.

When we pray the Mass with the priest we have active participation in the Mass, what Pope Pius XI called "active participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice."

What is meant by active participation? Well, there is both external and internal participation.

Both forms of participation are present in Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the Latin Mass.

Internal? Mass can be so busy with externals, with apparent active participation,that one has no time to pray. The Latin Mass, however, has a sense of mystery and awe that gives participants a time to pray silently and understand the reality of the Mass.

The traditional Latin Mass has taught me that real participation at Mass does not mean only external activity; genuine participation can also be interior and requires silence. Just as an athlete or student needs quiet to prepare, work, and study, in order to focus fully on the task at hand, so do we need silence to focus fully on God and our presence before Him.

There is time for meditation, and this offers an opportunity for contemplation. I can read my missal, I can prepare before Mass by looking at the readings, at the liturgical calendar, by praying the prayers of the Mass. I can understand the rubrics of the Mass, the parts of the Mass, the the meanings ~ and pass these onto my children.

Mass in the Extraodinary Form gives me time, quiet, to do these things, to pray, to think, to listen to that small still voice, the voice of God. I forget about my daily concerns and am brought towards the sacred. It inspires a sense of awe; as I said in an earlier post, it teaches me about God and the Faith, is is catechesis in action.

So, the interior side of active participation means the interior participation of all the powers of the soul in the mystery of Christ's sacrificial love. Participation is something interior; it means that my mind and heart are awake, alert and engaged.

Active participation also involves exterior action: saying things and doing things. In other words, the gestures and sacred signs we use in the course of the Mass.

But to talk of exterior and interior participation like this also implies that the two are separate. They are not.

There is a relationship between soul and body in liturgical prayer.There really is unity of being. Unity of body and soul. Unity of the interior man and the exterior man. As St. Irenaeus said ~ Man fully alive; integrating mind, soul and body into the unity of what the human person is called to be.

Interior preparation, prayer, silence, meditation and contemplation. Reading our missals before and during Mass. Praying, not saying, not ignoring, the words of the Mass, not watching as a bystander or as a member of an audience expecting to be entertained.

Exterior participation, sacred signs and gestures. Making the sign of the cross devoutly, according to the rubrics of the Mass, remembering that the cross is our hope. Standing, kneeling, genuflecting. Holding our hands together, self control in body stance and body language, recalling where we are, why we are there, what we are listening to during Mass. Active listening, listening with full attention, with concentration, with effort.

As an aside ~ my famous line, to my kids, when I am telling them to stand and sit properly during Mass - You are not at a picnic! The kids tease me about this continually!

Exterior participation can mean something as simple as the symbolic beating of the breast during the Confiteor. The rubric for this gesture ~ He strikes his breast three times, saying: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

We remember our sins. The exterior action recalls to our mind , to our souls, our sinfulness, our sorrow for sins. This is active participation, mind, body, soul. Pope Pius XII said that the overriding sin of our twentieth century is a loss of the sense of sin. As we participate fully in the Latin Mass, it is impossible to forget this sense of sin, and impossible to forget our salvation in Christ.

Indeed it is very necessary that the faithful attend the sacred ceremonies. Not as if they were outsiders or mute onlookers, but let them fully appreciate the beauty of the liturgy and take part in the sacred ceremonies, alternating their voices with the priest and choir, according to the prescribed norms. Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII

And so we sing in Mass, we participate in the hymns, in the responses during Sung Masses, perhaps in Chant.

Active participation in Mass is not new. It is something the faithful have aways been called to, and while actively praying the Mass, we find our hearts and minds are lifted up to God. It is more eaily achieved, I find, within the solemn prayers of the Latin Mass.

Pope Pius X called for active participation in his motu proprio, Tra le sollecitudini, published in 1903, ~ the faithful assemble to draw that spirit from its primary and indispensable source, that is, from active participation in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.

In his encyclical Mediator Dei in 1947, Pope Pius XII insisted that true participation was not merely external but consisted in a baptismal union with Christ in His Mystical Body, the Church.

In 1958, the Sacred Congregation of Rites issued the instruction, De musica sacra, which distinguished several qualities of participation:

The Mass of its nature requires that all those present participate in it, in the fashion proper to each.
a)This participation must primarily be interior (i.e., union with Christ the Priest; offering with and through Him).
b) But the participation of those present becomes fuller (plenior) if to internal attention is joined external participation, expressed, that is to say, by external actions such as the position of the body (genuflecting, standing, sitting), ceremonial gestures, or, in particular, the responses, prayers and singing . . .
It is this harmonious form of participation that is referred to in pontifical documents when they speak of active participation (participatio actuosa), the principal example of which is found in the celebrating priest and his ministers who, with due interior devotion and exact observance of the rubrics and ceremonies, minister at the altar.
c) Perfect participatio actuosa of the faithful, finally, is obtained when there is added sacramental participation (by communion).
d) Deliberate participatio actuosa of the faithful is not possible without their adequate instruction

So, to my friend who made the comment about not liking the Latin Mass because there is no participation, I say - pray the Mass, learn about the Mass, actively listen during Mass, allow the prayers and music and silence to bring you to God.

Hey, start by going to a Latin Mass before making a judgement! ..I think I will invite her..again..

Thursday, August 20, 2009

To defend the old rite is not the same as being a worshiper of ancient times; it is to be eternal

To defend the old rite is not the same as being a worshiper of ancient times; it is to be eternal.

A quote. A quote Greg and I have read today, have liked, have discussed.

A quote from Mons. Domenico Bartolucci.

A quote in support of the "traditional" liturgy, what we now tend to call Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

I have written about liturgy before, some examples being here, and here.

Or, this post, or this and this.

Thus, reading the above interview gave me nuggets of hope, quotes to share, ideas to consider once again.

I told a friend, recently, about our praying at a Latin Mass on the Vigil of the Assumption. Her response was to say that she didn't like the Latin Mass ( she hasn't attended one! Ever!). Her reason? There would be no participation. ( What the #*#*?)

But there is participation. In the prayer. In the sacred music. In communion with Our Lord, with all the saints.

To quote from the interview ~ I know how participation in old times was like, both in Rome, in the (St. Peter’s) Basilica and outside it, for instance down here in Mugello, in this parish, in this beautiful countryside, which was then populated by people strong in faith and full of piety. During Sunday Vespers the priest could just start singing “Deus in adiutorium meum intende” and thereafter fall asleep on his seat to wake up only at the “chapter”, the peasants would have continued alone and the heads of the family would have intoned the antiphon!

But how does one understand the liturgy in Latin? There are missals to follow. Repeated attendance breeds familiarity with the rubrics, the prayers, the music. The liturgy tends to lift one's soul and mind. It is catechesis in action.

As the Msgr. says ~ Dearest friends, have you never read Saint Paul: “It is not important to know anything but what is necessary”, “it is necessary to love knowledge ad sobrietatem”

MEMORARE, O piissima Virgo Maria

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary.....

St. Bernard of Clairvaux composed this prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, this prayer known as The Memorare .

MEMORARE, O piissima Virgo Maria, non esse auditum a saeculo, quemquam ad tua currentem praesidia, tua implorantem auxilia, tua petentem suffragia, esse derelictum. Ego tali animatus confidentia, ad te, Virgo Virginum, Mater, curro, ad te venio, coram te gemens peccator assisto. Noli, Mater Verbi, verba mea despicere; sed audi propitia et exaudi. Amen.

Many years ago, we memorised it in Latin as a family. My kids of homeschool age at that time used the prayer for copywork.

On memorising prayers, especially in Latin ~ Pope Benedict XVI urged Catholics around the world to memorize the most common Catholic prayers in Latin. Learning the prayers in Latin as well as in one's own language "will help Christian faithful of different languages pray together, especially when they gather for special circumstances,"...
"Latin, for centuries the vehicle and instrument of Christian culture, guarantees not only continuity with our roots, but remains as relevant as ever for strengthening the bonds of the unity of the faith in the communion of the church."
Pope Benedict XVI, 2005

Copywork ~ copying quotes or passages ~ By selecting wholesome works that exhibit the best in eloquence and style, you bring to your child the beauty of ...language, and help him to develop a love of reading, writing, and learning. In choosing works containing relevant content, you can also reinforce lessons from across the curriculum; any course of study can be the subject of copywork. Use copywork to reinforce Biblical values, catechism verses, and character-building lessons; pick historical documents and speeches to make the past come alive. Enliven foreign language study by including foreign literature as copywork. Help a child learn what scientists, artists, musicians, architects, and poets thought, and how they interpreted their times. Give children the diaries and writings of kings and commoners, so they can understand how they lived. All of these are wonderful fodder for copywork. Copywork - Charlotte Mason

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

As Hamlet would say..Aye, there's the rub!

The rub being what it is one dreams of...Hamlet was talking of eternal rest but I am talking ordinary, daily sleep . Finding it to be too dream-y.

Too dream-y?

Have you ever had a recurring dream? A dream, that when one is asleep and dreaming seems real, and one wakes up, startled, only to eventually realise that the experience was just a dream. And, freakily enough, not only a dream but a dream you have dreamed before.
I woke up at one forty-five this morning, sobbing. I started. I breathed a sigh of relief as I remembered that the memories were only of a dream. Virtual, not real life.


Then I had a cold shiver moment, as I remembered that the events of the dream were the same events if a dream two days ago, and of a dream last week.

Different nights, different people in my dream, but the same circumstances. The same room, the same corridor, the same physical abuse..but each dream had different people hurting me.

Real people, not dream people, people I know in real life, each doing the same thing but different people each dream.

Very freaky.

The kids and I have discussed weird dreams, recurring dreams, had a laugh about some of their dreams.

Everything, even dreams, can be an unschooling moment, you know!

I think we dream so we don't have to be apart so long. If we're in each others dreams, we can be together all the time. Hobbes, from Calvin and Hobbes

We love the comic Calvin and Hobbes! Anthony learned to read, at ages four to five, on Calvin and Hobbes ( and Snoopy and the computer game Civilization and those old Ladybird readers..).

Greg, Thomas and I laughed at the above quote. So funny, so cute!

But I certainly don't want to spend more time with those people in my dreams! Ouch!

Anyway, this recurring dream has sent us on a little rabbit trail on quotes on dreams, how dreams work, psychology, Shakespeare...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eat. Chocolate.

Happy Birthday!

Woo hoo!

What Saint said that?

When times go bad
When times go rough
Won't you lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff?
Fleetwood Mac, Secondhand news

Listening to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album yesterday, one of my happy albums.

And I thought of changing the chorus above ~

When times go bad
When times go rough
Won't you quote St Francis de Sales and let him do his stuff?

Well, I hope that is not too irreligious.

Our family has a thing for St Francis de Sales and the many quotes attributed to him.

Saint Francis de Sales 1567 – 1622 was Bishop of Geneva . He was an accomplished preacher. He is known also for his writings on the topic of spiritual direction and spiritual formation, particularly Introduction to the Devout Life. St Francis de Sales was the spiritual director of St Jane de Chantel, founder of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, a religious order for women. I used to have a bit of a mis-trust of St Jane whilst liking St Francis and the two did not seem to go together in my mind ~ but, in recent years, I think I have come to understand St Jane and her choices better.

Quotes from St Francis de Sales?

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

Can I be both strong and gentle?

Friendships begun in this world will be taken up again, never to be broken off.

Very apt.

The test of a preacher is that his congregation goes away saying, not 'What a lovely sermon' but, 'I will do something!'

We listened to a homily like this last night..

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Crying. Over you...that Roy Orbison song.

My brother and I grew up without crying. Crying was a smacking offense. Crying made you weak. Vulnerable. You were told off for crying.

So, cry we did not.

I had behaved badly, and feared the worst. I went looking for my father, gave him a reasonably accurate report, then did something that - now I think about it - seems rather odd.
Like most boys, I sometimes allowed my conduct to deviate from the ideal: running around the house, gobbing on my brother, setting things alight. But the occasion I have in mind was different. Not because of the specifics of my crime, which I no longer recall, but because this time my father interrupted to tell me I was too old to cry. (How old? Somewhere between eight and 12, is my best guess.)
The Age - On Why We Cry

I learned the lesson so well that my children are shocked when they see me cry. Cry over real things.

Okay, I cry over books and movies - but in real life? Uh uh.

Except lately.

It is so embarrassing , I even cried during Mass. A beautiful Mass, yet sad. Sad because it brought to mind many things, rejection, pain of loved ones, demands, recent sad events, worry for those dear to me, the first of the last....

I brought these to God. And I cried.

I know God hears these prayers, sees these tears, ..and yet, my prayers seem futile.

But that is for another day.

For now, I pray for my friends, for their intentions, I love and care, I keep trying with loved ones.

I pray. I cry. Am sad.

I sing Abba - The Winner Takes It All..I don't wanna talk..cos it makes me feel sad...thinking I'd be strong there..But I was a fool, playing by the rules..The winner takes it all, the loser has to fall...

I think of Mother Teresa, who used to carry around a small reproduction of an old painting of St. Francis in which the weeping saint holds a cloth to his eyes. “He’s wiping his tears,” she would say, history rumouring that St Francis went blind through so much weeping.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Assumption

The Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Marian litany originally approved in 1587 by Pope Sixtus V.
It is also known as the Litany of Loreto, for its first-known place of origin, the Shrine of Our Lady of Loreto where its usage was recorded as early as 1558.
The litany contains many of the titles used formally and informally for the Virgin Mary.

Holy Mary,
Holy Mother of God,
Holy Virgin of virgins,
Mother of Christ,
Mother of divine grace,
Mother most pure,
Mother most chaste,
Mother inviolate,
Mother undefiled,
Mother most amiable,
Mother most admirable,
Mother of good counsel,
Mother of our Creator,
Mother of our Savior,
Virgin most prudent,
Virgin most venerable,
Virgin most renowned,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most powerful,
Virgin most merciful,
Virgin most faithful,
Mirror of justice,
Seat of wisdom,
Cause of our joy,
Spiritual vessel,
Vessel of honor,
Singular vessel of devotion,
Mystical rose,
Tower of David,
Tower of ivory,
House of gold,
Ark of the covenant,
Gate of heaven,
Morning star,
Heath of the Sick,
Refuge of sinners,
Comforter of the afflicted,
Help of Christians,
Queen of Angels,
Queen of Patriarchs,
Queen of Prophets,
Queen of Apostles,
Queen of Martyrs,
Queen of Confessors,
Queen of Virgins,
Queen of all Saints,
Queen conceived without original sin,
Queen assumed into heaven,
Queen of the most holy Rosary,
Queen of Peace,

Friday, August 14, 2009


Indulgenced Prayer Before a Crucifix

BEHOLD, O kind and sweet Jesus, I cast myself upon my knees in Thy sight, and with the most fervent desire of my soul I pray and beseech Thee to impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, with true repentance for my sins and a most firm desire of amendment: whilst with deep affection and grief of soul I consider within myself and mentally contemplate Thy five most precious Wounds, having before mine eyes that which David, the prophet, long ago spoke in Thine own person concerning Thee, my Jesus: They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones [Psalm 21, 17, 18].

I learned this prayer in 1995. Or was it 1996?

Committing prayers to memory provides a storehouse, a filing cabinet of prayers and thoughts, prayers to pull out, to recite, to pray, to rely on when things feel sad. Or tough. Teaching prayers to children passes on those memories. From one generation to the next. I like that thought.

I pray this prayer in every Mass .

Most certainly not because I am holy or good. Quite the reverse. I pray more simply because I am weak. I pray, I remember the words of St Paul ~ For when I am weak, then am I powerful ( 2 Corinthians 12:10)

There is value in this liturgical, traditional prayer .

C.S. Lewis wrote about mistrusting spontaneous prayers in church. How can you pray along with someone, he asked, when that person may be spouting wrong theology?

One can recognize that for most of church history, Christians have relied on liturgical, memorized prayer. And, in fact, most of the prayers included in the Bible, including all of the Psalms, had a liturgical use.

So I pray, in communion with others who pray and others who have prayed this prayer.

I pray when I have one of those weeks.
I eat junk and drink wine.
I remember that To love at all is to be vulnerable. C.S. Lewis

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Five Fun Fast Facts...

..about chickens. That was one of Thomas and Anthony's tasks to day. To find and write those fun fast facts.

Did you know chickens originally came from India? Were domesticated by the Vietnamese? That domesticated chickens look vastly different to wild chickens?

I know you are wondering - why this chicken love?

We have been looking after the chickens for the friars in our parish, while the friars have been in Chapter. Such cute things - the chickens that is, not the friars! And so this daily care-of-chickens started a whole (mini ) chicken homeschooling rabbit trail. Er, chicken trail. Unit study, themed study, integrated unit, I mean...

I looked up info on the skeleton of the chicken. We made a poster. The kids did the FFFF.

Then I stumbed onto this site. Chickensaurus. Guess what we are planning for dinner next week - a roast chicken . Like Geekdad , we can save and bleach the chicken bones and re-assemble the chicken skeleton.

The kids don't think it will be fun ~ but I do. It is even scientific.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Unschooling and Cooking

My kids love to eat. And some of them love to cook.

So, our unschooling life often seems to revolve around food.

What's for dinner? We never have anything I like for lunch! Can I have leftover cake, for breakfast, leftover cake from the supper last night at church, supper on the feast of St Clare ?

Hang on - that cake also had to suffice for dinner, since mum didn't get time to cook dinner!

A lot can be learned from cooking. especially when it is themed to the liturgical year ( bread for St Zita), to a novel study ( Roly Poly Pudding when reading Narnia books), to an interest/rabbit trail (Chinese food when studying Chinese).

And I do cook sometimes. As do some of the boys. Recently? The Best-Ever Broccoli and Cauliflower, with fresh vegetables given to us. Baked Oatmeal for breakfast, doing my 1950s TV housewife impression.

Best Ever Broccoli and Cauliflower

Drizzle olive oil in a baking pan. Add slivers of garlic, florets of broccoli and/or cauliflower, twist of salt and pepper. Bake in a preheated oven 180 degrees Celsius. shaking ocasionally until brown. Sprinkle with a handful of grated cheese, preferably parmesan. ( optional) . Serve. Yum!

Baked Oatmeal

6 cups rolled oats, 1 cup brown or raw sugar, 3 large eggs, 2 1/2 cups skim milk. 1/2 cup canola oil.

Mix together, put in a greased casserole dish, bake 175 degrees Celsius approx 25 minutes. Serve hot or cold with fruit or yogurt and milk.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Love and Suffering

I didn't marry you because you were perfect. I didn't even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn't a house that protected them; and it wasn't our love that protected them - it was that promise.Thornton Wilder, The Skin of Our Teeth

I knew couples who’d been married almost forever – forty, fifty, sixty years. Seventy-two, in one case. They’d be tending each other’s illnesses, filling in each other’s faulty memories, dealing with the money troubles or the daughter’s suicide, or the grandson’s drug addiction. And I was beginning to suspect that it made no difference whether they’d married the right person. Finally, you’re just with who you’re with. You’ve signed on with her, put in a half century with her, grown to know her as well as you know yourself or even better, and she’s become the right person. Or the only person, might be more to the point. I wish someone had told me that earlier. I’d have hung on then; I swear I would. Anne Tyler, A Patchwork Planet

Sometimes, fiction, novels, plays, speak the truth. Eloquently.

The truth that maybe we just need to persevere, to hang on to pray, to work things out.

It is this that creates relationship. Connections. Love.

That helps us all in our calling and in our vocations, married, single, religious, priest.

Those acts of will.

Of giving of time. Of giving of self. Of suffering.

...saints tell us that love and suffering are intermingled.. Margaret Trouncer, The Nun (my current reading)

Yesterday, on the feast day of Blessed Mary Mackillop, one of the friars gave a talk, a reflection on the life of Mother Mary of the Cross. He spoke of her conviction, her courage, her trust in the Church, her love of Jesus, her strength. And thus, of her example for all of us today.

Where is our trust, our strength, our fidelity? In Christ and His Church, we hope, and then in living this out in our vocations. For me, as a woman, a woman called foremost to be a wife and mother. Then in my vocation as a teacher.

Today was the close of National Vocations Week. Today's special emphasis was on the vocation to the priesthood.

The vocation to the priesthood is bound with the vocation to marriage. My thoughts this week on the sacrament of matrimony also leads to thoughts on the sacrament of holy orders.

A story is told of the future Pope Pius X, visiting his 70-year-old mother after being ordained a bishop. She kissed her son’s ring and, suddenly became pensive, looked at her wedding band and said, You would not be wearing that ring if I had not first worn mine. Pope St. Pius X confirmed that experience with his comment Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!

Love and suffering, joy and pain, happiness and worries often go hand-in-hand with each state of life, within each vocation.

Every priest has a mother. Every Christian mother prays and loves , in her vocation as a mother and, for those married, in her vocation as a wife. The vocation of motherhood, the sacrament of matrimony, may thus have a link with the sacrament of holy orders.

So we pray this week for vocations, all vocations, I pray for my vocation, that I live it fathfully, loving and ,yes, suffering. But we pray, I pray, especially also for vocations to the priesthood.

For, as the priest pointed out today during mass, Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest… After God, the priest is everything! … Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is...St John Vianney

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Nuptial Blessing

Today one of my sons ( Anthony) served at a wedding, a Nuptial Mass, in our parish.

I sat at the back of the church, praying, reading prayers from my missal, watching, praying at mass, thoughts flowing in my mind . Thoughts about marriage of course!
The priest preached on the sacrament of matrimony, on Faith. He pointed out that Faith, Christan Faith, has everything to do with marriage, wth the life of the couple now and in the years to come.
The Nuptial Blessing

Father, by your power you have made everything out of nothing. In the beginning you created the universe and made mankind in your own likeness. You gave man the constant help of woman so that man and woman should no longer be two, but one flesh, and you teach us that what you have united may never be divided.

Father, you have made the union of man and wife so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and his Church.

Father, by your plan man and woman are united, and married life has been established as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away in the flood.

Look with love upon this woman, your daughter, now joined to her husband in marriage. She asks your blessing. Give her the grace of love and peace. May she always follow the example of the holy women whose praises are sung in the scriptures.

May her husband put his trust in her and recognize that she is his equal and the heir with him to the life of grace. May he always honour her and love her as Christ loves his bride, the Church.

Father, keep them always true to your commandments. Keep them faithful in marriage and let them be living examples of Christian life.

Give them the strength which comes from the gospel so that they may be witnesses of Christ to others. (Bless them with children and help them to be good parents. May they live to see their children's children.) And, after a happy old age, grant them fullness of life with the saints in the kingdom of heaven.

I was touched by the priest's emphasis on Faith in his homily. And by the line ~ May she always follow the example of the holy women whose praises are sung in the scriptures.

Holy women of the scriptures?

Mary, Mother of God, Our Lady comes to mind.

St Mary Magdalene, we celebrated her feast day recently. Alongside St Martha.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: 641 Mary Magdalene and the holy women who came to finish anointing the body of Jesus, which had been buried in haste because the Sabbath began on the evening of Good Friday, were the first to encounter the Risen One. Thus the women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection for the apostles themselves.

The role of women, is emphasised, for me, in the Nuptial Blessing (her husband puts his trust in her) and in the reminder that women were the first messengers of Christ's Resurrection, a sign of our important vocation in marriage, in the world, in the Church.

Pope John Paul II echoed St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, in writing of the special role of women, of the feminine genius. And I concern myself here, with the application of this feminine genius to the vocation of marriage and motherhood. And, also, in my life, with its application in the workforce and in my volunteer work. And in all my relationships.

What do I bring to these vocations? Is there a certain element of the feminine in my response, in my actions and reactions?

Should there be?

Most definitely. If I am to emulate those holy women mentioned above.

What set them apart? Prayer, devotion, love, caring. charity, a living faith, faith in action-word-deed.

That Faith word again!

In Mulieris dignitatem I highlighted one aspect of feminine genius, that I would like to stress today: woman is endowed with a particular capacity for accepting the human being in his concrete form (cf. N. 18). Even this singular feature which prepares her for motherhood, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually, is inherent in the plan of God who entrusted the human being to woman in an altogether special way (cf. Ibid., n. 30). The woman of course, as much as the man, must take care that her sensitivity does not succumb to the temptation to possessive selfishness, and must put it at the service of authentic love. On these conditions she gives of her best, everywhere adding a touch of generosity, tenderness, and joy of life.

3. Let us look at the Blessed Virgin's example. In the narrative of the wedding at Cana, John's Gospel offers us a vivid detail of her personality when it tells how, in the busy atmosphere of a wedding feast, she alone realized that the wine was about to run out. And to avoid the spouses' joy becoming embarrassment and awkwardness, she did not hesitate to ask Jesus for his first miracle. This is the "genius" of the woman! May Mary's thoughtful sensitivity, totally feminine and maternal, be the ideal mirror of all true femininity and motherhood! SOCIETY AND CHURCH NEED GENIUS OF WOMAN Pope John Paul II Angelus, 23 July 1995

And now this wife and mother and worker and volunteer and friend better get her you-know-what out of the chair and cook some dinner! Faith in action!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

A Story Of More. Of Marriage. Of Empathy.

Let me tell you the story.
Of a wife who thinks.
And she thinks.
And thinks.
Thinks more.
Thinks more, reads more, about the sacrament of matrimony.

One word comes to her mind.


Identification with and understanding of another's situation, feelings, and motives.

And it comes to her.

How hard it must be to live with her, day in, day out. She feels empathy for her spouse ~ he,who, in the words of the encyclical Familiaris Consortio ( Pope John Paul II) relives the very fatherhood of God :

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: He will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the church.

She thinks...Effectively introduces both his children and his wife to the living experience of Christ and the Church. She remembers how he, her spouse, has worked hard, stood by her all these years, drawn her to the Church with his regular attendance at Sunday mass, with his frowns at her wayward tongue, his reminders, his example.
And she thinks again. Reads more. Cringes. With empathy.
I knew, despite the good and joyful nuggets of our daily life, that it was a difficult — harrowing — proposition for him to live with someone who is so voluble and indiscreet and extravagantly enthusiastic, someone who is always saying “yes, yes, yes!” What a burden it must be, I must be,....Finding Forgiveness in a Ziploc
So she thinks Ah, yes. She must be that burden. That overly enthusiastic, overly energetic, overly bubbly, over-the-top, on-the-go, saying yes-to-all-activities burden. And she feels that empathy for, an understanding of, her spouse.
And , then, she thinks ~ what to do with this empathy?
I make a point to remember that the temperament of my husband, the temperament of that patrol boy, is my salvation. It is beyond the call of duty and maybe even love that he makes the effort, time and again, to keep me from running into traffic.
The second friend said, “But in order to maintain that perspective you have to reach within yourself to such a deep place.”
This is true. But like any exercise, any devotion, it’s a practice. And even if it doesn’t become easier, one hopes it becomes habit.
More from Finding Forgiveness in a Ziploc
She continues to think. To resolve to make the exercise of empathy a daily habit. Like her devotion to the prayers in her missal. Like her daily workout.
She can put on the cloth, the scarf, of empathy. She can pray the prayer of a wife.

On Marriage

The passage below is the Introduction from the old rite of Marriage ( emphasis mine).

I fall short in my vocation as a wife, but I have a great dh who helps me, supports me, who encourages me. Who encouraged me in my exploration of the faith and in my conversion to the Church.

My dh is a cradle Catholic. I am not, I am a convert of fourteen years. Attending mass with my dh, over the years, from our engagement in 1978 on, began my journey to Catholicism.

So, the Sacrament of marriage, the journey of marriage, became my journey to the Church. Thank God!

You are about to be married. Now for children of God and members of the Catholic Church marriage is more than a human contract. It is something supernatural and holy and must be approached with that thought in mind. It was God himself who joined our first parents as husband and wife, and with the first nuptial blessing made them the founders of the family and the home. And it was our divine Saviour who raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament, thus adding to it the grace he won for us when he died upon the Cross. Remember what St Paul told the Ephesians. The union of a husband and wife is only to be compared with the union between Christ and his Church.
The life, therefore, to which God has called you, is noble and sublime. Yours it is to cooperate with God in his creation, bringing into the world new lives, to be children of the Church and heirs of the kingdom of heaven. Here today, before the altar, in the presence not only of your relatives and friends but of the angels of God and the whole court of heaven, your two lives are to be united in a bond that will endure as long as life shall last. May God in his goodness never cease to strengthen the love that unites you.

Have no fears but rather great confidence. Fulfil your religious duties, your prayer, your reception of the Sacraments. Learn to love each other, but also to understand each other, sometimes to put up with each other. Keep a place for Our Lord in your home. Where he is, there is no room for the evil things that can destroy your happiness and drive God's grace away. Ask his holy Mother and St Joseph that they may be with you as well. Model your lives and your home upon theirs; and may their prayers obtain for you many years of happy life together.

I didn't know or understand any of this, when I married. I learned these things through prayer, through reading, through God's Grace, through the loving example of my husband and through the example of the priests and religious that I have been blessed to know.


O merciful Lord God, who in the beginning didst take Eve out of the side of Adam and didst give her to him as a helpmate: grant me grace to live worthy of the honorable estate of matrimony to which Thou hast called me, that I may love my husband with a pure and chaste love, acknowledging him as my head, and truly reverencing and obeying him in all good things; that thereby I may please him, and live with him in all Christian serenity. Keep me from all worldliness and vanity. Help me, O Lord, that I may, under him, prudently and discreetly guide and govern his household. Let no fault of mine aggravate any sins by which he may be especially tempted; enable me to soothe him in perplexity, to cheer him in difficulty, to refresh him in weariness, and, as far as may be, to advise him in doubt. [Give me understanding so to fulfil my part in the education of our children, that they may be our joy in this world and our glory in the next.] Grant that our perfect union here may be the beginning of the still more perfect and blissful union hereafter in Thy kingdom; and this I pray through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God's Grace

1642 Christ is the source of this grace. “Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony.”147 Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,”148 and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

My Husband

He has always had my good in his heart and mind ~ Authentic conjugal love presupposes and requires that a man have a profound respect for the equal dignity of his wife: "You are not her master," writes St. Ambrose, "but her husband; she was not given to you to be your slave, but your wife.... Reciprocate her attentiveness to you and be grateful to her for her love."(69) With his wife a man should live "a very special form of personal friendship."As for the Christian, he is called upon to develop a new attitude of love, manifesting towards his wife a charity that is both gentle and strong like that which Christ has for the Church." Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II

The Example of Priests and Religious

In virginity or celibacy, the human being is awaiting, also in a bodily way, the eschatological marriage of Christ with the Church, giving himself or herself completely to the Church in the hope that Christ may give Himself to the Church in the full truth of eternal life. The celibate person thus anticipates in his or her flesh the new world of the future resurrection. By virtue of this witness, virginity or celibacy keeps alive in the Church a consciousness of the mystery of marriage and defends it from any reduction and impoverishment.....

In spite of having renounced physical fecundity, the celibate person becomes spiritually fruitful, the father and mother of many, cooperating in the realization of the family according to God's plan.
Christian couples therefore have the right to expect from celibate persons a good example and a witness of fidelity to their vocation until death. Just as fidelity at times becomes difficult for married people and requires sacrifice, mortification and self-denial, the same can happen to celibate persons, and their fidelity, even in the trials that may occur, should strengthen the fidelity of married couples.
From the Encyclical above..

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Mother Mary of the Cross

Blessed Mary MacKillop, born in Melbourne in 1842; co-founder of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart with Father Julian Woods.

Feast Day August 8 - Anthony's birthday!

Quotes to share ~

We must teach more by example than by word.
Do all you can with the means at your disposal and calmly leave the rest to God.
Courage, courage, trust in God who helps you in all things.
We feel our crosses hard at times, but our courage should rise with them.

Today I am waiting to hear about something, something important. So, pondering these quotes helps me, helps my courage to rise.

Today, we have read a little of St John Vianney an St Dominic.

Today, also, we have French Class, Cake Decorating Class, Mass and Novena to St Anthony. I have some Kumon phone calls to make. And things to organise for Homeschool Teen Group.

A typical day.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy songs, happy discussions

What are your happy songs? Somgs that make you feel happy?

We had this discussion in the car. One of my happy songs is this Credo ( weird, I know); Abba's Ring Ring and Fleetwood Mac's Secondhand News.

Alexander reminded me that the Fleetwood Mac song has sad lyrics ( I know theres nothing to say Someone has taken my place ) but to me it is a happy song - boppy music, and I have a soft spot, a smile, for the chorus, ( When times go bad When times go rough Wont you lay me down in tall grass And let me do my stuff. ).

Even weirder I know. To go from Credo in unum Deum to Ring! Ring! Why Don't Give Me a Call? and then to Lay me down in the tall grass...

Well, the discussion was interesting, any way. One of the things I will always love, always remember about homeschooling. The range and variety of discussions that we have, have had. This weekend - on indulgences, on spiritual perfection and arguing about St Alphonsus de' Liguori and on happy songs.

One of the things that I love most about unschooling is all the cool and wonderful connections that are made in the interactions of daily life, the way one thing leads to another until you've followed a path of interesting things to some new and exciting place.......We might not be taking the linear path: Little Red Riding Hood leads to Frog and Toad, which leads to Harry Potter, and sometime when you hit college you might get to Beowulf (unless you encounter it in a high school AP English class, at which point you may or may not be interested in what it has to offer). But the path we're taking is always engaging and fascinating, always relevant, and always feels like an exciting adventure through the accumulated knowledge of the universe.
Robin's Blue Skies

Saturday, August 01, 2009

How we should live...

I got out of bed around six this morning, after a restless night of on and off praying. You know it goes.

Getting ready for my workout, Jillian Michaels' Cardio Kickbox, before going to Mass, I read the Saint for day. St Alphonsus de' Liguori.

And remembered a blog post of mine , from 2007 or 2006. On St Alphonsus de' Liguori and his Fifty Maxims for Attaining Spiritual Perfection.

Reading them again now. Pondering. Sharing with the family. While eating a very late, very bad breakfast of too-many-chocolate-brownies....

St. Alphonsus de Liguori and 50 Maxims for Attaining Perfection.

1. To desire ardently to increase in the love of Jesus Christ.
2. Often to make acts of love towards Jesus Christ. Immediately on waking, and before going to sleep, to make an act of love.; seeking always to unite your own will to the will of Jesus Christ.
3. Often to meditate on his Passion.
4. Always to ask Jesus Christ for his love.
5. To communicate often, and many times in the day to make spiritual Communions.
6. Often to visit the Most Holy Sacrament.
7. Every morning to receive from the hands of Jesus Christ himself your own cross.
8. To desire Paradise and death, in order to be able to love Jesus Christ perfectly and for all eternity.
9. Often to speak of the love of Jesus Christ.
10. To accept contradictions for the sake of Jesus Christ.
11. To rejoice in the happiness of God.
12. To do that which is most pleasing to Jesus Christ, and not to refuse him anything that is agreeable to him.
13. To desire and to endeavor that all should love Jesus Christ.
14. To pray always for sinners and for the souls in purgatory.
15. To drive from your heart every affection that does not belong to Jesus Christ.
16. Always to have recourse to the most holy Mary, that she may obtain for us the love of Jesus Christ.
17. To honor Mary in order to please Jesus Christ.
18. To seek to please Jesus Christ in all your actions,
19. To offer yourself to Jesus Christ to suffer any pain for his love.
20 To be always determined to die rather than commit a willful venial sin.
21. To suffer crosses patiently, saying, "Thus it pleases Jesus Christ."
22. To renounce your own pleasures for the love of Jesus Christ.
23. To pray as much as possible.
24. To practice all the mortifications that obedience permits.
25. To do all your spiritual exercises as if it were for the last time.
26. To persevere in good works in the time of aridity.
27. Not to do nor yet to leave undone anything through human respect.
28. Not to complain in sickness.
29. To love solitude, to be able to converse alone with Jesus Christ.
30. To drive away melancholy [i.e. gloom].
31. Often to recommend yourself to those persons who love Jesus Christ.
32. In temptation, to have recourse to Jesus crucified, and to Mary in her sorrows.
33. To trust entirely in the Passion of Jesus Christ.
34. After committing a fault, not to be discouraged, but to repent and resolve to amend.
35. To do good to those who do evil.
36. To speak well of all, and to excuse the intention when you cannot defend the action.
37. To help your neighbor as much as you can.
38. Neither to say nor to do anything that might vex him. And if you have been wanting in charity, to ask his pardon and speak kindly to him.
39. Always to speak with mildness and in a low tone.
40. To offer to Jesus Christ all the contempt and persecution that you meet with.
41. To look upon [religious] Superiors as the representatives of Jesus Christ.
42. To obey without answering and without repugnance, and not to seek your own satisfaction in anything.
43. To like the lowest employment.
44. To like the poorest things.
45. Not to speak either good or evil of yourself.
46. To humble yourself even towards inferiors.
47. Not to excuse yourself when you are reproved.
48. Not to defend yourself when found fault with.
49. To be silent when you are disquieted [i.e. upset].
50. Always to renew your determination of becoming a saint, saying, "My Jesus, I desire to be all Yours, and You must be all mine."