Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Making Devil's Food Cupcakes

On the feast of the Archangels - St Michael, St Gabriel, St Raphael..St Michael cast the devil into it is our custom every year to make Devil's Food Cake in memory of heroic St Michael!
On Sunday April 24th 1994, Pope John Paul II recommended this prayer be used by all Catholics as a prayer for the Church when he said:

May prayer strengthen us for the spiritual battle we are told about in the Letter to the Ephesians: 'Draw strength from the Lord and from His mighty power' (Ephesians 6:10). The Book of Revelation refers to this same battle, recalling before our eyes the image of St. Michael the Archangel (Revelation 12:7). Pope Leo XIII certainly had a very vivid recollection of this scene when, at the end of the last century, he introduced a special prayer to St. Michael throughout the Church. Although this prayer is no longer recited at the end of Mass, I ask everyone not to forget it and to recite it to obtain help in the battle against forces of darkness and against the spirit of this world.
Saint Michael the Archangel,defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -by the Divine Power of God cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Monday, September 28, 2009

From my missal today

Gospel. Matthew 10. 34-42 Feast of St Wenceslaus

The summary goes...The following of Christ demands on occasion cruel separation from those we love, but those who decide to do so become one with Him.

An excerpt from the Gospel..38 And he that taketh not up his cross and followeth me is not worthy of Me.

Wow. This whole concept of following Christ, taking up one's cross, of separation, keeps haunting me.

It is a process, isn't it? Part of life..maybe now..maybe tomorrow.But it's there.

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Let him deny himself..

This is like taking a diet from the world. Denying yourself? Have you ever heard of that? We know about dieting, that is denying ourselves from certain foods that keep weight on, but denying ourselves? Do we know what that is all about?

This last week, I have returned to more serious dieting.

Denying myself some foods.

Not that this is a cross. But I have to admit that saying no to extra food, feeling a twinge of hunger, is good for me when it comes to developing self discipline.

Awhile ago, someone who cares for me shared their wish that I would lose more weight. More weight? Well, I lost about 38 kg over a four-five year period. Have kept that weight off for about a year or so . Have a healthy BMI but it is still a weight that is at the higher end of the healthy BMI.

This pic was from 38 kg ago....

After Easter, this year, I tried stepping up workouts and eating mostly healthy. I lost 1 kg over the last three months. My doctor was pleased -she said most people who lose weight regain it and I hadn't. But that person-who-cares and myself weren't happy.

Let him deny himself.

This pic is now...a healthy weight..but can I be thinner?
Let him deny himself.

Could I deny myself a little, lose another ten kg, make someone else happier with me? It is a form of denying oneself for another. Isn't it?

I bought some Weight Watchers magazines.And thought - s#*@ - if they can do it, so can I. For my even better health; for fitness; for another; to learn even more self control and self discipline; and, yes, vanity prevailing, to look better.

Walking, jogging, instead of Taebo. Counting WW points. I lost a kg this week. Only nine more to go!

Let him deny himself.

Sometimes, practicing self denial and self control in little things, helps us to develop virtues, for when we are really tested. Then, with God's grace, we can take up our cross and follow Him.

1810 Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them. ..from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Friday, September 25, 2009

On the Feast of St Pio

St Pio of Pietrelcina. September 23.

What did we do?

Good works.


"I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because ... these things ... you have revealed to little ones" (Mt 11,25). How appropriate are these words of Jesus, when we think of them as applied to you, humble and beloved Padre Pio. Teach us, we ask you, humility of heart so we may be counted among the little ones of the Gospel, to whom the Father promised to reveal the mysteries of his Kingdom. Help us to pray without ceasing, certain that God knows what we need even before we ask him. Obtain for us the eyes of faith that will be able to recognize right away in the poor and suffering the face of Jesus. Sustain us in the hour of the combat and of the trial and, if we fall, make us experience the joy of the sacrament of forgiveness. Grant us your tender devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. Accompany us on our earthly pilgrimage toward the blessed homeland, where we hope to arrive in order to contemplate forever the glory of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Pope John Paul II - Homily at the Canonization of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, - 16 June 2002


Anthony made lasagne for dinner
..while mum was out for a birthday dinner with friends. Italian food .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Christian Prayer

Alexander and I are studying a unit towards certificates in religious education/adult formation leadership/youth ministry. (Check the apropriate box. )

Our first unit is on Christian prayer.

As I mentally argue my way through the required readings, playing Devil's Advocate as I tend to do when studying..a habit learned long ago, at a girls' secondary school and then at I argue intellectually, I also discuss ideas..with Alexander and any of the other kids who happen to be around. And I pray. More.

Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17).

St Paul tells us to pray without ceasing, to make our lives a prayer, to practice the awareness of the presence of God in our moments of life.

It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking. St. John Chrysostom

One way to do this is through set prayers, at set times of the day.

Set prayers? Formal prayers, prayers that take us out of our ego centric, self centredness. That remove us from the circumstances in which we find ourseves and force us to think of God, of others, of whole realms of prayer, of types of prayer, of different people and areas that need prayer, of sins of omission.

Formal prayers that join us to other Christians, praying these prayers; to Christians in the past; the communion of saints, the community of the church.

Formal prayers that help us avoid shallowness but that act as a form of spiritual we are not stuck in our ruts and comfort zones of prayer but are forced, if you like, as a physical trainer forces and challenges one to try new workouts, forced to pray, to think differently, to try new spiritual exercises that may be challenging or least at first.

And it helps to think of pegs in our day. Activities to which we can peg prayer, as a habit. Items or objects to which we can peg prayer.

Like praying the Angelus at lunch time. Or having a small object, a cross or rosary beads perhaps, or a holy card , or an open Bible or prayer book, on the counter or on the desk or on the table, or a religious icon as a computer background, so each time we glance at it, we remember to pray. To think of God. To pray without ceasing. To develop an awareness of the presence of God.

Years ago, two friends and I agreed to peg, well, um, Kegel exercises to our praying of the Rosary. ( Gosh, the things I mention on this blog!).

We can turn this around and peg prayers, short prayer aspirations or ejaculations, like Lord, you know that I love you ( John 21:15) or Thy will be done! (Fiat voluntas tua!) or Domine Iesu Christe, Filius Dei, miserere me peccatorem! (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!) Luke 18:13..we can peg these prayers to activities like answering the phone, turning on the computer, checking text messages, hanging out laundry...or to a workout, like praying during my jog this morning.

Prayer is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man.(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2564)

Prayer like this unifies or integrates our faith and our life.

They are one and the same, aren't they?
Even when I play Devil's Advocate.

The point of using these prayers -- and other long, complex, and formal prayers -- is, first of all, to take advantage of "best practices". They are magnificent, beautiful, and compelling, and obviously they worked (i.e., God took notice of them), or nobody would have bothered writing them down for posterity! We use these prayers for the same reason that we read classic literature: there is a timeless beauty and value to them such that they survived the Darwinian process of history -- survival of the fittest. blogoslovi

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Obsess

I was told something this weekend. Something I needed to hear. About accepting myself while still trying to be better. That maybe who I am is okay; I don't have to be like another; I can prayand work on my weaknesses, yes, but some of what I perceive as weaknesses are really just me.

Striving for perfection, with the grace of God. Remembering that there are different ways, different paths to perfection; that God made us all differently.

So, I sit here feeling somewhat hungry. Cutting back on food in order to lose some more weight. And I remember the spiritual advice of this weekend. Apply it to my weight loss and fitness endeavours.

As the author Lisa Delaney , of Former Fat Girl, says ~ It is not an option to obsess.
To obsess about food. To obsess about wishing I was the quiet, gentle type of woman.

It's not an option to obsess. About anything.

I know it is hard to believe when you're in it, but I know that with every attempt to lose the weight, get healthy, start exercising--success or non-success (i will not use the f-word!)--I learned something about myself. What made it harder, what made it easier, which foods I could live without, which fitness routines I absolutely couldn't stand. And all of that knowledge helped me, in the end, become an FFG. ( Former Fat Girl)

I have blogged a bit before about forgiveness, about our need to give ourselves a break when we don't meet our goals. If we truly believe this is a journey, a process, that should make it easier to look at our stumbles as lessons that will make us stronger and smarter when we wake up tomorrow. Know that I still struggle with this, too, in all aspects of my life. I struggle to get past every less-than-perfect moment in my life ... every lapse of memory ..., every slip of the tongue ...., every inadequacy...Every extra slice of pizza ... sneaky bite of chocolate ... fingerful of icing. It's almost a physical process to shut out the urge to dwell, overanalyze, relive these little moments. Sometimes, I visualize myself pushing closed the door to a huge vault, shutting myself off from those super-self-critical thoughts. It's another INO moment: It's Not an Option to obsess. Former Fat Girl

Monday, September 21, 2009

Remembering the Korean Martyrs

With Korean Meat Skewers as part of dinner.

Marinating the meat with soy sauce, sugar, ginger, sherry, garlic, onion. Note the use of a Tupperware container!
Thread the marinated meat onto skwers before grilling on the barbecue.
Serve with extra marinade ...reduced by boiling...
And we added Chinese takeaway! lol!
Read about the Korean Martyrs here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Organising the linen cupboard

Montessori preschool style. Labelled baskets. So hopefully the kids can put things away IN THEIR PROPER PLACES.

Feeling virtuous..and organised.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

September 17

The Stigmata of St Francis.

May I never boast of anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through it the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. I bear the brand marks of Jesus in my body. Brothers, may the favour of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. (Galatians 6: 14, 17-18)

The sign itself, and St Francis, should inspire us to seek a closer union with our Lord. Especially through frequent confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist. Through living a faithful life.
I'm off to a great start today.. A great day....I can feel it in my bones~!
And tomorrow we are watching The Reluctant Saint, as we remember St Joseph of Cupertino.
Attempting to live faithfully and joyfully, as an unschooling, working, business owning, volunteering wife, mother, friend. With these stories of the saints to inspire and help both me and my teens.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anthony's Terrarium

As part of his botany project for this week...

A mini rabbit trail for today

On the genre of magical realism. Magic realism is A narrative technique that blurs the distinction between fantasy and reality. It is characterized by an equal acceptance of the ordinary and the extraordinary. Magic realism fuses lyrical and, at times, fantastic writing with an examination of the character of human existence and ) an implicit criticism of society, particularly the elite.

What started us on this educational rabbit trail, at eight o'clock in the morning? A quote attributed to the author Gabriel García Márquez, from his novel Love In The Time Of Cholera. Marquez' works are classifified as magical realism, a term relatively new in literary analysis.

Shows one the evolving of knowledge.. .

The quote? She discovered with great delight that one does not love one's children just because they are one's children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.

I liked the quote. I shared it with the kids. We did some Google-ing and Wikipedia-ing. And talking.

And came to today - Our Lady of Sorrows. We will pray the Dolors Rosary tonight. A rosary from the Servite Fathers, the chaplet dates back to the 13th century, iwith reference to the Scriptural prophecy of Simeon in Luke 2:34-35: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.’' This is called the Seven Dolors Rosary, “dolors” being the Latin for pain, sorrow or grief.

Making connections, with our faith and with a literary quote...

Can one discover, with delight, that one does not love the faith and Our Lord simply because one ought, as a Catholic, but because of the relationship formed while practicing and living and learning about the faith?

Wow, unschooling before we have even eaten breakfast!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The wooing of the soul

It is almost as if God were wooing the human soul..Blessed Angela de quoted in one of the books I am reading, The Nun . A fictionalised biography of St Margaret Mary Alacoque.

Today is the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Some of us went to Mass this morning; some will go this evening, when I am at work...

We remember that the cross is our hope; our lifeline; our salvation. Today's table centrepiece serves as a visual prompt for this thought.

Yesterday, at Mass, Fr talked about carrying our cross. Not whinging or whining. Not judging others; for who knows the private life of the person in the next pew, the next house, the next street? Who knows their cross?

And so last night found us discussing our crosses, while watching Battlestar Galactica (sob! the last season!) and seeing the cross that individuals in the series had to bear, upon their discovery of earth, of their true identity. The different reactions of the characters in the episode. The different reactions of family members to thoughts on our own personal crosses.
Do we even have a cross? Maybe just getting up each day and doing what has to be done faithfully, cheerfully, is what we are called to carry?
It was then that the quote above came back to me.
It is almost as if God were wooing the human soul..

God never asks more from us than what we can give. The fact is, he asks, with integrity, with respect for free will.

As the discussions in our house go, we meandered off topic. Talked about names we would take, names of saints, as religious names. If we were joining a religious order. And why. Looked up saints in the saints encyclopedia. Debated the value of changing your name, upon joining a religious order. And several felt very strongly about the importance of this...Finally, we returned to our DVD!
And finally, I come back to today in the liturgical calendar and to today's unschooling. One of today's projects?
Researching and making posters of the types of crosses used in Christian symbolism; the types of crucifixes.
.......Thomas has made a start..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Unschooling and the Inter-relations of Knowledge

Someone and I shared a quippy comment today..Don't they know I have a life outside work? I'm supposed to be homeschooling, too...Supposed to be!

To an outsider it can appear that our homeschooling is laissez-faire. Free form. Without structure.

Yet, even on our busy days and in my busy life, we learn. The kids learn both informally and fomally.

Neil Postman, in The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School, observes that any subject can be given scholarly value if we trace its historical development. If we reflect on its origins. If we theorize about its future. Every topic, when treated thus, sheds light, sheds insight, on the human endeavour, on the way man has lived, on the way man lives.

So, amidst our busy Wednesday of Kumon meetings for me, shops and the library for kids, reading, Akkadian, junk mail folding and delivery, there was space for religion reading. And discussion. The more formal part of the unschooling day.

Only one formal subject on Wednesday?

It would be well, I think, that each pupil should learn to do one, or two, subjects really well, while taking a few classes in subsidiary subjects, so as to keep his mind open to the inter-relations of all knowledge. Dorothy Sayers, The Lost Tools of Learning.

What was read for this formal religion reading?

The kids read Sermon I on the Dormition of Mary By St. John Damascene . I'd already read some of it; after it had been posted on Facebook by a priest from our parish.

Boy, St John can go on for awhile said Thomas. Yes, perhaps a lengthy sermon..But interesting.

Joachim and Anne were the parents of Mary. Joachim kept as strict a watch over his thoughts as a shepherd over his flock, having them entirely under his control. For the Lord God led him as a sheep, and he wanted for none of the best things. When I say best, let no one think I mean what is commonly acceptable to the multitude, that upon which greedy minds are fixed, the pleasures of life that can neither endure nor make their possessors better, nor confer real strength. They follow the downward course of human life and cease all in a moment, even if they abounded before. Far be it from us to cherish these things, nor is this the portion of those who fear God. But the good things which are a matter of desire to those who possess true knowledge, delighting God, and fruitful to their possessors, namely, virtues, bearing fruit in due season, that is, in eternity, will reward with eternal life those who have laboured worthily and have persevered in their acquisition as far as possible. The labour goes before, eternal happiness follows. Joachim ever shepherded his thoughts. In the place of pastures, dwelling by contemplation on the words of sacred Scripture, made glad on the restful waters of divine grace, withdrawn from foolishness, he walked in the path of justice. .

We talked about shepherding, guarding of thoughts. Of what it might mean to walk in the path of justice. Of homilies, sermons, we have heard; that we remember. Of the importance of education, of thinking, of the tools of learning. One might be poor in material goods but one can be rich in faith and in thinking, education.

As a fellow Supervisor said at yesterday's Kumon meeting...Sometimes, we do more when we do less.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Celebrating the Nativity of Our Lady

Celebrating the birthday of Mary.

With our table centrepiece...I put this together at six thirty this morning, so the kids could see our display in honour of Mary's birthday first thing...and blueberry cheesecake ( white for purity; blue for Our Lady)...cheesecake for Catholic homeschoolers meeting and for a supper in our parish, after Mass tonight. Fr reminded us, in his homily, that Mary is a model for us, a gift from God, and that we should never refuse gifts. We were reminded that we should venerate, that is to say, remember and honour, Our Lord's mother.
Wishing in his supreme goodness and wisdom to effect the redemption of the world, 'when the fullness of time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman ... that we might receive the adoption of sons' (Gal 4:4-5)" (Lumen gentium, n. 52)
Mary is endowed with the high office and dignity of the Mother of the Son of God, and therefore she is also the beloved daughter of the Father and the temple of the Holy Spirit (Lumen gentium, n. 53).

A prayer I am sharing...

Catholic Prayer For Teenagers

O Lord, omnipotent Father, we give you thanks for having given us children. They are our joy, and we accept with serenity the worries, fears and labors which bring us pain. Help us to love them sincerely. Through us you gave life to them; from eternity you knew them and loved them. Give us the wisdom to guide them, patience to teach them, vigilance to accustom them to the good through our example.

Support our love so that we may receive them back when they have strayed and make them good. It is often so difficult to understand them, to be as they would want us to be, to help them go on their way. Grant that they may always see our home as a haven in their time of need. Teach us and help us, O good Father, through the merits of Jesus, your Son and our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It's Father's Day!

1980s - maybe 1986 or 87?
2009 - and missing our two sons from Adelaide.......two that were in the foto above!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Wall

The bulletin board wall. A wall for priests and religious is our September focus. HT ~ Beate.