Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring

From St Catherine of Sienna, Doctor of the Church. Feast day today, April 29.

Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.

It is true, isn't it? Sometimes, our lives need much endurance; circumstances teach us perseverance; we live through esxperiences and learn that there is a light at the end of the tunnel; we find joy via endurance and prayer.

Even in tough times.

As a Kumon Supervisor, I often share with my parents that the time to stop Kumon study is not when it is tough, or when a child makes a fuss about homework. The time to stop is when study is easy; when a child has learned that if you commit and persevere you achieve. And you feel good about yourself. It was a worthwhile experience, a worthwhile achievement after all.

As a parent, I often share with my kids, young adults and teens alike, that sometimes it is better to just commit. It may be hard, it may be tough, but there are joy and smiles even in endurance.

In my vocation, I can see that endurance, with prayer, has its own rewards. I try not to sweat the small stuff. I try to just walk on, looking for and sharing smiles, remembering that hard times don't last forever..there is always good and bad.

I can choose to look at the good.

To a brave man, good and bad luck are like his right and left hand. He uses both.

St Catherine again.

Tonight the kids are cooking dinner. Thursdays are hectic for me! They are making Italian food (Spaghetti and Meatballs) in honour of St Catherine.

St. Catherine was one of the most brilliant theological minds of her day, although she never had any formal education. St, Catherine's letters, and a treatise called "a dialogue" are considered among the most brilliant writings in the history of the Catholic Church. Catholic Online

No formal education? Hope for we homeschooling unschoolers!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

For housewives

We made bread yesterday, a cottage loaf sprinkled with a dash of parmesan and paprika.

For St Zita, patron saints of housewives. St. Zita spent her life from age 12 until her death at age 60 as a servant in the household of the Sagrati family. Zita believed that "A servant is not pious if she is not industrious; work-shy piety in people of our position is sham piety." One morning, when she had inadvertently over-stayed in church praying until sunrise, she hurried home to find the bread dough already prepared for the oven. She questioned every one, but no one would admit preparing the bread. It was soon evident that no human hands had shaped the loaves. A delicious fragrance surrounded them, and Zita became aware that angels had been at work while she prayed.

Patron of housewives? Would you say that I am a housewife?

The dictionary to hand defines a housewife as a married woman who manages her own household.

Well, that definitely describes a whole part of my life!
And it makes me think of Mary, Our Lady, praying and working. And loving.
If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children. St Louis Mary de Montfort.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Evangelist

St Mark.

We remembered St Mark today with our table centrepiece ~ Vendela in Venice . Vendela visits Venice; she learns about the relics of St Mark and about the lions in Venice representing St Mark.

I also dragged out the Linnea books, by the same authors.

We remembered St Mark today with special desserts ~ trifle and panettone.

Eating and reading our way through the liturgical year!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It is Good Shepherd Sunday

And we pray for vocations.

As I have said before.... The vocation to the priesthood is bound with the vocation to marriage.

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!

And so I pray the prayer of the mothers of Lu (from my blog's sidebar) ~ Oh God, grant that one of my sons may become a priest. I myself want to live as a good Christian and want to guide my children always to do what is right, so that I may receive the grace, O God, to be allowed to give you a holy priest! Amen.

I was struck by this part of the Holy Father's message... In July 2005, speaking to the clergy of Aosta, I noted that if young people see priests who appear distant and sad, they will hardly feel encouraged to follow their example. They will remain hesitant if they are led to think that this is the life of a priest. Instead, they need to see the example of a communion of life which can reveal to them the beauty of being a priest. Only then will a young man say, “Yes, this could be my future; I can live like this”

We have been blessed to know priests and religious who live out their vocations with joy, with love. They have encouraged us, my family, my husband and my sons..have encouraged me, in particular, in my vocation.

As Bishop Anthony Fisher, Bishop of our Diocese of Parramatta, said in his message for Good Shepherd Sunday ..

The Church makes the Eucharist and is also made by the Eucharist, so without priests we are nothing.

We need more, happy and holy priests:

joyful in proclaiming the Risen Christ;
close to Him in prayer;
being there for people as good shepherds;
and mediating God’s mercy to all.

We need priests who are:

humble and faithful;
ready to lead and serve;
ready to sanctify through prayer and sacrament;
ready to preach and teach, not just any opinion, but the
living words of Jesus Christ in the teachings of His Church.

We need priests alive with Christ and giving their all.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dragon Cake

For the feast of St George. And for Anthony's Confirmation Saint. But this year the cake just wouldn't turn out! Thomas and I had the greatest difficulty. For some unknown reason. Three cakes later, our dragon still wasn't right !

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Feeling called to be a lot of things to a lot of people

Feeling called to be a lot of things to a lot of people.

This was a description of another , homeschooling, busy mother.

But it resonated. I thought it could be a description of me.

Last night I thought on these things.

I feel called to be a wife, mother, worker, teacher, volunteer, friend, helper, listener, group leader, mentor, writer, a Pollyanna...AND to be good at these things, to the best of my ability..because of of others, love for my family and friends, love for the Church, love of Our Lord.....I feel called to be who I am but ten times more..and all the while I feel called to be this to many help people, to do what they want me to do, to be who they want me to be.

In short, I seem to have a need to be everything to everyone.

It takes a lot for me to say no, to say I can't. And then I either feel guilty or I spend ages justifying and rationalising to myself, why I just can't do something.

Mostly, I am pleased to do the things I do. As I said, I do them with love. And that is what makes a difference ( to paraphrase St Teresa of Avila).

But is there a twinge of the Nice Girl Syndrome?

For the purpose of this book, let's say there's a difference between being nice and too nice, a workout so off the charts that it actually gives nice a bad name. So that we're all on the same page, let's assume it's okay to be a sweetheart and an earth mother as long as you have the ability to turn off those traits and bring in the big guns ..when you need 'em. Nice Girls Finish Fat

Sometimes I am too nice. And sometimes, I am too b***y.

So, I am not truly a Nice Girl.

But I do try to do-it-all, to be helpful, to do good things and (sometimes) to do things that I should say no to..Why? Is it because I am truly Nice ( I doubt it, most people who know me would not say I am Nice!). Is it because I need to be liked ( Well, I like being liked but experience has shown me that there will always be, has always been, are always, others who won't/don't like me whatever I do).

Part of me tries to be everything and do everything because of a refrain of a series of quotes . a refrain that runs through my mind...We cannot go to heaven in featherbeds (St Thomas More) and..A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves (Mother Theresa)...and something a holy priest once said to me, when I talked about a particular intention as a mother..Pray and do penance.

And this is not a bad thing. members of the Body of Christ in union with the innocent Christ crucified, we can offer our innocent sufferings and acts of self-denial and prayer ..Our prayers and sacrifices, offered in penance, become sacramental, not simply isolated events that have nothing to do with the common good. Whether the sinner repents or not is not within your power to determine or make happen. That is between him and God. But whether you make an offering of your life in union with Jesus who said, “Forgive them” is within your power. And such offerings, accepted by God as fragrant sacrifices can be and have been powerful instruments of conversion for sinners. Nobody knew that better than Paul himself, whose conversion began with Stephen’s penitential offering of his very life for the men (including Saul of Tarsus) who were mad to murder him and for whom he prayed, “Lord, do not count this sin against them.” Doing Penance For Others, Mark Shea

So, perhaps, the description of feeling called to be a lot of things to a lot of people does not really fit.

This morning, a purposefully slow morning before work, I have had time for continued reflection on these things.

Perhaps I really, truly, do these things for God. Not just for others. Or for me.

Perhaps it is the ultimate motive, not the action, that matters.

Yes, I am no saint and so, mixed in with my pure motive of loving God and others, is that dark, murky me with so many less holy, less perfect, intertwined motives. I cannot attribute solely pure holiness to my motives.

Yes, I should say No sometimes and, having said No, should stick-to-my-guns. As I was told, once, when I do everything all the time, well, I make others apathetic and leave no room for others to serve.

But the little lesson that I've learned from my reflection , the little lesson I want to share is - that maybe it is not all about being everything to others . Instead it is remembering that our final aim is God. When we do this, we find that the ( so-called) burden and sacrifice is a whole lot lighter .

This brings to my mind that line from the old Baltimore catechism.. Why did God make me?

To know, love and serve God on earth and to be happy with Him in Heaven.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 25

April 25 is Anzac Day.

Great teacher resources here.

On our bulletin board we have this poster, a recruiting poster from World War 1.

And Thomas made Anzac Biscuits yesterday, for us, and for visitors.

Monday, April 19, 2010


No, not the Madonna album of that name ( but that CD is one of my favourites!).
But tonight we are celebrating.

Five years since the election of Pope Benedict XVI as our Pope, our Shepherd, the visible head of the Church.

Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI
Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to Your shepherd, the Pope, a spirit of courage and right judgement, a spirit of knowledge and love.
By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care may he, as successor to the apostle Peter and vicar of Christ, build Your church into a sacrament of unity, love, and peace for all the world.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

We are praying for the Pope. And for the Church.

We are also celebrating five years of living in Sydney. The longest time we have ever, ever lived in one house. In one parish.

Thomas, Anthony and I made desserts for tonight. Fingers crossed. Hope I can eat some!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just sharing

Just sharing this blog post..for women...for mothers..especially homeschooling mothers.

Read the whole, excellent post here ~ Logismoi

Why is it that women in general and mothers in particular seem so prone to battling negative thoughts?
It is a spiritual battle, you know?
The Fathers share their experiential wisdom in the struggle against the thoughts (logismoi). The types of thoughts are legion, but it seems to me that mothers battle negative thoughts more than any other types.
Perhaps it is the demon of comparison Her children are better behaved than mine. Her house is cleaner than mine. She gets more done than I do. Or maybe it is the evil spirit of inadequacy. I am not a good mother. What I do is not good enough. I'll never be able to catch up.
Quite possibly it is a combination of the two.
Or maybe it's hormones.
Could it be that the nature of an eternal work is fertile ground for the evil one to sow seeds of negativity? Mothers are entrusted with the bodies and souls of God's children, both aspects of the person, created to live eternally. (As well as the seemingly eternal mounds of laundry that these precious persons produce.) It is a good, but no small work. As St. Paul wrote, when we wish to do any good work, we soon find that evil follows closely behind us.
Yet, where there is no struggle, there is no possibility for virtue.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Been feeling sick today. Headache. Uncomfortable stomach..and so I gave myself time out. To sleep. To pray. To read.

Read David Malouf's Ransom.

Malouf is sometimes described as an author for males, in that many of the themes of his writing are themes of male identity, searching for identity , undertaking male soul searching; giving words to this search to some (males) who may not otherwise have words with which to explain (understand) their life.

Yet, Malouf's writing is also much more. Once I looked past the maleness (the corded forearm) , I was forced to think about bonds, bonds of connection between men..between women..between father and son..and between friends.

For what is it that makes a friend?

We bond with another. As Achilles, in Malouf's Ransom discovers with his friendship and shared adoptive brotherhood with Patroclus, we more than bond..we find that, when we have formed this friendship, this bond, our ..true spirit leapt forth and declared itself. It was as if he had all along needed this other before he could become fully himself. From this moment on he could conceive of nothing in this life he must live that Patroclus would not share in and approve.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when such a bond occurs. This bond needs time, yes. It sometimes occurs between people with different backgrounds, different lives. There comes a time of laughter, sadness, anger, shared experience when you know, without a doubt, that you are friends. This bond has developed without thinking, without trying. Almost.

Because we do have to care for our friends. We cannot tuck them away, to be brought out upon need. They must be thought of and cared for, with prayers for the other.

But, then , if this bond of which Achilles talks is strong, our thought and concern and prayer just happen.

Even in difficult times. For no relationship is without difficulty.

But things did not always go smoothly between them. There were times when Patroclus was difficult to approach, too touchily aware that, for all Achilles' brotherly affection, he hinself was a courtier...he would draw back, all pride and a hurt that could not easily be assauged. What Achilles saw then on the clouded brow was what he had been so struck by in the first glance that had passed between them....and he would hear again, as if the memory were his own..the knock of bone on bone as two lives collided and were irrevocably changed.

Can a husband and wife be friends in this manner? Or parents and children ?

Yes and no. Spouses are called to be more than friends; they are called to represent Christ's love for his Church. (CCC 1601 )The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

Parents are also called to be more than friends wth their children; (CCC 1657) It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity.

Friends and more than friends..members of the Domestic Church.

We form bonds of connection and friendship with family members, with spouses. And also with others.

As I said, time and experience helps here. He knew every movement of Patroclus' soul - how could he not after so long? Distance does not necessarily have an effect on these bonds, once made.

Quarrels can make the friendship, the marriage, the relationship, the bonds stronger..if we work through these. If we give them time and prayers. Sometimes, the bond forged after disagreement and the subsequent hurt and working through, is a deeper, binding bond.

They had stood, then, appalled, both, by what had been said. Achilles was trembling, too proud to admit, even to this man who was half himself, that he might be in the wrong, but heartsick, stricken. ..When had he last seen Patroclus weep? The tears, he knew, were for him, he felt the hotness of them in his own throat. Even more for the unhppy rift between them.

Those of us who love know this sickness of the heart, this gut wrenching feeling, these sobs. So hard to experience, to go through. And I never want anyone I love to be unhappy. I never want to hurt those I love. But I do.

Yet, if we can work through our quarrels, our hurt, then our relationships show to the world the bond of Christian love. No tawdry revenge, I-am-not-speaking-to-you. Not thinking of self. But about the other.

In our joy and laughter. Love.

In our tears. Also showing Love.

He had wept for Patroclus. Wept without restraint. Sitting cross-legged on the ground rocking back and forth in his anguish, pouring fitfuls of dirt over his head.

My afternoon off, feeling sick and reading, of sleeping and praying, has also been a time of emotions. That is okay. A good author should make us pause, ponder, pray.

With Malouf, I can reflect upon the bonds between men.

(CCC 2347) The virtue of chastity blossoms in friendship....Chastity is expressed notably in friendship with one's neighbor. Whether it develops between persons of the same or opposite sex, friendship represents a great good for all. It leads to spiritual communion.

Spiritual communion might be the best way to define friendship.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

From the CCC

On our wedding anniversary, I have prayed at Mass. For my husband; for my children; for vocations to the priesthood ; for my vocation as a wife and mother ( I pretty much suck in these areas...My intentions are good..but...).

And I have read from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, about the sacrament of matrimony.

Reminders, help, yes?

1601 "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament."

1620 Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will. Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdomand the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other

1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation."

1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity." Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment." Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous - even repeated - forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

On Easter 2010

From the Holy Father's Easter Sunday sermon....

The Church is the people of the Exodus, because she constantly lives the Paschal Mystery and disseminates its renewing power in every time and place. In our days too, humanity needs an "exodus", not just superficial adjustment, but a spiritual and moral conversion. It needs the salvation of the Gospel, so as to emerge from a profound crisis, one which requires deep change, beginning with consciences.


Dear brothers and sisters, Easter does not work magic. Just as the Israelites found the desert awaiting them on the far side of the Red Sea, so the Church, after the resurrection, always finds history filled with joy and hope, grief and anguish. And yet, this history is changed, it is marked by a new and eternal covenant, it is truly open to the future. For this reason, saved by hope, let us continue our pilgrimage, bearing in our hearts the song that is ancient and yet ever new: "Let us sing to the Lord: glorious his triumph!"

No magic. No divine magic wand. But conversion. Prayer. Faith. Fasting. Penance. Acts of faith, hope and charity.

With adoration of Our Lord. With informed consciences. With Love.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Sacred Triduum

The Sacred Triduum, the Easter Triduum, is the period of three days from Holy Thursday to Easter Day.

The liturgy of the three last days of Holy Week is especially moving. The Church recalls the great events which marked the last days of our Saviour's life and helps us celebrate the mystery of our redemption.

Maundy Thursday is devoted to the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood. It is on this day that we have the washing of the feet, of twelve men, known as the Maundy or Mandatum. It is a reminder of that humble gesture of charity, in which Jesus emphasized the new commandment to love one another, a commandment of fraternal love.

In his homily, Fr. asked young men to consider the vocation to the priesthood. Without our priests, Fr. noted, we would not have our Mass, the Eucharist, the sacrament of sacraments, the Blessed Sacrament.

The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
O, how great is the priest! ... If he realized what he is, he would die.

Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption here on earth...What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of His goods...Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest and they will end by worshiping the beasts there..The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.~ St. John Vianney

Fr. urged the faithful to pray for priests and religious. Basically, every act we do as Catholics in a state of grace can be offered up to help a priest.

What was on my to do list today..Easter Monday...Monday in the Octave of Easter? Well, I had tidying, sorting, cleaning laundry, as the house was a disorganised mess after a busy week , after Holy Week and now Easter. I could, then, make an act of consecration offering my whole day to Mary for the benefit of the priesthood. For religious.

What can you do? Perhaps you can pick a few chores that you hate, then do them with extra love today, to help a priest carry his cross.

On Good Friday, we had live Stations of the Cross, in the Friary grounds, with Fr. reading the reflections and leading us in prayer and the youth group participating in the Passion re-enactment.

Then, at three pm, the liturgical solemnity in commemoration of the Passion and death of Our Lord. In this solemn liturgy, the Church commemorates the redemption of the world. The solemn reading of the Passion, the sung Collects, in which we pray with the Church in confidence for the salvation of all, the veneration of the Cross and the singing of the reproaches are more than moving rites..they are the prayer and the thanksgiving of all Christians, acknowledging in God's presence, the meaning of the mystery of the Cross.

Easter night. The Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. The day is traditionally one of mourning in memory of Christ in the tomb. And usually a day of busyness for us! Until the night, the heart of the night, at the time when our Lord overcame death, then we have joy. The Gloria is sung. Bells are rung. We bear candles, lit at the Paschal Candle, a figure of Christ who is the light of the world. We renew our baptismal promises; we are re-born to new life with our risen Lord.

We renounce Satan. And all his works. And all his pomps.

And we came home to celebrate, after prayer, after making our own mini Paschal candle for the table, to celebrate with snacks and Singstar and Band Hero. And to cook for Easter Sunday lunch.

Because Easter is the feast of all feasts, the joy of all Christians. We celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord. We pray and rejoice in Mass. We share joy with family and friends. Haec dies quam fecit Dominus. This is the day which the Lord has made. And so every Sunday will provide a reminder of this, every Sunday is a mini Easter in which we celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord, we receive Our Lord in the Blessed Fr. reminded us all in his homily.

Haec dies, quam fecit Dominus: exsultemus, et laetemur in ea.

This is the day which the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it.