7 Rambling Monday Takes :: Vol. 8 (Advent edition)


Explore previous rambling installments here 🙂


Happy Monday, and a blessed Feast of St. Damasus, Pope and Confessor! This pope, by the way, was one incredible pope. Indulge me for a moment as I pull out my Missal:

St. Damasus became Pope in 366, after the persecutions were over. He condemned Arianism, commanded St. Jerome to translate the Holy Scriptures into Latin, and composed inscriptions for the sepulchers of the Roman martyrs. He died in 384.

I think it’s safe to say this holy pope-saint deserves a parish church under his protection! Or a society! Or something! 🙂

And not only is it wonderful enough to be celebrating Pope St. Damasus . . . but it’s also, technically in certain places and congregations, the feast of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin Mary. How perfect for Advent! The prayers of this particular Mass are worth soaking in today.


O God, Who regardest the humble and removest thine eyes from the proud, grant that we thy servants may imitate with pure heart the humility of the blessed Virgin Mary, who pleased thee by her virginity and who by her humility became the Mother of Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ.


Through the prayers of the blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, may this offering, we beseech Thee, O Lord, obtain for us the grace of true humility and take from our hearts the concupiscence of the flesh and of the eyes and all worldly ambition, so that we may live soberly and justly and piously and thus attain our eternal reward.


May the partaking of this Sacrament remove from us the stain of sin, O Lord, and through the prayers of the glorious and blessed Virgin Mary bring us by the road of humility unto the kingdom of heaven.

The whole life of the Blessed Virgin was a continual practice of humility. She had renounced all the vanities and honors of the world from the moment when, as a child, she offered herself to God in the Temple. She felt confused when she heard the Angel’s salutation. She ever sought to appear as a servant although she had been exalted to be the Queen of the universe. She was in very deed the humble handmaid of the Lord, as she terms herself in the Magnificat. (from the Missal)


I’m not sure what, precisely, happened to my keyboard. Well, I know what happened to it, but I’m not sure how it happened. The little right-hand footer on the back of my keyboard, which, along with its twin, served to prop it up at a helpful angle, mysteriously broke off a few days ago. I had to detach the other footer to even out the keyboard . . . only, it’s still a little “cattywampus,” as we term it. (On WordPress, the only spelling suggestion for “cattywampus” is “campus,” by the way.) Tilted towards the left upper corner, with the right lower corner suspended slightly in midair, it now bobs when I type. I think it gives it character and am not interested in replacing it. (Although I think the extra clattering noise is driving some of my siblings crazy.)

In fact, inspired by this, I’m going to give it a name. Have you ever read Tolkien’s The Children of Hurin? It’s a tragic tale, but I’m reminded of a certain passage from Chapter 1:

This friend (of Turin’s) was named Sador, a house-man in the service of Hurin; he was lame, and of small account. He had been a woodman, and by ill-luck or the mishandling of his axe he had hewn his right foot, and the footless leg had shrunken; and Turin called him Labadal, which is “Hopafoot,” though the name did not displease Sador, for it was given in pity and not in scorn.

As my keyboard also suffered its right foot to be hewn off, its name is now “Labadal,” which I give it in humor . . . but not in scorn. 🙂



Many prayer intentions were on my heart during this morning’s Mass at Sarasota, but most especially for The Dash, who has a big test today (“A Long-Expected Test,” to keep up the Middle-earth theme, which I can’t seem to stop lately . . .) and is embarking on the last, pressure-cooker week of the semester . . . and also for a good family friend who needs prayers for a special intention today. O Mary, Most Humble, pray for us!


Advent . . . how quickly it’s going; Teresia at Gloria In Excelsis Deo reflected on it beautifully yesterday in her post, by the way!

Yesterday morning was truly blessed, with a full choir practice (our final practice before High Mass on Guadete Sunday!), Confession, and Low Mass. After Mass, I was also blessed to be able to pray along with The Dash in front of Our Lady’s statue as he re-consecrated our courtship to her, since we’d just passed three months; it was both beautiful and special 🙂

And yesterday afternoon, I had some quiet prayer time in solitude (which is, due in part to my temperament, always hard for me to initiate, but as soon as I choose to obey the inspiration from the Holy Ghost, I’m always so glad I did), and felt a definite shift, perceived an opening door, for how to step a little more deeply into Advent now that the first week of Advent has passed.

Looking back on Advent so far, I see that the first week was largely marked by my anticipation for the feast Immaculate Conception and its accompanying novena, along with the Feast of St. Nicholas and the assortment of little devotions I’d been hoping to do for Advent. Many aspects, including our family Advent Wreath and Jesse Tree devotions (which we eventually caught up on) were quite beautiful, and we’ve kept Advent in Ephesus on throughout much of the day, trying to cultivate a spirit of holy quiet. But I also realize how I had numerous, small crosses that I could have borne with better cheer and self-control (though I’m endeavoring to improve in that area . . . it’s just taking time 🙂 ).

But now, with two of my novenas completed, there’s a little fresh air and room to dig for this second week of Advent! As I prayed yesterday, I felt inspired to meditate regularly on the Joyful Mysteries every day for the remainder of Advent, and especially to spend more quiet time in Our Lady’s presence, honoring her and striving to imitate her. So again, it seems so perfect that today is the feast of the Humility of the Blessed Virgin!


It may not surprise one to hear that, after talking about it for far too long, I’ve finally started re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring. I remarked to Lena yesterday, on the way home from Mass, how I’ve discovered the essential-ness of reading the Prologue before embarking on the first chapter. I’m not sure why this is . . . but reading these captivating historical details never fails to get me perfectly in the mood for the onset of the tale. If I don’t read the Prologue, sometimes I have trouble getting into the initial, very familiar chapters. I suppose there’s a reason why Tolkien wrote the Prologue. Ahem.


After numerous dietary cheats over the Thanksgiving holiday and past feast days, it’s felt so good to return to a more clean way of eating, and I’m definitely perking up and feeling better again, which is a blessing! Tonight we’re having chili, and I volunteered to put that on shortly, so I’ll be back to the kitchen before long . . .


The dogs were howling to kingdom come a little while ago, which probably means that the mail lady was delivering yet another bout of Christmas packages to our parcel bin. I think one of them requires my going to fetch it and stowing it away in a secret place . . . I truly can’t wait for Christmas; to celebrate with joy the birth of Our Lord and imitate in a very small way, towards my family and loved ones, His infinite generosity towards me!

Have a truly blessed week! 🙂




Walk Pure in His Presence (belonging to the Angelic Warfare Confraternity)

The Most Pure Hearts of the Holy Family

During a vision she received in 1929, Our Lord bestowed a mystical cincture of purity on St. Faustina Kowalska:

During Holy Mass, before Communion, we had the renewal of vows. When we had left our kneelers and had started to recite the formula for the vows, Jesus appeared suddenly at my side clad in a white garment with a golden girdle around His waist, and He said to me, I give you eternal love that your purity may be untarnished and as a sign that you will never be subject to temptations against purity. Jesus took off His golden cincture and tied it around my waist.

Since then I have never experienced any attacks against this virtue, either in my heart or in my mind. I later understood that this was one of the greatest graces which the Most Holy Virgin Mary had obtained for me, as for many years I had been asking this grace of Her.

-from Diary, 40


When I was a twelve-year-old in Adoration, this paragraph took me strongly aback, and now, nearly a decade later, it strikes me all the more. To never even be subject to temptations to the sin of impurity! It was the first time I had ever read anything to do with a cincture being mystically bestowed on a saint for the preservation of their chastity and purity. However, thanks to God’s goodness, it wasn’t to be the last.

The raging of spiritual warfare goes largely unseen, and yet, of course, it is all too real. For the vast majority of Church Militant, we’re embroiled in a fight to preserve our chastity and purity, no matter our life situation: daily combating temptations left and right, thanks to the perversions of our culture and our own concupiscence.

“More souls go to hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”

-Our Lady of Fatima

Almost ten years passed after I first read that paragraph from St. Faustina. And then a new, yet similar, story befell me. My fourteen-year-old brother, who took St. Thomas Aquinas for his Confirmation patron last February, was the one who informed us of, and drew us all into, a special Confraternity, established for the protection of chastity and purity. And now, for well over a year, I’ve belonged to the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, along with the rest of my family.

The Confraternity’s website relates its origins through the story of St. Thomas Aquinas (you can find the full story by following the link):

File:Saint Thomas Aquinas Diego Velázquez.jpgImmediately, St. Thomas snatched a burning brand from the hearth, drove the woman [his brothers had brought to him] out of the room, slammed the door behind her, and emblazoned the sign of the cross on the door with the red-hot brand. He then fell to his knees with tears of thanksgiving and prayed to be preserved in his chastity, purity, and intention to live the religious life.

According to the records of his canonization, Thomas fell at once into a mystical sleep and had a vision. Two angels came to him from heaven and bound a cord around his waist, saying, “On God’s behalf, we gird you with the girdle of chastity, a girdle which no attack will ever destroy.” In the records of his canonization, many different witnesses who knew St. Thomas at different points in his life remarked about his evidently high degree of purity and chastity. The angels’ gift preserved St. Thomas from sexual temptation and bestowed upon him an enduring purity that ennobled all his thoughts and actions. Pope Pius XI wrote: “If St. Thomas had not been victorious when his chastity was in peril, it is very probable that the Church would never have had her Angelic Doctor.”

Over his lifetime, St. Thomas’s conduct revealed that he had indeed received a special grace of chastity and purity – a grace that he is now ready to share with others through the communion of saints.

Here, again, was the story of a saint being bestowed with a supernatural gift from God towards the preservation of chastity and purity!

“Behold, we gird thee by the command of God with the girdle of chastity, which henceforth will never be imperiled. What human strength can not obtain, is now bestowed upon thee as a celestial gift.”

The angels to St. Thomas Aquinas

And this is the foundation of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity: that its members, enrolled by a priest with the necessary faculties (which means not every priest can enroll), gird themselves with a blessed and knotted cord (or medal) for life, and promise to pray specific prayers, every day, for the grace of being preserved from all sins against chastity and purity in thought, word or action. They ask for this grace, both for themselves and all members of the Confraternity.

These prayers, namely, are fifteen Hail Marys, offered for diverse intentions relating to chastity and purity:

  1. For our social and cultural climate
  2. For our relationships
  3. For modesty in dress and movements
  4. For our five senses
  5. For our sensuality
  6. For our imagination
  7. For our memory
  8. For our power of estimation
  9. For our affectivity
  10. For our intellect
  11. For our will
  12. For our conscience
  13. For our hearts
  14. For self-surrender
  15. For love

as well as two beautiful prayers, one addressed to Our Lord, the other to St. Thomas Aquinas:

Dear Jesus,
I know that every perfect gift,
and especially that of chastity,
depends on the power of Your providence.
Without You a mere creature can do nothing.
Therefore, I beg You to defend by Your grace
the chastity and purity of my body and soul.
And if I have ever sensed or imagined anything
that could stain my chastity and purity,
blot it out, Supreme Lord of my powers,
that I may advance with a pure heart in Your love and service,
offering myself on the most pure altar of Your divinity
all the days of my life. Amen.

Chosen lily of innocence, pure St. Thomas,
who kept chaste the robe of baptism,
and became an angel in the flesh after being girded by two angels,
I implore you to commend me to Jesus, the Spotless Lamb,
and to Mary, the Queen of Virgins.
Gentle protector of my purity, ask them that I,
who wear the holy sign of your victory over the flesh,
may also share your purity,
and after imitating you on earth
may at last come to be crowned with you among the angels. Amen. 

Chastity, according to one’s state in life, is every Christian’s battle. If, as Our Lady of Fatima said, more souls are damned because of the sin of impurity than for any other reason, then in that context, surely it’s against these temptations that we need the most aid here on earth!

This devotion of both the blessed cord and the prayers has been a great source of strength and protection for me, and yet, largely, an invisible and subtle one. Apart from when I’m offering the prayers with my family, I rarely think about the devotion itself (such as, I’m being tempted! Let me call on the graces of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity right now!). But rather, I think I’ve been gradually blessed with a greater clarity of perspective towards the virtue purity, and a quicker reaction, a sharpened self-preservation instinct against temptation: a hasty, but calm, flight towards Our Lord and Our Lady, or St. Joseph. I often look back on the past year and am filled with gratitude and peace for the many times I’ve been preserved, and how it has become easier to combat temptation, thanks to the graces of this Confraternity which all members benefit from. Also, I think it is safe to say that I’ve received strong desires for a pure and holy courtship, at least in part, from the graces of this Confraternity!

While it’s ideal to pray the devotion separately from any other devotions, currently, our family (because of time) offers the first fifteen Hail Marys of our daily Rosary for the intentions of the Angelic Warfare Confraternity, mentioning each of the fifteen intentions for chastity and purity before beginning the Rosary. Immediately after the Rosary, we offer the other two Confraternity prayers. It is a beautiful thing for our whole family to be members of this Confraternity, and for us to be praying for one another and aiding one another–along with thousands of others–in the daily battle for chastity and purity. The thanks goes to my brother for that!

God is a discerner of our heart, Whom we must reverence with all our hearts wheresoever we are, and walk pure in His presence as do the angels.

The Imitation of Christ, Chapter 19

For more information on the history and purpose of the Confraternity and how to be enrolled, visit the Angelic Warfare Confraternity’s website 🙂 Have a blessed Monday!



A few Saturday ramblings

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The snow is slowly starting to disperse under bright blue skies today, but here’s another gratuitous shot of the white loveliness from yesterday . . .

And now, a few ramblings for today!

One, my little Living Virtuously collection now has 20 documents available for download, with two quotes per document. It’s been such a lot of fun to add to this collection piece by piece, and especially to search out inspirational quotes on striving after virtue! This morning, I alphabetized the list since . . . well . . . it just wasn’t looking as beautifully organized as I wanted it to. Now it’s much better 🙂

CompanySecondly, on my sidebar there’s now a link to a second talk on traditional Catholic courtship, this time from Veritas Caritas, which I came across thanks to Finer Femininity. Fr. Ripperger’s talk was around 40 minutes . . . this one (given by an anonymous, traditional priest), on “Company Keeping,” was an hour and ten minutes! And how I loved it.

I feel so blessed by Our Lord to have been given the opportunity to practice traditional Catholic courtship, and not only this, but also to have been given someone who strongly believes in these principles of self-denial, prudence and virtuous conduct in courtship. The Dash and I have been courting for three months now, and they have been three most beautiful months!

I’m not an expert on courtship; I can’t argue eloquently, but can only speak from my own small stock of experience. That which our modern culture would call senseless sacrifice or prudishness for a courting couple to submit themselves to . . . chaperoning, moderated emotions, self-control and self-denial . . . I reflect on these past three months and embrace these things as having been so very worth it already, and so very right. If the couple is virtuous (or striving after virtue, anyway 😉 ), these acts of sacrifice and denial become an incredibly rich soil in which Christ-centered love and mutual respect can grow, slowly, healthily and without hindrance.

Perhaps what resonated with me most strongly from both these talks on Catholic courtship was the realization of the justice of courtship. Truly, I had never considered justice in the context of courtship. However, when you protect one another from occasions of sin and do what you can to safeguard one another’s honor and good name through chaperoning; when you honor one another’s bodies and your lack of rights to them through the denial of physical signs of affection; when you desire holiness for the other person and circumscribe your courtship with Godliness and prayer . . . you are simply fulfilling the dictates of justice. This was a huge source of clarity for me.

In the sense that it is very counter-cultural, courtship is hard. But it brings so much joy. If someone were to confront us and say, “Good grief, why don’t you guys just relax and have a little fun?” I think The Dash and I would look and one another start howling with laughter, because it seems as though all we’re doing is having fun, even with the Crosses, sickness, tiredness, and hard work every person must undergo in this life for their own sanctification. Because our consciences are being kept clean and pure in how we are treating one another, Christ is lavishly pouring His joy upon us and drawing us closer together with His Pierced Hands.

Some might point out that our society has changed so much as to render traditional courtship no longer feasible . . . but, no matter societal changes, fallen human nature remains the same. The dictates of justice remain the same. The sacredness of marriage and the finality of eternity remain the same. Man and woman remain the same. So . . . why can’t traditional courtship? The word, admittedly, has too many definitions, but these talks eloquently sum up the scope of and purpose behind Catholic courtship!

And thirdly, I recently came across a book provided by the ever-helpful Fish Eaters, called The Christian Home: A Guide to Happiness in the Home that caught my eye and intrigued me delightfully. I’ll be trying to read it as and when I can 🙂

And now I’m off (metaphorically) to Fribourg! Have a blessed Saturday!



All White, All Fair

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This morning I woke up early, around 6:15 (a slightly humorous fact, since it was the first morning this entire week on which I hadn’t set my alarm . . .). I lay there in the stillness, gradually noticing how the dim predawn light, filtering through my curtained window, had an unusually blue sheen. Summoning some willpower, I trundled out of bed and peered through the blinds.

Our mountainside world was blanketed with white. And even as I type, hours later, the snow is still pouring down.

“I will put enmities between thee and the woman.” In these words the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary was announced to our first parents. It was to be the reversal of the friendship with the serpent contracted by Eve, when she listened to his voice and fell under his power. The second Eve was never to be under the power of the devil; the enmity between them was to admit of no possible exception. This involved the grace of being conceived immaculate. Mary’s Immaculate Conception was the foundation of all her graces. The absence of any stain or spot of sin distinguished her from all the rest of mankind. It distinguished her from the holiest of the saints, since they, one and all, were sinners. Her perfect sinlessness was the source of all her glory and all her majesty; it was  this which opened the door to the unlimited graces that she received from God; it was this that qualified her for her divine maternity, and raised her to her throne as Queen of heaven.

-from the Missal

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Snow is notably rare here in the South! And none of us can remember a snowfall before winter, definitely not one of five inches and counting.

So it’s impossible to describe the spiritual joy that suffused my soul as I stood at the window and watched the snow fall on the dawn of the Immaculate Conception. I felt like a child. I hugged myself with delight. I woke up my youngest sister sometime after 7:00 and we marveled at the window together with Lena, ecstatically wishing one another “Happy Feast! Happy Feast!”

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, and my soul shall be joyful in my God: for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, and with the robe of justice He hath covered me, as a bride adorned with her jewels.

from the Introit of the Mass

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The first poem I ever got published was a short acrostic verse called “Winter.” I was only fourteen years old and had submitted it to an online homeschool literary quarterly. It went something like this (I’m typing from memory, ahem):

Weathered branches, laden with
Immaculate snow:
Nature’s burial cloth, tainted only by a bittersweet empathy of
Things passed away. An aura of finality
Endures, but the ancient trees
Remember what promise rests beneath their icy shrouds.

In an email conversation with the then-editor, I still remember his comment on how he’d enjoyed my usage of the word “Immaculate” to describe snow, and praised how I’d included it intentionally to honor the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Only (squirm) I hadn’t . . . which was kind of awkward. Apologetically, I explained this fact to him, and he was genuinely surprised.

However, seven years later, I know I will always connect the two in my mind.

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As I mentioned in an earlier post, I felt strongly drawn to preparing for this feast day more deeply than I had in previous years. Hence all the immensely beautiful, indulgenced prayers I stuffed into my novena, which I finished last night. And as I mentioned in that same post, I rather wanted to make a gift of this novena to Our Lady, an in-between offering since my renewal of Total Consecration won’t start until next September. I included several very special intentions, but the utmost of them was simply for her honor and pleasure.

And yet, of course, she turns it into a gift to me.

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St. Bonaventure tells us that all the Angels in Heaven cry out incessantly to her, “Sancta, sancta, sancta Maria, Dei Genitrix et Virgo” : “Holy, holy, holy Mary, Mother of God and Virgin,” and that they offer to her millions and millions of times a day the Angelical Salutation, Ave Maria, “Hail Mary”; prostrating themselves before her, and begging of her, in her graciousness, to honour them with some of her commands.

St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary

The Second Triad – Powers, Virtues and Dominions: known as the “angels of creation” because they concern themselves with the ordering of the universe and a plurality of causes.


To me, it seems far from a sentimental thought to contemplate how the holy angels, who mysteriously order the universe, may have ordained this very snowfall: ordained it to clothe this spot of the world in white, to honor their beloved, Immaculate Queen of Heaven on one of her greatest feast days.

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Taken by my brother

Because of this downpour of snow and the unreliable condition of our nearby roads, it sadly doesn’t look like we’ll be able to make it to Mass, so we will be praying along with Fribourg’s High Mass here in less than an hour. I can’t wait to join my heart with the Gradual and Alleluia in praise of her who the snow honors today.

Happy Feast Day to you all!

Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, by the Lord the most high God, above all women upon the earth. Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honor of our people.

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Taken by my brother

Alleluia, alleluia. Thou art all fair, O Mary, and the original stain was never in thee. Alleluia.


Beginning with Slippers . . .

St. Nicholas, by TintorettoYes. Yesterday, I did have plans to write up a post on how our Feast of St. Nicholas had transpired. Even now, with no technical “littles” in the home, it’s remained a special, tradition-and-nostalgia-studded day for us in our Ecclesia domestica. In fact, I’ll go further and admit that I tend to forget just how much I dote on the Feast of St. Nicholas until it arrives . . . and then I Dote on it and, throughout the day, constantly reflect with a litany of blissful smiles on how I can’t wait to carry it over into my future one-day home.

But of course, I find myself here, on the 7th, typing about it belatedly while still in my pajamas (the reasons for which I will explain shortly). However, better late than never! So, onward with my descriptions of our Feast of St. Nicholas!

The Slippers

We don’t have sacred “St. Nicholas Day” slippers, per se, but only a jumbled, furry pile or two, in our respective closets, of slippers we hardly ever wear. We’re not frequent slipper-wearers, I suppose. But these piles get dutifully raided for the Feast of St. Nicholas.

However, it is a sacred custom for us to mutter repeatedly throughout the day on the 5th, “Don’t forget to put out the slippers before bed,” and then subsequently forget. Consequently, on Tuesday night, our parents were asleep and all of us kids had already traipsed up to bed before we remembered Gasp! The slippers! So, hoping I’d find enough pairs, I dove into the closet, then trotted down in the dark with my arms full of fur to line up the slippers on our brick fireplace, next to our small wood stack and homemade Jesse Tree (we are four days behind on our daily ornaments, however . . . just to paint a prosaic picture of normal Catholic family life).

I came down the next morning for my morning tidy-and-pray routine. The master bedroom door opened. Mom: “Mary, you know what we forgot!!!”

“The slippers,” I replied dutifully.

“Can you go get them?”

“They’re already here,” I replied, even more dutifully.

Mom scurried back into the room and eventually emerged with The Grocery Bag containing the magic contents. Taking the cue, I exited the room. By the time the rest of the siblings trundled downstairs, St. Nicholas had graced our slippers with chocolate and peppermint, and our fireplace with our old St. Nicholas picture books.

The Books

As usual, we set out several St. Nicholas picture books, but we’ve agreed a few of them are a little hit-and-miss. One historical version we have was, most likely, written by a good-willed Protestant who calls St. Nicholas “Pastor Nicholas.” Erm. Initially, we took a pen to the book and wrote-over “Pastor” with “Bishop,” just to help things out. All in all, it’s an all-right book, but we wound up just leaving it out for display this year. It has a nice cover!

Instead, Mom read aloud The Baker’s Dozen, which is my personal favorite, playing less with the actual historical life of St. Nicholas and more with the celebration of St. Nicholas’ feast day itself, weaving a charming “legend” with the theme of holy generosity. This tale will definitely be the one I turn to with my own future kids snuggled about me on St. Nicholas’ morning.

There is nothing that captures nostalgia and helps everything fall still like a picture book being read aloud. You are never too old for it!

The Cookies


And, to make The Baker’s Dozen even more delightful, it included a recipe. Lena (whom we also call Martha the Baker . . . she is an insatiable baker. Insatiable.) was delighted. She and our youngest sister joined forces and baked the most charming (and delicious) St. Nicholas cookies, shaped like a bishop with crosier and miter, iced with white and red. I think we’ve baked cookies in the past for St. Nicholas’ Day, but never something so home-liturgically perfect as these. They will definitely become a tradition!

The Mass

At 11:30, Lena and I prayed along with the Mass at Fribourg, and discovered that St. Nicholas’ feast was a significant celebration for this particular FSSP parish in Switzerland.

It seemed they possess a relic of St. Nicholas, which the good priest brought forward for veneration immediately following Mass and the “Alma Redemptoris Mater” (he had a beautiful voice for chant, by the way), which made sense since the Credo was offered during the Mass, though St. Nicholas is usually only a third-class feast in the Old Calendar. It all was beautiful. The Mass included a homily in French; I squinted and nodded knowingly throughout it.

Collect from the Mass:

O God, Who didst adorn the blessed Bishop Nicholas with countless miracles: grant, we beseech Thee, that by his merits and prayers we may be delivered from the flames of hell.

Meanwhile . . .

It’s kind of a shame that St. Nicholas isn’t the Patron Saint of Unusually Vigorous Household Cleaning. The night of the 5th, on my self-made dry-erase calendar, I wrote “Cleaning” in big purple letters for Wednesday the 6th. The first few days of the week had been too busy for me to get down to my weekly chores, so I knew Wednesday needed to be the day in which I went through the usual rounds of cleaning and disinfecting the girls’ bathroom and dusting/vacuuming the bedroom, etc. So I embarked on the first stages of cleaning after we read aloud The Baker’s Dozen. However, I got bitten by some foreign insect that injects passion for cleaning into one’s very blood, and it took hours to work out of my system.

It all started with the shower. Our shower has been the bane of my existence for some time now. It’s a white shower/bathtub combo with sliding glass doors and eighty thousand places in which icky things can build up. The shower floor was remaining a perpetual gray no matter how much I martyred myself over it. There is nothing so disillusioning for a young (appearances-oriented sanguine) homemaker-in-training than to clean something that refuses to look clean.

However . . . my beloved mother bought some fiber scrubbing pads for me last week, and my whole world changed. I will forever remember December 6th, 2017 as the day in which I actually started laughing with delight when I scrubbed and the grayness on the shower floor obediently vanished. Poof. So I went a little crazy and spent the next forty minutes cleaning every aspect of that shower that I possibly could. And the rest of the bathroom . . . but the shower was the biggest treat.

And then, after recovering with some water, a salad, and chocolate (because salad and chocolate invariably cancel each other out), I thought I would do a quick dusting, since I’d already worked hard.

However, I wound up dumping out and cleaning my desk drawer (innocent on the outside, notorious for clutter within), my nightstand, under my bed. I threw piles of things away, organized and rearranged the rest, dusted and vacuumed nearly everything in site . . . even the ceiling fan blades and the prayer altar. I rearranged my desk and shelved more books. For most of the afternoon, I was a crazy-haired dust bunny in sweats and tennis shoes, and a shower was most welcome by the end of it all. But it was so worth it. One arrives at the point where surface cleaning no longer suffices, and the results of a deep-clean are immensely rewarding. That was my day.

The Remains

Dad had to be out for the evening, so we sent some of our St. Nicholas cookies with him to give to friends, and then Mom and I cooked chicken fajitas for everyone else. After dinner, continuing our newly established Advent wreath tradition, we lit the first candle of the Advent wreath, prayed the Collect from the First Sunday of Advent, and softly sang “Creator of the Stars of Night” from that Sunday’s Vespers. (By “newly established tradition” I mean that, while our family has always had our Advent wreath and special songs and prayers for Advent since time immemorial, there were a lot of little songs and customs that have been gradually laid aside as our youngest have grown older and we come to be more inspired by the traditional liturgical beauties of the Faith!)

The Collect:

Stir up Thy power, we beseech Thee, O Lord, and come: that from the threatening dangers of our sins we may deserve to be rescued by Thy protection, and to be saved by Thy deliverance: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

After loading the dishwasher and hand-washing the dishes that wouldn’t fit, I had one more spurt of the cleaning frenzy and dispersed all the clutter from our kitchen island. And then . . . I was done. I ambled into the living room and joined the siblings in a drawing/guessing game we’d learned over Thanksgiving with our cousins: so hilarious (thanks to our collective lack of artistic ability) that we laughed till we cried.

Eventually we settled down and prayed our family Rosary; Lena suggested we make a small detour from the traditional Glorious for Wednesday and instead offer the Joyful Mysteries, honoring in a small way the First Wednesday Devotion to St. Joseph. (While this link to Catholic Tradition doesn’t specifically mention the Joyful Mysteries in connection with this devotion, a newsletter from the Benedictines at Ephesus did, and Lena is an expert on their newsletter contents 😉 )

And then it was my turn to pick out a movie. After some deliberation, I realized I’d been wanting to watch The Fellowship of the Ring for quite some time, and promptly stuck it in the DVD player. (Perhaps Gandalf arose in my subconscious after thinking so much about St. Nicholas. Who knows.) We made it until Caradhras before surrendering and going to bed.

These movies are so wonderful and nostalgic, but at the same time they make me crave to read the books again . . . there is so much more to Tolkien’s story and his characters than what’s feasible to portray in film. I may just start doing that soon; I had resolved, back in September, to commence a re-read, but never found time . . . of course. (Also, after breakfast this morning, Lena and I have decided that, as much as we appreciate Viggo Mortenson, the late Alan Rickman would have made a truly amazing Aragorn Elessar. But the intricacies of Aragorn are better left for another post.)

I pray your feast of St. Nicholas was blessed! And, of course, a very happy feast of St. Ambrose today!

P.S. The reason I’m in pajamas? I slept in after all that hard work yesterday 😉