My little shrine

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I had to drop in again, because, lo and behold, my latest order of holy cards from Portraits of Saints arrived this afternoon and I set about taping them everywhere πŸ™‚

One of my spiritual “weaknesses-oft-become-faults” is a tendency towards frequent distraction in prayer. I think this is just being human to some degree; but this struggle definitely seems to be intensified for people who have a dominate sanguine temperament (meditation can be very difficult) like me. I also seem to have an equal tendency to be a “visual person” who prefers/needs visual reminders (pictures, lists, etc.) to keep my mind oriented.

Anywho! That being said, while I was blessed to finish the 54-Day Rosary Novena to Our Lady of Pompeii early this week, I’m still trying to keep up the habit of praying the full sets of mysteries every day, at least whenever I can. I mean, when (through the spiritual assistance of probably every compassionate angel and saint to be named) I can somehow manage to do it (imperfectly) for 54 days, it seems kind of silly to just . . . well, stop! πŸ˜‰

Over my bed has hung “Song of the Angels” from The Dash, as well as the little Italian icon of Our Lady from friends, and holy cards of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Faustina (patrons) for some time. But I realized I was interiorly missing images and visual references of Our Lord’s face . . . it’s really easier for me to pray the Rosary when I have them. Thus, I decided I needed to procure a few holy cards with His Holy Face on them πŸ™‚ Tracy Christenson has some of the most beautiful and masculine depictions of Our Lord that I’ve come across. I ordered the Sacred Heart, Agony of Jesus (my favorite), and the Good Shepherd.

And then I broke down and ordered two of St. John the Baptist (adult and child), the Savior of the World, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, because . . . Well, 10% of all profit goes to the FSSP, so . . .

They came in this afternoon. Lena and I lovingly pored over them and then I eventually took them upstairs and assembled!

The picture above is a close-up of my little shrine, including most of those holy cards (I dispersed a few around the room), along with the ones I already owned . . . plus, the Two Trinities holy card is top center, while St. George is bottom center . . . thanks to Lena, I love St. George!

Here is a more distant view, just to see how it all fits together:

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Simple and sweet, and ten times more beautiful in person! I love it, and am grateful for the opportunity to expand the small “shrine” above my bed, and hopefully keep my mind better focused during prayer.

(Oh, in case you’re curious, that piece of paper taped to the left side of the wall is a note of encouragement The Dash left me on my windshield the first day of co-op while I was inside, teaching class. It made my month!!! <3)

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A birthday (accompanied by musings on my face and a new year of life . . .)

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Yesterday was my birthday . . . I turned 22 years old, and I seem to have also turned the corner of reaching any really “special” age milestones until 33, when, in accordance with a long-lived joke amongst some of my dearest friends, I leave my “irresponsible tweens” at last and become a proper adult! (If you know of hobbits, you know of what we speak.)

Maybe we’re sticklers, but in our family, we children know the precise hour and minute in which we were born. Until it reaches that miraculous moment on the clock, we’re not legitimately our new age. Being the first baby, I took the longest, unsurprisingly . . . and so my brother set alarms in several places, all of which went off at 5:02pm and I officially became 22. The Dash had walked in only minutes before and so (with amusement at our oddball Donellan traditions) was able to join in the ecstatic outcry that I was finally 22.

It was a wonderful, wonderful day, spent with the people I love most in the world. I was able to get up fairly early, have my usual prayer time, eat waffles with my youngest sister and have a good workout before leaving with Mom and the siblings to Adoration, Confession and Mass for the feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, my dear patron. The Dash had a break between classes and was able to join us for Mass ❀ I couldn’t have been happier or more grateful to God for that time! Afterwards we ran into several friends, and I even got a beautiful priestly blessing from Fr. A., who was delighted to hear that the young man I was with was “connected” to me πŸ˜€

Later on, my family, The Dash and I all had dinner together (oven chicken strips, homemade biscuits, salad . . . an amazing combination you really should consider), and we had the usual candle-blowing, present-opening ceremony. Lemon cake with vanilla glaze . . . perfection. The presents and cards were all incredibly sweet and lovely and so thoughtful . . . books such as Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture (I’ve wanted this FOREVER!) . . . the most heartmelting hanging photo, handmade by Lena, with The Dash and I’s special song lyrics handwritten around it (pictured at the top of this post) . . . makeup and nightgowns (I really wanted nightgowns–my erratic brain finds them charming and feminine), Oolong tea, beautiful monogrammed stationery, and football tickets for The Dash and I’s one-year courting anniversary next week (a total surprise!!). We spent some time outside, then came in and danced for a bit, watched a movie . . . it was just such a wonderful day. I’m so grateful to simply be alive and surrounded so undeservedly by such love and goodness and grace.

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A super sweet handmade card from my youngest sister

It’s such a staggering mystery of love–life, that is. In Adoration, it was impossible for me not to contemplate how God could never have made me. And yet He drew me out of nothingness, impelled by Divine love, by the thought of me in His Mind that had been in existence for all eternity. Poof! When the time was right, He fashioned my immortal soul and my teeny body. With all of my idiosyncrasies, quirks, endless facial expressions, temperament, faults, strengths, and every single action and choice I will ever make . . . I was meant to live from all of eternity.

It’s just a mind-boggling thought.

Especially when you take into account my facial expressions.

This morning I was looking through all the pictures taken last night, and I was constantly caught in that middle ground between squirming embarrassment and humbly amused acceptance for how God made me . . . I have a remarkably expressive countenance. HIGH expression production. If you watch a video of me, it makes a little more sense. The fluidity of motion and transition between expressions has a tolerably softening, normalizing effect. If you look at frozen pictures, however, it looks like I own dozens of personalities that emerge at the most insane but highly amusing moments.

Some photos are a little too much, but I did pick out several of the moderate ones . . . and no, it’s not at all my intention to degrade all these expressions, but rather to happily poke fun at them πŸ˜‰

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Firstly, the cake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the countenance of an impish little kid.

The initial bites of ice cream were incredibly cold against the roof of my mouth, for some strange reason, however, which brought on this expression:

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Cold!!!

As you can probably gather from the following shots, I am caught mid-sentence quite often.

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Then there’s the wrinkled-nose laugh . . .

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The subtle smirk . . .

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Lastly, the pensive moments . . .

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Needless to say, I was having a great deal of fun yesterday πŸ™‚ “The best birthday ever,” as the saying goes, but it truly was, because 1) The love of a family just keeps growing, which sweetens every single birthday, and 2) It was technically my first birthday spent with The Dash, and with us being “us” (although we were on the brink of courtship on my last last birthday and he called me that night *sigh*, it still wasn’t nearly so lovely as this was πŸ˜‰ ) To have him at the table while I read his card and opened his gifts, and being able to hug him, was such a gift! Courtship birthdays are awesome! I am so richly blessed in the love of my family, The Dash, and my friends ❀

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Robin Nest Lane Chapel Veils

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Happy feast of St. Bartholomew!

On a whim, I stopped by Robin Nest LaneΒ yesterday and unexpectedly learned that this talented mother who has been making lovely chapel veils for at least six years is selling out her shop and, in her own words, “closing down permanently to be able to devote more time to my precious family.” That’s so beautiful! God bless her!

Image from Robin Nest Lane

We Donellan girls own several veils from Robin Nest Lane (I wear mine every Sunday!) and highly recommend them. They are lovely and feminine, the sewn-in clips making them very easy to wear.

Currently, she’s running a 20% sale on all remaining veils (except the specialty Trinity veils), so if you’re at all interested, please do go support her! (I admit I just went and purchased one last veil, for future use πŸ˜‰ )

Her shop is linked on my sidebar πŸ™‚

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St. Augustine’s Prayer of Love to Christ

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This morning, while reading True Devotion to Mary over breakfast, I came across St. Louis de Montfort’s translation of a prayer to Christ by St. Augustine.

Thou art Christ, my holy Father, my tender God, my great King, my good Shepherd, my one Master, my best Helper, my most Beautiful and my Beloved, my living Bread, my Priest for ever, my Leader to my country, my true Light, my holy Sweetness, my straight Way, my excellent Wisdom, my pure Simplicity, my pacific Harmony, my whole Guard, my good Portion, my everlasting Salvation.

Christ Jesus, sweet Lord, why have I ever loved, why in my whole life have I ever desired, any thing except Thee, Jesus my God? Where was I, when I was not in Thy mind with Thee? Now from this time forth, do ye, all my desires, grow hot, and flow out upon the Lord Jesus; run,–ye have been tardy so far; hasten whither ye are going; seek whom ye are seeking. O Jesus, may he who loves Thee not be anathema; may he who loves Thee not be filled with bitterness!

O sweet Jesus, may every good feeling that is fitted for Thy praise love Thee, delight in Thee, admire Thee, God of my heart, and my Portion! Christ Jesus, may my heart faint away in spirit, and mayest Thou be my life within me! May the live coal of Thy love grow hot within my spirit, and break forth into a perfect fire; may it burn incessantly on the altar of my heart; may it glow in my innermost being; may it blaze in hidden recesses of my soul; and in the day of my consummation may I be found consummated with Thee! Amen.

St. Louis writes, “Charity . . . is the accomplishment of the whole law.” Charity: love of God for His own sake, and love of others for His sake. Thinking on this forces me to acknowledge the (fairly unbelievable) ease in which I sail through most days, without really trying to grow in the virtue charity. It’s overwhelming to consider how many technically “good things” I do . . . yet with, most likely, imperfect or self-serving motives I’m barely conscious of. How many things, really, do I do with consistency, solely because I love God?

O My God! I love Thee above all things with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Charity simplifies and clarifies everything. On the surface, life can seem so complicated–but the recurring answer is that charity is life’s only true aim. Without it, everything is wasted. With it, every action is suffused with meaning. How to climb out of the disorienting swamp of self-love and imperfect motives? That seems to be the great question. The natural answer is to love something or someone more than oneself, and not for the sake of oneself. The Divine answer is the virtue of charity: or, in other words, the Cross.

So here’s to that! May we all strive to live in the virtue of charity better today than we did yesterday! πŸ™‚

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Reparation

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A most blessed feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to you all!

Let us come with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and may find grace in seasonable aid.

-INTROIT

Today, some are beginning a 40-day period of reparation (the movement #SackclothandAshes) in response to the most recent outbreak of terrible scandal in our holy Mother Church. This period extends through all of September, the month of Our Lady of Sorrows. I definitely want to spend these next forty days offering various acts of fasting, as well prayers of reparation. I’m going to try and pray this particular chaplet daily:

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Our priests need our prayers more than we can begin to conceive. The Devil desires their ruin with unimaginable power and malice, because they sustain the Church and stand in the person of Christ. Our faithful priests suffer deeply from scandals and need our ongoing prayers for strength and protection; the gravely fallen ones need our fervent prayers for immediate justice and profound conversion. Those who have unimaginably suffered need our strongest and most compassionate prayers for consolation and healing.

Let’s confide all these things to the most Immaculate Heart of Mary–she is the Mother of the Church, the Mother of the Clergy, the Mother of all who suffer.

I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits . . . They that work by me shall not sin.

-ECCLUS. 24

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