Gathering Up Thoughts on a Friday

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it! Time to gather my thoughts at a leisurely pace . . .

I guess the thoughts most prevalent on my mind are springing from the book Raise Happy Children . . . Teach them Virtues! by Mary Ann Budnick. It was lent to me over a month ago but unfortunately remained buried in our car until earlier this week (with all the November-themed talk of death and burial over here, I suppose it’s appropriate I buried my books as well), when I finally un-earthed it. “Ah! Right! This book!”

Smilingly, I curled up and embarked on the introduction, expecting to absorb a wealth of ideas for raising my future children–and instead I got a mirror. A massive, clear, glinting mirror. The pursuit of virtues: the real, solid, burning desire of the will to grow in specific virtues: do I have this? The unfogged perception and understanding of this one and only path to sanctity: do I possess this?

My answer was, to be honest, more of a squeak than anything.

It is not enough to have some sort of desire of virtue and perfection . . . The greater the love and desire of the end, the greater the care and diligence that are employed to gain it. Thus it is very important that the desire and affection for virtue and perfection be great, since the care and diligence in securing and gaining it will be great in proportion . . . where the desire of advancement in perfection is not found, there will be very little hope.

-St. Alphonsus Rodriguez

It’s tricky to write about; the more spiritually honest my thoughts become, the more useless and limp words seem in describing it all. Virtues–virtuous living–I know these words, and I thought I knew their importance. But I think I was mistakenly, and possibly unconsciously, viewing virtues as the byproduct of a saintly living (She is holy, and so look at how virtuous her life is) rather than as the fulcrum, the definition, the foundation of saintly living at all (She is virtuous, and so look at how holy her life is). This a subtle but tremendous difference. Tremendous.

Attending Sunday Mass or even daily Mass, saying the daily rosary and frequenting the sacrament of confession {do} not eradicate . . . vices. Oh, that it could be that easy! These are all sources of God’s supernatural grace that can help us in our ongoing battle to eradicate our vices. But it takes our will to conquer our selfishness, pride, vanity, gluttony, thoughtlessness, jealousy, etc. so as to replace these vices with the natural virtues (good habits) of spirit of service, humility, temperance, kindness, justice, etc.

Raise Happy Children . . . Teach them Virtues! by Mary Ann Budnick

My dominant temperament (sanguine) is the most superficial of them all. Naturally, I would at times love to have a different temperament; to possess the intensity, concentration, intelligence, focus and passion for achievement of the choleric instead of all my surface-level delights, and my natural lack of penetration and depth when it comes to learning, comprehending, and acting on things. And yet, as with anything else that is inherent to my person, I accept my temperament as something God-given, something chosen for me, something I am capable of refining and perfecting through the practice of virtues. Fortunately, I can see where, through God’s grace, my temperament has already been refined somewhat from its natural faults–and yet I can certainly see how far I have left to go.

In the realm of my spiritual life, having strong sanguine tendencies translates to my being easily impressed by a thought, resolution, or a truth–and yet the impressions do not remain long; it translates to my being easily inspired and aroused–and yet I lose interior perseverance once the initial firestorm of excitement has died down. It is my natural inclination to run after new spiritual goals and practices, and yet to be all the while attuned to the sensory, sensual, exterior things of life that consistently hinder my progress due to my very attachment to them. Clothes; appearances; food; smells; comfort; entertainment; mental idleness . . . The more I’m attached to pleasing my senses (as a sanguine temperament is strongly wont to do), the foggier I become in my perception of my real spiritual state. It happens every time.

The interior life should be one of continual conversion, one of falling and rising, one of constantly pursuing a goal, one of desire. While reading the introductory pages of this book, I knew I had lost more of that desire than I wanted to admit. Christ vomits the lukewarm from His mouth. And while I do care, I do want to be a saint–as of late, I’ve felt as though I’ve had buckets of good intentions and yet am walking through a fog, not really knowing where I am. While Confession itself is relatively easy for me because it is, naturally, not so painful for me to disclose myself to others and I truly desire absolution and sanctifying grace for my soul . . . examining my conscience and grasping my sins is inherently difficult because of my lack of penetration and my struggle for depth and perception. Hence the fog that descends at times. Where am I?

However, the opening pages of this book confronted me with something so simple and so profound. My holiness and happiness depend entirely (apart from God’s grace) on my practice of the virtues and my mortification of the vices.

And it’s as simple as that.

It is harder toil to resist vices and passions, than to sweat in bodily labors. He that avoideth not small faults, by little and little falleth into greater. Thou wilt always rejoice in the evening, if thou spend the day profitably. Be watchful over thyself, stir up thyself, warn thyself, and whatsoever becometh of others, neglect not thyself. The more violent thou uses against thyself, the more shalt thou progress.

-Thomas a Kempis

Somehow, distilling my entire spiritual life down to “Nothing within me is stagnant, and I am always either progressing in virtue, or regressing in vice,” radically changed my entire perspective. Distilling the inevitably cliched phrases “growing in holiness” and “pleasing God” down to “actively pursuing the virtues” cleared my fog. It translated my “good intentions” into “the actions I must make.”

One thing in particular that has helped me initially was the observation made in Chapter 1 that daily mortification of the senses is vital for the sanguine’s spiritual life. Not the hair shirt, per se, but little things (which are often much more difficult than the big ones). In recently focusing on growing in virtue and practicing mortification, I’ve begun to realize how there is a staggering number of little promptings that come from the Holy Ghost during my day; promptings to deny myself something that my senses would enjoy. Already, it is impossible to ignore how a small mortification of the senses (one that no one else would even notice) primes me in my pursuit the virtues of temperance, prudence and fortitude. An act of self-denial equates to a growth in spiritual strength. I’m starting to see there’s a potential mortification to be found even in an indulgence . . . you can enjoy something with others, and yet still exercise a mastery over yourself by quietly forgoing an element that would seem to make it perfect.

I have also noticed that it really does become a contest; a race; something that enlivens you, where you experience a sense of competitiveness and determination. What can I mortify today? What virtue can I seek after?

I’m hoping to keep a notebook or something to begin a concrete tracking of my virtues and vices, although I have a poor record when it comes to consistently journaling anything. It will call for the virtue of fortitude and perseverance, I’m thinking 😉

Virtue–even attempted virtue–brings light; indulgence brings fog.

-C. S. Lewis

* * *

But to move on! Yesterday, I read an article on motherhood by Michele Chronister that was, quite sincerely, the best article I’ve read in quite a while. I cherish the hope of being a mother one day, a stay-at-home-because-I-love-the-home mother, and she stated in such tender and gentle ways the beauty of that hidden vocation.

If you were to read my resumé, you would read about my experience as a catechist, a speaker, a writer, and a social media manager. When I encounter people outside of our family and they ask what I have been working on, they aren’t asking me how many diapers I changed that day, or how many tearful faces I stroked. They’re curious what book I’m working on, what my latest article is, or if I’ve done any speaking lately.

And so, it is hard to reconcile the fact that my most important job – the job that fully absorbs my heart and my thoughts and the vast majority of my waking and sleeping hours – is not one that is seen as important or interesting by the culture we’re living in. Adding to this confusion is the fact that the women of my generation were all raised to believe that we could “do it all” – we could work, be mothers, have a social life…and be successful in all those areas. The reality is that motherhood compels me and draws me like no other job does. No matter what my other accomplishments may be, they just don’t grab my heart the way those four little souls do.

* * *

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Above: Beautiful roses representing a continuously beautiful and blessed courtship 🙂 God has been so good to us and our growing relationship as we continue to make strides, and we received several pieces of wonderful news this week that display His Fatherly Providence over us, and especially the motherly intercession of Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom on our behalf, after our having made a novena in her honor the week before. Lots of gratitude in our little corner of the world!

* * *

We celebrated two birthdays in the Donellan household this week, which accounts for some of my “blog silence,” and it’s really just been a wonderful and blessed few days, all around! It’s hard to believe my brother is fourteen years old, taller and bigger than me . . . sniff . . . however, as my dad has always been taller and bigger than me, I don’t have quite the same nostalgia (wink), but he reached the milestone of 50 and it was so much fun celebrating the gift he is to our family as our leader, provider and protector!

However, all these birthday bashes included . . . you guessed correctly . . . a small overdose slightly increased amount of sugar. Ah, well, I think we’re arriving at that point in the year where temperance will just have to be fought for as best we can . . . as in . . . we’re baking four pies and a cake next week. I shall only have a few bites 🙂

* * *

I made the venture and drove downtown with Lena earlier this week for the first time. I am a full-blooded country mouse who loves trees, hills, winding roads and small towns, and would much prefer to never live in the city if I didn’t have to.

However, it was fun to expand my driving skills, especially for such a momentous occasion as contributing to Lena’s book cover and being treated to lunch and laughs by some great friends. And Lena is a great shotgun rider, by the way. We were able to have in-depth spiritual conversations and yet navigate an angry driver, unexpectedly closed blocks (agh) and one-way streets thanks to her adept usage of my cell phone, making helpful suggestions and never questioning my judgment 🙂

* * *

I have been considering Christmas gifts more deeply this week, and crafting one upcoming birthday gift which I hope to make a blog post about soon. However, we’ve chosen not to shoot for having everything done before Advent after all. Since we wind up ordering a lot of things online for Christmas anyway, we don’t really experience a mad rush of having to go out and find gifts during Advent, and so it seemed that trying to fit in our gift-acquiring before Advent would only cause unnecessary stress. Still, as that holy season approaches, I shall still try to remain ahead of the game and attempt to grow a little more in the virtues prudence and industry 😉

Have a very blessed Friday and feast of St. Gregory the Wonderworker, and let’s keep remembering to pray and make sacrifices for the Holy Souls in Purgatory!

Latinsig2

 

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“To the Lord I Will Tender My Promise” (Reading through the Catholic Solemn Rite of Betrothal)

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The Solemn Rite of Betrothal – PDF

It’s a drizzly gray Autumn afternoon, I’ve got a drainage cough for my new best friend and a near-empty cup of lemon water at my elbow, and so it’s high time to blog about something cheerful and interesting!

In my stats, I’ve been noticing over the past few months that some readers are coming across Benedic rather frequently by entering terms such as “betrothal” and “Catholic betrothal” into their search engine of choice. Now, I’ve only written about the Rite of Betrothal once before, which was last October, and I was only just starting to warm up to the whole blogging thing. In that post, I was more focused on the “why” behind betrothal and I didn’t actually describe the Rite in much detail. Not . . . exactly . . . helpful.

Now, as regular readers know, I’m not betrothed and have never been through this Rite personally, but that doesn’t prevent me from oogling over its beauty and being desirous of it for the future! So, for the sake of being helpful (and for oh-so-selflessly blogging about something I love), I thought I would actually write a post that walks you through this beautiful Rite, in case you are interested in it, or know of a couple who might be.

(All images below are taken directly from the free PDF, linked above, courtesy of Laudete Dominum.)

The Processional

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My comments: This first page already says so much. “It is most fitting that the ceremony take place before the altar of God.” This phrase alone reminds me of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar: I will go in unto the altar of God; to God, Who giveth joy to my youth! And that’s exactly what the couple seeking to be betrothed is doing; they are going, together, unto the altar of God, Who has blessed their youth with so much joy by destining them for the Holy Sacrament of Marriage.

And then Psalm 126 . . . “To the Lord I will tender my promise in the presence of all His people.” In the presence of all His people. It is taught that every vocation is a gift not only from God to the creature (privately), but also from God to His Church as a whole (publicly). The engaged couple is about to witness before their priest and, presumably, their parish community (representing the Church as a whole) their solemn intention to enter into the vocation God has given them–not only for their own good, but for the good of the Church. In my mind, this is a supremely beautiful way to begin your engagement.

The entire psalm, by the way, appears to be a lovely summation of the marriage the engaged couple looks forward to; it speaks of the domestic church, the companionship of marriage, the labor of building and providing for a family and–most beautifully–the gift of children.

The Allocution

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My comments: This Allocution . . . oh, it makes me so excited, even as I sit here sniffling away. If God ordains I am betrothed one day, I will be completely beside myself at the privilege of hearing these amazing words spoken to my future fiance and I!

A favorite part: “In the time that intervenes, you will prepare for the sacrament of matrimony by a period of virtuous courtship, so that when the happy and blessed day arrives for you to give yourselves irrevocably to each other, you will have laid a sound spiritual foundation for long years of godly prosperity on earth and eventual blessedness together in the life to come.” Our Holy Mother Church gets it. That’s all I can say. Every engaged couple needs to hear these words from their priest, in the Presence of Christ in the tabernacle and of their parish family!

Exchanging the Promise

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My comments: Oh . . . oh . . . (ecstasy) . . .

These words speak for themselves. And I particularly love how the woman takes the beautifully feminine “following” role and, rather than speaking the words all over again for herself, instead lovingly agrees to the words her fiance has already spoken. That is spot-on.

And then, the priest places his stole in the form of the cross over their clasped hands and blesses them, declaring their betrothal! (Ecstasy . . .)

Blessing/Receiving the Engagement Ring

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My comments: What makes the bestowal of the engagement ring so beautiful is that it very closely mirrors what will happen in the traditional Marriage Service. In this instance, the man begins on the index finger of the woman (in the Marriage Service, he’ll begin on her thumb, so as to incorporate the “Amen” on her ring finger, which in the Rite of Betrothal is left unsaid), and, in a most sacred way, consecrates their betrothal to the Most Holy Trinity.

And then comes what is possibly the most beautiful part of all: the priest opens the missal (the missal!) to the Canon and presents the image of the Crucifixion to be kissed. The engaged couple kisses and accepts the symbol of their approaching married love: the Cross!

Scripture Readings

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My comments: Needless to say, these readings thrill my heart. They are simply perfect, and for the now-betrothed couple, they are a preparation and strengthening for the final months left to them before they can be married, during which time holy purity must be preserved as excitement and mutual closeness escalates. “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love . . . These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be filled. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

Final Blessing

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My comments: And now we come to the end of the Rite, which proves to be equally beautiful and moving as was the beginning!

These words of blessing, administered by the priest, gently foreshadow what the couple will, before too long, hear at the end of their Nuptial Mass:

May the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob be with you: and Himself fulfill His blessing on you: that you may see your children’s children even to the third and fourth generation; and thereafter possess life everlasting, by the aid of our Lord.

And finally, the document signed by the couple says all there needs to be said: May the divine Spirit with His grace and manifold gifts enlighten our minds and move our wills to spend the days of our engagement soberly, piously, and justly, awaiting the blessed consummation of that union to which we have been called and to which we are solemnly pledged. In Thee, O Lord, do we put our trust. Let us nevermore be confounded.

I hope you enjoyed this more detailed perusal as much as I did (or, at least, nearly as much . . . 😉 ) Have a lovely rest of your day!

Latinsig2

7 Rambling Monday Takes :: Vol. 6

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Read previous installments here!

1.

In fact, today’s takes are probably not going to be that rambling at all (I know, I know; be still your beating hearts . . .), since I employed much of my brain energy putting together today’s earlier post (which I had begun crafting weeks ago . . . sigh) but did not want to let another Monday go by without putting in an installment to my beloved series.

But speaking of today’s earlier post, I realized belatedly that it was my 100th post on this blog! Not that it makes it intrinsically any more special than the 99th or the 101st, but still . . . 100 is a teensy bit of an exciting number. So here’s to hundreds more!

2.

I’m determined it’s not another cold. It’s seasonal allergies (and honestly, it probably is, since I felt my sinuses start to get . . . interesting . . . while outside a few evenings ago). But whatever it happens to be, I just finished employing the assistance of a whole box of tissues. And . . . it the box was quite full this morning. I don’t think any more visceral descriptions of my current state are needed. I’m off shortly to do another sinus rinse. Unfortunately, however, my nose has that very raw feeling which means it’s going to start peeling before I know it. Sigh. A peeling nose. What more could I ask for? C’est la vie.

3.

War and Peace! I am still reading it, I’ll have you know; although I wound up having to start over to get my bearings after a slight absence due to busyness (I mean, I’m introduced to what feels like 25 people in the first three scenes), but over the past few days I plowed through 40 or so pages and am certainly engrossed.

I’ll admit, I’m rather of unused to reading a novel (classic though it is) that isn’t grounded in a Catholic mentality–being that all my recent favorite fiction has tended to be Catholic fiction–and so it’s an opportunity for me to observe the morals (or lack thereof) so far displayed in this sweeping tale and ponder, Where will their choices lead? Will they regret them? Will they improve? It’s very interesting, and is definitely going to prove to be a moral tale, for better or worse. As an aside, Tolstoy does a marvelous job of making me both like and deeply pity Pierre simultaneously from the very first instant.

4.

This morning, I embarked on making some concrete personal plans for Christmas gift-giving (since our family expectations are still in full swing for having all those things completed by the start of Advent). To be specific, it was a budget and outline, typed up neatly in my neat and businesslike fashion, complete with indentations, italics and bolding.

I tend to get serious and slow when planning spending, since my temperament has been heralded by many experts to be the least trustworthy with a checkbook. Initially, these cold observations rather hurt my sanguine feelings ( 😉 ) but at the same time, I fully recognize that it does take a little extra up-front prevention on my end to prove them wrong.

I also did some fun initial perusing and brainstorming for potential gift ideas, of course . . . I pity the people who aren’t Catholic and Christmas. Being Catholic at Christmas makes gift-choosing all so much more delightful.

This year, for gift-giving in our household, we are going draw names among us four siblings; meanwhile, Mom and Dad will both buy us Donellan offspring each a gift, bringing our total gifts to three a piece (an acceptably simple and pleasantly symbolic number), while the four of us kids are each going to pitch in on a gift for Mom and for Dad, and of course we’ll also be getting things for our grandmother and assorted friends.

I feel the need to draw a diagram.

Yes, it’s slightly more complex than the lovely simplicity of last year . . . but what can you say when Mom says she wants to get everyone a gift this time? Nothing but yes, of course 🙂 And as I am a godmother, and am in a courtship, this Christmas . . . there’s that for me to happily consider, too! Although it does take time, planning and effort to keep gift-giving simple and spiritually focused, I’m still really looking forward to it!

5.

Since I don’t want to use up all my ideas about gift-giving in the 4th take, I’ll move on to the 5th. (Folks, this is called Wise Expenditure of One’s Interior Resources.)

My predominate style of gift-giving has definitely become almost entirely Faith-oriented over the past few years, probably because I can 1) immediately see the timelessness of it, and 2) because it’s what I love most to receive and therefore springs most naturally to my mind. (Although I’m a normal human being [I know you were in doubt] and also greatly relish books, clothes, movies and music [not that those can’t be Faith-oriented, too, of course, but bear with me] should someone be so kind as to grace me with them!)

Not that I at all mind buying fun and instantly applicable material gifts for other people (in fact, I seem to recall getting a toilet brush for someone . . . or at least encouraging that a certain person buy a toilet brush for someone . . . one Christmas, years ago; Lena, remind me of the details?), but when you can give something to someone you love, something that supersedes the world and reminds them instead of the beauty of Heaven, the assistance of the Saints, or of the mission of their life . . . to me, that just can’t be beaten. So that is definitely on my mind and heart as I embark on these last weeks before Advent!

6.

Hmm, what else? Well, I keep trying to journal on a sort-of-regular basis and keep having to leave unfinished entries because of life. It’s better than nothing (I hope!) . . . I’ll try again tomorrow . . .

7.

Ah, yes, choir! (I knew there was something I was forgetting.) We are already preparing for Guadete Sunday next month by reviewing Mass XVII (one of my dearest favorites) and Credo IV, as well as learning some new hymns, one an early foray (14th Century) into polyphony that is beautifully haunting and full of less-commonly-heard intervals as compared to today; and the other a lovely two-part carol that is in both Latin and Spanish, which we plan to sing before the Christmas Eve Mass.

I’ve just now realized how easy it is to take these gifts of sacred music, and my opportunity to learn them, for granted. It’s been such a blessing to become a part of this beautiful and mysterious world of the musical side of Latin Mass for the past year and to be a little piece of our parish choir!

Have a blessed end to your Monday!

Latinsig2

 

On the Eve of All Saints

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Hello there! 🙂 Since I, once again, missed my opportunity to write another installment of “7 Rambling Monday Takes” yesterday, I will be indulging in a rambling blog post comprised of all different sorts of topics . . .

It’s a glorious end to October over here, blue-skied and cool, and all the trees outside my window are reddening beautifully; I’m fittingly garbed in a sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes in celebration of this fine weather, and I’m glowing with the accomplished feeling of satisfaction a girl gets when she writes a long diary entry by hand. I have been woefully sporadic (although my attempts have been numerous and I have several full diaries) in this practice over the years, but once again I am going to try and be faithful to keeping a diary. I have a really nice one, in fact, that’s made by Eccolo, and I got it two Christmases ago (I believe) from my grandmother; it’s got an elegant green leather cover with some gold gilding and an embossed image of a tree on the front, with a “refillable” lined paper book you can tuck in on the inside. I hadn’t written in it since November of last year. Sigh.

I know, a blog sort of counts (since all I seem to do here is ramble ceaselessly about my life and my thoughts), but there is something irreplaceable about a true diary. Maybe it’s the handwriting (mine grows in flair in proportion to my level of excitement) and the lack of the Backspace key. Either way, I keep telling myself, “For posterity!” since I’m just the type of person who loves to think about her future great-granddaughter discovering an old diary of Great-Grandmother Mary’s in a musty attic somewhere. It sounds just like a Hallmark movie.

But to move on from that . . .

Renewing Baptismal Vows

The past weekend was a lovely one; on Friday, my aforementioned Baptism anniversary, we lit my Baptismal candle after dinner and I renewed my vows. True to my (only slightly) scattered nature, this meant I was flipping through my missal at the very last minute, attempting to decide which portions of the Old Rite of Baptism I wanted Dad to read aloud. All the while, I was getting ideas (which was not helpful in terms of keeping me focused on the then-current task) for how my future family could celebrate our future Baptism anniversaries.

Perhaps my ideas have been gilded slightly by the medieval feeling of Men of Iron (my brother and I are now on Chapter 28 of 34!), but I was thinking how I’d love for the family member in question (if they were old enough) to kneel before the family images of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts while holding their burning Baptismal candle, and answer the Baptismal questioning (posed by the father of the family) in that posture. Maybe they could wear white, too, and have their white linen cloth! (Ideas abounding here . . .) And if the person in question was too small to do all this this, well, then, the Godparents (who would already, hopefully, be celebrating with us) could either hold or kneel with the child and answer for him/her, just as they would have done at the Baptism itself. I don’t know . . . It’s all about strengthening our dispositions to live a holy life, and it just seems to me that this could witness in an even more powerful fashion to the beauty and obligation of living out one’s Baptismal vows!

But, to return to the point (perhaps I should have named my blog But, to Return to the Point), here’s the traditional questioning Dad posed to me Friday night, along with my responses (taken from the Missal, pgs. 1831, 1838-1840). I would love to incorporate a few more applicable sections from the Rite next time (and maybe offer my responses in Latin, since my replies are unfailingly simple), but it was still very moving:

V. Mary, what do you ask of the Church of God?
R. Faith. (Fidem)
V. What does faith offer you?
R. Eternal life. (Vitam aeternam)
V. If, then, you wish to enter into life (perhaps “enter into eternal life” could be said, since we’re now commemorating Baptism), keep the commandments: thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.

V. Mary, do you renounce Satan?
R. I do renounce him. (Abrenuntio)
V. And all his works?
R. I do renounce them. (Abrenuntio)
V. And all his pomps?
R. I do renounce them. (Abrenuntio)
V. Mary, do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do believe. (Credo)
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born into this world and Who suffered?
R. I do believe. (Credo)
V. Do you believe also in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do believe. (Credo)

V. Receive this burning light, and keep the grace of your Baptism throughout a blameless life. Observe the commandments of God. Then, when the Lord comes to His heavenly wedding feast, you will be able to meet Him with all the Saints in the halls of heaven, and live for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

The Feast of Christ the King

Sunday was High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King. A very cold morning that dipped into the 30’s, at long last! However, our parish’s interior heating was working merrily well, and those of us who had dressed to compensate for the cold were shedding layers in the choir loft and turning on the fans while jokingly murmuring about offering it up as Purgatory (in the way that Catholics always seem to do) 😉

Over the past few years, it’s started to become a bittersweet feast for me interiorly: a feast of joy and love and adoration for Christ the King, of course . . . but as I knelt in the choir loft this Sunday, overlooking the solemn regalia of High Mass, the Propers (particularly the Gospel) stabbed me with a sense of grief that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,” . . . a sense of swimming within this blackness of confusion, deceit and dissolution that is our time, and that is permeating everything, down to the foundations . . . like smoke that prowls, billows and stifles, leaving behind its stains and its smell. Pope Paul VI termed it the “smoke of Satan.”

What does it mean to be living now, in these dark times? Where does it fit into time and history? To be kneeling in the choir loft on the Feast of Christ the King, overlooking the splendor of the liturgy, while being surrounded by all of this turmoil and, truly, desolation? A poignant sense of sorrow, of being overwhelmed? Difficult to find words for this . . . and yet, we have this Feast.

The rejection, contempt and agony Our Lord endured throughout His earthly Passion included His suffering, at least interiorly, all the rejection and hatred He is receiving now at the hands of those who have deemed evil, good and good, evil.

But He is the King Who has told us, “Take courage, for I have conquered the world.” He is the King Who commands us to hope, and to be faithful!

The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor; to Him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Give to the King, O God, Thy justice, and to the King’s Son Thy judgment. (Introit)

He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. And all kings shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him. (Gradual)

 Pilate therefore said to Him: Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a King. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth My voice. (from the Gospel)

Our Lord has seen fit to plant within my soul the vocation of marriage and family life, and in that same seed He has also gently allowed me to find, and lovingly helped me to nurture, the virtue of hope and the fruit of joy. And in the midst of all these rather sober reflections of mine, the Feast of Christ the King was filled with wonderful hope and joy; I was blessed to enjoy the company of very dear friends (while we celebrated an early Thanksgiving together), to spend time with the amazing man I’m courting, to hold and coo over my sweet Godson, and to cuddle some of my other favorite kids, all of which serves to create a perfect day for yours truly 🙂 I am so grateful for all of the blessings Our Lord has showered me with!

We have received the food of immortality and beg, Lord that we who are proud to fight under the banner of Christ our King, may reign with Him for ever in His realm above. (Postcommunion)

The Heroic Minute . . . and wrapping up . . .

Yes . . . now we come to this: trying once again to pick myself up instantly from bed, and (naturally) failing two days in a row. Such is my life. Granted, things have been busy and we’re almost managing to kick out the last of a month-long cold that’s been circulating through our family, which means schedules have been off . . . but still, it is so humbling to realize how hard it is to deny myself simply for the sake of denying myself, first thing. Hopefully, writing about it here (for all the world to see) will help . . . although, I think my Guardian Angel just whispered in my ear that I should probably be praying a little more for the grace to do it.

Yesterday I underwent a personal organizational project which involved taking one of my brother’s giant dry-erase boards from his room (with permission), cleaning it (a task) and making a monthly calendar out of it (also a task). I changed my mind two or three times about the color-coding process, but overall it went fairly well. I just needed to see the things I needed to do and the projects I needed to keep up with, if you take my meaning. Currently, it’s on the wall next to my desk, making me feel structured and efficient . . . ha 🙂

Mom and I were discussing the idea of having all our Christmas gift shopping/creating done by the beginning of Advent, in imitation of a friend’s practice and in order to leave that holy season free of a lot of that “rush”. We do have a lot to plan for this year, it feels, notwithstanding the fact that we draw names for our own family’s gift-giving . . . I would love to hand-make more things this year than I usually do, and I have some ideas, but of course we’ll see how it all pans out! Good intentions and a dash of optimism are all you need to get a job done, right? (Riiight 🙂 )

And as a final note, I have changed my blog signature to Latin! Going off what I had before, I’m confident it’s still fairly decipherable . . . Have a lovely rest of your day!

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Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 4

Daybook

(written progressively across the day and finished at night on the 26th 😉 )

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Thursday, October 26th, 2017 A.D.; Commemoration of St. Evaristus, Pope & Martyr.

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Portrait of St. Evaristus I in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Rome

From the Missal:

St. Evaristus, successor of St. Anacletus I, governed the Church for nine years; he was condemned to death under Trajan in 109.

Some Propers from the Mass Si diligis me:

Look forgivingly on Thy flock, Eternal Shepherd, and keep it in Thy constant protection, by the intercession of blessed Evaristus, Thy Martyr and Sovereign Pontiff, whom Thou didst constitute Shepherd of the whole Church. (Collect)

Alleluia, alleluia. Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church. Alleluia. (Alleluia)

Behold, I have given My words in thy mouth: lo, I have set thee over the nations, and over kingdoms, to root up, and to pull down, and to build, and to plant. (Offertory)

Outside my window . . .

Bright blue, late October loveliness. *Contented sigh* This is autumn! The tree tips are coppering and reddening, all is breezy, finally chilly, and simply beautiful on our side of the mountain. Christ the King and All Saints’ are right around the corner, and the glorious weather seems to be heralding these impending liturgical feasts.

The heat has been rumbling softly around here for the past few days, and it’s been a ritual in our family for ages for someone to exclaim, “Oh, I love that smell!” the first time the heat kicks on during autumn. Most of us find this smell (whatever the smell exactly is) nostalgic and positively delightful; like Narnia and Middle-earth and Thanksgiving food, all in one. It smells . . . like heat. Tricky to describe (obviously). But one thing is certain: homeschoolers seem to find intense pleasure in the smallest things, and I call that a marvelously fine way to live! 🙂

Sounds throughout the house . . .

A water pipe running; Lena’s keyboard clattering softly from her room; footsteps downstairs; but it’s mostly quiet since school is underway at the moment.

**Upon finishing this, a similar quiet, punctuated by some Audrey Assad from Lena’s room and quiet talking and closet doors creaking.

I am wearing . . .

Football sweatshirt and matching pants. In fact, this is the only sweatshirt I have out of the winter bins at the moment. And I also slept in it last night. It’s becoming my Portable Heater, my Faithful Friend.

Mom and I were commenting this morning over our apple-and-banana breakfast how need to go through our bins again and pull out our remaining winter clothes. The last time we went through the bins, I kept wrinkling my nose and cheerfully (that is, cynically) commenting on how it wasn’t nearly cold enough to pull out all these sweatshirts and sweatpants.

Nevermind.

**Upon finishing this, I’m now wearing an over-large longsleeve purple shirt (over a black short-sleeve) that my youngest sister has asked (demanded) me three times to change out of because it’s too big, but . . . it’s warm and snuggly and comfortable and this house cat isn’t budging. Also, an ankle-length black skirt and ankle socks. And of course, to juxtapose things beautifully, the air conditioning is now running . . .

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Last night, the gentlemen were out of the house, which translates to Let’s cook the vegetables they would never eat and try out recipes they would glance over quite dubiously. This time, it was kale.

Mom and I joined forces and made something we now simply call fritters. My youngest sister calls that term an abomination since fritters should only be applied to bakery-style apple fritters. And I can’t blame her for that.

These culinary miracles, however, were a combination of pureed sweet potato (oh, and speaking of pureed sweet potato, do you want to know how to entertain me for an evening? Ask me to puree a sweet potato and I will go off happily imagining the kinds of homemade baby food I’ll make for my future wee ones), cooked quinoa, chopped kale, a teensy bit of corn starch, eggs, almond flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika. We heated some olive oil in our cast-iron skillets and seared this concoction in patties, 3-4 minutes per side, until browned. I unfortunately didn’t get a picture, but they looked cookbook-worthy, in my humble estimation.

Mom and I thought they were absolutely sublime. Lena deemed them nicely palatable. Our youngest took one bite, shuddered, and asked if we’d heated up her clam chowder yet. (We’d forgotten.)

Overall, Mom and I are still endeavoring to stay as close to a Whole30 eating style as we can practically achieve at the moment. We’ve both been able to omit dairy almost completely, with sugar and wheat being significantly reduced, if not perfectly cut out. Already, it’s helped improve certain aspects of my personal health far beyond what I’d expected, for which I’m very thankful!

And although this doesn’t relate immediately to cooking, I had the intense domestic satisfaction of cleaning off our large island/bar, and sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor yesterday. In my book, the only thing that can compare to the delight of a good meal is a peacefully clean kitchen. Sometimes, it even beats it!

A note on projects . . .

My personally assigned self-project yesterday was to de-clutter certain cluttered areas of our home. And it was delightful! I know I’m going to feel like Charlotte Collins one day when she exults to Elizabeth Bennet: “Oh, Lizzie, it’s such a pleasure to run my own home!”

You know those little piles that may be neat piles but are still piles? That’s precisely what I put myself to 🙂 We’ve been sick and busy, and it’s just part of life; but since I was well and had energy, I thought, why not? In our living room, I also did strange things like dusting the pictures; how often do I think to dust the pictures? But yesterday, I wanted to! And vacuum and reorganize until I had the happy feminine satisfaction that things looked aired-out and pretty. Aired-out is the key phrase that unlocks magic in the home. The less clutter there is, the more air you see, and it’s marvelously refreshing 🙂

I got my brother to kill one small cockroach that startled me (out of my wits . . . I hate cockroaches), but other than that, it was all my own work 😉

And then the whole dust-sweep-and-vacuum-the-laundry-room thing I posted about on Monday? Well, it actually didn’t work out for Monday and so I wound up doing that yesterday, too, along with wiping down Merry and Pippin. (These are functioning as my informal and at least temporary names for the washer and drier.)

Anyway, by the end of the day, I was kind of worn out, and since we didn’t get to bed until 11:30, I wound up sleeping like the dead and not waking up until 8:30, which was rather shocking to me; I haven’t slept that late in a long while! It looks like it will be another Fribourg Mass day for yours truly . . . I’m starting to get fond of Fribourg!

But apart from domestic projects, I got an email the other day reminding me that November is, of course, National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo! It brought me back to the days of being curled in bed as a teenager, scribbling away in a notebook, listening to my MP3 feverishly keeping to schedule so as to finish one particular novel by the end of November. It sort of worked . . . although I wound up writing everything but the end, and then at the beginning of December I convinced myself that I really needed to start over and re-write the whole thing. Which I did. *Sigh*

Anyhow, I currently feel inspired to at least work consistently on some type of tale throughout November, even just to share with Lena and some of my close friends. I doubt it will be a novel. But hopefully it will be something . . . This is, obviously, a completely sanguine inspiration which I will have to muscle through if I’m to ensure I don’t drop it after a few weeks due to my natural propensities!

I am reading . . .

I need to get back to War and Peace; last night, I was so tired that I wearily just flipped through the Temperament book and some of Hungry Souls for a few minutes before surrendering and watching Wagon Train: The Michael Malone Story with glazed eyes . . .

This evening, however, I was flipping through a few issues of Latin Mass Magazine (which, so far, has proved to be a superb publication) and came across an article by Michael Hayes about combating distraction, mentally and spiritually. For the easily distractable sanguine, an article such as this is both a flawless exposition of my own weaknesses, and a helpful and inspiring battle plan. You can bet I tried extra hard to focus during the family rosary after reading that article 😉

And this wasn’t the only marvelous piece to be found, for sure, but that’s just a sampling since I’m rather running out of time and mental energy . . .

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

Well, I feel like I should have an inspiring quote or something, but unfortunately have fallen short for the day. And so I would simply like to thank God for the feminine heart, and for my feminine heart specifically, with all its quirks and joys; I don’t stop often enough to simply thank God for having made me a woman, for having given me the potential to bear and bring new life into the world, to be an image of His Bride, the Church, and the opportunity to live in close imitation of the Blessed Mother. Deo Gratias!

On living the Faith . . .

Out of the same issue of Latin Mass Magazine, I read a brilliant article tonight by Peter Kwasniewski about the Collects of Advent for the usus antiquor. Can Advent be approaching already? I hope to re-read this article in preparation for cultivating my private spiritual plans for the new liturgical year. It was a really good article, but I don’t have it with me and therefore can’t quote any of it. Such is my life.

Prayerfully . . .

For the conversion of sinners, in reparation for sin, and for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Especially for the Holy Souls. I came across a short article today, extracted from the bulletin of a certain parish, discussing the worthy tradition of some parishes that involves having a “Book of the Names of the Dead,” in which parishioners write down the names of deceased relatives and loved ones throughout the month of November in a specially displayed book.

This article was full of good words about honoring and remembering the dead, of keeping them close to our memory . . . but not one word, unfortunately, about actually praying for their souls, and offering prayers and sacrifices for their release and relief should they still be in Purgatory. Not one word about praying for them. I am afraid that the souls of the dead are increasingly forgotten in the prayers of our times. But we can easily remedy that; let’s pray for them! The month of the Holy Souls is almost here!

A picture to share . . .

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I’m so looking forward to celebrating my Baptism anniversary tomorrow, the 27th, and giving thanks to God for the sanctifying grace He bestowed on me that day, which not only ransomed and transformed my soul from death to life, claiming me from Satan for Christ’s kingdom, but which also continues to sustain me at every moment, twenty-one years later! It truly is my birthday!

(Ahem, my infant self looks thrilled about the actual event, doesn’t she?)

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