Baptismal joy (now I have two Godsons!)

mg_8662.jpg

JMJ1

_MG_8713
Pictures are by my brother 🙂

Time for some news! 🙂 This Sunday I had the privilege of becoming Godmother to another precious little boy (who also happens to be my second cousin)! What a joy it is to be a Godmother! My awesome cousin (baby’s uncle) was the Godfather. It was so wonderful to be able to visit with family over the weekend, celebrating Father’s Day, my grandmother’s birthday, and the newest member of the Body of Christ, all at once!

I’m still contemplating how being a Godparent is a tremendous responsibility. It’s something I never thought would happen to me while still being a single woman, and yet here I am with two adorable Godsons! It can be easy to focus on the happiness of the Baptism and the fun of being known as a Godmother . . . and forget that being a Godparent means so much more. Twice now, I’ve solemnly promised, before God, to help the parents of two sweet boys raise them in the Faith. Depending on what happens in life (although, God-willing, it would never come to this!), there’s the possibility I would wind up becoming become the primary leader for either Godson in living a life of grace, in obeying God’s commandments, and in knowing the teachings of the Church.

_MG_8685
Me with Baby, the Godfather, and some extended family 🙂

And even if it (hopefully!) never comes to that, I’ll still always feel the responsibility of praying for them every day and of being a loving, encouraging, Godly presence in their lives as they grow into young men. I want to be able to radiate a motherly love of God to them in whatever way I can. Only Our Lord knows how this will look over the coming years, but I pray I’ll be ready for whatever is asked of me.

I’ve been an Associate Member of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers ever since I was nineteen or so, and I look forward to being enrolled as a full member (who participates in the graces of the Confraternity) as soon as I’m married! Becoming a Godmother has brought me into a special state of spiritual motherhood, however, and I’m grateful for the prayers of the Confraternity, especially in light of the two Godsons in my life. I pray this prayer every night for them!

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin and Sorrowful Mother, commend our beloved children to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Who refuses nothing to His Mother.
Holy Guardian Angels, pray for them.
St. Joseph, powerful patron, pray for them.
St. John, beloved disciple of the heart of Jesus, pray for them.
St. Augustine, pray for them.
St. Anthony, pray for them.
St. Aloysius, pray for them.
St. Anne, mother of Mary, pray for them.
St. Elizabeth, pray for us.
St. Monica, pray for them.

Sig

Advertisements

7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 12 :: Weddings, Rain, and Oven Cleaning

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here 🙂

1.

“Was this lovely song I hear ever heard before?”

Well, it’s yet another Monday, and after a morning spent scooting around the house, catching up, scheduling, planning, and laundering, I am digesting lunch (which is a wonderful sensation) and contentedly listening to John Davidson and Leslie Ann Warren jubilantly sing “Are We Dancing?” while crafting a quick Rambling Takes post. (The Happiest Millionaire has at least a dozen of my heartstrings, by the way.)

This song, you see, is part of a 90-minute dance playlist concocted and self-arranged for a particular celebration still in the works (I have nineteen days [only nineteen?!?] left of planning . . . ) . . . oh, but now the song has just passed over to “My Girl” by The Temptations . . .

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day . . .”

Yes, indeed, cloudy . . . I texted The Dash this morning, telling him (optimistically) to enjoy the sunshine (yesterday had been cloudy/drizzly/downright pouring all day), and yet inevitably it has already been pouring here again. So much for the optimism! Hopefully this deluge will bring some May flowers 🙂

“It’s very clear our love is here to stay . . .”

And now comes a crooner . . . *sigh*, it’s going to be a good afternoon 😉

2.

CoupleI feel as though I perpetually exist in a romantic frame of mind, but when I’ve made a list of 90 musical minutes of old-fashioned, classic romance, am planning a celebration for married love, and when I’ve just attended a wedding over the weekend . . . why not delve into those happy thoughts a little more deeply than usual? 😉

“Unforgettable, that’s what you are . . .”

(This playlist isn’t helping much, I suppose.)

This wedding I attended with my family and The Dash was the first wedding I’d been to in years. It was the first fully Catholic wedding I’d been to since I was around sixteen, and that wedding, I sang for (I actually sang for a string of about six weddings in a row when I was fifteen years old; a unique phase of life!). So, really, it had been quite a while since we’d all gotten dressed up in expectation of a wedding. I pulled out a long floral dress I hardly ever wear–it comes to the floor, but miraculously I managed not to trip over it or downright rip it. And to be able to go to a wedding with The Dash! Bliss! 🙂

“I can’t help myself; I love you and nobody else . . .”

But . . . an Extraordinary Form wedding is indescribably gorgeous, moving and so very different from anything I’d attended previously. Granted, I’ve read the old Rite of Marriage only a thousand times since owning my Missal. I’ve only gushed about it with Lena three thousand times.

But to be able to witness it with Lena, The Dash, and my family, filled me with so much joy. It was at our diocesan Cathedral; every one of the altar boys was a good friend; the priests were all dear to us; the bride and groom were just beaming, radiant, full of love and right intention. The liturgy had the solemnity borne of ancientness. It was amazing in so many respects.

“Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars . . .”

That, by the way, was their first dance song at the reception . . . ahh, fellow Sinatra lovers! I could have hugged them both! They were so precious together. Truly, I’ve never seen a more joyous and delighted bride (and she was beautifully modest, too).

3.

In an Extraordinary Form wedding, the entire marriage rite takes place before the Mass even begins, which means that the very first act the married couple makes as husband and wife is one of worshiping together at Mass. That is so beautiful! 🙂

While I’m on this thought, let’s have a read-through of the traditional vows as found in the ’62 Missal, shall we?

Priest: N., wilt thou take N., here present, for thy lawful wife (husband), according to the Rite of our holy Mother the Church?
R. I will.

(Groom, then bride): I, N., take thee, N., for my wedded wife (husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, till death do us part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

The last phrase is just deliciously old (in my opinion). In my limited experience, sometimes it’s omitted (maybe depending on the tastes of the bride and groom), and so I figured I would research the exact meaning of the phrase before I go trumpeting it to everyone as something I would appreciate saying in my own wedding.

Dictionary.com’s definition of “troth” is as follows:

Noun
1. faithfulness, fidelity, or loyalty:

by my troth.
2. truth or verity: in troth.

Aha, well, it all sounds worthy so far . . . delving a little deeper, I visit Yahoo!Answers. Not that it’s exactly a paragon of authority, but as this search is propelled by mere curiosity, I am going easy on myself with regards to sources.
“Troth” means a promise of truthfulness, and is derived from the same word as “truth”. “Plight thee my troth” – The groom pledges his truthfulness, faithfulness and loyalty to his promise. “Give thee my troth” – The bride likewise gives her word.
And to round off this clarifying experience, an extract from Answers.com:

“Troth” means a promise of truthfulness, and is derived from the same word as “truth.” Plight means pledge.

So, judging by dictionary definitions, to plight one’s troth simply means to pledge one’s truth: one’s fidelity. While all of this is already more than implied, of course, in the vows themselves, I think it’s still something beautiful to say!

4.

https://5.api.artsmia.org/full/47.jpg

Today, I’ve just started reading Venerable Fulton J. Sheen’s Three to Get Married. I feel badly because, up until this point, and merely by accident, I’ve never read any of his works or seen any of his old shows (to the shock of The Dash, who is now completely convinced of how sheltered I am)–I don’t think I’ve even heard his voice! And, judging by the first chapter, what a poverty that is.

Even his dedication for the book is so profound:

It takes three to make Love in Heaven – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It takes three for Heaven to make love to earth – God, Man, and Mary, through whom God became Man.

It takes three to make love in the Holy Family – Mary, and Joseph, and the consummation of their love, Jesus.

It takes three to make love in hearts – The Lover, the Beloved, and Love.

To that Woman who taught the sublime mystery of Love, Mary Immaculate, this book is dedicated.

That nations, hearts, and homes may learn that love does not so much mean to give oneself to another to that Passionless Passion, Which is God.

5.

I took a break while writing this post to go take another walk with my mom at our nearby lake. Yes, it rained today. Yes, all things were squelchy, muddy, dirty–but they were also glistening, rich, perfumed and intense. As we walked and chatted, the cloudiness dissipated under warm sun and the air grew slightly humid. My hair didn’t appreciate it much, but nevertheless, it was a peaceful, invigorating half-hour spent with my mother 🙂 I am so determined to make regular outdoor walks a part of the normalcy of my future family life!

6.

Ah, yes, the aforementioned oven cleaning. I’m a complete novice when it comes to oven cleaning, and if I hope to be the queen of a particular castle sometime in the not-too-distant future, it stands to reason that I had better know how to clean one. And so, today, I’ve sprayed it, left it to sit for two or three hours, and am going to begin scrubbing away within the next half-hour. Hopefully there won’t be any disasters. We have egg rolls scheduled for tonight, and I refuse to be the one to ruin everyone’s dinner 😉

7.

A letter from a pen pal came in today! I am delighted 🙂 And it’s made me reflect on how blessed I am with the all correspondences God has placed in my life. Here’s to rebuilding a culture of actually writing to one another, of taking time to craft paragraphs, to ramble, to express hopes and dreams, to make jokes, to be genuine. To use words, and to mean them. That’s how some of my dearest friendships today started out. It’s how The Dash and I started out. It doesn’t necessarily have to be pen and paper (although it’s wonderful and so authentic if it can be done!), but the time is what is essential. Before you know it, thousands and thousands of words have crossed the space between you and another soul, building understanding and friendship as you pursue truth together; the truth that comes only from Our Lord.

Have a blessed Monday, everyone, and . . . a very happy feast of dear St. George, Martyr! I know Lena is excited today 🙂

Sig

Tiredness

WIN_20180228_13_34_24_Pro
Just a little sleepy 😉

I am an energetic person by nature, a happy person by temperament (and God’s grace!) . . . but sometimes (like today), I am just tired. Tired and grouchy-feeling. How tempting it is to be discouraged by these feelings of tiredness and grouchiness, to be frustrated when I give into them and consequently don’t have that same I’m-so-happy-to-be-around-my-family shine as I usually do.

What am I doing?! I groan inwardly. I just went to Mass this morning!

And I did. In a little chapel with Lena and three friends and a marvelous priest. Everything was soft and still. Hoc est enim Corpus Meum. What a gift. For a little while now, I’ve been praying hard for the eventual gift of daily Latin Mass nearby, that I can attend every morning. But for now, once a week has been amazing!

I drove Lena and myself home through a light drizzle, the two of us chattering happily. I came in and had my fasting breakfast. I went upstairs and took a shower. And . . . I came out tired.

I’m sure it has something to do with being human. With early mornings, less food, family members being gone, teaching a classroom of girls, running up and down our lane until I can’t breathe (i.e., training for a 5K) and, because of my lack of virtue, so often failing to accept these feelings of tiredness and grumpiness as Crosses, and to embrace them with a joy that radiates to where no one can tell that I’m feeling grumpy at all. I’m working on the joy. Do you know how it is when the smallest acts of simple decent human kindness seem almost impossible to achieve? (I know . . . it’s the signal that I need a nap 😉 I think I will lie down shortly . . . )

My youngest sister has a cold. Lemon and melaleuca are being diffused in the living room. I gave her a mini-concert and played on the guitar, singing songs I’d written, for half an hour earlier. Things are gray outside. Lena is leaving on Friday. A whole week without her is a strange prospect; quite possibly a very light foretaste of the future in which she might be in her house at Ephesus and I’m in my house surrounded by a future beautiful brood of children. Does God intend for the majority of our earthly sisterhood, our close earthly companionship that has been particularly close ever since our early teen years, to be spent apart, joined together by letters and prayers, but by only the barest human contact?

Of course, the thought brings both spiritual joy and human tears. Joy for vocation and for becoming saints. This is what Lena and I want more than anything! But tears for the little daily things that will pass away and leave a void capable of being filled only by God; the countless conversations, the little jokes, the giggles, the hugs, the knowing of what the other is thinking and feeling in a way only sisters can, the shared daily prayers and devotions, Mass together, two white mantillas side-by-side. To some degree, it would still pass away even if we were both married . . . but not as radically as this. The little things will pass for a time, but the love will remain. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. And I am already rejoicing with excitement and gratitude at what God may have in store for my dear sister, and for me, and for our sisterhood.

This Lent has been unlike any other. The fasting is a great challenge; not just the absence of food, but using the absence of food to gain mastery over oneself and grow in virtue. That is the hardest part. It has been exactly two weeks now since Lent began. Three weeks to corrupt a vice, three weeks to instill a virtue. At this rate, I’m 2/3 of the way through corrupting the vice of intemperance . . . and then, after another week or so, I’ll begin to instill the virtue of fasting.

Perseverance!

Fr. Ripperger’s talks at Sensus Traditionis have been one of my mainstays. It is unspeakably consoling to receive truth and guidance in the form of masculine, priestly, fatherly direction. I can’t seem to get enough. I also just finished his “The Spirituality of the Ancient Liturgy” from Latin Mass Magazine, and this paragraph struck me particularly (no wonder, after having just attended Mass!):

The ancient ritual also gives one a taste of heaven, so to speak. Since the altar marks the dividing line between the profane and sacred, between the heavenly and the earthly, and the priest ascends to the altar to offer Sacrifice, the traditional rite leaves one with a sense of being drawn into heaven with the priest. This feature naturally draws us into prayer and gives the sense of the transcendent and supernatural that are key in the spiritual life. The numerous references to the saints foster devotion rather than minimizing it. The Latin provides a sense of mystery. The beauty of the ritual, the surroundings that naturally flow from the ritual itself (such as the churches that are designed for the ritual), the chant – all of these things lead to contemplation, the seeking after that which is above.

Life is beautiful, because God is Supreme Beauty and He provides so many channels of grace for us through the Sacraments, through prayer, through pursuing the virtues. We can all be saints if only we continuously trust and try. Perhaps the tired days are the most beautiful days of all; or they can be, if only I ask for His grace and participate in it with joy 😉 Always and everywhere, Deo Gratias!

P.S. Keep praying for Baby Isaac’s complete healing! https://www.facebook.com/Prayers-for-Baby-Isaac-1977272082313227/

Sig

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

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here 🙂

1.

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.

gallery2-35b

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)

2.

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 the keyboard 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. 🙂

 

3.

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!

4.

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!

5.

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.

6.

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 . . .

7.

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! 🙂

Latinsig2

 

Gathering Up Thoughts on a Friday

_MG_0665 (2)

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.

* * *

_MG_0633 (2)

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