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!

Latinsig2

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7 Rambling Monday Takes :: Vol. 5 (Anniversary Edition)

MondayTakes

1.

In the words of Bilbo, I wish to make An Announcement . . . Today, October 23rd, marks one year since I started this blog! That’s quite hard to believe . . . and what a year it’s been!

In the beginning, my most central motivation in starting Benedic was to create a place where I gathered links to my off-site articles, such as at Seton Magazine and, eventually, 1P5. In fact, that was how I pitched the whole “Hey! What if . . .” to my parents, way back when 🙂 But I think Our Lord had even more exciting expectations for this than I did, because this little place of mine has come to be a delight to write on, an opportunity to share a part of myself with others, and it’s My Precious now 😉

It turned out to be the place where I would eventually write about certain blessings, some of which were so unexpected as to be termed incredible: having the privilege of being published in new places; attending special Latin Masses; traveling on a beautiful family vacation (and beginning my devotion to St. Raphael); receiving graces for my vocational discernment; turning twenty-one; entering into a wonderful courtship (a gift straight from St. Raphael!) with an amazing man; most recently, becoming a godmother; and, really, that’s only the beginning! Our Lord has blessed me so very greatly this past year, not only with all of these wonderful things, but also with the opportunity to capture them (imperfectly!) in words here.

Reflecting on all of this, it’s also fun (sort of) to go back and glance over my earliest posts. Sigh. I still groan in an embarrassed fashion because of how seriously I took myself early on. Ay yi yi. I was so formal. However, I eventually learned how to relax a bit more, poke fun at myself, and start making all the jokes in blog-post-format that I would crack without hesitation in real life . . . while still penning down my passions and hopes and ramblings about the things that are most important. So yes, it’s fun to see how and where I’ve traveled as an amateur writer.

This blog has also seen the sprouts of my equally amateur photography, which has been tantalizing to delve into! Although at the moment, my even-more-passionate-than-I younger brother has (with permission) confiscated my camera and is taking pictures (some of them astonishingly good) by the hundreds. He helped chronicle my godson’s baptism on Saturday with truly professional flair. (Oh, yes, and by the way, the baptism was on Saturday . . . I posted about it yesterday on Sunday evening, the 22nd . . . but WordPress incorrectly announced to everyone that I was posting on Monday, 23rd . . . which made all my “yesterdays” incorrectly refer to Sunday . . . not that it matters . . . but my perfectionism demands a clarification. Sigh.)

And truly, I’m rather shocked that I’ve completed a year of consistent blogging! That is simply and solely God’s grace working to improve my flighty temperament, which finds it so hard to stick to personal projects. As I jubilantly announced a few weeks ago, I was mysteriously able to hold off for what felt like a very long time before finally designing my own header, just to make sure I could force myself to be faithful to posting instead of merely tweaking the eye-candy around here.

So yes . . . gratitude. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to begin this blog; that Our Lord has mercifully arranged things to where Benedic became a tool for not only expressing my thoughts, but also for growing in simple knowledge of myself and in a determination to form a cohesion between what I write about and how I live. It is easy to be passionate, less easy to be humbly passionate. When you put your thoughts and passions down, particularly in public (even with the comments turned off!), I’ve learned that you commit yourself to living up to your words, or to amending your heart and your mindset when you discover that your words could better reflect that which is true and good.

And I feel quite excited because Benedic feels so home-y to me that I can easily envision it remaining my “writing place” indefinitely, especially as my life continues to unfold towards and, one day, within my vocation! That’s a blessing in itself!

2.

Today is a gray, wettish, windy autumn Monday; laundry day, general recovery and get-back-to-business day (isn’t every Monday?). It’s the day in which I step inside a bathroom I cleaned on Friday and think, I just cleaned this on Friday!!! (It’s no one’s fault . . . it’s merely life!) It’s the day on which I always determine to eat more healthily during the week than I did on the weekend ;-P

I just realized today’s the day I need to sweep out and dust our dear little laundry room. Have I told you about our laundry room, right off the kitchen? It has a big window to let the daylight in, patterned wallpaper on a cornflower-blue background, wood cabinets, and a faithful washer and drier. It’s a really sweet place. Just . . . dusty at the moment.

You know, it might be fun to actually give the washer and drier names. Hmm. Merry and Pippin? Perpetua and Felicity? Fictional or saintly? How symbolic should I get here?

I think I’m thinking too hard . . .

3.

Tomorrow! Tomorrow is the feast of St. Raphael and while I have no idea what I’m doing yet, I do know it’s going to be wonderful and special! And it will merit its own blog post, never you fear. I am so excited.

4.

Around the house, we’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Buble recently. We enjoy him and he perks up the homeschool atmosphere 😉 “Everything” is currently the most oft-repeated favorite!

Now, delightfully smooth as he is, he can’t top Frank Sinatra, and his only Sinatra covers that I enjoy equally to the originals are “The Way You Look Tonight” (because they altered the rhythm from foxtrot to a relaxed cha-cha, which is always fun, and also because the song’s become something of our bedtime routine; all the girls get in pajamas, wash off makeup, let down our hair, and croon, “There is nothing for me but to looooooove you, and the way you look tonight!”) and “You Make Me Feel so Young.” My other Sinatra favorites are not to be touched, however, and I cringe to hear covers of any kind.

My youngest sister and I have a particular favorite from Voces8; and it all started with a 40’s WWII album we got a while ago. Do you know the old tune, “A Nightengale Sang in Berkeley Square“? Well, lo and behold, I discovered recently that Voces8 had done a version of this very same tune in honor of William and Kate’s marriage back when it was all abuzz . . . and it is brilliant. My youngest sister and I lip-sing it to one another while getting chills from their impeccably tight harmonies. Ahhh . . .

But now, of course, it’s “Are We Dancing?” The Happiest Millionaire will never be gone from our household . . .

5.

Although I haven’t had time to read it over the past few days, I nevertheless have been enjoying the first few chapters of War and Peace. Although the translators are surely deserving of a lot of credit, Tolstoy’s style of description is very engaging; he has some brilliant phrases and very unique concepts of how he wants his people to appear. Now, I may have to re-request it from the library a few times before I can actually finish it, but the start is promising and amusing. Nothing like a drawing room party, full of the world!

Just then a new person entered the drawing room. This new person was the young Prince Andrei Bolkonsky, the little princess’s husband. Prince Bolkonsky was of medium height, a rather handsome young man with well-defined and dry features. Everything in his figure, from his weary, bored gaze to his quiet, measured gait, presented the sharpest contrast with his small, lively wife. Obviously, he not only knew everyone in the drawing room, but was also so sick of them that it was very boring for him to look at them and listen to them. Of all the faces he found so boring, the face of his pretty wife seemed to be the one he was most sick of. With a grimace that spoiled his handsome face, he turned away from her.

6.

Today is the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Bishop and Confessor. This morning was a slightly sleepy one and we couldn’t make Sarasota, so I’m hoping to catch Fribourg’s Mass here in a little while, and to ask for his intercession for all sorts of special intentions!

From the Missal:

Anthony Mary Claret founded the Missionary Sons of the Heart of Mary, the Teaching Sisters of Mary Immaculate, and other communities of nuns. For many years he labored in Catalonia, for six years in Cuba as Archbishop of Santiago, and finally in Madrid. He died in exile in France in 1870.

The Collect:

O God, with the virtues of an apostle Thou didst exalt blessed Anthony Mary, and through him build in Thy Church new religious congregations of men and women: grant, we pray, that led by his counsels and helped by his prayers, we may unremittingly work for the salvation of souls.

7.

A random thought (because random thoughts are all I have left, and I need to switch laundry), but it’s very hard to believe we’re nearing the end of October and that tomorrow is two months from Christmas Eve, with this Sunday already being the Old Calendar Feast of Christ the King! Our parish will be having a High Mass and Lena and I have been privileged to learn some beautiful music for it, along with brushing up on Mass IV . . . our favorite Mass setting from the Kyriale! Life is good 😉

Have a blessed and beautiful day!

Sig2

 

Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 3

Daybook

This day in the Liturgical Year . . . Wednesday, October 11th, 2017; Feast of the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

From the Collect:

O God, Who wast pleased that, at the message of an Angel, Thy Word should take flesh in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, grant to us Thy suppliants, that we, who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be helped by her intercession with Thee.

From the Alleluia:

Alleluia, alleluia. O Virgin Mother of God, He Whom the whole world cannot contain, enclosed Himself in thy womb, and became man. Alleluia.

Outside my window . . . Well, it was sunny a little while ago, but I’ve just now looked out again and realized it’s clouded over. Ah, well. It’s in the mid-70’s with 60% humidity . . . we are in the middle of October! Where is the cold?!

Sunday found all the tropical storm tempests moving across our area, but fortunately we were able to weather (pun intended) the significant rain and wind and make it to Mass that morning . . . running through the rain . . . I’m glad I wore boots 🙂 Sitting in the car and observing the drenched mess outside, we girls were faced with that dilemma of, Should we put our veils on now, to keep our hair dry-ish, or should we wait and put a dry veil on our wet-ish hair? Of course the second proved to be most sensible. Unfortunately we had misplaced our umbrella, but consoled ourselves with the thought that it would have been blown out anyway had we tried to use it while traversing the church lawn. Nor did we have extra pew space for six rain coats, so that was a consoling thought as well as we wiped our arms dry once inside. 🙂

Sounds throughout the house . . . I am listening to Dario Marianelli’s Jane Eyre; “The Wedding Dress.” I love this fellow. He gets the whole piano-and-strings thing.

The sounds of another homeschooling morning are drifting up from downstairs. Voices; footsteps; reading aloud; water running.

I am wearing . . . Pajamas. Don’t judge . . . I’m getting over a cold . . . and pajamas are better than medicine when it comes to that.

Attempts in the kitchen . . . Monday evening Lena and I were out with friends downtown (traveling downtown never fails to remind me of the country girl I am . . .), and lo and behold, we tried shawarma from Eli’s. All because of The Avengers. Delicious. I’d never even had couscous before, let alone lamb. This country girl had mysteriously little difficulty in almost finishing her enormous helping . . .

At home, we are still plugging along with our dietary changes, although we cheated over our (very busy) weekend and paid for it with small doses of intestinal misery 😉 But it’s going good. Mom has made some delicious things recently . . . like bacon-wrapped chicken thighs and stovetop turnip greens. Sigh.

On a side note, I have discovered (probably due to my Cajun blood) that I have a growing infatuation with Louisiana hot sauce. I am finding more and more excuses to sprinkle it on everything. Like potatoes (especially potatoes).

A note on projects . . . A few days ago, Lena moved out of our room (for reasons I’m sure she’ll be blogging about soon!) into our youngest sister’s room, and our youngest sister moved in with me. Lots of furniture shuffling, vacuuming, and rearranging on their part. Fortunately my half of the room remained unscathed, just as I like it 🙂 And, nursing a cold as I was, I didn’t have to do any work! Lucky me.

But it’s been a definite dynamic change already. Lena and I have shared a room since, well, practically forever. I can count back at least fourteen years of our having shared a space with one another in some shape or fashion. I’ve been slowly realizing how many things we’d been doing together in our room (especially some of our daily devotions) which I’ll now be doing on my own. And apart from prayer, we’re no longer typing beside one another, giggling and trading random jokes and pieces of information. She has her own little castle/chapel now!

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Lena is the baby in the background . . .

I admit it’s a little bittersweet, but at the same time a wonderful opportunity for me to deepen not only my private prayer life, but also my already close and colorful relationship with Youngest Sister 🙂 And honestly, it reflects the growing paradigm shifts in our family. I’m discerning marriage with someone, which means my time and attention are increasingly extended and shared, and my locations are increasingly varied depending on what he, I and a chaperone have going on–so my wings are spreading a little more, so to speak, and I’m beginning to hover more frequently between my wonderful family and his wonderful family as our relationship grows. Lena is embarking on a new chapter of life; our younger brother and sister are growing up. It really is God’s design for families to go through chrysalises and changes, so as to blossom in beauty and grace. I look forward to discovering how He is desiring our family to beautify and grow over the upcoming years!

I am reading . . . The Baltimore Catechism, No. 3, published by Baronius Press.

Boom.

I think everyone needs a regular sit-down with the Baltimore Catechism . . . such simple and vital truths, stated so well and beautifully and clearly, without superfluity (which is precisely what I need) and without flinching.

16. Q. When may we be said to forgive those who trespass against us? A. We may be said to forgive our enemies when we act, and, as far as possible, feel toward them as if they had never injured us.

17. Q. What is temptation? A. A temptation is anything that incites, provokes, or urges us to offend God.

18. Q. What is the best means of overcoming temptation? A. The best means of overcoming temptation is to resist its very beginning, by turning our attention from it; by praying for help to resist it; and by doing the opposite of what we are tempted to do.

19. Q. Does God tempt us to sin? A. God does not tempt us to sin; but He permits us to be tempted to try our fidelity or punish our pride; and to give us an opportunity of meriting rewards for ourselves by overcoming the temptations.

See what I mean?

Thinking about femininity . . . If a sense of humor is a shining jewel in the crown of the ideal wife, then humility is the golden base of the crown and the support of all else it may contain. Many have the false idea that they are being humble by staying in the background and attempting nothing. The brash, bold and conceited girls are the ones out in the limelight doing things. More often than not it is just the opposite. The girl who dares to do things, especially in competition, is the humble girl. She may fall flat on her face. So what? She is not concerned with herself, not worried about what others may think. Because she is humble, she is not aware that anyone is thinking of her anyway. The girl who fears to venture is the conceited girl. She is afraid to provide laughter at her own expense. She flatters herself that everybody is watching her. Hardly anybody knows that she is alive. -Fr. Leo Kinsella, The Wife Desired

It is precisely this and similar passages that have inspired me over the past few months to be a little more adventurous in doing things like playing volleyball, ultimate frisbee, joining in brand-new dances, and doing other things in which I have no idea what I’m doing while maintaining a light heart. It’s amazed me how much this good priest was right in how these actions combat my pride.

On the Faith . . . How I love the Old Calendar! So many beautiful Marian feasts, so many wonderful ways to celebrate our dear Mother!

Prayerfully . . . Praying for my great-uncle who is in the hospital, has been for some time, and is not doing well at all. Would you mind offering a prayer for him, too?

A picture to share . . .

Hike

Speaking of family changes, I just came across this old picture of a family hike (taken by Mom), over three years ago . . . the little boy in the blue shirt and baseball cap, and the little girl in the navy shirt and ponytail, are now both inches taller than Lena and I! Where does the time go . . . 🙂

Sig2

7 Rambling Monday Takes :: Vol. 4

MondayTakes

1

It’s a rather gray and breezy Monday morning over here, but I’m embracing it nonetheless with every one of my sore muscles (confessions of an inept but eager ultimate frisbee player . . . no more details shall be offered). And now, with my laundry (including some autumn clothes . . . finally . . .) on to wash (see? I pulled in a beautiful piece of laundry-themed artwork, since Monday is my laundry day! It is already inspiring me!) with it being the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, and with some new recipes to be tried out later on the day (like Mexican cauliflower rice! Sound the trumpets!), what’s there not to love?

Speaking of it being the feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, I also thought I would link to my old Seton article about cultivating devotion to the Guardian Angels in one’s home. I, um, need to read back over it and remind myself of what I recommended that other people should be doing . . . (confessions of a forgetful but well-intentioned and enthusiastic sanguine).

Reverend William G. Most writes: “Our guardian angels are able to put good thoughts into our minds, and to protect us . . . Clearly, it is only good sense to venerate our guardian angel, to cultivate their friendship, to thank them, to ask their help. So God said in Exodus 23:20-21: ‘Behold, I am sending an angel ahead of you, to guard you and bring you to the place I have prepared. Listen to his voice, and do not rebel against him, for my name is in Him, and he will not forgive.’”

2.

Although today’s weather is rather gray, yesterday’s weather was simply sublime. I called it “the absolutely perfect talking-after-Mass-weather.” Breezy, sunny, no noticeable humidity, beautifully suspended between warm and cool. Just delightful. And I love talking after Mass, by the way, so along with Confession, Mass, and being able to “visit all the saints” (by which I mean I travel to all the statues in the nave and transept: the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, the Blessed Mother, Christ Crucified, St. Therese and St. Anthony of Padua), my spirits were not to be beaten.

Until we climbed into the car, realized we were ravenous, and that a Whole30-ish lunch had to be thought up and cooked once home if Mom and I were to feel human again . . . but, in the undaunted words of Frank Sinatra, that’s life 🙂 We all took a good nap afterwards.

On a rambling note (this is, after all, the post series for that) I don’t think my body has quite learned that it’s safe to take a nap, because I manage to sleep for about thirty minutes to an hour, and then inevitably wake up feeling as though I’ve been flipped around ten times. I probably shouldn’t be sleeping with my contacts in (but it’s just a nap! I protest) and so I have to help them re-adhere to my eyes since they get kind of dry (understatement) . . . my stomach and throat feel a little seasick . . . my legs are freezing, my head is hot . . . essentially, just delightful . . . And while I’m a morning person in that I’ve never had to drink coffee to wake up . . . waking up from a nap, on the other hand, takes the rest of the day. Sigh.

And yet, with all that having been reflected on, I still want my Sunday afternoon nap. So go figure.

3.

Rewinding to Saturday, which was the High Mass celebrating Summorum Pontificum at our Cathedral on the feast of St. Jerome: so beautiful, attended by people from all over the state, and complete with one of the most stirring homilies I’ve been privileged to receive, and one of the most beautiful renditions of Ubi Caritas I’ve ever heard. Lena and I agreed how special it was, in particular, to hear the Propers of In medio chanted at High Mass for the first time, after having read them so many times throughout the past year and a half, across so many different feasts.

Afterwards came a few little epochs in my life. Myself, the great guy I’m courting, two of his brothers (in the function of chaperones), and the two friends whose anonymous mentions throughout my blog (in posts such as this and this, in which one gave me the towel and the other the Queen of Martyrs holy card) honor them deeply, drove over to our parish church to unload the communion rails, kneelers, and other “liturgical equipment,” all of which had been borrowed for the High Mass.

I really was just the female adornment to this whole heavy-lifting enterprise and didn’t do anything important other than get to actually hold the bells (!!!) and two of the torches (!!!), and to carry them back into the sacristy. I had never been up into the sanctuary once before this point . . . and of course . . . didn’t have my veil with me.

Agh.

I bowed my head more than usual as compensation, but I don’t think sunglasses on top of my head counted. Note to self: keep a spare veil in my purse at all times.

Mrs. Harris‘ words come to mind: Sacrilegious.

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But I’ll move on.

4.

Lena is so very close to finishing an amazing creative project that she’s been working on for months. Tantalizingly close. Breathtakingly close.

I, meanwhile, have been “the heavy.” As in, the happy critic. The little helper, helping her along (to quote Dory.) The squelcher of dreams. The one who has cheerfully but incoherently (because off-the-cuff rational speech is not my strong point) pointed out 37 things to change at her project’s very end. Don’t you want to have me over for the weekend?

Yet somehow, she still loves me. It must be the intercession of the Fourteen Holy Helpers on her behalf. As I write, she is typing patiently on the other side of the room.

5.

Recently, inspired by some new Catholic friendships I’ve struck up, I’ve been diving back in to the spiritual work that aided me in choosing my Confirmation patron: St. Faustina’s Diary.

And somehow, it feels as though I’ve never read it before; as though I’m seeing her for the first time. Maybe it has to do with having come such a long way (relatively speaking) in discerning my vocation and realizing what it means to have been given a vocation at all. Everything is about wanting God’s will, and simply embracing what He has given you, whether it seems ordinary or extraordinary.

Reading St. Faustina’s words, I no longer feel the awkward separation from my youth of She is a nun, she has given herself wholly to God, but . . . but . . . I want to be married!

Rather, I feel as though I’m glimpsing the story of a soul that sought to do God’s will in her life, to use the graces and gifts given to her, just as I (far more imperfectly) am seeking to do the same.

It was almost twilight; there were only a few people in the cathedral. Paying no attention to what was happening around me, I fell prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and begged the Lord to be good enough to give me to understand what I should do next.

6.

On a random temporal note, I’m so thoroughly glad that 1) SEC football season is in full swing (and that, yesterday, we were so generously given a new TV screen by good friends of ours to watch it on!) and 2) an Oktoberfest is coming up later on this week . . . I love opportunities to dance, talk and spend the day with wonderful friends, making memories. Looks like it’s going to be a great week 🙂

My youngest sister is running a 5K on Saturday, by the way, and I’m so proud of her! Her inept but eager ultimate frisbee/volleyball/whatever-sport-have-you player sister will be cheering the whole time 🙂

7.

Our family watched Inside Out last night . . . My, was it marvelous and so brilliant. We haven’t laughed (howled) so much at a single movie in a very long time. (Oh! That’s why my stomach is sore! It has nothing to do with me running around barefoot on Saturday! I’m actually in shape!) All the girls got teary . . . Again, just brilliant.

And now, as I have come to the end of my seven rambling takes, I bid a happy farewell, and dutifully return to the laundry room . . .

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7 Rambling Monday Takes (Vol. 3)

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1.

Maybe it’s a womanly thing, an impulsive sanguine thing, or perhaps a Guardian Angel thing. But have you ever felt strongly compelled, suddenly, to do something, when a moment before the thought hadn’t been anywhere near your mind? (Besides consume chocolate, I mean. I experience those moments frequently.)

Yesterday would have been my maternal grandfather’s 68th birthday. A Vietnam veteran and loving grandfather, he passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61, when I was 14. After Low Mass and third Sunday potluck yesterday (where we all were handed beautiful Christ the King holy cards in commemoration of Summorum Pontificum), my family and I drove down to the cemetery to pray at his grave and sing him happy birthday. The sky was beautifully, crisply blue, the sun boiling hot. (Alas for an autumn not yet arrived!)

As we came to the end of our visit with Pap-pow, my family began taking note of the surrounding grave markers (we always seem to do this); the names, the years lived, the loving tributes left by family members. “Look, so-and-so was a Marine; so-and-so played piano; someone left so-and-so a handwritten note: I love you and miss you so much.

And then we came upon the tiny grave marker of a year-old baby boy.

Someone had tried to tape up some artificial blue flowers on the marker using duck tape, but the flowers were upended on the ground, with the tape left dangling in the wind. (Not surprising after all the tropical storm-induced weather that hit us over the past week.)

Lena and I stared sadly, then bent and slowly began rearranging the flowers, using some of the mangled tape to bind the plastic stems together and laying the flowers neatly under the marker. Something about the grief of this baby’s family permeated us. I can’t even remember how long it had been since he passed away; I don’t think it was more than a few years.

As Lena and I were mending the flowers, words spilled into my mind, clear and commanding. Leave a holy card.

Unable to ignore the idea, I brought it up aloud and my brother instantly pulled out his Summorum Pontificum Christ the King card from his pocket. I was able to tuck it snugly against the edge of the baby boy’s grave marker. We all looked at it for a moment, then stood up and walked back to the car.

I have no idea if the family or anyone at all will ever see the holy card. But I did know we were supposed to leave one there. Regardless of the persuasions of this small baby’s family, the King of Heaven and Earth who cares for each sparrow also cares tenderly for them.

2.

May the efficacy of the heavenly Gift, we beseech Thee, O Lord, possess our minds and bodies: so that its effects, and not our own impulses, may ever prevail in us.

-Postcommunion from the 15th Sunday after Pentecost

Ever since being introduced to the four temperaments and discovering my own, self-knowledge has seemed far closer to being in my grasp than it ever was before. (Authentic self-knowledge is, ahem, hard for the naturally superficial sanguine . . .)

Not long after I posted about being drawn to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Latin, I felt inspired to research wholesome ways to combat a tendency to the sin of vanity, which is something I’ve noticed in myself virtually my whole life.

After some initial research, I first found and read a helpful article written by a Catholic young woman, who eloquently described the habit of sinning through vanity, either by being over-caring about your physical looks, or worrying too much about the opinions of other people concerning yourself. (Both of which can ring all too true for me if I’m not careful. Alas, I’m not often careful.)

So why is vanity a sin? It is a sin because we become consumed by other’s opinions of our self, rather than concerning ourselves with the opinion of God. Indeed, vanity assures us that the cares of the world are more important than those of God. When we begin thinking this way, we are drawn away from God.

It was an enlightening and inspiring read. The young woman mentioned how, after she once confessed vanity, her confessor instructed her to pray Psalm 8 in penance, and I have since making an effort to pray it every morning.

O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is thy name in the whole earth! For thy magnificence is elevated above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of infants and of sucklings thou hast perfected praise, because of thy enemies, that thou mayst destroy the enemy and the avenger.
For I will behold thy heavens, the works of thy fingers: the moon and the stars which thou hast founded.
What is man that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
Thou hast made him a little less than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour: and hast set him over the works of thy hands.
Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen: moreover the beasts also of the fields.
The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea.
O Lord our Lord, how admirable is thy name in all the earth!

3.

And after reading this initial article, I progressed to find something even more helpful from Totus Tuus’ website. This particular article recommended that those who struggle with habitual vanity to meditate daily on the Passion of Christ; “looking for the fruit of being convinced of Christ’s love for me and, thus, I do not need to look for love and approval in any other place.” This seemed to be a nod from Our Lord, given my recent inspiration to pick up not only the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, but also meditations on the Stations of the Cross.

They also suggested that the one who struggles with vanity should contemplate as an ideal, “Christ crucified for love of me,” and that they should make their motto, “For me to live is Christ; to die is gain.”

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So I am endeavoring to do this more. It can be very difficult to be honest with oneself about one’s root sin, and once you have been honest, to not be discouraged but rather to be courageous and press forward seeking a remedy. Looking over my life and to the present day, I am compelled to admit how much vanity has played a role in my frequent failings in pure-hearted love of God. But at the same time, I am so grateful for His abundant grace (coming through the hands of Our Lady) which is motivating me to seek tools so as to weed out this root vice of mine. I know it will be a long road requiring perseverance and prayer, but ultimately you only fail if you stop striving, so . . . here’s to striving! 🙂

4.

Speaking of the Stations of the Cross, I have to say that the most beautiful form that I have encountered so far is the form for Stations found in the 1962 Missal, beginning on page 34.

Among the devotional exercises which have for their object meditation on the Passion, Crucifixion, and Death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one of the chief has been the exercise commonly called the Way of the Cross. This devotion arose first in Jerusalem, among the Christians who dwelt there, out of veneration for those sacred places which were sanctified by the sufferings of our divine Redeemer. From that time, as we learn from St. Jerome, Christians visited the holy places in crowds. The gathering of the faithful, he says, even from the farthest corners of the earth, to visit the holy places, continued to his own times. From Jerusalem this devout exercise began to be introduced into Europe by various pious and holy persons, who had traveled to the Holy Land to satisfy their devotion. Pope Clement XII extended this devotion to the whole Catholic world.

These Stations are almost entirely Scriptural (with the rich, stunning language of the Douay-Rheims and Callan-McHugh versions), and yet compiled in such a way that often, prophecies from Lamentations, Isaias and the Psalms are presented as being in Christ’s first-person narrative; the pronouns are capitalized to denote Divinity. (This, by far, is the most moving way to contemplate the Passion that I have ever discovered.) There are also inclusions from the Improperia of Good Friday, the Stabat Mater, and various old hymns from traditional lauds and such.

O Father, I am afflicted and greatly humbled, I cry aloud because of the sorrow of My heart. Lord, all My longing is known to Thee, and My sighs are not hidden from Thee. My Heart beats furiously, My strength is gone, Mine eyes are dim and dull with weeping and pain. My friends and My companions come within sight of Me, but stand aloof, and My neighbors keep far from Me.

The arrows of Thy judgment have sunk deep in Me, and Thy hand is pressing heavily upon Me. There is no soundness in My body because of Thine anger. The iniquities of My people, like a flood, have overwhelmed Me; like a crushing burden they weigh upon Me.

-Psalm 37, Third Station: Jesus Falls the First Time

5.

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The Ember Days are upon us this Wednesday, Friday and Saturday! Since this set of Ember Days occurs just prior to the Feast of St. Michael on the 29th, they’re called the “Michaelmas Embertide.”

There’s no better place to read about the Ember Days in general than the ever-helpful Fish Eaters, but I’ve gone ahead and quoted the most relevant excerpts below. While we are no longer obliged by Canon Law to fast and abstain (partially on Wednesday and Saturday, completely on Friday) on the Ember Days, it is worthwhile to try and do it if we can, or at least to select some sacrifice to make on these days.

Four times a year, the Church sets aside three days to focus on God through His marvelous creation. These quarterly periods take place around the beginnings of the four natural seasons that “like some virgins dancing in a circle, succeed one another with the happiest harmony,” as St. John Chrysostom wrote . . .

These times are spent fasting and partially abstaining (voluntary since the new Code of Canon Law) in penance and with the intentions of thanking God for the gifts He gives us in nature and beseeching Him for the discipline to use them in moderation. The fasts, known as “Jejunia quatuor temporum,” or “the fast of the four seasons,” are rooted in Old Testament practices of fasting four times a year.

Our Israelite ancestors once fasted weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Christians changed the fast days to Wednesdays (the day on which Christ was betrayed) and Fridays (the day on which He was crucified). The weekly two day fasts were later amended in the Roman Church to keeping only Fridays as penitential days, but during Embertides, the older, two-day fasts are restored. Saturdays (the day He was entombed) were added to these Ember times of fasting and are seen as a sort of culmination of the Ember Days . . .

Ember Days are days favored for priestly ordinations, prayer for priests, first Communions, almsgiving and other penitential and charitable acts, and prayer for the souls in Purgatory. Note that medieval lore says that during Embertides, the souls in Purgatory are allowed to appear visibly to those on earth who pray for them.

Because of the days’ focus on nature, they are also traditional times for women to pray for children and safe deliveries.

6.

Our family was worried when we learned that Sarasota, FL was directly in the path of Irma last week: Sarasota being the home of the FSSP’s Christ the King Chapel and our beloved Fr. Dupre and Fr. Bartholomew (“beloved,” that is, thanks to LiveMass.net 😉 )

We were so relieved to hear this morning, after Dad made a phone call, that they were left entirely unscathed, and should be back to broadcasting their 8am CT Mass within a few days! God is so good!

In the meantime, we have been praying along with the Mass offered in Warrington, England, at Our Lady’s Shrine. A beautiful screen capture from a Mass last week:

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Oh, don’t you want to fly there for a day, your missal in hand? 🙂 Look at that High Altar! Look at that light pouring down on the good priest and altar boys! It was almost blinding by the moment of Consecration . . . need I say more . . .

7.

My musical recommendation for the week is, without a doubt, Lux by Voces8. I have been listening to the entire album near-constantly on Spotify for the past week.

Simply put, Voces8’s offerings of sacred music are about as sublime and soul-stirring as you can find this side of Heaven. Wholly sublime. I believe a person would convert to the Faith simply by listening to Gjeilo’s Ubi Caritas and Dubra’s Ave Maria 1; but I may be a touch biased 😉

A blessed Feast of dear St. Joseph of Cupertino! And if you have The Reluctant Saint, by all means, watch it today–it is fabulous and one of my family’s all-time favorites!

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