The Dash Graduates

JMJ1

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He did it . . . The Dash graduated on Saturday!!! Please note his Southern Californian lei with money flowers, made by hand by his grandparents . . .

The excitement, pride, and love of that morning are past words at the moment, even for me. (Which begs the question, then what’s the point of blogging about it? but we’ll leave that for later. I have pictures, after all!) I was so excited for him. To see him in a sea of over 300 graduates, the man I love and my best friend who has worked beyond hard to acquire both his degree and a full-time job with God’s grace . . . I could have cried, but I was too excited and elated. Plus, having run a 101.4 fever two nights before and having gone to bed shivering and crying at the (emotionally speaking) very miserable thought that I might not be able to go to his graduation after looking forward to it for our entire courtship was a blessed opportunity to surrender as best I could to God’s Will . . . but, well, it made Saturday morning feel like we were walking on clouds! And also, helping out with some of his little nieces and nephews (some of whom didn’t get the point of a graduation ceremony too well) kept me busy 😉

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Outside, it was cold and rather wet. Thanks to my euphoria, I forgot to bring a coat. However, the Dash had a few articles of ceremonial clothing handy . . . we were hurrying across the Quad, back to his car, but we managed to maneuver the cap and gown from one to the other, and he was insistent that, “We HAVE to stop and take a selfie!” It tickled us both so much for me to have a brief dip into the college grad experience 😉

We drove to his graduation party straight afterwards, hosted by his lovely sister, which turned out wonderfully.

Especially when you take into account what The Dash included in his graduation speech.

Proposal

Friends, we are engaged!!! It was the most beautiful, most eloquent, most heartfelt and amazing proposal, beyond anything I have wished for or imagined in all my years as a girl and young woman . . . if she is called to marriage, a girl’s heart anticipates this day and this moment so much! And yet only The Dash could have pulled it off and taken me so completely by surprise, surprised by love.

I was totally overwhelmed, and very much shocked with the timing of it; very smoothly, The Dash had led me to believe it would happen sometime after New Year’s. Only a week ago, we’d had a conversation in which I was wrestling with how much of it was going to be a surprise (just because I’m so attached to us communicating about everything), and he said, “Well, let’s get through the holidays and re-assess how you feel about a surprise then.” (Aha.)

“Can you at least tell me what month you’re thinking?” I asked him in my best plaintive tone.

He smiled. “No.”

I guess I had been looking forward to the joy of his graduation and his long-awaited accomplishment with such razor focus that it never dawned on me he would think about proposing on that day, of all days, when he had so much to think about and do as it was. That’s the selflessness of The Dash.

Mid-way through his graduation speech, when he called me up to stand beside him so he could start thanking me in front of everyone, I was classically flushed and embarrassed/humbled (though, of course, completely touched) but totally unsuspecting because it was just like The Dash to do this kind of thing.

But then he rather kept going . . . and going . . . and with an effortless segue he started talking about us and our relationship and how much he loved me, and it was all addressed to me, and he was looking at me, and he was perfect, and his voice was just a little shaky from emotion/nerves/tiredness . . . even then I still wasn’t suspecting . . . but then he took off his graduation cap and put it on a chair and my head felt as though it were starting to explode, and from that moment on I have no clear recollection of what I did. I remember him pulling the ring box from his pocket, kneeling down, asking me by my full name if I would marry him, and I was crying and covering my face and saying yes multiple times and certainly being very emotional about it all 😉

I have always secretly hoped that I would cry at my proposal, just so that the man of my dreams would know how much it meant to me. I’m so glad I cried! Although I was so shaky and shocked and teary for the forthcoming minutes that I look a little off my rocker in all the post-proposal pictures . . .

But friends, we are beyond elated to be engaged! Our betrothal ceremony/blessing of our engagement is less than a week away (we’re waiting until then to start holding hands, etc.). We never have to use the words boyfriend and girlfriend again! The Dash is my fiance! We get to be engaged for Christmas! It is still very surreal right now.

Ring

My engagement ring is absolutely perfect–a three-stone diamond, white gold–exactly, exactly perfect, better than anything I’ve seen or wanted (The Dash has let me know that I’m extremely picky with jewelry), in how it looks and feels and everything. The Dash was helped to locate it very Providentially a long time ago . . . it chokes me up to think about how long he’s had it. I am so blessed that I’ve been given something so lovely to cherish and wear all my days as a symbol of what The Dash and I have been given by God.

Michele Chronister‘s words have kept coming to mind over the past few days, from a post she made some time ago . . . “But what made that little glittery thing most important to me was that every time I glanced down at it, I felt incredibly loved. So, so incredibly loved. It declared to the world that I was spoken for, and it reminded me that the beginning of our marriage was not far off.”

Amen!

So praise be to God. I am so thankful for The Dash, for our whole courtship, for our present engagement, for our future together. It’s overwhelming how blessed we have been and continue to be! I know the reality will continue to sink in and I’ll be able to write better blog posts about it all over the coming weeks (plus post lots of pictures!!!), but for now . . . please pray for us, and have a blessed third week of Advent!

Sig

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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.

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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

On Drama and Direction (yet another courting post)

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The young man who’d just arrived wore slacks and a blue button-up shirt; the young woman waiting for him wore jeans, a black t-shirt and a hastily tugged-on blue sweater. (The man’s visit was a near-total surprise, which explained the disconnect of wardrobes.)

As he stepped into the living room, he was carrying numerous lilies (which hadn’t unfolded yet) and one red rose. He gave them all to the young woman, sat next to her on the living room couch, and, in front of her whole family but remaining intent on her, explained that the lilies represented purity, while the rose represented the vocation of marriage. It was his sincerest hope for the courtship to remain pure, and for more roses to be added overtime. He asked the girl if she would do him the honor of courting him. The girl (flushed and ecstatic and bashful and delighted) said yes.

That young man was The Dash, and the girl was me, almost eight months ago . . . although I’m sure you saw that coming. 😉

* * *

Courtship: the subjective and objective

Occasionally, it’s difficult to me to articulate my thoughts surrounding courtship, especially in real-time conversation. (Blogging is somewhat easier 😉 ) But when you consider that courtship is simultaneously an overarching (and counter-cultural) principle, a unique path for a specific couple, a toolbox, and an assortment of actions (or lack thereof) based upon beliefs, it does get a little complicated, even though it is wholly simple in nature.

Being in a courtship means that I have a growing pile of experiences and convictions, but a lack of well-rounded objectivity because I am still a part of the process, as opposed to a product of it. Courtship, as The Dash and I are doing it, is somewhat rare. But of course, that doesn’t make it the only kind of courtship that can be done . . . in a way, it is our courtship, specific to us, to our circumstances, to our stories, to our temperaments, to our families. In a way, it is subjective. But in another sense, it is simply courtship. It is objectively so. Our courtship is unique to us, and yet also a representative of a system, a group of principles, greater than ourselves.

What are these principles? Well, chastity, for one: restricting physical expressions of affection, and for us, involving the presence of chaperones. Building a relationship through prayer, holiness, and sacrifice would be another. So would embracing the family atmosphere and pursuing an honest, intellectual intimacy of mind and heart.

But for me, one especially important principle of courtship in general, and our courtship in particular, is one I haven’t talked about much. It’s the principle of direction. I will get to that below, but first . . .

Why the drama?

That seems to be the question begged by some who are confused or just mesmerized by the concept of courtship. And on the outside, quite honestly, it really does appear to be a lot of drama.

Some people (like yours truly) might think the scenario of The Dash asking me to court him totally charming and perfect; others might think it sweet, but a little too much drama when contrasted with something like how a first date might go. Why begin a relationship with something like a toned-down proposal? Again, why the drama?

After all, at first, it’s simple and casual. The young man and woman meet for the first time–maybe there is immediate chemistry, maybe not. Usually, they build a friendship in group settings through a variety of experiences; their families get together; maybe the young man and woman correspond as friends, gaining a clearer understanding of their respective mindsets and beliefs.

But eventually . . . there comes a point.

The Dash and I met at a combined birthday party/church dance. We danced one time, we didn’t really talk, and so there wasn’t time to form a solid first impression on either end. But then our families got together the next month. We spent a good portion of that day conversing. (Okay, maybe most of the day.) (By that point, I totally liked him, but I digress . . .) We exchanged email addresses and it turned into a friendly correspondence of weekly exchanges. Since he was in school and living in town, our family invited him over for dinner. Shortly afterwards, he made it to Catholic young adult group that my sister and I attended one night, and he drove us home. (I took the front seat…) He came to another dance. We spent more time talking (over very loud music speakers, which I suppose is wonderful training for having conversations over very loud children). Our families got together again. And on it went. It was all casual, polite, and friendly, and yet it hovered in that impenetrable limbo that resides between Guarded and Obvious. (Well, at least he wasn’t obvious. Let me remind you that I took the front seat.)

The feminine heart that is desirous of marriage has a propensity to be constantly curious. Does he like me? Does (this action/word/look) mean he likes me? Would he still be emailing me if he didn’t like me? So on and so forth.

Despite all these interior sighs, I was really determined to guard myself and not assume anything on The Dash’s end. I knew I liked him, but refused to read into him. I believed it was right and intrinsically ordered for a woman to be pursued. I wanted to be pursued. And maybe legitimate pursuit requires a little “drama,” especially when contrasted with the casual, non-committing relationship culture we are surrounded by in our modern age.

And so, as I said . . . there comes a point, for every couple, when you traverse from Guarded to Obvious. In the context of courtship, it does start with permission.

* * *

Seeking permission

In this instance, it was nearing my 21st birthday. We had a small party at home with music and old-fashioned dancing. He and his family were there. Throughout that night, there were a lot of conversations taking place between various family members. Our two families eventually disclosed to each other, and then to us (separately) the existence of mutual attraction between The Dash and I. (He and I didn’t talk about it, however.)

At that point, The Dash made the decision to ask my dad out to dinner, for the purposes of asking his permission to court me. Two weeks later, they met, and that same night, The Dash came to my family’s house with lilies and a rose.

When reading about relationship structures, or about dating/courtship stories I’ve encountered a defense mechanism built in when it comes to girls describing how guys asked their dad’s permission to date or court them.

It wasn’t because I didn’t think I was my own person; it wasn’t because my dad controlled my life, etc. etc.

I find it so sad that these sweet girls have been given cause to feel as if they need to defend their (God-given) instinct to look for approval and permission from their fathers in the context of relationships. These days, an awareness of the concept of spiritual headship in families has been greatly lost. If fathers are the heads of their families, and husbands are the heads of their wives (both of which statements are true), then it stands to reasons that fathers have the duty and role of spiritual headship over their daughters, up until it passes over to their new husbands. (Hence why it makes so much spiritual sense for the father to walk his daughter down the aisle and give her to her husband-to-be; so much is symbolized here. Nor does it contradict that both groom and bride still come of their own free will to the marriage, as some might argue.)

Courtship almost always has a built-in step that looks at this reality for what it is: if a man is looking to court, he first seeks permission from the girl’s father (or father figure), before he approaches her. Yes, it has somewhat more drama than does simply asking the girl on a date. And yet it points to something greater than the young man, greater than the young woman: the reality of family order. And in our day and age, it is a step towards restoring this order.

When the young man swallows his nerves, approaches the father, and acknowledges his headship over the young woman in question by asking permission to court her, a truth is acknowledged. Relationships live or die by truth or the lack thereof. The young man takes a step towards growing into a man who can assume spiritual headship, by humbly acknowledging he does not yet have it. This young woman he admires doesn’t live in a vacuum; she is part of a family, and even if she is out of the home, she is still under her father in a special way. No father is perfect, no family is perfect . . . and yet, apart from extraordinary cases that might prevent this action, this step is so important, and it works. A good father is always going to be impressed when a young man has the courage to ask his permission first.

Needless to say, my dad gave his permission 😉

* * *

And so The Dash asked me to court him. I said yes; and after that have followed the (nearly) eight best months of my life! And this brings me back to one of the most important principles of courtship, one that I am daily learning to appreciate more and more: that of direction.

When The Dash came and asked me to court him that night, I immediately and clearly was reassured of the direction we would be going in. If our courtship was intended by God to progress, it would end in betrothal and culminate in marriage. If not, we would end it as friends. There was no in-between; no uncertainty. He and I both knew, with no doubts, what we were going to be looking towards.

The Dash submitted himself to the drama both of asking my dad’s permission, and of coming to my house, giving me flowers, and asking me, with an eloquence borne of manliness and maturity, to court him–he honored me, and gave me the gift of direction. He wasn’t going to toy with my heart, and he made sure I knew it. He wanted to discern marriage with me. He firmly pointed me in that direction from Day One of our courtship, and has walked alongside with me in it for these past months. We have always been open to the possibility that marriage would not be our end; like any couple, we have had to navigate differences, stressful and painful situations, and imperfect communication; and yet there has never been aimlessness.

For a woman’s heart, such direction is reassurance beyond price.

A Catholic couple who are dating with right intentions can, of course, establish experience the same sense of direction, depending on how they do it. I guess the thing about courtship is that this sense of direction is built into its very framework. If The Dash had asked me to go out on a date with him, we might or might not have achieved that same sense of mutual direction; maybe on the third, fourth, or tenth date, he would have conveyed to me that he wanted to discern marriage exclusively with me. I don’t doubt we would have gotten to this point, because to be marriage-minded brooks no unnecessary delay, and no lack of commitment; and we are both marriage-minded people! However, dating in itself doesn’t provide the direction, as much as the couples themselves can bring that direction to it, if they so choose. And so this reveals an intrinsic good to be found in courtship: the direction is already there.

The direction that grounded The Dash and I’s courtship from the beginning continues to flower, seven-and-a-half months in. Through the many good times and the various trials and rough patches that The Dash and I have navigated, that sense of direction has, well, directed us. 🙂 We are at the point now where this promise of direction is even more reassuring to me than it was at the beginning (as it should be!). Courtship is not meant to last forever. The direction we embarked on is very grave, because it opens up the possibility of vowing to spend a lifetime with with one another, should we arrive at the end having discerned God’s Will in that. And yet even that gravity holds no fear; the closer we approach it, the more beautiful it is!

* * *

Yesterday, The Dash and I were blessed to attend the wedding of a beautiful young Catholic couple; it was in the Old Rite of Marriage, followed by Missa Cantata in the Extraordinary Form! To witness their joy together was a joy for us. To listen to the Admonition, to see to their exchange of vows, was not something awkward or nebulous for the two of us. Since Day One of our courtship, I have never once had to wonder if The Dash was thinking about marriage–about marrying me. He has never had to wonder if I would be open to the same. Thanks to the initial “drama” of courtship, we have always had our answer to Quo Vadis? If God so wills (and that comes above everything!), we know where we are going.

And in a very substantial way, that knowing gives us the strength to be chaste, and to pursue both better communication and more wholehearted sacrifice. If you aim high, you grow less and less afraid to climb high. The clearer you begin, the clearer you end. This is why I am so grateful for having been introduced to the concept of courtship as a young girl, and eventually given the chance to participate in it with someone so wonderful as The Dash. Through God’s goodness, courtship gives far more than it takes!

Happy Sunday! 😉

Sig

 

“Nothing is so beautiful as spring . . .” (A Woman at Home post)

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. . . or thereabouts, anyway.

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What is all this juice and all this joy? A strain of earth’s sweet being in the beginning, in Eden Garden. Have, get, before it cloy, before it cloud, Christ, Lord, and sour with sinning; Innocent mind, and Mayday in girl and boy, most, O Maid’s child, Thy choice, and worthy the winning.

-Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring”

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This morning, we drove Lena and our dad to the airport, dropped them off, and drove home under a glorious blue-skied start to a beautiful, chilly March morning. Her visit to Our Lady’s House begins!

Upon returning, I cleaned up a few rooms, made some beds, switched some laundry . . . and then, quite spontaneously, snatched my camera and dove outside to capture some of the “juice and joy.” It was cold and windy, belying all the early-budding trees and flowers. Shivering in my bulky green coat, I only stayed out for a few minutes. But it was so very refreshing. There is intoxicating fun and a strange peace to be found in getting down on your stomach and viewing the world like a baby does.

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I am eighty or so pages into reading aloud The Fellowship of the Ring to my youngest sister, who is still recovering from her cold. This morning, we trekked with the irrepressible hobbits towards Woodhall, evaded the ominous Black Rider, and met Gildor Inglorion together in the quiet sunshine while other family members recuperated with naps from the morning that started in the 5 o’clock hour.

It is a delight: both the story, and reading it aloud to her. Nostalgic in that it brings me back to that time when I was her age (nine years ago!) . . . and new in that the story grows ever stronger and more potent in its images, its themes, its applicability (to use Tolkien’s word) the longer I leave it, like good wine. The Old Winyards, to be precise.

The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began; now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow if I can, pursuing it with eager feet until it joins some larger way, where many paths and errands meet, and whither then? I cannot say . . .

-J. R. R. Tolkien

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Today is First Friday, and Friday of the Second Week of Lent. It’s strange to be praying my devotions and the Mass by myself, without Lena . . . but at the same time, it has its own beauty and stillness.

In fact, the above verse from Tolkien seems incredibly appropriate for today, the more I ponder it. Our paths are branching, little by little. My road is unfolding in one direction; in hers, another. This brings so much joy and excitement, mixed with the natural bittersweetness. All good things come from God, and to be nearing one’s vocation, one’s path of sanctity, to be able to smell it like salt in the air as one approaches the ocean, is such a very, very good thing. To Him be all the glory! We pursue our paths with eager feet!

Look down, O Lord, to help me: let them be confounded and ashamed together that seek after my soul to take it away: look down, O Lord, to help me.

-Offertory, Friday of the Second Week in Lent

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As I continue to pray for the one-day gift of daily Latin Mass nearby, earlier, I was reading this from Dom Prosper Guéranger, “An Explanation of the Prayers and Ceremonies of Holy Mass” and thought it particularly beautiful:

Having made the sign of the Cross, the Priest says the Antiphon: “Introibo ad altare Dei,” as an introduction to the 42nd Psalm. This Antiphon is always said, both before and after the Psalm, which he at once begins: “Judica me Deus.” He says the whole of it, alternately with the Ministers. This Psalm was selected on account of the verse “Introibo ad altare Dei: I will go unto the altar of God.” It is most appropriate as a beginning to the Holy Sacrifice. We may remark here, that the Church always selects the Psalms she uses, because of some special verse which is appropriate to what she does, or to what she wishes to express. The Psalm, of which we are now speaking, was not in the more ancient Missals: its usage was established by Pope Pius the Fifth, in 1568. When we hear the Priest saying this Psalm, we understand to whom it refers:- it refers to our Lord, and it is in his name, that the Priest recites it. We are told this by the very first verse: “Ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man.”

The verse here used as an Antiphon, shows us, that David was still young when he composed this Psalm; for, after saying, that he is going to the Altar of God, he says: “Ad Deum, qui laetificat juventutem meam: To God, who giveth joy to my youth.” He expresses astonishment at his soul being sad; and, at once, cheers himself, by rousing his hope in God; hence, his song is full of gladness. It is on account of the joy which is the characteristic of this Psalm, that holy Church would have it be omitted in Masses for the Dead, in which we are about to pray for the repose of a soul, whose departure from this life leaves us in uncertainty and grief. It is omitted, also, during Passiontide, in which season, the Church is all absorbed in the sufferings of her divine Spouse; and these preclude all joy.

This 42nd Psalm is an appropriate introduction to the Mass, inasmuch as it in our Lord whom it will bring among us. Who is He that is to be sent to the Gentiles, but He that is Light and Truth? David foresaw all this; and, therefore, he uttered the prayer: “Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam.” We take his prayer and make it ours; and we say to our heavenly Father: “send forth Him, who is thy Light and thy Truth!”

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Small things are beautiful; folding a stack of laundry, brewing a pitcher of tea, wiping off a counter, sitting across the table from my mother, faking (very bad) English country accents for hobbit’s voices, kissing a sibling’s hair, praying the Rosary while driving, taking the time to capture moss growing on a log in a certain transformative slant of morning sunlight.

There is a stillness that, eventually, comes with simplicity. I don’t always have it, because I often go about things the complicated and absorbed way. When I have the brains to seek out the simplicity, that disconnecting from noise, and when I begin to hear in my heart a stirring of hope for a future family, a future life, a future culture built around the Holy Faith, around books and conversations and the old-fashioned, simple, homey things–then stillness comes.

The further I travel into this Lent, the more deeply I am drawn towards my future wifehood and motherhood being built upon simplicity and quiet of heart. I am at the very beginning . . . I don’t exactly know what all it entails yet. I’m sure I’ll be constantly learning as the years elapse. For now, I do know it means openness to life and radical unselfishness; it means the family table; it means cooking and singing together; it means reading aloud books together in the evening, discussing all of life’s aspects with enthusiasm and a desire for truth, engaging and building up one another in the warmth of the family heart as our means of recreation and leisure. It means daily Mass (God-willing!) and the daily family Rosary; it means a healthy and wholesome lifestyle of homeschooling and tradition and solid work and pure playfulness, of living in community while protecting the integrity of our family; it means service and sacrifice; it means steadfastness, fidelity, and prayer; it means wanting to be saints and believing that is very the purpose of our lives. A perfect quote from Mary Reed Newland’s We and Our Children made it into my Commonplace Book the other week:

Simplicity of soul is one of the prerequisites of sanctity, and it is one of the things our children already possess. We must be very careful not to contribute to the great cluttering-up. We must make a heroic effort to rid our lives of all but one motive, that “impractical” spirituality of the saints, a life in union with God. If this is the undercurrent of our existence, then we can expect the spiritual training of our children to bear fruit.

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Next week, The Dash and I arrive at half a year of courtship! That seems unbelievable! Half a year since I sat in the pew with him, the first Sunday of our relationship, and was greeted by the words of the Offertory:

The Angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them: O taste and see that the Lord is sweet!

How overwhelming is God’s goodness! St. Raphael, ora pro nobis.

Smiling, I just now remembered a certain paragraph out of The Wife Desired:

Ordinarily, love begins for a young girl when she becomes well enough acquainted with a young man to develop a spiritual affinity with him. She admired his qualities and abilities. She likes his attitude toward life in general. She begins to feel at ease, at home in his presence. Then other things begin to happen. A simple phone call brings a flutter to her heart. Her pulse quickens when he calls at her home. She has eyes for no one but him.

With reason she wonders whether she is in love. Her doubts will vanish when she reaches the point of growth in love where all her being reaches out for him in the effort to bring him happiness. Her own whims and desires fade into the background. His happiness is her only real concern.

What a beautiful and brilliantly wise description of the God-given journey I am still undertaking! Half a year is a grossly insignificant amount of time when it comes to even beginning to get used to how much God has blessed me with The Dash, and how wonderful, steady and virtuous a man he is.

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The rest of today . . . well, for me, it’s quiet and full of sunshine, carrying the diffused scent of eucalyptus essential oil; I’ve got some tutoring planning to sort through, although that may spill over into tomorrow . . . then there’s the Daily Full Meal (should I trademark that Lenten expression?) and the evening with the family (hopefully Stations of the Cross will be part of it). May the rest of your day be very blessed! Please do pray for Lena as she visits Our Lady’s House 🙂

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Tiredness

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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/

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