7 Rambling Monday Takes :: Vol. 6

MondayTakes

Read previous installments here!

1.

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

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

2.

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

3.

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

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

4.

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

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

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

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

I feel the need to draw a diagram.

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

5.

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

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

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

6.

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

7.

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

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

Have a blessed end to your Monday!

Latinsig2

 

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Peering Towards the End

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My Lord and my God, from this moment I accept at Thy hands, with resignation and cheerfulness, the kind of death it may please Thee to send me, with all its pains and anguish.”

Recently, it occurred to me that my daydreams have never been exactly what they ought to be. As any girl who senses the vocation of marriage in her soul might do, I’ve often let my chin fall to my fist while I daydreamed up the perfect wedding day (and these daydreams are punctuated by the minutest liturgical details, such as the floating chant of the Introit of the Nuptial Mass: “Deus Israël conjungat vos: et ipse sit vobiscum . . .”), or of future children being born and baptized (complete with things such as the Exsufflation and with their little mouths squirming from the intrusion of blessed salt), and receiving their First Communions (at the altar rail) and Confirmations (slapped on the cheek, naturally).

I’ve daydreamed of attending imaginary FSSP priestly ordinations of friends (“Oh, raptures, I can hear him softly praying the Canon for the first time with his newly ordained fellow priests!”),  and I’ve nurtured countless smaller daydreams of future domestic life as its potential Keeper of the Hearth. Being largely sanguine, I’m capable of galloping a thousand (imaginary) miles per minute . . . if I’m not actively engaged in combating distraction for my own mental and spiritual good, that is.

But it struck me a few days ago that I have never purposefully daydreamed about my death.

Which is odd, because of all potential subjects with which I could daydream up a storm, my death is the one thing in life (or almost out of it) I can count upon, with all certainty, to actually happen to me. As befits the beautiful sign of contradiction that is the Catholic Faith, my death will be the most important moment, the defining moment, of my life: its summation, its crowning note, for better or for worse—salvation or damnation, forever. Yet, curiously, it naturally ranks rather low on my “let’s daydream about this today” list.

And so the premise intrigued me: to daydream about my death.

Of course, to frequently meditate on the reality of one’s death is rather imperative for the Christian, by all traditional (and just plain sensible) accounts. I am going to die, after all. My soul will one day separate from my body; immutably sealed in its then-current state, it will be summoned immediately to my Particular Judgment (God help me).

Just like everyone else, I’ve been left clueless as to the day of my death; to the age, weight, hair color (if my hair remains by then . . .) and mental faculties I’ll possess at the time of my death; to what, precisely, I’ll be dying from and how long it will take. I pray fervently I’ll be spared a sudden death, that I’ll be blessed with the assistance of the last Sacraments, and so forth. But I really know nothing at all about my impending death; no details, no hints, except that it will happen . . . and, in the grand scheme of things, it will happen soon. If I hope to be spiritually prepared for it in any way, then meditate on its awesome reality I must.

To my mind, daydreaming about death differs from meditating on death because daydreaming involves mental storytelling, the fabrication and weaving of intricate details based on the whims of your desires and experiences (or lack thereof). In meditation, you quiet and discipline your mind so as to contemplate a truth; in daydreaming, you let loose and narrate a story to yourself. Although it’s inferior to meditation, I think the possibility remains that a good daydream, of the right sort, might lead to a wholesome meditation. And so I propose that if I spend the next half-hour concocting one decent daydream of my own death, it might cultivate a propensity in me to think about my death—and, consequently, begin to meditate on it—more often.

Echoing the traditional prayer, I wholeheartedly embrace whatever death Our Lord has destined for me, down to the tiniest details. With that kept always in respect, I think I can safely proceed to weave my first daydream of my death . . .

* * *

Peering towards the end, I would first like to imagine I’m not dying in a hospital.

Hospitals are for the preservation of earthly life, after all; and so attempting to die in a controlled environment, one nobly dedicated to saving life, feels similar to making a date with one’s friend at a Krispy Kreme in order to solemnly disclose you’re never eating sugar again. I’m afraid it wouldn’t put me in the best frame of mind for total surrender.

So in this daydream of death, in which I may pick and choose the details, I’m dying wherever my home would be — or, at least, in a place that would feel like a home to me, such as the home of a friend or family member.

I’m lying in a small room, a quiet room, with no electronics but perhaps a window; and I’m surrounded by a simple arrangement of the holy images I’ve come to hold dear across my life. The Sacred Heart of Jesus; the Sorrowful Heart of Mary; St. Joseph; St. Anthony; St. Raphael; a Madonna and Child, especially “The Song of the Angels”; St. Faustina. Perhaps most important of all, Our Lady of the Rosary, since it was on her feast that I first Totally Consecrated, and it will be on my Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary–perhaps more than anything else–that my frightened soul will be leaning during my last hours.

I don’t know what my sufferings will be, but without wanting to sound too morbid, I really do hope there will be significant pain at the end, and so there is pain in this daydream. I want there to be suffering that can be offered up for others; but most of all, suffering to be offered up in reparation for a lifetime’s worth of sins. What a staggering thought as I lay there, dying–my life is stretched out behind me, irrevocable. Clarity envelopes me; an awing clarity I wholly lacked back then. I will want to suffer, to offer reparation as much as I can!

This suffering is, most likely, the worst pain of my life, the last agony, but it is also a consolation because I know Our Lord is bestowing on me the gift of suffering purifying my love for Him. It isn’t a pain that robs me of peace, but rather, it is a channel of grace and final charity to my soul.

The room in which I’m lying is very still. However, through the walls, I can hear the muffled sounds of children playing and of dishes clattering; footsteps, maybe a slightly stumbling piano practice. These beloved household sounds remind me that while my approaching death is the most intense and perilous moment of my life, I am just a grain of sand in God’s universe, and that time and the people within it will carry on without my physical presence, for as long as He sees fit.

I am passing out of time; I am not the center of it, nor ever was.

This thought is utterly overwhelming; a mystery I can’t even begin to touch, and one that frightens me more than a little but is nevertheless true and unavoidable. I am leaving time and entering eternity. I am on the brink.

And, in this daydream, I know I am on the brink. I know, quite clearly, that I’m dying—and I’ve known for at least a little while. Through the infinite mercy of God, I’ve had time to pray, to receive the Sacraments frequently (my illness permitting), to contemplate death, to weep, to confess, to anticipate. I’ve been given time to be afraid and yet to renew within myself the sentiments of faith, hope and charity; to learn to be even joyful.

As I lay dying, surrounding me in the room are a handful of people softly murmuring the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary (in Latin; because I will die a stickler for Latin, and they will lovingly accommodate my wishes in hora mortis). As I daydream about this, I’m not sure who they are, precisely, though I see them as my family, either by blood or because we are members of the same Church Militant. Are they my future husband, future children, future grandchildren? Parish friends? Sisters in Christ whose babies I’ve held, tears I’ve dried, and with whom I’ve traded many a phone call over the hectic cacophany and quiet stillness of the unfolded tale of my life?

Or are they strangers?

Naturally, the presence my future husband enters immediately into my daydream’s consideration. But I’m not sure. Is he here, praying for and with me, holding my hand with the unwavering softness and steadiness that comes from a lifetime of knowing, loving and forgiving me in the Sacrament of Marriage . . . or am I without his physical presence? Have I already helped him in his own death, and am now suffering mine alone?

In building up this daydream, both options are their own mixture of wine and gall. If he is here with me physically as I die, then I know I’m aching over his own grief and over the thought of leaving him alone, and yet rejoicing because, God’s mercy permitting, I’ll be able to pray for him and his salvation far more efficaciously than on earth (even if it’s from Purgatory for a time). However, if he’s already gone, then I know I’m longing for the immediate consolation of his physical presence, but yet finding a deeper consolation in hoping he’s praying (either from Purgatory or Heaven) for my salvation in my final hour—again, far more efficaciously than he could on earth.

Since I feel I should choose this detail for my daydream, I would ultimately choose for my future husband to already be gone (although this is one of the countless reasons I am so very thankful Our Lord is in control, and not me–I won’t have to decide!); firstly, for the reason mentioned above (his, hopefully, praying for me with a power he could not have possessed on earth)–secondly, that I could offer up my loneliness without him as another sacrifice to God for reparation–and thirdly, because his physical absence would remind me all the more sharply that my approaching death is fully and utterly between God and myself, alone.

But regardless of anything else—of anyone else in the room—of whether they’re my children and I’ve lived decades of my life with them, or if I’ve never seen them until these last moments — . . . regardless of all these things, there is the priest.

Out of all the possible components of my daydream of death, the priest is the one that cannot be removed. He is there. With all absoluteness, I have to have him at my side . . . because he is Christ for me now.

In my daydream, I don’t need to know the priest’s name, to recognize his face or the modulations of his voice. I have been blessed to know, or hear of, so many wonderful priests, I now feel spoiled for choice. If, at this unknown time of my death, my age or location doesn’t accommodate my wonderful parish priest, then the priest in question might either belong to the FSSP (because I dote on them and long for the day I can meet one in person) or at least has a knowledge and pure, wholehearted love of the traditional rites.

This faithful priest sits beside me in a kitchen chair (relocated to the bedroom), his head bowed slightly, his body perhaps only a shadow in my sight, but he is there. He is accompanied by a Crucifix, a burning candle, the fragrant scent of holy oils, the book containing the Last Rites . . . he is a powerful warrior, armed to defend and aid me in my last combat. He is focused wholly on me and on protecting me and ushering me in to eternity. This is consoling beyond all words!

He is murmuring along with the Rosary, helping me to pray, and I am holding his hand as the intensity escalates, both of my pain and of the knowledge that I am about to die and to be judged. I have known for a long time that the moments leading up to death are the moments of unparalleled spiritual attack, and now I feel temptations to terror and despair sweeping over me. My countless sins and failures, distended and even grotesque, flicker sharply through my memory. I pray in fragments, in final battle. This good priest at my side has heard my Confession and absolved me; now, he urges me to have childlike trust in God and to surrender my soul entirely to the Blessed Virgin’s care, reminding me that I made myself entirely hers, and she will not forget me now. Repeatedly, I ask him to pray for me; in response, he nods each time and continues the Aves.

The Rosary is soon finished, and as the tempest thickens within me, I begin to hear the names of the saints.

Holy Mary, pray for her.
All ye holy Angels and Archangels, pray for her.
Holy Abel, pray for her.
All ye Choirs of the Just, pray for her.
Holy Abraham, pray for her.
St. John the Baptist, pray for her.
St. Joseph, pray for her . . .

My soul warms at the name of the Blessed Mother; my patron, St. John the Baptist; and good St. Joseph, my consolation. My eyes are closed now; I pray along with this last litany with increasing physical feebleness. The pain is, perhaps, at its highest point–but at the same time, I sense it is my rope to Heaven and I cling to it, struggling as mightily as I can to embrace and not reject it.

The priest’s voice finds me again.

“Go forth, O Christian soul, out of this world, in the name of God the Father almighty, Who created thee; in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, Who suffered for thee; in the name of the Holy Ghost, Who sanctified thee; in the name of the holy and glorious Mary, Virgin and Mother of God; in the name of the Angels, Archangels, Thrones, and Dominations, Cherubim and Seraphim; in the name of the Patriarchs and Prophets, of the holy Apostles and Evangelists, of the holy Martyrs, Confessors, Monks and Hermits, of the holy Virgins, and of all the Saints of God; may thy place be this day in peace, and thine abode in holy Sion. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

His prayers continue, guiding me like a small ship through a mighty storm while I, wearily but with hope, look for the first sign of stars.

Beyond this, I can’t formulate much more for this daydream. The precise moment of death is too shrouded to even daydream about. I do wish for one last thing, though: that this good priest, in my last minutes, would be able to assist me in making a final renewal of my Total Consecration.

” . . . I, Mary, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before. In the presence of all the heavenly court I choose thee this day for my Mother and Mistress. I deliver and consecrate to thee, as thy slave, my body and soul, my goods, both interior and exterior, and even the value of all my good actions, past, present and future; leaving to thee the entire and full right of disposing of me, and all that belongs to me, without exception, according to thy good pleasure, for the greater glory of God in time and in eternity . . .

“O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.”

And even as I am praying this to the best of my ability, clinging to the priest’s hand, still hearing snatches of children’s voices from behind the walls, I imagine the storm fading away; the tempest calming in my soul; the pain, even, ebbing; and, too wonderful almost to hope for, I imagine at last witnessing the mysterious fulfillment of Our Lady’s promise to those who honored her Seven Sorrows:

I will visibly help them at the moment of their death; they will see the face of their Mother.

And, in my daydream, I close my eyes for the last time; or, am I opening them?

* * *

It’s a strange feeling, to have just written a daydream of your own last agony. And yet, there’s a sense of peace hovering about it, as well.

In ruminating about what my death might be like, in hoping fervently for a holy one, and in having to depart from the daydream just before the actual moment of my death, I can’t resist a final glance at Screwtape’s last letter of ranting failure to Wormwood, which can now stand for an eloquent description of what I chose to leave unsaid:

He saw Him. This animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. What is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a Man. You would like, if you could, to interpret the patient’s prostration in the Presence, his self-abhorrence and utter knowledge of his sins (yes, Wormwood, a clearer knowledge even than yours) on the analogy of your own choking and paralysing sensations when you encounter the deadly air that breathes from the heart of Heaven. But it’s all nonsense. Pains he may still have to encounter, but they embrace those pains. They would not barter them for any earthly pleasure. All the delights of sense, or heart, or intellect, with which you could once have tempted him, even the delights of virtue itself, now seem to him in comparison but as the half nauseous attractions of a raddled harlot would seem to a man who hears that his true beloved whom he has loved all his life and whom he had believed to be dead is alive and even now at his door. He is caught up into that world where pain and pleasure take on transfinite values and all our arithmetic is dismayed.

Latinsig2

On the Eve of All Saints

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

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

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

But to move on from that . . .

Renewing Baptismal Vows

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Feast of Christ the King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 4

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

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

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

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

From the Missal:

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

Some Propers from the Mass Si diligis me:

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

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

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

Outside my window . . .

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

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

Sounds throughout the house . . .

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

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

I am wearing . . .

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

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

Nevermind.

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

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

A note on projects . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am reading . . .

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

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

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

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

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

On living the Faith . . .

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

Prayerfully . . .

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

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

A picture to share . . .

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

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

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“For I am the Angel Raphael…” (Of prayers and courtship)

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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!

-Offertory from the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

A month and a half ago, if you had visited my little corner of the world, you would have stumbled upon me in my parish church, bent over my missal, sitting and reading this exact verse at the Offertory of the Mass.

It was a mere two days after I had entered into courtship. I was in the pew beside the wonderful man who had asked me to court him, and I was wearing “the veil” I’d kept tucked on my prayer altar near the St. Raphael holy card for months.

The Angel of the Lord . . . The words rebounded through my head, tingling with intense gratitude. The Angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them . . .

Today, on St. Raphael’s feast day, it’s a struggle to find words to capture the story of his guidance, protection and intercession on my behalf over the past months. It’s a challenge for me to fully absorb the reality that it is his feast day and that my current joys are due in such a special way to his prayers for me! I’m at a loss as to how to adequately honor him, apart from litanies, prayers, and praying along with the Mass of his feast earlier this morning. I have so much to thank him for but feel as though I can only give so little.

Vividly, I remember being at the beach this spring, in the middle of a jumble of vocational desire and discernment. My feet were planted in the sand, my head was bowed over the little book about him while the salty wind buffeted me and made a circus out of my hair (no exaggeration there . . .), and sensing quite strongly that I only needed to climb under the shelter of his wings in order to be lead closer towards what I was so hungry for: my vocation.

Our Lord had allowed my heart to travel a hilly road across the three years since I finished high school, and really, our family trip this spring symbolized a time of rejuvenation and reflection for me, because I had experienced and learned so much–some things through joy, others through pain. I had tucked the aforementioned book about St. Raphael into my tote bag, brought along a newly acquired holy card, and across that week, I began forming a relationship with this beautiful Archangel, thanks to the inexpressible gift that is the Communion of Saints.

For Thy counsel is not in man’s power, but this everyone is sure of that worships Thee, that his life, if it be under trial, shall be crowned: and if it be under tribulation, it shall be delivered: and if it be under correction, it shall be allowed to come to Thy mercy. For Thou art not delighted in our being lost: because after a storm Thou makest a calm, and after tears and weeping, Thou pourest in joyfulness. Be Thy name, O God of Israel, blessed forever.

-Tobias 3: 20-23 (Sara’s prayer before encountering St. Raphael and Tobias)

Across the past year, I’ve shared here about my vocational discernment, particularly in my linked article on 1P5. I’ve written about how, all my life, I experienced a real longing for marriage and children, but how it took coming into the Latin Mass for me to be able to unconditionally, spiritually surrender to God’s (unknown) will for my life and, more specifically, for my vocation: to stop being terrified that He might be calling me to something else than what I wanted.

When I finally let His grace enable me to become open to whatever it was He wanted, I was soon given the beauteous peace of interiorly knowing the rose of marriage was in Our Lord’s design for my life. He lifted me out of myself during that time and transformed my desires.

This period of discernment all happened over the summer, after I’d embarked on my devotion to St. Raphael and was praying to him twice a day, every day. The specific words of my intentions varied a little, but they were as fervent as I could make them and were very much centered on my future husband (even if the state of my discernment meant that I was including the caveat of if God desires me to marry), and that he and I would be brought together. Eventually, I got to the point where I was specifically asking St. Raphael, the same Archangel that guided Tobias to Sara, that my future husband would be inspired to pursue me as soon as God’s will permitted, so that we could do all things together for His glory.

The two prayers I was offering on a daily basis throughout this time are copied below. This first prayer (taken from the above-mentioned book) brought me, from the beginning, an indescribable sense of consolation. It instilled in me a deep trust that I and my desires for my vocation and my future husband were all being taken care of; and it became the firm foundation of my little-sisterly relationship with St. Raphael.

Dear St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead me by the hand towards those I am waiting for, and those who are waiting for me. May all my movements, all their movements be guided by thy light and transfigured by thy joy. Angel guide of Tobias, lay the request I now address to thee at the feet of Him on Whose unveiled Face thou art privileged to gaze. (Mention your request.) Lonely and weary, deeply grieved by the separation and sorrows of earth, I feel the need of calling out to thee and of pleading for the protection of thy wings so that we may not be as strangers in the province of joy.

Remember the weak, thou who art strong, whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene and bright with the resplendent glory of God. Amen.

The second prayer was sent to me by a good friend earlier on this year in a text message, and I’m not sure of the source (I tweaked one or two words for clarity); but it struck me with its beauty and orthodoxy, and was in a way my first introduction to devotion to St. Raphael.

St. Raphael, loving patron of those seeking a spouse, assist me in this supreme decision of my life. Find for me as a helpmate in life the man whose character reflects many of the traits of Jesus and Mary. May he be upright, loyal, pure, sincere and noble, so that with united efforts and with chaste and unselfish love, we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body, as well as the children entrusted to our care.

St. Raphael, angel of chaste courtship, bless our friendship and our love that sin may have no part in it. May our mutual love bind us so closely that our future home may ever be most like the home of the holy family of Nazareth.  Offer thy prayers to God for the both of us, and obtain the blessing of God upon our marriage, as thou wert the herald of blessing for the marriage of Tobais and Sara.

St. Raphael, friend of the young, be a friend to me, for I shall always be thine. I desire ever to invoke thee in my needs. To thy special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future husband. Direct me to the man with whom I can best cooperate in doing God’s holy will; with whom I can live in peace, charity and fidelity in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next. Amen.

These prayers were the basis of my devotion to St. Raphael, but I also read the Book of Tobit and was blown away by the sheer beauty of St. Raphael’s instruction to Tobias and Sara in regards to their marriage. To imagine an Archangel, “one of the seven who stand before the Lord,” so mercifully intervening in the lives of Tobias and Sara and their families, bringing about healing and a holy marriage, was awe-inspiring, and it served as a confirmation that I was, indeed, praying to an advocate who had been made to care, with a special tenderness and power, for holy marriage and for potential spouses being led into one another’s lives.

A few months of this devotion went by; I received clarity as to my vocation and so then fell to praying more intensely; then came a new acquaintanceship, which grew into a friendship . . . and, in early September, I found myself sitting in the pew at Mass, belonging in a courtship: a time of purposeful, mutual discernment of marriage.

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!

Our friendship-turned-courtship is a sweet and really amazing story in its own right, but one probably better saved for another time . . . however, the building blocks of it were so beyond me in the most literal sense of the word, so beyond my expectations and my own plans and potential conniving, as to be what one can only term “a God thing.” Or, more specifically, “a St. Raphael thing.” 😉 It all happened so effortlessly and gently; I blinked, and there it all was, laid out before me, its own story, so much better and more special than anything I could have written for myself! And now I am in awe of God’s grace and so grateful for the opportunity to discern marriage with such a good man in a courtship.

And now . . . a little bit about courtship itself, because I’ve been dying to blog about it! “Courtship” is a widely used term with various applied meanings and few if any universal rules. But for us, it’s pretty simple: courtship is a more traditional means of a man and woman coming to know one another better and asking God whether it would please Him if they married. While we don’t presume immediately upon the future and are focused on God’s will, courtship is very intentional and is not meant to last long unless the Sacrament of Marriage continues showing itself as a very possible and desired end for the couple in question.

For us, courtship has so far involved many purposeful conversations about the essential issues of Catholic living, marriage and parenting, and our perspectives and experiences growing up; but it’s also involved simply spending time together and growing used to one another’s temperaments and how we think, act and express ourselves. We have always been reserving our first kisses for our wedding days, and I have consistently thought holding hands would be a fun and sweet way to celebrate an engagement, so our courtship’s physical boundaries are modest but certainly not awkward. We’ve chosen for courtship to involve our being always chaperoned (which probably distinguishes it most drastically from the typical dating scenario) as a means of safeguarding our chastity and purity; and we’ve chosen for it to be very family-oriented, with our siblings, parents, and nieces and nephews around a lot of the time, brightening things up, making us laugh, and quite honestly putting us at our ease!

In short, courtship–while being a tradition both of our families have always believed in–was very much our own personal choice, and something that has since brought joy and healthy growth to our God-given relationship. Apart from our deeper conversations, it also involves him always opening and closing the car door for me, and it involves me almost always saying yes when he offers me something to eat or drink; it incorporates ballroom dancing, football games, skits, cooking and home movies, chivalry and good-natured teasing, prayer and, best of all, Mass 🙂 In my mind, it’s a perfect way for two young people to discern marriage and I wouldn’t have it any other way; and today, St. Raphael’s feast, seems the perfect day to write about it, and all he has done for me, with heartfelt gratitude.

And Tobias said to him: Where wilt thou that we lodge?
And the angel answering, said: Here is one whose name is Raguel, a near kinsman of thy tribe, and he hath a daughter named Sara, but he hath no son nor any other daughter beside her. All his substance is due to thee, and thou must take her to wife. Ask her therefore of her father, and he will give her thee to wife.
Then Tobias answered, and said: I hear that she hath been given to seven husbands, and they all died: moreover I have heard, that a devil killed them. Now I am afraid, lest the same thing should happen to me also: and whereas I am the only child of my parents, I should bring down their old age with sorrow to hell.
Then the angel Raphael said to him: Hear me, and I will show thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power.

But thou when thou shalt take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her. And on that night lay the liver of the fish on the fire, and the devil shall be driven away. But the second night thou shalt be admitted into the society of the holy Patriarchs. And the third night thou shalt obtain a blessing that sound children may be born of you. And when the third night is past, thou shalt take the virgin with the fear of the Lord, moved rather for love of children than for lust, that in the seed of Abraham thou mayst obtain a blessing in children.
Then Tobias exhorted the virgin, and said to her: Sara, arise, and let us pray to God to day, and to morrow, and the next day: because for these three nights we are joined to God: and when the third night is over, we will be in our own wedlock. For we are the children of the saints, and we must not be joined together like heathens that know not God.

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