7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 10 :: Back to Work

MondayTakes

Explore previous rambling installments here ๐Ÿ™‚

1.

Another Monday, already here! Happy feast of Ss. Vincent and Anastasius, Martyrs!

I am typing to some cheery Frank Sinatra at the moment ๐Ÿ™‚ But to elaborate on the post title: I termed this a “back to work” edition because I’m, well, getting back to work (or trying to). Back to the heroic minute, back to a pretty rigorous schedule in which I am committing to not wasting my time and to reclaiming a diligence and perseverance of spirit.

Tutoring is only a small sliver of this “work,” actually. Tomorrow’s class is all prepared for ๐Ÿ™‚ Really, what I’m referring to is a lot of writing I could be doing (more off Benedic than on it), that I’ve been shying away from for months . . . but yesterday I took the time to examine my current state of life and found more areas for work than I’d been conscious of.

Employing my time, submitting myself to a schedule, endeavoring to exercise a talent, to create things reflective of truth and beauty, especially whenย I don’t feel itย (the plague of all artists, I suppose)–that concretely builds virtues of diligence, industry and perseverance, and pleases God. And anything else is possibly wasteful, with where I am in life.

So yesterday, after Mass and potluck, I came home, did a huge load of dishes (that will be explained in a moment), then went out onto the back deck (finally, there were temperatures not so oppressively freezing!), and wrote both a journal entry and a reasonable daily schedule. Every day from 6am -3:30pm now has constructive slots of work, study and prayer. Tuesdays are my only “off” day, in general, due to tutoring. The Dash is back to classes today and Our Lord mercifully used that to galvanize my soul towards more concrete work, as well, at home ๐Ÿ˜‰

Today, so far, has been a blessing!

2.

Lena wrote about today far more eloquently than I could. So I’m simply going the Prayer of St. Augustine I prayed this morning, one that seemed all too appropriate in contemplating the tragedy of abortion:

Lord, before Thine eyes we bring our sins, and with them we compare the stripes which we have received.
When we think of the evil we have done, little is that which we suffer, great that which we deserve.
Heaviest are our offences, lightest our burden.
We are afflicted by the punishment of our sin, yet we avoid not the obstinate desire of sinning.
The weakness of our flesh faints under Thy scourges, yet is not our iniquity changed.
The sick soul is sore tormented, yet is not the neck bent.
In pain our life sighs heavily; yet are its deeds in no wise amended.
If Thou waitest for us, we are not corrected; if Thou takest vengeance, we bear it not.
When we are corrected, we confess our shortcomings; after Thou hast visited us, we forget that which we bewailed.
If Thou stretchest forth Thy hand, we promise what we will do; if Thou delayest to draw Thy sword, we perform not our promises.
If Thou strikest us, we cry unto Thee to spare; if Thou sparest, we provoke Thee again to strike.
Lord, hear the confession of Thy guilty people; for we know well that unless Thou shouldest pardon, Thou dost righteously consume us.
Almighty Father, grant us that which though we pray we do not deserve to obtain; Thou who didst create men of nothing, that they might pray to Thee. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

ย ย  Amen.

3.

Oh, yes! The huge load of dishes. Due to a damaged pipe, we were without water over the weekend, but fortunately all was restored yesterday afternoon. Needless to say, we couldn’t wash dishes, couldn’t wash clothes . . . I sighed very deep sighs of satisfaction yesterday afternoon as I helped the kitchen regain its former shine. But hey, it wasn’t all bad. Paper plates, water bottles, and we had jugs of water to help the toilets flush. Lena even managed to back molasses cookies on Saturday evening, and white bean turkey chili (for Sunday potluck), when we had The Dash over and watched the VHS of my parents’ wedding day!

For us kids, it was the first time and to say we enjoyed it is the understatement of the century ๐Ÿ˜‰ They were adorable and many moments of the day were equally touching and hilarious!

4.

Lately, I’ve been reading and contemplating the topic of modesty and feminine dress over at The Catholic Lady. An enjoyable and thought-provoking collection of posts and photos! I love the idea of photo-documenting modest outfits you wear . . . I’m going to try and do it on an irregular basis . . .

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My Sunday outfit . . . picture courtesy of my brother ๐Ÿ˜‰

5.

For a bit of news, I’ve just put up the beginnings to my “Daily Dedications” section, and posted several prayers and devotions for Monday, to the Holy Ghost! I hope to build up the rest over the next few days . . . for now, check it out here.

6.

Sushi! I tried my first-ever sushi last Friday. California rolls, and also salmon. Amazing. 21.5 years of waiting, and it did not disappoint. Worthy of documentation . . . The Dash’s lovely sister got it on video, but as I stuffed the slightly over-large roll in my mouth all in one bite (using chopsticks, I proudly add), I’m not sure how pretty it looked, especially as I tried to chew the enormous amount of food and began dying with laughter, along with everyone else.

7.

I was blessed with several hours’ worth of Eucharistic Adoration over the past week and a half. Much of it was with The Dash. During one such Holy Hour last Monday, I had given him my little book about St. Raphael to read, and towards the end of our time there, he (silently) led me in the Litany of St. Raphael, guiding me with his finger.

To have daily prayed the “Angel of Happy Meetings” prayer for what seemed like such a long time last year . . .

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.

. . . and to then be praying in front of the Eucharist, and watch The Dash’s hand underline the words, “St. Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, pray for us,” was a moment beyond words–a moment for me to be overawed at the goodness of God as showered upon me through the intercession of this holy Archangel.

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

God bless you! ๐Ÿ™‚

Sig

 

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

Saint_Raphael

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 knowingย 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.ย  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.” ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.

Sig2

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

MondayTakes

1.

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

In the beginning, my most central motivation in startingย Benedic was to create a place where I gathered links to my off-site articles, such as at Seton Magazine and, eventually, 1P5. In fact, that was how I pitched the whole “Hey! What if . . .” to my parents, way back when ๐Ÿ™‚ But I think Our Lord had even more exciting expectations for this than I did, because this little place of mine has come to be a delight to write on, an opportunity to share a part of myself with others, and it’s My Precious now ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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

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

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

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

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

2.

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

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

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

I think I’m thinking too hard . . .

3.

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

4.

Around the house, we’ve been listening to a lot of Michael Buble recently. We enjoy him and he perks up the homeschool atmosphere ๐Ÿ˜‰ “Everything” is currently the most oft-repeated favorite!

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

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

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

5.

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

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

6.

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

From the Missal:

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

The Collect:

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

7.

A random thought (because random thoughts are all I have left, and I need to switch laundry), but it’s very hard to believe we’re nearing the end of October and that tomorrow is two months from Christmas Eve, with this Sunday already being the Old Calendar Feast of Christ the King! Our parish will be having a High Mass and Lena and I have been privileged to learn some beautiful music for it, along with brushing up on Mass IV . . . our favorite Mass setting from the Kyriale! Life is good ๐Ÿ˜‰

Have a blessed and beautiful day!

Sig2

 

Our Miniature Prayer Altar (Update)

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Back in February, I wrote a post about how my sister and I had made a miniature prayer altar to St. Joseph in our bedroom, in connection with our devotion to the most virtuous foster-father of Christ, and in praying to him for the spiritual protection of our future husbands.

Well . . . now it’s mid-June (that’s hard to believe!). And as our devotions have grown over the past four months, so has our little prayer altar, to say the least! I’ve been wanting to take more pictures and share what’s going on up on our shelf for a while now ๐Ÿ™‚

Having a little prayer altar/prayer shelf in our room has proved to be such a lovely thing. It immediately reminds me of higher things; it directs my heart toward prayer; and it reminds me of the presence and intercession of my favorite saints, and the consolation of my favorite devotions. It’s not the only place where we keep sacramentals in our bedroom, but it’s definitely become the center of things!

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So here’s a basic side view, near my bed. (Alas, the lighting in our room, in terms of photography, is just awful!)

From here, in order of left to right, you can see . . . A) A holy card of the Holy Family [balanced against an empty votive candle globe] B) A statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel C) A statue of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus, with holy cards on either side D) A statue of St. Joseph E) A holy card of St. Raphael, propped against our special white veil F) A statue of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Let’s take a closer look!

The Holy Family

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This beautiful holy card (from Portraits of Saints . . . where else?) is our most recent acquisition. While we have statues of all three members of the Holy Family on our altar already, it just feels appropriate to have an image of them gathered together. And this is one of the most adorable and heartmelting portrayals of the child Jesus that I’ve ever seen, by the way!

Each night, at the end of our few night prayers, my sister and I pray the traditional ejaculation:

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give thee my heart and my soul!

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me in my last agony!

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, may I breathe forth my soul in peace with thee!

And as the holy card seems to fit this prayer perfectly, it will remain a permanent fixture on our altar ๐Ÿ™‚

Moving on . . .

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

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Apart from both being enrolled in the Brown Scapular and reciting its attached Morning Offering each morning, we don’t have any private devotions to Our Lady of Mount Carmel specifically, but we included this statue because it’s the most intact statue of our Blessed Mother that we currently have. Besides, she definitely needed to be a part of our prayer altar, due to our devotion to her through Total Consecration, and to the Holy Rosary and her Seven Sorrows ๐Ÿ™‚

The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, and Prayer Cards

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Yes . . . we know His halo is missing one piece. We actually have found the piece and are going to get our Dad or brother to superglue it in the near future . . . the missing piece of His left hand, however, we don’t have . . .

Our home has been enthroned to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus for nearly a year now, and so devotion to the Sacred Heart is of special importance to our family. And again . . . this is the only statue of Our Lord my sister and I have that’s (relatively) intact, and like the Blessed Virgin, we reached the point where we wanted Him visibly on our prayer altar, so up it went!

And as for the prayer cards, we actually change them every day of the week! Since today is Wednesday, they’re both of St. Joseph, because Wednesday is traditionally devoted to St. Joseph. Yesterday, we had a holy card of St. Anthony of Padua (for obvious reasons), and also one of a Guardian Angel, since Tuesday is traditionally devoted to the Holy Angels. Here’s a full list, in case you’re interested:

Sunday: To the Holy Trinity Monday: To the Holy Ghost, and to the Holy Souls in Purgatory Tuesday: To the Holy Angels Wednesday: To St. Joseph Thursday: To the Most Blessed Sacrament Friday: To the Passion of Our Lord, and to His Sacred Heart Saturday: To the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When we began perusingย With God, we had the idea to make a little space on our prayer altar to reflect the changing devotions for each day. So far, it’s been lovely and easy to do!

St. Joseph

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And of course, St. Joseph–the entire reason we began our prayer altar to begin with! We pray to him daily for the spiritual protection of our future husbands, and also for the spiritual protection of all the men (friends and family members) God has placed in our lives. And I’m also often inspired to pray for his intercession that I would just grow in virtue and one day make a holy and chaste wife . . .

We usually pray the ancient prayer to St. Joseph:

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession, and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having obtained here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating thee with Jesus asleep in thy arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near thy heart. Press Him in my name, kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us!

St. Raphael

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If I could name one thing out of 2017 that I’m most grateful for so far . . . it would have to be discovering devotion to St. Raphael through a good friend. Oh my.

My sister and I’s prayer altar originated out of our great desire to be brought into our future husbands’ lives in accordance with God’s will and timing. And while some of our Church’s most beautiful saints, like St. Joseph, have heard many of our prayers for our future spouses, and will continue to do so–I think Our Lord desired to draw us into devotion to the Heavenly Archangel who escorted one holy man and one holy woman, under very unlikely circumstances, into one anothers’ lives.

This would be St. Raphael.

In the Book of Tobias, St. Raphael appeared in the form of “a beautiful young man” to Tobias’ only son, Tobiah, and (apart from doing several other extraordinary things) orchestrated a holy marriage between Tobiah and Sarah, exhorting them to enter into a chaste and God-fearing union with hearts desirous of children and of virtue. Tobiah and Sarah are the prime example of holy marriage in traditional Catholicism; the Introit for the Nuptial Mass comes from the book of Tobias.

So, after discovering all this (I so highly recommend this book), good St. Raphael has become the foremost intercessor my sister and I now turn to when praying that our future husbands would actually be guided to us, like Tobiah was to Sarah. We desire holy marriage one day, and St. Raphael has become a true consolation to us.

So yes . . . there are two prayers we pray daily to him, and behind his holy card (also from Portraits of Saints) sits our beautiful veil. My sister is planning on getting one of her own soon, to where we no longer have girlish logistical fears about “what if we both are going to need to wear it at the same time?” etc. ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Our “updated” plan is to wear our special white veils, as sacramentals (we hope to have them blessed), during courtship and betrothal as a sign of our reliance on St. Raphael (and St. Joseph) during that time of discernment, and to have with us in some form on our wedding day, in their honor . . .

That was probably more than you ever wanted to know about that. Sorry ๐Ÿ™‚

Our Lady of Lourdes

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And finally, Our Lady of Lourdes! She is my patronal saint, and this statue was a gift to my sister from her spiritual director from when he visited Lourdes recently. This statue is our second-most-recent acquisition for our prayer altar, and we invoke her each night before we go to bed ๐Ÿ™‚

So that’s our prayer altar! I hope you enjoyed the look at it and weren’t too overwhelmed by manifold details. Whether simple or elaborate, whether it represents several devotions or just one, a prayer altar is beautiful, special and personal and can be an avenue of grace for any soul trying to grow in love of God and His saints.

God bless!

There and Back Again

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My family was blessed with our first true vacation together in six years. We rented a small yellow beach house for a week, and we spent hour after hour soaking in all the incredible beauty of God’s seaside creation.

We stayed up late watching The Lord of the Rings every night (with ice cream . . . no better combination!); we had a bonfire, we played music, engaged in endless rounds of Kadima (once, in 25 mph winds . . . most of the time I was an embarrassment to the sport, but I did have a few heroic moments). My dad and brother had an ongoing fishing competition.

We swam, got fantastic farmers’ tans (the thanks goes to my mother for helping all us girls find modest swimwear), collected a million seashells (of which we only kept a thousand), and walked miles and miles of shoreline.

We talked, laughed, and read, napped a lot, played hard and ate probably a little more fun food than was good for us (though we burned so many calories, I don’t really feel guilty. Actually, come to think of it, there’s no guilt at all).

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We watched the glorious sunsets every evening and were amazed at how long the daylight lingered. We befriended a striking four-foot-tall blue heron, fed him fish that we baited with leftover hot dogs, and affectionately dubbed him Herr Detweiler (or Max, for short).

One day we went out to buy a few souvenirs and explore the area; my sister and I found oversized sun hats with bows and bright colors and walked around BlueWater Outriggers wearing them (to the complete humiliation of our younger brother ๐Ÿ™‚ ). I took 500 pictures. We even accomplished the minor miracle of family portraits at sunset.

Personally, I relished getting to be so active out in the wind and sun. My closest-in-age sister and I got to share a bed and room all to ourselves, and while we initially planned to stay up late talking every night, we were so worn out from all the talking we did during the day on the beach, especially on our shoreline walks, plus all our other shenanigans, that we were both asleep in five minutes every night ๐Ÿ™‚

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My muscles and feet were continually sore, but every day I was experiencing the blessing of mental, emotional, and often spiritual refreshment. There was such incredible beauty all around me, and space to think and be quiet and ponder so many things that have happened to me, and to my family, over the past few years.

On impulse, I had brought along a traditionally toned (from the 1950’s) miniature book about St. Raphael and stuffed it down in my tote bag. Reading this on the beach catapulted long discussions with my sister and graced us both with the blessing of a deeper devotion to this Archangel, especially in regards to our vocations.

She and I packed several big holy cards with us (Our Lady of Fatima, St. Joseph as a child, and St. Raphael) and we wedged them into the edge of a picture frame hanging in our bedroom wall, making a mini-shrine like the one we have in our room at home ๐Ÿ™‚ But, while on this theme, I have to say one of my very favorite things we did at the beach was to bring our spare framed images of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, our votive candle, a crucifix, and holy water, and make the fireplace mantle at our beach house a copy of the one we have at home. Dad blessed the living room with holy water.

It was like having our home away from home . . . and, when you’re someone who believes in the home being a “little church” (as St. John Chrysostom put it), then that’s exactly the point.

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Yet even so . . . with all our sacramentals and daily prayers in tow at the beach house, it was still wonderful to be home again. (Which is funny, especially when I recall being so devastated every time a vacation came to an end when I was younger . . .)

After we got home, it was made clear to me (in more ways than one) what a gift and true necessity the routines of home life are. The quiet routines we take for granted, and which we’re largely removed from on vacations, are often a spiritual safety net. Family trips are a wonderful time for refreshment and for making memories together, as well as marveling at the splendor of God’s creation . . . but I think there’s a significant reason why we often start craving to be home again. Not merely to be back to “the normal”; but, truly, to be home. To be back to our order (well, as much order as we can ever make ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), to our prayers, to work. Ora et labora. If the truly Catholic home is a little church, then our time-shaped routines of work and prayer are, in a certain sense, liturgy.

When speaking in general terms about Catholic worship, if the liturgy is negatively altered or impeded, it’s possible our dispositions receptivity to grace can be altered as well. On a smaller scale, the same can be said when we take a break from our home life and our family liturgy is consequently altered a little too. If we’re not vigilant, it’s so easy let the alteration/cessation of our daily routines impede our receptivity to grace and our alertness in spiritual battles, both as individuals and as a family.

But in any event, it shines fresh perspective and awakens gratitude to come to the end of a beautiful vacation and realize that we crave the rhythmic days of home. We realize there are things to be done (often simple, mundane, repetitive things) in order for us to keep on living our vocation to sainthood; we want to get back to them. And I call that a real grace!

At last they rode over the downs and took the East Road, and then Merry and Pippin rode on to Buckland; and already they were singing again as they went. But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.

-J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

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