February 28, 2014

Lenten Calendar

One of my absolute favorite blogs is Pondered in My Heart, it's a wonderfully beautiful blog that always brings joy to my heart and a smile on my face.  Lydia (one of the children) has once again made her lovely Lenten Calendar.  I might also add that Lydia painted the pictures for a children's book called St. Felix and the Spider.  And... because I seem to be advertising... you might check out their Etsy store. Even if money is tight and buying isn't happening, the items are worth a look for the sheer enjoyment.  Anyway, if you are looking for a nice little Lenten Calendar for your children, check it out!


Please pray for our dear friend (and neighbor) Dave who was one of the 3% who suffered a stroke following cartoid artery surgery in his neck.

February 23, 2014

40 Above Zero

 No time to think about brushing one's hair when it comes to being 40 degrees above zero.
 40 degrees is positively HOT out.  Will we be setting up the pool soon?
 The snow finally got soft enough to work some more on the snow fort.
 Pippin climbing over the "big snow ball" which I believe he told me is the entrance to the fortress.
 I was introduced to the family of 43 snowmen.

 We're still trying to get our outdoor Nativity Set put away. It's frozen right into the ground.

 And of course 40 degrees incites one to pull out his bicycle! Naturally.

Pop Wheelie Psycho Boy.

Lent is Coming Worksheet

I received a great PDF from a priest once again in anticipation of Lent. I thought I would share it here in case anyone might find it helpful,  If you would like me to email you the PDF, please email me.

Lent is a season of prayer and penance set apart by the Church to prepare us for Easter and to recall Our Lord's fast in the desert (cf. Matt 4:1-11, Luke 4:1-13). This season of preparation and sanctification can be fittingly accomplished through voluntary amendment of life, acts of penance, and works of charity. Lent is a time to learn to love our souls more than our bodies. Thus, every Christian should make a special effort to practice mortification and strive for holiness during the forty days of Lent.

Do not let this time to Grow in Holiness Pass You By!!
Consider the following categories on what you should do for Lent.

1. VOLUNTARY AMENDMENT OF LIFE: Give up those things that you need to give up sooner  or later, namely bad habits. Your goal here is to break a bad habit for ever and Lent is a good time to do it. Love your soul more than your body!
Examples: Gossiping, surfing the web without real need, watching T.V., overeating, eating between meals, eating and drinking junk foods (e.g., soda), bad drinking habits, complaining, saying vulgar words, not getting up on time, using a snooze alarm, wasting time playing video games, going to movies, listening to base music, useless chattering on facebook, blogs, and the like, etc...
In this category I am going to do_______________________________________________________

2. ACTS OF PENANCE: Perform some kind of penance. Your goal here is to train yourself to say "no" in little things so that you can say "NO" to big tempations later. You may resume doing the things you have given up here once Lent is over. Love your soul more than your body! Examples: Avoid eating or drinking something that you enjoy, such as desserts. Give up eating out, taking hot showers, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc...
In this category I am going to do_______________________________________________________

3. WORKS OF CHARITY: Perform some good and holy action(s). Your goal here is to strengthen your relationship with Christ and His Beloved Church. Ideally what you start here could continue in some way even after Lent is over. Love God more than yourself!
Examples: Pray the Rosary every day, attend daily Mass as much as possible, read the Sacred Scriptures _______ minutes a day, spend _______ additional time every day with my family, read a life of a saint or saints, increase spiritual reading, make a daily visit to the Most Blessed Sacrament or some shrine of Our Lady.
In this category I am going to do_______________________________________________________

I plan on making a good confession by this day during Lent _________________________

Sexagesima Sunday

 Of the Jews five times did I receive forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods: once I was stoned: thrice I suffered shipwreck: a night and a day I was in the depth of the sea. In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils from my own nation, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils from false brethren: In labour and painfulness, in much watchings, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
St. Paul 

Today we celebrate Sexagesima Sunday, just 10 days before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Great Lenten Fast.  As we draw near to Lent we are reminded that suffering is a part of life.  Why is suffering a part of life?  Because of sin.  One thing we do not comprehend, do not want to comprehend is how deeply sin offends God. How great even venial sin offends Him.  

Suffering is a blessing because through suffering God gives us the circumstances to draw ourselves to Him.  Sometimes we see some of the most beautiful people suffer what appears to be great injustices and wonder why?  I think it is because God knows that these people... these saintly people... will use their suffering as an act of love for God by accepting it willingly.  Does the willingness take the pain away? No it does not. Christ, during His Passion and Death felt pain yet accepted it willingly.  Our Blessed Mother was so unified with Her Son and willingly suffered with Him.

It is only through suffering that we will find true Joy.  I would suspect God sends us the challenges of every-day life as well as larger crosses because without them we would far too easily find our desires and joys in the things and people of this world.  We would find ourselves content with the good things and forget that we aren't here for this world but for the next... which is Heaven.  Christ gives us the example of how to get there... by carrying our crosses.  

In today's Gospel, we contemplate the parable of the sower and the seed.  We recall that along the way there are those who do not accept the Word of God at all but just travel a well-trodden road, their souls are hardened like a well-traveled pathway, so no seed of Truth can penetrate it.  Then there are those who are unable to endure temptation due to human weakness, so, although they hear the Word of God, it can take no root for the soil of their souls is too rocky.  Next we have the souls of those who hear the Word of God but choke it out due to all the riches and cares of this world. Their souls are thorny.  Then we have the saintly souls who hear the Word of God and keep it, their souls are filled with good soil which is formed through suffering and sacrifice.

As we approach Lent, we should consider how to penetrate our hardened hearts, how to get rid of the rocks and thorns so that we can enrich the soil of our soul to bear good fruit.

What will you be doing for Lent?  This is a great time to prepare!

February 17, 2014

Happy Birthday Eleanor

Happy 11th Birthday, Eleanor.  She chose some of Galadriel's home made brownies.

We took her to a restaurant that brings your  food on a train, however there was a wait so we sat at the bar sipping home brewed root beer and these "Macho Nacho's"
It is a neat idea to deliver food by little electric trains.

With the meal came a free "train ride" which was a mini-roller coaster train. Eleanor and I went on it together... Aragorn preferred to take pictures.

Our homeschooling group went bowling which is an annual thing we do and always enjoy.

Afterwards we had a pizza party. Their pizza is definitely very, very good... so is their loaded chili.
Since this fell on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes the coordinator threw a little party in honor of Our Lady.  St. Valentine also got a little honor as well.  And that reminds me... Lady Modesty's take on Valentine's "definitely don't do" list is worth a read HERE. Totally hilarious.
One of Rosalia's Rosaries.
Just couldn't resist...

A fried double yolker turned... owl?
Zonked... totally zonked.

February 16, 2014

Septuagesima Sunday

Brethren, know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain.... I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway.
1Corinthians 9:24-27; 10:1-5 snippet)

So shall the last be first and the first last. For many are called but few chosen. 
Matthew 1:16

Septuagesima Sunday, marks the day we begin a time of voluntary penance prior to the Great Lenten Fast.  This has been dropped from the New Calendar (still held in the Old), but is still a great reminder either way for what is coming.  This gives us 2-1/2 weeks to prepare for Lent.

Prayer and Spiritual Reading for the soul
Lent in a wonderful time to increase and renew our spiritual life.  

Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.
St. John Chrysostom

What do you need to improve on in your prayer life? Do you say your basic prayers?  Do you spend some quiet time in prayer every day?  Would you be able to make it to daily Mass? 

When we pray we speak to God; but when we read, God speaks to us.
St. Jerome

Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic Book.
St. John Bosco

If you haven't been doing any spiritual reading Lent is a great time to begin... or to increase it if you already do.  There are scores of beautiful spiritual reading that isn't dull and dry.  I like books that put my soul on fire for God.  A few really good ones are:
Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
The Passion and Death of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Liguori
The Victories of the Martyrs by St. Alphonsus Liguori

Mortification of the flesh
The more one mortifies his natural inclinations, the more he renders himself capable of receiving divine inspirations and of progressing in virtue.
St. Francis de Sales

What will you be doing to mortify the flesh?  Lent is a great time to curb our human appetites... and that doesn't just mean dinner or candy.  There are numerous areas beyond the belly (though that is a good place to start!). 

The only true riches are those that make us rich in virtue. Therefore, if you want to be rich, beloved, love true riches. If you aspire to the heights of real honor, strive to reach the Kingdom of Heave. If you value rank and renown, hasten to be enrolled in the heavenly court of the Angels
St. Gregory the Great

What will you be doing to increase in virtue?  Pick a particular vice to rid yourself of while increasing it's opposite virtue (taken from www.fisheaters.com):
The 7 Capital Sins and their Contrary Virtues
Capital Sin
Contrary Virtue
Unrestrained appreciation of our own worth
Immoderate desire for earthly goods
Hankering for impure pleasures
Inordinate desire for revenge
Unrestrained use of food and drink
Sorrow over another's good fortune
Brotherly Love
Laxity in keeping the Faith and the practice of virtue

So... now is the time to prepare for the Great Lenten Fast... which begins on March 5th.

We Miss You

The sorrows of death surrounded me, the sorrows of hell encompassed me: and in my affliction I called upon the Lord, and He heard my voice from His holy temple.  I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength: the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.
Introit for Septuagesima Sunday

May he rest in Peace.

February 12, 2014

More Urgent pryaers

UPDATE:  Jackie's BP remains stable by the Grace of God. Deo Gratias!  Please continue your prayers!  The power of prayer is amazing!  

(written by one of my sisters-in-law)

With a heavy heart, we want to let you know that Jackie's blood pressure continues to rise and she has been moved to the birthing center.  They are monitoring her blood pressure and she is ready for a c-section if it gets any higher.  They said there is no chance that the baby will survive if she is born now.  It could be tonight, tomorrow, or a couple of days.  We continue to pray for a miracle.  Please pray for strength for John and Jackie, and for wisdom for those in charge of their care.  Fr. Alex is with them now, and they will baptize their baby girl as soon as she is born.

Eternal Rest

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Charlie van Hecke, oldest son of friends Dave and Cecile.  And pray for their family as well.

Eternal Rest grand unto him, O Lord
And let Perpetual Light shine upon him
May he rest in Peace.

More Urgent Prayers for Jackie

After so much good news recently (that I haven't filled my blog viewers with, sorry) we have received a report that in a nutshell, Jackie has hypertension and her blood pressure is going up. Although they can keep the blood pressure in check with meds it harms the baby, the solution is that they will have to deliver the baby soon. Please, please pray.  The baby is 22+ weeks.  The chance of survival is very low but it is possible but will take much care and many prayers.   Please pray.  They are prepared for emergency Baptism with the matter and form with them.

For anyone so inclined to pray with our extended family, please feel free to join us in an hourly novena to St. Philomena. Any time to begin the prayers is just fine!

O faithful virgin and glorious martyr, St. Philomena, who works so many miracles on behalf of the poor and sorrowing, have pity on us. Thou knowest the multitude and diversity of our needs. Behold me at thy feet, full of misery, but full of hope. I entreat thy charity, O great Saint! Graciously hear me and obtain from God a favorable answer to the request which I now humbly lay before thee. (Mention your intentions here)
I am firmly convinced that through thy merits, through the scorn, the sufferings and the death thou didst endure, united to the merits of the Passion and death of Jesus, thy Spouse, I shall obtain what I ask of thee, and in the joy of my heart I will bless God, who is admirable in His Saints. Amen.

St. Philomena, pray for us!
St. Gerard, pray for us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us!

February 9, 2014

Blessing of Throats and Other Goings On

 Following our absolutely beautiful Candlemas Day Mass our priest did the St. Blaise blessing of throats.
 Following this was another one of our great potluck meals.

 Frodo was having a snack that I was introduced to.  Cut a very large slab of home made bread. Scoop out most of the middle and fill it with honey.  Really?!  Really.

 Frodo was in a band concert with some children from a local good and faithful Catholic school.  It was a real treat for him to play next to this very talented young man, who also happens to be the son of my friend who had passed away not too long ago.
Frodo breathed a big sigh of relief!

This past Saturday Frodo participated in his first Solo and Ensemble Festival.  He received a first rating on his piece! So did all the others from our homeschooling band who participated!
 Kili is crawling and all over the place.  He loves to eat out of the dustpan.  Really?! Really.

 So I said, "What should we eat for February 2nd?" I was thinking of a nice commemoration for the Feast of Our Lady's Purification, the Feast of the Presentation. The reply was "Ground Hog"  Get it... ground hog, groundhog... ground pork.  I just about laughed my fool head off... so we made our ground hog into a sausage.  Frodo formed it into the shape of a groundhog.  Really?!  Really.

 Galadriel reading to the littles.  I'm not exactly sure the expression on Marigold's face but we don't ask to many questions about pictures.

 Frodo has been busy sanding down the walls and ceiling in the new bedroom in the basement. He is very eager to get Sam, Merry and Pippin out of his room.

 Eleanor & Poppy

 Galadriel, Eowyn balancing the clock on her head? and Rosie
Eowyn and Galariel

Did I mention mischief?
That said, he just might be a candidate for the world's fastest dishwasher (youtube) 

 This Sarah's Silks sword turned out to be his prrrrrrrrrrrrrecious.
 Don't mess with me. My name is trouble.... and don't you forget it.

An absolutely delicious chicago style home made pizza.