Thursday, July 29, 2010

Some thoughts on Saint Martha


If you haven't already, hop on over to Fr. Z's blog to read a wonderful analysis of this painting by Velazquez and his meditations on Saint Martha!

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 9


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.

Image credit: Rembrandt, The Raising of Lazarus

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Darling Dress Giveaway!


I just wanted to let all of our readers know that Betty Beguiles is hosting a giveaway of your choice from three lovely dresses. The contest runs through August 9th, so hop on over there and have a look!

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 8


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.

Image credit: Giotto, Raising of Lazarus

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 7


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.

Image credit: Caravaggio, The Raising of Lazarus

Monday, July 26, 2010

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 6


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.


Image credit: Engebretchtsz, Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 5


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.

Image credit: You can buy this fantastic holy card from Adoremus Books!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 4


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.

Image credit

Friday, July 23, 2010

"This wonderful exchange"

Visit our friends at Ecclesia Domestica to see the creative design for their foyer wall that incorporates their family portraits along with those of some of their extended family in heaven. It's a great witness to all who visit their home, and a constant reminder to their children of these holy examples.

In the communion of saints, "a perennial link of charity exists between the faithful who have already reached their heavenly home, those who are expiating their sins in purgatory and those who are still pilgrims on earth. between them there is, too, an abundant exchange of all good things." In this wonderful exchange, the holiness of one profits others, well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause others. Thus recourse to the communion of saints lets the contrite sinner be more promptly and efficaciously purified of the punishments for sin. CCC 1475

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 3


O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.

Image credit

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How NOT to pray a novena ...


In my recent search for novenas to Saint Martha I found a few wacky things. The "winner" was a novena that includes these directions for day nine:
On the ninth day, offer an eggplant (preferable to killing a goat) to St. Martha, and say: “I offer this living sacrifice (vegetables are living organisms) to you in exchange for granting me a safe and happy life. I will prepare it according to ancient ritual, and offer it to those I love as well as myself to consume. It shall contain your protection, and bring security, peace and protection to all who partake of this food. Holy Martha, hear my prayer and deliver my petition immediately, Amen.”

The following day, prepare the eggplant. In a bowl, mix flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Sift these ingredients with your hands in front of the picture of St. Martha with a fresh candle to be burned all the while you are preparing the meal.

As you sift, you know you must empower every ingredient to ensure a favorable outcome. You concentrate on the earth energy rising through the soles of your feet, coursing through your body and exiting through your hands into the flour as you recite the ancient prayer: “Scongiuro te, o farina! Che sei il corpo nostro – senza di te non si potrebbe vivere – tu che prima di divenire la farina, sei stata sotto terra, dove sono nascosti tutti i segreti, porti i vostri segreti a questo pasto ed esponga coloro che desidera farmi danno.”

Confirming, once again, that the internet is a very strange place.

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 2



O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.


Image Credit: Tintorettom Christ in the House of Martha and Mary

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Novena to Saint Martha - Day 1

As patron of cooks, dietitians, domestic servants, homemakers, housemaids, housewives, laundry workers, maids, servers, single laywomen, and travelers Saint Martha is a go-to saint for Church Ladies of all types! In preparation for her feast day on July 29, we invite you to invoke her intercession for your needs.

O glorious Saint Martha,
I have recourse to your protection and aid,
And as proof of my affection and faith
I promise faithfully to complete this novena.

Comfort me in my difficulties
And intercede for my family
With your intimate friend, our savior,
That we may always hold God in our hearts
And be provided for in our necessities.

I beg your supplications
Especially in behalf of the favor
I ask of you in this novena.

(mention your request).

I ask you, Saint Martha,
By your intercession to help me
In overcoming all my difficulties
And to teach me to become great
In the Kingdom of Heaven
By becoming as humble as you
In this world. Amen.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Seven Deadly Sins of Parish Website Design

Here are 7 quick ways to absolve your parish website of some serious sins that endanger its sole purpose of leading the faithful closer to Jesus Christ and His Church.

1. Turn off the music, eliminate any cheesy animated gifs and flashing text, remove any visible visitor counters and get rid of (what you might think are) really cool animated menu thingies. They are not near as cool as you think they are. I promise. This is precisely what Jesus was talking about in scripture when He said, “and if thy right hand scandalize thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee.” Cut them off.

(continue reading at the full article at the National Catholic Register)

Travel plans to Belgium?


I was just over at NLM reading about the Praying with Needle and Thread vestment exhibit at Tongerlo Abbey in Belgium. The title of this exhibit alone is enough to make me want to go! Spend a few minutes there today marveling at the incredible details of these beautiful works. You'll be glad you did!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A long tall cool drink of ...

Southern Girl's Frozen Fruit ring.

"And yes, I did get out my Bundt pan and make the well behaved southern girl’s ubiquitous frozen fruit ring for the Family Friendly non-sangria punch. Because I was Raised Right. And have hosted umpty thousand showers. "

Check out the beautiful picture and read Joshilyn's trials and travails of catering her own book launch with delicate, feminine food. Tres Church Lady.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit

But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others.

... We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God's will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator.


From a sermon by Saint Augustine, bishop
(An excerpt from the Office of Readings, 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
Image Credit: Norman Rockwell, Gossip

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Women and Spirit: Coming to a museum near you!


From the time the Ursulines arrived in New Orleans in 1727 up to today, women religious have made an incalculable contribution to this nation. Running schools, hospitals and orphanages from America's earliest days, these women helped foster a culture of social service that has permeated our society. Over the centuries these courageous women overcame many obstacles--both physical and cultural--to bring their civilizing and caring influence to every corner of the country. Understanding and celebrating the history of women religious is essential to understanding and celebrating the history of America.
(Cokie Roberts, news analyst and author)

If you haven't already visited, I strongly recommend a trip to see Women and Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, sponsored by the LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious). I saw the exhibit on a recent trip to Cleveland, and can't recommend it highly enough.

The exhibit pays tribute to the extraordinary legacy that Catholic sisters played in the development of America, from building strong institutions in the cities to ministering to God's people on the frontiers and the edges of society. It does an excellent job of putting the sisters' accomplishments into historical perspective, and answering questions about issues faced by the Church in America throughout the years. For example, one part of the exhibit addresses the significance of the Catholic school system. The exhibit explains how many things we might take for granted as American Catholics were quite counter-cultural.

The exhibit will take you about 90 minutes to view, and is very accessible for all ages, although the educator's guide is helpful as well. The exhibit contains a nice variety of tributes to history, historical objects (such as possessions of St Elizabeth Ann Seton and Mother Cabrini), and multimedia.

Another aspect I find truly Catholic is that at the end of the exhibit are brochures for local congregations of women religious, recognizing that this exhibit may be the first time many young women think about a vocation.

As we celebrated the Year for Priests, we gave thanks for their ministry to the Church. "Women and Spirit" is an opportunity to pay tribute to the sisters who have done so much for our country.

Hopefully you can see "Women and Spirit" somewhere near you. Ellis Island is a very appropriate host site; I am also thrilled it is coming to the environs of Our Lady's University.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Blast from the past

A vocations prayer booklet from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, imprimatur granted by Bishop Cousins in 1967 (found inside a secondhand book).




The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is a source for great hope- their ordination numbers over the last several years have been consistently good. Check out their priestly vocations website thinkpriest.org for ideas to foster vocations in the family.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Makes Good Church Music?


In my family we have three choir members, a pianist, some who have studied music history, a professional liturgist, a number of amateur liturgists, and a whole bunch of people who are just trying to pray during Mass. What that all boils down to is an ongoing discussion about church music. What is appropriate, what's bad, what instruments are welcome and which should be banned, what aides prayer and what distracts from it. What part does personal preference play in the discussion? Amateur musicians or professional? Organ or tambourine? Music we hear on Christian radio or music specifically set apart for liturgy?

This past week Fr. Longenecker has been posting thought-provoking essays on church music. If you're interested in this topic at all, please follow the links. I've only included a few snippets here; he presents a well-developed case.

In part one, he lists general criteria for choosing good hymns:
What people don't seem to realize is that there are actually some criteria for choosing good hymns. The fact that so many of the hymns in our Catholic hymnals are terrible musically, heterodox theologically, contain execrable poetry, maudlin sentiments and trashy pop psychology doesn't help. People need to learn that just because a hymn is published doesn't make it good. Furthermore, just because it's popular doesn't make it good.
In part two, Father explains the importance of the words in a hymn:
The reason a fully orthodox theology in hymns is so important is because so many Catholics receive little or no catechesis. The only place they are likely to confront Catholic theology is in the hymns they sing at Mass. If the hymns do not express Catholic eucharistic theology, if they emphasize the purely social justice ecclesiology, if they downplay orthodox doctrine and water down the faith by ignoring the supernatural elements, then we shouldn't be surprised when Catholics turn out to be so wishy washy and ignorant of their faith.
Part three examines the music - is it accessible to a congregation? Does it lift the heart?
Modern hymn writers, in an attempt to be relevant, and in ignorance of the sacred tradition write hymns in all sorts of contemporary styles. I have heard hymns sung during communion that sounded like love songs from Broadway musicals. I have heard hymns that sound like protest marching anthems, Elton John numbers, songs by Abba, sound tracks from musical comedies or just bland muzak. I've heard gospel blues harmonies, polka, country Western, jazz riffs and rhythm and blues numbers. I've heard psalms sung in a sultry nightclub style, an Ethel Merman broadway style and even some sacred songs crooned through a hand held microphone. None of these styles evoke the sacred. They are entertainment based and are the absolute nadir of contemporary Catholic worship.
Part four sums everything up and asks just what is suitable and should we have hymns at Mass at all? How can we meet most congregations where they are and move them closer to the ideal?
The setting and circumstances of the liturgy therefore matter. A small humble and down to earth parish should not attempt a cathedral standard organist and choir, but Gregorian chant based music will be suitable for both, one being adorned with finer aspects of classical music, while the other may be adorned with more simple music. All things should be done decently and in order and according to their proper status. Music at Mass should reflect the character and circumstances of the parish while at the same time aiming for the highest and holiest standards of beauty in worship.
And finally, Father links to a video (also below) which quotes lots of documents and points us toward many free online resources.

Can you tell the difference?? from Corpus Christi Watershed on Vimeo.

Update: Father Longenecker continues the conversation today by defining emotion vs. sentimentality.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thrifty Grocery Shopping

I once read a really interesting book about the techniques used by grocery stores to encourage us to spend more money. One of the most surprising things I learned is that stores love shoppers who work with a list. According to this source, if you come in with a list, you won't be satisfied until you've purchased everything on it. In other words, even though you're feeling so organized, what really happens (to all but those with steely self-discipline) is that you're on a mission; you'll go all over the store if necessary until you've checked off every item. Along the way, you're sure to pick up sale items, that deli salad you can serve with dinner, the great smelling fresh bread, those new products on the end caps, and the tasty sample item in aisle 9. The longer you stay in the store, the more you're going to spend.

One thing I'd suggest is this: next time you're at your primary grocery store, stop at the customer service desk and ask for a store map. From there, consider the things you typically buy and plot out their location. Make a personalized checklist based on this information and keep a copy handy as you do your meal planning and run out of staples.

I've done this for several years (with varying periods of commitment) and am certain that when I plan meals and use this list to shop, not only will I have the items I need on hand for every meal, but we eat more balanced meals and I spend far less than I do on the less organized trips.

My list is just a four-columned Word document, easily produced and edited. Mine can help get you started, but be kind - I'm hoping you won't judge me for having Velveeta and tater tots on it. ;-)




Monday, July 5, 2010

Church Photography, part 2: Let there be light

Part 1: Don’t be THAT woman

As we all know, God said “Let there be light,” and there was. Unfortunately, this doesn’t often apply inside churches. The relative darkness inside can often be prohibitive when trying to take pictures in church. However, there are a few ways to make the best of a dark situation.

First, let me explain a few basic things about photography. The shutter of your camera opens to a certain width, for a certain amount of time, to let in the right amount of light. This balance is called exposure. Below are examples of underexposed, properly exposed, and overexposed photos. (click on this, and any, image to enlarge)



On an automatic setting, the camera will find a balance between shutter speed and opening width (also called “aperture”). Rather than try to explain all the implications of different balances, I’ll provide the following diagram, which will hopefully shed some light (no pun intended) on how things work.

If you want everything to be in sharp focus, you’ll need a higher f/stop, which means that the shutter speed needs to be longer (following along on the chart?). This has two drawbacks: first, it’s harder to hold the camera steady (a professor once told our class that anything longer than 1/60 sec. is impossible to keep steady. I find that I’m okay up to 1/15, but your results may vary.). Second, people in your photograph are more likely to move, thus becoming blurry (see below). So, if you're trying to take a picture of the beautifully set up altar before Mass, motion won't be a problem. During Mass, you're more likely to have problems.

The photos below are both properly exposed, but have different f/stops. See the difference? The wide aperture limits the range of what is in focus. A relatively flat surface, like an altar or a stained glass window, can handle this. A broader subject, like a shot of the whole interior of a church, will end up with a more selective focus.

The two photos below were both taken at an aperture of f/1.4 (very wide open). This was necessary in the confessional picture, in order to shorten the shutter speed as much as possible. Unfortunately, as you can see, it wasn’t enough and there's motion blur. In the picture on the right, the light coming through the window shortened the shutter speed dramatically.

One way to avoid motion blur is to rest the camera on a pew. It's like a built-in tripod, and while it won't steady the camera totally, it can help a lot.

What’s the lesson here? Get as much light as possible in the shot. This may require zooming out further than you want to, in order to catch more light. That’s okay - you can crop later (and that’s why you also want to have your camera on the highest pixel setting). Take the picture below, for example. Suppose that all I really wanted was the image of Lazarus. Zooming in eliminates too much light to get a clear shot. Getting as much light as possible and then cropping gives the result I want.

Another way to get sharp images, especially of people moving, is to switch your camera to sports mode, if it has one. On my camera, this is indicated by a little icon of a man running. On others, it’s called “Kids and Pets mode” or something. If you’re not sure whether your camera has this, or how to turn it on, consult your manual. This mode will automatically shorten the shutter speed as much as possible to minimize motion blur. During a recent Mass, I was unable to get the clarity I wanted in manual mode, despite my best efforts. I switched to action mode, and voila! Everything was clear again.


Up next: Stained glass windows (because some of us are visual learners)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Let freedom ring

My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From every mountainside,
Let freedom ring!

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees,
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.

Our fathers’ God, to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing;
Long may our land be bright
With freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our King.


The history of the song "America"
Image source

Friday, July 2, 2010

Your sage advice, please!

Literally.


I have a huge sage plant in my garden that is taking up way more than its alloted space. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do with it. Any recipe suggestions would be very appreciated.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for July

General Intention: Justice in Electing those who Govern
That in every nation of the world the election of officials may be carried out with justice, transparency and honesty, respecting the free decisions of citizens.
Missionary Intention: An Urban Culture of Justice, Solidarity and Peace
That Christians may strive to offer everywhere, but especially in great urban centers, an effective contribution to the promotion of education, justice, solidarity and peace.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular for the intentions
of the Holy Father for this month.
Amen.