Friday, November 30, 2007

As Promised ...

Okay, this would have nothing to do with my status as a Church Lady were it not for the hope that someday I could work my way up to a gingerbread replica of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at Notre Dame (or some other beloved place of worship). For now, we're just thrilled that this "domestic church" is still firmly standing.

Preparing for Christmas

A very beautiful devotion that begins today:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Fellow Church Lady

Quantitative Metathesis has posted the reasons why she is a Church Lady, which I thought were a good description of why this role is important to the Church:
I've also been recruited to the seminarians' sacristan team, mostly because I'm a little stronger on the tasteful decoration front. This comes with being a church lady, you see. The sems need help discerning which way a flower arrangement should face, so that they can focus on the tasks more befitting their roles (like lighting the charcoal in the thurible). They need someone else to candle-sit for a taper whose wick has been broken off and which, consequently, will not light. And they need a womanly eye to make sure everything looks the best for the King.
In true Church Lady fashion, she follows this up with step-by-step practical advice for removing candle wax from cassocks, altar linens, etc.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Patron Saints 2008

On the first of January a new calendar year begins. On the first Sunday of Advent the new year of the Church begins. Therefore, the Saturday preceding the first Advent Sunday has something of the character of a New Year’s Eve. One of the old customs is to choose a patron saint for the new year of the Church.
[Maria Trapp]

2008 is going to be a year of great changes for many people. Some will get married, others will discover more fully the meaning of their religious or sacerdotal vows. Many people will face major life changes. Therefore, this year each recipient will recieve two patron saints who were spiritual companions, in keeping with St Thomas More's wise counsel about knowing a man by the company he keeps.

The drawing will take place at my Liturgical New Year Party Saturday night. Leave a note in the combox or drop me an email sanctalucia(at)gmail(dot)com if you would like me to pick patron saints for you.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A little baking project for Advent ...

While looking for a little inspiration for creating a gingerbread house, I ran across a fabulous looking cookbook entitled Rose's Christmas Cookies by Rose Levy Beranbaum. It's filled with beautiful photography, lots of traditional holiday favorites, and "smart cookie" tips to ensure success. (On the Coconut Kisses recipe, "Fresh coconut is a lot less sweet and more delicious than canned or packaged coconut. Don't even think about substituting here!")

The piece de resistance is on the last page (well, actually the recipe and instructions are on the last 20 pages). "A Christmas cookie book would be incomplete without a gingerbread house, and the most awe-inspiring 'house' is a cathedral." This one comes complete with stained glass windows, flying buttresses, gilded arches, and a hexagonal apse.

Perhaps I'll be able to post a photo of my relatively unimpressive farmhouse later this week. The pieces are cooling right now and the whole house is filled with the wonderful aroma of gingerbread!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Church in Miniature

The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children ... Lumen Gentium 11

I've long been fascinated by the concept of family as the domestic church, and exploring different ways to make that happen has definitely enhanced our family life and has extended the concept of "church" well beyond our beloved Sunday commitment.

One of the most rewarding has been to have a prayer table (aka prayer center or family altar) in a prominent place in our home. It could be a mantle, an end table, or even a dedicated place on a bookshelf. Ideally, at least in my mind, it would be some kind of small, attractive cabinet with concealed storage space. In our house, the prayer table happens to reside on an antique sewing machine cabinet in our dining room. The point is to make it central (I guarantee it will elicit comments from visitors!), and beautiful (otherwise, why bother?).

A Few Rules:

  • Keep it current – There is always a new season, a patron’s feast day, or the anniversary of a family sacramental milestone to remember. All of these can be reflected in the decorations of your space. Decorating a prayer table is a delightful activity for small children; they love to collect spring flowers to place near a statue of the Blessed Virgin or update a tiny easel with a new image from your holy card collection.
  • Keep it clean - Just as you would never place inappropriate items (balloons or large bouquets, for example) on a church's altar, your prayer table should not be the repository for any of the random stuff that collects on any available surface of a typical home.
  • Keep it beautiful - The most important feature is to make it attractive while echoing the seasons of the Church through your choice of flowers, candles, art, and cloths.

And that brings me to what prompted this post. Several years ago I wanted to make prayer table cloths (table runners) for a bride-to-be friend. I was amazed at how difficult it was to find appropriate fabric in nice shades of liturgical colors, and since then I’ve always kept the project in the back of my mind on visits to fabric stores. So here’s my church lady tip-of-the-day -- Jo-Ann Fabrics currently has a lovely selection of brocades. For a very reasonable price I purchased 1¼ yards of a beautiful gold cloth from which I will be able to make three runners (one for me and two for future church-lady gifts). Hopefully, I will have time to sew one of them before Sunday’s feast of Christ the King.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Official Church Lady Kit
(click to enlarge)

A picture of the Holy Father
A St Benedict medal (to keep bad liturgists away)
Extra cassock buttons
Ruler for cassock alterations
Sharpie for minor cassock bleach accidents
Black dye for major cassock bleach accidents
Corkscrew (for wine & self defense)
A lighter
Liturgically colored thread (contents may vary by season)
Clear soap (for minor spills and back talking altarboys' mouths)
Safety pins & a screwdriver
Salt (for sloppy cruet handlers' stains)
Jewelry cleaning gel (for dingy episcopal bling)
Lint brush (to keep blacks black)
Manly lace
Knotted rosary to distract the baby

An Oldie but a Goodie

from Amy Welborn.

Every so often, I need to go back and read this to remind myself that there are other Not Nice Girls in the world.
Our eyes are squinty from reading too much and our tongues have dents from all the times we’ve had to bite them in futile attempts to supress our true natures.
I’ve no idea where this demand that people who call themselves Christians are only allowed to discuss matters in hushed tones and frequent murmurings of “I understand where you’re coming from” has evolved from. Quite honestly, there’s a long and rather honorable tradition of smart aleck Defenders of the Faith behind us, if we only look.
(entire article here)
So to all Church Ladies who say snarky things about terrible vestments, who amuse themselves by parodying insipid "hymns", and who not only take down posters advertising heretical events but then proceed to burn said posters: you're not bad people. You're just Not Nice.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Holy Needle

As any good Church Lady knows, one of the essentials in any sacristy is copious amounts of manly lace, edging the albs, surplices, altar linens, pretty much anything white. The selection at the local Jo-Ann's, however, tends to fall short of, well, manly. If you're a bit of an overachiever, however, the solution is simple: make your own. The Holy Needle offers crochet patterns for very manly lace, as well as embroidery patterns for vestments* and something called Russian Punch embroidery (perhaps for Orthodox Church Ladies?). If you're trying to stock the sacristy, or work on that perfect ordination present, The Holy Needle looks to be a great place to start.

*A personal plea: don't use the cross-stitch patterns on vestments. There's just no way to make cross-stitch look good on men's garments. Really.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What is a Church Lady?

Church Ladies can be found anywhere a priest, seminarian, or acolyte finds themselves in need of a little Feminine Genius, particularly in practical matters (and often before they realize the need).

Whatever vocation she has discerned, much of her spare time will be devoted to Catholic activities. This could include Eucharistic Adoration, sewing buttons back on a cassock, or throwing back a few particularly Catholic beverages with friends. (Said beverages were likely received in return for the aforementioned buttons.)

She is the antithesis of both the Planned Parenthood and Womenpriests mentalities. Whether she has no physical children or a vanful, her vocation as a mother is played out in thousands of little acts of service to her spiritual children.

Her talents may range from laundry to gardening to unjamming copiers, but she always seeks to use them ad majorem Dei gloriam.