Thursday, December 20, 2007

Church Ladies thru the Ages the floor between the fourth and fifth pillars, there is memorial of particular interest especially to Dominican Tertiaries. It covers the tomb of Stephania dell'Isola, a Tertiary who, because of her on failing and generous hospitality to any of the Brethren that passed her way, was given the unique title of "Hostess General of the Order of Preachers", as may be read in the inscription. She had lived about 6 miles north of Rome and when she died in 1313 was brought to Santa Sabina for burial. She is depicted wearing the cloak and mantle of the Tertiary and holding the book of the Tertiary Rule in her hands.

[ A Short Guide to Santa Sabina, Fr Hilary J Carpenter OP]

[Mantilla tip: Father Zadok]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Merry Christmas, Father!

I live in a diocese where the local ordinary quite rightly emphasizes rectory living for priests. Theory and practice, diverge however. Although the priests for a given town may live together, the schedule of different parishes may frustrate building a community life. The ordinary challenges of the priesthood, especially for newly ordained priests, can become exacerbated by loneliness.

My own parish is staffed by a religious order who share in a very fulfilling Rule. Instead, I put together this hamper for my spiritual director and all the priests in that rectory. It is my hope these ingredients for simple meals will help them build a communal life. I even shared my top secret recipe for Linguine with Clams!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Church Lady Query: Red Wine Stains

Just the other day, I was sitting in my office when the Church Lady red phone rang. It was a call of distress from a seminarian in need of assistance!** The culprit? That most nefarious of stains: red wine on a white surplice.

Ah, red wine. We all love it dearly, until a simple accident can turn it into our worst enemy. The only time I got on the wrong side of a glass of the stuff was a couple of years ago, and my cloth napkins haven't looked the same since (I won't say which napkins, because you probably won't notice if you aren't looking for it).

I thought, given the wealth of combined Church Lady knowledge here, I should ask all of you for your best red-wine removal tips. I've seen detergent and hydrogen peroxide touted as the best thing out there, but I've never tried it myself. Can anyone vouch for it? Or maybe you have your own never-fail remedy. If you have any things that work (or that definitely don't work), let us know!

*Note: Obviously the above picture would be an example of one of the Church Ladies' renowned dinner parties. You will never see a glass wine glass anywhere near one of the Church Ladies' sacristies!
**I may have used a bit of hyperbole here, as it was actually a post-mortem instant message.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man.

On a good year, when I'm organized enough to think about sending cards far in advance, I'll make my own Advent cards and send them early enough to remind my loved ones of the season. This one, featuring a favorite quote by St. Augustine, was made in several layers (light blue cardstock base, navy deckle cut layer, white layer with a stamped image of virgin and child, vellum layer with the quote on top) and tied with a small piece of ribbon. It says:

You would have suffered eternal death, had he not been born in time. Never would you have been freed from sinful flesh, had he not taken on himself the likeness of sinful flesh. You would have suffered everlasting unhappiness, had it not been for this mercy. You would never have returned to life, had he not shared your death. You would have been lost if he had not hastened to your aid. You would have perished, had he not come.

Let us then joyfully celebrate the coming of our salvation and redemption. Let us celebrate the festive day on which he who is the great and eternal day came from the great and endless day of eternity into our own short day of time.

On the inside it says, "Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become man."

I'm still hoping to make Advent cards for this year, and think I'll use a quote from St. Charles Borromeo from the Office of Readings. (But I have a box of cards from Costco in case that doesn't happen.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Saint Nicholas Day

As I see it, one of the most hopeful signs for the future of the Church is the number of Church Ladies in the under thirty group! For a brief story on how some college-aged Church Ladies promoted devotion to holy Saint Nicholas on their campus, click here.

Observe the worn toes of this prayerful boy's shoes.
Is it any wonder that St. Nick filled his shoes with gifts?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Little Flower Project

In the heart of the Church, my Mother, I shall be love.
[St Therese]

The motto of Milwaukee's diocesean seminary, St Francis, is "Vos estis sal terrae" (you are the salt of the earth). But the remainder of the Evangelist's exhortation bears heeding: "But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?" [Mt 5, 13]

What happens if we, as the Body of Christ, do not appreciate our priests, and through neglect and ingratitude let them lose the metaphorical power of salt- understanding the tremendous value of their vocation? The answer can be seen in too many parishes- a pastor who has no interest in the parish, dislikes administering the sacraments, and does little to inspire his congregation to follow God- because in his life, the sacrifices of the priesthood went unappreciated. [full post]

The Little Flower Project, aka Scarves for Priests is still going strong, and examples of this handiwork can be seen gracing the halls of St Francis Seminary, parishes of the archdiocese, and soon, Pontifical Universities.

To make a lightweight, yet warm scarf, I am using mercerized cotton yarn with #5 needles. I have been casting on 40 stitches, and knitting to a length of about 4'. The scarf ends each have a 6" fringe. Simple but successful- each scarf takes me about 15 hours.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God ...

-Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2502

A visit to blogging friend Lucy's Advent preparations reminded me of the riches to be found at the Web Gallery of Art. This is one of the few places on the web where I can spend way too much time, but still not feel like the time was wasted.

If you are searching for a painting of a particular theme, start with their very helpful search engine. This Advent, I plan to use my home computer's background as a way to expose my family to more Renaissance beauty through the Parade of Annunciations (a new one each day taken from the Gallery's 267 choices). I'm beginning with this Caravaggio.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

But How To Prepare?

Advent is the time of preparation before Christmas - or rather, the time of preparation before the celebration of the Incarnation of God. Christmas, the coming of the Messiah, is the event for which the entire Jewish world sighed and prayed. For four short weeks we Christians recall their anxious waiting. In the readings at Mass, we express our own longing for the return of the Messiah and seek to prepare ourselves for that final coming.

But how to prepare? There are different approaches to Advent, as you may know. Some people believe it is a time of joyful "anticipation." Others hold the philosophy, "As long as the priest's wearing violet, I'm doing penance."

Members of both groups will find a wealth of wonderful ideas for enriching their celebration of Advent in Catholic and Loving It: Traditions For A New Generation. Written by a two recent graduates of the University of Notre Dame, this book is designed to help young Catholics reclaim their heritage and learn many of the beautiful practices and prayers which were an everyday part of Catholic life in generations past.

As for myself, I guess I'd claim membership in the more penitential group, but I'm not sure how much of that is my true inclination and how much is in reaction to a very anti-Advent culture. Each year at this time I have the opportunity to talk to a group of parents at our parish and beyond about fully celebrating Advent and saving Christmas for its own time, and quite often we will have the opportunity to share family-tested ideas to promote the celebration of Advent. If any kindred spirits would be interested in sharing ideas, I'd love to open the conversation here.

Let us cleanse our hearts for the coming of our great King, that we may be ready to welcome him; he is coming and will not delay. Office of Readings, 1st Sunday of Advent

More Baked Goods

A St Andrew's Cake
Frosted with raspberry cream cheese frosting
(for his martyr's blood)
& decorated with nets and fish