Saturday, February 28, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Black Bean Enchiladas

Black Bean Enchiladas

1 16 oz can refried black beans
1 cup canned corn
1 cup fresh greens, thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated cheese

6 tortillas

1 16 oz can enchilada sauce

Heat oven to 350. In a large bowl, gently stir first 4 ingredients together until evenly combined. Divide among tortillas, rolling them shut. Arrange in a baking pan or casserole dish and pour sauce over top. Bake 25 minutes, garnishing with extra cheese and olives, if desired

Friday, February 27, 2009

40 Meatless Meals - Swiss Linguine Casserole

Ingredients for the crust:
¼ cup butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
30 thin slices of French bread

Ingredients for the sauce:
¼ c butter
3 Tbls. flour
1 tsp. salt (or less)
¼ tsp. pepper
dash ground nutmeg
2 ½ c milk
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Ingredients for filling:
8 oz. linguine, cooked and drained
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded Swiss cheese, divided
1/3 c sliced green onions or 2 Tbls. dried chives
2 tsp. dried, crushed basil leaves
2 plum tomatoes, cut lengthwise into eighths

Melt ¼ c butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Brush 10-inch pie plate with butter mixture, then line bottom and sides of pie plate with bread, overlapping about one inch. Brush bread with remaining butter mixture and bake in preheated 400-degree oven for five minutes or until lightly browned.

Melt remaining ¼ cup butter in medium saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually stir in the milk. Cook sauce, stirring constantly until thickened. Add Parmesan cheese to the sauce. Stir a little of the sauce into the eggs. Stir egg mixture into the remaining sauce and set aside.

Combine cooked linguine, 1 ¼ cups Swiss cheese, chicken, onions and basil in a large bowl. Pour the sauce over the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Pour into crust. Sprinkle with remaining Swiss cheese. Arrange tomatoes on top of casserole, and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 25 minutes or until warm. Let stand five minutes before serving.

Yield – 1 ten inch pie

  • You can also add cubed chicken or ham to this dish.
  • I like to serve it to guests because it cuts neatly and tastes wonderful!
  • More than once I've forgotten to brown the crust before spooning in the filling. The crust is definitely a better texture if you do it according to the directions, but if you whiz through without reading carefully, it'll taste the same.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

40 Meatless Meals- Twice Baked Potatoes

6 large baking potatoes
1/4 cup sliced scallions
6 T grated cheese
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 t salt
1 t pepper
6 T melted butter

Wash potatoes and pierce with fork. Bake at 400 for one hour or until tender. Cool.

Slice lengthwise and scoop out inside. Mash removed potato and mix with remaining ingredients, except paprika. Scoop filling into potato shells. Use a piping tip and bag for more decorative results. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 350 for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

For more protein add diced imitation crab or canned fish to the filling mixture.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

40 Meatless Meals - Vegetarian Minestrone

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can chopped tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans vegetable broth
1 (11 oz.) can V8
1 c. chopped cabbage
1 c. frozen green beans
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 c. carrots, chopped
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
1 c. elbow macaroni
1 bay leaf
1-2 drops of liquid smoke (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Cook onion and garlic in a small amount of butter until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients except pasta. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; simmer 1 hour, covered. Stir in pasta and cook 10 minutes or until tender. Remove bay leaf.

Milk and honey

Almond milk: actually invented by the Church 700 years ago.

Rather than animal milk, Medieval cooks turned to something they could depend upon, and that was the milky liquid produced by grinding almonds or walnuts. This liquid, high in natural fats, could be prepared fresh whenever needed in whatever quantities. It also could be made well ahead of time and stored with no danger of degeneration. Because of its high fat content, it, like animal milk, could be churned into butter, and because it was not animal milk, it could be used and consumed during Church designated meatless days. [Catholic Culture]

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Appropriately for Mardi Gras

Today I found Lenten advice...

... inside a chocolate wrapper.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Official Crochet Stitch of the Church Ladies?

Most of your Hostesses have been Quite into knitting lately, but I ran across a crochet stitch recently that I just had to share. The Catherine Wheel:

(Image Source)

The name comes, of course, from St. Catherine of Alexandria, who is often pictured with a broken wheel as one of the instruments of her martyrdom.

A chart and video instructions for the stitch can be found here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

From today's Office of Readings

Jeremiah warns us: Do not say ... "Faith alone in our Lord Jesus Christ can save me." By itself faith accomplishes nothing. For even the devils believe and shudder. No, faith must be joined to an active love of God which is expressed in good works. The charitable man is distinguished by sincere and long-suffering service to his fellow man...

Saint Maximus the Confessor

Saturday, February 21, 2009

40 Meatless Meals

Lent is the time of the year where Catholic identity is strongest. We are recognizable by the external signs of our faith- the ashes, the abstinence from meat, public Stations of the Cross, and palms. I remember visiting a Protestant pen-pal in Germany during Lent several years ago. Her consciousness of how Catholics mark the season was so ingrained that she automatically served me grapes instead of tea biscuits and prepared separate meatless entrees for me, without even asking me about the more personal nature penances seem to take on in America.

For Lent, the season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, Church Ladies will be posting 40 meatless recipes, one for every day of the season. The recipes vary quite widely. Some are more penitential than others, but all are nutritious and tasty. You might consider donating the money you don't spend on meat to charity. While in ages past, Lent was a more solitary time, you could strengthen Christian community by gathering together- either at a parish or small group level- for Stations of the Cross and a soup dinner.

Whether you are looking for inspiration for meatless Fridays, or are searching for a different way to keep the season, we hope the recipes help you. Remember your calling to be the light of the world and radiate holiness. Perhaps your joyful example of self-sacrifice will lead someone home to the Church this Easter.

Today's hint of the day: If your family has someone who brings their lunch to work or school, whip up a batch of a meatless meal this weekend, and freeze it in individual containers so the coming week, with 2 days of abstinence, or a Lenten Friday won't catch you unprepared.

Image: The Temptation of St Anthony Abbot

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving

Staying Strong for
All Forty Days

of Lent

I love Lent! I love the discipline, the spiritual growth and the complete support I get from the Church, my parish, and my friends and family. I love the potential. The curmudgeon in me loves the fact that it's counter cultural to embrace suffering and, to be perfectly honest, the weakling in me probably appreciates the finite nature of the whole thing. 40 days. How much can I effectively and realistically pack into 40 days?

It's easy to start out with high expectations, but I’m reminded of the son in Matthew 21 who started with good intentions and his more praiseworthy brother who actually followed through. Toward that end there are a few ideas I’ve found to be helpful:

  1. Start with prayer. On what areas am I being called to work this year? What course of action will bring about the most effective spiritual growth? It’s most likely I’m being called to bring some balance into my Lenten penances by practicing some form of each of the big three.
  2. Write down specific goals and review them regularly – every Sunday is a good time. This is a good practice for kids and adults. Again, it's easy to start with high expectations which trickle off to a short list of the easiest things leftover after six weeks of lackluster discipline. If I've failed in the past week, rechecking this page helps me to renew the vision.
  3. Another great idea in a similar vein is to work with someone else. I know a Church Lady who met a friend early each day for Morning Prayer from the Divine Office. They kept each other on track and knowing this pious young man would be waiting for her made it easier to get up on those mornings when she would rather have slept in. Morning or Night Prayer together is a great idea for a daily Lenten "date." Other ideas I've known couples to do are a weekly time of Eucharistic Adoration or Stations of the Cross before going on a date and, of course, weekday Masses.
  4. Have a daily check list. Maybe this only works for "list" people, but I find particular satisfaction in crossing things off my list each day. It helps me prioritize and get things done in a timely manner. I'd never want to reduce my prayer life to something I cross off my list each day, but I'd also hate to forget my Rosary until I'm too tired to meditate. I think this method works particularly well with new practices. If I haven't developed a habit, seeing it on my daily list keeps it in the forefront and helps me acquire the habits that turn into virtues.
It's one week until Ash Wednesday and if you don't have a plan yet, it's time to start thinking about it. I'd love to hear how others decide on and keep their Lenten resolutions!

I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.
2 Timothy 4:7-8

Image: Saint Lawrence Distributing Alms by Fra Angelico

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Shameless product placement

If you have some dry clean only garments that you haven't been wearing due to the hassle and cost of taking them to the cleaners, have the Church Ladies got a solution for you!

If you have access to regular dryer, you can have dry cleaned clothes for pennies with the Dryel System. Just sponge any stains away, place 4-6 garments in the provided bag with the cleaning cloth, and toss it in the dryer for 45 minutes. Good as new!

The Dryel system is ideal for your skirts, blouses, and blazers; I'd take heavier garments like overcoats to the cleaner. The Dryel website has a $3 coupon right now!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Building community

From The New England Church Supper Cookbook:
They can take the form of a ham and bean supper, a spaghetti supper, or a pancake breakfast served in a school cafeteria, a church basement, or town hall- whatever the menu or venue church suppers consistently serve up traditional, tasty, [New England] fare.

Decidedly down to earth, church suppers do more than offer town folk a hearty meal and a few hundred dollars for a worthy cause. They provide an excuse for a whole community to come together, teens and great-grandparents, shop-keepers and doctors, conservatives and liberals, in a place where their differences seem to fade and they have a chance to just relax, catch up on each others' lives, and share a good meal. Baking bread together seems to help keep a town together. The event also helps preserve a sense of tradition in a community, a reminder of a common past and a future held together by an event at which the faces change as the decades pass, but tradition is passed on. It is traditions such as these that help towns weather the pressures that sometimes threaten to tear them apart.

Helpful Tips for Putting on A Successful Church Supper

Choosing a Date
: Select your date carefully- check to make sure there are no conflicts like school vacations or sports events that will compete for attendance, and then get it on the town calendar early to discourage Johnny-come-latelys from upstaging you.

Menu: Choose easy do-ahead recipes to minimize last minute preparations. Keep it simple- a simple dish prepared well goes over better than an elaborate dish that's hard to prepare and few will appreciate.

Committee: Choose your committee wisely. Make sure to include one or two who were closely involved in previous years, and one or two new faces who can learn the ropes and carry the tradition forward. Delegate committee tasks so no one person is overwhelmed by the undertaking.

Some Church Lady Ideas for Parish Potlucks:

A Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper, or a Carnival party the weekend previous
An Annunciation Pancake Supper, hosting the guests of a crisis pregnancy center
Lenten Soup Dinner (following Stations or other devotion)
An Ascension or Pentecost Chicken Dinner
A post Corpus Christi Procession Picnic
An Assumption Day Picnic
A Liturgical New Year Party

As we discussed in Building a Pro-Life Parish, it's important to have some way to keep the children entertained, especially if the gathering isn't held outside. Some kind of seasonal hands on activity is great for the quieter kids, but if possible, set aside an area where the more active ones can run off their steam while supervised.

Image: The Wedding Feast, Pieter Brueghel the Elder

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Edith Stein Conference

There is a WONDERFUL conference going on right now at Our Lady's University, our alma mater.

The Edith Stein Project is an annual conference that addresses various issues of gender, sexuality, and human dignity by exploring what it means to be authentic women and men. The conference began with a focus on women and attempted to provide a new feminism which had a a vision of women and men as both equal in dignity and complementary. This vision remains the hallmark of the Edith Stein Project. However, because we firmly believe that the cooperation of both men and women is necessary to more fully realize their dignity in society, we have worked to make the conference more accessible to men. We acknowledge that these issues are not one-sided: women and men live in community with each other. Accordingly, ESP seeks to engage both men and women in ways relevant to their lives. Our goal for the conference is to promote fruitful dialogue on issues of human dignity, with an emphasis on the dignity of women. We foster a spirit of openness while remaining rooted in the Catholic Church’s teachings on authentic personhood—to provide a forum for discussion that is not reactionary, but positive and optimistic.

Conference Schedule 2009

Friday, February 13

11:00am-12:00 pm – Registration

12:00-12:15 pm - Introduction to the Edith Stein Project Auditorium

12:15-12:50 pm - Father Sam Martin, Diocese of La Crosse: Love: What Hurts and What Works? Auditorium

1:00-2:00 pm - Dr. Philip Mango, St. Michael's Institute for the Psychological Sciences: The Neurological and Psychological Contributions to Love Auditorium

2:15-3:15 pm - Dr. Tim Alan Gardner, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research: (Authentic Relationships) Auditorium

Caroline Lashutka, Alumna: No Chicken Soup for the Soul
Genuine Beauty and the Hook-Up Culture Room 102

Panel Chair: Natassia Kwan, Student


Nathan Loyd, Right to Life and Pure Love Club

Mark Skylling, Iron Sharpens Iron

Jim Redden, Knights of Columbus

Michael Bohnert, Knights of Columbus

Melissa Buddie, Student

Katie Michel, Student

3:30-4:30 pm - Dr. Philip Mango, St. Michael's Institute for the Psychological Sciences: Marriage Preparation Before You Are Engaged Auditorium

Fr. Martin Connor, L.C.: "Blessed are the Pure in Spirit:" The World, Youth, and the Search for the Sacred
Patrick Tighe, Student: Pornography Hurts: How to Heal the Wounds Room 102

5:00 pm - Mass with Bishop D’Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese Alumni Hall Chapel

5:45-6:15 pm - Pizza Dinner McKenna

6:15 pm - Bishop D’Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese : Love and Vocation Auditorium

7:30-8: 00 pm - Notre Dame Undertones: Valentine's Day Performance Auditorium

8:00-8:45 pm - Dr. Susan Ohmer and Dr. Don Crafton, Notre Dame Department of Film, Television, and Theater: Love in Film and Television Auditorium

9:00pm-1:00 am - Movies and Snacks Knights of Columbus

Saturday, February 14th

9:00-10:00 am –

Sr. Prudence Allen, R.S.M.: The Passion of Edith Stein
Dr. Sarah Borden, Center for Ethics and Culture: Retrieving Aristotle for Feminist Purposes Auditorium

Sister Terese Auer, O.P.: Returning Love for Love
Nathaniel Campbell, Student: Divine Love as both Creative and Rational: The Theophany of Caritas in Hildegard of Bingen’s Liber Divinorum Operum Room 102

10:15-11:15 am - Dr. Janet Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary: Hormones "R" Us: How Contraception Affects Our Relationships and Health Auditorium

Anamaria Scaperlanda, Alumna: How Can We Be Lovers if We Can't Be Friends: Expanding Our Understanding of Vocation


Caitlin Dwyer, Alumna: Bound to be Free: Finding Happiness through a Committed Life in a World of Endless Options Room 102

11:30 am - 12:30 pm –

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Harvard University PhD. Candidate: Life as a Mother and Student

Bernard Klinkhammer: Balancing Work and Family Life in a Hectic World Auditorium

Dr. Gary Anderson, Notre Dame Theology Department: The Concept of Family in the Book of Ruth
Dr. Daniel McInerny, Notre Dame Philosophy Department and Center for Ethics and Culture: Lost in the Junoverse Room 102

12:30-2:00 pm - Lunch

Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, Harvard University PhD. Candidate: Heart to Heart Chat with Catherine South Dining Hall Oak Room

2:00-3:15 pm –

Violence Against Women: Hurt, Healing, and Hope for a Better Future Auditorium

Panel Chair: Amelia Ruggaber, Campus Minister at Holy Cross College

Survivors of Sexual Assault, Personal Testimonies of Two Notre Dame Women

Scars on the Heart: A Story of Struggle and Strength

Natassia Kwan: Behind Closed Doors: Domestic Violence in the U.S. Past, Present, and Hope for a Better Future

Tim Latham, Men Against Violence, Real Men

Fr. Joseph Carey, C.S.C.: Healing Encounters with Jesus

3:30-4:30 pm - Kate Sweeney, ENDOW: John Paul II’s New Feminism: A Call to Authentic Womanhood Auditorium

Amy Kleczinski, Student: Sex and Abstinence: The Perfect Couple

Theresa Schortgen, Counselor: The Creighton Model: Discovering What Every Woman Has the Right to Know
Victor Saenz, Student: Dostoevsky: The Grand Inquisitor and Contraception Room 102

4:45-5:45 pm - Dr. Janet Smith, Sacred Heart Major Seminary: What Does the Church Teach About Homosexuality? Auditorium

Joanna Roman, Student: Dietrich Von Hildebrand on Love
Dr. David Fagerberg, Notre Dame Theology Department: Sacramentality of Marriage: Source and Summit Room 102

6:30 pm –

Closing Banquet

Dr. Lawrence Cunningham, Notre Dame Theology Department: Deus Caritas Est McKenna, Lower Level

Image: Raphael's allegory of Theology

Friday, February 13, 2009

Here's Looking at you, Padre

You already knew that you had Father Mendel to thank for founding the study of genetics. Here are some more people to add to your list:

The monks of the monastic order of St. Pierre are thought to have first cultivated spearmint, lending their name to the plant. [Cloche tip: Celestial Seasonings tea.]

Mint tea being the favorite of Margaret Mary and myself, it would seem that we are in good company.

With your tea might we recommend the new Favorite Cookie of Church Ladies, Triple Ginger Cookies.

Bridehood Revisited

Let's face it, who really likes sugar almonds?

The Church Ladies present a unique idea for a wedding favor: a holy card.

I came across the idea in Faith and Family magazine doing research for a book while in school at Our Lady's University. And having thrown out a collection of trinkets such as personalized magnets, tea lights, and keychains when moving my grandmother out of her house, I am dubious to the merits of the traditional chatchkes.

A holy card is simple and elegant. It provides a lasting commemoration of the sacrament, and doesn't contribute to clutter. If used as a bookmark, it can be a reminder to pray for the couple.

My husband and I ordered the wedding feast at Cana cards from Aquinas and More. We begged really hard, and they personalized paper ones, rather than their standard laminate.

The back has our names, the parish, city, and date, along with a text we weren't able to work into our Nuptial Mass that had a lot of meaning for us:

Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins." [i Pt iv, 8]

We got so many compliments about the holy cards at the reception, and we were able to send extras to people unable to attend. All in all, it was a win-win situation.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hint of the Day - Making rolled cookies

We almost never make rolled cookies at Christmas time, but every year on Valentine's Day we have a tradition of sending some to work with our beloved Valentine, Dad. I used to think it was a huge pain to roll the dough, cut the shapes, transfer them to a pan and still try to keep my gingerbread man's head from breaking off or the hearts from becoming misshapen beyond recognition, (Too much flour on the rolling surface and the cookies are tough. Too little and they stick.) until a friend cheerfully volunteered to make dozens for a church event and shared her secret with me.

Roll your dough out on a sheet of parchment paper and just remove the extra dough after you cut your shapes. You don't have to move the cookies at all until you remove them from the paper after baking. Perfect shapes every time! Now go celebrate Saint Valentine's Day and bake for someone you love!

Also, you can use the same sheet of paper several times.

God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

1 John 4:16

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hint of the Day: Kitchen Funnel in a Pinch

If you need to pour salt, pepper, or spices into their shakers, just grab any small piece of clean paper: your shopping list, a coupon, or a post-it note all work well. Roll it into a funnel, and tape or pinch in place.

My salt and pepper shakers have very small necks, so any kitchen funnel I could buy would be too small, anyway. This homemade funnel, however, can be rolled to just the right size, and I can easily slide the opening wider to clear up jams as I pour.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Following up

on "Helping Them work on It" with this volume of the series First Books for Little Catholics by Sister Mary St Paul of Maryknoll, circa 1959, accumulated in The Great Haul of 2005, when the local Catholic elementary school closed.

Sample text selection:
Babies cannot sit still very long. They are always looking this way and that. But you are not a baby. You will not look this way and that in church. You will look straight ahead and keep your eyes on your King.

Practice the right way of acting in God's House. Teach others to act in the right way. Then God will know you are His friend.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Helping them work on it

See Jennifer's 'blog, Conversion Diary for a really outstanding discussion on how to get children to behave at Mass.

This truth finally crystallized for me the other day when I was asking my good friend Elizabeth Esther for advice. I was expecting a laundry list of tips about what toys to bring or what order to have everyone sit in the pew, and she caught me off guard with a simple question:

"What are you doing during the week to help them work on it?" she asked.

Uhh...what? She went on to explain that the way she grew up, Sunday service was the very center of life. Because it was seen as the most important activity and the focal point of every family's week, mothers would practice with their children at home to help them be better prepared to make it through the services on Sunday. Elizabeth, who has five young children (including one-year-old twins!) told me about the improvements she'd seen with her own kids after having them practice quiet time on mats at home on weekdays.

Our conversation made me realize that the problem was not that I hadn't found the right book to bring or discovered some magical church-only discipline technique; the problem was rooted in the fact that I didn't see the Mass as the center of my week. If I were to have the privilege of a recurring appointment with the Queen of England and had issues with the kids' behavior during those meetings, you'd better believe that I'd be working at home to help them learn age-appropriate self control for next time. So why am I not as motivated to deal with the problems that occur at Mass, a weekly appointment far more important than with any earthly royalty? Why am I not willing to devote any more effort into it than the hour or so spent actually sitting in the pews? That, I realized, is the question I need to be asking.

Image: Christ Blessing the Children by Lucas Cranach, the Younger

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Official Cocktail of Meatless Fridays

Adieu, little Swedish fishie, adieu. What a way to go, though, drowning in a sea of gin, lemon juice, and champagne. Pern’s Farewell is bright and clean, with all of that sparkle keeping a Swedish fish buoyant as the gummy candy garnish bobs and weaves in your glass. A little bit of kitsch and a whole lot of botanicals and citrus make this cocktail one that’s not to be missed. [text & image source: Stuff @ Night]

Should you starch an alb?

The church ladies at Fr. Z's Altar Guild offer advice. o{]:¬)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What Every Woman Needs

Attending a professional conference this weekend, I was reminded of every woman's need: a good dark suit.

A good dark suit will see you through many situations in life, such as job interviews, more formal meetings, and funerals. Depending on the formality of your field, the jacket and bottom don't necessarily have to be from a matching set, but they should be of coordinating materials. A solid color is often more flexible than a print. And regardless of the fabric or which piece is worn more, the jacket and bottom should be cleaned together so they don't fade disparately. A dressy cardigan will also allow you to get more wear out of the bottom at less formal events.

Opt for a timeless look in the best quality multi-seasonal fabric you can find, and you'll have an outfit that will last a lifetime. Lining is a must, and will give a smoother look. Skirts tend to be more formal, flattering and less dated, as well as more easily altered for any figure fluctuations. The EGs have some more advice on what to look for and where to find it.

You'll also need a few more things to complete your suit- a blouse or cami for underneath the jacket and a pair of good shoes, as well as stockings. It can be hard to acquire the former two on a moment's notice, so look for them at the same time as the suit. A good pair of shoes can be resoled many times. And it can never hurt to have an extra pair of stockings around.

[image source: Vogue]

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

From the Mailbag

Reader Micki wrote to inform us of her own way of organizing her holy card collection: namely, a blog with pictures of the cards (over 750, she says, to date!), along with various prayers and quotes. A personal favorite: the "Ave Crux, Spes Unica" card from last week. (Given your Blog Hostesses' great fondness for Our Lady's University, are you really Surprised?)

Reader Teresa in Germany (I presume from her address) writes about embroidery, and shares an image of her own handiwork:
I made a pall for a newly ordained priest, as a gift at his "Primiz"-greeting (after his first Holy Mass) and the sample was from this blog too. I'm looking forward to create a maniturgia. There are also groups on yahoo (sew4church and catholiccyberneedles), where people can compare notes about this matter.
Last but not least, a reader wrote to enquire about a source for "Pray for Priests" magnets in bulk. If anyone has such information, please do leave a comment.

Building a pro-life parish

As Catholics and people of goodwill, we have a duty to promote a culture of life, beginning in our own homes and parishes, and then spreading to the larger community. Here are some concrete suggestions for putting this into place

1. Make parents of small children feel welcome at Mass. Trust that they are doing their best to form their children, even if that means there's some additional accompaniment to the liturgy. It is in everyone's best interest for children to learn that screaming will not get them what they want. It was a great surprise for me to learn from Catholic periodicals of the time that 60 years ago, parents didn't have to bring their children to church until their First Communion. The presence of babies and children at Mass is a testament to a culture of life and a means for our own sanctification.

2. The same is equally true for the elderly and people with special needs. Is there a neighbor who could use a little extra help getting to Mass? Someone who needs some assistance up the steps? Follow the airplane rules, and be patient with anyone who needs a little extra time. The difference a simple gesture can make is often astounding. In addition, it can be doubly beneficial for children to learn the value of helping others.

3. These options for growth don't end with Mass. Keep your eyes open at coffee hour- is there anyone who would appreciate being brought a beverage or snack? This is especially important for breastfeeding mothers, who can become easily dehydrated. (This hint was taught to me by a local La Leche League member.)

4. Make your parish events more family friendly. For example, a local parish holds the coffee hour in the gym, giving kids plenty of space to run around and shoot baskets while their parents can socialize yet supervise. Make families feel welcome at spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts by holding them at convenient times. Involve the children so they enjoy being there.

5. Encourage parents of small children to participate in parish activities by offering nursery services (an excellent service opportunity for the confirmandees). Be especially sensitive to the isolation that stay at home mothers may be prone to by offering a weekday program (CLOCHE tip to Margaret Mary).

6. Draw on the richness of our faith, such as the Churching of Women, the Anointing of the Sick, and Mass for the deceased: babies and children, including those lost through miscarriage and abortion as well as others of our beloved dead.

7. Don't underestimate the importance of pregnancy outreach. Make sure there is plenty of crisis pregnancy and post abortion resources and literature available. You never know when it might be needed.

8. Consider starting a charity craft group to make hats and blankets for those in need.

9. Ask around to see if the elderly or those in ill health could use extra assistance around the home. This is another opportunity for your confirmandees or youth group.

10. Consider extended outreach to those with chronic health conditions or the bereaved. Let them know they are not forgotten.

Do you have any ideas to share?

[image source]

Monday, February 2, 2009

True Girls, True God ~Truly Gorgeous!

I was recently introduced to a fun resource for teen girls, TG! Magazine. From their site:

We are glad you are here. TG! magazine is a Catholic magazine for teen girls. Our target audience includes girls aged 12-18; but we have been known to have subscribers between 10 and 20 years of age.

On our cover, you will see the phrase True Girls, True God ~ Truly Gorgeous. Each issue will contain features with each of these three elements. We believe that with God all girls can be truly gorgeous. Click here to subscribe.

Look for articles on the beliefs of the Catholic church, profiles of positive role models, reviews of current & classic books, movies and music, advice, fashion, makeup and more. We will take a look at what we print through the lens of the Catholic faith.

Our models are not professionally trained; their photographs are not airbrushed. Our advertisers agree to adhere to modesty standards and they support Christian values. We strive to achieve a fun and wholesome publication that "trains them up in the way they should go" (adapted from Proverbs 22) and gives glory to God, our Father.
The issue I have features articles on a trip to Australia for World Youth Day along with contests, Saint stories, a Rosary reflection, and a regular feature called Ask Father Leo. It's a full color, glossy, bi-monthly publication that will likely appeal to the up-and-coming church ladies in your life. Consider supporting them by subscribing or advertising.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Reclaiming Sunday

"It is right, therefore, to claim, in the words of a fourth century homily, that "the Lord's Day" is "the lord of days". Those who have received the grace of faith in the Risen Lord cannot fail to grasp the significance of this day of the week with the same deep emotion which led Saint Jerome to say: "Sunday is the day of the Resurrection, it is the day of Christians, it is our day". For Christians, Sunday is "the fundamental feastday", established not only to mark the succession of time but to reveal time's deeper meaning." [John Paul II, Dies Domini]

My family emphasizes the importance of Sunday by following the European tradition of placing an image of the Trinity and a vigil candle on the table since Sunday is the feast of the triune God. We also pray an abbreviated Psalm 90 as our grace on Sunday nights, and try to use the nice china and silverware.

LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.
For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Satisfy us in the morning with thy steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad as many days as thou hast afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil.
Let thy work be manifest to thy servants, and thy glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish thou the work of our hands upon us, yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
[Psalm 90, RSV]