Friday, December 31, 2010

The Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me six geese a-laying.

The six days of creation

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Fifth Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me five golden rings.

The Pentateuch - the first five books of the Bible

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Fourth Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me four calling birds.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Third Day of Christmas

On the third day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me three french hens.

Faith, Hope and Charity

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Second Day of Christmas

On the second day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me two turtle doves.

Synagoga and Ecclesia - the old and new covenants

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The First Day of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my True Love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree.

Himself, hung upon a tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies!

Adoration of the Christ Child (Madonna in the Forest)
Fra Filippo Lippi
c. 1460, oil on panel

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Bookish? Organized? Computer Efficient?

I received this email today from one of the most wonderful places (certainly) in the state of Minnesota and (quite possibly) on the continent:

How would you like to receive $100 in store credit at Loome Theological Booksellers every month? We are looking for bookish, organized, and computer efficient co-workers to finish cataloging our entire 30 year old inventory of books. The work entails going through our shelves, book by book, following a step by step guide to price and catalog the books for online sales. We are looking for a number of workers to come in one or two days a month (more if you're really eager) and help us complete this massive project. Your compensation would be $100 in store credit for every day you work. Help us save Western Civilization one book at a time!

If you would like to join us, please send an email expressing your interest with a short paragraph explaining why you would like to work with Loome Theological Booksellers, and your preferred work schedule. We expect to begin the work in earnest January 2011 - when our store is the coldest bookstore on earth (you are forewarned!).

Christopher Hagen
Loome Theological Booksellers

If you read and have an interest in Catholicism, I'm certain you want to go here. (We always bring our out-of-state, Catholic guests.) If you read, have an interest in Catholicism, and have a little extra time, consider helping them with this massive project.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Forgotten Carols

Santa Baby and White Christmas blare in every store. Silver Bells and Let it Snow stream constantly on the radio. You feel a whiff of fresh air when you finally hear a Christmas carol - The First Noel, Silent Night, Angels We Have Heard on High.

But how often do you hear the second verse of What Child Is This?

Why lies He in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
Nail, spear shall pierce Him through,
The Cross be borne for me, for you;
Hail! Hail the Word Made Flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary!

Or The Holly and The Ivy?

The holly and the ivy, when they are both full grown,
Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown.
Refrain: Oh, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer,
The playing of the merry organ, sweet singing in the choir.
The holly bears a blossom as white as lily flower,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to be our sweet saviour
The holly bears a berry as red as any blood,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ to do poor sinners good.
The holly bears a prickle as sharp as any thorn,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ on Christmas Day in the morn.
The holly bears a bark as bitter as any gall,
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ for to redeem us all.

Many old carols, especially many originating from Medieval England have a very strong emphasis on the Passion. They recognize the sweet little babe in the manger as the Savior of Mankind - the Savior Who will be so brutally killed for our sins.

As Christmas comes, take time to discover some of these beautiful carols and be reminded of the reason Christ was born in a manger.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A new tradition for Gaudete Sunday

The desert and the parched land will exult;
the steppe will rejoice and bloom.
They will bloom with abundant flowers,
and rejoice with joyful song.

Sunday's first reading sparked a new tradition at our house. Especially amid the chill of winter, buying flowers for the dining table reminds us at every meal of the fulfillment of Isaiah's messianic prophecies in the birth of Christ.

Image source

The symbolism of Midnight Mass

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve about the secularization of Christmas is the substitution of Santa's appearance for the birth of Christ. This eloquent description reiterates the importance of Midnight Mass (and is shamelessly lifted from my parish's December 12 bulletin).

Christmas, the Easter Vigil and Easter Mass, and Pentecost are three of the greatest feasts in the liturgical year. However, I would raise the question – Do we do justice liturgically to these great celebrations of our redemption? In Holy Week we have the Sacred Triduum to celebrate – Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday. One could argue the greatest moment in the liturgy of the Sacred Triduum is the Easter Vigil which culminates at midnight with the celebration of the Easter Eucharist. But how many of our parishioners attend the Easter Vigil and Midnight Mass. The answer is: very few. Admittedly we do anticipate the Vigil (in a truncated way) by pushing up the beginning of the celebration to 8 o’clock in the evening. But then again, not as many are in attendance as there are on Good Friday; and on Good Friday, there are not as many parishioners at worship as there are on Holy Thursday.

Then there is the question of Christmas. Parents and little children love to attend the Vigil Mass at 4 o’clock on Christmas Eve. That is wonderful and all who attend enjoy the celebration of the Eucharist very much. Many others over and above parents and children also attend the 4 o’clock Christmas Eve Mass and that brings our total attendance for that Mass over the 500 mark. But how many attend the Midnight Mass? The answer, once again, is “very few”.

I know elderly folks cannot get to Midnight Mass, those who are ill cannot get to Midnight Mass. It seems to me, however, that many younger and healthier persons could do so, and were they to do so, they would be echoing a two millennium tradition more or less of greeting the Savior’s birthday the moment it begins.

Perhaps the reader is thinking my column this week is more of a commercial, and to some extent it is, but I thought it might be good to indicate some of the riches of the Midnight Mass as found in the prayers and readings that are traditional for that Mass. Listen to what we say in our Opening Prayer at Midnight Mass: “Father, you make this holy night radiant with the splendor of Jesus Christ our light. We welcome him as Lord, the true light of the world. Bring us to eternal joy in the kingdom of heaven, where he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.” The first reading is from the Book of Isaiah, who is the great prophet of Advent and Christmas. He seems to think of all the people in the world walking in darkness, but now at midnight seeing a great light. Isaiah has already told us that our God will come to save us. At midnight, Isaiah tells us “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulders, dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah, of course, knew nothing of the Lord Jesus except that someone would come to take over David’s throne and David’s kingdom, and would bring judgment and justice to the world.

In the second reading, the lector has proclaimed with great enthusiasm what St. Paul had written to his colleague Titus: “The grace of God has appeared saving all, and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ.” The Lord Jesus is, indeed, the great gift of God, he’s our blessed hope, he’s our only hope. Only He can claim for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. It is thrilling to hear these words at the Midnight Mass of Christmas.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And next in the line-up...

... St. Lucia!

Here in Minnesota, where Swedish heritage is a unifying factor for a huge part of the population, no one would think twice about a white-robed girl with a flaming wreath of candles on her head, but King Arthur Flour's patrons were not too happy to see it on the cover of a past catalog. That story is just a small aside in a bigger article the describes the process and recipe for some beautiful Lussekatter.

I just discovered this blog yesterday and when I added it to my Reader the most recent 10 posts come up. Of those, I immediately earmarked or emailed an overwhelming number to make sometime in the next few weeks. Bake-Ahead Cinnamon Buns, a make-ahead method for those tedious roll out cookies, how to pre-make pies and freeze them for future baking, an easy method for making yeast bread (with notes on making it with the King Arthur white whole wheat flour that we love so much around here), handmade truffles, and using royal icing to make a pretty spectacular gingerbread house.

All the recipes have step-by-step instructions and lots of pictures. Of course, King Arthur is trying to inspire you to buy their products (which, in my experience, are excellent), but in many cases you'll be able to devise suitable substitutes.

We're pretty snowed in here and there's no Vikings game today, so I think I'll go bake something!

~Margaret Mary (whose ancestors include a Sorenson and a Hendrickson who, as the story goes, lived just across the hill from one another in the Old Country but first met and eventually married after both families had immigrated to Minnesota.)

Just a note - I have no connection to King Arthur Flour other than my history with their delicious and inspiring (in a foodie-kind-of-way) products. If you'd like to be on their mailing list (and if you're a baker, you will), go here.

Friday, December 10, 2010

For Gianna -

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just a friendly reminder

Since tomorrow is St. Nicholas' feast day, tonight is the time for your children to put their shoes out for treats. Some of my after-Mass conversation this morning was with a parent who forgot this one year. Let's just say her children were seriously traumatized.

Also, my children are of the age where they like money and do not like mediocre chocolate. I've found the gold-colored dollar coins are a great way to maintain the St. Nicholas tradition and make the gift truly appreciated.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for December

General Intention: The Experience of Personal Suffering as a Help to Others who Suffer
That our personal experience of suffering may be an occasion for better understanding the situation of unease and pain which is the lot of many people who are alone, sick or aged, and stir us all to give them generous help.
Missionary Intention: Opening Our Doors to Christ
That the peoples of the earth may open their doors to Christ and to His Gospel of peace, brotherhood and justice.
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.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

St Andrew Christmas Novena

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, (mention request here) through the merits of Our Savior 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 (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.

+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897

Image: Nativity with Sts Lawrence & Andrew

Maybe Christmas... perhaps... means a little bit more!

I know I'm a bit of a Grinch about beginning the celebration of Christmas in November, but I have found an alternative to one of my pet peeves - all those annoying radio stations blaring classics such as "Santa Baby" and "Rocking Around the Christmas Tree."

With Pandora Radio, you get to choose the genre of music you like and you can customize it as you go. If they play a song I don't like, I click the thumbs down icon and it's never played on my station again. If I like a song, I click thumbs up and get it and more like it in the future. Eventually, you'll end up with a playlist (or multiple playlists) that's just perfect for your listening tastes. For example, right now I'm listening to their Classical Christmas preset. I've just heard Once in Royal David's City by the Vienna Choir Boys, and next in the queue is Hark the Herald Angels Sing by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Imagine hearing songs about Christ at this time of year! It's crazy, but it just may catch on!

There are lots of ways you can listen. Personally, I prefer to use it at my computer, but can also listen through the television with my Roku. The service has two subscription plans: a free subscription supported by limited advertisements, and a fee-based subscription without ads. A free account user may reach the streaming limit of 40 hours per month, and continue unlimited streaming by paying $0.99.

Go here for more on how Pandora works.
Go here to subscribe.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Question from a reader

Where could I find a resource to check out the color/type of a drape for behind a high altar....we have 2 now. One of a liturgical fabric in purple, and quite frankly-it makes the high altar stand out better. The walls are white in the church and so when we put the other one up (white) it pretty much blends into the walls. I was thinking perhaps a red velour?...I do want it to be liturgically correct if we are going to spend any amount of money on it.
My first thought is that you can't go wrong with gold. It's always appropriate in place of white and really goes with any season. Gianna is currently working on a photography project where this piece of fabric is the unifying backdrop for a number of pieces.

It's a piece of upholstery fabric she purchased recently from JoAnn Fabrics and is 54 inches wide (which is typical of decorator fabrics). It's dense enough that it hangs well and the woven design is really quite beautiful - ornate, but not busy.

You could use red - look here for a beautiful example, but as a liturgical color it's most appropriate in a rather limited way on martyr's feasts, Pentecost, and Palm Sunday. I'm not convinced there is a nice way to make a red background like this work with a green ordinary-time altar frontal, so if you tend to coordinate the altar front for the season, you may want to stick with more neutral background colors, or those you can keep up for an entire season, like your purple.

UPDATES: Therese emailed me later yesterday with this:
For something that goes behind the altar, I don't think there's a specific color. It's almost more of an architectural feature, so I would go with something that matches the church itself, and doesn't clash with the liturgically colored frontals, vestments, etc. I could see a deep red velvet working well in a variety of surroundings, but I think it's more of a matter of aesthetics than liturgical correctness.
And I found this photo of a nice use of fabric on a friend's facebook album:

On a related note, be careful about over-dramatic fabrics. One time (thankfully quite a while ago), our parish liturgist draped a purple/blue tie-dyed looking fabric behind the crucifix during Lent and then changed to a more colorful, rainbow tie-dye for the Easter season. Of course, it was legendarily bad! So very, very awful! Instead of enhancing the crucifix, it just sucked attention away from everything that was happening with the Mass and onto it's terrible self. We know of a couple who were married during that Easter season and chose to have their church photos printed in black and white to downplay this fabric.

Today's Word: Procession

Procession (pro-SEH-shuhn) - Sacred parades, either inside or outside the church, in which clergy and faithful travel from one place to another, giving praise, thanks, and worship to God.

You may be familiar with traditional Advent Posadas, have fond memories of May Crownings or have participated in city-wide, elaborate Corpus Christi processions, but remember, you can also duplicate the very Catholic tradition of the procession in your domestic church.

Epiphany is the traditional time to bless your home, but I also know of families who place a figure of the Christ Child in their creche on Christmas Eve with procession and song and some who return the "Alleluia" to their family prayer table at Easter with a joyful procession. It's important to consider the age and attention span of your kids when planning your event, but even very small children can appreciate the solemnity of the occasion.

I suggest you map out your route ahead of time (following the simplest progression through your home) and that you give each family member something relevant to carry. At least one candle is a must, but safety is primary - use glass globes (tested ahead of time to make sure they don't get hot on the bottom), or electric flameless candles. A Crucifix, icon, or other relevant picture works well, as does a Bible, a container of holy water, or even incense.

It is traditional to sing as you walk and I'm sure you'll have no trouble coming up with appropriate songs that your family knows. You can simplify even further by singing the same song more than once. If you have a budding musician, make their Advent practice assignment a song you can use.

At each stop (even if there's only one), you want a short time of prayer. Of course this can be spontaneous prayer, but it may be more in keeping with the occasion to have something prepared. Assign a leader and begin with the Sign of the Cross. Your procession will have a more liturgical feel if you begin each stop the same way ("A reading from the book of Luke," or "Our hope is in the name of the Lord/who made heaven and earth," or even "Peace be with you/and also with you.") You could break up an appropriate Bible story and read part at each stop, or if you are blessing your home at Epiphany, stop at each room and ask the Lord's blessing for the intended use of each. ("Lord bless this dining room and all our activities here." Then invite anyone to add a petition.)

Conclude by asking the Lord's blessing on all of you, and by blessing your children by tracing a small cross on their foreheads.

The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church's sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. CCC 1674
See also the Directory on Popular Piety, paragraph 118.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy New Year!

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, and the beginning of a new Liturgical Year.

Our loyal followers may have noticed that posting has been scarce. The Ladies have all been very busy, and each have very exciting news recently (excepting myself it seems - so here I am!).

It was decided several weeks ago that our Annual Patron Saint drawing will unfortunately be tabled until Epiphany or thereabouts. Stay tuned!

Last year, Margaret Mary posted here on Jesse Trees. To that I would like to add this: Today, Ann Voskamp, undoubtedly my favorite non-Catholic blogger, released a Jesse Tree book. It is available as a free PDF to anyone who subscribes to her blog. It includes Scripture references and color images to be cut out and used for ornaments.

A homemade wreath. Time to dust off those candles!

Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning brings a special grace, because it is blessed by the Lord. In this Advent period we will once again experience the closeness of the One who created the world, who guides history and cared for us to the point of becoming a man. This great and fascinating mystery of God with us, moreover of God who becomes one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks journeying towards holy Christmas. During the season of Advent we feel the Church that takes us by the hand and - in the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary - expresses her motherhood allowing us to experience the joyful expectation of the coming of the Lord, who embraces us all in his love that saves and consoles.

- Pope Benedict XVI, Homily for First Vespers of the first Sunday of Advent 2010
Source & Cloche Tip

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dominican Sisters, Mary Mother of the Eucharist on Oprah...again!

I just received this reminder via facebook and wanted to pass it on --
The Dominican Sisters of Mary will be featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show on Tuesday, November 23rd.

This is a new show that includes interviews with Mother Assumpta, Sr. Joseph Andrew, Sr. Mary Samuel, Sr. John Dominic and other Sisters; as well as on-site filming of the First and Final Profession Masses and this year’s Entrance Day, during which we welcomed 22 Aspirants.

The show will feature the experience of a Sister entering religious life and the meaning of religious profession as being ‘married’ to Christ.

You may recall that Oprah first reached out to our community on February 9th of this year due an interest in the hidden aspects of religious life.

The response from the first show was so positive that the Sisters were asked if we would be open to another opportunity to share our life. We have accepted this invitation in the hopes of reaching an audience we might not otherwise reach with the witness of our life and the Gospel. Please join us in praying that the show will be for the good of souls and the honor of God.

If you will be work, then set your DVR to record to this episode. Pass the word!

One more thing for your Thanksgiving weekend to do list

Benedict XVI is calling on all Catholics to join in a Vigil for All Nascent Human Life, to be celebrated in local parishes and dioceses Nov. 27.

The Pope will celebrate the vigil in St. Peter's Basilica on the eve of the First Sunday of Advent, and is requesting "all diocesan bishops (and their equivalent) of every particular church preside in analogous celebrations involving the faithful in their respective parishes, religious communities, associations and movements," a communiqué from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops reported.

(Cardinal Daniel DiNardo) said, "I heartily encourage all Catholics, whether at home or traveling over the Thanksgiving holidays, to take part in this special prayer."

Cardinal DiNardo affirmed, "Becoming a voice for the child in the womb, and for the embryonic human being at risk of becoming a mere object of research, and for the neglected sick and elderly is one of many ways we can teach our fellow citizens that 'The Measure of Love is to Love Without Measure.'"

[Full Zenit article]

Image Source: Leonardo da Vinci, "Detail of a Views of a Fetus in the Womb"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

St Margaret, Queen of Scots

She was also a pioneer in another sphere. Bands of women met together at her invitation to study, discuss the Scriptures, and embroider vestments and altar cloths for the churches. So we can call Margaret the inventor of the Women's Club.

[Phyllis McGinley, Saint-Watching]

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Catholic Etsy Artist's Guild

In that meandering way of internet links, I randomly happened upon the knowledge that there is a guild of Catholic artists on Etsy. Of course, I had to start poking around and found that if you type "teamcatholic" in the search bar at you'll get 26 pages of items hand made by Catholic artisans. How fun!

Spend some time looking around yourself, but below are a few items I really liked:

Lepanto stationery by Anchor Greetings! (Be sure to look at the inside and back cover images - it's pretty much the poster child of POD!)
They also have some beautiful Christmas cards (look for the Fulton Sheen quote) and at just over $1 per card, they're a great price!

This sturdy Nativity playset by St. Luke's Brush all slides into the box for easy storage.
They also have a Guadalupe playset and a pretty darned cute Saint Nicholas doll.

These dolls by Saint Anne's Pixies are filled with details! Note Saint Mary Magdalene here contemplating her own sinfulness (her tear of repentance and the traditional skull).

(with a special note that the third one is rose and not pink J)
They have a number of wonderful items in their store!

If you're not familiar with Etsy, you may want to start here.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

There's still time

to make this fashion statement before your annual family Thanksgiving gathering.

Or better yet, give it as a hostess gift. You'll be a popular guest!

Found here. And I'd like to note that the internet is an amusing place when you've had too much coffee and can't sleep at 3 a.m. Not that I'd know...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

This just makes me HAPPY!

Now on the off chance that I did something wrong when trying to embed the video, you can see it where I first did, at the ever-interesting Creative Minority Report.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for November

General Intention: Drug Addicts and Victims of Every Form of Dependence
That victims of drugs or of other dependence may, thanks to the support of the Christian community, find in the power of our Saving God strength for a radical life-change.
Missionary Intention: The Continent-wide Mission in Latin America
That the Churches of Latin America may move ahead with the continent-wide mission proposed by their bishops, making it part of the universal missionary task of the People of God.

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.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Today's Word

Holy Days:
Also called days of precept, holy days are feasts of such importance in the liturgical calendar that attendance at Mass is required. The Code of Canon Law (cc. 1246-1248) discusses these, rightly beginning with Sunday, describing it as "the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost day of obligation in the universal Church" (Can. 1246). It then lists the following to be observed: Christmas; Epiphany; Ascension; Corpus Christi; Mary, Mother of God; Immaculate Conception; Assumption; St. Joseph; Sts. Peter and Paul; and All Saints. This list is the same as that given in the 1917 code, with the feast of the Circumcision eliminated in favor of the restored title for January 1, Mary, Mother of God. The present code then states that "the conference of bishops can abolish certain holy days of obligation or transfer them to a Sunday with the prior approval of the Holy See" (Can. 1246). The United States bishops decided not to make the feasts of St. Joseph and Sts. Peter and Paul days of precept and transferred the Solemnities of the Epiphany and Corpus Christi to a Sunday.
This year, presumably because All Saints' Day falls on the day after Sunday, our primary holy day, it is not a holy day of obligation in America. There's so much we could say about lowering the bar, and the primacy of convenience in the faith life of American Catholics, but let's just say that Masses will still be offered tomorrow and it would be a great day to attend and ask all the Saints in heaven to pray for you.

Thanks to the Catholic Dictionary (Our Sunday Visitor) for the definition. By way of endorsement, I'd like to say this is one of my favorite reference books on the Faith!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

November Home Altars

We're just about to celebrate the Feast of All Saints, so this piece showing the Holy Trinity surrounded by Saints filling heaven would be a great addition to your home altar. (Extra points to those of you who can identify any of the Saints pictured.)

If you'd like something that includes purgatory, you might want to try one of these. This one by Giovanni Crespi depicts a soul being released from purgatory because of prayers offered by those on earth. What a beautiful reminder to all of us!
You also might want to consider simply placing family photos on your prayer table as a reminder to pray for the souls of those who have died and to also pray for those still living as you work to finish the race.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


serendipity a talent for making fortunate discoveries while searching for other things.

I was looking for some decorative letters last weekend when I ran across this clip art site. In particular, you may want to look at the mythology section, under Christianity for clips like this monstrance.

There are also dozens of letters, designs, tailpieces, doodads, frames, and borders that would make your next printing project just a little bit more awesome!

Thought you'd like to know!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Our readers are the best!

Many thanks to Killian who not only read my post on the tartan created for Pope Benedict's visit to Scotland, but came back to leave a comment on where items in this beautiful design can be purchased. (And in plenty of time for Christmas giving!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

St Teresa

Let nothing trouble you,
let nothing make you afraid.
All things pass away.
God never changes.
Patience obtains everything.
God alone is enough.
[St Teresa of Avila]

Image: Sacred Heart Church, Boston's North End

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Knitting at my speed

Take a peek at the most creative knitting project I've seen in a long time!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Today's Word

Religious education classes have begun in my part of the world and that just reminds me again of how grateful I am for all those who have answered God's call to share their gifts by becoming a catechist.

Catechist (KA-teh-kihst) - One who instructs another in the Faith. The General Directory for Catechesis expands on this, reminding us that it is more than mere instruction, but the "task of the catechist [is] truly to help a person encounter God." (GDC 139)

No methodology, no matter how well tested, can dispense with the person of the catechist in every phase of the catechetical process. The charism gi
ven to him by the Spirit, a solid spirituality and transparent witness of life, constitutes the soul of every method. Only his own human and Christian qualities guarantee a good use of texts and other work instruments.

The catechist is essentially a mediator. He facilitates communication between the people and the mystery of God, between subjects amongst themselves, as well as with the community. For this reason, his cultural vision, social condition and lifestyle must not be obstacles to the journey of faith. Rather, these help to create the most advantageous conditions for seeking out, welcoming and deepening the Christian message. He does not forget that belief is a fruit of grace and liberty. Thus, he ensures that his activities always draw support from faith in the Holy Spirit and from prayer. Finally, the personal relationship of the catechist with the subject is of crucial importance. (GDC 156)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

When tempted, invoke your Angel.
He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped!
Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him:
He trembles and flees at the sight of your Guardian Angel.

St. John Bosco

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Holy Father's Prayer Intentions for October

General Intention: Catholic Universities
That Catholic Universities may more and more be places where, in the light of the Gospel, it is possible to experience the harmonious unity existing between faith and reason.
Missionary Intention: World Mission Day
That the World Mission Day may afford an occasion for understanding that the task of proclaiming Christ is an absolutely necessary service to which the Church is called for the benefit of humanity.

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.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A charge to Pious Men

Today's second reading seemed an excellent charge to Pious Men everywhere:

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called
when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.
[1 Tm, 6-11]

Friday, September 24, 2010

I've been reading a book entitled Salt: A World History. I know, it sounds a little odd, but I'm a unit study girl from way back so the idea of pivoting a study of history around this one element common to all cultures seems logical to me.

Anyway, there's one brief section I want to share that speaks to a theme we've talked about here from time to time - the human longing for beauty. From a chapter on mines controlled by the Polish Crown it says that at first, working the mines was basically a death sentence in slave conditions. Men would climb down 50 ladders and use hand tools to dig out the precious mineral. It was so hot that men worked naked. Horses that worked the mines spent their entire lives underground. In spite of all that, miners worked to improve conditions in small ways.

In 1689, the mines began offering miners daily Catholic services at their underground place-of-work. the miners of Wieliczka began carving religious figures out of rock salt. Three hundred feet below the surface, miners carved a chapel out of rock salt with statues and bas-relief scenes along the floor, walls, and ceiling. They even fashioned elaborate chandeliers from salt crystals.
Apparently you can still visit there today. It's really pretty amazing!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Prayer in defense of the family

It was reported in yesterday's news that the Archbishop of Saint Paul/Minneapolis has recorded an 8 minute DVD outlining the Church's teachings defending marriage between one man and one woman, and that a copy will be mailed to each of the state's 800,000 Catholics.

Archbishop John Nienstedt stated "Our target is basically our Catholic people. To remind them of what we believe and why we believe it and why it's so important that they believe it." "We're not a political force," Nienstedt said, "but we are a religious force. So we think we should be part of the conversation."

Please read the details and join me in prayer that the DVD will be met with open minds and hearts that are willing to embrace the Truth. Pray also in thanksgiving for this courageous bishop and that he and all his brother bishops will continue to boldly teach the truth with clarity and love.

I suggest this Novena to the Holy Family:
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of loving Holy Church as I should, above every earthly thing, and of ever showing my love by deeds.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of openly professing as I should, with courage and without human respect, the faith that I received as your gift in holy Baptism.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of sharing as I should in the defense and propagation of the Faith when duty calls, whether by word or by the sacrifice of my possessions and my life.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of loving my family and others in mutual charity as I should, and establish us in perfect harmony of thought, will, and action, under the rule and guidance of the shepherds of the Church.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, bless me and grant me the grace of conforming my life fully as I should to the commandments of God’s law and those of His Holy Church, so as to live always in that charity which they set forth.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I ask in particular this special favor:
(Mention your favor).

Monday, September 20, 2010

The oil of gladness

Our church has just finished a yearlong renovation project. It is beautiful and today the bishop came to celebrate the re-dedication Mass. It began with the bishop accepting the keys from the pastor and blessing the water in the baptistry. I didn't see as much of it as I might have liked, because I was chasing a toddler unimpressed by miters and crosiers. There's one piece of the liturgy that I want to remember, though.
[click here to read the full post at Light and Momentary]

Image source

Art for Home Altars

I've been working on a little project to keep home altars (a.k.a prayer tables, sacred spaces, etc.) up to date in simple ways. I'm an absolute devotee of having a space like this in my home. It's a peaceful haven, a public witness, and a constant reminder to my family of the True Center of our lives. You can read more about the details here and here.

One of the easiest ways to keep your prayer center up to date is with free (or almost free) art from religious calendars and the internet. We've posted lots of art and art links on this blog over the years and will continue to do so (we're big fans), so keep checking in for more.

For ease of use nothing beats a clear acrylic free-standing frames available from those gigantic discount stores. They're very inexpensive and the art can be easily changed by just sliding it out - no assembly required! My favorite size is 8 X 10, but they also come in smaller sizes that would be suitable for holy card art, inspirational quotes, Christmas card art, etc.

To begin with, I'm planning to print this piece by Domenico Feti of a boy and his guardian angel. The Feast of the Guardian Angels is coming up on October 2 and I like this strong, kind angel pointing the way to heaven. The demon fleeing the scene is a nice reminder of Who's in charge!

To capture this image, I will right click on the picture and chose the "Copy Image" option.

From there, open a word processing program like MS Word or MS Publisher and paste it onto a blank page by either hitting Ctrl and V or Paste Special on the Edit menu. I haven't tried it, but assume Open Office programs would work the same way.

This particular piece pasted in as an 8 x 10, so I just need to print and slide it in my frame. I recommend heavier paper if possible so it doesn't wrinkle if you use it more than once. When you're done with it, if you're like Lucy just neatly file it away. If you're like me, put it in a box with the other 100 pieces and shuffle through them every year to find it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity

"I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it"
Blessed John Henry Newman (as quoted by Pope Benedict XVI at the Mass for his beatification)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Today's Word: Beatification

Tomorrow marks the last day of Pope Benedict's visit to England, and the day on which he will declare John Henry Newman as "blessed", which brings us today's word:

Mother Theresa's Beatification (source)
Beatification (bee·at'·uh·fi·CAY·shun) A recognition that a holy person is in heaven and interceding on behalf of the faithful. This is the last step before canonization (being made a saint). In order to be beatified, there must be proof of one miracle obtained by the person's intercession (except in the case of martyrs).

After beatification, the Blessed may be publicly invoked (Masses and the Divine Office said in their honor, inclusion in the Litany of Saints, etc.) in their local dioceses (and in their order, if they were a religious), but they are still restricted to only private devotions throughout the Universal Church until they are canonized.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

St. Ninian's Tartan

I'm a bit of a fabric-fan, so I read with interest that a new tartan has been created for Pope Benedict in honor of his visit to Scotland tomorrow.
As is fitting for such an important gift, every detail is rich in meaning:

The white line on blue field draws upon Scotland's national colours while the green reflects the lichens growing on the stones of Whithorn in Galloway. It was there that Ninian first brought the gospel of Jesus Christ to Scottish shores over 1,600 years ago.

The white lines are also accompanied by a pair of red lines, reflecting the colours of Cardinal Newman's crest. And finally, the thin yellow lines in the tartan, together with the white, reflect the colours of the Vatican.

Each white line on the green contains exactly eight threads, one for each Catholic diocese in Scotland. There are 452 threads in the design from pivot to pivot, representing the number of Catholic parishes.

Wouldn't this be a great gift for that nice Catholic gentleman on your Christmas list?

I can't find any details about purchasing such a thing,
but will post an update if I discover anything.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Today's Word

It's possible that this is an error that is specific to my parish, but most often I hear the entire room in which Mass takes place referred to as "the sanctuary." In reality, what they probably mean is the nave.

Sanctuary (SANK-tshoo-ehr-ee)
A sanctuary is the holiest part of a sacred space. It's the place containing the altar (or the high altar if there are several). The sanctuary is the center of the liturgical ceremony, and is set apart by a raised floor, altar rail, distinct decorations, etc.

Nave (NAYV)
The nave is the central, open part of a church reserved for worshipers. This word is from the Latin, navis, meaning ship and speaks of the image of the Church as the Ship of Salvation. We members are the passengers being safely guided through the stormy waters of life. Isn't that a beautiful image?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today's Word

While on vacation this summer, I attended Mass at a church with beautiful stained glass windows of the Parables.

Parable (from the Catholic Encyclopedia):
The word parable signifies in general a comparison, or a parallel, by which one thing is used to illustrate another. It is a likeness taken from the sphere of real, or sensible, or earthly incidents, in order to convey an ideal, or spiritual, or heavenly meaning. It abounds in lively speaking figures, and stands midway between the literalism of mere prose and the abstractions of philosophy.