St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year Blessings to All

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time for war,
And a time for peace.
--Ecclesiastes 3 The Holy Bible

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Holy Innocents (1st century)

The Holy Innocents were the children mentioned in Matthew 2:16-18. "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."

Monday, December 25, 2006

“Jesus has just been born"

Christmas. The carols sing Venite, venite, ``O come ye, O come ye.'' Let us go to him. He has just been born. After contemplating how Mary and Joseph care for the Child, I now dare to hint to you: Look at him again, gaze at him without ceasing. (The Forge, 549)

A decree of Caesar Augustus has been proclaimed, ordering the whole world to be enrolled. For this purpose, every person must go to the city of his ancestors. —Since Joseph is of the house and family of David, he goes with the Virgin Mary from Nazareth to the city called Bethlehem, in Judea (Luke 2:1-5).

And in Bethlehem is born our God: Jesus Christ! —There is no room at the inn: He is born in a stable. —And His Mother wraps Him in swaddling clothes and lays Him in a manger.

Cold. —Poverty... —I am Joseph’s little servant. —How good Joseph is! —He treats me like a father. —He even forgives me if I take the Child in my arms and spend hour after hour saying sweet and loving things to Him!...

And I kiss Him —you kiss Him too! —and I rock Him in my arms, and I sing to Him, and I call Him King, Love, my God, my Only-one, my All!... How beautiful is the Child and how short the decade! (Holy Rosary, Third Joyful Mystery)

Courtesy of Opus Dei Daily Message

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas blessings

I won't be back until after the first of the year to blogging. May you and yours have a very merry and blessed Christmas season and new year ahead. God bless!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Noah Didn't

I thought I'd go ahead and re-post this particular piece; first, it has a beautiful wintry Noah and the Ark scene, and next, a kind person had left a comment regarding the reflection below, but they left it on one of my poetry friday posts that appeared above this original post in October. So, I'll include the comment along with this. Kind blessings to them. This "nugget" is certainly good food for thought. God bless!

Nugget: Noah Didn't Wait For His Ship To Come In - He Built One.

Seize the moment! "Miracles are coming by you or to you every day" (Oral Roberts). Today was once the future from which you expected so much in the past. Live for today.

Don't let what you have within your grasp today be missed entirely because only the future intrigued you and the past disheartened you. Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.

When can you live if not now? All the answers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today. The future that you long and dream for begins today. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."

The Bible says, "Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Ps. 90:12). Marie Edgeworth said, "There is no moment like the present. The man who will not execute his resolutions when they are fresh on him can have no hope from them afterwards; for they will be dissipated, lost, and perished in the hurry and scurry of the world, or sunk in the slough of indolence."

The regrets that most people experience in life come from failing to act when having an opportunity. Today, well lived, will prepare you for both the opportunities and obstacles of tomorrow.

Few know when to rise to the occasion. Most only know when to sit. Many spend too much time dreaming of the future, never realizing that a little of it arrives every day. I agree with Jonathan Swift when he said, "May you live all the days of your life."

Know the real value of today.

- John Mason, from the book
Conquering An Enemy Called Average

Comment from 12/18/06:
MM said:

Hello Denise,

We just wanted to thank you for posting a Nugget by author John Mason. We hope it has been a great encouragement and motivation to your readers. God bless you!

- Insight

Christmas here and there

A nice gift recommendation:

Beautiful hardbound pop-up book: The Nativity (Six Glorious Pop-up Scenes) by Francesca Crespi.

And don't forget to visit O Night Divine, a blog all about the celebration of all-things-Christmas by some great homeschooling moms.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Poetry Friday

Today for Poetry Friday I submit the song lyrics of Winter Wonderland. I love "old" songs as you know - circa 1930s in this case. This is one of my favorite holiday songs and even tho' there's no winter wonderland here in our part of Ohio quite yet, (moderate temps today and lots of sun!), this song will soon be very appropriate!

Winter Wonderland
By Dick Smith, Felix Bernard 1934

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
in the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
we're happy tonight,
walking in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
as we go along,
walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
Then pretend that he is Parson Brown
He'll say: Are you married?
we'll say: No man,
But you can do the job
when you're in town.

Later on, we'll conspire,
as we dream by the fire
To face unafraid,
the plans that we've made,
walking in a winter wonderland.

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
in the lane, snow is glistening
A beautiful sight,
we're happy tonight,
walking in a winter wonderland.

Gone away is the bluebird,
here to stay is a new bird
He sings a love song,
as we go along,
walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
and pretend that he's a circus clown
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
until the alligators knock him down.

When it snows, ain't it thrilling,
Though your nose gets a chilling
We'll frolic and play, the Eskimo way,
walking in a winter wonderland.

Walking in a winter wonderland,
walking in a winter wonderland.

To visit this song and hear it's tune, follow this LINK.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Thankful Thursday

Oops, almost forgot! Thank you, Cay, for reminding it's Thankful Thursday.

I am thankful for friends who let me have my hissy fits, and are still my friends :) I am very grateful also for the "kind" voices in my life; they have been a calming, reassuring and healing balm to the very depths of my soul lately. God bless you all. Even the smallest kindness is a great kindness indeed.

A Feast of Songs

I love great music, and the older the better! Ah, a great collection of festive holiday music from around the world, circa middle ages. It's truly enchanting (and it makes a great gift). To listen to each sample track, follow the LINK.

A Feast of Songs
Holiday Music from the Middle Ages

Monday, December 11, 2006

True Peace and Reconciliation

During this time of Advent preparation, much is said about Reconciliation; both formally speaking, as in the Sacrament of Confession, penance services and so forth, but also deeply and personally within, in those secret and perhaps restless interiors of ours that are in need of healing and peace and true reconciliation that is only facilitated by Our God and His mercy, graces and love toward us. Oswald Sobrino challenges and writes eloquently on just this subject in his recent post: The Placebo Approach.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Juan Diego

St. Juan Diego (1474-1548)Juan Diego was a Mexican farmer and weaver. The Blessed Mother appeared to him twice. When the local bishop asked him to prove it, he opened his cloak to reveal dozens of Castillian roses which could not be grown in Mexico, along with a glowing image of Our Lady emblazoned on the inside. Soon after, a church was built on the site where Our Lady appeared to him.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Beatitudes of Married Couples

This comes by way of my friend Esther.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO COMFORT EACH OTHER -- who provide a refuge and sanctuary from the chill winds of the world; whose marriage is a hearth from which comes peace, harmony, and warmth of soul and spirit.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO LISTEN TO EACH OTHER -- who listen to not only words, but non-verbal language of tone and expression; who listen to understand rather than to argue.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO SHOW AFFECTION -- who warm each other with their soothing touch; who remember that just as babies can die from lack of affection, so can marriages wither from a lack of closeness.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO RESPECT EACH OTHER -- who remember that the most important quality in marriage is to HONOR each other.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO CAN BE FRIENDS AND PARTNERS -- who remember that friendship can be a peaceful island, in a world of turmoil and strife; who can reflect upon the tranquility of future years shared with a true friend; who are not battling enemies under the same roof.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO ALLOW EACH OTHER TO BE UNIQUE -- who do not seek to force each other into a new mold that can only fit with much pain and discomfort; who accept the other as God made us.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO ARE OPEN WITH EACH OTHER -- who avoid secretness that causes suspicion and doubt; who trust and reveal themselves to each other even as a budding rose opens to reveal its beauty and fragrance.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO CHERISH THEIR UNION -- who let no one separate their togetherness, not another person, nor friend, nor worldly possessions.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO GIVE EACH OTHER APPROVAL -- who see that compliments encourage confidence in the other, while criticism divides; who do not point out the other's mistakes, for all too soon each will discover their own faults.

BLESSED ARE MARRIED COUPLES WHO LOVE ONE ANOTHER -- love is the river of life -- an eternal source of recreating one's self and each other. Above all else -- LOVE ONE ANOTHER, AS CHRIST HAS LOVED US.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas Song Meme, me-me-me-me.....

I was tagged with the Christmas Song Meme, by Esther. There are so many favorites, it was hard to stick to the limit! But here's my offering:

Name Your Favorite 5 Christmas Hymns

1. It Came Upon a Midnight Clear
2. O Come All Ye Faithful
3. Cradle Song/Away in A Manger
4. Hark the Herald Angels Sing
5. Silent Night

Name Your 5 Favorite Other Christmas Songs

1. Go Tell it on the Mountain
2. Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland
3. White Christmas
4. I Wonder, as I Wander
5. The Holly and the Ivy

Name Your 5 Favorite Humorous Christmas Songs

1. It's Beginning to Look alot Like Christmas
2. I Want a Hippopatamus for Christmas
3. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
4. All I Want for Christmas is my two front teeth
5. Jingle Bell Rock

I tag the following bloggers:

Anyone who reads this and wants to join in the fun!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Confession 101

Check this out, a new publication called: Confession 101, by Sr. Patricia of the Franciscan Monastery of Saint Clare. To see the release of the book, follow this LINK. To view a video presentation of Sister, follow this LINK.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Social Virtues: Caritas patiens est

"Caritas patiens est. Love is patient. The virtue of patience in an indispensible support for charity.
Patience towards ourselves and others; and bearing well the contradictions of ordinary life." (taken from
In Conversation with God, Vol. 5)

In making a return to my blogging on the social virtues, patience comes up next. Thank you for being patient in waiting :) Oh, how little of patience we seem to have at times - times where we are tried the most and are in the most need of patience. How people run out of patience with us, and we in turn with others. A much needed virtue, one manifested so lovingly by our Lord, and our Blessed Mother. The following are some excerpts from Fr. Francis Fernandez's writings from the In Conversation with God series. As I relay these details, I am struck by the very environments he describes, the very ordinary rounds of life. And I'm humbled to discover over again, how very much my own dynamics of wife, mother, home schooling teacher depend so needfully on this virtue and I'm resolved to try and try again.

Fr. Fernandez continues:
"Patience as a virtue should not be understood to mean passivity in the face of suffering. It is not a matter of socially accepting the blows of outrageous fortune and accepting our fate. Patience belongs to the virtue of fortitude. When we practice patience, we strive to accept pain and trial as something coming from the hand of God. We therefore seek to identify our will with the Will of God. The virtue of patience enables us to endure persecution of every kind. Patience should be the foundation of our hope and joy. [St. Thomas, commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, 10, 35]


There are a great many ways a Christian can live this virtue. The first battleground should be in the area of one's own behavior. It is so easy to become disheartened by our defects. We need to exercise patience in our interior struggle based on our unshakeable confidence in God's love for us. If we are to overcome a character defect, it will not happen overnight. Our victory will ultimately be won by the cultivation of humility, of trusting confidence in God, or greater docility. St. Francis de Sales would remind people that we need to have patience with everyone, but first and foremost with ourselves. [St. Francis de Sales, Letters, fragment 139]

Let us always be understanding about the defects of others; so many of our neighbors are sincerely trying to improve. ....If some of our friends habitually give in to their defects, this can have an upsetting effect on us. We may then give way to our impatience and thereby damage our friendships, perhaps irreparably. Charity will help us to be patient with others......when we get flustered, let us not react right away. We should take a deep breath, smile, do whatever has to be done and take our concerns to the Sacred Heart. Jesus looks upon our struggle with great compassion......"

More following-up with Patience in another post.

God bless you!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Spiritual Book Finds

Union with God: Letters of Spiritual Direction by Blessed Columba Marmion

One of Mother Teresa's favorite books, Union with God is a collection of letters written by Blessed Columba Marmion to the many persons who sought his spiritual counsel -- with questions about prayer, faith, temptation, suffering, and the struggles of daily life. Marmion excelled in the art of letter-writing -- his advice was always simple and direct, yet profound. In his letters we see him bringing to bear his great depth of theological knowledge in a practical and human way.

Zaccheus Press

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's a Rubens!

We really appreciate great living textbooks to study by, and today I'm singing the praises of the Art Through Faith 8 art study book, written and published by Seton. It hosts gorgeous full color masterpieces and information of the artists and schools of painting. We are using it with our Mother of Divine Grace syllabus for art study; Modg nicely utilizes this textbook with their own study questions and further enrichment. What a wonderful art course for young people. (Please note, we are using Grade 8 of this text with our scheduled art study course).

Here's a further description right from the Seton website. Use the LINKS for more information.

Seton's Description:
A most beautiful art appreciation book from Seton Press, and one of our most popular items! Full color reproductions of Christianity's greatest religious art with insightful comments to point out religious meaning. The junior high student is introduced to the work of 78 different artists in this truly unique collection that could easily serve as a "coffee table book." You will want to buy additional copies for your friends and family. Includes such artists as:

Fra Angelico
Bellini and Botticelli
Leonardo Da Vinci
Michelangelo, Raphael and the Renaissance Painters
The Pre-Raphaelites

St. Francis Anthony Fasani, Priest (Memorial)

A pious child. Entered the Conventual Franciscan order in 1695, taking the name Francis. Ordained in 1705. Taught philosophy to younger friars, served as guardian of his friary, provincial of the order, master of novices, and finally pastor in his hometown. Sought after confessor and preacher, a loyal friend of the poor, never hesitating to seek from benefactors what was needed. A mystic, known for his deep prayer life and supernatural gifts, he was known to levitate while praying. At his death, children ran through the streets crying, "The saint is dead! The saint is dead!" (Follow the LINK to more information).

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Increase my Faith

“I adore you, I love you, increase my faith”

When you receive him, tell him: Lord, I hope in you: I adore you, I love you, increase my faith. Be the support of my weakness: You, who have remained defenseless in the Eucharist so as to be the remedy for the weakness of your creatures. (The Forge, 832)

As you attend Mass, you will learn to deepen your friendship with each one of the three divine Persons: the Father who begets the Son; the Son, begotten by the Father; the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. When we approach any one of the divine Persons, we approach the one God. And when we come close to all three Persons — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — again we come into the presence of the one true God. Love the Mass, my children, love the Mass. And be hungry to receive our Lord in communion, although you may be cold inside, although your emotions may not correspond to your desires. Receive communion with faith, with hope, with burning charity.

A man who fails to love the Mass fails to love Christ. We must make an effort to “live” the Mass with calm and serenity, with devotion and affection. Those who love acquire a finesse, a sensitivity of soul that makes them notice details that are sometimes very small, but that are important because they express the love of a passionate heart. This is how we should attend the holy Mass. And this is why I have always suspected that those who want the Mass to be over quickly show, with this insensitive attitude, that they have not yet realized what the sacrifice of the altar means.

If we love Christ, who offers himself for us, we will feel compelled to find a few minutes after Mass for an intimate personal thanksgiving, which will prolong in the silence of our hearts that other thanksgiving which is the Eucharist. (Christ is passing by, 91-92)

Courtesy of Opus Dei, Daily Meditation

Friday, November 24, 2006

Let's Say Thanks

If you go to this web site, , you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

O Night Divine

Isn't it grand? A blog devoted to the celebration of Christmas by some fellow homeschooling friends.
Check it out:
O Night Divine

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I'm taking some time off to spend with friends and family over the next several days. So to all, I wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving! God bless!

The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Memorial)

21 November, commemorating the presentation of the Blessed Virgin as a child in the Temple where, according to tradition, she was educated. The feast originated in the Orient probably about the 7th century and is found in the constitution of Manuel Comnenus (1166) as a recognized festival. It was introduced into the Western Church in the 14th century, abolished by Pope Pius V, but reestablished by Sixtus V in 1585. Its observance by the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as the day of their origin led to the devotion of Mater Admirabilis.

See also Goffine's Devout Instructions.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Good-bye Yellow Brick Road...?

Author and blogger Iain Benson has written a piece on the recent Elton John proclamation, titled: When Shrimps Learn to Whistle: Elton John as Cultural Philosopher.

"Well-known cultural philosopher Elton John has proclaimed that organized religion should be banned."

Follow the LINK for the full story.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Poetry Friday

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there's some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Our seven year old Michael is memorizing this poem at this time per his curriculum courses. Hats off to him! I couldn't resist posting it - such beautiful

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Everyday Life: Social Virtues

When I first came upon this heading in my In Conversation with God meditation, I was intrigued. What would Fr. Francis Fernandez who authored this series have to say about this topic? The first sub-section under this heading read: Jesus cultivated the social virtues. Then Father goes on utilizing the Gospel of that day regarding the ten lepers [Luke 17: 11-10] As the reading goes, only one leper returned to express his gratitude to Our Lord who had just healed the ten. Later on in the meditation, we learn more fully about gratitude and what an important social virtue it is. (More on that one later).

Interestingly, the next paragraph goes on to say: "Jesus was in no way indifferent to the practice of the social virtues. The social virtues are a means by which people demonstrate their respect for one another. They are thus a manifestation of interior refinement." (and then later): "Throughout the course of his life and preaching, Jesus taught us the real importance of friendship, cordiality, temperance, love for the truth, understanding, loyalty, industriousness, sincerity.....He emphasized the value of the human virtues by the use of examples and parables from everyday life."

Ah...everyday life, the perfect environment for practicing and perfecting these virtues. Of course.

"The social virtues make daily life more pleasant." and "Charity ennobles and elevates these actions to a higher plane."

Daily life could indeed be made more pleasant. As a stay at home, homeschooling mother who wears several hats of management daily, each day of the week...twenty-four hours a day (!), I would say "pleasant" is a good word to focus on. The refinement and naturalness of imparting the virtues of patience, understanding, good-humor....are essential to pleasantness in the daily round. It takes work at one's interior life and disposition to be pleasant in what challenging situations may occur. Where to start? Certainly with a deepened and more committed prayer life, and of course, a smile :) Both, can make all the difference.

More in another post.

God bless!

Short update: A great article to read while delving into the social virtues has appeared at Catholic Analysis, titled: Agape Does Not Insist. Just follow the LINK.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Total Consecration: Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

I had been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately, increasingly inadequate, as well as very limited in my abilities to do and achieve what I feel called to do. I had said the wrong things at the wrong time and without the least bit of charity ): I found myself, wondering about myself. While it was true I had several stressors and difficult situations I was facing, as well as some serious decisions to make, it also seemed I lacked anyone who really understood my particular situation; there was someone who was very close to understanding, who actually knew all the details, but wouldn't you know, I made that person angry due to my own foolish upset and they were gone in a flash. Perhaps that wasn't the person meant to be coupled with me through my difficulty...although I felt abandoned when I needed their help the most. SOS! This all added up to the extra(ordinary) need for divine help and certainly more graces to bear with my ordeal. So, I paused. It was a long pause....and then I began, again. I started by a thorough examen, a good confession, a sincere apology to those I offended, and talking to a spiritual helper. Somehow, somewhere, I was inspired to do what is known as a classic spiritual pursuit of sorts: a total consecration to Jesus through Mary, per St. Louis Marie de Montfort's instruction and direction. And so, I began this spiritual endeavor eleven days ago, and one must journey through the formation for a regimen of thirty-three days, finally using the formula for consecration on the thirty-fourth day. The consecration date is to be accomplished on a Marian feastday, mine is that of Dec. 8th, the Immaculate Conception. I'm looking forward to that day!

Over the next several weeks, I'll be posting more on the social virtues, charity, kindness, forgiveness, affability - smiling :) A smile goes a long ways....

To read more about the special personal consecration, I submit the information below and links.

God bless!

+ A Personal Invitation to Become One of "Our Lady's Quarter Million" Consecrated Souls +

In March, 1984, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul ll, in communion with the bishops, consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Then, on October 8, 2000, with over 1,200 Cardinals and Bishops, our Holy Father entrusted the world and the New Millenium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

At Fatima, Our Lady said :"Jesus wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart in the world."We fulfill Our Lady's request by Total Consecration to Jesus, through her Immaculate Heart .

Souls consecrated to our Holy Mother are under her protection in a special way, and receive great graces .She will bring us closer to Jesus then we ever could get on our own. Every soul that completes this consecration brings us closer to the day that our Lady prophesized at Fatima :"In the end, my Immaculate Heart will Triumph."

Now you have the opportunity to individually consecrate your life to Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, by completing the Total Consecration founded in the 18th century by Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. The de Montfort Total Consecration is the most complete and most perfect consecration formula to Our Lady. It is the formula personally made and lived by Pope John Paul ll, and recommended by him to us.

The Church grants a Plenary Indulgence, under the usual conditions, to you on the day you complete your Act of Total Consecration , and each time you renew it.

We have provided over 77,000 free Total Consecration packages to date. Our packages consist of a two page letter, explaining who Saint Louis de Montfort is, and why it is important to complete the Total Consecration, plus a prayerbook from Montfort publications for the 33 day preparation prior to the Act of Total Consecration. These packages have been mailed to persons from 97 nations who have requested them. Our goal is to get free Total Consecration packages to 250,000 persons desiring to consecrate their lives to Jesus, through Mary.

You too can be one of these Quarter Million consecrated souls ( Our Lady's Quarter Million ) by requesting one of these free packages from me, Dick Sohm, at my e-mail address:, or by writing me at our Apostolate mailing address:

Friends of Our Lady Apostolate
1748 Heather Lane
Frederick, Maryland 21702-3054

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In Conversation with God

There is a great meditative prayer series called: In Conversation with God, published by Scepter. It is comprised of seven volumes and Saint Josemaria Escriva's maxims (such as those contained in The Way, The Forge and Furrow, as well as his other writings) are used generously throughout the series within the context of particular focused topics; other saints, religious, philosophers, popes, church documents and the like are included as well.

Authored by Fr. Francis Fernandez Carvajal, a priest of the Opus Dei Prelature, In Conversation follows the liturgical year with the daily scripture readings and is so valuable in its subject matter. The topics truly inspire your accountability to improve while also making clear Church teaching. The placement of St. Escriva's quotes within the topics provide an interpretation of sorts. Again and again, I find myself saying: yes, I remember that thought from this particular book...and now I more fully understand it. It was this series that brought me exactly that, more understanding and more appreciation for the spirituality emitted by St. Escriva. This series is appropriate for both men and women. (You could buy one volume appropriate for the liturgical season at hand, to try). If you have read a small portion of Escriva's writings, you are well on your way to getting a lot out of such a series.

I might add that while you may or may not be drawn to, or feel the call of a vocation to Opus Dei, founded by St. Josemaria Escriva, the writings of this remarkable saint and others of the prelature are widely available to us for personal spiritual enrichment.

As providence would have it, I came upon this series by way of another person's recommendation through their spiritual director, and it is with much gratitude I express this.

"With supernatural intuition, Blessed Josemaria untiringly preached the universal call to holiness and apostolate. Christ calls everyone to become holy in the realities of everyday life. Hence work too is a means of personal holiness and apostolate, when it is done in union with Jesus Christ."

Pope John Paul II in his homily at the beatification of Saint Josemaria

Monday, November 13, 2006

Books: Julie Andrews Collection

Remember The Legend of Holly Claus in a post somewhere below? It is one of the books in the Julie Andrews Collection. For more information regarding that collection follow this LINK to the website. From that website you should also be able to find Julie's daughter Emma Walton Hamilton's blog that is just in the beginning stages. Maybe you have a book manuscript you'd like to submit (see: comments section), or a review of one of the books in the JAs Collection.

Image courtesy of: The Legend of Holly Claus

A Chip On The Shoulder Weighs A Ton

Forgiveness is essential for good human relationships. You cannot give a hug with your arms folded.

Our forgiveness for others assures us of God’s forgiveness for us. In Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV) Jesus said, For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. The weight of unforgiveness greatly drags a person down. It is a tremendous load to carry in the race we’re called to run.

When faced with the need to forgive and forget, never make the excuse, “But no one knows what that person did to me!” That may be true, but do you know what unforgiveness will do to you?

What really matters is what happens in us, not to us.

Unforgiveness leads to great bitterness, which is a deadly misuse of the creative flow from above. Great amounts of brain power are used up when you ponder a negative situation and plot how to get even. This kind of thinking is totally unproductive. People who burn bridges will be isolated and alone and will deal with neutrals and enemies the rest of their lives. That’s why we should build bridges, not burn them. Vengeance is a poor traveling companion. Getting even always causes imbalance and unhappiness.

Never underestimate the power of forgiveness to free you to fulfill your calling. Forgiveness is the one power you have over a person who slanders or criticizes you. The farther you walk in forgiveness, the greater the distance you put between yourself and the negative situation.

Forgiveness gives you a spring in your spiritual walk and a second wind in the race of life.

- John Mason, from the book An Enemy Called Average

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Few of My Favorite Things

I really don't like grocery shopping. It's just a lot of work! But, when I see the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas returning to my grocer, well, I feel a little warm and fuzzy :) That happened Friday while shopping, I turned the corner of an aisle with my cart already overflowing and spied an end display that tickled my eyes and heart: my tea! It's back! You can visit it below by following the link provided in the title. Here's to your finding a few favorite things to help savor the season ahead by making it a little richer.

Nutcracker Sweet™ Holiday Tea

Waltzing flowers and sugar plum fairies. Angels on gossamer wings, a marzipan palace and a nutcracker who turns into a prince -- nothing brings the magic of the holiday season to life better than the world's favorite ballet. Now Celestial Seasonings® has captured that same magic in a tea, Nutcracker Sweet™ Limited Edition Holiday Tea. This irresistible treat is a blend of the finest black teas from the estates of Assam, Kenya and Indonesia. Then we add vanilla and nutty flavors and a dash of cinnamon. Nutcracker Sweet is perfect after dinner or as a stocking stuffer. Share the warmth and cheer of the season over a cup of Nutcracker Sweet Holiday Tea.

Marriage in Heaven

Father Cantalamessa on Marriage in Heaven
Pontifical Household Preacher on Sunday's Gospel

ROME, NOV. 10, 2006 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

There came a poor widow
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (b)
1 Kings 7:10-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44

One day, Jesus was standing before the temple treasury, watching people deposit their offerings. He saw a poor widow come and put in all she had, two copper coins, which make a penny. He turned to his disciples and said, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than the others. All have given from their excess, but she, in her poverty, put in all she had, all she had to live on."

We might call this Sunday the "Sunday of the widows." The story of a widow was also told in the first reading, the widow of Zarephath who gave up all she had left to eat (a handful of flour and a drop of oil) to prepare a meal for the prophet Elijah.

This is a good occasion in which to turn our attention toward both the widows and the widowers of today. If the Bible speaks so often of widows and never of widowers it is because in ancient society the woman who was left alone was at a greater disadvantage than the man who was left alone. Today there is no longer this difference. Actually, in general it now seems that women who are alone manage much better than men.

On this occasion I would like to treat a theme that is of definite interest not only to widows and widowers but also to all those who are married, especially during this month in which we remember the dead. Does the death of a husband or wife, which brings about the legal end of a marriage, also bring with it the total end of communion between the two persons? Does something of that bond which so strongly united two persons on earth remain in heaven, or will all be forgotten once we have crossed the threshold into eternal life?

One day, some Sadducees presented Jesus with the unlikely case of a woman who was successively the wife of seven brothers, asking him whose wife she would be after the resurrection. Jesus answered: "When they rise from the dead they will neither marry nor be given in marriage but will be like angels in heaven" (Mark 12:25).

Interpreting this saying of Jesus wrongly, some have claimed that marriage will have no follow-up in heaven. But with his reply Jesus is rejecting the caricature the Sadducees presented of heaven, as if it were going to be a simple continuation of the earthly relationship of the spouses. Jesus does not exclude the possibility that they might rediscover in God the bond that united them on earth.

According to this vision, marriage does not come to a complete end at death but is transfigured, spiritualized, freed from the limits that mark life on earth, as also the ties between parents and children or between friends will not be forgotten. In a preface for the dead the liturgy proclaims: "Life is transformed, not taken away." Even marriage, which is part of life, will be transfigured, not nullified.

But what about those who have had a negative experience of earthly marriage, an experience of misunderstanding and suffering? Should not this idea that the marital bond will not break at death be for them, rather than a consolation, a reason for fear? No, for in the passage from time to eternity the good remains and evil falls away. The love that united them, perhaps for only a brief time, remains; defects, misunderstandings, suffering that they inflicted on each other, will fall away.

Indeed, this very suffering, accepted with faith, will be transformed into glory. Many spouses will experience true love for each other only when they will be reunited "in God," and with this love there will be the joy and fullness of the union that they did not know on earth. In God all will be understood, all will be excused, all will be forgiven.

Some will ask of course about those who have been legitimately married to different people, widowers and widows who have remarried. (This was the case presented to Jesus of the seven brothers who successively had the same woman as their wife.) Even for them we must repeat the same thing: That which was truly love and self-surrender between each of the husbands or wives, being objectively a good coming from God, will not be dissolved. In heaven there will not be rivalry in love or jealousy. These things do not belong to true love but to the intrinsic limits of the creature.

St. Martin of Tours

Born to pagan parents; his father was a Roman military officer and tribune. Martin was raised in Pavia, Italy. Discovered Christianity, and became a catechumen in his early teens. Joined the Roman imperial army at age 15, serving in a ceremonial unit that acted as the emperor's bodyguard, rarely exposed to combat. Cavalry officer, and assigned to garrison duty in Gaul.

Trying to live his faith, he refused to let his servant to wait on him. Once, while on horseback in Amiens in Gaul (modern France), he encountered a beggar. Having nothing to give but the clothes on his back, he cut his heavy officer's cloak in half, and gave it to the beggar. Later he had a vision of Christ wearing the cloak.
Learn more HERE.
Whatever did not fit in with my plan did lie within the plan of God. I have an ever deeper and firmer belief that nothing is merely an accident when seen in the light of God, that my whole life down to the smallest details has been marked out for me in the plan of Divine Providence and has a completely coherent meaning in God's all-seeing eyes. And so I am beginning to rejoice in the light of glory wherein this meaning will be unveiled to me.

-- St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Friday, November 10, 2006

St. Leo the Great, Pope, Doctor of the Church (Memorial)

Pope from 440 to 461 during the time of the invasion of Attila the Hun. When Attila marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in priestly robes, carrying a bare sword, and threatening to kill the invader if he did not obey Pope Leo. As Leo had a great devotion to Saint Peter, it is generally believed the first pope was the visionary opponent to the Huns. When Genseric invaded Rome, Leo's sanctity and eloquence saved the city again.

"Virtue is nothing without the trial of temptation, for there is no conflict without an enemy, no victory without strife."

Pope Saint Leo the Great

Poetry Friday

America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for halcyon skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the enameled plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till souls wax fair as earth and air
And music-hearted sea!

O beautiful for pilgrims feet,
Whose stem impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till paths be wrought through
wilds of thought
By pilgrim foot and knee!

O beautiful for glory-tale
Of liberating strife
When once and twice,
for man's avail
Men lavished precious life!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till selfish gain no longer stain
The banner of the free!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
Till nobler men keep once again
Thy whiter jubilee!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Do you want Fries with that? :) (sorry!)

German scholars unveil "politically correct" Bible

Nov. 09 (CNA/ - A group of 52 biblical “specialists” have released a new version of the Bible in which inclusive language and “political correctness” have replaced some “divisive” teachings of Christianity in order to present a “more just language” for groups such as feminists and homosexuals.

According to the AFP news agency, the new version of the Sacred Scriptures was presented at a book fair in Frankfurt. Entitled, The Bible in a More Just Language, the translation has Jesus no longer referring to God as “Father,” but as “our Mother and Father who are in heaven.” Likewise, Jesus is no longer referred to as the “Son” but rather as the “child” of God. The title “Lord” is replaced with “God” or “the Eternal One.” The devil, however, is still referred to with masculine pronouns. “One of the great ideas of the Bible is justice. We have made a translation that does justice to women, Jews, and those who are disregarded,” said Pastor Hanne Koehler, who led the team of translators.

Last December, Matin Dreyer, pastor and founder of the sect “Jesus Freaks,” published the Volksbibel (The People’s Bible), in a supposed attempt to make the message of Christianity more “accessible.” Jesus “returns” instead of resurrects, and multiplies “hamburgers” instead of the fish and loaves. In the parable of the prodigal son, the younger son squanders his inheritance at dance clubs and ends up “cleaning bathrooms at McDonald’s.”

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

There's Always Tomorrow....

Some were asking, and No, Brant Luther didn't win the election for our district representative. But what a great guy and how great to know there are Brants out there. I feel kind of like Johnny-Nobody in his post on the Detroit Tigers: "an oh-so-close perfect, magical season...", yep, that was also the campaign of Brant Luther. There is still hope, because there is still Brant for the future. Amen to that.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Today: Blessed John Duns Scotus

Bl. John Duns Scotus (1266-1308)
Born a wealthy farmer, John was a Franciscan priest who lectured at Oxford and Cambridge for four years, and then traveled to Paris to teach and complete his doctorate. He is the founder of a school of scholastic thought called Scotism. His defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary was so convincing that Pope Pius IX solemnly defined the dogma in 1854 largely due to his work. Learn more HERE.



Monday, November 06, 2006

The Legend of Holly Claus, Julie Andrews Collection

As a warm-up to the holidays ahead, our daughter is currently reading this newest book in the Julie Andrews collection series: The Legend of Holly Claus. I'm hoping to read it also.

St. Leonard of Noblac (6th century)

Leonard lived a life of austerity, sanctification, and preaching. Desiring more seclusion than a monastery could offer, he withdrew into the forest and lived on herbs, wild fruits, and spring water. There he built an oratory, which he left only for journeys to churches. He had great compassion for prisoners, many of whom he converted. (For more info go to: Catholic-Forum Patron Saint Index)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

#2 Catholic Homeschool Carnival

The second Catholic Homeschool Carnival is happening!
Head to Love2Learn blog, at this

Seatbelt Ad

I couldn't get my blog edited correctly to put the YouTube on to view this ad, but if you follow this LINK, you should find it -- very good, worth viewing.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Poetry Friday

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933)

'TIS fine to see the Old World, and travel up and down
Among the famous palaces and cities of renown,
To admire the crumbly castles and the statues of the kings,—
But now I think I've had enough of antiquated things.

So it's home again, and home again, America for me!
My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,
In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!

Oh, London is a man's town, there's power in the air;
And Paris is a woman's town, with flowers in her hair;
And it's sweet to dream in Venice, and it's great to study Rome;
But when it comes to living there is no place like home.

I like the German fir-woods, in green battalions drilled;
I like the gardens of Versailles with flashing fountains filled;
But, oh, to take your hand, my dear, and ramble for a day
In the friendly western woodland where Nature has her way!

I know that Europe's wonderful, yet something seems to lack:
The Past is too much with her, and the people looking back.
But the glory of the Present is to make the Future free,—
We love our land for what she is and what she is to be.

Oh, it's home again, and home again, America for me!
I want a ship that's westward bound to plough the rolling sea,
To the bl├ęssed Land of Room Enough beyond the ocean bars,
Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars

A Presbyterian Minister, Henry Van Dyke is perhaps best known for The Story of the Other Wise Man and for the Hymn of Joy ("Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, ..."). He was also a prolific poet, and the above poem can be found in:
Van Dyke, Henry. The Poems of Henry Van Dyke. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1911.
"America for Me" was written in June, 1909.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Papal Prayer Intentions for November

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2006 ( During the month of November, Benedict XVI will pray especially "for an end to all forms of terrorism throughout the world."

The Apostleship of Prayer announced the general and missionary prayer intentions chosen by the Holy Father.

The Pontiff, along with thousands of faithful worldwide, offers his prayers and sacrifices for the intentions.

The Pope's missionary prayer intention for the month is: "For believers everywhere: may they work to remove old and new barriers to Africa's development."

Saint Anthony Abbot

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Hat Tip Book

Ever since Oswald at Catholic Analysis blogspot beat me to reading Thomas Dubay's newly published book: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, I have been wanting to post something. The book appeared at my computer table one fine morning; do you think my husband was trying to tell me something? :) I am almost finished with it now, but can one truly ever be finished with conversion of this depth and perfection? It is certainly a book worth reading and I recommend heading over to Catholic Analysis at this LINK and reading Oswald's review of this excellent book.

Nov. 1st Feast of All Saints

"The glorious company of the apostles praise Thee.
The goodly fellowship of the prophets praise Thee.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise Thee.
All Thy saints and elect with one voice do acknowledge Thee,
O Blessed Trinity, one God!"

-- Feast of All Saints (November 1), Antiphon at Lauds, from the Te Deum

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Here's the book that might help shed light on the questions that arise regarding those saints misbehavin' in my previous post. This is a September 2006 publication. I'll be interested in reading this one! er ahem, cough cough :)

Saints Behaving Badly
by Thomas J. Craughwell

Saints Misbehavin' by Thomas J. Craughwell

I found this to be a very interesting article. Read the introduction below, then follow the link.


This Wednesday is All Saints Day, the holy day when Roman Catholics commemorate the lives and virtues of all the saints. The word "saint," of course, has long since entered our broad cultural lexicon, implying virtue of the highest sort even to nonbelievers. But in practice, saintly virtue is rarely a lifelong possession. Indeed, it sometimes emerges only after a good deal of sin has gone before.

Can a cop killer be a saint, for instance? In recent years, certain Catholics have debated precisely that question. The retired archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, thinks so. In 1987, he began the formal process by which Jacques Fesch, a convicted murderer guillotined by the French state in 1957, might be declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church. READ MORE

Friday, October 27, 2006

Poetry Friday

On The Grasshopper And Cricket
by John Keats

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper's--he takes the lead
In summer luxury,--he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper's among some grassy hills.

Noah Didn't Wait

Nugget: Noah Didn't Wait For His Ship To Come In - He Built One.

Seize the moment! "Miracles are coming by you or to you every day" (Oral Roberts). Today was once the future from which you expected so much in the past. Live for today.

Don't let what you have within your grasp today be missed entirely because only the future intrigued you and the past disheartened you. Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.

When can you live if not now? All the answers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today. The future that you long and dream for begins today. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year."

The Bible says, "Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Ps. 90:12). Marie Edgeworth said, "There is no moment like the present. The man who will not execute his resolutions when they are fresh on him can have no hope from them afterwards; for they will be dissipated, lost, and perished in the hurry and scurry of the world, or sunk in the slough of indolence."

The regrets that most people experience in life come from failing to act when having an opportunity. Today, well lived, will prepare you for both the opportunities and obstacles of tomorrow.

Few know when to rise to the occasion. Most only know when to sit. Many spend too much time dreaming of the future, never realizing that a little of it arrives every day. I agree with Jonathan Swift when he said, "May you live all the days of your life."

Know the real value of today.

- John Mason, from the book
Conquering An Enemy Called Average

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I think that I shall never see....

I was noticing my "Nature Quote of the Day" today, down at the left hand margin; it reads:

"I think that I shall never see a billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall, I'll never see a tree at all."

by Ogden Nash

A classic!
Some interesting news from Pope Benedict XVI regarding Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

God's Yellow Pages

Check it out:

God's Yellow Pages

31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Monday, October 23, 2006 soon?

I don't know that I'm ready for this, but it is lightly snowing here today, where we are in northeastern Ohio, on this feast of St. John Capistrano.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Poetry Friday

When We Two Parted
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

When we two parted
In silence and tears,
Half broken-hearted
To sever for years,
Pale grew thy cheek and cold,
Colder thy kiss;
Truly that hour foretold
Sorrow to this.

The dew of the morning
Sunk chill on my brow--
It felt like the warning
Of what I feel now.
Thy vows are all broken,
And light is thy fame;
I hear thy name spoken,
And share in its shame.

They name thee before me,
A knell to mine ear;
A shrudder comes o'er me--
Why wert thou so dear?
They know not I knew thee,
Who knew thee so well--
Long, long I shall rue thee,
Too deeply to tell.

In secret we met--
In silence I grieve,
That thy heart could forget,
Thy spirit deceive
If I should meet thee
After long years,
How should I greet thee?--
With silence and tears.