St Gabriel Windows

St Gabriel Windows
Photocopy c. 2013 Jamie Laubacher

Monday, December 31, 2007

On the Seventh Day of Christmas.....
Pope St. Sylvester I (4th century)

During Sylvester's pontificate, the great churches of Rome were built by Emperor Constantine, such as the Basilicas of St. John Lateran and St. Peter. He contributed to the development of the liturgy of the Church, and compiled the first history of Roman martyrs.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170)

Thomas was a civil and canon lawyer, as well as an officer in the military. He was made the Archbishop of Canterbury the day after he was ordained a priest. For opposing the King's interference in ecclesiastical matters, he was exiled several times, then martyred.

"For our sake Christ offered himself to the Father upon the altar for the cross. He now looks down from heaven on our actions and secret thoughts, and one day he will give each of us the reward his deeds deserve." - St. Thomas Becket

Saint Thomas a' Beckett

Friday, December 28, 2007

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."
To what merits of their own do the children owe this kind of victory? They cannot speak, yet they bear witness to Christ. They cannot use their limbs to engage in battle, yet already they bear off the palm of victory. -St. Quodvultdeus

Thursday, December 27, 2007

....and a very happy birthday to my childhood friend and schoolmate, Ann in Wyoming! How the years fly...God bless us!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I just love what Meredith is doing for the Twelve Days of Christmas, over at Sweetness and Light. Check it out: Our Twelve Days of Christmas

St. Stephen (1st century)

Stephen was a deacon, a preacher, and the first Christian martyr. While preaching in the streets of Jerusalem, angry Jews who believed he was a blasphemer dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death. Among the mob was the man who later became St. Paul.Reflections from the Saints

"Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."

– St. Stephen

Saturday, December 22, 2007

"You must look at the Child in the manger. He is our Love. Look at him, realizing that the whole thing is a mystery. We need to accept this mystery on faith and use our faith to explore it very deeply. To do this, we must have the humble attitude of a christian soul. Let us not try to reduce the greatness of God to our own poor ideas and human explanations. Let us try to understand that this mystery, for all its darkness, is a light to guide men's lives."
Christ is Passing By,
St. Josemaria Escriva

Friday, December 21, 2007

Come Lord Jesus, Come!

I want to wish you all a very blessed and happy Christmas! I'll be taking a short break away from my computer and enjoying the blessings of family and this beautiful liturgical season. I'll try to post a few lovely vintage Christmas and New Year images from time to time.

God bless you all abundantly!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

It's been a tad bit busy here, to say the least!

If you haven't see this acapella group yet, you're in for a treat.

Straight No Chaser, singing, the 12 Days of Christmas

Friday, December 14, 2007

Advent Reflection Revisted

I thought this was a particularly good examen to reflect on; taken from the Magnificat Advent Companion.

(Father Richard Veras)

Advent Examination of Conscience:

R. "Come, Lord Jesus!"

For the times I forgot that I need a Savior, and arrogantly conceive of myself as sufficient to myself. R.

For the times that I do not believe Jesus and instead give in to the lie of perceiving God the Father as being indifferent or hostile to my well-being. R.

For the times that I trust my self-pitying accusations more than the Father's love. R.

For the times I desecrate the presence of Christ by making my own opinions, my own criteria, or my own likes and dislikes the measure for measuring circumstances of life and other people. R.

For the times I have shunned the presence of Christ, whether it be his sacramental presence or his presence through the people he puts in my life. R.

For the times I have blasphemed the presence of Christ through using other human beings as things that I can manipulate or use for my own selfish ends. R.

For the times I disregarded the will of Christ through abuse of those things he has given me for the building up of his kingdom. R.

For the times that I justify my sinfulness and thus treat God's mercy with disdain. R.

God our Father, open to us your promised fountain of mercy, the Word made flesh, to wash our sins and impurities away. Prepare us to welcome our Savior who dwells among us. Pour forth, we beseech you, Father, your grace into our hearts, that we to whom the incarnation of Christ your Son, is to be made known anew through the sacrament of confession may by his passion and cross be brought to the glory of his resurrection through the same Christ our Lord.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dec 12: Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

With the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe just one day away, I urge you to visit my friend Alice at Cottage Blessings, via this insightful and delightful post: A Tea in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Our Lady of Guadalupe holds such a special place of devotion for me. My husband gave me a beautiful matted and framed image of OL of G for our wedding nearly twenty years ago now. It has a special place of honor in our diningroom with a swag of deep burgundy and bronze shaded roses adorning it.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Mother, Pray for us!

And for more on this special feast of Our Lady, head to this LINK.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

We are enjoying the first of a lovely fluffy snowfall here. It was a snow day for the local schools. My brood got out in it and now everyone is in warming up. We have company staying over, and my daughter and her friend, and I, will be attending a performance of the Nutcracker in the morning. In the meantime, we have made pepperoni rolls and gingerbread cookies with icing. I'm tired, but content. And I've discovered "Sugar Cookie" tea from Celestial Seasonings. Ahhh...

God bless!

If any of my visitors are interested in receiving a postcard of an award winning piece of art done by our son Doug, please email me privately with your mailing address and we will be glad to send it along. Doug won first place in the "ink" category - high school division for his rendering of one of Thomas Nast's Victorian Santas. This piece also won first runner up to all of high school (at a fall festival). So, we are pleased to have had it printed on a post card to share.

I'm adding more details here as I'm being asked: the original work is 11" x 14", cream colored background. Doug used "Rapidograph" black ink to "draw" the work. Thomas Nast is one of Doug's favorite "cartoon" artists. He enjoys his political art work. He was very talented indeed! Nast basically invented the original "Santa" that we have come to know.

Email me: Denise

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

About Those Christmas Cards
Wouldn't you know.....I usually buy my Christmas cards from a pro-life source, or an abbey or monastery.  I like American made, produced.  And I like our proceeds to help fund a good cause, and more preferably a pro-life organization.  Well, I bought a quick box of American Greetings Christmas cards today at our local drugstore, because the Madonna and child were truly beautiful, I was getting antsy, and the verse on the card was beautifully religious.  Got them home, and got to looking at them closer, and wouldn't you know: Made in China ):  I was so disappointed.  Well, I opened the box up and inspected the cards themselves, the cards do not say Made in China, in fact, they say: AGC, Cleveland Ohio. any rate, something affiliated with these cards has to do with Made in China!
My suggestion is to always look to some good sources for your Christmas cards.  I have gotten our last years cards from Couple to Couple League, a good family focused pro-life Catholic NFP organization.  In fact, I have an order in now......I'll be patient :-)

Monday, December 03, 2007

St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552)

A friend of St. Ignatius, Francis was one of the founding members of the Jesuits in the 1500s. He was a very successful priest and missionary in India and Japan, baptizing more than 40,000. He traveled thousands of miles, most on his bare feet, to seek out and help the poor and forgotten. He was a great miracle worker, prophet and healer.
St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Forgive me if I'm repeating myself, but this is such a lovely prayer book for young people. I've purchased several, and have purchased several more for Christmas gift-giving. The edition I get has a mini music CD of World Youth Day 2002 Music. This is a commemorative edition. Simply wonderful.

My Dear Young Friends (editor John Vitek)

Ecce Veniet! Advent is here

Advent is here. What a marvelous time in which to renew your desire, your nostalgia, your real longing for Christ to come - for him to come every day to your soul in the Eucharist. The Church encourages us: Ecce veniet! - He is about to arrive! (The Forge, 548)

The liturgical year is beginning, and the introit of the Mass invites us to consider something closely related to the beginning of our christian life: the vocation we have all received. “Make me to know your ways, o Lord; teach me your paths.” We ask the Lord to guide us, to show us his footprints, so we can set out to attain the fullness of his commandments, which is charity.

In considering the circumstances surrounding your decision to make every effort to live your faith, I imagine that you, like me, will thank our Lord. I know too that, without falling into false humility, this thankfulness will leave you even more convinced that you have merited nothing of this on your own. Usually we learn to invoke God as a young child from our christian parents. Later, teachers, friends and acquaintances have helped us in many ways not to lose sight of our Lord. (Christ is passing by,1) Courtesy of Opus Dei Daily Message

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"How happy when they die must be those who have lived heroically every minute of their life! I can assure you it is so, because I have seen the joy of those who have prepared themselves for many years, with calm impatience, for this encounter." (Furrow, 893)
Wow, isn't this something to really think about?  Living "heroically every minute"....I too believe and have seen those who have done it, and are doing it now.  (I'm not sure I can be counted among them!).  But what excellent examples.  Oh, how we need these examples!  Living examples that "live it", walk the walk, not just talk it.  How much we can learn by watching the thoughtful footsteps placed by these heroic others living for Christ, preparing to meet him face to face.
St. Josemaria Escriva, pray for us!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Here's an interesting gift you might consider for the gentlemen in your life this Christmas.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Made in the U.S.A.
Here's something to help with Christmas shopping:
American Made:
Products and Services
What about Christmas gift giving?

I've been thinking about this, how to avoid products from China, of course my philosophy has been all along for years that we should be boycotting China anyway, due their one child forced abortion policy. I am very unhappy about the Olympics taking place there - nonetheless that I heard they evicted 1.5 million of their own people from their homes, to clear out the area for the Olympic park that is being built. I do hope internationally there is some kind of outrage.

Anyway....I am avoiding "Made in China", and one Christmas gift I did come across for young people that I thought was quite nice, is a commemorative edition of Pope John Paul IIs talks to youth, World Youth Day, 2002. The edition I saw (and ordered several of), came with a mini music CD of the music from the WYD event. This book is a "prayer book", using JPII own words, a challenge for youth to put into action and prayer, covering 52 weeks. It is called: "My Dear Young Friends".....and is edited by John Vitek. (St. Mary's Press) The ISBN for the edition I'm getting is: 9780884897484. If you go to: and type in the title, you can view pages of this book. It's a great "teen" or young adult book.

(Not made in China....)

More later.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What Am I Currently Reading...?

I do get asked a lot; right now I am reading a well done juvenile book pick:

Condoleezza Rice: America's Leading Stateswoman
by Christin Ditchfield
from the Great Life Stories series (Scholastic)
A Franklin Watts Library Edition
Spirit of Christmas Award
I nominate the following five:
(if you've already rec'd it, you are excused :-)

Catholic Mom in Hawaii, Esther

Life is Beauty, Lynn

Sweetness & Light, Meredith

One Came Back, several contributor's, all worthy, worthy, WORTHY!

Cay's Cajun Cottage, Cay
(Please refer to my post for more information:
Now if I can just get that spirit of Santa to appear again at my post...he's disappeared on me!

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Judgement Day: Intelligent Design on Trial"
Anyone else watch this PBS 2 hour documentary that aired on November 13th?  Our family did.  As our son is heavily into studying Biology in this his junior year of high school, we found this real life event to be very interesting, every last bit of it.
Here's a glimpse of what it was about at this link (editorial):

Spirit of Christmas Award

Thanks to Barbara at Praying for Grace for this special award. I will shortly nominate five others. In the meantime, my heart-felt thanks. May the "true spirit" of Christmas reign in your hearts this season.

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Spirit of Christmas
"Take things calmly; let time pass"
You are worried. Listen: happen what may in your interior life or in the world that surrounds you, never forget that the importance of events or of people is very relative. Take things calmly; let time pass; and then, as you view persons and happenings dispassionately and from afar, you will acquire the perspective that will enable you to see each thing in its proper place and in its true size. If you do this, you will be more objective and you will spare yourself many causes of anxiety. (The Way, 702) 
Don't be frightened; don't fear any harm, even though the circumstances in which you work are terrible, worse even than those of Daniel in the pit with all those ferocious beasts. God's hand is as powerful as ever and, if necessary, he will work miracles. Be faithful! With a loving, responsible and cheerful faithfulness to the teaching of Christ. Be convinced that our times are no worse than those of other centuries, and that Our Lord is always the same.

I knew an elderly priest who used to say with a smile: 'As for me, I'm always calm and peaceful.' That is how we should always be, immersed in the world, with hungry lions all around, yet never losing our peace, our calm. Always loving, believing and hoping, and never forgetting that Our Lord will work all the miracles we need, if and when we need them. (Friends of God, 105)
Courtesy of: Opus Dei 

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's hard to know when to "speak out in love". It's hard to tell if you are doing so....however, I think that when one is truly sincere in their motives and moved by the spirit of God, not only will the right words come, but the right time will come as well. Oswald Sobrino gives us some insight at his blog in his article: The Wisdom to Speak Out. Follow the link in the title.

God bless!

UPDATE: I apologize for the LINK that was previously incorrect in this post. Barbara brought it to my attention and I really appreciate that! Thanks for reading!...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Make-up, anyone?
For my lady friend visitors out there.  I know this sounds entirely vain, but what is your favorite make-up?  I have fair skin, sensitive skin, and my eyes are sensitive to different make-ups as well, so I have to be so careful what I use. Fragrance on my skin or around my eyes is definitely a no-no.  I have used everything from Avon (I sell Avon), to Almay, Mary Kay, and some Clinique, and I just wonder, what is everyone using out there with success and little fuss?  I don't use much make-up, but I do like to "dress-up" a little.  (I'm also not a hair person - it has to be simple!)
I need some color for the holidays ahead.....
So what about foundations and eye make-ups?
I'd love to hear from you; please leave a comment.
I'm back, sort of :-)

I have a lot on my mind, some of which concerns the presidential election.

We'll talk more later!

God bless,

Faith Should Affect Voting, Say U.S. Bishops

Prelates Approve Citizenship Document

WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 14, 2007 ( U.S. bishops are encouraging people to use their faith and a well-formed conscience as guidance in political choices.

The U.S. episcopal conference approved today a statement called "Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility." The bishops are meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, for their fall general assembly through Thursday.

"In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote," a statement from the bishops explained. "Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God's truth. We recognize that the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election."

The Church's role in helping Catholics to form their consciences is a central theme of the document.

"With this foundation," the bishops explained, "Catholics are better able to evaluate policy positions, party platforms, and candidates' promises and action in light of the Gospel and the moral and social teaching of the Church in order to help build a better world."

The bishops affirmed their legitimate role in public life. "The obligation to teach about moral values that should shape our lives, including our public lives, is central to [our] mission," they stated. "Our nation's tradition of pluralism is enhanced, not threatened, when religious groups and people of faith bring their convictions and concerns into public life."

Opposing abortion

The document recalls that respect for the dignity of every human being is a foundation for Catholic teaching about "faithful citizenship."

The statement says people must oppose actions that are intrinsically wrong, such as abortion and euthanasia, because these actions involve directly and intentionally ending an innocent human life.

It also affirms the obligation to promote the common good by combating such threats to human life and dignity as hunger, poverty, racism, unjust immigration policies, and unjust war. "Both opposing evil and doing good are essential obligations," the document says.

The bishops warn of two temptations for Catholics in public life.

"The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity," the statement says. "The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life […] is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed."

A second temptation, the bishops said, involves "dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, torture, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or lack health care, or unjust immigration policies are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act."

A duty

The bishops call Catholics to a different kind of political engagement shaped by well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good, and the protection of the weak and the vulnerable.

They add, "Participation in political life in light of fundamental moral principles is an essential duty for every Catholic and all people of good will."

The bishops also acknowledge the challenges faced by Catholic voters: "Catholics may feel politically disenfranchised sensing that no party and too few candidates fully share the Church's comprehensive commitment to the dignity of the human person.

"As Catholics we are not single issues voters. A candidate's position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter's support. Yet a candidate's position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support."

Getting involved

Despite challenges, the statement urges Catholics "to become more involved: running for office, working within political parties, and communicating concerns to elected officials."

It suggests that Catholics should be "guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group."

As they prepare for the elections, the statement says "Catholic voters should use Catholic teaching to examine candidates' positions on issues and should consider candidates' integrity, philosophy and performance."

St. Albert the Great (1206-1280)

"It is by the path of love, which is charity, that God draws near to man, and man to God. But where charity is not found, God cannot dwell. If, then, we possess charity, we possess God, for "God is Charity."
-St. Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus)

Albert was a Dominican philosopher, theologian, and scientist. He taught at Cologne and Paris, where he had Thomas Aquinas among his pupils, and compiled an encyclopedia of the learning of his day. His study of the natural sciences was far ahead of his time.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dear Friends,
I'm needing to take a break.  We had a death in the family, an aunt, and one of my brothers-in-law recently suffered several serious injuries in a car accident. 
I hope to return to blogging soon, but in the meantime, please visit some of the wonderful blogs I enjoy so much, which are included in my blogroll on the leftside margin.
God bless you all!
(I would add the lovely signature my friend Esther designed for me, but I don't have access to it while publishing off line - you'll just have to imagine I signed a lovely signature :-)
"The race of the children of God"
We are children of God, bearers of the only flame that can light up the paths of the earth for souls, of the only brightness which can never be darkened, dimmed or overshadowed. The Lord uses us as torches, to make that light shine out. Much depends on us; if we respond many people will remain in darkness no longer, but will walk instead along paths that lead to eternal life. (The Forge, 1)
Iesus Christus, Deus homo: Jesus Christ, God‑man. This is one of "the mighty works of God" [1], which we should reflect upon and thank him for. He has come to bring "peace on earth to men of good Will" [2], to all men who want to unite their wills to the holy will of God — not just the rich, not just the poor, but everyone: all the brethren. We are all brothers in Jesus, children of God, brothers of Christ. His Mother is our mother.
There is only one race in the world: the race of the children of God. We should all speak the same language, taught us by our Father in heaven — the language Jesus spoke with his Father. It is the language of heart and mind, which you are using now, in your prayer — the language of contemplation, used by men who are spiritual, because they realize they are children of God. This language is expressed in a thousand motions of our will, in the clear insights of our minds, in the affections of our heart, in our commitment to lead a virtuous life, in goodness, happiness and peace. (Christ is passing by, 13)
Courtesy of Opus Dei (

Saturday, November 03, 2007

This Train is Bound for Glory

There is a wonderful little article from Oswald Sobrino at Catholic Analysis (as usual...when is something not wonderful there)? It reminds me of...this train is bound for glory. Visit it at: Jesus is Passing By.

While you're there, check out his pieces on vocations and charisms; very hopeful, very inspiring.

We are off this weekend (Sunday) to see the movie: "Bella"; I'm really looking forward to it. Make it a great weekend! God bless!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Feast of All Saints

November 1 Feast of All Saints

Why has the Church appointed this feast?

To honor God in His saints, in whom He has shown Himself so wonderful, and to thank Him, as the author of all sanctity, for the benefits He has bestowed upon them.

To put us in lively remembrance of the communion of saints; that is, of all true children of the Church, whether they belong to the Church militant on earth, to the Church suffering in purgatory, or to the Church triumphant in heaven; but more particularly to cause us to consider, with earnestness, the communion of the saints in heaven with us, who are yet combating on earth.

To encourage us to strive for the like sanctity with them, and to teach us that it is by no means impossible; for if thousands of men could become saints, why should not we, who can do all things through Him Who strengthens us, and has sent the Holy Ghost for our sanctification?

To pay honor to those saints to whom no particular day in the year is dedicated.

That, in consideration of so many intercessors, God may grant us perfect reconciliation, may give us a share in their merits, and may grant us the grace of one day sharing in their joy in heaven.

By whom was this feast instituted?
By Pope Boniface IV, who, in the year 610, appropriated the Pantheon (that is, the temple of all gods) to the divine service of Christians, dedicated it to the Blessed Virgin and an saints, and commanded this feast in honor of all saints to be celebrated at Rome every year. Gregory IV, in the year 840, extended this feast to the whole Church, and transferred it to the 1st of November.


O Almighty God, Who hast granted us to venerate in one, solemnity the merits of an Thy saints, we beseech Thee that, as our intercessors are multiplied, Thou wouldst bestow upon us the desired abundance of mercy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pope to Pharmacists: Don't Anesthetize Consciences

Warns Against Drugs That Violate Human Dignity

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2007 ( Benedict XVI told a group of pharmacists that they must avoid anaesthetizing consciences, and emphasized that drugs should be used to help human beings, not to take the life of unborn children or the elderly.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience a group of participants attending the 25th international congress of Catholic pharmacists, under way in Rome.

The Holy Father's brief remarks included a reflection on the developments in pharmaceuticals and medicines and the possibilities they offer. He asked the pharmacists to consider the "ever broader functions they are called to undertake, especially as intermediaries between doctor and patient."

He recalled their role in educating patients "in the correct use of medications" and in informing them of "the ethical implications of the use of particular drugs."

True role

"In this context," the Pontiff said, "we cannot anesthetize consciences as regards, for example, the effect of certain molecules that have the goal of preventing the implantation of the embryo or shortening a person's life. Pharmacists must seek to raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, and so that medicines truly play a therapeutic role."

Turning his attention to therapeutic experiments, Benedict XVI recalled that individual persons may not be treated as objects.

Such experiments "must be carried out following protocols that respect fundamental ethical norms," he said, emphasizing that "all attempts at cure or experimentation must be undertaken while bearing in mind the well-being of the person concerned, and not only the pursuit of scientific progress."

"The quest for the good of humanity cannot proceed at the expense of the well-being of the people being treated," the Pope affirmed.

Right to object

The Holy Father also made a firm defense of conscientious objection.

He said the federation of pharmacists "is called to face the question of conscientious objection, which is a right that must be recognized for people exercising this profession, so as to enable them not to collaborate directly or indirectly in supplying products that have clearly immoral purposes such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia."

The Pontiff further affirmed that pharmaceutical organizations should practice "solidarity in the therapeutic field so as to enable people of all social classes and all countries, especially the poorest, to have access to vital medicines and assistance."

"The biomedical sciences are at the service of man," he concluded. "Were it otherwise they would be cold and inhuman. All scientific knowledge in the field of health care [...] is at the service of sick human beings, considered in their entirety, who must have an active role in their cure and whose autonomy must be respected."

St. Narcissus (3rd century)

Narcissus was a bishop of Jerusalem. Late in life, after he was falsely accused of a crime, he resigned his post in order to prevent scandal and he became a desert hermit. After a complete acquittal, he returned to his see and served for several more years. He lived to the age of 116.
"Belief in the Eucharist is a treasure we must seek by submissiveness, preserve by piety, and defend at any cost. Not to believe in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest of misfortunes." -St. Narcissus

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bl. Damian of Finario (15th century)

Damian was kidnapped as an infant. When his parents prayed fervently for help, a miraculous light led searchers to him. He later joined the Dominicans and became a famous preacher and miracle worker throughout Italy. Hundreds converted during his missions.
God of truth, for the salvation of the faithful you endowed Blessed Damian with wondrous virtues and powers of speech. Through his prayers may we hear your word with an open heart and hold fast to it with patience. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. 
 General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

Poetry Friday

O Captain, My Captain!
By Walt Whitman

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies, fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Image of "Sea Captain's Wife Praying", by Charles Wysocki

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

St. Anthony Claret (1807-1870)

Anthony was the founder of the Claretians. He was the confessor for Queen Isabella II, and was exiled with her. He had the gifts of miracles and prophecy. He spread devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in over 10,000 sermons and 200 published works.

"The zealous man desires and achieve all great things and he labors strenuously so that God may always be better known, loved and served in this world."
-St. Anthony Claret

“Lord, I don't know how to pray!”

You write: 'To pray is to talk with God. But about what?' About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: 'to get acquainted!' (The Way, 91)

How should we pray? I would go as far as to say, without fear of being mistaken, that there are many, countless, ways of praying. But I would like all of us to pray genuinely, as God’s children, not gabbling away like hypocrites who will hear from Jesus’ lips ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord!” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [1]. People who live by hypocrisy can perhaps achieve ‘the sound of prayer’, says St Augustine, ‘but they cannot possess its voice, because there is no life in them’ [2]. They lack the desire to fulfill the Father’s Will. When we cry ‘Lord!’ we must do so with an effective desire to put into practice the inspirations the Holy Spirit awakens in our soul…

I have never tired of talking about prayer and with God’s grace I never will. I remember back in the thirties, as a young priest, people of all kinds used to come to me looking for ways of getting closer to Our Lord. To all of them, university students and workers, healthy and sick, rich and poor, priests and laymen, I gave the same advice: ‘Pray’. If any one replied, ‘I don’t even know how to begin’, I would advise him to put himself in God’s presence and tell Him of his desires and his anxiety, with that very same complaint: ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray!’ Often, humble admissions like that were the beginning of an intimate relationship with Christ, a lasting friendship with him. (Friends of God, 243-244)

Courtesy of Opus Dei

Saturday, October 20, 2007

He who fights even the smallest distractions faithfully when he says even the very smallest prayer, will also be faithful in great things.

St. Louis de Montfort

Friday, October 19, 2007

Poetry Friday

When The Sun Comes After Rain
by Robert Louis Stevenson

When the sun comes after rain
And the bird is in the blue,
The girls go down the lane
Two by two.

When the sun comes after shadow
And the singing of the showers,
The girls go up the meadow,
Fair as flowers.

When the eve comes dusky red
And the moon succeeds the sun,
The girls go home to bed
One by one.

And when life draws to its even
And the day of man is past,
They shall all go home to heaven,
Home at last.

Mennonites make historic first visit to the Vatican

.- The Vatican witnessed an unprecedented event today as the Pope received the first delegation to ever come from the Mennonite World Conference. Benedict XVI welcomed the group which split from the Catholic Church in the 16th century and noted that they are to be commended for their longstanding witness to peace.

"The Mennonites are part of the Anabaptist tradition of the Reformation," explains a communique issued by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. "To use a modern term, the Mennonites could be described today as pacifists."

"For their views on Baptism which, they feel, should be administered only to people capable of making autonomous decisions, they were subject ... to persecution in both Protestant and Catholic countries." In 1986 and 2002, the leaders of the Mennonite World Conference accepted John Paul II's invitation to participate in the meetings for peace in Assisi.

"In the ecumenical spirit of recent times, we have begun to have contacts with each other after centuries of isolation," the Pope told the Mennonite leaders in his English-language talk. "Since it is Christ Himself who calls us to seek Christian unity, it is entirely right and fitting that Mennonites and Catholics have entered into dialogue in order to understand the reasons for the conflict that arose between us in the sixteenth century. To understand is to take the first step towards healing."

"Mennonites are well known for their strong Christian witness to peace in the name of the Gospel, and here, despite centuries of division, the dialogue report 'Called Together to be Peacemakers' has shown that we hold many convictions in common. We both emphasize that our work for peace is rooted in Jesus Christ," said the Pope.

Catholics and Mennonites "both understand that 'reconciliation, non violence, and active peacemaking belong to the heart of the Gospel.' Our continuing search for the unity of the Lord's disciples is of the utmost importance. Our witness will remain impaired as long as the world sees our divisions," Benedict remarked.

The Pope concluded his address by expressing the hope that the visit "will be another step towards mutual understanding and reconciliation."

God Censored
Disney edits God out of 10 Commandments movie ads

.- Today marks the release of Promenade Picture's first venture into the faith and family arena with the movie, the Ten Commandments. Hollywood legend Frank Yablans' latest venture was not intended to cause controversy, but their ads have been receiving attention due to a refusal to include the phrase, "chosen by God" in advertisements and promotions aired by Disney.

The script reads:

Narrator: One of the greatest stories of all time is now an animated movie event for the entire family ... "The Ten Commandments."

God: Moses, give them my message and they will follow you out of Egypt.

Narrator: An ordinary man, an extraordinary calling.

Moses: Let my people go!

Narrator: With Ben Kingsley, Christian Slater, Alfred Molina and Elliott Gould. ... chosen by God.

Moses: On to the promised land!

Narrator: 'The Ten Commandments,' Rated G. Now in theaters. Check your local listings.

An email sent by a Radio Disney Network sales associate read, "Our BS&P [Broadcast Standards and Procedures] said both scripts need to include the studio mention and omit the following line: CHOSEN BY GOD.... Please let me know if you have any questions."

Radio Disney reported that it requested the deletion of the phrase "chosen by God" because the original script made it sound as though the actors were chosen by God, not Moses, as was the intended meaning.

"In connection with the Ten Commandments, I did find it offensive," said Cindy Bond, Promenade president and Chief Operating Officer.  "God in our movie is the main character. You rip the whole guts out of the piece."

Promenade complied with Disney's request due to the fact that Disney has the ability to reach the film's youthful target audience. 

To walk away from a place that has our exact core audience ... I ordered the spot to be re-cut and re-edited," Bond said. "If you get them into the theater, they'll hear plenty about God."

"The goal of the movie and the goal of the whole series is to interest people in the greatest stories ever told and what we feel were the greatest superheroes that ever existed," Bond said. 

Promenade's founder, Frank Yablans, decided to make his latest film because so many Americans are ignorant of the biblical Decalogue. When they conducted research for promoting the film, it was discovered that more Americans can name ingredients to the Big Mac than the 10 Commandments.

Rick Schirmer of Promenade told CNA that, "Frank is doing this film because, as he said, 'he owes God one.'" While the fledgling film company was approached by several major studios with offers to help produce the movie series, Promenade turned them all down so that they could maintain creative control and ensure faithfulness to the biblical stories.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Rosary ban for Beijing Olympics? 

Beijing, Oct. 12, 2007 (  The Chinese government reportedly will not allow visitors to bring religious objects such as rosary beads or holy water when they travel to Beijing for the Olympic Games next year.

The report on restrictions did not clearly indicate whether visitors would be allowed to bring Bibles into China. Nor was there any indication whether the host nation would allow Olympic teams to bring chaplains, a practice that many countries have followed regularly.

St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)

A Spanish noble, Teresa grew up reading the lives of the saints. She was cured of a crippling disease when she was a child after prayer to St. Joseph. Soon after joining a Carmelite community, she became seriously ill and began having visions. Frustrated by the lack of discipline in her order, she founded her own community with the help of St. John of Avila. She was a mystical writer and was declared a Doctor of the Church.
"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

Thursday, October 11, 2007

October Respect Life

For a really good pro-life homily, visit: Proclaim the Truth in Love, just click on the title in this post. Kudos, Fr. Matthew!

Please keep the youth from our parish in your prayers as they journey this Sunday to our diocese of Steubenville's annual Diocesan Youth Rally (in Belpre, Ohio, hosted at St. Ambrose Parish). Fr. Donald Calloway is the featured speaker; very powerful testimony.

I am also very excited for our oldest son Doug, the artist. He works with Rapido-graph ink and does the most remarkable ink art - he just entered two of his pieces in an art show festival here in northeastern Ohio and both won first place. One was of a Thomas Nast, Victorian Santa, and the other a medieval dragon, very classical. Congratulations Doug!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Memorial of (Blessed) Pope John XXIII, Oct 11

1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice, I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5) Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings get hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself, I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

Blessed John XIII

Monday, October 08, 2007

"Do you really want to be a saint?"
Do you really want to be a saint? Carry out the little duty of each moment: do what you ought and concentrate on what you are doing. (The Way, 815)
Your duty is to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks that this task is only for priests and religious? To everyone, without exception, our Lord said: 'Be ye perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect.' (The Way, 291)

To rectify. A little each day.--This must be your constant concern if you really want to become a saint. (The Way, 290)

Being faithful to God demands a struggle. And it means close combat, man to man - the old man against the man of God - in one small thing after another, without giving in. (Furrow, 126)

Today it is not enough for men and women to be good. Moreover, whoever is content to be nearly good, is not good enough. It is necessary to be "revolutionary". Faced by hedonism, faced by the pagan and materialistic wares that we are being offered, Christ wants objectors! - rebels of Love! (Furrow, 128)

It would not be worth giving oneself unless it were to build up a great work which is very much for God - your own sanctity. That is why the Church when canonizing saints proclaims the heroism of their lives. (Furrow, 611)
Courtesy of Opus Dei Daily Message
This time nineteen years ago my husband and I were wed. It was a beautiful autumn day in northeastern Ohio. We still attend the same parish we were met at and were married in, and our four children were baptized at (by the same pastor). Since then, our pastor was moved to southern Ohio, and as providence would have it, to the same church we went to our first mass as a married couple to, the first Sunday of our married lives together. It's close enough, two hours away, that we can visit there with our children, visit our former pastor, and our favorite honeymoon spot. God is good! Blessings to all those married in this beautiful month of October!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, October 05, 2007

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I'm trying out my new signature, courtesy of my creative and generous friend Esther. She does lovely work. Mahalo Esther! Thank you very much sister in Christ.

Thank you to Joey of: Catholic Homeschooled Teens for nominating me for the Mathetes Award. What does this mean? Those nominated exhibit Excellence in Discipleship, or act "in the role of a disciple of Christ." I am very honored. Mahalo Joey!

And so, I too must nominate five bloggers I feel act in the "role of a disciple of Christ." I have just the five in mind; please stand up, take a bow and listen to the cyber-applause because you deserve it!

Life is Beauty
Praying for Grace
Sweetness and Light
Catholic Analysis

Spirit & Life (although I don't think Fr. Euteneuer will see this - but he is certainly a disciple of Christ and God bless him for truly fighting the good fight for Life!)

Here are the details of the original blog post:

"Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple, and the role of the disciple (per the Great Commission) is to make more disciples. I'd like to take the opportunity to award five other bloggers with this award and badge for acting in the role of a disciple of Christ. These five all share the message in their own creative ways, and I admire them all for what they do.

In the spirit of this award, the rules are simple. Winners of this award must pick five other "disciples" to pass it on to. As you pass it on, I just ask that you mention and provide links for (1)this post as the originator of the award (Dan King of management by God), (2) the person that awarded it to you, and then (3) name and sites of the five that you believe are fulfilling the role of a disciple of Christ. If you know of other deserving recipients of this award, and would like to start a new string, then please post a link to where you've started in the comments to this post. I would love for many deserving bloggers to be blessed with this recognition."

St. Faustina (1905-1938)

Faustina regularly received revelations from the Lord. At the request of Christ and her confessors, she recorded the words of Jesus in her diary. Our Lord asked her to share His message of Divine Mercy with the world; it is now one of the world's most popular devotions. She died of tuberculosis.

"O Christ, let my greatest delight be to see You loved and Your praise and glory proclaimed, especially the honor of Your mercy. O Christ, let me glorify Your goodness and mercy to the last moment of my life, with every drop of my blood and every beat of my heart. Would that I be transformed into a hymn of adoration of You. When I find myself on my deathbed, may the last beat of my heart be a loving hymn glorifying Your unfathomable mercy."

St. Faustina

Wow, this St. Josemaria Escriva message said a lot to me.  Especially the third paragraph. I have a long ways to go!
"Sanctifying one's work is no fantastic dream"
Sanctifying one's work is no fantastic dream, but the mission of every Christian - yours and mine. That is what that lathe-worker had discovered, when he said: "I am overwhelmed with happiness when I think how true it is that while I am working at the lathe and singing - singing all the time, on the outside and on the inside - I can become a saint. How good God is!" (Furrow, 517)

During the time that God has granted you in this world, make up your mind in earnest to do something worthwhile; time is pressing and the mission of men - and women - on earth is most noble, heroic and glorious when it enkindles shrunken and dried-up hearts with the fire of Christ. It is worthwhile taking peace and happiness to others through a strong and joyful crusade. (Furrow, 613)

You sometimes allow the bad side of your character to come out, and it has shown itself, on more than one occasion, in an absurd harshness. At other times, you do not bother to prepare your heart and your head so that they may be a worthy dwelling for the Most Holy Trinity. And you invariably end up by remaining rather distant from Jesus, whom you know so little. Going on like this, you will never have interior life. (Furrow, 651)

Personal sanctity is a remedy for everything. That is why the saints have been full of peace, of fortitude, of joy, of security. (Furrow, 653)
Courtesy of Opus Dei

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Prayer on the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

O God, Who, through the merits of blessed Francis, magnifies Your church, enriching it anew with spiritual offspring: make us, like him, to disdain the goods of earth, nor at any time to lack the comforting gifts of heaven.

from the Roman Missal

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feast of the Guardian Angels

Jacob's Ladder

What a wonderful day: Happy Birthday to my mom who turns 71 today on this very special feast! She has always had great devotion to her guardian angel, even taking the name of "Angela" (Merici) for her Confirmation.

By the way, this is one of my very favorite depictions of angels, in this holy card of: Jacob's Ladder.

Here are some special thoughts regarding your special protector, counselor, consoler, defender......

"We have to deal with our Guardian Angels in a familiar way, while at the same time recognizing their superior nature and grace. Though less palpable in their presence than human friends are, their efficacy for our benefit is far greater. Their counsel and suggestions come from God and penetrate more deeply than any human voice. To reiterate, their capacity for hearing and understanding us is much superior even to that of our most faithful human friend, since, their attendance at our side is continuous; they can enter more deeply into our intentions, desires and petitions than can any human being, since angels can reach our imagination directly without recourse to the comprehension of words. They are able to incite images, provoke memories, and make impressions in order to give us direction....."

In Conversation with God, Vol 7; Fr. Francis Fernandez

Monday, October 01, 2007

Speaking of....Heaven

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Heaven..
..But Never Dreamed of Asking..
By Peter Kreeft

I mentioned this book in the Heaven Meme I just posted today. I think I'll have to re-read it now - I do remember it being very enlightening and comforting. My friend Esther will be happy to know that in the "fourteen questions about Heaven" section, question #10 is: "Are there animals in Heaven? and the answer begins: "The simplest answer is: Why not?....." and then later: "Scripture seems to confirm this" 'thy judgments are like the great deep; man and beast thou savest, O Lord.' Animals belong in the "new earth" as much as trees." Rev. 21:1 (that is all explained in this book!).

So glad to have touched upon thoughts of Heaven today! We should do this more often!

The Heaven Meme

My friend Esther* has tagged me for this Heaven Meme. I think Esther had a beautiful discourse on this one question meme! Inspiring!

It begins:

St. Julian of Norwich describes heaven as a place of "eternal joy". She explains: "But we are not blessedly safe, possessing our endless joy, until we are all in peace and in love, that is to say wholly contented with God and with all his works and with all his judgments, and loving and content with ourselves and with our fellow Christians and with everything which God loves, as is pleasing to love."

This meme has one question:

How do you envision heaven?

...I envision heaven as the final and eternal rest and refreshment from this race of life! Mother Teresa said "there will be time to sleep in heaven" - referring to the fact that right now, here on earth we need to work!.....I look forward to that sleeping in.....and lots of time to talk and visit with my family and friends...."time" is also something there will be plenty of!

Peter Kreeft's book on heaven comes to mind (I'll post it later); I remember reading it a number of years ago and I remember it answered a lot of questions from a theological view - but in the end, we really don't know alot about what heaven will be, we just know it is promised to us by our Lord and I think this again is a place of "trust", as we must trust Him in all things, we must trust his gift of Heaven to us, that He knows what is good and right for us, and what will be our reward for staying close to Him while here.

This is a great and deep Meme, so I tag anyone who ventures this way reading this. Just leave me a comment if you can that you're going to do this meme also. I'd love to read your thoughts on it.

Bless you!

*As I'm blogging from my email today and haven't a way to insert a link right now, you can visit Esther and her great blog and post on this Heaven Meme at:

Happy Birthday Mark, Happy Feast Day St. Therese

I know this was posted before - but hey, it's worth posting again for my little beloved son, who turns FOUR October 1st. I can't believe it myself! It's been a wonderful four years. This post brings back a lot of beautiful and even some bittersweet memories.

Saint Therese in her very "little way" is a very big saint in our home. Below I have re-posted some thoughts about her from back in February to share on this her feast day, the first Sunday of October, also Respect Life Sunday. Today is also the birthday of our youngest son, Mark. He turns three. And here is a short story about him, us and Saint Therese; and I suppose it has everything to do with respecting life and remaining in awe of it and the wonder of God. [family picture of Oct 1st, 2003: The Adoring Siblings]

I personally have a deep devotion to St. Therese and have most of my life; our Mark Thomas who is turning 3 yrs old was born on her feastday, surprisingly. Strangely or perhaps "Godly" that is.....I had done a special novena to St. Therese, one year before in October, hoping that we could be blessed with another child. A few weeks after the novena I received the sign of her mystical roses (another story there), and then a couple months later, we discovered we were to have another child. Mark was due on October 14th of 2003, and I awoke exactly at midnight of October 1st with the first labor pangs. Unbelievable. I kept saying no way this is real labor and this baby is going to be born on her feast -- I just couldn't believe it, as if, I had doubted St. Therese's help, I was to be sure to become very aware of it now! What a gift. And so it was Mark Thomas, who would have been Marie Therese, was born early that afternoon of Oct 1st; early but an absolutely beautiful uncomplicated labor and delivery, - and for a couple weeks early, he was 7 pds even, healthy and happy.

This of course, is a beautiful photo of St. Therese of Lisieux; it's a favorite of mine and comes from the Mary Evans Picture Library. We have this photo in a saint book at home where it appears in sepia tones and is very striking. Just as striking here, St. Therese's beauty in the simplicity of black and white.

While we are focused on St. Therese, I'd like to suggest a personal retreat based on her teachings. As a busy homeschooling mother, I really appreciate things of a spiritual nature that can be easily achieved in the home and fit into an ordinary day (or series of days).

There is a wonderful book for just this purpose: I Believe in Love, by Father Jean C. J. d' Elbee, published by Sophia Institute Press. I originally received this book as a gift from a friend who knew I had devotion to St. Therese and didn't have a lot of "mom time" to spend outside of the home. This book is a special find for a St. Therese devotee, but certainly anyone can benefit from it. Fr. d' Elbee captures Therese's teachings as meditations in ten "conferences" that take you through the retreat. Here is a short description from the backcover:

"Fr. Jean C. J. d' Elbee, a French priest deeply imbued with St. Therese's spirit, brings you St. Therese's teachings on God's love and the confidence in Him that it should inspire in your soul; humility, peace and fraternal charity; the apostolate; the Cross; and what it means truly to abandon yourself to Divine Providence."

Here is a short excerpt from the first conference, Love for Love:

"My principal aim in this retreat is to give some answers to your personal problems; those, in short, which preoccupy you most, sometimes to the point of anguish, because they have to do with the eternal life of your soul and because on your sanctity depends the light that will radiate through you upon your neighbor and the world." Fr. Jean C. J. d' Elbee

Later, Fr. d' Elbee states: "Oh how I would love it if at the end of this conference, and even more, at the end of this retreat you were able to cry out with the psalmist, 'Lord You have opened my heart, and I run in the way of Your commandments.'"

"This book comes like heavenly music, saving music, to fill with hope the emptiness of man's heart and to fill it to overflowing." (from: Preface of the American Edition; H. Lyman Stebbins)

"Jesus, help me to simplify my life by learning what you want me to be - and becoming that person." Saint Therese of Lisieux, from Story of a Soul

St. Therese, Pray for Us!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Feast of the Archangels

With this Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael,now is a good time to visit Opus Sanctorum Angelorum: Work of the Holy Angels.

Our church here in Ohio is named after St. Gabriel. May all God's Holy Angels, Pray for us!

Friday, September 28, 2007

"God does not ask of us the perfection of tomorrow, nor even of tonight, but only of the present moment."
-St. Madeline Sophie Barat
Pineapple Upside-Down Muffins

They glisten like sticky buns, but they're whole-grain muffins packed with pineapple, raisins, and carrots. Here's what you'll need:

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 10-ounce can pineapple slices

3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons pineapple juice or orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple (not drained)
1 cup grated carrot (1 large)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup raisins, preferably baking raisins
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
2. To prepare topping: Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar into each muffin cup. Sprinkle nuts, if using, over the sugar. Stack pineapple slices and cut into 6 wedges. Place 2 wedges in each muffin cup.
3. To prepare muffins: Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in oil, juice, and vanilla. Stir in crushed pineapple. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in carrot, oats, raisins, and nuts, if using. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (they'll be quite full).
5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and firm to the touch, 15 to 25 minutes. Immediately loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a baking sheet. Restore any stray pineapple pieces and nuts. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Serve upside down, either warm or at room temperature. Makes 1 dozen muffins.

Nutrition information (per muffin): 211 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat., 3 g mono.); 35 mg cholesterol; 36 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 185 mg sodium.