August 22, 2014

Conquer the World

"Give me an army praying the rosary and I will conquer the world."  (St. Pius IX)

July 20, 2014

Whose Wealth Is It?

This evening, I enjoyed watching part of the movie, "Anna and the King," based upon the 1944 novel, Anna and the King of Siam, drawn loosely from the diaries of Mrs. Anna Leonowens, an English tutor to the children of the king of Siam (now Thailand).  One of my favorite scenes is the banquet given for the visiting British ambassador.  The sheer opulence, grand scale, and overwhelming beauty of the outdoor candlelit feast are utterly breathtaking!  I marveled at the depth of the wealth and comfort available to the king of Siam and the British upper class.

I thought how vastly distant it was from my own ordinary existence.

Then, I went into my kitchen and, without thinking, turned on my Keurig machine from Massachusetts and in three minutes had a cup of hot tea -- in a cup made in Italy, with tea leaves from India, sugar from Brazil, and cream from Florida, which I stirred with a silver spoon from Sheffield, England and sipped down scalding hot while eating fresh raspberries from California.  All within the comfort and privacy of my own comfortably air-conditioned home.

Hm.

Now, who's wealthy?  Materially, that is.

Often, I'll remind my children that, as Americans, in general, we are fortunate to live a more affluent lifestyle than roughly 93% of the world's population.  Or are we?  Fortunate, that is.  With great wealth comes great responsibility.  "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." (Luke 12:48b)



We have more.  Are we giving more?  As a country, I would argue yes.  As an individual, that's entirely up to each of us.

While visiting the United States, Mother Teresa was asked why our country had so few religious vocations.  It was said she paused thoughtfully, then replied, "You have too much."

Mother Teresa went on to say on another occasion,

"The more you have, the more you are occupied, the less you give.  But the less you have, the more free you are.  Poverty for us [the Missionaries of Charity] is a freedom. It is not mortification, a penance.  It is joyful freedom.  There is no television here, no this, no that. But we are perfectly happy."

I am first in the line of those who need to be less preoccupied with material things and more focused on spiritual things from above.  For while I'm certain God isn't displeased with the security and comfort both my husband and I work hard to provide for our young family, I'm equally certain (and rather embarrassed before Him) that He's not entirely pleased with the low spot on my daily To Do List to which I hastily and frequently relegate "my" time for prayer, adoration, Mass, or just sitting quietly with HIM.

Just as my material blessings are not entirely my own (just ask Job), so too are neither my time nor my spiritual blessings solely my own either.  Remember?  God put us on this Earth, "to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven." 

Whatever we have at our disposal, whether it be material wealth and comfort or spiritual gifts, we are meant to put these things at God's disposal, allowing them to be used as HE sees fit...which may not necessarily be as WE see fit.

Take a few moments this Sunday.  Take a step back.  Look at what you have.  Evaluate how you can make yourself, your soul, your time, your actions, and your blessings be even more of a blessing to those around you.

Start small.


- Pray specifically for someone.
- Stop to pray one extra time today.
- Put another dollar in the collection basket.
- Give your child an extra hug just because you love him.
- Make that casserole you've been meaning to make for your elderly, pregnant, or ill neighbor or friend.
- Donate a few extra belongings to your local thrift shop.
- Finish the dishes, then go laugh in the sprinkler with your younger children, or sit down to laugh and play cards with the older ones.
- Look up who the Saint Of The Day is.  Read for two minutes about that person.
- Pick up the phone and graciously call that relative or friend with whom you've had recent or long-standing difficulty.
- Cut that check you've been mulling over!  Add an extra zero before the decimal point and mail it out Monday to your church, your local pregnancy center, or whichever charity inspires you.  

Remember, "Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you." (Luke 6:38)

And, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.  Put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, and see if I do not open the floodgates of heaven for you, and pour down upon you blessing without measure!" (Malachi 3:10)

(As an added bonus, read this beautiful treatise on, "Stewardship: A Discipleship of Love," by Bishop Victor B. Galeone, formerly of the Diocese of St. Augustine, FL.).

July 7, 2014

On Veiling

Here is another blogger's post on the changing custom of veiling for Mass:

http://veilsbykaren.com/p/why-wear-a-veil

I do veil and would encourage anyone to pray about and consider doing so for Mass and in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament!  You can read my other blog posts about veiling at these links:

http://avemomma.blogspot.com/2012/03/to-veil-or-not-to-veil.html
http://avemomma.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-on-veils.html
http://avemomma.blogspot.com/2014/02/morning-glory-veils.html

Thank you!

May 27, 2014

A Bad Day of Homeschooling

Any "bad" day of homeschooling still is better than any "good" day in a government school!

March 17, 2014

St. Patrick Himself!

Here's a marvelous link to everything you ever wanted to know about St. Patrick!  And who wouldn't?  After all, he was Scottish, you know (!).  Enjoy!


http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11554a.htm

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Tomorrow marks the feast of this great Irish saint and to celebrate here's my favorite recipe for good ole fashioned "Irish Soda Bread" (of which there would be no "soda" without the visit to Ireland of two Americans, Mr. Arm and Mr. Hammer!).  It's my favorite because it's won out over many other failures through the years!

I cut this recipe out of a magazine years ago, but unfortunately did not cut out the magazine's name.  So, if anyone recognizes this exact recipe, please let me know so I may ascribe proper credit.  Enjoy!

Irish Soda Bread

Prep: 10 minutes
Bake: 1 hour

Ingredients:
1/4 c. sugar
1 tbl. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbl. cold butter
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 c. golden or dark seedless raisins (optional - not authentic to original Irish soda breads, the addition of expensive dried fruits was a later American indulgence)

Instructions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Grease large cookie sheet.
2.  In large bowl, combine sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and flour.  With pastry blender or forks, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3.  Add buttermilk just until evenly moistened.  With floured hand, gently knead dough minimally into ball.  Do not over mix or bread will be tough.
4.  Place dough on cookie sheet and shape into roughly 7" round loaf.  With sharp knife, cut 4" long cross 1/4" deep in top and sprinkle loaf lightly with flour.
5.  Bake one hour.  Cool on wire rack.

This recipe yields a lightly buttery, moist bread with a rough, crunchy, crusty outside.  MMMmmmm!

February 24, 2014

Embrace the Grace!

This Lent, I'm starting a campaign to, "Embrace the Grace" of going to confession.  Allow the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which one of our priest friends calls, "The Sacrament of Peace," to cleanse your soul and refill it with His peace.

This Lent, go to confession.  Go.  Run.  Don't walk.  Go.  Go!

Encounter Jesus in all His eternal mercy and allow Him to love you and forgive you of all your life's mistakes, big or small.  Embrace the grace of the sacrament, endure your Good Friday with Him, so that on Easter morning you, too, may rejoice -- He is risen!  Alleluia!

February 10, 2014

Jesus Is the Living Water

We've just been through a spell during which, due to a widespread power outage from a winter storm, we were without electricity for a few days.  After pondering our (comparatively minor) difficulties, it was clear to me:

Electricity wasn't the problem -- we had daylight all day, and candles, flashlights, and lanterns all night.

Heat wasn't the problem -- we had two woodstoves within four fireplaces and cords of seasoned wood stacked up.

Modern technological connectivity wasn't the problem -- we had chargers for all our devices that could be re-charged in our vehicles.

Food preservation wasn't the problem -- we had a small generator to periodically give our refrigerator/freezer a shot in the arm for continued freshness.

Water wasn't the problem -- we had fresh snow blanketing the ground, water bottles stored in the garage, and a lake on the other side of the woods.

However, running water was the problem.  You can only wash so many dirty dishes, dirty clothes, dirty shoes/boots, dirty rags, dirty cars, and dirty people in buckets of water before the bucket quickly becomes soiled and the water within it fouled.  I could see our accustomed level of sanitation rapidly deteriorating.

Running water was the problem.  Cool, clear, fresh, continuously flowing, running water.

In the Bible, Jesus speaks to the woman at the well and refers to Himself as the "living water":


Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” [The woman] said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:10-15)


The woman didn't initially understand that Jesus Himself was the living water of which He spoke, the wellspring of eternal life.

No matter how many other things we are juggling in life, and no matter how well we think we are juggling them, eventually we will face a need for cool, clear, fresh, continuously flowing, running water.  Running water not only will cleanse whatever is dirty, but it will cleanse it continuously and repeatedly, as well as carry away all the dirt and grime.

Isn't Jesus just like this?

Isn't His Sacrament of Reconciliation (which Bishop Victor B. Galeone refers to as, "the Sacrament of Peace") just like this?

No matter what we are managing to multi-task in our own lives, we will need at some point (whether we initially are willing to admit it or not) to stop and turn to Jesus for a true, thorough, and complete cleansing.  Of our lives.  Of our souls.  Only He can provide the endlessly fresh deep cleaning that we need.  Continuously.  Repeatedly.  Honestly.  And thoroughly.  For free!

If you haven't been to Confession in a while, start thinking about it now.  Lent is coming next month (Ash Wednesday is March 4th), and it's the perfect time to renew our purification in Christ.  It's the perfect time to clean out the dirt, to "scrape off and fluff up" as my friend Alice likes to say.  Through the priest, Jesus Christ makes Himself available to YOU during the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to absolve you of your sins and, as he advised St. Mary Magdalene, to set your feet on a path toward Him to go and do this sin no more (cf. John 8:11).

We're never going to be perfect.  We're never going to be utterly, sparklingly, heavenly clean.  At least not here on Earth.  But in those few moments of Confession, the Lord will absolve you of your sins, wipe your earthly slate clean, and provide you with the graces you need to move forward in your life, beyond the weight and filth of whatever dirt your soul might be carting around.

So go.  Go.  Go to Confession!  Go!!!  I mean it.

Believe me.  There's absolutely nothing you can confess to the priest that he hasn't heard or heard of already.  He'll keep your secret, then let it go by handing it immediately over to God.

....and if you're still shy, pick a priest you've never met at a different parish and go screen.

But don't miss out.  Don't miss the gift, grace, and blessing of the true cleansing provided Jesus, the Living Water, every time you go to Confession.  Only He can fit your soul for heaven, and that's one power you don't want to be without!


February 1, 2014

Morning Glory Veils

In these and other previous posts, I discussed some women's reasons for veiling during Mass or in the presence of the Holy Eucharist:

http://avemomma.blogspot.com/2012/03/to-veil-or-not-to-veil.html

http://avemomma.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-on-veils.html

Now, I'm delighted to share with you the talents of an entrepreneurial, homeschooled, young woman who has launched her business, "Morning Glory Veils."  You can visit her shop at this location on Etsy:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/MorningGloryVeils?ref=l2-shopheader-name

From "Paisley Chic" to "European Peasant" to "Steeple Chapel Veil," there's something for everyone to choose from for a woman's personal reverence in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament.  Please prayerfully consider veiling and, when you do, know that this is an honest, reputable source from which to obtain your own personal beautiful veil!

Thank you for supporting homeschoolers, our faith, and our country's proud tradition of the entrepreneurial spirit of "Made in the U.S.A."!

January 29, 2014

The Church in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Catholic University (1.) (scroll down for footnotes and links) has an article regarding the Church and the current protests in the Ukrainian capital city of Kyiv.  You can read the article, "Maidan of Dignity: Bishop Borys for Vatican Radio," (2.) here:

http://ucef.org/news/3581/?utm_source=UCEF+E-Messenger+Subscribers&utm_campaign=4a8bb2b390-E_Messenger_Newsletter_June-2013us&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ee1d11a85-4a8bb2b390-36479645
 

A friend of mine once took a class at the Dominican House of Studies in D.C.  She said there were both Polish and Ukrainian seminarians also in her class, but that whenever there was a point of contention, the Poles ultimately deferred to the Ukrainians.  Finally, after class one day, she asked one of the Poles why.

He paused at length, looked at her, and murmured, "Because they suffered even more than we did."


I'm reading right now, Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust (3.).  Please consider supporting the Church in Ukraine!  Uniquely persecuted and hidden underground from WWII to the late 1980s, the Church there has suffered immeasurably and inspired eternally!

Praised be Jesus Christ!  Now and forever!

THANK YOU!

1).  Ukrainian Catholic University
http://ucu.edu.ua/eng/

2).  "Maidan of Dignity: Bishop Borys for Vatican Radio"
http://ucef.org/news/3581/?utm_source=UCEF+E-Messenger+Subscribers&utm_campaign=4a8bb2b390-E_Messenger_Newsletter_June-2013us&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5ee1d11a85-4a8bb2b390-36479645

3).  Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust, by Miron Dolot
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393304167/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0393304167&linkCode=as2&tag=avemom-20


4).  Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation
http://ucef.org/

December 6, 2013

Keep Christ in Christmas

This year, I want to share with you several blogs that aim to "Keep Christ in Christmas!"  Here is the link to start the fun with your family!  Enjoy!

small Keep Christ in Christmas
This post is part of the Keep Christ in Christmas Blog Link-Up

December 2, 2013

Advent - New Year's Resolutions!

Every year as Advent begins, I resolve that THIS year is going to be different!  THIS year we are going to slow down, ease up, and focus on the right things of Christmas!  The First Sunday of Advent is the Church's "New Year's Day", so this is the day we make some of our family's "New Year's" resolutions.  It's easy!  Come join us!

The first thing we do is clean out the old to clear space for the new, both physically and spiritually.

Physically, I'm sure "Hoarders" is poised to show up outside my house any minute, so at least twice a year (Advent and Lent) I try to make a clean sweep and discard little-used or unappreciated things.

This year, the kids are getting in on the act, too!  I've asked them to go through their closets and be brutally honest about the toys at the back, the ones they seldom or never play with anymore.  Anything incomplete or in tatters goes in the trash.  Anything intact and presentable goes to the Thrift Shop as a donation.

(Psssst!  Let me tell you a little secret:  I confess to surreptitiously "previewing" the kids' closets before I ask them to do this.  Because, inevitably, at least one kid will poke his or her head into the closet and emerge thirty seconds later stating, "Nope!  I'm good!"  So it helps to have a handle on what's in there....and perhaps even do a little painful-but-necessary-pre-purging myself.)

Our other big physical clean-out item is clothing.  With six children, we are the blessed beneficiaries of hand-me-down clothing from several friends.  Hand-me-downs, however, can pile up fast!  Statistics say you wear 20% of your wardrobe 80% of the time, and for us that's true.

For the children, I try to keep clothing of mostly complementary colors and simple or no patterns, so s/he easily can put together an outfit independently in the morning without looking like a circus clown.  We've managed to pare the boys' wardrobes down to one light jacket, one heavy coat, two pairs of khakis (for church, etc.), a few pajamas, and about five or so each of pants, shorts, t-shirts, and polo shirts.  That's it.  Anything more becomes unmanageable, especially when you have three of the boys sharing one dresser.

The girls are a little more difficult to manage.  There are just so many adorable and gorgeous outfits to be enjoyed!  But, we're trying.  For them, with so many "play" dresses and "church" dresses, we've turned all the hangers backward in their closet.  If they wear a dress, its hanger gets turned around properly.  If a hanger still is backwards by the end of the season, that article of clothing should be donated to someone else who will wear and appreciate it more.

Spiritually, our Advent clean-up is just as intense.  I always redouble my efforts to be more consistent in our morning Bible reading and ensure that our weekly Handwriting practice from the Bible reflects verses pertaining to Advent, particularly the Sunday Responsorial Psalms and the O Antiphons.

We also like to read about our "Saint of the Day," which we glean from the book, Saints for Young Readers for Every Day.  My kids love hearing the saints' real life stories and we frequently locate that saint on the globe and remember to invoke his or her patronage throughout the day.  The book comes in two volumes to cover the whole year and takes less than one or two minutes to read each day.  You can order your copy here:

http://www.amazon.com/Saints-Young-Readers-Every-Vol/dp/0819870811/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1385960550&sr=8-2&keywords=saints+for+young+readers+for+everyday

Another easy (and free!) Advent practice for the children is Holy Heroes' "Advent Adventure" (you can sign up here or via this link:

http://www.holyheroes.com/Holy-Heroes-Advent-Adventure-s/48.htm

The Davison family's eight children provide 1-3 minute videos explaining or exploring the Bible and other themes relevant to the Advent journey.  We usually put them on once everyone's seated for lunch.  Again, it's a quick bite that can nourish all of our souls throughout the school day.

Lastly, we like to pray the "St. Andrew Christmas Novena" (you can read about it here) 15 times a day, but we break it up into more manageable recitations by praying it five times in a row, three times a day.

None of these practices is difficult nor time-consuming, but we find that consistency is our downfall.  Even though sometimes the variations in our daily schedule are unavoidable, I'm hoping this year to manage it better and be mindful of returning to our spiritual center throughout the day.

Happily, when I do, things always seem to run better!

So Happy New Year!  Decide what's right for your family.  Dust off those New Year's resolutions and utilize the abundant graces of Advent to help you really make a difference in your interior preparations for the coming of the Christ Child!  And if you're reading this blog, be assured that our family will be praying for yours!

Thank you!

December 1, 2013

Finding Peace with the Prince of Peace

 A friend recently posted a request for prayers, as her homeschool responsibilities and Christmas preparations had been cast aside by her son's unexpected admission to the hospital.  As a faithful Catholic, she immediately rejoiced in having time for her and her son to be together in Advent prayer and reading Jotham's Journey.  But, understandably, she nevertheless was a little disappointed that certain school and holiday tasks at home just would have to be left undone this year.

As a compulsive list-maker and cookie-baker myself, I completely understood her frustration with not being able to "accomplish" or "do" the things she wanted to achieve, in order to prepare her family for Christmas.

But, let's also be practical here:

Schoolwork always will be there, whether you do it today or tomorrow or ten months from now.  Your child's good health might not be.  See to him, see to your souls, and see to the internal preparations that God wants you to make this Advent.  Remember, the Bible doesn't say that Mary baked the shepherds some cookies and sent out The First Christmas Cards (that would be Jesus's Shutterfly, photocard, birth announcement).

But it DOES say that she treasured all these things in her heart.

We all should do the same.

I've often found that when God allows all my plans to go completely awry, it's because I was facing in the wrong direction.  Turn your face toward Him, trust in His guidance and Will, and know the inner peace of the Christ Child, the Prince of Peace!

November 27, 2013

God Made Even YOU for Joy!

Oooo!  Here's yet another great article (read: quick and easy!) by a writer far more skilled than I on the JOY for which God made YOU:

http://www.osvdailytake.com/2013/10/called-to-be-holy-cardinal-dolans-10.html

Enjoy!