November 30, 2016

Christmas Novena - START TODAY!

Happy Church New Year!  The first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of the Church's new liturgical year.  Celebrating it on the heels of the uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving is a joyous union of gratitude for our country's great civic and spiritual blessings!

To start off your Church Year, join me TODAY in starting the "Christmas Novena" or "St. Andrew's Novena."  This novena is recited 15 times a day (yes, fifteen times per day... whew!) from Monday, November 30th (the Feast of St. Andrew) through Christmas Day (the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord).

This is piously believed to be a very powerful novena!

 
...think it's too much?

- Break up your recitations!  Pray five at breakfast, five at lunch, and five at dinner or bedtime.

- Post copies (see below) throughout your house beside your Christmas decorations.
- Pray it as a family, so your family total equals fifteen times per day.

Does it "count" if you miss a day or a recitation?  Who knows!

No, I mean it.  "Who" knows.  With a capital "W."  God knows!  Only God knows what is in your heart and mind this Advent and Christmas season.  Only God knows why you might need this novena and actually opened this e-mail from that crazy lady in Savannah.

Only God, the Creator of the universe and YOU, came down from on high as a helpless Infant Child to rescue YOU and me from the insanity of sin as flawed human beings.  He made you.  He loves you!  And He made you to know, LOVE, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

Hooray!

Please join me in praying this novena, in trying to focus for at least a few moments every day of Advent on the Infant Christ, Who is to come.  He is coming to save the world -- to save YOU!

Hail and blessed be that incomprehensibly vast, generous, and singular moment of His arrival!

Let this be a Blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas, indeed!


Here is the text of the novena, as well as links to a document for you to print of the novena AND a daily checklist:

NOVENA:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1jFI88S4CKiWnNfUURZRzhaeUE/view?usp=sharing

CHECKLIST:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1jFI88S4CKidDhJMXcxVTh5VEk/view?usp=sharing

 


Saint Andrew
Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother.

Amen.

Christmas Novena - START TODAY!

While a novena is normally a nine-day [or nine hour] prayer, the term sometimes is used for any prayer that is repeated over a series of days. The Saint Andrew Christmas Novena is often called simply the "Christmas Novena" or the "Christmas Anticipation Prayer," because it is prayed 15 times every day from the Feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle (November 30th) until Christmas. The First Sunday of Advent is the Sunday closest to the Feast of Saint Andrew.

The novena is not actually addressed to Saint Andrew, but to God Himself, asking Him to grant our request in honor of the birth of His Son at Christmas.  You can say the prayer all 15 times, all at once, or divide up the recitation as necessary (perhaps five times at each meal).

Prayed as a family, the Saint Andrew Novena is a very good way to help focus the attention of your children on the Advent Season.

Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

(source: by Scott P. Richert at Catholicism.about.com)

November 28, 2016

St. Andrew Christmas Novena - Checklist

I don't know about you, but as we progress through the increasingly busy Advent season, I sometimes lose track of how many recitations I have prayed each day of my St. Andrew's Christmas Novena.  So, here's a handy little checklist to help ensure all of us remember our novena each day!

St. Andrew's Christmas Novena Checklist:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1jFI88S4CKidDhJMXcxVTh5VEk/view?usp=sharing

God bless us all, everyone!

October 27, 2016

Clean Up Your Room!

A homeschool friend of mine recently asked if I thought it was unrealistic for her to expect her sons to clean up their own room.  Conflicting advice she previously had received was:

"It's their room.  Let them keep it how they like,"

and

"It's your house.  Make them keep it how you like."

Oy.  Here was my advice:

Yes, you have the right to expect them to clean up their room.
No, you're not being unrealistic.

That being said...

"THEIR" ROOM:

When I was little, my mother was haranguing me (again) about cleaning up my room.  "You'll clean up the stables, but you won't clean up your room.  Well, this is my house!" she railed, incensed.  "And this room is just as much my room as it is your room!  So clean it up!!!"

Whoa.

Obviously, the comment stuck.  And I resented it.

However...

Inside, I knew my room really WAS just MY room.  And while the comment ticked me off at the time, often it's not what you say, but how you say it.  My father basically told me the same thing, with a calmness and an eye toward taking care of the gifts God had given us.  I cleaned up my room, albeit imperfectly I'm sure, but with a MUCH better attitude.

Today, I greatly appreciate the habits (both mental and physical) that BOTH my parents formed in me to TAKE GOOD CARE OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN YOU.  He who prizes little things is worthy of great ones!

HOW TO?

"But, how do you make them DO it!?"

My friend's boys' room sounds similar to mine: three boys; their beds; and one dresser, desk, LEGO table, and closet.  My personal "secret" to success in their cleaning up (this is just what works for us) is that everything HAS a place.  Every.  Thing.  Every single item they own BELONGS somewhere, whether it's "shirts in the top drawer, pants in the bottom drawer" or a labeled bin.  So, when I demand "clean up," there's no question of, "Well, I don't know where this goes!"

Another big help is their "clothing basket."  All my kids have a clothing basket beside or at the foot of their beds (no bigger than an elbow basket, at most!).  If today's worn clothes aren't clean, but also aren't hideously filthy and can be played in tomorrow, then they dump 'em in the clothing basket when they strip for pajamas at night (and this is where their pajamas usually also reside -- same rule).  Sometimes, the clothing basket DOES pile up, but at least it's ONE little pile that's quickly conquered.

I don't demand a "vacuum ready" room daily.  I do demand each night a clear path and space to play, especially if we've recently done a thorough cleaning up (say, for company).  It's easier to encourage a two-minute "quick-clean" at bedtime (because that's when I'm in there and see it), then to turn a blind eye for a week and then "Go Vesuvius!" when it's degenerated into heaps of bio-hazardous conditions.

However...

There have been two occasions where I DID "Go Vesuvius!", in a deadly calm sort of way.  (It was great!)  I coined the phrase, "If it's on the floor, it's out the door, and to the poor!"  

For a WEEK thereafter, ANYTHING left on the floor at night after they went to bed (e.g. - clothes, LEGOs, favorite dinosaur, etc.) was GONE the next morning.  GONE!  I picked it all up in the dark with a flashlight and (unbeknownst to them) put it in a solid, black, lawn trash bag in the garage.  It only took a day or two for a vital item to be missed!  Waaaaaah!  Church pants, bath towels, underwear, LEGOs -- they all disappeared, ostensibly dropped off at the Thrift Shop donation shed.

Gone.

Point made.

(Caveat:  Items that I deemed TRULY necessary, I either surreptitiously assimilated back into their drawers OR gave them an eye to eye lecture before restoring it about NEVER letting this happen again.  )

I have no magic wand nor standard practice that ALWAYS works.  But, "a place for everything" and a nightly daily "quick-clean" (usually two minutes or less, with my helping the littler ones [now just our youngest, age 5] while I chirp how quick and easy this is!).

Hang in there!!!  Your kids all WILL turn out great, including a fine sense of responsibility in caring for the gifts God has given them, because YOU will have taught them that.

A wise friend of mine once said that if you're not a mean mom, you're not doing it right.  Tally ho! 

FOR YOU:

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." (II Corinthians 4:17)
FOR THEM:

"His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!' " (Matthew 25:21)


"Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in forced labor." (Proverbs 12:24)

August 15, 2016

For a Worldwide Increase in Faith, Hope, Charity

Near the beginning of the recitation of the Rosary, many people traditionally offer the little group of three Hail Marys, "For an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity." My husband humbled me greatly the other day, when leading our family Rosary, by adding one, simple word: "For a WORLDWIDE increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity."

It's a small thing, and the "worldwide" probably already was assumed.

But, for me, adding that one, little word now reminds me (and God, I hope, Who already knows -- but still loves to hear from us! -- our heartfelt desires) that the influence of evil is stronger and deeper and more devastating than ever in today's world.

God, however, is stronger and bigger and more powerful than any evil. So, we need Him. All of us. More than ever. And His mother always will lead every heart unerringly to Him.

It will take the concerted, prayerful, worldwide effort of Christianity, God and humanity, to combat the depths of today's evil. Together.

The great parliamentarian Edmund Burke stated, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

The great Capuchin saint St. Padre Pio de Pietrelcina stated, "Pray the Rosary, for the Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world," and, in reference to his rosary, "Bring me my weapon!"

If you can't go to a pro-life march, travel on a mission trip, volunteer at a shelter, serve on an inter-faith committee, attend a conference on human trafficking, etc., you CAN pray your Rosary.

Right now. Any time. For a worldwide increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Together!

August 9, 2016

Saint Peg Dolls

Okay.  So I'm addicted to saint peg dolls.  It's not such a baaaaaad addiction.  ...is it?

For anyone who might be interested, there is a Facebook group called "Catholic Saints Peg Doll Swap" (just google that group name on Facebook).  The group facilitates long-distance saint peg doll swaps!  (Currently, they also are doing a "Jesse Tree Ornament" swap, but their primary interest is peg dolls.)

Even if you don't participate in a long-distance swap, the group does post some interesting tips and photos of other women's peg dolls to share tips and ideas.  One gal even posted instructions on how to make a PREGNANT peg doll.  (Yes!  Really!)
...I think I see a "Mysteries of the Rosary" or "Feast Days" peg doll swap in my future, with "The Visitation" now being one of them!

Through these "holy reminders" (as Mother Angelica used to say), may God bless all our homes with His angels and saints! Enjoy!
 

July 14, 2016

Just Get a Brick

Here in Savannah, it's just referred to as, "The Book."  John Berendt's well-written, reality-based novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is set in Savannah in 1981 and based on an actual murder.  The Book, arguably, put gracious, picturesque, historic Savannah back on the map as a popular tourist destination.

(And it certainly made the sale of stone girl lawn ornaments sky-rocket!)

The dust jacket describes the book as, "a hugely entertaining and deliciously perverse travelogue...as bracing and intoxicating as half a dozen mint juleps!"

To me, its romantic setting -- the picturesque, moss-draped oaks and cool, verdant, green squares of downtown Savannah -- is punctuated by John Berendt's pithy, observant narrative of the people involved in some of the seedier aspects of the city's life, the grit beneath the apparently genteel and generous skirts of upper crust, gracious, Southern Belle Savannah.

Beyond the sordid tale, however, I came away with one very important lesson:

How To Clean a Toilet.

In the book, the main character recounts the entire story in first person, told from the perspective of his being a newly arrived resident of Savannah.  As he attempts to clean up his crumbling apartment, the toilet, apparently, is beyond hope, its bowl encrusted irreparably with the local famously stubborn hard water deposits.

"What you need is a brick!" a local Savannahian tells him.

...what?

A brick.  He should scrub the toilet bowl with a brick.  Yes, an actual, run-'o-the-mill, ordinary, red, building brick (although in Savannah, the bricks are a tan color called "Savannah Gray").  A brick, it is explained, is harder than the hard water deposits, yet softer than the porcelain.

Really?

Yes, really!  It works!

Last week, I decided I was willing to sacrifice the possible permanent marring of one of our lesser-used toilets to experiment on the veracity of this advice (imagine the possibilities if it actually worked!).  I used a plain ole red brick (we had exactly one, discarded in the back yard; I smashed it to get a smaller piece) to scrub the inner bowl of the toilet, which previously had been utterly uncleanable (...is that a word?).

And it worked!!!  It actually worked!

Here are my before, during, and after pictures to prove it to you.  Feel free to borrow this tactic and run with it.  ...just make sure you don't flush your bit of brick down the toilet.  THAT would be a whole 'nother kettle 'o fish...

Happy Cleaning!

BEFORE

BEFORE

...DURING...

...DURING...

AFTER!



Faith, Hope, Charity

Here's a wonderful new devotion that I just heard my husband pray on Saturday:

You know how on the first three Hail Mary's of the Rosary, we traditionally offer them, "for an increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity?"  Well, as my husband led our family in the Rosary on Saturday, he said, "for a WORLDWIDE increase in the virtues of faith, hope, and charity."

Such a simple qualifier.  Such a tremendous difference.

I am saying this from now on!  Perhaps you can, too.

Lord, make us instruments of Your peace...  Happy praying!


Funny Footprints

As a follow up to my last post, here's a bit of humor, too, from Jesus' perspective!

July 1, 2016

Help in Dark Times

When you are facing tough times physically, whether through age or illness, St. Theresa of Avila might be a good saint for you to appeal to for assistance, as she suffered ailments immensely and famously said, "Lord, if this is how You treat Your friends, no wonder you have so few!"  Also, St. Dymphna is the patron saint of nervous conditions, St. Lucy the patron saint of eye ailments, and St. Agatha the patron saint of breast cancer fighters.

The evil one is know to torment even more those who are getting CLOSER to God, so if you are facing dark times during which your struggle seems only to be getting worse -- be confident, be strong, be courageous, and know that Our Lord and His saints ultimately will not let you down!

Always call upon your family and friends here, too -- whether related by blood, faux family, or parishioners at your church -- for their help here in your physical and spiritual warfare!  You might feel overwhelmed and that you just can't do this, but with God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).

Appeal to Him constantly and re-read the poem below, "Footprints in the Sand," for it is in your darkest times that He will carry you.


June 23, 2016

Work the Lock, Don't Look at the Dogs

If you're a Child Of The 80's like me, then you might remember watching episodes of Magnum, P.I., a television series in which Tom Selleck provides private security at a wealthy Hawaiian estate.  Additional security measures at the estate include two guard dogs.  Two nasty, slavering, hungry guard dogs.  Doberman Pinschers.  Named Zeus and Apollo.

In the pilot episode, one of Magnum's initial security tests is to see if he can steal the estate's Ferrari.  As he attempts quickly to pick the lock, the ever vigilant Zeus and Apollo are seen in the background, rapidly sprinting around the corner, intent on eating Magnum alive.  Magnum forces himself to focus on the task at hand (breaking into the Ferrari) by murmuring to himself,

"Don't look at the dogs; work the lock.
Work the lock.  Work the lock!
Don't look at the dogs!"

You can watch the clip here:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjuQX2g8uNo

At the last moment, however, unable to resist the lure of temptation, Magnum glances at the snarling dogs racing toward him.

"You looked at the dogs!" he exclaims, just as he springs the lock and jumps into the safety of the car, slamming the Ferrari's door closed behind him.

Whew!  That was close!

Think about it.  How often have WE done that?  Has this ever happened to you?

(No, no, no.  Not breaking into a Ferrari in Hawaii while being chased by Dobermans.  ...well, I don't know, maybe Heather?)

Have you ever been focusing so intently on a task that God has given you, but then, in spite of your absolute best determination to stay focused, you take your eye off your purpose.  You let your glance slide away, just for a second.

Only a second.

You look at the dogs.

Ever heard of the Hounds of Hell?

When God has given you a purpose, a task, a job, an assignment, no matter how small or how large, Satan would love nothing more than for you to loose your focus, stumble off track, and subsequently (yay, Satan!) abandon God's task altogether.

Look at the dogs, the deceiver says.
Go ahead, glance at them.
Just for a minute.
Take your eyes off your task and look.
Now you are focused on the horrible prospects threatening your success.

Have you ever done this?  Allowed negativity, nay-sayers, and challenges to dissuade you from staying the course and trusting resolutely in God's will?

Sometimes, in the face of everyday challenges or overwhelming odds (the rapidly approaching dogs), we have to remind ourselves to remain on task, to stay the course, and to renew our determination to fill our vision with God's will, not ours, nor the obstacles to fulfilling His.

We have to remember to work the lock.  Don't look at the dogs.

Work the lock.
Stay on task.
Remain focused on God's will.


Don't look at the dogs.
Don't panic at your own limitations.
Don't let your focus slip from seeking God's will to worrying about your own inability to fulfill it.

My dear friend has a plaque in her house, which reads,
"God doesn't call the qualified.  He qualifies the called."

You can do this.
God.  Picked.  You!
He is here for you.

Focus.  On.  Him.

Remember Peter, when he saw the Lord walking on water during the storm on the Sea of Galilee?  He asked the Lord to call to him, to prove His Presence by enabling Peter to walk to Him across the water.

And he did it!  Peter walked on water!

For a minute.

But then, Peter took his eyes off of Jesus.  He took his eyes off his task, his goal, his Lord.  He looked at the dogs.  Peter glanced down at the roiling water, let the Lord slide out of his field of vision, and suddenly could remember nothing greater than his 3rd Grade science lesson about buoyancy and density and will it sink or float.

Then, Peter began to sink.

Fortunately, Christ was there to save him.  Christ stretched out His hand (when Peter called to Him, but that's a post for another day) and grasped Peter's hand and hauled the panicked fisherman back to safety.

Christ is here to save you, too.
In any instance.
He is here even in the worst storms of life, stretching out His hand to you, to keep you focused, on task, with your eyes on Him.

On Him.

I'm not saying be oblivious and don't consider all reasonable aspects of accomplishing something God has put before you.

But.

I am saying it does you no good to stray from His way and scatter your focus to stare instead in horrified fascination at the theoretical Doberman Pinschers gnashing their teeth and threatening to tear you apart.

Because if you do, they will.

Stop it.

Focus.  On.  Him.

He is stretching out His hand to you!

Why?

Because He loves you.

He loves you so much that He made you in His own image and likeness to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

And THAT's what it's all about!

So, the next time you have a task at hand (to work the lock), and you suddenly are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds (don't look at the dogs), remain resolute and focus on the task at hand.  Do not be distracted.  Seek God's will.  Call out to Him!  And you will find that you ARE strong enough, quick enough, clever enough, and able enough to elude perceived threats and ultimately leap for joy in the success of God's plan for you and the surety of Heaven.

Believe me.  It'll be even better than a Ferrari!

June 11, 2016

I Am

"Christ said, 'I am the Truth;' He did not say, 'I am the custom.' "
(St. Turibius de Mongrovejo)

May 12, 2016

On Laundry

The achievement of laundry depends upon WHEN you want it accomplished.  When I asked this exact same question of our homeschool group (72 families), these are the leading answers I received:

1).  WEEKLY - All dirty laundry gets sorted (e.g. - whites vs. darks) into the appropriate laundry cart or receptacle as it is discarded by the user, so it is ready to toss in the Magical Washing Machine on Laundry Day.  The loads then are run endlessly in the background on Laundry Day, say Wednesday (or whichever day), every week by whomever is available at that moment or a different assigned kid each week.  (Hint: Use timers so you don't loose track of loads being accomplished!)  Then, the NEXT day, the entire family gathers for one hour in the family room, the parents' bedroom, or wherever to dump ALL the clean laundry, sort, fold, and put it all away.  Voila!

BENEFIT:  "Laundry doesn't rule our lives.  Every.  Single.  Day.  It's only once a week and we actually talk and laugh a lot doing it together."

2).  DAILY - All dirty laundry (regardless of color .... let's be honest, it IS just mostly kid clothes) gets tossed directly into The Magical Washing Machine at bedtime at night.  In the morning, the washer and dryer are run by an assigned kid per day before and after breakfast.  After school, the assigned kid removes, sorts, folds, and puts away everyone's laundry.  Since this is done daily, it's only just one load.  (You also could have each person retrieve his or her own folded laundry and put it away.)

BENEFIT: "Laundry doesn't become a huge, looming 'To Do' mountain.  Once the kids get used to this pattern, it really is a quick and easy task.  The littlest ones apprentice and 'help' whichever older kid has been assigned to the task that day."

3).  LAUNDRY NIRVANA - Each child is assigned a day that is his or her Laundry Day.  That is the day on which s/he has the machines completely to his or herself to launder clothing.  If you snooze, you lose.  Feel free to barter with your siblings.  (This mom had seven kids, so each kid had the same day each week.  She also didn't implement this with each kid until the child reached second grade, so she still had the littlest ones help her do theirs.)

BENEFIT:  "The kids are doing their own laundry!  Helloooo!?  Ta-da!!!"

May 6, 2016

Mary's May Crowning

Here's a link to The Great Adventure series of (short!) articles on Mary, for your meditation during the month of May.  There are eight.  Maybe try reading and praying on two per week!  Enjoy!  😊


http://biblestudyforcatholics.com/category/mary/

April 30, 2016

Spiritual Life is a Journey


"Denigrating the 'before' is common in the spiritual life.  After a conversion experience, one is tempted to set aside, downplay, or reject one's past.  In Thomas Merton's biography The Seven Storey Mountain, the former dissolute student turned Trappist monk largely characterizes his former life as bad, and his life in the monastery as good.  Of the 'old' Thomas Merton, he said ruefully, 'I can't get rid of him.'

"In time, Merton would realize how misguided a quest that is: there is no post-conversion person and pre-conversion person.  There is one person in a variety of times, the past informing and forming the present.  God is at work at all times."

(Jesus: A Pilgrimage, by James Martin, S.J.)