Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Fall

Original Sin, Hugo Van der Goes, late 1400's
It has been quite a long time since I posted one of the Bible study lessons!  I have been thinking about it, though, quite a lot and now I feel ready to discuss the second part of my lesson on the Fall of Adam and Eve--the nature of the temptation.  Why did Eve eat the forbidden fruit and succumb to Satan's suggestions to turn from God?  Why did Adam go along with her?   

First of all, let's look at the seven capital sins.  Sometimes called the seven deadly sins, they are really a set of attitudes that are the basis for all of the sins we commit.

A capital sin is one that is the "head" or source of many other sins.  "Capital" comes from the Latin word capitalis, meaning head, chief, or first.  From the capital sins, all other sins flow forth.  These sinful attitudes generate sinful actions.

Envy,  Hieronymus Bosch

The seven deadly sins are: pride, anger, greed, envy, sloth, lust, and gluttony.  Scripture tells us that it was through the capital sin of envy that death entered into the world, in the very first text of the Bible that equates the serpent in Genesis 3 with the devil:

For God formed us to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made us.  But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are allied with him experience it.  
                               Wisdom 2:23-24

The devil, filled with envy of God's wisdom, power, and creative glory, enters the garden and approaches Eve.  He wants what God already has:  the worship, fear, and devotion of mankind.  But God desires the glory of man, while the devil desires only his own glory, caring little for man's fate, even longing to make mankind as miserable as his own miserable self.  He is the Father of Lies (John 8:44), and so he begins his attack with an insidious lie:

 And he [the serpent] said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? Genesis 3:1

First of all, the serpent engages the woman.  He gets her wondering about the motives of God and she begins to question in her heart the reasons behind God's restrictions. She questions the goodness and love of God. She is no longer trusting God, but she is trying to understand God.  She is, in a sense, setting herself up to judge God:  Are His reasons valid? Is He right (as if God could ever possibly be wrong) in placing this restriction upon her? Is He even telling her the truth? 
Pride, Hieronymus Bosch
At this thought, pride enters into her heart.  She has placed herself in a position of superiority over God Himself; she has made Him less, and herself more.  She has usurped His authority and put in its place her own judgement and reason. She has determined that God owes her an explanation. She has doubted the truthfulness of Truth Itself.  All of these thoughts enter into her mind.  Sin begins first in the thoughts, and here Eve conceives in her mind not truth, but a lie, not humility, but pride.
So, Eve replies to Satan:

And the woman answered him, saying:  Of the fruit of the trees that are in paradise we do eat:  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of paradise, God hath commanded us that we should not eat; and that we should not touch it, lest perhaps we die.  Genesis 3:2-3

It is clear that Eve knew the commands of God, and the consequences of disobedience.  And so do we.  How often do we commit sins which we not only know to be wrong, but which we know will have disastrous consequences?  We know we will suffer guilt, hurt our loved ones, damage our relationship with God, but we go ahead and disobey His commands anyway.  Aren't we really thinking, in our heart of hearts, that maybe God is wrong?  Maybe we know better than He does?   So, too, Eve has already begun to question the validity of God's commandments.  Who is God to tell her what she can and can't eat? What she can and can't do?  What she can and can't know?

Now, the devil moves in for the decisive blow:

And the serpent said to the woman: No, you shall not die the death. For God doth know that in what day soever you shall eat thereof, your eyes shall be opened: and you shall be as Gods, knowing good and evil. Genesis 3: 4-5

Pride, envy, and now greed begin to grow in Eve's heart.  You shall be as Gods!  Eve sees before her eyes the shimmering lure of being like God.  She is being "dragged away by [her] own evil desire and enticed. (James 1:14)" But, wait! Isn't she already like God?  Scripture tells us that "God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them."-Genesis 1:27 
Greed, Hieronymus Bosch
Eve  was created in the image and likeness of God, but now Satan has convinced her that she must try to somehow grab from behind God's back, as it were, that which, in fact, she already possesses.  She becomes blinded by her own prideful thoughts and greedy desires and can no longer see the blessings of God.  In truth,  the only thing she does not possess is the experience of separation from God.  The only knowledge God could not give her is the knowledge of shame, of sorrow,  and of guilt.  

 And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat.  Genesis 3: 6

The last, tragic step in the Fall occurs when Eve's thoughts and desires, her embracing of Satan's lies,  become sinful actions.  She takes the fruit and eats it.  The deed is done, and it cannot be undone until Jesus hangs suspended on the rough wood of the Cross.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  James 1:13-15 (NIV)
Eve persuades her husband Adam to join her in her disobedience.  She has moved from pride, envy, and greed, into gluttony ("fair to eat") and lust ("fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold").  I wonder if there is a hint here, also, of anger.  How did she convince Adam to eat?  Did she become angry with him?  We are not told.  But we do know, from our own experiences with sin, the compelling need a person in sin has to validate themselves by convincing others to join them in their folly.  And we know, too, how often that "convincing" takes the form of angry coercion.

We will never know what might have happened if Adam had refused to eat the fruit.  Perhaps death would not have entered the world, for we do know that it was through Adam's participation in Eve's sin that death did enter:

Wherefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin death; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.  Romans 5:12  (emphasis added)

 Eve's fall began in her prideful thoughts and misplaced desires, then  was finalized by her sinful actions.   From being the "mother of all living", she becomes the mother of a race of men condemned from the moment of birth to a certain death. 

The account of the fall in Genesis 3 uses figurative language, but affirms a primeval event, a deed that took place at the beginning of the history of man.  Revelation gives us the certainty of faith that the whole of human history is marked by the original fault freely committed by our first parents.  CCC 390 .

Thanks be to God, this is not the end of the story!  As we read through Genesis 3, we will see the great hope of a future salvation, the great promise of a Savior to come and of a new Eve who will participate in restoring what once was lost by the first Eve long ago.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Fruit of Her Hands

One of my resolutions for the New Year is to get back to the healthier eating habits I practiced a few years ago.  So, this week I have been busy doing a lot of the kinds of food preparations that had fallen by the wayside.  On my windowsill above, you can see roasted pecans, carrot-dill pickles, creme fraiche, ginger-lime kefir, and coconut-maple sprinkles.  In my dehydrator right now, I am making the yogurt for the week.

There is something very satisfying about surveying the results of one's labor.  The knowledge that I am providing healthy food for my family and making it myself from quality, local (as often as possible) ingredients gives me a deep sense of comfort and even security.  My children love to help with these food preparations and to them it appears often as if a mini-miracle had occurred.  How did the sweet cream become sour cream? How did the milk become yogurt?  How does the water and salt and whey pickle the carrots?  Mini-miracles on my kitchen windowsill.  The fruit of my hands and the minutes of my life given up for the nourishment of my family.

I am also finding time to pick up my (rather pathetic) knitting again.  I started a hat for my youngest last night and had knitted 4 rows of it before I realized that I had created a Moibus strip instead of the ribbing for his hat! 
So, I ripped it all out and started over this morning.  And yet, once again, there was something satisfying about even ripping it out.  A sense that I had made it, I understood it, and I could fix it.  A sense of confidence and contentment in the work of my hands. A certain knowledge that the tearing out of the stitches was as much a prayful  offering for my son as the knitting of the hat. 

Scripture tells us: 
Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain:  the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.  Give her of the fruit of her hands:  and let her works praise her in the gates. 
                                                                                 Proverbs 31:30-31

 The fruit of your labor as a wife and mother is pleasing to God and is a sign of your love of God and of your family.  When no one else notices,  He sees.  When the work seems dull and repetitive, as it often is, He sees.  When your labor gets eaten up, or messed up, or used up, and it appears there is nothing remaining of all your work, remember that He never forgets even the smallest of sacrifices and that all of these works will one day "praise [you] in the gates!".  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time...Never Ordinary

Cathedral Altar in Pisa, Italy


Citizen of the World


No longer of Him be it said
"He hath no place to lay His head."

In every land a constant lamp

Flames by His small and mighty camp.

There is no strange and distant place

That is not gladdened by His face.

And every nation kneels to hail

The Splendour shining through Its veil.

Cloistered beside the shouting street,

Silent, He calls me to His feet.

Imprisoned for His love of me

He makes my spirit greatly free.

And through my lips that uttered sin

The King of Glory enters in.

Joyce Kilmer

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Financial Filing System--The Sequel

The second part of my financial filing system deals with keeping permanent records.  These include tax records, insurance policies, warranties, home improvement records, and the like.  To organize these records, I use notebooks and boxes.  ETA:  Oops!  I forgot to include the link to the first post on the financial filing system, which details how I set up my daily files.
I realized as I wrote this that you will also need to get some heavy duty plastic page protectors.  I recommend the heavy duty ones over the medium weight because they will sometimes have pretty thick booklets placed in them and the heavier duty version holds up better.  Another reason to go shopping at Staples, lol!

Now, using the two notebooks, label them:


And  here you can see my old, ratty notebooks.  Not. so. nice.  But, I just ordered new blue Martha Stewart notebooks!    Got a few new boxes, too, just for fun!  You, however, dear reader, get to see the original ones!  Why?  Because this way, your system can only look BETTER than mine and you will feel SO GOOD!  Right?

The Warranty Notebook:   Fill this notebook with page protectors.  Maybe 10-15 of them. Now,  all of your warranties and instruction books will be kept in the warranty notebook in page protectors, two per page protector.  If you have a lot of appliances, you will definitely need the 2” binder.  The original receipts will be stapled to the warranties.  I also write on the cover of the instructions for each appliance the serial number, the model number, and the date of purchase.  This way when a major appliance like an oven or freezer breaks, I don’t have to kill myself moving it around to try to find the model number!  About once a year, look over the warranty book and throw away the warranties that are expired and any instruction guides for things you no longer own.

If you don’t have too many instruction booklets, you could use another hanging file folder in your file crate for this material.  I just find the folder gets too bulky, so the notebook works better for me.

The Permanent Notebook:  For this notebook, make up a few dividers:

            Insurance Policies
            Home Improvements
            Account Information
            Personal Information

Under “Insurance Policies”, you are (obviously!) going to put your current policies.  It’s helpful to have a sheet of paper in the front of this section with a list of policies, their numbers, and the dates they are paid, as well as the information on your agent such as phone number and address.  Just keeps it all in one place.

Home Improvements” will hold the receipts for major home improvements that will affect the cost basis of your home if you go to sell it.  Any repair receipts for home repairs or work that is covered with a warranty can go here, too. To be clear, I put warranties for appliances (like a furnace or air-conditioner or refrigerator) in the Warranty notebook, but I put receipts for repairs on the house (like a roof repair) that are guaranteed  or warrantied in the Home Improvements notebook.  You can file them however it makes sense to you, just always file them the same way. You can also include any surveys, plot plans, septic system plans, etc. in this section.

Account Information” would include letters with your pin numbers, a list of bank account numbers and names, and a list of credit cards numbers and the phone numbers of the card companies.  Or, you can just copy the front and backs of your cards and keep those copies. 
Also in this section are account agreements.

Personal Information” could include a copy of your driver’s license, copies of any passports your family members have, SSN’s, and vaccination records if that applies.

I also actually have a divider for purchase confirmations of stock and bond investments so that I have these handy for tax purposes.  So, if you have any investment accounts, you might want this section, too.

I keep this notebook in my file crate at the back of all the monthly files.  That way, it's handy but out of sight.

Car titles, loan agreements and payoff papers, property titles, original birth, marriage, and divorce certificates, passports, and any papers related to the closing of health insurance accounts should be kept in a fire-proof strongbox or a safety deposit box at a bank, not in a notebook.

The Tax Boxes:  
Now, label one box per year for each of the prior years (the current year is in your open file system near your mail sorting location, remember?):
Taxes 2010
Taxes 2009
Taxes 2008, etc. 

Horizontal labels are purely optional. You can write directly on the box. I use one box for each year’s taxes.  In fact,  some years I have to file so many different returns (don’t ask!)  that I have to use the 3”-4” thick white boxes that are available at the UPS shipping centers.  They have a flip-up top similar to these (please note these are sold in bulk!).  These flip-top boxes are a good option,  and come in more than one thickness.

 In each box, I store all of the tax returns, all of the back-up documents, all of my return receipts for  mailed tax returns or confirmations for e-filed taxes, and any communications from the IRS for that year (except notifications of tax-payer ID numbers which I keep in  the "Permanent" notebook under “Personal Information”--be SURE to keep these! Once the IRS gave my daughter's number to another taxpayer!!!  It took me a year to get it straightened out, and if I hadn't saved the original document assigning the number to her first, I probably never would have gotten it straight.)  If I ever need any information for that year’s taxes, it is so easy to find it in the box.  The boxes stack well on a shelf and after ten or fifteen years, I shred the contents.  

One final idea:  Although it’s not part of my financial system, I also have two notebooks for the children.  Each one is used for 4 children.  These notebooks are loaded with page protectors and in them are baptismal records, confirmation records,  birth certificate copies, transcripts from community college courses, and anything else special that I would like to keep permanently, more or less.

Hope some of these ideas help you get your own financial house in order!

Sick Day

As my oldest son was in the habit of saying as a child, "If it's not two things, it's another!"  Which is pretty much the truth!

We resumed our term yesterday with a very productive day, and then today we all woke up feeling YUCK!  Sore throats, stuffy noses, and not-so-settled tummies.  So, everyone is resting on my big bed and watching a nutrition video (their choice, a bit of a strange one, but reassuringly educational!). Later on, we'll do a bit of reading and hot-tea-drinking.  Probably none of the more stressful subjects (like math!) will be addressed today.

Do you think this is the result of my post on Abandonment?  A little practice, as it were? I really should never open my mouth, lol!

One good thing about the "bug" is that it is the only time my boys are actually quiet enough that I can think.  So, I'm finishing up my second financial filings post and will soon have it ready! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My Financial Filing System

I promised you I’d post about my financial filing system,  so here I am!  My system is based on Dawn's filing crate system and was an extension of my use of her ideas.  After I had gotten my basic filing crate system set up and had used it for a while, I began to realize that I had other paper-filing needs that the weekly system didn’t quite cover.  Mainly, these needs were in the area of financial paper filing—account statements, tax information, warranties and receipts, and insurance information.

I had tried several times to get a workable filing system set up for these papers, but somehow it never quite worked.  I had a constant pile of papers that needed to be filed, and once I filed something, I could never find it!  So, I started by noting what I wanted to accomplish:

1.    Have an easy-to-access filing system.  Easy both to put papers IN and find what I needed and take it OUT.
2.   Have a simple system.  One problem I have had is an overly complicated system with way too many specific files.
3.   Have a system that integrates with my other file-crate system so I can keep everything in one place.
4.   Have a somewhat portable system (as I go back and forth between two houses in two states!)

Soooo, with all of this in mind, I developed a system that has really worked well for several years now. 

I order to set up my filing system, you will need:

8 or more hanging file folders (number depends on number of children)
24 regular tabbed files, plus a few for "flubs"
a pen
2 notebooks, 1”-2” in thickness
2 or more boxes  for archives (I’ll explain how to use these and the notebooks in the next post)

First, label 6 of the hanging file folders.  Each one is labeled to cover a two month period:
July/ August
September/ October
November/ December

Then label two more hanging folders:
Taxes-201x (current year)

If you feel you need a place to store non-time sensitive materials for individual children, you can label one hanging folder for each child.  This is not for archiving materials, but for current information, etc. that doesn’t belong to a particular week and so isn’t suited for the regular file crate system.  I only have one hanging folder labeled for my high school daughter to store transcripts,  information on repeating events and times (so not just for one week), etc. 

Now, label the files that go inside each of these larger hanging folders.

For each of the monthly hanging folders,  get out three file folders and label them:

Paid bills

For the current hanging folder, label two file folders:

Bills to pay

For the taxes hanging folder, label four file folders:

So, now that you have all that stuff labeled, it’s time to put it in its place…literally!

Put the 6 monthly hanging folders behind the corresponding months in your file crate, like so (OK, now I know I need a better camera than my iPhone, but...):

Now, take out the current bimonthly hanging folder, and put it, the “current” hanging folder, and the “taxes” hanging folder in a small, open (this is key!) file box of some kind in the same place that you sort your mail.  For me, this is a Petersboro filing basket at the end of my kitchen counter; this is where I stand to sort my mail.  I also keep the current month’s hanging folder from the regular file crate system in this basket, as well as one or two other handy files.

So, just to be clear, I have right now in my basket on my counter:

     **January/February folder from the regular file crate system with weekly file folders inside.
    **January/February folder for my financial filing with three file folders inside: Accounts, Health, and Paid Bills.
     **Taxes hanging folder with four file folders inside: Payments, Income, Deductions, and Notifications
      **Current hanging folder with two file folders inside:  Bills to Pay, Other
      **One hanging folder for my daughter.
I sometimes will add other hanging folders if I am working on a project and want to keep all the information together in one place. 
In addition to my basket file on the counter, I keep hanging folders for the remaining months in my main file crate.  There are bimonthly  folders for  financial materials and also the regular file crate system bimonthly folders.  You can't really see this set up, but I have the bimonthly folder with the weekly files inside in the front and the financial bimonthly folder with the accounts, health, and paid bills files in it right behind.  Then comes the next bimonthly regular folder, and the corresponding financial folder behind it, and so on.  This functions almost like an archive; I only need to access these files when the bimonthly period changes or if I have to find an old record to settle a financial question of some kind.  As I cycle through the year, I review the material in the previous year's financial folder and shred anything that I don't need to keep permanently.  Because I keep permanent records elsewhere (I'll explain this next week), I usually can shred everything in these files. So, for example, when I took out the January/February file this month, I had old receipts, health bills and statements,  and account statements from January/February 2010.  I looked through them for any tax related documents I might have missed, and then shredded the rest.  This is so FANTASTIC, as it keeps financial papers from just accumulating for years!  I can't tell you how much I love this part of my system!


Now, the mail arrives.  Sadly, it arrives nearly every day.  Mostly, it’s garbage, but there are also items like bills, account statements, etc.

Take all the bills you need to pay and put them in the current folder under “Bills to Pay”. Or, even better, pay them at once.  Once they are paid, put the stubs in the monthly financial folder under “Bills Paid”.

Take all account statements.  If you need to balance them, put them in the Current folder under “Other”.  If not, look them over and then put them directly into the “Accounts” folder in the current month’s hanging file folder.  It doesn’t matter how many different accounts you have; I have several for each of the children plus our personal accounts. They might be savings, checking, or investment accounts.  Just file them by month.  I have found I rarely need to go back and check them, but when I do, it only takes a minute or two to flip through the bi-monthly file and find what I need.  There is no need to overfile!

Anything that pertains to taxes goes into the tax file.  Income stubs, acknowledgements of donations, etc.  On the insider of the “Payments” file folder, I record the date, amount, and check number of any regular or estimated payments I make during the year.  I also keep copies of the receipts of  purchases that have significant amounts of sales tax in the "Deductions" file, since I itemize deductions.  I’ll explain in my next post what I do with the original receipts.  All receipts for paid real estate taxes or personal property taxes go in the “Deductions” folder as well.

All  paid health bills, Explanations of Benefits, HSA statements, doctor’s receipts or statements go into the “Health” folder in the monthly hanging folder.  If you have someone in the family with serious or ongoing health problems, and you need to keep track of test results, etc., I suggest you set up a separate notebook or folder for that person.  But keep the paid bills  and insurance statements filed by month.

That will be most of your serious mail.  Throw away the junk.  That leaves really only two other types of items:

Time-based things like invitations, raffles, community events, etc.:  These go into the “Current” folder if they require a response, and then into the regular file crate system under the appropriate week.  I also put the Sunday coupons in the corresponding weekly folder.

Non-time sensitive items:  These might include things like a letter you would like to answer, insurance policies, warranties, information on accounts such as pin code numbers. 

Anything you need to work on, goes under “Current” until it is completed.  This is really a reminder file for me.  For example, I was working on a dispute with a credit score company (they had an item on my credit report that wasn’t correct), so I put all the papers and notes on that under Current.  It kept it in front of me so that when I did my weekly paper work/ bill paying, I remembered to keep on checking on the progress of this item.  I think when I worked in the business world, we called these “action items”.  Sounds kind of aerobic!

The permanent items that you may need to refer to, such as the insurance policies or warranties or old tax records,  will go elsewhere.  That’s for the next post!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Getting back on track

     Soon the Twelve Days of Christmas will be drawing to a close, so it's time for me to get back on track!  We'll be starting up our studies again on Monday, so today I'm making some plans and thinking about the direction our next term will take.

 For me, the arts are the easiest and most fun subjects.  We will be studying Diego Velazquez   as our artist and our composer will be George Frederick Handel  (the only 17th century composer of note that we haven't yet studied).  Continuing our work on American poets, we will take a look at the poems of Robert Frost.

In history and geography, we will be concentrating on the Spanish exploration and settlement of the Southwest and Mexico.  I look forward to reading to the children the Vision Book  Father Kino: Priest to the Pimas (which I bought when it was ever-so-much-cheaper).  I have a special interest in Fr. Kino, and I hope that one day he will be beatified.  We will also study Fr. Junipero Serra
Each boy will choose one Southwestern state to study in depth, just as we did for New England last term.  I'm terrible at keeping records, but I'll try to work on an annotated bibliography of the books we are using for the benefit of other families studying this part of the country.   I have already requested a ton of great books from the library and have many on hand and ready to go!  Such a good feeling!

Math and writing continue along at a steady, yet somewhat grudging ;) pace; reading assignments will be based on our history/geography lessons.  

In science, the human body will continue to be our focus, but we will add a study of the soil of our garden in preparation for planting a few early spring vegetables.

In religion, Bugle Boy (ds10) wants to read a biography of St. Ignatius in addition to his regular catechism work.  The younger learners will keep on with short stories of the saints as well as their catechism.

One last thing I hope to introduce this term is music lessons.  We haven't taken any music lessons, other than recorder, since we moved here.  With my  dd coming back to be homeschooled, I am thinking we could even start a little quartet.  Maybe violin, cello, and flute?

Well, now that's all settled!  Phew!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


The Crucifixion, Diego Velazquez

I am reading (as one of my current stack of books) the book I Believe in Love, which is a series of retreat talks on the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux. What a beautiful book to begin the New Year with, full of meditations on the deep and abiding love of Jesus for each one of us.  I would like to share this quote on abandonment, which has so spoken to my heart:

"Abandonment, rightly understood, includes everything.  It requires a great humility, since it is submission of oneself to creatures and events, seeing Jesus himself in them.  It requires an immense faith, confidence every moment, to tear open the veil of secondary causes, to break through the screen of creatures which too often prevents us from seeing Jesus behind them, who governs everything, since nothing, nothing happens without his having willed or permitted it.
"Abandonment is nothing but obedience pushed to its extreme, since it consists of submission to everything within the limits of the possible and the reasonable, in order to obey God who has foreseen and willed it all.
"Finally, it is in abandonment that our great desires find their perfect fulfillment...
"To live with abandonment is to rediscover a perfect harmony in God; for, after all, it is God, it is Jesus, who writes all the lines, all the words, and all the letters of our lives..."  I Believe in Love, Pere Jean D'Elbee

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Still Christmas here!

The flowers are a bit dried, the candles are a bit burnt, but the season of Christmas continues here, albeit in a toned-down way.  Our tree is still resplendent with lights and baubles, our manager scene awaits the arrival of the Three Kings, and St. Nicholas and Our Lady survey the domestic church from the kitchen windowsill.
Even though it is still Christmas, it is a new year, and I am all into the start-your-entire-life-over-every-January-1st mentality.  So, I am embarking on my newest organization project--a very basic hard copy list of all my friends, service people, and websites.  I have them on my iThings, but I live in dread of deleting them all unwittingly, as I almost did right after Christmas.  So, I'm opting for a Rolodex:
So, that's my project for this week!  Then, it will be time to update my financial files.  I use a system similar to Dawn's file crate system to organize my bills, account statements, health insurance information, etc.  I'll share what I do in a week or two!

May your Christmas continue to be blessed and joy-filled, my friends!  Today, take a minute to honor the Holy Name of Jesus with this lovely litany (available here (I hope) as a downloadable file to print):

Litany of the Holy Name of Jesus

V. Lord, have mercy on us.
R. Christ, have mercy on us.
V. Lord, have mercy on us. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
V. God the Father of Heaven
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Son, Redeemer of the world,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. God the Holy Spirit,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Holy Trinity, one God,
R. Have mercy on us.
V. Jesus, Son of the living God, R. Have mercy on us.
Jesus, splendor of the Father, [etc.]
Jesus, brightness of eternal light.
Jesus, King of glory.
Jesus, sun of justice.
Jesus, Son of the Virgin Mary.
Jesus, most amiable.
Jesus, most admirable.
Jesus, the mighty God.
Jesus, Father of the world to come.
Jesus, angel of great counsel.
Jesus, most powerful.
Jesus, most patient.
Jesus, most obedient.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart.
Jesus, lover of chastity.
Jesus, lover of us.
Jesus, God of peace.
Jesus, author of life.
Jesus, example of virtues.
Jesus, zealous lover of souls.
Jesus, our God.
Jesus, our refuge.
Jesus, father of the poor.
Jesus, treasure of the faithful.
Jesus, good Shepherd.
Jesus, true light.
Jesus, eternal wisdom.
Jesus, infinite goodness.
Jesus, our way and our life.
Jesus, joy of Angels.
Jesus, King of the Patriarchs.
Jesus, Master of the Apostles.
Jesus, teacher of the Evangelists.
Jesus, strength of Martyrs.
Jesus, light of Confessors.
Jesus, purity of Virgins.
Jesus, crown of Saints.
V. Be merciful, R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Be merciful, R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. From all evil, R. deliver us, O Jesus.
From all sin, deliver us, O Jesus.
From Your wrath, [etc.]
From the snares of the devil.
From the spirit of fornication.
From everlasting death.
From the neglect of Your inspirations.
By the mystery of Your holy Incarnation.
By Your Nativity.
By Your Infancy.
By Your most divine Life.
By Your labors.
By Your agony and passion.
By Your cross and dereliction.
By Your sufferings.
By Your death and burial.
By Your Resurrection.
By Your Ascension.
By Your institution of the most Holy Eucharist.
By Your joys.
By Your glory.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. spare us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. graciously hear us, O Jesus.
V. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world,
R. have mercy on us, O Jesus.
V. Jesus, hear us.
R. Jesus, graciously hear us.
Let us pray.
O Lord Jesus Christ, You have said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek, and you shall find, knock, and it shall be opened to you." Grant, we beg of You, to us who ask it, the gift of Your most divine love, that we may ever love You with our whole heart, in word and deed, and never cease praising You.
Give us, O Lord, as much a lasting fear as a lasting love of Your Holy Name, for You, who live and are King for ever and ever, never fail to govern those whom You have solidly established in Your love.
R. Amen.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Thinking About Mary, the Mother of God

Pieta, Michaelangelo

She holds Him first in the stable, keeping Him warm and safe in the darkness of the star-lit night.

Then, a scant eight days later, He experiences the first pain, the first tiny loss of the saving blood, His circumsion.  United to us in helplessness, in smallness, in suffering, she holds Him tightly in her arms.

Soon, Mary will carry Him up to the Temple, where Simon will tell her to expect great suffering, both for herself and for Him.

Then, one dark night soon after, Herod's soldiers set out to kill this threat.  A threat to Herod and his power, to us and our self-will.  Mary carries Jesus as she and Joseph flee in the night to Egypt, but behind her she hears the terrifying cries of mothers, screaming as their sons die for His sake.  The first of the martyrs testifying to His coming.

Does she hold Him close, afraid to let Him go, when He comes to her and tells her He is setting out on His own path, fulfilling His destiny, beginning His mission of teaching and healing?  Does she see the cross at the end of that road? Opening her arms, letting go, is it another sword of sorrow?

At the end, she holds His dead body in her arms, carrying the pain of His crucifixion like a sword in her heart.

Then, comes a morning when all the suffering, all the sorrow, all the loss is swept aside and her heart nearly explodes with joy--He is alive!  

Motherhood.  The greatest joy, the greatest sorrow.  Mary lived it daily; she lived it deeply.  All the rejoicing, all the grief  she experienced were contained within the Will of God, the Will she embraced and remained in perfectly throughout her life.  When we walk in the Will of God, we will share in her joys and her sorrows; we, too, will have a place in the work of Redemption.

Madonna and Child, Marianne Stokes

Dear Lord, by the intercession of your Blessed Mother, give me the strength to hold my children close and the courage to let them go.  May Your Spirit fill me with enough wisdom to guide their steps and enough faith to let them follow their own path.  Guide them when they are far away,  turn their hearts and minds to You.  Through the prayers of Mary, may each of us, humbling ourselves to conform to Your Will as she did, come finally home to You.