Friday, February 24, 2012

Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week Two

The Temptation of Christ, Fra Angelico

This week , we will remove the bowl of ashes or dirt from our Lenten centerpiece.  Over the bottom of the tray, spread a layer of sand or sandy soil. During the remaining weeks of Lent, we will each week add something to this sandy foundation that will recall to our minds our Lord's suffering and death.  Here's what my tray looks like this week:
This is sandy soil, but you could use sandbox sand

It's very plain and even stark.  It isn't pretty.  But our Lord's sufferings weren't pretty, either.  As we think about His time in the desert, this simple sand will be a constant reminder that Jesus suffered for us.
Our meditations this Second Week of Lent will focus on Jesus's trial and temptations in the desert just after He was baptized by John in the Jordan River.  Throughout Lent, the meditations will return to this time of temptation as we consider the example Jesus gave us in this trial of holiness and as we think about how we, too, might resist temptation and grow in holiness.

The Baptism of Christ, Verrochio
Meditation #1:   When Jesus began His ministry, He went first to John the Baptist to be baptized.  He didn't need to have any sins forgiven, because He didn't have any, but He wanted to give us an example of what we should do.  As soon as He was baptized, He went out into the desert.  Today, as we look at our centerpiece, what do we see?  Yes, sand.  The sand represents the forty days Jesus spent in the desert suffering and praying for us.  Lent is a time when we especially recall these forty days our Lord spent in the wilderness for us.  The Bible tells us what happened while Jesus was fasting and praying in the desert: 

Judean Wilderness
Then Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil.  And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards he was hungry.   And the tempter coming said to him: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.   Who answered and said: It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.   Then the devil took him up into the holy city, and set him upon the pinnacle of the temple,  
And said to him: If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down, for it is written: That he hath given his angels charge over thee, and in their hands shall they bear thee up, lest perhaps thou dash thy foot against a stone.   Jesus said to him: It is written again: Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.  Again the devil took him up into a very high mountain, and shewed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,  And said to him: All these will I give thee, if falling down thou wilt adore me.  Then Jesus saith to him: Begone, Satan: for it is written, The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve.
Then the devil left him; and behold angels came and ministered to him.~Matthew 4:1-11

During Lent we will be thinking more about Jesus and what happened to Him in the desert.  For now, let's talk about what we know about deserts.  What was it like for Jesus to spend forty days in the desert wilderness? (discussion about desert conditions-hot, dry, no shade, little water, cold at night, wild animals, etc.)  
Jesus, we thank you that you suffered for us in the wilderness.  You resisted temptation and defeated Satan.  Please help us fight temptation and become holy throughout this Lent.  Amen.

Meditation #2: Jesus is God.  He has reigned eternally with God in Heaven.  He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.  For our sake, because He loved us so much, He set aside His royal power and glory and became a man.  He suffered in the desert, and He even died.  The Bible tells us:

Worship of the Five Wounds
For let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men, and in habit found as a man.  He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross. For which cause God also hath exalted him, and hath given him a name which is above all names:  That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth: ~Philippians 2:5-10

Jesus set aside all of His power and might so that He might come to us and save us from death and sin.  The sand in our tray reminds us that part of His suffering was forty hot, blistering days without food and with little water in the desert.  Jesus spent His time in the desert praying for us, so that we might become holy.  Let us try to follow Him as we pray and sacrifice during Lent.

Meditation #3:  The ancient Jews believed that the desert was the place of wild animals and the haunt of demons.  It was a dangerous, lonely, and desolate place.  Here, our Lord went to resist the devil and to overcome him.   Do you remember that Adam and Eve had fallen into temptation in a garden?  Well, Jesus was tempted, too, but He did not sin.  The Bible tells us:

For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin. ~Hebrews 4:15

So, because Jesus wanted to come and help us, He had to endure temptation, just as we do.  Jesus was like a second Adam, a second chance to start the human race over without sin!  And, unlike the first Adam who failed and sinned and lost grace for all of us, Jesus was triumphant and holy and gained our grace back!  Because of Adam's sins, we must one day die.  Because of Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross, we will one day live forever in Heaven.  
Do you remember what our sand reminds us of?  Yes, the time Jesus suffered for us in the desert for forty days.  During that time, Jesus prayed.  He prayed for the Church, He prayed for His Apostles, and He prayed for everyone that would believe in Him throughout all the ages.  He prayed for you and for me.  Let us remember whenever we are tempted that Jesus Himself prayed for us in that desert, that we might have victory over every temptation in our lives with His mighty help. Let us think about how much our Lord loves us, that He suffered so much to make it possible for us to be in Heaven with Him forever.

Q. 229. What was the devil's name before he fell, and why was he cast out of heaven?
A. Before he fell, Satan, or the devil, was called Lucifer, or light-bearer, a name which indicates great beauty. He
was cast out of heaven because through pride he rebelled against God.

Q. 230. How do the bad Angels act toward us?
A. The bad Angels try by every means to lead us into sin. The efforts they make are called temptations of the devil.

Q. 231. Why does the devil tempt us?
A. The devil tempts us because he hates goodness, and does not wish us to enjoy the happiness which he himself
has lost.

Q. 232. Can we by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil?
A. We cannot by our own power overcome the temptations of the devil, because the devil is wiser than we are;
for, being an Angel, he is more intelligent, and he did not lose his intelligence by falling into sin any more than we do now. Therefore, to overcome his temptations we need the help of God.

Q. 314. What do we mean by our predominant sin or ruling passion?
A. By our predominant sin, or ruling passion, we mean the sin into which we fall most frequently and which we find it hardest to resist.

Q. 315. How can we best overcome our sins?
A. We can best overcome our sins by guarding against our predominant or ruling sin.

Q. 316. Should we give up trying to be good when we seem not to succeed in overcoming our faults?
A. We should not give up trying to be good when we seem not to succeed in overcoming our faults, because our
efforts to be good will keep us from becoming worse than we are.

Q. 317. What virtues are opposed to the seven capital sins?
A. Humility is opposed to pride; generosity to covetousness; chastity to lust; meekness to anger; temperance to
gluttony; brotherly love to envy, and diligence to sloth.

Baptism and Temptation,  Veronese



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Forty Days

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
Prowling beasts about Thy way;
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

Should not we Thy sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with Thee to suffer pain?

Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Savior, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
Grant we may not faint nor fall!

So shall we have peace divine:
Holier gladness ours shall be;
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Savior dear,
Ever constant by Thy side;
That with Thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.
                                                                        ~George H. Smyttan

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras!

Between violin lessons and play practice, there was no time today to make a King Cake for Mardi I punted!  How do you like my "easiest King Cake ever"?  It's just store-bought cinnamon rolls with colored sugar sprinkles on top (that weird grey color is supposed to be lavender).  The great thing about lots of boys is that they NEVER complain about desert--even if it's a last-minute-doctored-up-store-bought-bakery-item.  Isn't that wonderful!

Have a fun Mardi Gras and I pray that you each have a holy, blessed, and sanctifying Lent!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week One

The Crucifixion, Andrea Mantega

Soon Lent will begin. To begin our interactive Lenten activity, we will  place a black tray in the center of our dining room table.  It can be any shape, but it is important that it be black or very dark.  My tray is just a black tray that came with a deli salad I ordered back in January.  Other basically free ideas might be a piece of black cloth (you could even fold up a black skirt), a mat of black construction paper, or a piece of wood the children have painted black.  

 In the center of the tray, place a black or dark bowl with either ashes from last year's palms (this is what we use) or some dirt in it. In place of the bowl, a piece of black paper folded into a box-like container would work.  

A few notes on burning palms.  Put last year's palms in a large, preferably old, pot:

Drop a burning match in the center and cover immediately with some kind of metal mesh (such as a colander).  This is essential even if you burn the palms outside.  They are very light and easily blow away--on fire!

I burnt my palms inside because it was cold, but really you should do this outside.  The flames flare up quite high, so I think if your ceiling is a standard height (mine is 12'), you definitely don't want to do this on your kitchen counter as I did!  Besides, it sets off the smoke detectors.  Being Catholic is seriously exciting! I'm sure my boys will remember this part of getting ready for Lent!

About two or three times a week, beginning right after Ash Wednesday,  I will read one of the meditations below to my children.  I myself will probably read the meditations on Sunday evening, Tuesday evening, and Thursday evenings to my children, as that will work best with my schedule (except, of course, for the first short week).  Use whatever schedule works best for you.  Be flexible!  I have tried to make the meditations accessible to younger children and also interesting to older ones.  Pick and choose the parts of the meditations that work best for your family, or write your own!  The Scripture quotations are from the Douay-Rheims version.  They and the Baltimore Catechism questions are included if you wish to use them for copywork, catechesis, or just to read aloud and discuss.  Do what works best for your family, and don't make it too complicated.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Meditation #1:  In the center of our Lenten table, we have placed a black tray and a bowl of ashes (or dirt).  The black color reminds us of the ashes the priest placed on our foreheads today (or on Ash Wednesday).  As he traced the Sign of the Cross on us, he said the words, "Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return."  
When God created the world, everything was very good.  But, sadly, our first parents Adam and Eve decided to turn away from God.  We read in the Book of Genesis:  

      Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman: Why hath God commanded you, that you should not eat of every tree of paradise? 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. 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.
     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.  And the eyes of them both were opened: and when they perceived themselves to be naked, they sewed together fig leaves, and made themselves aprons.  And when they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in paradise at the afternoon air, Adam and his wife hid themselves from the face of the Lord God, amidst the trees of paradise.   And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where art thou?  And he said: I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.~Genesis 3:1-10

 So, when Adam and Eve sinned, one of the results of that sin was that death entered the world.  As we look at our centerpiece with its black colors and ashes (or dirt, depending on which you used), we remember that we are all going to die one day. We can look around at the world we live in and see the sad consequences of Adam's sin.  Today there are wars and disasters and accidents in which many people are hurt.  People are not always kind to one another; sometimes people don't have all the food they need or even homes to live in.  Sometimes we even do things we know are bad and hurtful.  All of these sad things happen today because of Adam and Eve's first sin.

From the Baltimore Catechism #3: 

Q. 243. Did God give any command to Adam and Eve?
A. To try their obedience, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of a certain fruit which grew in the garden of Paradise.

Q. 248. Which were the chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve had they remained faithful to God?
A. The chief blessings intended for Adam and Eve, had they remained faithful to God, were a constant state of happiness in this life and everlasting glory in the next.

Q. 249. Did Adam and Eve remain faithful to God?
A. Adam and Eve did not remain faithful to God, but broke His command by eating the forbidden fruit.

Q. 250. Who was the first to disobey God?
A. Eve was the first to disobey God, and she induced Adam to do likewise.

Q. 251. How was Eve tempted to sin?
A. Eve was tempted to sin by the devil, who came in the form of a serpent and persuaded her to break God's command.

Q. 252. Which were the chief causes that led Eve into sin?
A. The chief causes that led Eve into sin were: (1) She went into the danger of sinning by admiring what was forbidden, instead of avoiding it. (2) She did not fly from the temptation at once, but debated about yielding to it. Similar conduct on our part will lead us also into sin.

Q. 253. What befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
A. Adam and Eve, on account of their sin, lost innocence and holiness, and were doomed to sickness and death.

Q. 254. What other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin?
A. Many other evils befell Adam and Eve on account of their sin. They were driven out of Paradise and condemned to toil. God also ordained that henceforth the earth should yield no crops without cultivation, and that the beasts, man's former friends, should become his savage enemies.

Meditation #2:  Thinking about the ashes (dirt) and black color of our centerpiece, we remember that because of Adam's sin, we are all going to die one day and the world is in a sad state.  How does God feel about this?  The Bible tells us:

Therefore will I judge every man according to his ways, O house of Israel, saith the Lord God. Be converted, and do penance for all your iniquities: and iniquity shall not be your ruin.
Cast away from you all your transgressions, by which you have transgressed, and  make to yourselves a new heart, and a new spirit: and why will you die, O house of Israel?
      For I desire not the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God, return ye and live.~Ezekiel 18:30-32
God doesn't want us to have to die.  In fact, He made our souls to be immortal--that means they will live forever. He wants us to turn away from sin, to be converted, and to live with Him and for Him both here and in Heaven. In order to save us from death, He planned to send a Savior.  God first told Adam and Eve about His plan right after they had sinned:

And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because thou hast done this thing, thou art cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon thy breast shalt thou go, and earth shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.  I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.~Genesis 3:14-15

The "seed" of the woman who would crush the evil one's head would be Jesus Christ.  The woman is our mother, Mary.  It would take many thousands of years before the time would be right for the Savior to come, but God promised He would come.  

Meditation #3:  As we look at the centerpiece today, let's take a moment and think about our own sins.  We all sin and wouldn't it be terrible if we could not go to Confession and know that our sins are forgiven?  God wanted us to live, and He wanted us to be happy with Him forever in Heaven, so He sent a Savior to set us free from death and sin.  In order for the Savior to restore life to Adam and Eve and all us, He had to become a human being.  He had to take our punishment on Himself and experience death just as we do in order that justice might be satisfied. Jesus, our Savior, suffered in Adam's place and for Adam.  

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin, hath condemned sin in the flesh;  That the justification of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.~Romans 8:3-4

The next set of meditations will be posted the Sunday after Ash Wednesday.  Future meditations will be posted on the subsequent Sundays during the season of Lent.

Collect for Ash Wednesday

Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Interactive Lenten Centerpiece

Christ Carrying the Cross, El Greco

On Ash Wednesday, we will begin to build our Lenten centerpiece.  Throughout Lent, we will change and add to this centerpiece.  As we add different items to our display, we will discuss and study our Lord's temptation in the Wilderness and His final willingness to die for us. We will be reminded of our own sinfulness and need for repentanceWe will be reminded, too, of all that Jesus suffered for us and of the depth of His love for us. With each addition or change to the centerpiece, I plan to lead the children in a few short and simple meditations that highlight the theme for the week, which I will post here beginning the Sunday before Ash Wednesday (to give you a few days to look it over). I hope this centerpiece activity will help our family to more fully understand and participate in the holy season of Lent. I have tried to use items that are either very low cost or free, so that anyone will be able to use this idea in their own home without much expense.  I hope that you will be drawn closer to Jesus if you decide to do an interactive Lenten centerpiece, too.

Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness, James Tissot

 To help you see the "big picture" and collect needed items, here is an overview of what we will place on the table and the themes we will highlight each week of Lent: 

Week 1:  (Ash Wednesday to the Saturday after Ash Wednesday)
Black tray with ashes or dirt
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the Fall and its consequences

Week 2:  Sand
Jesus in the desert

Week 3:  Rocks-one large, several small
Martyrs, self-denial vs. temptation to indulgence

Week 4:  Scourge (made of strips of leather or brown paper)
The Scourging, with His stripes we were healed, humility vs. temptation to demonstrate power

Week 5:  Crown of thorns (made from thorny branches)
Bringing forth thorns, the curse of thorns, holiness vs. temptation to idolatry

Week 6:  Nails 
The Crucifixion

During Holy Week, we have a separate centerpiece activity which focuses on the events of Holy Week. 

On Sundays we will change the centerpiece, then throughout the week we will have a few short meditations on the theme the centerpiece displays.  I have only written three meditations for each week, because I know that even though we all have high hopes of doing something like this every day, realistically we usually only get to it a few times during the week.  In some of the meditations, I have added Scripture and Baltimore Catechism references which you can use to extend the theme.  These references could also be used as memory work or copy work during Lent.

As I complete each weekly post, I will link to them below:

Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week One 
Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week Two 
Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week Three 
Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week Four 
Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week Five 
Lenten Centerpiece: Meditations Week Six 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The First Rule of Discernment

As I noted in this post,   I have recently finished a fantastic video series entitled "Living the Discerning Life" by Fr. Timothy Gallagher.  I wanted to post a series of short commentaries on the material that Fr. Gallagher covered.  This is a very broad overview, and I highly recommend that you watch the entire series, which is available (for free, I think) at the EWTN website.

Father Gallagher covers fourteen of St. Ignatius's rules by which we might become more aware and conscious of our spiritual lives. This awareness will help us to understand what is happening to us spiritually, and it will help us to be able to accept the good actions of God in our souls and reject the bad influences that might lure us away from lives of holiness.  I will list the rules in order with my brief summaries and comments in this series of intermittent posts (that is, these posts will be scattered into the blog here and there).  Here are the introduction  and the first rule:

St. Ignatius Loyola

Rules for becoming aware and understanding to some extent the different movements which are caused in the soul, the good, to receive them, and the bad to reject them. And these rules are more proper for the first week [of an Ignatian retreat].

First Rule. The first rule: in persons who are going from mortal sin to mortal sin, the enemy is ordinarily accustomed to propose apparent pleasures to them, leading them to imagine sensual delights and pleasures in order to hold them more and make them grow in their vices and sins. In these persons the good spirit uses a contrary method, stinging and biting their consciences through their rational power of moral judgment.  ~ St. Ignatius, taken from EWTN website

How often we have seen this rule in effect, in both our own lives and in the lives of those around us!  This first rule basically states that when a person is living in a state of mortal sin and actively pursuing and embracing a sinful life, the "enemy" can easily lead them on to more and more decadence by enticing them with the pleasures of sin.  Whether it be Satan, our own fleshly desires, or the pressures of the world around us that constitute the "enemy" at a given moment, the methodology is the same--the pleasure of committing a sin appears to be something to desire and seems to entice us onward (or downward!) to sinful behavior. 

Being aware  that temptation is appealing to those who are not in a state of grace helps us to understand why so many souls are trapped in a sinful pattern of life.  We saw in our discussion of the Fall that the first sin of all time began with Eve questioning God's veracity, and then immediately after she had embraced such sinful thoughts, the enemy presented the idea of eating the forbidden fruit to Eve as desirable action.   And this is the case even today--to act upon sinful pleasures seems desirable to those who are already in sin. 

Christ Pantokrator, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception
On the contrary,  the Holy Spirit convicts those who are in a state of sin.  This unpleasant conviction--the "stinging and biting of their consciences"--is intended by God as a goad to convince the straying souls to return to the goodness of God.  We can see this so often in the reaction that souls in mortal sin have toward souls in a state of grace.  They are uncomfortable.  They feel judged and convicted of an immoral lifestyle even if the Christian has never thought or said a word of judgement.  One can almost see them squirming under the conviction of the Holy Spirit.  And haven't we, too, known that "stinging and biting"?  Haven't we known that unpleasant feeling of conviction?  This is necessary guilt--the guilt that is intended to lead to repentance.  God loves us so much that He will never wholly abandon us;  He longs for union with us and so, like a good physician, He does what is necessary, even if painful, to lead us home to His Mercy.  Francis Thompson poetically describes the action of the Holy Spirit in the life of a sinful soul in the first stanza of his great work,  The Hound of Heaven:

The Hound of Heaven,  Huddart
  I FLED Him, down the nights and down the days; 
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways    
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.    
      Up vistaed hopes I sped;      
      And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmèd fears, 
From those strong Feet that followed,     followed after.      
But with unhurrying chase,     
     And unperturbèd pace,Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,      
     They beat—and a Voice beat      
     More instant than the Feet—
‘All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.’ 

When a soul in a state of mortal sin responds to the "stinging and biting" of his or her conscience by repenting and turning to God, the Mercy of God is poured out on that soul and a life of grace begins.  The next rule discusses the different ways in which both the enemy and God work in the souls of those who are in a state of grace.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Wintery Stew

The start of something beautiful!

      One day back in the fall,  I decided to clear out the refrigerator and cupboard shelves of odds and ends that were just kind of languishing.  None of them were* really enough for a meal for the six of us, but I thought that together they might be enough.  I started with:

A few pounds of leftover rump roast (it was already cooked, although in the recipe I made this week and took pictures of, I used raw meat--so you can use either raw or cooked meat, whichever you have on hand.)
1 orange
1 turnip
10 dates, kind of dried out and tough
2 potatoes
some thawed beef broth

Hum.  What to make?  I decided a STEW would make use of all of these tasty tidbits, so I came up with this absolutely delicious (if I do say so myself) recipe:

Beef Stew a l'Orange

Melt 1/4 c. butter in Dutch oven. 

Add 2-4 lbs. (depending on the appetite of your diners) of chunked up beef, cooked or raw
If the beef is raw, you might brown it a minute before adding:
1 chunked up turnip
1 chunked up onion
2-3 chunked up potatoes
2-3 large slices of orange peel
6-10 dried dates

Pour over all:
3-4 c. beef broth
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. fish sauce (this is the secret ingredient, but if you don't have it, just use a little extra salt and, if you have it on hand, some anchovy paste)

Sprinkle with:
rosemary (about 1-2 tsp)
thyme (about 1-2 tsp)
1 bay leaf (just set this on sprinkling!)

Bake at 350o for 1-1/2 hours OR at 275o for 3-4 hours (the long, slow cook is better).  You could also make this in a crockpot and cook 1 hour on high and then about 4-5 on low.

I would post a picture of the finished stew, but evidently we were all in such a rush to eat it that I forgot to take a picture of the final product!  I'm not a very savvy blogger, am I?  I did get a lot of enjoyment out of my stew, though, and the whole family loved it. Hope you do, too!

*From the blog  :"None were" vs. "None was"
Rule: With words that indicate portions—some, all, none, percent, fraction, part, majority, remainder, and so forth —look at the noun in your of phrase (object of the preposition) to determine whether to use a singular or plural verb. If the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.

Just in case you were wondering, too!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Bei Mir Bist Du Schön

Wow!  People in Webland are so kind!  My lovely follower Stephanie has bestowed upon me the Liebster Blog award.  Must have been the pumpkin picture!  Lol! Anyway, thank you so much, Stephanie. 

"Liebster is a German word, meaning dearest or beloved, but it can also mean favorite. The idea behind the Liebster Blog Award is that it is given to bloggers who have less than 200 followers in order to create new connections and bring attention to these wonderful blogs!"

Here are the rules:

1.  Add the award to your blog.
2.  Thank the giver with a link back to them.
3.  List your top 5 picks and let them know they've been given an award by leaving a comment on their blog.
4.  Hope that your followers will spread the love to the blogs you've spotlighted.

So, without further ado, here are my choices for my favorites:

While the Water Boils (Mackenzie)-- a great knitting and homemaking blog where you can see pictures of my perfect and adorable grandchildren :)

Family in Feast and Feria  (Jennifer)--lovely ideas for living the liturgical year in the family along with her thoughts and days

Quotidian Reader  (Willa)-- a lovely blog that focuses on reading and thinking where there is always something to ponder

Amongst Lovely Things (Sarah)-- a view into her lovely family and down-to-earth homeschooling endeavors

My Symphony  (Lindsey)--thoughts and undertakings in her home and family along with adorable things her children say

Well, that's the list!  There are so many wonderful blogs out there, but I do love the ones I have picked because they are so real and family-centered.  

ETA:  Looking for synomyms for "lovely" now in my thesaurus :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Java Jive

Early every morning upon waking, I stumble to the kitchen, eyes barely open, feet shuffling.  The first thing I must do is have a cuppa'.  I can't talk, I can't think, and I most certainly can't make your breakfast before my morning java.  So don't even talk to me.

Me in the dark drinking coffee
My  favorite coffee pot is the French press pot in which I brew the Elixir of Life each day.  I love this pot because when the power goes out, I can STILL MAKE COFFEE.  I discovered this last year when our power was out for a week.  I used an old teakettle to heat water over the barbeque (!) and my French press pot to brew it.   Who cared if it was 19oF?

Love the cozy my dil made for me!
 I have perfected the art of brewing coffee in my dear pot.  Here's the scoop:

1.  Put on a teakettle of water to boil.
2.  While the water is coming to a boil, fill the coffee pot with very hot tap water.  This heats it up so the coffee will stay hot longer.
3.  Set aside 6 T. of coarsely ground coffee (and it has to be good coffee--I'm from Seattle!)
4.  When the kettle boils, you have 10 seconds to pour the hot water out of the coffeepot, add the ground coffee, and pour in the boiling water from the kettle.  10 seconds.  Or the coffee police will come and arrest you. Just do it.  No whining to me.  I haven't had my coffee yet.
5.  Stir the coffee with a non-metallic utensil.  A wooden spoon, a spatula, or your son's plastic ruler.  Desperate times call for desperate measures.
6.  Put on the plunger top and set the timer for 3 minutes, exactly.  You might want to invest in an atomic clock for this purpose.
7.  After three minutes, s-l-o-w-l-y push down the plunger.
8.  Pour the coffee and drink it.
9.  Meditate on how it is that even though you can hardly function enough to navigate your way to the kitchen, you managed the complex task of making your coffee in a French press pot.  Wonder.

While you sip your morning Joe, you might enjoy a little music.  Listening to this, you will know that there really are people out there who understand you!

Friday, February 3, 2012


St. Ignatius of Loyola
     I have just finished watching the most helpful set of tapes on living and being victorious in the spiritual life that I have ever enjoyed.  The series is entitled Living the Discerning Life  by Fr. Timothy Gallagher, and it is available at EWTN.   I actually ordered the complete DVD set,  and I'm glad I did, because I will certainly watch it several more times.

     Fr. Gallagher applies the  Fourteen Rules of St. Ignatius 
to the daily spiritual life.  In the series, he helps us learn to be aware of our spiritual state,  to understand it by reflecting on causes and surrounding circumstances, and to accept the actions of God and reject the deceits and temptations of the devil, the flesh, and the world.  He clearly explains the ways in which God brings great victory and spiritual growth out of times of desolation.  Most importantly, he uses the Fourteen Rules to give us tools to stand firm in temptation, to reject the lies of spiritual desolation, and to turn our minds to God at all times.  

     I can't recommend this wonderful lecture series highly enough, especially if you are in times of spiritual desolation or struggling with temptation.  Watching it gave me hope and specific advice that I know will help me grow spiritually and love God more.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Frightening, isn't it???

     Today, with the Feast of the Presentation, we come to an end of all things Christmas.  So that makes it a very good time to begin a cleaning and clearing out of clutter!  I don't know about you, but around here the fall months with all of their wonderful holidays always result in stuffed closets and cupboards.  When we leave behind the celebrating and look forward to Lent, I am filled with an urge to cleanse and simplify.

     Some of the holiday clutter that was taking up a lot of room in my freezer was my collection of three pumpkins--whole and complete with lids!  After Halloween, we rushed out of town for a few days and I didn't have time to cut them up.  The kids really wanted to cook something with their own pumpkins, so I just stuffed them in the freezer whole.  I'm sure you have never just stuffed clutter anywhere, lol!

     Today, I roasted one of the pumpkins directly from the freezer...whole!  It worked great.  The only thing I would have done differently is to use a pan with higher sides.  The low-edged baking sheet just barely contained the juices of pumpkin.

Also, I think next time I'll remove the candle before baking the pumpkin.  Just sayin'.  Even if it is Candlemas today!


     The final result ended up both looking and smelling delicious.  I pureed it using my immersible blender.  I now have nearly a quart of yummy smashed pumpkin for baking.

     Tonight I will use some of this pumpkin in place of the oil in a boxed cake mix.  With the addition of pumpkin pie spices, we should have a tasty desert that's high in Vitamin A and uses up some more "holiday clutter".

Hope your clutter busting is as delicious and vitamin-rich as mine as been!