Sunday, January 31, 2010

We have our 'orders' (so to speak)....

Little Flowers is constructed (in part) on the well-proven educational theory that you work on one thing at a time and then move on. We use this methodology in all subjects. For example, in math we learn what each number looks like and then how to count before we attempt fractions or higher math such as 'imaginary numbers' (how can numbers be imaginary, wonders this homeschooling mom). We do the same in teaching our LF's a life of virtue. One virtue at a time, giving it our full attention, one piece at a time and then moving on.

This excellent method of learning is not our idea - as with most/all good ideas - God had it first. Today's second reading - the familiar 1 Cor. 12:31-13:13 - the wedding reading we all know. Hearing it today, I was struck by God's methodology. He takes one virtue - Love and then lays out to us one piece at a time what we need to work on to master this virtue. What a good idea! ;-)

Perhaps we might consider this for ourselves - Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous.... and on and on. Perhaps if we take this virtue one piece at a time just as we ask our daughters with the virtues of LF we might find ourselves growing in love and how wonderful would that be? For we are reminded that while faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love!

Our order would be patience, kind, not jealous, not pompous, not inflated, not rude, do not seek your own interests, not quick-tempered, do not brood over injury, do not rejoice over wrongdoing, rejoice with the truth, bear all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Granted it is a list of 14 dimensions of the virtue to work on but we are up for the task as it is God's desire that we reflect Him in this love and while we are surely bound to slip up more than once (even in a given hour) we will prevail. For God assures us - Love never fails!

We will surely s

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cool little video on Blessed Margaret Pole

It may make the girls go "oooh" when they mention how the headsman took 10 swipes at poor old Margaret's head, after all, we are talking Courage here (Wreath 2)but the visuals are nice.

Margaret was Countess of Salisbury under Henry VIII and Mary Tudor's governess. She was beheaded while in her 70's after enduring prison for years. She was beheaded for being a Catholic in 1541. Her son was Cardinal Pole, the last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Year, New You!

If you don't know it, we put out a monthly newsletter from Behold The Child. I encourage you to sign up ( Here's a bit of what I wrote for the newest issue:

It is customary to make resolutions during this first month of a new year. We stand, feet akimbo, hands firmly on our hips and declare “This year will be the best year ever!” We are sure of ourselves in January, everything is possible with a new calendar in front of us and the graces of Christmas full in our hearts.

It seems that everyone does this regardless of faith; it is human nature to want a new start, a chance for a do-over and the hope for a better tomorrow. There has been a good deal of press recently concerning Gretchen Rubin who undertook remaking her whole life in one year - one idea/resolution per month. The resulting book The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun is being lauded by the media as project we might all want to undertake. Perhaps.

I applaud her desire to find more happiness as I am a big fan of happiness. Joy is after all a virtue but I doubt my own ability to decide what to work on. However, inspired to a degree by the thought of having a happier life I decided that my own life could stand a makeover. However, not wanting to rely on myself (or just anyone else) as I began I wondered who could I turn to for a role model. Being a woman it was natural that I seek another woman; a woman I could trust who had already lived a life worth imitating. You all know who I found don’t you? Mary!


Let our year begin with our first introduction to Mary in Scripture where we have her trust made so clear, so undeniable. Isn’t that how we want to approach this new year - trusting in God for all that God is asking? All the God wants of us? All that He needs from us? In Luke we witness her concern, her questions at the arrival of Gabriel, we are told she is troubled and she trusts God enough to voice it - “How can this be?”

That we may be so trusting. For God has much in store for us this year and we need to trust Him as it arrives. Trust that His plan is perfect and He only desires our good. We can voice our concerns as Mary does, we can wonder how it ‘can be’ but we will trust as Mary does.

If you want to read all of what I wrote, check out the website to sign up for the newsletter (which also includes some neat offers and other good stuff!).

(BTW - I have NOT read Ms. Rubin's book and therefore cannot recommend it but used it only as a reference to my own plan. I do plan on giving it a read when it becomes available at my public library and I'll let you know about it if you'd like. If anyone has read it and would like to share their thoughts - let us know!)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ever Feel Embarrassed?

Forgive the delay - my dh is out of town for work and that always throws off my days :-)

That being said, how I am feeling (really embarrassed) as a result having forgotten to post last night as I so adamantly promised I would is a perfect lead-in to my post. How nicely convenient! Enjoy -

I am amazed by God’s ability to drop the smallest of hints into our lives that have the potential of having a huge impact.

Today’s gospel (John 2: 1-11) and accompanying homily from my wonderful pastor, Fr. Joseph Piekarski, is a case in point. The gospel is the ever familiar Wedding Feast at Cana. I love that story, I love the fact that Jesus’ first miracle is at a wedding! His presence there not shows the importance of marriage to God but supports our Catholic teaching on marriage as a sacrament.

For me, it gives me a real rush of joy knowing that God loves marriage enough to make sure it is a visible part of Jesus’ ministry. This is hugely important; maybe more so now than ever before when marriage is coming under attack from every side. I can almost get giddy knowing that a wedding party was the site of Jesus’ first miracle. And not only a party, but making sure they had enough wine! God is returning to walk with the man and woman just as He did in the garden and He’s bringing drinks along with Him! How fun and way cool is that?!

My pastor’s homily on the subject was wonderful as usual - he was bringing up some fine points about marriage in particular and doing a great job. I, however, was a bit distracted as I was at Mass with my children but not with my husband who was away on business. My two year old was being particularly feisty and eager to climb over, under and around me, his siblings and the pews. I was starting to feel a bit self-conscious about his behavior.

I was doing my best to follow Fr. Joe when one small comment rang in my ears as if he was standing right next to me. “Remember,” he said, “our dear mother, Mary, never wants us to be embarrassed. Never. Just like she didn’t want her friends at the wedding to become embarrassed by the lack of wine. She asked her Son to help so they wouldn’t be embarrassed. Don’t forget that when you pray.”

That struck such a cord in my heart; especially as I was becoming increasingly embarrassed by Damian’s antics at my feet. Mary doesn’t want me to be embarrassed! What good news that was to hear - news I had never heard before! In all the homilies, talks and retreats I’ve heard that have discussed this miracle, that fact was never said. Or if it was, I didn’t hear it. But I heard it clearly this time and what balm it has been in just the few hours since.

Embarrassment is something I really struggle with. Despite my desire to be the center of attention I never want it if I am doing something foolish or degrading; none of us do. No one likes being embarrassed and we will go to great strides (sometimes even sinful ones) to avoid being made a fool or appearing like one. As a parent, this desire to avoid being seen as foolish extends even more so to my children. I will go to great strides to protect them from humiliation or feeling awkward.

And here, I have been assured and shown in the actions of Mary within the gospel, that she - as every good mother - feels the same way I do. She doesn’t want me to find myself in a bind and seeks through her prayers and intercessions to prevent that from happening. It is very reassuring to know that she ‘has my back’ as they say.

Now, I know that not all embarrassment can be prevented and I will surely do something this very week that will cause a red face for either myself or my children (mothers of teens often run that risk). But, more importantly, I need to differentiate between those things that are singularly embarrassing (such as slipping down the stairs) and not of real import and those that may appear to be a cause of embarrassment but are not.

For Mary (and her Son) would never ask us to do something that is deliberately embarrassing. We may think this isn’t true - as much of what we do can appear to be embarrassing. Think about this. Is it your commitment to homeschooling, a holy family life, modesty in dress and moderation in your activities or language that may sometimes make you feel a twinge of embarrassment? It can come when the stranger in the store asks, “Are they all yours?” or when the aunt keeps prodding you about “socialization”. This is especially true if we living our lives with little or no support from our family or friends.

All of we do may seem embarrassing but it is only because the world rejects it as important or worthy. But only the world thinks that way. Jesus, King of the Universe thinks what we are doing is not embarrassing at all, but truly fine, great, awesome and worthy of His grace.

So, the next time your toddler is crawling all over you at Mass or you get rolled eyes from the neighbor when you tell them your son cannot come over and watch a horror movie marathon with theirs, don’t get embarrassed. After all - what is rejected by the world is often what is best:

“The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

By the Lord has this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes.

This is the day the Lord has made;

let us be glad and rejoice in it.”

Ps. 118:22 (quoted by Jesus in Mt. 21-42)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

To Be Like Mary...

While we are celebrating the Year for the Priests (have you downloaded your FREE info from us yet??), I am going to focus my year on trying to be more like Mary, the Mother of God.

She is after all our best role model after Christ and being that we are both women and mothers, I often find her a bit more accessible. I can find myself talking to her throughout my day, asking her to take my concerns to her Son. No one can refuse their mother can they?? As many have said before me - "Through Mary to Christ".

As I look at her life I am struck with both the simplicity of the lessons she offers and how deep we can take those lessons. The first lesson I need to take to heart is her obedient docility to what is being asked of her. She is asked by God, through an angel, which would certainly sway any answer I would give, but what she is asked would give anyone pause. She is asked to bear a child, a son though she 'knows no man'.

Yet, she says yes. Her fiat comes without pause and often my fiats, when they come, come haltingly, hesitatingly and not without demands and a good deal of whining.

This first month I will be striving to be more docile to the requests made of me - from God, from my husband and my children. While I will not concede to every and any request as my children, friends and even my spouse are not God or angels (such as the third request for another cookie), I can certainly say yes to many of their simple (and do-able) requests that are merely a delay to my plans or my idea of how the hour should go.

And Mary could say the same couldn't she? Surely, the arrival of the angel and his message isn't how she expected her hour, day or life to go and yet she said yes!

I am the handmaid of the Lord, she says. May I have the ability to repeat those same words more frequently than I do at this time.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fun Website!

Got a great email the other day from Vee who directed me to her website with tons of really cute saint and historical figure paper dolls for FREE! I'm hoping that Behold Publications can work with Vee to bring more creative stuff for Catholic kids in the future. Meanwhile, enjoy her site!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Feast of Epiphany

While the date is Jan. 6th for many, we have celebrated it today. There is much for us to ponder with this feast - the star, the prophecies fulfilled, the death of the innocents, the length at which the magi went to be able to sit at the feet of a baby. For me, I would like to think for a moment for those left behind - who was taking care of the homes they left while they traveled to find God and bring Him treasures?

As a wife and mother, this is often the role I take in my marriage. My husband travels far each day for his work and the majority of my day is spent alone. I look after the children and home by myself; including not only the care and feeding but the teaching. It can be a lonely day - day after day.

There is also the concern I live with as he leaves. He drives to the train and takes that into DC where he then gets a subway. I am worried sometimes. One day this past fall there was a tragic subway accident. It was my dh's train and a quick telephone call reassured me that by God's plan he worked late that night and wasn't on it. I imagine the wives, children and families of the three kings worried as well. While I can be reassured by telephone calls, those of the magi could not - no technological support systems back then. They had to rely on knowing that the trip they undertook was also God's plan.

And that is what helps those of us at home do what we do - it is God's plan. Just as it was God's plan that the magi travel far from home to find Him in a stable, it was also His plan that there would be those who stayed behind. God's plan includes everyone - not just the ones who leave and go. While we remember the three in story, song and poem we might want to think about those that stayed. They are also a vital part of the story. Just as my husband reminds me daily that he could not do what he does without me at home - the three magi could not as well. They were strengthened on their journey with the knowledge that everything was being taken care of home by people who loved them enough to let them go.

Before I conclude, I want to make clear that I am not making a statement about mothers who work outside the home as I know well that now, more than ever, many moms are doing just that because they have to, it is necessary. No, I am merely striving to make the point that we can think that what we do - either at home or at a job - is insignificant to God's plan because we aren't doing something heroic, remarkable or worthy of a song. What we do can seem so pointless because it is so mundane.

In those moments, when we are wiping off peanut butter faces or sitting through one more committee meeting we must think of our own dear patron. St. Therese, the Little Flower, makes it clear that nothing is insignificant or small to God when it is done with love, with purpose and as a part of His plan.

As this new year begins, consider both offering up all you do, every small, trivial task to God for His purpose and also striving to see all that you do as a part of His plan. While on some days we might wish that God asks us to take a long trip to some exotic location, the reality of that actually occurring is unlikely. Don't waste time wishing you were on a trip you were never called to take. Enjoy and celebrate the trip you are taking right now. As this trip, commonly referred to as a family still has God at the end. What will you be bringing him?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

One of my resolutions to be more consistent on my blogging. As you all know, I am not. In giving this some real prayer I have come to admit that I am not a super Mom despite my deep desire to be one. No, I am just a regular Mom who has failings, sins and a lousy memory.

With that in mind, I am committing to blogging every Sunday with a new piece for your consideration. I hope to write something what will give you pause for the week, something to take to prayer or back to your group. It might be a something I've read or come across of a spiritual nature or of a more human nature such as a new game or craft idea. In the end, I want to write pieces that will make your vocation easier and help you to be glad you are a mother, a Catholic and one of God's gardeners.

For that is what we all are after all - we are God's gardeners - assisting him in our own little plot of earth; not unlike Adam and Eve. He has given us a piece of Iowa, Michigan, Florida or (in my case) Maryland and we are being asked to take care of it and be good stewards.

And, just like Adam and Eve, there are snakes in our garden. We have to keep an eye out for them, know what they look like and refuse - REFUSE - to talk to them! When we see them and hear their whispers we don't ever think we can do conquer them on our own.

We need to call on Christ and ask Him - much like we do our husbands when it is a spider in the corner (or am I the only one who does this) - to please come over and crush its head! I hope I can offer you some encouragement, ideas and support for your gardening adventures and ask you to feel free to offer your own!

So, welcome to a new year. Look for a new post on every Sunday and let me know what you think!