Thursday, May 31, 2007

Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the day the Church honors the event we read about in the Gospel, where Our Lady visits her cousin Elizabeth. This is where the Rosary prayer comes from, in the words of Elizabeth, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

Gospel: Luke 1:39-47

At that time: Mary rising up went unto the hill-country with haste, into a city of Juda; and she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said:"My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

This gospel passage has special meaning for me, as I found myself in a 'surprise' pregnancy only five months after the birth of our daughter. Sadly, it ended in miscarriage at 10 weeks, only a few weeks after I found out we were expecting. The night before we lost the baby, it was revealed to me in a dream that the baby was a girl, and the priest in my dream even named her. Her name? Mary Elizabeth. She would have been born in May.

Today is also the 10th anniversary of my enrollment as a member of the St. Maximilian Kolbe Militia of the Immaculata.

Things to Do:
Read Luke 1:39-47, the story of the Visitation. Read and meditate on the words of the Magnificat and the Hail Mary, two prayers from this feast. For those with children, depending on the ages, assign memorization for these prayers. Also discuss the meaning of the text as a family.

This feast reminds us to be charitable to our neighbors. Try to assist some mother (expectant or otherwise), visit the elderly or sick, make a dinner for someone, etc.

Friday, May 25, 2007

From the shelf

Yesterday, I was spring cleaning in my daughter's room, and couldn't help but notice my old Raggedy Ann doll sitting on her shelf, amidst her most favorite toys and stuffed animals. Raggedy Ann is an old and very dear friend of mine, created lovingly by my grandmother, stitched by her hands and filled with her love. This Raggedy Ann doll, to any untrained eye, may look old, worn and ready for the trash bin, but to my eyes which look at her from the heart, she is just as beautiful as the first day I saw her. She is irreplaceable, a true original, a one-of-a-kind that cannot be duplicated or found in any toy store in the whole entire world. She is worth more than money can buy.

She isn't the prettiest doll. She is missing some of her red yarn hair. Her dress is wrinkled and she smells of cedar. She doesn't talk, walk, sing, eat, wet or cry. But what she does do is something no other toy can do. She is the last surviving vestige of my childhood. In another time, she was my best friend; sharing with me long summer days, lemonade and popsicles, swings on the old tire swing, romps in the grass, favorite books under the apple tree, warm summer breezes, climbing trees and playing tag with butterflies, cloud watching and flower picking, but most of all, she represents the love of my grandmother who made her for me.

I looked at my old friend, sitting silently on the shelf, I was taken back for a moment to a simpler time, a happier time when the days seemed endless; days of childhood that, in retrospect, go very quickly. I think of her now in the care of my daughter and hope for the two of them many happy days, new adventures and beautiful memories. Smiling, I finish my work, turn off the light and close the door.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A busy 11 days

I can't believe 11 whole days have gone by since I last wrote. It has been a real busy week and a half here. I have been trying to keep up with the yard work, which entails a lot of weeding-- despite the liberal use of Preen, those little buggers keep popping up EVERYWHERE. On Saturday, I spent the first half of my day weeding between the cinderblocks on the pathway which runs behind the house. It is about a half mile long (or seems like it when I'm trying to get those blasted weeds out from between those small spaces!) I enlisted the kids to help, which lasted about five minutes and then they were off to do something more exciting (you know, like using the garden tools as weapons.) I was trying to make a game out of the weeding chore to make it seem more appealing, but they are just way too sophisticated and caught right on to my transparent ploy. Luckily, at least the weather cooperated and it was overcast and breezy-- a perfect combination when doing this sort of work. It looks really nice now and I find myself looking out the window at odd times of the day to admire it. I am still planting the PTO sale plants I bought, I am not sure I will ever finish. One flat of verbena had gotten a little neglected and had the nerve to die just because I forgot to water them for a couple days. The rest of the plants are still kicking and waiting to go in the garden beds, which I do plan on doing this weekend, as a matter of fact.

Besides the constant planting/watering/weeding going on in the yard, I have been busy taking "The Kid" to his baseball practice and games, interspersed with carpooling the kids to school, and then keeping up with the usual housecleaning, cooking, laundry, bill-paying, organizing (or some semblance thereof) and homework duties. Here's a sample of my fifth grader's math puzzler that I personally could not figure in less than a half hour: "If the girl-scouts had a cookie sale, saved 1/6th of the money, spent the remaining 1/2 and had $100.00 left over, how much money did they earn?" (the answer, if you were wondering, was $240.00) I think I would have just eaten all the cookies and forgotten about the whole thing.

Honestly, though, I could use a couple more hours in my day to accomplish a few more tasks. My week has been a blur, so the blog had to suffer. However, I thought I would try a new tactic and today I will try multi-tasking and writing while drinking my coffee (which really is a feat for me!) Hopefully I won't knock my cup over on the keyboard. Don't laugh-- it has happened before when I was working in an office and frequently killed my ten-key with a coffee bath. Wish me luck, I'm living dangerously this morning.

The first order of business is announcing my new button over on the side bar-- I am officially a Catholic Mothers Online member. If you have a moment, you can click on that to read other Catholic mother blogs and also to join if you would like. I have a lot of blogs to read these days, it's a wonder I get anything done, really!! I enjoy reading them as much as time allows, and proud to be included with this wonderful group of women.

I am still learning the ropes of blogging so be patient with me while I change things around as I learn new tricks. Blogger is very user friendly for a first time blogger like me but it does take time to get up and running. Way back when, I had a Geocities address and started my own webpage, and through the years of computer/internet use I have learned a few html tags, but it wasn't until I started this blog that it became clear how very primitive my knowledge is of computer things (see, I don't even know the technical jargon) I hope that when my one year anniversary rolls around that I can look back and laugh at my amateur attempts and see how much I have learned. In the meantime, remember that I'm a newbie so if there are any problems with my layout or any other comments or tips you may have for me, feel free to leave a comment (please be nice, though!)

Now that I've taken care of that, I can get on to my business of random thoughts and comments of my own. I have emerged from the week of season finales of my favorite shows. On Grey's Anatomy, I was sad to see Meredith and Derek break up, Burke leave Christina at the altar (although that was a bit of a surprise!), not one of the front-runners getting Chief of Surgery position, "Ava" leaving and George not passing his intern exam. I thought there was too much trainwreck in this episode and not enough "warm fuzzies" for me. It was beyond disappointing, not only to me, but to other Grey's fans (I was reading the comments on a Grey's discussion board--- most felt like I did) It was not the way I would have written it at all, but then again I like happy endings, which apparently doesn't make for good TV.

I was equally as disappointed with the season finale of Desparate Housewives, although it seems to have regained some of the campiness that made the first season so enjoyable. I hope they keep that up. I loved the wedding of Susan and Mike but the rest was kind of a let down. There are a lot of possibilities plot wise, so we'll just have to wait and see where it all goes next year.

Scrubs was very funny and all in all, a great finale. I was happy with that show and with The Office which has me laughing so hard I'm crying a lot of the time. Steve Carrell is so funny, and his delivery and comedic timing is perfect.

The last big season finale for me was last night on Dancing with the Stars. This show is a real bright spot in my week, it is always a great show, no matter who wins. I always feel like dancing when I'm watching. I really enjoyed seeing how Laila Ali has grown as a dancer and couldn't help but notice how she has lost quite a bit of weight since the beginning of the competition. She is fun to watch, and I love the combination of her with Maxim. I was hoping they would win last night, but on that show at least, everyone is a winner. I think it's one of the best shows on TV at the moment.

Speaking of losing weight, I have just joined Weight Watchers , and I am excited to start going to meetings and be inspired to eat healthier and achieve a 15 lb weight loss goal. I'll keep you posted on my progress!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Your Mother is Always with You


Your mother is always with you...

She's the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street.

She's the smell of bleach in your freshly laundered socks.

She's the cool hand on your brow when you're not well.

Your mother lives inside your laughter.

She's crystallized in every tear drop.

She's the place you came from, your first home.

She's the map you follow with every step that you take.

She's your first love and your first heart break...and nothing on earth can separate you.

Not time, Not space...Not even death...will ever separate you from your mother...

You carry her inside of you...

~Author Unknown~

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Morning Run

Wild Thing woke busy woodshop hubby (BWH) up at 6:30 this morning to go running at the local track. Track season just ended, and as a first track season, he did very well. He likes the 200 and 400 meter the best, and in another year will be able to compete in the 800. BWH says that Wild Thing will be unbeatable if he keeps up his training regimen. He needs to learn to pace himself, and now that he has a feel for the races he wants to run, he can work on his endurance. He is bound and determined to train all year so that next year he can be more competitive in his age group.

So, at the crack of dawn this morning, BWH and Wild Thing headed out to the track and took the dogs out with them. Shadow is our mini-dachshund, and rather, um-- shall we say, rotund? He also has the handicap of having these short little legs and it is quite comical to watch him try when he tries to jump on the couch. He has to take a few practice heaves before he can actually make the jump!! Just to give you the idea of how big he is, most people think he could double as an ottoman (and he could, if he weren't so short!) Despite his extra baggage and short legs, bless his little doggy heart, he ran four times around the track, keeping in front of both BWH and Wild Thing the entire time. He even stayed in his own lane, much to the amusement of Wild Thing. Wild Thing has a very good sense of humor, so the two of them together are pretty entertaining, to say the least. Here we have a perfect match: a dog needing to lose weight who likes to run, and a boy needing to practice his endurance. Let the training begin!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Been meaning to post this

I've been wanting to write about procrastination, but I keep putting it off. This is perhaps the reason you don't see more published on the subject. I often wonder why there isn't a "PA" (Procrastinators Anonymous), but then I realize that it would never work as the people who need to be there would never come, because they would be putting it off for another time. Procrastinators are nothing if they are not predictable.

Here are some general misconceptions about procrastinators. The first misconception about us is that we are lazy. While it may be understandable that some people might confuse procrastination with laziness, there is an important distinction. What is the distinction, you ask? A procrastinator has intentions of doing things, while someone who is just plain lazy has none. See the difference? It is all in the intent, and while the end result may still look similar, there really is a *big* difference.

The second misconception about procrastinators is that we are always making excuses. We aren't, it's just that we have to constantly justify our reasons for never having things done.

The third misconception about procrastinators is that we are inconsiderate. Again, we really aren't. We happen to know that it will get done, we just don't know when.

Another common misconception is that we do this on purpose. We don't. Procrastination can actually be a genetically inherited trait, passed down recessively, of course.

So, how do you know if you are a procrastinator? Do you find yourself with a 'To-do' list that never gets crossed off? Are you constantly saying things like, "I've been meaning to....." "I'll get around to it eventually" or (my personal favorite) "Better late than never!" If any of this sounds familiar, then you just might be a procrastinator.

I know I am in good company. If procrastination weren't a societal problem, then there wouldn't be so many "Belated Birthday" cards to choose from in the stores. There wouldn't be "Last Chance" sales. There wouldn't be a need for fines for overdue library books, because there wouldn't be any overdue books. And there certainly wouldn't be expiration dates on coupons.

If that isn't enough to convince you that there is, indeed, a large population of procrastinators, then consider this. There are in existence "Procrastination Societies"; groups which gather other like-minded, well-intentioned, genetically challenged people together-- although one club claims that anyone attempting to become a member will actually exclude that person from membership (as, after all, a true procrastinator would never take the time to sign up in the first place!) They even have a newsletter that sometimes goes out when they can get around to writing it. I don't know, because I never get it-- I haven't signed up yet.

However, it is without hesitation, if you will, that I say, if I could say only one thing about my fellow procrastinators, it is that they are the most optimistic people you will ever meet. Think about it: Who else but a procrastinator can have so much faith that there will be a tomorrow in which to put off the tasks which should have been done today?

Monday, May 7, 2007

A Novena for Heather

Today I begin a novena for the intercession of St. Gianna for our friend, Heather. If you haven't yet met Heather, you should.

St. Gianna is a saint for mothers, and Heather is a young mother in need of a miracle. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and just last week went through surgery to have it removed. Her prognosis is 3-5 years. I pray that through St. Gianna's intercession, Heather will recover fully and have the opportunity to see her children grow up and live a long life. Heather has been such an inspiration to many through her blog where she shares her enthusiastic love of God, and where her steadfast faith shines brightly and is an inspiration for others. She has been a gift to all who read her beautiful words. Because of Heather, the blogging community has come together to help through financial and spiritual means, which in itself is so very inspiring to witness, the outpouring of love of so many people who have never met Heather in person.

Please pray with me for St. Gianna's intercession:

Novena To Obtain Graces Through Saint Gianna Beretta Molla

God, our Father, you have granted to your church the gift of Gianna Beretta Molla. In her youth she lovingly sought you and drew other young people to you, involving them, through apostolic witness and Catholic Action, in the care of the sick and aged, to help and comfort them. We thank you for the gift of this young woman, so deeply committed to you. Through her example grant us the grace to consecrate our life to your service, for the joy of our brothers and sisters.

Glory be …

Jesus, Redeemer of mankind, you called Saint Gianna to exercise the medical profession as a mission for the comfort of bodies and souls. In her suffering fellowmen and in the little ones, deprived of all support, she saw you. We thank you for having revealed yourself to this servant as “one who serves” and who soothes the sufferings of men. Treasuring her example may we become generous Christians at the service of our brothers and sisters, especially those with whom you deign to share your Cross.

Glory be…

God, Sanctifying Spirit, who love the Church as your Bride, you poured into the heart of Saint Gianna a share of your Love so that she could radiate it in her family, and thus cooperate with you in the wonderful plan of creation, and give life to new children who could know and love you. We thank you for this model wife and, through her encouraging witness, we beg you to grant to our families the serene and Christian presence of mothers committed to transform them into cenacles of faith and love, rich with generous activity and sanctifying service.

Glory be…

O God, Creator and lover of mankind, you were close to Saint Gianna when, affected by illness, she was in the painful dilemma of choosing between her own life and the life of the child whom she was carrying in herself, a gift long-awaited. Trusting you alone, and aware of your Commandment to respect human life, Gianna found the courage to do her duty as a mother and to say “yes” to the new life of her baby, generously sacrificing her own. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Jesus, and after the example of Gianna, inspire all mothers to welcome with love the sparkle of new life.

Grant us the grace we are praying for: The full restoration to health for Heather and the joy to find in Saint Gianna who, as a model spouse and mother, after the example of Christ, gave up her life for the life of others.

Hail Mary…

God our Father we praise You and we bless you because in St Gianna Beretta Molla you have given us one who witnessed to the Gospel as a young woman, as a wife, as a mother, and as a doctor. We thank you because through the gift of her life we can learn to welcome and honor every human person.

You, Lord Jesus, were for Gianna a splendid example. She learned to recognize you in the beauty of nature. As she was questioning her choice of vocation she went in search of you and the best way to serve you. Through her married love she became a sign of your love for the Church and for humanity. Like you, the Good Samaritan, she cared for everyone who was sick, small or weak. Following your example, out of love she gave herself entirely, generating new life.

Holy Spirit, Source of every perfection, give us wisdom, intelligence, and courage so that, following the example of Saint Gianna and through her intercession, we may know how to place ourselves at the service of each person we meet in our personal, family and professional lives, and thus grow in love and holiness. Amen.

Friday, May 4, 2007

When life gives you lemons,

Then don't waste the opportunity--- offer them up! I learned about this Catholic practice from my mother-in-law years ago. It is a way to turn our sufferings whether big or small into a prayer that is offered to God for the purpose of uniting our sufferings to those of Christ on the Cross. It helps us to use the crosses in our own lives to realize that suffering has a purpose, and we can make good use of our own daily sufferings as a sacrificial prayer for others. Here is a definition I found on

Theology of Redemptive Suffering:
Sacrificial suffering is a rich Christian faith expression, modeled after Christ himself. It is a partial answer to the age-old question, "Why does God allow human suffering?" The Church has always taught that physical pain, mental distress, even minor annoyances, are not meaningless but are meant to be put to valuable use. As Jesus used the anguish of his Passion and the agony of Calvary to accomplish our salvation, so do our sufferings have supernatural value when joined to the Cross. By willingly accepting our struggles and presenting them back to God as a "burnt offering" for the intentions of others, we cooperate with Christ and become real participators in the mystery of his saving act."

By thinking of our daily trials and irritations in this way, it makes them easier to deal with. If we know that by patiently enduring all that comes our way in the course of the day, and that we can then unite these as small sacrifices with Christ in order to help others, then we may even learn to welcome them. The only difference between redemptive suffering and just plain suffering is the conscious act of our will to recognize that we can offer it up! It really seems so simple. Since we all suffer, then why wouldn't we want to take every opportunity to see our suffering in a positive and purposeful way? We can either be chronic complainers who are miserable in our suffering, or we can be joyful and prayerful offerers of our suffering.

I like to think of "offering it up" as the Catholic version of the old saying, " When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." I would sure take lemonade any day over those sour lemons. Through the offering up of our daily sufferings, we can put our faith into action each day. By doing so, we learn how to make the sweet lemonade of charity for others from the sour lemons of our daily human suffering. Truly, in giving we receive, because by helping others, we lighten each other's loads and recognize that God in His goodness has given us a way to create meaning from suffering. We are enriched in our spiritual life through the love of our neighbor and become more Christ like in our words and deeds.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May is the month dedicated to Mary

"All generations will call me blessed"

The month of May has long been dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. In 1965, Paul IV wrote in his encyclical, "Mense Maio" about the reason for this month long tradition:

"For this is the month during which Christians, in their churches and their homes, offer the Virgin Mother more fervent and loving acts of homage and veneration; and it is the month in which a greater abundance of God's merciful gifts comes down to us from our Mother's throne."
Paul IV goes on to say, "We are delighted and consoled by this pious custom associated with the month of May, which pays honor to the Blessed Virgin and brings such rich benefits to the Christian people. Since Mary is rightly to be regarded as the way by which we are led to Christ, the person who encounters Mary cannot help but encounter Christ likewise."

That pretty much sums up why Catholics honor Mary. She leads us with a motherly love and compassion to her Son, Jesus. Any true devotion for Mary will lead to a deeper love and devotion for Jesus. To Jesus, through Mary.

I've been asked before by non-Catholic friends who misunderstand this very important point, whether Catholics "worship" Mary. We do not worship Mary. We give honor to her as the Mother of God and ask her intercession for us, to bring us to her Son. She brought Jesus to us when she said YES to God, and now she brings us to Jesus. We only have to ask. That is the beauty of a mother's love. Further, we know that in Mary we have the strongest of intercessors. Her Son will not turn away her requests. The wedding feast of Cana is an example of this fact. This was where Jesus performed his first miracle, at her request, and thus began His public ministry. Another important thing to remember is that in this same Scripture reading, Mary says to them, "Do what He tells you." So we know that Mary wants to bring us to a deeper relationship to Christ and the way to do that is, quite simply, to "do what He tells us".

The Catechism tells us, in regard to devotion and the motherhood of Mary,

971 "All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship."513 The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration."514 The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary.515

Today, we attended a Mass at our parish in honor of St. Joseph the worker, the first day of the month which honors Mary. What a fitting way to begin our month of honoring the Mother of God, by also honoring her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph. After Mass, the Princess and I gathered materials to make a special prayer place to honor Mary in our home for this month of May (see photo above)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus!