It’s time to tear off the band-aid and begin writing my book on miscarriage in earnest. It is needed and I know that I am called to write it (I already have a place to submit it when I get done!), but it means walking through dark places again. The Light is always with me. I covet your prayers as I undertake this endeavor. The words are in my head, but I need the courage and grace to put them into book form. It is a endeavor of healing, prayer, and theological inquiry. God bless.
The Synod on the Family is is in full swing, so I thought I would again share this article that I wrote at Catholic Exchange about Church history and trust. I assure you this is not the worst period in the Church’s history. It is not exhaustive because no article ever is, but it gives a good outline of how the Church operates and what she has overcome. In everything we trust in the Holy Spirit. Here it is:
Next month the second part of the Synod on the Family will commence in Rome. Articles, theories, and concerns have been flying around social media for over a year now. Discussion on the Synod is a good thing and should be encouraged. What I have seen in many circles however, is a sense of foreboding that betrays a fear of a change in doctrine that runs completely counter to what we understand the Catholic Church to be. That foreboding is met with glee in many circles who are touting the Church will get with the times and completely revamp 2000 years of moral law in order to please the Zeitgeist of our own age. Both are wrong and neither understands how the Church operates.
First, let’s remember that the Church is not a human institution at her ontological level. Yes, on the outside she looks like an institutional structure, complete with a hierarchy, and extensive array of offices with the Pope at the head. The ultimate reality, however, is that she is the Mystical Body of Christ. Her head is Christ and the Pope is subordinate to Him. Christ Himself promised that the power of Hell would not prevail against her:
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. l will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
This passage from the Gospel of Matthew is often used to explain the Papacy and our understanding of Apostolic Succession. What it also tells us is that what has been revealed to Saint Peter, the Apostles, and the Church is not from earthly realities, but from the Blessed Trinity. The Church’s understanding is that the Holy Spirit will preserve the Deposit of Faith, that which is teaching on faith and morals, from error even in the presence of sinful men and sinful women. This has repeatedly played out throughout the Church’s history.
What exactly is the hierarchy doing through the Synod on the Family? She is doing what she always does, she is engaging in open dialogue in order to better understand the heresies of the day and to better express the truth in the face of those falsehood so that the Church may evangelize the world. What many people forget is that the Church has always encouraged open and honest dialogue. Just because dialogue occurs, does not mean that the Church is accepting everything that is said in councils or synods. In fact, a great many heresies have been proposed at such gatherings throughout the Church’s history. Let’s consider a few examples.
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. My husband and I love the Rosary, but I must confess, we are still implementing a family Rosary at night with our 4 year old daughter. It’s a struggle for her to sit still for five minutes, let alone 20-25 minutes. We have gone through periods of praying it each day and periods where we haven’t. It is a definite goal for our family to pray the Rosary daily. It is a beautiful prayer and meditation on the life of Christ through Mary. I am a huge proponent of the Rosary.
I kept our liturgical celebration simple. I decorated our table with a statue I have of Jesus and another of Our Lady. I don’t have any depictions of Our Lady of the Rosary at this point. I then pulled out a couple of our Rosaries and put them out along with flowers; blue in honor of Our Mother. I explained the feast to my 4 year old while we ate dinner. I made an Israeli Spiced Chicken. I got the idea from this recipe. I didn’t actually grill the chicken. I roasted organic boneless chicken thighs, but I used the marinade in the recipe. It was so delicious! I also made a pearl cous cous salad with tomatoes, bell pepper, and parsley with lemon and olive oil. I sprinkled goat cheese on top, which added a rich creaminess. I didn’t make a dessert. We are trying to eat healthier, so I save desserts for our really big feast days. Pinterest is a great place to find recipes from around the world to use for various feast days. Next week is the feast of St. John Paul II, so I will be searching for Polish recipes. When my husband gets home tonight we will pray the Rosary as a family. It is a quiet, beautiful, and simple celebration of the gift of the Rosary and Our Heavenly Mother.
I am new to liturgical living, so I like to keep it simple, but allow it to guide the rhythms of our family. There is no reason for us to make liturgical living complicated. We can live the calendar of the Church without feeling like we need to be able to provide a huge celebration for each day. Pick a few a month that are special for your family and decide how you want to celebrate that saint or feast day. I like making an ethnic meal, occasionally making a fun dessert, doing a craft if I can find one or have the time, and decorating our kitchen table with flowers and whatever items I have around. You can also print out pictures for each feast day. Find what works for you and your family. No matter what it is a tremendous blessing to live with the rhythms of the Church. Happy Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary! Mother Mary, ora pro nobis.
The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn.”
So begins St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, which was promulgated on October 16, 2002, just a couple of years before his death. October is the month the Church devotes to the Holy Rosary and the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary falls on October 7th. It is a prayer and devotion that has changed the lives of many. It is to walk the life of Christ through the eyes of His Mother. Our eyes are ever fixed on Our Savior, but under the loving guidance of the Mother He gave us on the Cross. St. John Paul II referred to devotion to the Rosary as a “genuine training in holiness” that guided Christians in the contemplation of the great mysteries of our Faith.
Monday is the day I take my daughter to the local Catholic Homeschool Co-op, so I don’t have much time for writing. Instead I thought I would post some more beauty. It has rained 9 days out of the last 10, so it has been a great blessing for the sun to come out today. The sky is a piercing blue and there is not a cloud in sight. So today’s beauty theme is sunny autumn days. I found these on Google Images. God bless.
I am focusing on bringing the liturgical calendar into our daily lives and family. It has been a goal of mine for some time, but I didn’t pursue it in earnest for a variety of reasons. This week really began my focus on celebrating feasts that are important to our family, so this week we have in different ways celebrated the Feast of the Holy Archangels, St. Therese, and tomorrow the Holy Guardian Angels. I am not a particularly crafty person, so I like to keep things simple, but beautiful. I do enjoy cooking, so I have found some great recipes to help me. I also don’t want to do a dessert for every feast day. For a week like this, that would have been three different desserts. Instead I chose to reserve a special dessert for my daughter’s feast day on Tuesday and the other two feasts do an easy craft and a dinner that focuses on the saint.
For today’s Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, I made the French dish, Venison Bourguignon. More specifically I made this recipe. It was out of this world good. I have been slowly sipping a glass of the dry red wine I used in the recipe. The meat was tender and the sauce tasted like wine, herbs, and meat. I have been to Paris and I had forgotten just how good French food really is to eat. It was a fantastic way to celebrate and savor. St. Therese is one of my patronesses and you can read about her in my article over at Catholic Exchange for today. She teaches me to how to offer my daily life to God as a sacrifice of love.
In choosing to live the rhythms of the Church I am better able to focus my family in our vocation and journey towards Heaven. Instead of being so focused on this world, stepping into the liturgical calendar reminds us that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses who are cheering us on with their prayers. They want us to get to know them, befriend them, and rely on them for prayers much like we rely on our friends on this side of Eternity. If you haven’t tried celebrating feast days outside of Christmas and Easter, I recommend adding a few celebrations to your family’s calendar. Choose your family’s patrons and patronesses or saints who have really helped you on the journey. There are so many saints on the calendar that it is hard to celebrate all of them. I look at the calendar each month and choose which ones to celebrate. Next week we will have a Middle Eastern dinner in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Like I said, I am not one of those awesome Pinterest moms who can carve Our Lady out of butter. I keep it pretty simple and my 4 year old daughter is not ready for complex crafts anyway. Today we made paper roses,which you can find here. They are super easy to make and really pretty. Even someone as inept as I am can make them. My only tip is not to wrap them too tight or they will not look like a rose. I learned that the hard way.
Here are a few pictures from our St. Therese Feast. I decorate our table with flowers and pictures of St. Therese and our statue of Christ. Tomorrow I will change the images out for some I have found of Guardian Angels and make a Spaghetti Squash Pad Tai. The squash will be “angel hair” in place of rice noodles. We grow spaghetti squash in our garden have tons of them right now. God bless.
St. Therese of Lisieux was born on January 2, 1873 in Alencon, France. Her parents Louis and Zelie Guerin Martin are to be canonized by Pope Francis later this month. They had nine children, but only five survived to adulthood. The survivors were all girls and eventually every single one would enter into religious life. Therese did struggle early on with her health, but she became stronger as time went on. Therese and her sisters were greatly blessed in the pious home their parents kept. They lived simply, but in great devotion to Our Lord and Our Lady. Zelie died of breast cancer when Therese was four years old and it began the saddest years of her life. She became overly sensitive and cried easily. This would be her battle for ten years, when at fourteen, she found the grace and strength to overcome this oversensitivity and truly began to live her journey of spiritual freedom.
Louis Martin sacrificed and served his daughters in order to provide what they needed after their mother’s death, including spiritual and emotional support. Therese often went on picnics, fishing, walking, to visit the Blessed Sacrament, and on vacations with her father. He called her his “little queen” and while he doted on her, he did so without spoiling her. In turn, she greatly admired and loved her father. This relationship between Therese and Louis played a foundational role for her future in religious life.
Therese had desired to be a nun starting at the age of three. It became a certainty at the age of fourteen and she was convinced that it was time to enter the convent. It was difficult for Louis to give up all of his daughters to the convent, but he knew Therese’s vocation and while sad, he supported her decision. Her age was not an issue for the nuns, but she had to convince her uncle and the bishop that she was mature enough to enter into religious life. She had no answer by the time Louis took Celine, her sister, and her on a pilgrimage to Rome. While there on November 20, 1887 they had a papal audience. They were forbidden from speaking to the Holy Father, but Therese could not resist. She knelt before the holy father with tears streaming down her face and said: “Holy Father, I have a favor to ask you….In honor of your jubilee, permit me to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen.” The people in attendance were stunned and irritated by her outburst, but the Holy Father responded: “Well, my child, do what the superiors tell you!” St. Therese was not deterred. “Oh! Holy Father. If you say yes, everybody will agree!” He said, “Go, go, you will enter if God wills it.” She would have persisted, but a priest and guards had her removed. Such was the determination of Therese to enter the convent. She left Rome dejected, sure that she had failed in her mission. She did not know that her zeal had impressed many. While she experienced opposition, her dream became a reality, and at the age of fifteen she entered the Lisieux Carmel.
Near & Far Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel contains exotic recipes from around the world and beautiful photographs to kindle a desire to prepare the recipes. The cookbook contains recipes from Morocco, Japan, Italy, France, India, and inspiration from San Francisco living. It is an excellent resource for the more adventurous cook. Those desiring quick meals with more common American ingredients may find the cookbook a bit too overwhelming. I must confess that while I enjoy trying new foods and cooking from a wide variety of countries in my family kitchen, I did not recognize some of the ingredients and they would be difficult to track down in my area. The author provides a wide array of both hot and cold dishes that provide a varied approach to vegetarian cooking. There are also recipes from different growing seasons for those who cook with what is in season.
While I find the cookbook to be a feast for the eyes with all of lovely photographs, something I prefer in my cookbooks, it is not a cookbook that I would use frequently in preparing a dinner for my family. Back when I lived in the city and had access to a lot of different ingredients I would have used a cookbook such as Far & Near. I definitely recommend it for those people who have a more exotic palate and who have access to international ingredients in a way those of us in more rural areas do not.