Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rosary Bracelet Giveaway

We neglected to pray the Rosary this morning, but we will do better next week.  Anyway, this article by Elizabeth inspired me to work again at praying just one decade daily.  And Ruth is offering a Rosary Bracelet as a giveaway.  Just leave a comment on Elizabeth's article to be entered in the drawing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Making Time For Solitude

(Book Study:  Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker - Habit #6)

In chapter six, Meg encourages mothers to make time for solitude.  She defines this as a time of stillness, reflection, or meditation.  Why do we need this?  Because solitude strengthens our relationships, sharpens our awareness of ourselves and others, brings peace and healing, helps us stay centered and sane in the midst of "choice overload," and encourages us to listen to the voice of God.  What prevents us from making time for solitude?  Put simply - we are too busy.  I believe that Satan keeps us focused on many little things so that we can't pay attention to the few big ones.

I don't have time for a deeper reflection this week, so I am going to pass along an article from Faith and Family Live.  The article doesn't speak directly to a mother's need for solitude (habit #6), but it does address our need to reduce our expectations for ourselves, our families, and our home. The author, Kelly Dolin, blogs at In the Sheepfold.  She is a "real" mom with "real" kids, and takes a relaxed and humorous approach to parenting, so I feel right at home on her blog.  Her friend and neighbor, Rachel Balducci, is a blogger at Testosterhome and author of How Do You Tuck In a Superhero?  You may enjoy her blog or book if you are raising many boys.  Both are funny ladies.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Words for thought

I saw this quote on a blog I follow and thought I'd share it with our group.  I know this sums up much of what we feel, and much of what we are trying to accomplish with our time as a group.

"The greatest need of any country, and especially of our own, is better men and better woman.  The greatness of future generations depends upon the character of the boys and girls of the present.  
It is the duty of the home to properly train children.  
This is important, not only for the sake of the children and the home, but for the sake of the church and the government as well.  Without proper training at home it is almost impossible for the children to be what the parents would wish them."
The Management and Training for Children, William J Shearer, 1904

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is tomorrow.  Are you ready?  If Lent comes with the unrealistic pressure to go BIG, perhaps this article at Faith and Family Live will help you think small.

Just Say No!

(Book Study:  Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker – Habit #4)

In chapter 4, Meg writes about competition and jealousy with the boldness that I admired in chapters 1 and 2 but found lacking in chapter 3.  Competition and jealousy are difficult topics because they are so personal and reveal much about ourselves.  Most often, when we make comparisons between ourselves and other mothers, we put pressure on ourselves to change.  But sometimes, we put that pressure on the other mother.  The drive for perfection can come from ourselves or from other people.  It has been most difficult for me to realize that many times I have succumbed to the often subtle pressure to be what someone else wants.  Regardless of the source, one solution is to recognize the pressure and to force it out of our lives.  This is easiest to do when we focus on our own gifts and skills.  Our culture offers endless opportunities for fulfillment, but there is no way anyone of us can do it all.  We are finite beings so we have to make choices.  If we focus on one area of our lives, another area is going to suffer.  And that is OK.  A mother’s sanity and happiness depends on her ability to know when to say “No” to the pressure to do more and to be more. 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

St. Gabriel Holy Card

Jessica found this beautiful holy card from Catholic Prayer Cards.  She bought a few and brought them to our meeting this past Wednesday.  There are still a couple left for those who want one. You can find many more holy cards and other items in their online store.  Right now, they have a sale on St. Patrick bookmarks, magnets, and medals.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Picture Book for Little Girls

Follow this link to Elizabeth Foss' blog to learn about a children's book for little girls.  This isn't just any book; it is about Gigi who pretends to be a princess, but soon learns that she is a princess - God's princess.  I think my little Gigi will need her very own copy.

Monday, February 13, 2012

God and His Church

(Book Study:  Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker – Habit #3)

“To believe that the Church is “holy” and “catholic,” and that she is “one” and “apostolic,” is inseparable from belief in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
Catechism of the Catholic Church 750

In this chapter, Meg makes two mistakes.  First, in an attempt to please everyone, she speaks in generalities which appeal to no one.  And second, she reinforces the misunderstanding that God and His Church are separable.  Now, I don’t think she makes these mistakes out of malice, but rather ignorance and fear.  I suspect, that like many of us, she received very poor catechesis as a child, and does not recognize the importance of the Church.  However, instead of seeking the truth from the Church herself, she decided to seek it within herself.  She may have Faith and be a member of the Church, but she doesn't appear to trust the Church as founded and protected by Jesus.  As a woman who also finds that faith, hope, and trust don't come easily, I can empathize with her struggles, although I don't share her conclusions.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that God and His Church are inseparable.  So first, we need to understand Faith.  Through His Revelation (Scripture and Tradition), God has revealed Himself to us, and our response to this Revelation is what we call Faith.  “By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God.  With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer.” (CCC 143)  But Faith is different from other human knowledge and actions because it is a gift from God received through grace, hence it is more certain and true.  Faith is founded on the very word of God who, as Scripture tells us, can neither deceive nor be deceived.  In other words, It is not a belief or an opinion.  (See CCC 153-159)

To connect Faith with God and His Church, let us turn to our Creed.  “After confessing “the holy catholic Church,” the Apostles’ Creed adds “the communion of saints.”  In a certain sense this article is a further explanation of the preceding:  “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?”  The communion of saints is the Church.”  (CCC 946, emphasis added)  “The word “Church” means “convocation.”  It designates the assembly of those whom God’s Word “convokes,” i.e., gathers together to form the People of God, and who themselves, nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.”  (CCC 777)  The Church is certainly the assembly of the followers of Christ.  But it is more.  “The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men.”   (CCC 780, emphasis added)  God has big plans for the Church, because it is not simply a gathering of people, but rather it is the path of drawing all people to Him.  At Baptism, we are “freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.”  (CCC 1213, emphasis added)  Baptism is not, however, the end, but only a beginning.  “Baptism is the sacrament of faith.  But faith needs the community of believers.  It is only within the faith of the Church that each of the faithful can believe.”  (CCC 1253, emphasis added)  In God’s divine plan, the Church is essential for the salvation of each member.  “All salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:  Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the (Second Vatican)  Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation:  the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church.  He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door.”  (CCC 846)

The faith of the Church precedes the faith of each member.  “It is the Church that believes first, and so bears, nourishes, and sustains my faith.  Everywhere, it is the Church that first confesses the Lord . . . It is through the Church that we receive faith and new life in Christ by Baptism.”  (CCC 168)  Abraham did not come to believe on his own, but rather God chose to reveal Himself to Abraham.  Abraham was entrusted with the Revelation of God, and instructed to share it.  “Because he was “strong in his faith,” Abraham became the “father of all who believe.”  (CCC 146)  Likewise the Apostles did not come to Faith by themselves; they had been taught by others, especially by Jesus who chose to reveal to them the fullness of the Faith.  The Apostles in turn were not to keep this Faith to themselves, but rather to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  (Mtt 28:19)  “Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips.  In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men.”  (CCC 75)  The Faith is handed on from father to son, from mother to daughter, from one generation to the next.  We are members of this amazing Church because someone else heard and accepted God’s Revelation and shared it with us.  Of course, it is not as simple as hearing the Good News; we must choose to accept it as well.  And it is not enough to accept it for ourselves; we are expected to share it with others.       

I want to make a connection here with the Liturgy.  Through the liturgical year, we re-live the mysteries of our salvation.  And in doing so, we also learn the doctrine of the Church.  I think Scott Hahn says it well:  “In the course of the liturgical year, Christians receive repeated exposure to the major events of salvation history.  The lectionary orders the Church’s readings – Old Testament foreshadowing and New Testament fulfillment – for proclamation at Mass.  The celebration of the other rites – sacraments and sacramentals – applies the same pattern to the course of a lifetime.  Because of the lectionary’s unfolding, the weeks, the seasons, and the years tell a unified, continuous story, and in the process, teach doctrine.”  (Signs of Life pp 54-55)  In addition, the liturgical and sacramental tradition of the Church is an indispensable tool for building the community.  Through our practice of the Catholic sacraments and traditions, we not only re-live the events of our salvation, but we create a culture that is common to all Catholics.  This culture nourishes the Sacramental (or Catholic) Imagination by providing us with a living Faith. In the Apostles’ Creed, we profess our belief that the Church is “one.”  This word “one” signifies our belief in the unity of the Church.  And this unity is real and visible.  “(The) unity of the pilgrim Church is . . . assured by visible bonds of communion:  profession of one faith received from the Apostles; common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments; apostolic succession through the sacrament of Holy Orders, maintaining the fraternal concord of God’s family.” (CCC 815)  In our Profession of Faith, and in our practice of Faith, we witness to the unity of the Church.

So, I conclude now with this question:  How can we build a community that is faithful to God’s design for His Church? 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Looking Ahead

At our meeting on February 15, we are discussing Habit #3:  Value and Practice Faith.  The author attempts to separate Faith and Religion, so I will post a response to this within a day or two.  But please don't let this stop you from appreciating her premise that Faith is essential to motherhood. Again, I expect to have a great discussion this next week.

In addition, as Wednesday is the day after St. Valentine's Day, we will have a short party for the little ones.  As John watched his older siblings making cards for their friends, he asked me to make a list of his friends.  So he will be thrilled to have a party.  This will be real simple.  If you are feeling very energetic, your children can make St. Valentine's cards, but if you are like me, just download and print some from one these sites:

Catholic Icing 1 or 2
Three Sided Wheel

I think that we will have about 10 kids, but don't fret about this.  The point is that each child leaves with a few cards.  Remember to bring a small box or paper bag (decorated or not) for your children to collect their cards.  I will bring strawberry milk, heart shaped cinnamon rolls, and a coloring page of St. Valentine.  The party will be short, from 11:30 to 11:45 am (after the meeting).       

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Peace With Imperfection

(Book Study:  Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker - Habit #2)

I want to reflect on a comment made by one mom this week that the pressure to be perfect affects our view of motherhood.  Motherhood appears scary and difficult when we feel pressure to be perfect.  As a mother, especially with a large family and children with special needs, I experience the pressure daily, and I doubt that any mom is immune to it.  We feel pressure to be thin, beautiful, and smart, and to have children that are as well.  There is pressure to give our children every opportunity - music lessons, competitive sports, service clubs, the best schools, etc.  And the pressure starts early - every child needs preschool.  To provide a safe, loving home is just not quite enough by present standards.  So we feel pressure to meet our children’s every need or want, and when we can't, we perceive ourselves as failures.  However, this pressure doesn't come from God.  His plan for us and our children is rather simple - to know, love, and serve Him.  

Perfection affects our views of friendships as well.  The pressure to be perfect contributes to competition and jealousy when we believe that some other mother is "winning" and we are "losing".  And competition and jealousy make it very difficult to develop and maintain healthy relationships that provide balance to the difficulties that arise with parenting.  I believe that friendships are difficult because they are not only personal and intimate, but often fragile as well.  When we most need the comfort and support of other mothers, we are afraid to seek it because we don't want to appear weak.  To admit our imperfections to others is to be real and transparent.  And this transparency is essential to developing healthy relationships that can support our efforts to be the type of mothers that God wants.  Remember that it is God who created us as communal beings, and even founded one Church as an expression of our unity.  He calls us to rid ourselves of the desire for perfection so that we can develop and maintain healthy friendships.  This process begins when we identify, acknowledge, and thank God for our gifts.  Only then can we use our gifts, and discover that we are exactly who God wants us to be.   

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

St. Valentine's Day Ideas

If you are looking for creative Catholic ideas for celebrating St. Valentine's Day (or other Feast days), check out these sites:

Catholic Icing 

Three Sided Wheel

Equipping Catholic Families


(Book Study:  The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker – Habit #2)

I am struggling to put my thoughts into words, so for now I will share a quote that touched me deeply.

“Mothers are forced to live deeply.  From the moment our children are born, terror strikes our hearts in a new way. . . . Having children keeps us from pretending that life is easy and cushy.  And the stark reality that it can be quite cruel hits us square in the face.  And that is probably the most compelling reason why we mothers who want to do more than simply survive need other mothers as friends who understand the undercurrent of angst we can feel.  Friends help us to thrive in the midst of emotional tumult and cold.”

What is your favorite quote?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Catholic Imagination

(Book Study:  Ten Habits of Happy Mothers by Meg Meeker - Habit #1)

“People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum and safe.  There never was anything so perilous or so exciting as orthodoxy.”
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Over the past two weeks, I read and then reread Habit #1 and completed the three steps for learning this habit, but even now I don’t feel that I have mastered it.  During the same time, my college age son shared with me his enthusiasm and fascination for the stories of his history professor.  These stories, drawn from a blend of Christian and Eastern spiritualities,  reflect the professor’s belief in an impending post historical period of fulfillment, which appeals to idealistic, adventuresome young people.  And finally, this past weekend, a Christian friend who wants to join the Catholic Church asked me why Catholics celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday and call Mary the Mother of God. 

In my view, there is one thread running through these three unrelated events – the importance of the Sacramental Imagination (or Catholic imagination).  The Sacramental imagination recognizes that the material elements in our world point to a divine reality.  As Catholics, we just see things differently.  And it is this imagination that allows us to believe in the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the communion of saints, and Mary as the Mother of God, and helps us see Christianity as something altogether amazing. 

But, in recent years, the Catholic imagination has been on the decline.  Even Catholics find it harder to believe in those things that make us unique within Christianity.  And it is this demise that is, at least in part, responsible for the exodus of Catholics from the Church.  Catholics are more likely to leave the Church because it does not meet their spiritual needs then because they disagree with particular doctrines of the Faith.  In essence, they are looking for excitement, and finding Catholicism rather boring.

If, as Chesterton believed, Christianity is something very exciting and even dangerous, then perhaps we have failed in our expression of it.  Whereas once, Parishes celebrated the Liturgy of the Hours or held processions on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we might not even be familiar with these things.  This is true is large part because we are too busy.  When our days are full of work, school, sports, music practice, and appointments, there is little time left for the cultural aspects of the Faith.  By accepting the secular culture as our own, we have left our own to die. 

If the Catholic Church contains the fullness of the Faith (as she teaches), then we do not need to look any further for adventure and excitement.  With this in mind, I would like to start a dialogue.  How can we renew the Sacramental Imagination and express the richness of the Catholic Faith to draw others, including our children, to the Church?


Since this our group blog and I discuss most of this stuff with you I'm feeling the need to "talk" about the 2 deaths I've encountered this last month. 

I can honestly say that I am at peace.  This may sound weird, but a year or two ago I might not have handled this last month well.  The death of a neighbor's baby to SIDS and the sudden death of a college friend are enough to send anyone into a deep bout with questions.  Questioning why God could allow for such events.  Why does one family, mine, get to enjoy our beautiful baby boy while our neighbors lose their little girl at 2 months?  Why does a 32 year old have a stroke? Why does it claim his life after days of body improvements and hope from his family?  These are the questions that can easily shake someones faith. 

However, with the discussions we've had I am not focusing on these unanswerable questions. I know that God has a plan for all of us.  I also know that death was not in God's initial plan.  This is why we should all strive to live a holy, peaceful, sin free and full life.  I know easier said than done. But all worth striving for.  And if not least we have purgatory. Right? 

I'm choosing to focus on the love I feel for both of my children.  I'm feeling blessed to have the family I do.  Prayer for the mother, father, and big brother of the baby is what I'm focusing on for my neighbors. (I also had to make them dinner during the initial grieving process because that's what I do. This is why the 2nd chapter we're on right now describes me!)

Instead of focusing in on the loss of a life far too soon, I'm remembering the joy I felt with my friend Eli! His life touched so many.  His talents and humor were never unnoticed.  He had a way of lighting up any room he was in.  He didn't even have to be in a room for the environment to feel a little brighter.  I morn for his family! As a mother I now empathize with his mother.  How hard must it be for her to be in the spot she is now?  But then I think, she was blessed with 32 years of joy with her son.  This is more than many other receive. 

Thank you for the lessons I've learned from other mothers of faith.  I hope that as we all cope with losses in our lives we will continue to focus on the joys and the great mysteries that surround us.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


At our meeting yesterday, we discovered that recognizing and acknowledging our value as mothers is not an easy task.  First, we often don't know what we do well, and second, we don't want to appear boastful.  Anyway, I urge you to continue to look for your strengths and to admit them at least to yourselves (for now).  In the next chapter, the author encourages us to develop friendships with other women, and to do so requires some transparency.  I don't think that it is by accident that the author chose this order.  And before you begin reading Habit #2, I suggest that you grab a box of tissues.