Catholic Women’s Daybook No. 65

Outside my window::

Sunny with wispy little clouds and bright blue sky. It’s lovely!


Jeans and a grey t-shirt. I’m cleaning a bit and running errands so nothing too fancy.

In the CD player::

Music Man, because, yeah. Music Man all the time. ūüôā


Geraldine Brooks’¬†Caleb’s Crossing;¬†Mrs. Hemingway; The Hummingbird’s Daughter.¬†

Around the house::

General cleaning–vacuuming, dusting, etc.–before the week gets insane with rehearsals. Parents are coming over for the Fourth of July so the house needs to be parent ready. ūüėõ

From the kitchen::

Right now I’m making lunch of roasted tomatoes with Panko-crusted salmon. Dinner is pasta with homemade marinara (we have rehearsal, need the carbs to be happy. :-P). Rest of the week:

Tuesday: 2 bean chili for lunch, sweet potato enchiladas for dinner

Wednesday: chickpea salad for lunch, “steak” fajitas for dinner (it’s really portobello mushrooms)

Thursday: walnut, avocado and pear salad for lunch and turkey burgers for dinner

Friday: Fourth of July, so this and this. (I always make these for Fourth of July)

Saturday: No idea yet. ūüôā


We’ve moved in to Heritage’s theater (it’s the oldest school building still existing in our district, and it was built–I think–around the time the show is set, so it’s historically accurate!), so we’ve started bringing in props, lights, set pieces, and marking where these things go during rehearsal. Yesterday we got through about half of Act I (maybe a little more than half), with some blocking/choreography adjustments, but I think it’s going well. Tonight we pick up with “Marian the Librarian”. I’ve also started getting my make-up kit together for dress rehearsals next week, so I’m not scrambling to do it later. We open next Friday!




Seven Quick Takes No. 53




First, some links for y’all: Frozen and Catholicism; Healthy and Not; Summer in the Little Oratory Chapter 2. These are provided for your reading pleasure! ūüôā


Today begins the long slog to¬†opening night¬†of Music Man. Yes, it’s time for run throughs! Tonight we’re running Act I, and then we’re alternating acts at each rehearsal until next Saturday when….dum da-dum dum….TECH WEEK begins. We move into our theater on Sunday, which I’m really looking forward to (we’ll get to see sets!).

I realized last night that I have¬†never¬†run Act II of our show. I don’t even know what we’re supposed to¬†do¬†in Act II. So I’m gonna find out on Saturday!


So, World Cup Fever, yes? I think yesterday was the first time (and maybe the only time) that¬†every person¬†in a stadium was happy after a game. Germany won–and advances! We lose–and advance! Everyone hurrah!


Pulm Rehab part Deux starts next week so yay that. I’m looking forward to starting again and thankfully I’ve managed to get my body to accept waking up at 8:00 so we can leave the house by 9:15. Ideally I’d like to get up at 7:30, but we’re working on it. The body has been demanding more sleep the past few months, so I giveth–and now I taketh away. We’ll see how it does. Excited to begin rehab again. I may actually…..(I can’t believe I’m even typing this)……try running.

Yes. Absorb that for a moment, guys.

I’m not saying this will happen. I’m saying….it¬†could¬†happen.


As far as regular routine–there’s yoga a few times a week, and swimming. I’m also trying my best to follow my nutritionist’s “suggestions” (nice, strong suggestions) about what to eat and what not to eat. When we get to performance nights, I can have pasta again! ūüôā ūüôā


I am sorting through my books, and I am being¬†hard core on them. I feel like Anton Ego: “If I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” If I don’t love it, it no stay!

Anton Ego


Speaking of books….I am about 75% finished with the first draft of mine. Yes. Almost there, and then it gets sent off to my lovely¬†first readers!¬† (I love you people, by the way)

Dominicans and Frozen!

Dominicans and Frozen!


“Do you want to build a snowman?”

If we think of Elsa‚Äôs magical power (which primarily makes ice, but can also somehow conjure gossamer dresses, apply eye-shadow, and animate snow creatures) as a natural talent (something like our temperamental inclinations), then the question of integration becomes one of how best to ‚Äútrain‚ÄĚ this power. And, the controlling or training of a power is a matter of acquiring the corresponding virtue.

Now, someone is good or bad primarily because of the virtues and vices they have and not necessarily because of genetic, temperamental, or environmental predispositions. These impulses of themselves are morally neutral. So initially, Elsa‚Äôs power isn‚Äôt particularly good or bad, it‚Äôs just powerful. Where the moral character enters is with the stable virtue or vice that shapes the power. And this is precisely why the ‚ÄúLock her up‚ÄĚ approach is so crazy . . . the only thing that it habituates is the very fear which the Grand Pabbie (the aforementioned troll king) identified as her enemy.

So with Elsa, the question becomes one of how to acquire the virtues to apply her power well (making snowmen, hosting winter festivals in season and out of season, playing snow mountain hopscotch, etc.) and thereby channeling the power to a good end and eliminating the occasion for potential abuse or harm.

Summer In the Little Oratory–Chapter Two

The Little Oratory

(All of the “Summer in the Little Oratory” posts can be found here.)

So this week’s Summer in the Little Oratory post is talking about chapter two, “The Family and the Home”.

This chapter has a lot of thoughts about the home as¬†home–as a building–and what its purpose is for the person or people who live there. As such, I found this very interesting and definite food for thought. So let’s walk through some of the rooms, shall we?

(There’s a LOT here that deserves attention, so hang in with me!)

First, the authors stress the importance of family: that it is “the plan” that God has for us. Jesus was sent to earth to live in a family. Adam and Eve were commanded to create a family. ¬†A loving home is “a fundamental need embedded in our human nature…the community is human; it has bodily needs and those of the soul. This embodiment means, among othe things, that the family must have a place where it dwells, and that place is home (14).

The home is a sheltering place. It’s a place where everyone is “accepted for who he is rather than for what he does or what he contributes…at the same time, the family is uniquely situated to the development of the human person” (14) How do we develop?¬†By love. Nourishing love. You see this in studies that show language delays and other developmental delays when babies aren’t talked to, or smiled at, or…just loved. “Families humbly living the mission of love…have the characteristics of creating a home.”

We don’t say “house sweet house” or “house is where the heart is.” It’s¬†home¬†is where the heart is;¬†home sweet home. The building itself can be just about anything, but it’s the people that make a house a home. No matter how cliche we think it is–it’s true.

“In a home” he authors continue, “the family–simply as a function of what the family is, as instituted by God at the beginning of creation–has two utterly important roles: to be a school of virtue and a domestic church.” (16) A child can “really learn virtue only in a setting where he can be nurtured and corrected by those who are simultaneously struggling themselves to grow and virtue and can treat him with the warm affection only family bonds can supply.” (16)

Parents, whether you home school or not, you are your children’s first, and most important teacher. As a CCD teacher, I can tell my kids how important it is to go to Mass, to pray, to be reverent in church, to follow the 10 commandments. But if you don’t teach them that–then I’m a clanging gong, as St. Paul might say. You are their first teachers and examples!

So, we see how important that home is–how important¬†the family is. Even if your family is one person, or your “home” is one person (my parents live nearby, so it’s not like I’m entirely alone. We just don’t live¬†together.) For other singles, like me, the authors say that “the physical space…must be more than a utilitarian environment in which you go about the business of daily life, taking care of basic needs. You can make it beautiful and warm, practicing hospitality. A single person is encourage to have a little oratory! A single parent is encouraged to have a little oratory!” (19) A single person should “take care to make his home a warm, inviting place where community can form….[and] should also consider the vocation of being of service to a family.” (19)

(So see, families, I’m not out of the loop, either!)

In short:¬†the family is the home, it is the first school of virtue for children, and it is the domestic church.¬†Our homes should be beautiful, inviting places for ourselves and our guests. By “beautiful” I (and the authors!) don’t mean it has to look like a¬†House Beautiful¬†spread. We’re not trying to be Marie Barone and cover the couches with plastic!

“Beauty” is seen in nature, in classic works of art (like below) , (most) music (especially chant, which the authors note, and folk music), good literature, etcetera. It’s all around us, and if you have children, you want to make sure they know what beauty is!


Degas, "Blue Dancers"

Degas, “Blue Dancers”




Whew! That’s a lot to think about!

(Take a break if you need one. Then come back!)

So now what? We want beautiful homes that also are the domestic church and teach virtue to those who dwell there and provide hospitality and also aren’t ¬† a¬†falling apart wreck that we’re ashamed to show¬†people!

So how do we get there?!

Fear not! The authors have ideas!

  • ¬†Each room in the house needs to reflect its functionality and the taste of the inhabitants. So, since we’re Christians, that would mean “reflecting our belief and devotion in every room”, but tastefully. That doesn’t mean having a bunch of things hung slip-shod.
  • Shelves enhance almost any room and area in a home
  • Master Bedroom: Should never be made a repository for laundry, boxes and other detritus. “It should reflect the importance of the marital bond with its neatness and well tended, serene atmosphere.” (24) I know, this is a work in progress for some folks. Right now there’s a pile of clothes on the trunk in front of my bed, for example….. ūüôā The room might have “a crucifix over the bed…[a]n image of Our Lady, a bottle of Holy Water, and a prie-dieu.” (Catholic Churches¬†always¬†have a place you can get holy water, usually in the vestibule. My parents used to keep it in a Rubbermade bottle in their bedroom for our home holy water fonts. You don’t need some fancy glass cruet.)
  • Living area: The authors strongly discourage orienting the room toward the TV. I agree with this–sadly, my house set up sort of does this, but my TV is small and it’s on top of a bookshelf, so, you know. (Also, this is me here, but do we REALLY need TVs in¬†every single room of the house?!¬† Research tells us that TVs in the bedroom are a bad idea¬†and also, should kids really be allowed to watch TV unsupervised? I didn’t have a TV in my room until I was home from college, and even then it was because there was no place else to put it without worrying about someone bashing a hockey puck or a roller skate into it. Peeps–limit the TVs in your house. You don’t need one in every room, or even on every floor. Trust me on this.) Your living room should be oriented to conversation, and yes, possibly the TV, if you like to watch sports together, or movies, or whatever. There should be good lighting, comfortable seating, photos, pictures and family items grouped together for interest, and of course, some religious objects! ūüôā In my family/living area, I have a crucifix my friends brought my from Germany, several saint plaques, DaVinci’s¬†Last Supper, and my prayer table.
  • German crucifix

    German crucifix


    Saints: (l-r) St. Martha, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Mary Magdalene

    Saints: (l-r) St. Martha, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Mary Magdalene

  • Kitchen: Plate racks and hutches are recommended for storage. A mantle or sideboard can be “a place to display a religious object or a votive candle.” On my side board I have the Divine Mercy image.
Divine Mercy on the sideboard (with tea :) )

Divine Mercy on the sideboard (with tea ūüôā )

  • Other places: Each place “has its own function and orderliness appropriate thereto.” (27)

We have all these ideas. (That doesn’t mean you’re making a weekend trip to Home Depot or IKEA, though!) What about the Little Oratory? “Where does it fit into the setting up of the home?” (27)

The CCC says, “For personal prayer, this can be a ‘prayer corner’ with the Sacred Scriptures and icons, in order to be there, in secret, before our Father. In a Christian family, this kind of little oratory fosters prayer in common.” (2691)

Find a spot in the natural flow of the home that isn’t easily overlooked, but won’t be trampled, either. Think about the flow of your home. The authors suggest the mantle as one possible place, and note that it might take some time in experimentation until the “best” location is found.

But, “Once you’ve chosen a fitting place for your home altar, you can think about what goes on and above (and even under) it, and this is what we will discuss in the next chapter.” (29)

Corpus Christi

Charlotte was Both

"amy welborn"

St. Paul’s Cathedral, Birmingham. 

Full-out Mass with choir at 8:30, followed by Benediction and a procession around the block. Amazing music. I do wish the Music Director would put his music notes that he writes for the worship aide online.  I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. We got Ego sum panis vivus by Palestrina and O sacrum convivium by Bartolucci as well as all the propers, an excellent homily….

Speaking of homilies, as is my wont, here are some excerpts from a couple of past B16 homilies:

In fact, concentrating the whole relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus only at the moment of Holy Mass risks removing his presence from the rest of time and the existential space. And thus, perceived less is the sense of the constant presence of Jesus in our midst and with us, a concrete, close presence among our homes, as ‚Äúbeating Heart‚ÄĚ of the‚Ķ

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Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi


Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen I said to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this¬†bread will live forever.”

–John 6:51-58

Summer Reading Notes

A few summer reading notes:

(And a note: the vast majority of these are older books that I either received as gifts or bought awhile back and have been in the “to read” pile! The OUPs I got at The Strand in NYC for like, three dollars each! And yes, I generally prefer OUP–Oxford University Press–for ‘classics’.)

** The¬†great Jane re-read¬†continues, although I’m still on¬†S&S. I need to get in gear and finish it, so that’s on the list for next week, and move into¬†P&P.

**I just finished¬†The Nesting Place: It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, and highly recommend it, especially if you are a renter (like moi), who despairs of decorating well.

**I need to read¬†Middlemarch¬†this summer. I’ve been trying to read this now for almost¬†ten years, and the time has come (the Walrus Said), so it’s going to happen.

**Also on tap: The Goldfinch, Trains and Lovers,  The Lacuna, and All The Light We Cannot See. Oh, and The Three Musketeers.  (missed this one as a child!)

** I am ALMOST DONE with The Wings of the Dove. Almost done, I tell you!


A thought on healthy and not

Tell me how many times you’ve heard/read the following:

“I just want a healthy child.”

“All the kids are healthy, so that’s what matters.”

“i don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, just as long as it’s healthy.”

(Or even the St. Jude’s tagline at Christmas: “Give thanks for the healthy kids in your life, and give to those who are not.”)

Of course you’ve heard these. They’re almost cliche, given how often we hear them.

How about we change it to:

“I just want a child¬†who’s alive.

“All the kids are¬†alive, so that’s what matters.”

“I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl, just as long as it’s¬†alive.

(and what if you don’t¬†have¬†healthy kids in your life? There are CF families¬†where every kid has CF. No “healthy” kids there.)

This may shock a lot of folks, but health is not the be-all and end-all of life. I’m pretty sure my parents have often felt they’re glad to have a child who is¬†still alive.


I will never be healthy–so, does that mean my parents shouldn’t be glad about me? Since I’m¬†never¬†healthy, “what matters”?

No one gets out of life alive.¬†Everyone dies eventually. Eventually, the body gives out, and guess what? That’s a preordained outcome!

Some of us are healthy our whole lives. I will never be one of them. That’s OK. But it does get grating to hear people read and talk about “health” is all they want.

That’s a fairly tall order, ladies and gents.

Divine Mercy on the sideboard (with tea :) )

How about, “life is all you want.”

Hmmm? That might work a little better.

I don’t want to be “healthy.” I want to be¬†alive.

So let’s be glad for the people that are with us, in any state that may be, and let’s celebrate that. Let’s cherish¬†that. The moments when we are all together, and all¬†alive together. Who cares if someone in the room has cancer or seizures or CF or someone else’s liver? At the moment, we are all here. We are all doing whatever it is we do, and that makes the moment even more precious, because of the fact that life is so incredibly tenuously fragile.

Every single moment is fragile and wonderful and full of….everything, really. Virginia Woolf wrote about that in¬†Mrs. Dalloway, and it’s true.

So stop thinking/saying that all you want is “health” for whoever. How about–all you want is¬†life.

That’s still a pretty awesome gift.



Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 52




Happy Friday, everyone!


It’s been a busy week at ma maison. On Monday I had my “annual” transplant clinic visit–I see them much more than once a year, but at this particular visit we draw more blood (for vitamin levels and all that jazz), and have some additional testing. The only additional test this year was the abdominal ultrasound, so that’s pretty exciting. My bone density is normal so we were able to skip that test this year, and we’d done CT scans and all that in previous appointments in this crazy year. Pulm Rehab restarts on the 30th, which is also my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary and my grandma’s birthday.


Also this week, Dad had his birthday (yesterday) and mom has hers on Sunday. And a friend of mine is due to have her first baby any day now!


The Music Man¬†progresses splendidly! This is actually a light rehearsal weekend for me, which is good because after this weekend the schedule gets really intense. I only have one rehearsal on Saturday, but it’s a¬†lot¬†of rehearsal–almost all of Act I. For me, this means “Iowa Stubborn”, “Trouble”, “Columbia”, “76 Trombones”, and “Pick-A-Little”. But I am having so much fun doing this show, it’s fantastic. It’s going to be great!


If you missed it, here’s my first Summer in the Little Oratory post. The next one will be up on Tuesday!


There’s been some good times with friends this week. I had dinner with my friend Mary on Wednesday night (much needed girl time) and then got to hang out briefly with my wonderful first transplant nurse and one of her adorable daughters. Besides the whole “staying alive” thing, Karen is definitely the best thing to have come from transplant. I just love her. ūüôā


And the Book–the draft is 227 double spaced pages.¬†Wowza. But it’s rapidly nearing the finish of the first draft, which means I can send it to my LOVELY first draft readers once we reach that point! Exciting!

Summer In the Little Oratory–Chapter One

The Little Oratory

(Get the book here!) ¬†(And Leila’s blog is here!)

I know, I’m late to this party, but I’m here! And it’s still June, it all works. ūüôā

So what I’m planning on doing is writing about a chapter each Tuesday, and then showing pictures of how it works at my house, OK?

For those of you who are new here–I’m single, so I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s schedule or decorating desires but mine. So that helps, I know. My “family” is tiny–it’s just me in the house.

To begin: Chapter One, “The Christian Life.”

This is more of an introductory chapter than anything else, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it and find many good points to ponder.

The chapter begins with the idea of the Transfiguration–Jesus’ theopany, the experience of the divine in the world, where he is transfigured before three of the apostles. We can experience this as well, and participate in it via the Mass; the Church becomes “the sacrament of communion between God and man….The Eucharist is a continuation through time of the moment of the Incarnation, the means by which we…reach back to the enfleshment of the word, becoming part of it.”

On Mount Tabor, Christ was truly radiant with holiness, with majesty. Are we radiant? “Do we live as if there is an earthly manifestation of light?” the book asks. So, how do we unite our spirit–the life we have at Mass, where we participate in the Liturgy, and come to the Eucharistic Table and receive God, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity–and the rest of the week?

The book gives us an answer:

“We cannot hope to fulfill our calling without God’s grace. That is why is starts with prayer and all prayer should be ordered to the highest and most powerful form of prayer, the Sacred Liturgy, which is the public worship of the Church…After the Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours (also called the Divine Office) is the most powerful and effective prayer there is.” (7)



Prayer table front view

Prayer table front view


So–prayer. Preferrably Mass as often as possible, and then the Liturgy of the Hours (which will be discussed more later), if you’re so inclined.

Happiness can only be found in God, as we know. St. Augustine says that our hearts are restless until we rest in God. The¬†Catechism “tells us that each of us has planted within us a desire for happiness that can only be¬†satisfied by God.”¬†(8)

Does this sound attainable?

Well…maybe not. Right?

The authors jump in here and tell us that it IS attainable. “And not just in the future–it is something we can experience today.” ¬†Gradually (“almost despite ourselves”, the authors say, and I like that turn of phrase) “we become better people; each more like the person we ought to be.” (8) We will follow what Pope Benedict XVI called the “way of beauty.” (And who doesn’t want more beauty? I know I do!)

The point, say the authors, is this:¬†The happy life is the good life; and the good life is the liturgical life, which is to say, a life in union with the living God.”¬†(9)

 *     *    *

OK. So we have this idea of the good life. OK, we think.

The second part of this chapter, though, talks about that Thing A Lot of Us Are Not Good At Doing: Evangelization. 

Because, you know, we don’t want to be all “well, have you been saved?” How many of us Catholics have had¬†that¬†conversation? I know I have.

“But listen,” the authors tell us, “if we think of ourselves as beggars who have had the good fortune to find a generous bakery, well, then the selfishness of not sharing the news becomes obvious.” (9) So we “accompany the other along the road” (10). That’s what we’re doing! We can also do this by gracious hospitality! (I’m Italian. Hospitality is my thing.)

And now–the little oratory:

Our Lord was born into a family. The family is God’s plan for the world–His divine plan, conceived in the very beginning, to be a way of beauty and spreading His word. The special place of prayer at home, the family oratory (oratory means “house of prayer”) is a powerhouse of grace by which our family may be nourished spiritually and thus be able to transform the world through prayer, proclamation of the Gospel, and charity. That sounds grand, but it is really very simple and humble, like the Holy Family itself.

With this book, we are interested in reviving the little oratory, as the¬†Catechism calls it (CCC 2691)–prayer table, home altar, or icon corner–in the home.” ¬†(10)


Prayer Table side view

Prayer Table side view

Here is a brief view of my “prayer table”, and we’ll come back to this. You can see it has a statue of Our Lady of the Smile, a Rosary, and several books: My Ignatius New Testament, the CS Lewis Bible, Praying with St. John’s Gospel, a book of rosary meditations, and then my Moleskine notebook that I use for recording my bible reading notes. This table is right by my couch, and usually I curl up in the couch corner and say my rosary and my Office (the office book isn’t here, we’ll have more of that later). For Bible Study, I go to the kitchen table where I can spread out my books.

Do you have a prayer table, little altar or other niche in your house where you normally pray, or are drawn to pray? Once can pray anywhere, of course, but my prayer table is a special spot for me.