Yarn Along No. 6


It’s baaaaack!

So Sarah, my lovely crafty friend, taught me a better way to cast on, and I love it, so I’m back to knitting. Since I’ve been away from it for a long time, I decided to start up again with basic projects and reacquaint myself with my needles, yarn, and stitches. I have several projects queued up, but I’m taking my time with these.

So, the project I’m currently working on is a washcloth in garter stitch. I made a washcloth in stockinette stitch a while back, and I really liked it, so I decided that making another in garter stitch would be a great way to go back to knitting basics.


The needles are sunstruck straight needles from Knitpicks, size 6, and the yarn is Knitpick’s comfy sport in white. I’ve also used fairy tale (in this same type of yarn).

There is, of course, a mistake. Sigh. There always is, apparently. But that’s OK, this is just for me, and it’s a “practice” project, basically, with practical applications. So it’s OK. (Really, brain. It’s OK.)

Let’s talk about the yarn bowl, OK?

I love this! I got this beauty at the Inn at Cedar Falls gift shop last weekend, during a trip to Hocking Hills with my friends. Basically, a yarn bowl holds the yarn for you and spins it in the bowl, so you don’t have to worry about your yarn falling all over the floor or getting messy while you’re knitting. You can also feed your needles through the smaller hole when you’re not working on the project so they don’t run away. A lot of yarn bowls that I’d seen are expensive ($50-70 expensive) but this one was a very reasonable $25 and was made by a local artist. They had another at the store, and one of the owners told me she can’t keep them on the shelves, so if you’re in the area, go down and grab one!

The book I’m reading is St. Teresa of Avila’s The Way of Perfection. I’ve read The Interior Castle several times before but never this one, and it’s been in my “to read” pile for awhile. Before I went on vacation last weekend I had an intense desire to read her, so I grabbed this book and added it to my bag. I’m about half way through and I’m really enjoying it.


Summer in the Little Oratory–Chapter Seven

The Little Oratory(All Summer in the Little Oratory posts can be found here)

This chapter discusses devotions, in general (The rosary is next week 🙂 ). We’ve covered the Liturgy of the Hours and Lectio, so it makes sense to talk about general devotions.

This is just a list of options/suggestions; by no means do you have to do them all. Monks and nuns don’t do them all!

“Lived in its simple way,” the authors write, “the little oratory provides a place to say morning and night prayers, framing the day, and to live the seasons in ways that are traditional and worth knowing about.” (87)

  •  The Morning Offering, which exists in many forms (like this one and this one) , is a way of offering the whole day to God at the beginning of the day. When we say the “whole day”, we mean the whole day–these prayers usually contain some formulation such as  “I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day”. If the day gets away from you, and you forget to pray for long periods of time, this is a good way to offer your day before it even begins. If you’re saying Lauds in the Divine Office, you don’t need to say an offering as well.
  • Nightly examination of conscience. This is something I’ve just started adding. It’s like what you do before confession, except every day. The Jesuits have a good formula, which I use, even though I’m not a Jesuit at all. 🙂 You can say this with the family, individually with each child, or just by yourself, like I do. Sometimes it’s good to write down these things in a small notebook so you can review it before confession. Don’t forget to have firm purpose of amendment–you are going to change. Even if you fall the next day and do the same things over and over, if you are trying, it makes all the difference, and if you’re aware of your particular tendencies, this helps root them out.  As with goal setting, it helps to be specific–not just “I’m going to be better tomorrow”, but “I will, with Your help, try to be generous with my toys.” (That example is from the book, hence the kid specificness.)

These are both good things to do with children at the oratory, if you have them, or other family members, such as your spouse.

The authors also give us a list of devotions that are traditionally assigned to the days of the week, like the rosary mysteries are (more on that next week). Each day has a particular emphasis or flavor. Here’s the list they give:

  • Sunday: The Resurrection, the Trinity
  • Monday: The Holy Spirit, the Souls in Purgatory.
  • Tuesday: The Angels (it’s also helpful to say the prayer to your guardian angel in the morning and at night!)
  • Wednesday: St. Joseph. He represents fatherhood, care, protection, a happy death, and sanctified work, and is the Patron of the Universal Church.
  • Thursday: The Blessed Sacrament.
  • Friday: Christ’s Passion and the Sacred Heart.
  • Saturday: The Blessed Virgin

A way to work these in–you could, for example, pray a decade of the rosary for the Souls in Purgatory on Monday; say a prayer to St. Joseph on Wednesday; make a holy hour on Thursday, if at all possible, etc.

There are also certain devotions for each month, or, as above, “flavors”:

  • January: The Holy Name of Jesus, which is celebrated on January 3.
  • February: The Holy Family.
  • March: St. Joseph, whose feast day is March 19.  The Litany of St. Joseph can be said on each of the seven Sundays preceding his feast day.
  • April: The Blessed Sacrament.
  • May: Our Lady.
  • June: The Sacred Heart
  • July: The Precious Blood of Jesus
  • August: The Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • September: The Seven Sorrows of Mary  (Our Lady of Sorrows is celebrated on September 15)
  • October: The Holy Rosary
  • November: All saints and all souls
  • December: The Immaculate Conception, which is also a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States, celebrated on December 8.

And finally, if you have saints’ name days to celebrate, or family feast days, do it! For example, as a Dominican I celebrate the feast days of our Dominican saints, especially St. Dominic on August 8. My middle name is Michele, which is derived from St. Michael, so I celebrate his feast day on September 29 as my “name day.” My confirmation saint, St. Therese, is celebrated on October 1. There are many ways to celebrate the saints of the church and our various devotions. The key is to find what ones you love and what works for you and your family.


Daybook No. 68

Outside my windows::

It’s cloudy, it might rain. It’s very cool–about 75 or so, I think–which is really cool for Ohio in July! But I’m not complaining.


Jeans and a blue v-neck t-shirt.


The Way of Perfection; The Better Part; Pride and Prejudice; Acedia and Me. As usual, lots of books going. 🙂

Rehab is going well. I sort of had a meltdown yesterday about the inability of my body to do what I want it to do, but my therapists were very understanding and we talked about how no one can do things right off the bat, and we work toward things with modifications, adjustments, etc. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that. Then I went and did 5.5 miles on the stationary bike, which is a personal best for me. So yay body.

This was also because I went to Hocking Hills with my friends over the weekend, and my body can’t do things theirs can do, like do 4 mile hikes (uphill, yeah, no), and do other things. I just can’t. And it’s really frustrating to be sitting out and watching people do things I wish I could do. People really don’t understand what it’s like to want to do things and have a really uncooperative body. Some people are more sympathetic than others. But, in general, there was some “I hate my body” happening, but I’m trying to get past that.


The first draft of my memoir is DONE!!!!! And sent to Cristina, my very first lovely reader!. And I’m knitting again! Yay! I finally learned a better cast on and it’s helped me immeasurably. So we’re doing Yarn Along this week! YAY!!!!!!!!

I also purchased a handmade, lovely pottery yarn bowl while I was in Hocking Hills. I’ll have pics tomorrow for Yarn Along. 🙂


CCD rapidly approaches. I can’t believe it. I’m really excited to meet this year’s crop of kiddos!! And I miss teaching so much.

There’s a Dominican Rite Mass at my parish on Sunday (8/3) in honor of ST. Dominic’s Feast on 8/8. It’s going to be AWESOME, and afterwards my Lay Dominican chapter is going out to dinner.  We also have our annual Day of Recollection in August, which is always edifying and exciting.

And we’re getting a new friar next month, because Fr. Gregory is going to Oxford to do some advanced studies. I am jealous, and I will miss him muchly.

Around the house::

Still digging out from the show and vacation. Whew. It’s crazy over here.


Veggie stew tonight and then some other goodies–meatballs, turkey burgers, etc.–later this week.









Summer Surprise Strawberry Salad

This is from my sometimes active cooking blog. I love this salad, and you will too!

Emily's Midwest Kitchen

OK a few things:

  1. This isn’t just for summer. I mean you could make it any time. But summer strawberries are much better.
  2. This is the only recipe I have created MYSELF, thus far. So this is an Emily Original Culinary Creation.

Like most good things, this was created sort of by accident.

My friends and I spent a weekend in Hocking Hills in July, in a lovely cabin that had a full kitchen, so we decided to do most of the cooking. We have a lot of culinary-minded friends, so I was planning on making a few things: my Irish soda bread (made ahead and brought down for breakfast), and a Caesar salad. I also decided to do balsamic strawberries as an ice cream topping or fun dessert, because I love balsamic strawberries and more people need to like them too.

I had asked a friend of mine to…

View original post 345 more words

Summer In the Little Oratory–Chapter Six

  The Little Oratory

(All Summer in the Little Oratory posts can be found here)

Last week’s post was a big one. This week is no less big, but only deals with one book: The Bible.

Yes. That book, you know, that you have and may not have opened, ever? That your godmother gave you for First Communion or your sponsor gifted you at Confirmation? Or maybe you got it for your wedding? You have it, and you think it’s a nice book, but you’ve never actually cracked the cover?

We’re going to fix that. Well, maybe. In any event, we’re going to talk about why you should read the Bible (and a bit of “how” to read it.)

I know a lot of people (myself included) have tried to read the Bible straight through, only to get discouraged around Leviticus. That’s OK. The Bible isn’t a continuous story–it’s a lot of different books that are written in different styles. You don’t have to read it in a linear fashion.

(And yes, Catholics do read the Bible. Catholics believe in the Bible. Don’t tell us we don’t, please. I know this is a point of some confusion for our Protestant brethren. But trust me when I say the Catholic Church has a lot of Bible going on. 🙂 )

So let’s turn to The Little Oratory and see what it tells us about reading and praying with the Bible.

First: “The Mass itself is Scripture from beginning to end” (80). “It is clear,” the authors write, “that to love God, we must know Him, and to know Him, we would naturally want to draw closer to Him in His Word.” (80)

But what is God’s Word? Just the Bible? Nope. Dei Verbum, the Vatican II document on the Scriptures, says that “The Word is everything the Church offers to us: Scripture, the Church (the Body of Christ), and above all, Jesus in the Eucharist, the Word Made Flesh. Knowing Jesus in His Word leads us to the full knowledge and overwhelming love of the most holy Trinity…when we know God’s word well, we find that our participation in the Liturgy–the life the Trinity shares with us–deepens as well.” (80)

A great wade to wade into reading the Scriptures is to focus on the readings from Mass. Magnificat magazine, which I adore, has the daily readings and other devotions in a portable monthly format, or you can go to the USCCB’s website for the daily readings. By reading the readings for Sunday ahead of time, we allow ourselves to become familiar with what we’re going to hear, and allow it to sink into our minds, perhaps inspiring prayer or other meditations on what we’ve read.

A formal way of reading scripture is lectio divina (“holy reading”). This is when “The Word of God is so read and meditated that it becomes prayer [and] is thus rooted in the liturgical celebration.” (CCC 1177) This has several parts.

The first thing you want to do is get a Bible in a beautiful and approved translation, as the authors of LO suggest. Once you have it, there are four parts to lectio.

  1. Lection/Reading: Select a passage to read. “It’s more than permissable–it’s advisable–to skip around the books of the Bible!” (81). One system I like is to start with the Gospels, reading through them, and beginning again. Or, start with the New Testament, in General, and read it straight through. (You might not want to read Revelation without a good commentary, however!).  Whichever way you want to start, the authors suggest started with a prayer for receptivity to God’s word (“Come, Holy Spirit” will do), and then read. “As phrases catch your attention re-read them. If nothing in particular jumps out at you, you may reread the whole allotted passage a number of times, or simply let it sink in…God will speak to you. (82).”
  2. Meditatio/thinking: “In the Christian tradition, meditation means “meditate upon,” which is the same as “think about.” So in meditation, you do pause and allow for the prompting of the Holy Spirit in the form of thoughts and ideas; when these occur, you ponder over them.” (82)
  3. Oratio/prayer: Talk to God about what you’ve read, ask for help in certain areas–whatever your reading has inspired in you.
  4. Contemplatio/contemplation: This part is more receptive (83). “It is a state of stillness of mind, of just being with God.” (83) It won’t always happen, and that’s OK. We don’t have any control over that part.

“You may nor notice any dramatic indications of God’s presence, as some holy people report. However, you can be sure that God forms the person of goodwill during the time of receptivity. Good things may be happening without our awareness, just as we see that children’s bodies grow without their knowledge of the process.” (83)

I generally read 2-3 chapters of the New Testament daily. That’s my current reading plan. I use the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament and the C.S. Lewis Bible. 

My C.S. Lewis Bible

My C.S. Lewis Bible

(the C.S. Lewis Bible is more for meditation/contemplation purposes. I love it!)

I read and I don’t always feel great stirrings of the Spirit. But that’s OK. The important thing is to develop the habit of lectio, of reading God’s word and letting it sink into your mind and heart.





Summer in the Little Oratory–Chapter Five

The Little Oratory


(All of the Summer in the Little Oratory posts can be found here) This chapter is one of my favorites in the book. We’re going to talk about the Breviary! (Or the Liturgy of the Hours–LOH for short!)

I’ve always been attracted to this prayer. I remember as a teenager going through prayer books and reading about the LOH, and trying to replicate it with a notebook and the Book of Psalms. Needless to say, it didn’t quite work. This was before Internet shopping and Amazon, so I had no idea what these books looked like, let alone how I’d get one. But I loved the idea of prayer all through the day, and praying with the entire Church. And this desire was one of the big things that drew me toward my Lay Dominican vocation, because as a Lay Dominican, we’re required to say at least lauds and vespers daily. (It’s not binding, like it is for a priest–if we miss, it’s not a huge deal. But we’re supposed to make it a priority in our daily lives.)

At first, I know–the LOH can seem crazy complicated. You get this huge book (or books, if, like me, you have the four volume set), and it’s got all these parts and colored ribbons and how do you know where you’re going and what is happening?!

There is–believe it or not–a general outline to the office. It looks like so, no matter what is happening that day–Easter, Christmas, St. Benedict, whatever:

  1. Inventory (Morning prayer only). This is Psalm 95 (most of the time–you can use two other psalms if you want, but I always use psalm 95)
  2. Three psalms and canticles. Usually two psalms, one canticle.
  3. A reading
  4. Responsory
  5. Another canticle: in the morning, it’s Zechariah’s prayer from Luke, in the evening, it’s the Magnificat (both, coincidentally, are in chapter 1 of Luke)
  6. Intentions (pre-set in the book–you don’t have to make up your own!)
  7. the Our Father
  8. Concluding prayer

That’s it. Eight parts.

What makes it confusing is….what precisely goes in those eight parts.

Stick with me. 🙂

The best way to learn to say the hours is to have someone teach you. That’s how we do it in our Dominican chapter; the office is one of the first things inquirers learn to do, in an hour long class dedicated to it. It’s also helpful if you have the book in front of you. But I’m hoping my pictures will give you some idea!


My office books

My office books

This is the current LOH book. I use the 4 volume set. This is the third volume, for the first part of Ordinary Time (the second one is green).


Ribbons in binding

Ribbons in binding

Each volume has these ribbons in the binding. (You can see I also use post-its because I do not think they give us enough ribbon!)

You can use these to mark different parts of the book. Everyone has their own way of using the ribbons. I use mine to mark the Office of Readings, the morning canticle, the current day in the psalter, and feast days.


First section: Office of Readings

First section: Office of Readings

The Ordinary

The Ordinary

When it’s time for the office, this is what I open my book to (Post inventory. I have that memorized)

Daily psalms (in the four week cycle)

Daily psalms (in the four week cycle)

There’s a hymn. This is optional, but if I know it, I like to sing it. 🙂 During Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter there’s a section of appropriate hymns in the beginning of the book as well.

So, I sing the hymn, and I turn the page to:

morning prayer continued

morning prayer continued

The psalms/canticles. In the book above you see the end of the canticle, the last psalm, the reading, and the responsory.

After the responsory, it’s time for the morning canticle, which is above (marked with red ribbon.)

Then I flip back: Intercessions and closing prayer.

morning prayer end

morning prayer end


The cycle is roughly the same for evening prayer as well. For Office of readings, it’s three psalms, then the readings.

For Feasts, like today, you have this:

Feasts (marked with purple ribbon)

Feasts (marked with purple ribbon)


You have the saint’s name in bold under the date. The red notation underneath tells us what it is: A feast, a memorial, whatever. St. Bonaventure gets a memorial. There’s a short paragraph about the saint.

Then see that red writing? That’s where the prayers for today come from. Since St. Bonaventure is a Doctor of the Church, he’s really complicated. Doctors the Church are the most complicated, I think, because you have two different sorts of things to juggle. But usually it would just say “Common of Virgins” or “Pastors” or whatever. There you get antiphons, etc that are particular to the saint.

After that you see Office of Readings in bold. Following that is the second reading proper to the feast. So instead of reading whatever the second reading is for Tuesday, July 15, I’ll read this.

For complicated feast days, you can use divineoffice.org, which I love.  Also, if you get lost in  where you are in the office, this site will tell ya.

So that is the office. I love it. I know it sounds complicated, and some of it is out of date now (the prayers are the old translation of the liturgy, and they don’t have saints like St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Hildegard as Doctors of the Church), and some of the saint name spellings are wrong, but I still love it. It does take some work to learn. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! But it is a wonderful way to pray with the whole church, and get into the liturgical rhythm of the year, learning about each saint as his or her feast day comes by, and really loving that cycle


Daybook No. 67

Outside my window::

A lovely sunny blue sky day with fast-moving puffy clouds. Going to be in the 70s today so windows open!


Um, my PJs. I slept in and it was good. I really needed it!


The Wings of the Dove, All The Light We Cannot See. And I really need to re-start The Goldfinch. It’s just sitting here looking accusingly at me.

In the CD player::

Once–I was wearing one of my Once t-shirts yesterday, so I thought it would work. 🙂 I’m cycling between that, Music Man and Bridges, so basically I’m either in Dublin or Iowa in my car. 🙂


Oh my gosh, people, the book. I am this close to finishing the first draft. I am really proud of that. I can’t wait to send it to my intrepid first readers!



The show has three more performances, and we have brush up rehearsal on Thursday. We’ve had great audience response thus far, and it’s just such a fun show. Want to come give Iowa a try? 🙂


From the kitchen::

Lots of eggs, actually. A frittata for lunch and then spaghetti with meatballs for dinner, and then other eggy things the rest of the week. I don’t know what’s possessed me. I’m watching The French Chef because it’s free with my Amazon Prime membership, and man, does it make me hungry. Bon Appetit! 


A Hocking Hills Trip with my friends next weekend. Once the show’s over I have to pack for that.


We think the problems I’m having with chest pain are from my port, believe it or not. I’ve had it for more than 10 years, and it’s getting old and is probably irritating the muscles and skin and other things in my upper chest. So we’re going to see if it stops with the muscle relaxers. If it does, then we’re good. If it continues to be a problem, then we might have to talk about getting a new one put in. But that’s OK.


Rehab tomorrow, and it’s so nice, I’m definitely taking a walk today.




Seven Quick Takes No. 54




Today is a big day (“Today’s a very big day, Pascal!”)

Me and Pascal

Me and Pascal

Today is my nine-year transplant anniversary.

Nine years ago I was on an operating table at the Resort getting new organs put it. It was a twelve-hour surgery which started around 7/7:30 AM (I think), so we were just in the beginning stages at this point. My new lungs probably hadn’t shown up yet! They came from Minnesota, and one surgeon started the operation while my actual transplant surgeon took over the scalpel once he arrived via Lear Jet with my new organs.

My donor was a 52 year old woman named Suzanne who died of a brain aneurysm. Her brother made the decision to donate her organs, and I am alive because of them. I am going to go onstage in a few hours and do a show because of her, and I am only alive today because of her.

I never met her. But she saved my life.

(If you’re not an organ donor, consider it?  sign up here?)


Because of my organ donor, here are just a few things I’ve gotten to do:

* See my sister graduate from college

*Go to Chicago, New York, Houston, Walt Disney World, the Outer Banks

* Be in wonderful stage productions like Oliver!, And Then There Were None, Les Miserables, Jekyll & Hyde, Ragtime, The House of Bernarda Alba, The Music Man, The Importance of Being Earnest.


*Audition for Jeopardy!

*see my godson grow up

*become an opera buff 🙂

* Write

*spend time with my family and friends

*Meet people I never would have met

*Taught CCD

*Joined the Dominicans! (Life promises this December!)


Living to 23 is OK. I mean, I graduated from college and I had some good times. But the nine years after have been priceless. And Suzanne gave those to me.


To celebrate, tonight is the opening of The Music Man. No, that’s not on purpose, but it’ll be great to do this show with old and new friends (Tiff is in the pit), and people I love in the audience. The show runs for two weekends, so if you miss tonight, you have five more chances to see it. But tonight’s gonna be pretty awesome, not gonna lie.


I did spend a night in the resort this week. (If you’re new here, resort is my slang for Children’s) I was having some chest pain when I went into rehab on Wednesday so we thought I should get it checked out, which led to ER visit, and then night of observation. But the heart is fine, the lungs are fine, everything’s fine, so they threw me out yesterday–just in time for opening night. 🙂


This is a great cast and crew. I’m having so much fun with them, and everyone is super-nice and dedicated to the show. I think we do a better job than the movie, in my unbiased opinion. 🙂 We’re a lot funnier, for starters.


I’ll try to post pictures later, but basically, it’s a great day when I get to do theater. Hope to see you at the show!

Summer in the Little Oratory–Chapter Four

The Little Oratory
(All Little Oratory posts here)

So, how are you doing with these posts? Are you excited for a Little Oratory in your house? I hope so!

Today we’re talking about calendars. Not the normal calendars, and not planners. But Liturgical calendars.

If you went to Catholic school, chances are you’re familiar with the round Liturgical Calendar that charts the Liturgical Year. Even the most inattentive church goers are aware of the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time.

In Rumer Gooden’s In This House of Brede, one of the nuns describes the liturgical years as a “pageant”, and that’s a great way to think of it. The church, in her wisdom, gives us these periods of fast and feast that shape our lives and seasons.

Right now, for example, we’re in Ordinary Time–the green vestments adorn the priest and the altars. But really, “ordinary time” is a misnomer, because no day is really ordinary in God’s world. Every day is unique and precious.

So chapter four tales about the Liturgical Year, when we “contemplate the events of salvation in order, with Christ in the center, yet ever renewing.” (51)

The Church Year starts with Advent. Yes! The first Sunday of Advent is New Year’s Day in the church. We start the cycle of salvation over again, awaiting the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent is a penitential season, a season of preparation. Toss off consumerism and all of that, and focus on Jesus and the preparation. Yes, of course, Christmas is a wonderful season–but keep it in its time.

Then the birth of Christ, Christmas, which lasts until February! FEBRUARY! How many people keep their trees up through the 12 Days of Christmastide? Not many, anymore. But we can celebrate Christmas until Candlemas, the Feast of the Presentation, on February 2nd. (Now, if your tree is “live” and won’t make it that long, sure, take it out. But keep up the creche!) It drives me crazy to hear about people taking down the decorations on December 26th or 27th. No! That will not do!

There is a brief return to Ordinary Time before we start Lent, our great penitential season. The three pillars of Lent–prayer, fasting, almsgiving–come to the fore, and bring us to the drama of Holy Week, the most dramatic week of the year. I love Holy Week, probably because I was born on Good Friday. AT the end of Holy Week, the Triduum, the three sacred days of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday. And then…

Easter! 50 days of joy! Christ is risen indeed!  Pentecost brings Easter to an end, and then back to Ordinary Time. 

And then, sprinkled in every season, are the feast days of saints and solemnities. We’ve just celebrated many solemnities–Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi, Saints Peter and Paul, which was on a Sunday this year. The Assumption is coming in August.  We celebrate the feasts and memorials of the saints–so many days in our calendar are saints’ days!

“The saints are our friends par excellence. They go before us and encourage us. Their friendship is marked by this quality, the very epitome of the meaning of the word friend; they bring us closer to Jesus Christ.” (59:


St. Catherine of Siena

St. Catherine of Siena

Everyone has special saints’ days. The day they celebrate their confirmation saint (For me, that’s St. Therese, on October 1); personal favorite saints (for me that includes St. Catherine of Siena (April 29), St. Dominic (August 8), St. Elizabeth Ann Seton (January 4), and others), and other special feast days. The saints are our dear friends in Heaven! Don’t ignore them!

Of course, placed in the seasons of the year are our days, weeks, months. This Monday, next Tuesday, the fourth Thursday, etc. “A day is a unit of sanctification” (51), the authors tell us. (We’ll see this more when we talk about the Liturgy of the Hours!). And Sunday, especially, is our Sabbath Day, a day of rest given to us by God.

Here’s how the authors talk about Sunday:

…[H]ere is the Christian way of looking at the week. Monday through Saturday, we work with varying degrees of intensity, because God has given us the whole of creation to sanctify, giving matter itse day of rest.  nobility. [Saint] John Paul II speaks of how ‘work is a good thing for man–a good thing for his humanity–because through work man not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being.’ (Laborem Exercens 9).

The Holy Father then warns about man losing his dignity if work is used against him…Sunday is the remedy for this loss of dignity. Even the poorest person can rest on Sunday and can become a philosopher…He rises above his day-to-day needs and simply enjoys what is given to him out of the gratuitous love of the Creator.

The source of this enjoyment and even celebration is worship. Therefore, who would not put Sunday worship, the Mass, in the very first place in his life?

If you put Sunday worship and Sunday rest first, all will be added unto you. You will finally understand life and your place in it. You will see your way clear to solutions and problems that have seemed intractable, or you will be content with the way things are, depending on what God’s will for you is–which you will grasp. (emphasis added)

When a person orients himself to Sunday and is determined to make it a different day…he finds that he is at peace.  (52)

I know this can be hard. Right now, I’m in a show that performs on Sunday. We had Sunday rehearsals before the show opened. But whenever possible–make Sunday that Sabbath day, the day of rest. Try not to shop or do unnecessary things. If it can be done on Monday, do it. If you can do it on Saturday, do it. Try to rest in Sunday.

Now, how does this come back to the little oratory? Well, it helps us to live in the liturgical year, as we’ve been talking about. In Advent, the prayer table can be simple; perhaps the nativity can be placed there, or the advent wreath. At Christmas, we place the Baby Jesus in the creche, and move the Wise Men toward the stable, finally reaching it at Epiphany. Some churches have the blessing of candles on Candlemas; if you can find a church that does this, stock up on any candles you may use for your Little Oratory, and have them blessed at the Mass. (My parish actually provides candles!)

In Lent, the table can be somber, perhaps draped in purple. During Passiontide (the two weeks before Easter), it can be a good practice to drape holy images with purple cloth, to “fast” from their beauty during the end of Lent. (My parish does this with our statues in the sanctuary and outside it.) You can add the Stations of the Cross to your prayer schedule, either at your parish or at home. You can also grow in a habit you’d like to acquire, like lectio divina, daily rosary, spiritual reading, etc.  At Easter, the table can display dyed eggs, or an icon of the Resurrection.

There are so many things you can do to live the Liturgical Year, and I promise that once you try to live that way, it will make your life richer and your religious observance deeper. Really!