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!

Summer in the Little Oratory–Chapter Three

The Little Oratory

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

This week, we’re talking about chapter three, “Making the Little Oratory in the Home.”

Are you excited? I hope you are.

We’ve had two chapters of great, food-for-thought material about home and family. Now it’s time to get into the question of “how do I do this thing?” So this chapter is mostly practical tips about what your oratory should be, what should be contained there, and how to set it up. The authors note that these are all suggestions, and you, of course, do not have to follow them! The table or shelf is meant to “be simply a place of beauty” (32).

The advantage of the Little Oratory, first and foremost, is that “…at last, a place for those things that float around your house–the odd statue, the prayer cards, the icons, the rosaries.” (31) (If you’re like me, you have a LOT of prayer cards! )

So, what should we use? A table or shelf will work quite well, out of reach of toddlers who might destroy it, but low enough that an older child could look at the objects on the table. A  console or sofa table is mentioned specifically by the authors (33) as good ones to try. You can also build a corner shelf, if you’re a crafty sort of person.

Once you have the table or shelf, you can cover it with fabric, like the altar at church is covered with the altar cloth. Natural fibers (linen, cotton, etc.) is recommended by the authors. My table isn’t currently covered–I might change my mind about this–because I don’t want my rosary to snag on lace, and I also like the high shine of the wood underneath. A table runner, as mentioned in the book, is something that might work, though, provided it’s small.

The authors talk about images next. What belongs here? They mention three things:

  1. a crucifix at the centerpiece (I’m working on finding one for this purpose!)
  2. To the right of the crucifix, a picture of Christ glorified (icon of Christ in majesty, the Transfiguration, the Sacred Heart, the Sacred Face, etc.)
  3. To the left of the crucifix, an image of Our Lady.

“These three images, Christ suffering on the Cross, Christ glorified, and the Mother of God, are the beating heart of every prayer corner.” (38)

Of course, these images must be beautiful and true. Here’s some criteria the authors give for evaluating art for the Little Oratory (or, indeed, any art, I think):

  1. Is it beautiful? A nearby church has one of the ugliest statues of Mary I have ever seen. It’s carved of dark wood and shows her in a very advanced (and very unflattering) state of pregnancy. Yes, of course, Mary was pregnant. But this carving is not beautiful, and it does not “enhance our efforts to speak to God…or a saint.” (39) It’s just ugly. It’s best summed up by the comment I overheard once while attending Mass there: “What is that?”
  2. Does it reflect the Truth? Is the content of the image consistent with the teachers of the Church? (39)
  3. Would I spend eternity (or at least a long time) with this? 
  4. Is it well done? Using the first example of the Mary statue–there are so many well-done statues of Mary, like the one at my current parish which depicts Our Lady of Grace. It is beautiful in the true sense of that word, and it’s very well done in execution.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy that Gothic and Baroque art “at its best” are the best examples of combining beauty and theological significance. (40) Not every expression of art is Saint Teresa in Ecstasy, and that’s fine. Think of the preceding qualifications. “Avoid anything contrived or distorted, or somehow rejecting tradition,” the authors state. (41)

Other objects for the prayer table include:

  • Candles, especially votive candles;
  • A censer;
  • Easel or stand;
  • A Bible;
  • Prayer books, such as the breviary, rosary books, books of blessing and compendia of devotions, the stations of the cross;
  • Prayer-intention journal;
  • vases, and
  • prayer cards.

“Above all, regardless of its simplicity or otherwise, make it beautiful. Its beauty will convey more of faith than anything else.” (47) Obviously, you don’t need all these things, but just the things that you like. On mine, I have two Bibles, my rosary beads and rosary meditation books, and prayer cards. I also generally keep my breviary there, at least at the end of the day, so I know where to pick it up again the next morning.

Prayer table front view

Prayer table front view

 

 

 

 

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”

Renoir

Renoir

 

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….. 🙂 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! 🙂 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 🙂 )

  • 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)

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. 🙂

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.

Prayer

Prayer

This is an excellent, excellent post about prayer, especially this part: 

While you are wondering how to talk to Him and where He is in the midst of your loneliness and friendlessness and fallenness or busyness and craziness and prosperity, can you imagine that He might gob-smack you tomorrow with a big old Moral of the Story, but He might also be preparing you for something so far down the line it might not be worth fretting over it right now? Tell Him that — that you are willing to wait and see.

And that might be prayer. For all I know.

Seven Quick Takes No. 47

7_quick_takes_sm1

 

I.

So…MUSIC MAN! Yes, I am really excited to be doing this show. First rehearsal is tonight. If you’re wondering what I’ll be doing, this video is a good representation. Tomorrow we do the table read (or read/sing). I love table reads and I haven’t done one in awhile, and for a musical, in like 7 years!

II.

This week I read Jen Fulwiler’s memoir, Something Other than God (which can be purchased here). If you don’t want to click over and read my review, in short: It’s really good. You should read it. Do it do it do it!

III.

Only two more CCD classes (like, real classes) left for the year. I’m sad about that because I love my co-teacher and we have, in general, a pretty great class. I think we’ve prepared them well for their First Communion and First Reconciliation, which, if all goes well, they will make next year. Next year’s classes start in September and we have catechist retreat day in August, so we get about two months and change off before I need to start thinking about next year’s class, but already my co-teacher and I are scheming. 🙂

IV.

Disney World trip prep continues apace. I am super excited to be going again, especially since the Seven Dwarves Mine Train will be open!!!

V.

But a big part of prep is amassing books to read. I like to bring a mix of new books and old favorites. We drive down so that’s a big piece of driving, and then there’s pool time. 🙂 So hit me up in the comments with books you think I should read. I read anything except those cheapy paperback romances, because I just can’t tolerate those. Sadly, the new Outlander book won’t be out by the time we leave!

VI.

One of my goals for the month is to say my rosary every day (before bed time). Since it’s May, and since I’m a Dominican, this is a good goal to have! Usually I get to it every other day or so, but I really want to make it a daily habit that happens before I fall asleep. 🙂

VII.

I realize these are pretty brief QT today–but basically I could just write MUSIC MAN MUSIC MAN MUSIC MAN over and over, because I’m so excited about it. 🙂 🙂 I’m trying to spare y’all that! 🙂

The sacramental…

The sacramental and liturgical life of the Church helps us grow ever more in our ability to recognize the obstacles that impeded the Lord from drawing closer to us. Thus we should look forward to and welcome each season, all solemnities and holy days, and every Sunday. We should gladly and frequently celebrate the sacrament of confusion. We should willingly build our lives on the foundation of daily meditation, opening ourselves to the Lord, speaking and listening to Him from the interior of our hearts.
–Fr. Gary C. Caster

Retreat 2014 notes

I made my annual retreat over the past week. I say “annual”, and usually it is, although there are years where all I get in terms of retreat are my Lay Dominican chapter’s day of recollection around St. Dominic’s Day on August 8. Not that that’s bad, but it’s not the same as a weekend retreat, especially a weekend silent retreat.

 

IMG_1337

 

This year I attended our Diocesan Council of Catholic Women’s retreat, led by Fr. Ezra Sullivan, OP, who is stationed at St. Gertrude’s near Cincinnati (where our province novitiate is). The theme of the retreat was “Mary, Mother of Sorrows/Mother of Grace”, and how those two titles aren’t mutually exclusive.

As much as I love to talk, I also love–crave–the silence of retreat. How is God supposed to be heard over the noise of daily life? Remember, Elijah didn’t hear God in the earthquake. He heard Him in the “still,small voice” (1 Kgs 19:11-13). The silence isn’t absolute. It usually starts after dinner on Friday and then there’s an optional Saturday social, with the silence ended after Mass on Sunday. You can also ask questions during conferences. But, in general, silence is the rule, so that everyone can spend time immersed in God, listening for His voice, and spending time in prayer. Continue reading

Seven Quick Takes No. 43

7_quick_takes_sm1

I.

It’s a hockey night! Tonight I’m going to the Penguins/Jackets game with my dad. It’s my first Jackets game this season, so I’m really excited to go. I love hockey. Dad took me to my first game when I was about seven or eight and I was hooked. (If you’re a hockey fan: that was so long ago, Hartford still had a hockey team….) We are Pens fans, originally, but we love the Jackets too. So we usually split our team spirit gear for both teams. 🙂

II.

Rehab goes well. I did 8 miles on the bike on Wednesday and not sure what’s up today, other than meeting with nutrition after my workout time. Yeah nutrition…sort of. As I’ve done more reading on food and good ways to eat, I’ve been inclined to go for a whole food diet as opposed to Weight Watchers/etc., which is mostly processed stuff (at least the pre made foods they have), and the recipes require things that are generally altered. I like to cook, so I might as well do it, right? With real foods? That’s my thought process.

III.

In CCD this week, I’m teaching the kids about the second coming, the Four Last Things, and Purgatory. In case you were a poorly catechized Catholic (or not Catholic at all): The Four Last Things are Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgement. So yes, we’ll be talking about those things with the kids. Yes, Hell is real, guys. I’ll try not to scare them too much. 🙂 (We’re watching a video about the Fatima apparitions in a few weeks–The Day The Sun Danced–and it has a scene of Hell, since Mary showed the children a vision of Hell. So they’re gonna get the picture in an age-appropriate way.)

IV.

Back to yoga with a vengeance. I know I need to be. I can do it at home and there’s a great center nearby. The body needs it, I need it, so that’s that. Full stop. 🙂

V.

Next weekend: Silent retreat! YES! So excited. I love silent retreats and can’t wait to go on this one. How can I pray for you? Leave an intention in the com box, if you have one. 🙂 This will be my first one in a few years, and I need it!

VI.

I’m in the midst of Elizabeth Foss’s brilliant RESTORE workshop. I am loving every second of it. I have to lay down routines and plans and habits so I can have the life I want, and a life that will promote/preserve my health. This is especially important since I got my CT scan results back Thursday and I appear to be in chronic rejection, which means there is scarring happening in my lungs and we want that to stop. Sometimes this scarring can lead to a second transplant, sometimes you can live for decades with it. We’re not sure exactly how it starts or what it is or how to fix it. We’re on the cusp of modern medicine here. So: I need to really, truly focus on what is important to me and make it happen. I have to do these things and not waste words, breath, or pixels. I gotta do it. RESTORE is so helping me get there, providing me with great essays, community, and tools. Because it’s pedal to the metal time. No more messing around with things that waste brain cells and induce frustration.

VII.

So, the book proposal is going out. It is. I’m finishing it, printing it, and mailing it. We’re gonna get it done.

Seven Quick Takes Friday No. 40

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I.

Shamless promotion: Last post in the Lent series went up today. If you missed the earlier ones, you can read the entire series here. Lent starts on Wednesday, so get thy plan in gear!

II.

So, as we know from the post that went up today (yes, I’m making you all read it, bwahahah!), my Lent has basically been decided for me, with GI tests, rehab, and med changes, but I have some plans of my own. I can’t entirely abandon facebook, because people will want medical updates, so I’ll still be there, but it’ll be limited. I’m going to switch my lectio divina from the OT to the NT, starting with the Gospel of Matthew. Of course being dedicated to my office and going to Daily Mass as often as possible are givens. With all the waiting for my tests, I’ll be able to get a good chunk of reading done. And I’ve also given up book buying, so I’ll be reading only the books I have–in “real” or “e” form–already on March 5.

III.

Anyone else using Verbum software? Any tips or tricks? I love how many books are in the library (I have foundations). Just reading Bl. John Paul II’s encyclicals will keep me busy for a good long while, and I’m also using their Lenten devotional plan.

While we’re on the topic (sort of), here are some of my favorite Lenten resources: Magnificat’s Lenten companion; Death on a Friday Afternoon  by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus; B XVI’s Way of the Cross Meditations.  For additional Lenten reflection this year, you can also read the Pope’s Message for Lent 2014.

IV.

What I’m reading right now, incidentally: City of God, St. Faustina’s Diary, An Echo In the Bone, Pickwick, and Therese, Faustina and Bernadette. A real emphasis was placed on the Divine Mercy devotions and chaplet at the Women’s Retreat last weekend, so I’ve been inspired to delve back into it.

V.

The conference! Holy cow, I didn’t tell you about it. So I will now. 🙂

2,600 Catholic women from all over the diocese (and beyond!) were crammed into our building at the state fairgrounds. I got there around 7:15 and hit up a book vendor (Of course, come on, it’s me) before heading into the main conference area to find a seat. The rosary began at 7:30 and Mass began a little after 8:00. The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter was that day, so the readings and homily reflected that. Our bishop gives excellent homilies, so it’s always a treat to hear one (soundbite: When Jesus walked toward the apostles on the stormy water, after the Resurrection, and came into the boat, “he told them to calm down!”)

VI.

After Mass, we had breakfast. Our first speaker was Sr. Miriam James, SOLT, who gave a talk that had just about everyone in the audience in tears (showing Anne Hathaway singing “I Dreamed A Dream” didn’t stop them, for sure).  She talked about the “holy longing, holy desire” that we have for God, and our desire to be seen and noticed by the one who loves us. Part of desire is stretching, wanting to desire God Himself, who wants to fill us with Himself. A woman’s body and spirit reveal God to the world and emphasis receptivity, openness, and grace. The beauty of body and soul speaks to the longing for eternal beauty that everyone desires. A woman’s attentiveness to the person, recognizing the inidivudla, intuitiveness, nurturing spirit and being the guardian  and bearer of life make the world more humane–more fully human. Sister spoke about the toxicity of culture, and that outré mission to authenticity is to love and be loved. Christ wants to touch us and heal us, if we let him.

A priest spoke about Divine Mercy and the Sacrament of Confession, leading to so many ladies lining up for confessions. Forty priests were on hand to hear them! I got lunch and did some more book shopping, because we have abundant confession at my parish, so I didn’t want to deny someone who may not have it a chance to go.

VII.

After lunch, Kimberly Hahn took the stage. She spoke about the Proverbs 31 woman, and how we can work those qualities into our lives by being Godly, a woman of excellent, a woman who feast the Lord. To fear the Lord means to have reverence and awe for the God of the Universe who is our Father (I loved this definition.) This fear leads us to a faithful and faith-filled relationship with Him. God lavishes His love on us–we are His beloved daughters! We must hope in His steadfast love, because He made us, and bought us back–we are His twice. Kimberly encouraged us to let Jesus reside in our hearts, and to pursue purity and holiness, and know that God delights in each one of us.

The last speaker of the day was 2006 Olympian Rebecca Dussault , who talked about health and holiness–a great topic. (Her new book is excellent as well!) She talked about how FIT is an acronym for Finding Interior Transformation–I really liked that! Discipline in our prayer life leads to discipline win other areas. “It’s not that we win,” she said. “It’s that we take part.” (also liked that, although I do love to win.)

At 3:00, we said the Divine Mercy chaplet, and a period of adoration was offered, but, to me, was marred by overenthusiastic singers who wanted us to “participate” instead of praying in silence before the Monstrance. So I left around 3:30.

Overall, it was a great conference and I saw so many women I knew, and met some new ones! And I have so many great resources–CDs of the talks, books, and other things–to use for Lent. I feel so well prepared. 🙂