Seven Quick Takes No. 62



So, yesterday I promised you the saint and word of the year. Let’s kick this off with the saint, shall we?

The winner according to the Saint Generator is:

St. Isaac Jogues

I greatly enjoy this quote from him:

My confidence is placed in God who does not need our help for accomplishing his designs. Our single endeavor should be to give ourselves to the work and to be faithful to him, and not to spoil his work by our shortcomings. – Saint Isaac Jogues

All right then! St.Isaac and I are going to have a good year together. I hope. ūüôā


Now, the word of the year!

I started doing this last year for the first time. Here’s the entry about that.

This year the word is:


It’s a big lesson I learned last year, and this year, we’re going to continue working on it. It’s not something that you learn once. It’s something you learn over and over and over again.

If I love Him, I trust Him. I have to believe Him. If you don’t trust the person you love….do you really love them? Do you believe they love you?

Jesus loves us all the time. God is always good, and we are always loved. (Ann Voskamp) Trusting in that is sure.


I’ve finished more of the Christmas books:¬†In Cold Blood last night (it was OK…I’m not sure, really, what everyone’s going on about….but it had its moments);¬†Mastering the Art of¬†French Eating¬†was amazing, and I highly recommend it. I’m reading¬†Elizabeth of York right now, and I’m about to start¬†The Death Class, which, OK, sounds super morbid, but you know…it looked good. It’s about a nurse who teaches a class about…death…to college students, who inevitably fill up the class every semester. Like, it’s a wait-list class. So I’m curious to read this. It was on the same “best of” list as¬†Mastering. I also have a book of Knitting essays by a bunch of writers.


Speaking of knitting, I’ve been working with the new yarn and needles I got for Christmas. The first thing I always do with new fingering weight yarn is make a bookmark, so that’s what I’ve got going now. I messed up the tension at the beginning so the border looks a bit odd, but that’s OK. It’s really gorgeous yarn, Knit Picks Palette.


So how about the OSU/Bama game, huh? I have to admit, I thought Bama was going to crush OSU. I was definitely pleasantly surprised. Now I have something fun to watch the night before my colonoscopy. ūüėõ OH JOY! Also, Bucks and Ducks just sounds fun.


from the food front: I’ve made two Nigella desserts in the last two days: Chocolate Gingerbread and the Famous Guinness Cake. The gingerbread is REALLY good (I may or may not be eating a piece at this moment for “breakfast”), and the Guinness cake is always good. I need to frost it later today. You can’t frost it until it’s completely cool, and that takes awhile. So there’s a lot of chocolate in the house right now.


And I’ll leave you with a cute Christmas photo:


My sister with my cousin’s four month old son. Cute!

Daybook 77 and A Saint for All Times


Outside my window::

Overcast and chilly. It’s definitely fall! But that’s OK! I have a lovely bouquet of red roses in a mason jar on my counter and they make all my mornings better. (My parents gave them to me for opening night of¬†Dolly! They’re really gorgeous.)


PJs, and drinking Mystic Monk coffee. ūüôā My body has been¬†demanding lots of extra sleep lately so I’m trying to obey it, even though it makes me grumpy, because I’d much rather get up at like 8, and not 10. But….the body wants what it wants.


I just won a book from Goodreads, so I’ll be starting that today (It arrived yesterday) and then blogging about it, so look for a review soon! Reading Benedict XVI’s general audiences on prayer as well. Really, I have a bunch of books I want to start/finish but I just haven’t yet, which is inexcusably lazy on my part.


The pontificate of St. John Paul II.


I was so, so lucky to spend the majority of my life under his pontificate, which also meant, sadly, that I didn’t really appreciate it until he had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. (Well, one doesn’t really appreciate the pope when one is a small child, to be sure!) He was elected pope on October 22, 1979, just a few months after my parents were married. My siblings and I were all born during his reign. I received all my sacraments while he was pope. His writings, so rich in so many genres (he wrote plays and poetry), and his life, so rich in so many ways, are a source of inspiration and constant study for me.

I vividly remember feeling like I was losing a father when he was dying. My father is still alive–praise Jesus–but I thought this is what it would feel like. He had always been there, always faithful shepherding the church. He had done so much to bring Christ to the world, to “open wide the doors to Christ”, and he did so much to change the world! A pope from a Communist country, who helped bring about the defeat of Communism? Prayer works, indeed. It was unimaginable for so many people. I remember the night the Berlin Wall came down. We watched it on TV in our family room. But I really didn’t understand what was happening–I was only seven and a half. But as I studied history and became more mature, I marveled at it.

For me, personally, I have only admired him more as I’ve gotten older. I ask for his help before auditions, since he was an actor. I ask for his help when writing, since he was a writer (yeah, I ask St. Francis De Sales too, but John Paul II is more¬†immediate for me). His fearless attitude, his call to “be not afraid!”, echoes all the time in my heart. And of course, his great devotion to Our Lady, as he entrusted his entire papacy to her.

I don’t think theologians have even begun to mine the brilliance of his writings, and what they mean for us. I’ll really always consider him “my” pope, like so many other people in my generation. It wasn’t just the length of his pontificate, but the way he spoke so intensely to young people, and even remembered them on his death bed: “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me, and I thank you.” I was a young person during his papacy; I was about to turn 23 when he died.

Watching him in prayer was an intense experience. I never got to see it, personally, but I’ve read accounts and seen video. He had such intense communion with God, such a deep prayer life. You could see how it imbued his mission, how vital it was to him.

And of course–his suffering, the idea of¬†redemptive suffering¬†which is so unique to Catholicism–was on display for everyone to see. As a sick person, this also inspired me. He showed us that life has worth always, even when fragile and failing. His spirit never faltered.

There’s so much that could be said about him. If you want to learn more, I suggest George Weigel’s monumental¬†Witness to Hope.¬†

Around the house::

(I really need to reorder these when I have such a long pondering!)

Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor today, and dusting the furniture in my bedroom.


Working on my NaNo2014 novel–getting the prep done before it starts up November 1!–and also it’s the last weekend of Dolly. Come see it!

The Guardian Angels

The Guardian Angels


Today is the Feast of the Guardian Angels.

Yup, Angels are real, and yes, you have a Guardian Angel. And no, people do not become angels when they die. Angels are completely separate from human beings and aren’t interchangeable. We become saints, not angels. (everyone in Heaven is a saint, they just might not be a¬†canonized¬†saint.)

You should pray to your guardian angel. Do you? Last week in CCD we taught the kids about angels, and we’re teaching them the Guardian Angel prayer. (Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits thee here, ever this day/night be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.)

The Feast of the Archangels was Monday, so it’s a pretty “angelic” week, this week (rim shot). ¬†But seriously, you might want to pay attention to your guardian angel, if you haven’t. You have an incredibly powerful protector with you all the time, whose only job is to¬†watch you. Take advantage of that.

Daybook No. 75

Daybook No. 75

St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel

Happy Michaelmas–the feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, the three Archangels.¬†

“And I do not have you married by Michaelmas, it will not be my fault.”

Sense and Sensibility

Outside my window::

Another lovely fall day, it looks like. On the warm side; I wouldn’t mind some fall temperatures!


PJs. I was doing my Morning Pages, and after this it’ll be time for Morning Prayer, and¬†then¬†I’ll get dressed.


Voyager (yes I am working my way through the¬†Outlander¬†series again, duh);¬†Love Does, and whatever I bring back from today’s library trip. Monday is my new “library day”, I’ve decided. I’m returning what I got last week and have finished, and checking out whatever strikes me.

In the CD player::

Dolly, of course. It’s all off-book now, but practice makes perfect!


Speaking of Dolly, massive rehearsals start this weekend as we get ever closer to opening! You can get tickets here.


It’s a busy week for it! Today is Michaelmas, one of my feast days, because my middle name is a derivative of Michael; St. Therese’s Feast Day is on Wednesday, and she’s my Confirmation Patron, and Friday is the First Friday of October. Whew!

St. Therese

St. Therese of Lisieux 

I’m going to get to Mass on Wednesday and hopefully on Friday, too. Today I didn’t get up early enough to get things done before Mass, but I hope St. Michael will understand. ūüôā October and November are so chock-full of saints’ days and feasts, and then we’re into Advent again. Can you believe it?

CCD funny::

(In class this week, we discussed the creation story in Genesis and had the kids draw pictures of what they thought it looked like.)

Me: (looking at student’s drawing) Oh, what’s that?

Student: (gleefully) It’s a¬†tidal wave!!!

These kids, they kill me.


It is a repeated observation of St. John of the Cross that God prostrates souls in a preliminary trial when he intends to draw closer in love. Here a pattern is noted, calling for our insight. No doubt we need to understand the providence of God differently.

Trials do not reflect a sign of disfavor with God. Rather, the reverse is indicated. God is offering an invitation, even if it hardly seems so. He is teaching, even if it seems a harsh lesson. It may be a hard truth to accept that God’s greater love is proven by the prevalence of trials we could not foresee, and by their lingering despite every plea for their removal. It is a rare soul that learns to take no surprise at this.

There are indeed many shocks in what can seem God’s rough treatment. Perhaps it is not unusual that we attempt to persuade God to be more gentle in his manner. It appears sometimes that nothing moves him in this regard. More love for God, for example, rather than overcoming a trial, will seem on occasion to extend the duration of a time of trial. But at the end of the day we face always the same question. Would we prefer to love less if it meant not to suffer?

–Father Donald Haggerty


I lost two pounds last week! This week it’s gym and I want to work in a yoga workout as well, possibly on Thursday. We’ll see how the schedule unfolds.

Around the house::

Working on cleaning out my closet as well as purging books and magazines from the first floor rooms. My pile of things to take to Half Price Books is growing, as is the pile in the recycling bag. (Trader Joe’s bags are excellent for paper recycling, because you can just throw everything in, including the bag. ūüôā )

From the kitchen::

Working on¬†The Chew¬†cookbooks this week; I’ve got some salads, chili recipes, and tonight’s meal, General Tso’s Chicken, in the works.

Daybook No. 72

Outside my window::

Sunny, some clouds, really nice temperatures. We’re going to hit the 60s by the end of the week, which is sort of exciting. Fall is invigorating to me.


A brown skirt, blue v-neck t-shirt, and my black workout leggings. I had rehab this morning and just tossed my skirt on over my leggings post workout.


Man, I’m behind in reading. I just re-read the¬†Heroes of Olympus¬†series by Rick Riordan because the last book comes out next month, so I wanted to be fresh on the story lines. I’m still reading¬†Summa of the Summa, although now we’re in the interesting parts about ethics and what makes people happy, as opposed to the highly highly philosophical stuff like matter and yada yada. This is better for me. Working my way through¬†The Artist’s Way¬†with the workbook and the morning pages that I wrote about here.


I joined Planet Fitness last week and I really enjoy working out there. I know, gasp and all that. My PT would like me to go tomorrow and Saturday in addition to our 3x/week sessions. I’m OK with that.


So I’m doing¬†Hello, Dolly!¬†with PCT now. The music is harder than I thought. Sometimes¬†much¬†harder (“Put on Your Sunday Clothes”, anyone?). So I’m practicing daily in addition to our weekend rehearsals. Show goes up October 17. I really need to get a cast recording because the movie is pretty different, music wise (a ¬†lot of the chorus parts are cut out and made unison), so it doesn’t help as much as it could.


CCD is back in full swing. We had our first class yesterday and I think, tentatively, that it’s going to be a good year. Much smaller class this year, not even 20 kids, as opposed to the 30+ we had last year!

In the CD player::

Frozen. I’ve been feeling the need to belt when I drive. ūüôā

From the kitchen::

I have to do this week’s meal plan but I think it’s going to be a fair amount of stuff from Jamie Oliver’s Food¬†Revolution,¬†which is one of my favorite cookbooks.



Seven Quick Takes No. 55




Long time no Quick Takes! Wow! I know you’re all thrilled to see this back, right? ūüôā


"John the Baptist in the Prison", Juan Fernandez de Navarette

“John the Baptist in the Prison”, Juan Fernandez de Navarette

So today’s Feast in the Church Calendar is the Beheading of John the Baptist. Happy, huh? Usually the Church celebrates the day a person died, as opposed to the day a person’s born, but John the Baptist gets both. (His birthday is June 24, by the way). Only John the Baptist, Mary (September 8) and Jesus (of course) get their birthdays observed in the official calendar, as well as the day they died (or in Mary’s case, was Assumed). So while this isn’t the most, er,¬†festive feast, it’s a point of theological coolness.


¬†So that Yarn Along post I did yesterday? Yeah, I started working on the piece some more while I caught up on¬†Once Upon A Time, made big mistakes, and had to rip the whole thing out and start again. Sigh. It’s very much two steps forward, three steps back in my knitting. I was purling all wrong. So back to the book today to make sure I’m doing it¬†correctly¬†this time.


In rehab–still working on running. I’m at 58 seconds of running without stopping, which is good–gotta break that minute mark next week. I’ve also lost another pound which makes me¬†exceedingly¬†happy.


Reading: Kristin Lavransdatter Vol. I “The Wreath”;¬†The Happiness Project (again); Summa of the Summa.¬†I also have¬†The Artist’s Way¬†and the workbook, which I’m excited to start next week!


Speaking of writing–the beta readers still have the book, but I’m working on making an outline and making sure the order is what I want. I might toy with some new sections over the weekend.


You want to know how it’s fall in Ohio? (Or almost) The reappearance of all the Scarlet and Grey shirts everyone seems to have, in various incarnations. They have appeared all of a sudden, because OSU plays Navy tomorrow. So, it’s fall, for all intents and purposes, in the OH.

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!