Friday, May 7, 2021

Five

 

1. Making this for dinner tonight...

And the thought of how good it's going to be is distracting me from other thoughts of other things I should be doing...

Blackened Salmon and Avocado Mango Salsa Tacos


2. I love how...

Our children, though they are scattered all over the world, make it a priority for all the cousins --- our grandchildren --- to know each other, even though some of them don't get to see one another very often. They send pictures of the children on our family app -- and all the Mommas and Dads share them with their own children -- and talk about them often, so that there will be a connection amongst them. One proof of how well this is working is how Dominic and Monica's two-year-old, Margaret, has named all these dollies (from Mommom's toybox). Here she is, naming them all off for me, in order, L-R: Daria, Ella, Claudia, Sophie, Evie, Lilly. ❤



3.  If I were going to open my own store... 

Should I ever have that kind of capital and confidence in the economy...  It would be a children's new and used clothing, toys, and bookstore. I would call it "Kinder."  Get the play on words? Wouldn't that be too much fun?

Because...
4. A Day in the Life

 So, we've got into a bit of a routine here at the old Iowa homestead, where Dan disappears into the office near our bedroom at the crack of dawn (or thereabouts) to begin his remote workday. (The best thing to come out of these crazy times is Dan getting to work from home!) I sleep in a little bit most days (still working on the Lyme's rest cure), stumbling out of bed around 8 or 8:30. By then I usually hear Dominic and Monica and the girls moving around in their upstairs apartment while I say morning prayers, make my bed and get dressed. Dan has already made himself a pot of coffee by the time I emerge from the bedroom -- but Dan and I see coffee differently; I'm an espresso kinda gal and he likes his, as he calls it: smooth (i.e., weak and watered down with creamer). To each his own, though. I'm good with it! I now have the option of kissing Dan good morning (and  "see ya later") and heading over to the RV kitchen and my mocha pot for my own coffee. 

Not every morning, but many mornings, I'll make scrambled eggs and Dan will join me at the RV at about 9 or 9:30 for a late breakfast. By then, Dominic and Monica have come downstairs for their breakfast at the Big House (Margaret's nickname for it). Then around 10 or 10:30 Margaret comes over for a visit. I drink my coffee, she sips her "tea" (a bit of warm water and a few drops of honey in a sippy cup) and plays with the dolls or the magic pen coloring book and chatters and chatters -- and I understand about half of it, but smile and nod at all of it. 😉

Monica and Margaret planting carrots and tomatoes.
 Around 11 or 11:30, Monica or Dominic (since Dominic hasn't started his day job yet) comes to retrieve Margaret -- and they generally work on the gardens together -- then lunch and naps. I spend the afternoons working on various projects, including the literature study guides I'm working on for Sr. Antonia, among other literary endeavors. Dan and I have a midafternoon "Nuncheon" -- usually over at the RV, and then a very small dinner (usually salad or crudités or something like that) around 6 or 7. Unless it's a weekend night -- and we have something special planned. Like tonight. We'll probably share the salmon with Dominic and Monica and dine alfresco on one of the patios. With wine and good conversation as we watch the sun set over the hills. (Bliss.)

We all enjoy the beauty of the change of the seasons, the time together, the easy structure of our days, the common denominator and security of sharing the most important things: our family and our Faith  -- and you know? The rest of the world can go where it wants in a handbasket: we don't have to let it bring us down. We do discuss current events -- but only when pertinent and not ad nauseum. Most of our conversations revolve around the gardens, the children, the goings on in our parish, and what we're going to do when Gabe and William are home for the summer -- or who all will be here for graduations -- or how much we're looking forward to our Religious children's home time in June -- and when's the next volleyball party...? Living in the world, not being of it. It's the only way to go. Praying that, regardless of how the world goes, we can maintain the ability to think and live positively and well, appreciating the simple things -- accepting the changes and difficulties as challenges to overcome for the good of our souls. The same as it's always been. It's all good.

5. Also this: 

I've been playing with the craft of needle felting -- without really studying it especially hard or actually watching all the how-to videos I've saved on Pinterest --  so you can probably guess how well I'm doing. (grimace) The spritely, highly detailed needle-felted forest gnomes that I fell in love with online, the amazing needle-felted landscapes, the bunnies and foxes I've been admiring ever since I first ran across them on my Pinterest feed...? Well, my first attempt looks nothing like them. At all.  But I had fun snuggling in on the RV couch last week over a couple rainy days, trying to figure out how to construct a needle-felt butterfly for my mother for Mother's Day -- without bleeding to death. Because needle-felting is a "poky" thing. So here's my butterfly. It may look pretty amateur and a little hokey, but there's lots of love and a little of my DNA in this Mother's Day gift. Not Pinterest worthy. Only a mother could love it. Thank goodness!

The almost-finished front side.
The very first steps. And there's that
poky felting  needle... 


The almost-finished message side -- with magnets.
I love ya, Mom!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Simple Woman Rainy Monday


For Today

Looking out my window...
A rainy drizzly day. Kinda bleh. And, seriously, spring has sprung! I declare, I can look out the window and watch the dandelion's growing! (What a year for dandelions!) The daffodils and tulips have had their day, and almost nothing else is actually in bloom in the way of perennials right now. We do have some small annuals just in the ground that are adding some color: coleus, white Nancy, petunias, geraniums, and allysum, but the whole garden is waiting, holding its breath, for the big show now: the iris, lilacs, and peonies are in the wings waiting their turn! I can't wait for the bouquets!

I am thinking...
I need to get busy with some real work -- but this is one of those days that I'm having trouble getting going. Yesterday was a  big busy day (big family and friend gathering for Daria and Ella's birthdays -- and a "house warming" for Dominic and Monica -- and our 34th anniversary!), and I'm still feeling worn out from that (a sure sign of getting old when that happens!) -- but also, there's something about a grey drizzly day that makes ya just want to snuggle up with a cuppa tea and a good book!

I am thankful... 
...for our great big fun family!

One of my favorite things...
Those bagged salad kits you can get in the produce section of most grocery stores nowadays. It wasn't too long ago I would have turned my nose up at these things; for one thing, they just wouldn't provide enough food for us all -- especially at the cost! Since I'm having to learn to cook for smaller numbers of people now, though, (usually just me and Dan -- as Dominic and Monica fend for themselves in their own family dinners), I find there's way less waste doing it the bagged salad way. And the combinations are really good (bacon ranch; Asian: Southwestern...)! I think they save us money in the long run, are easy, tasty, and are reasonably healthful.

I am creating...
Still working on the needle-felting... I'll report back on it if the Mother's Day gift for my Mom turns out successfully. I'm a total novice, just trying to figure it out... 🙄

I am wearing...
Orange, yellow and navy blue patterned maxi-skirt; navy blue polo; black jersey jacket -- as it's chilly today!

I am reading...
Tom PlayfairI'm working on a study guide for it!

I am hoping...
My brain will wake up before the day is over -- or I'm not going to get much done on this study guide...

Some picture thoughts for the day...

 

The renovation of our upper floor (as promised). Now a little apartment for Dominic and Monica's family!



Corner of the living room -- formerly the boys' room.

The opposite corner.

The coffee and tea bar. They have a mini fridge and microwave around the corner, too.

The basic layout of the living room. Crazy how different it looks from when it was the boys' room --
as you might imagine! The flooring is all new (a beautiful laminate), all walls and ceilings were painted, and all the trim is new -- besides of course, all the furnishings and wall decor. I love their taste!

The hallway bookcase. We always had books here.
This arrangement is especially lovely, though!

One corner of the Master Bedroom

Another corner.

The big picture of the Master Bedroom. This used to be the girls' room -- and they had it decorated
beautifully -- in fact Cathy has pretty much re-created their old room at her new apartment --
but I love Monica and Dominic's take on this space. The blues and whites are just gorgeous!



Maybe my favorite thing: the first thing you see at the top of the stairs is
the Blessed Mother! ❤

The new light hanging in the stairwell. I couldn't get 
a shot of it which incorporated the mural on the 
wall above the bottom step (Calvin and Hobbes) --
but this light works perfectly with it -- and with
the double bannister. Matches perfectly!

* NB: It's crazy going upstairs now. It's home. But not. It's Dominic and Monica's home and has their personality and taste all over it -- which is fantastic! I love it! And I'm in awe of their work ethic and organization in getting it all done in such a short time -- less than three weeks! 

Friday, April 30, 2021

On the Feast of St. Catherine of Sienna



 And on that note: Love Love Love this beautiful, sweet daughter

 whose nameday it is today:

Mrs. Catherine Landsgaard on her wedding day last April. 


*BTW: Feast of St. Joseph the Worker tomorrow -- and the first day of the month of Mary! Day to make sure the vases are clean -- and I can find the May crowns for our statues! Such a pleasure, everything about the first of May!


Thursday, April 29, 2021

Whistle While You Work

 I have live-in help again! ❤  Woohoo!

One thing we learned about training the kids to be cheerfully diligent: there are going to be chores nobody wants to do -- but having them help alongside Mom and Dad every day in all kinds of little ways, starting from the youngest ages -- while talking, laughing, and singing -- works way better than only assigning singular chores to individual kids on prescribed days.

Sometimes that kind of chore assigning is needed or appropriate, of course -- but as a general rule, kids (and adults!) dread it -- hate it -- and learn to hate the idea of "work" when it's presented this way. And that's a terrible handicap, learning to hate work, because life really is largely about getting our chores done -- physically and spiritually! The best sorts of disciplines are the ones we learn to accept as "doing our part" -- as an important cog (no matter how small)  in the machinery of our home -- or work place or parish -- or the world, in general!

Vacuuming the RV. We all get a kick out of using the central vac!
We've never had one, and it is sure handy dandy -- especially for little tykes!


 I told Margaret her job was to pick up all the little dolls off the floor
 and see which ones fit best in the ferris wheel. She liked this job!


Indispensable help when Mommom is juicing, let me tell you!

Chores can be fun -- or at least not dreadful! -- especially when we work together -- and are a little wiley about them sometimes. 😉 And with a curly-top like this helping me out, I'm not complaining!

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Celebrating the Liturgical Year: May, the Month of Mary!

 

Over top of everything else going on this month, we get to enjoy contemplating the glories of Mary! Every single saint in the liturgical calendar had a devotion to the Mother of God; we can be assured by their example that we can and should go to Jesus through Mary.

 "Those who have great devotion to Mary," says St. Vincent Palotti, "not only will be saved, but also will, through her intercession, become great saints. Furthermore, their holiness will grow from day to day."

St. Augustine tells us: "The world being unworthy to receive the Son of God directly from the hands of the Father, He gave His Son to Mary for the world to receive Him from her."

St. Thomas carries on the thought: "As mariners are guided into port by the shining of a star, so Christians are guided to heaven by Mary."

And St. Maximillian Kolbe tells us: "Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did."

Mary, Queen of Heaven, help us to imitate the example of the saints, that by your intercession with your Son we will have the grace and strength and perseverance to work out our salvation. Amen.
MAY 1st 

St. Joseph the Worker

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is a new one in the long life of the Liturgical Calendar, but it has an incremental history. Going back to 1870, Pope Pius IX declared St. Joseph Patron of the Universal Church and established the day, a solemnity with an octave, to be celebrated on the second Wednesday after Easter -- in addition to the long-held chief feast day of St. Joseph on March 19th -- honored since around the 10th century. Then... In 1956, realizing the threat of the Godless philosophy of Communism, Pope Pius XII replaced the second Wednesday solemnity with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to counter the Communist May Day celebration -- which ostensibly recognized workers -- but in an atheistic way. St. Joseph, patron saint of all workers, is the antidote to dangerous communist ideals, and provides a pertinent devotion in our day -- a time when more than ever, the humanistic (and/or pagan) ideals of socialism/communism are on the upswing.

* Find many praises and prayers of St. Joseph here.

* Read how Wednesdays are always set aside for St Joseph.

* St. Joseph Altars and other special celebrations ideas for the day can be found at Fish Eaters.

* If you're not in the mode just now to make a real St. Joseph altar, you can have the children construct little paper St. Joseph Altars instead. You can find the pdf download here -- and lots more great stuff at Evann's site -- including coloring pages -- dedicated to our great saint!

* Catholic Cuisine has scads of recipes and ideas for celebrating the feast -- epicurean style.  I love the lily lollipop idea, for instance. Wouldn't it be fun to have the featured mold on hand for other feast days, too?

* Here's a beautiful coloring page for today!

* And a fun traditional recipe:

Saint Joseph's rice fritters
Frittelle Di San Giusepe


2 1/4 cups milk
1 cup raw rice
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons fruit brandy (optional)
Grated rind of 1 large orange
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons pine nuts
Oil for deep frying
Confectioners' sugar

Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan.

Add the rice, salt, vanilla, and granulated sugar.

Cover the pan, and simmer gently until the rice is fully cool.)

Mix the rice thoroughly with the eggs, flour, baking powder, brandy, orange rind, raisins, and pine nuts.

Heat the oil to 375° F. for deep-fat frying. Drop the Frittelle mixture 1 tablespoon at a time into the oil. Cook a few at a time, keeping the Frittelle separate. Fry until golden brown.

Drain the Frittelle on paper towels. Serve them hot, sprinkled with confectioners' sugar.


May 2nd

St. Athanasius

One of the early Church Fathers and a Doctor of the Church, St. Athanasius' influence was so important to our Faith that St. Gregory Nazianzen (another Doctor of the Church whose feast day we celebrate later this month) called him the "Pillar of the Church."

 St. Athanasius was the twentieth bishop of Alexandria, his occupancy of this see spanning 45 years, from June 328 to May 373, but broken up by five different exiles imposed by four different Roman emperors, in total comprising 17 years exile. A man of many titles, this great bishop's lifelong battle -- head to head against the most powerful rulers of the state and Church of his time -- to preserve the doctrine of the Incarnation -- specifically the dual nature of Christ as God and man from the heresy of Arianism. His lifelong battle earned him the title Athanasius Contra Mundum (Athanasius Against the World). St. Jerome (340-420, another Doctor of the Church) explains: 

He suffered an unjust excommunication from Pope Liberius... who was exiled and leant towards compromise, until he was allowed back to the see of Rome. Athanasius stood virtually alone against the world.

Filled with stubborn piety and infused with the strength, no doubt, of the Holy Spirit (whom he often defended and explained in his quest against Arianism), this holy bishop remained firm in defense of true doctrine to the end. And he was proven right, though it seemed the world was against him, a David among the philistines and the Goliath of Arianism. His writings against this heresy and on many of the foundational doctrines of faith, including the divinity of the Holy Ghost, were instrumental in defeating pernicious early errors. He is also one of the chief sources of documentation on the Council of Nicaea, and wrote the definitive contemporary biography of St. Antony of the Desert, the Father of Monasticism. 

Historian Cornelius Clifford added another title to our saint in his account: Athanasius was the greatest champion of Catholic belief on the subject of the Incarnation that the Church has ever known and in his lifetime earned the characteristic title of "Father of Orthodoxy," by which he has been distinguished ever since."

Bl. John Henry Newman described him as a "principal instrument, after the Apostles, by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been conveyed and secured to the world."


St. Athanasius, hero against the evil of heresy and our model in never bowing to peer pressure, pray for us!


* For the children on this feast day, it would be appropriate to read about the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. My Catholic Faith has very accessible questions and answers format on this and most every other topic of faith that you can imagine. (We think it is a must-have Catholic resource!)

* Considering the virtues, St. Athanasius provides the perfect opportunity to discuss resisting peer pressure. St. Augustine (another famous Doctor of the Church!) tells us: Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.  This conversation can morph into the importance of knowing specifically and well exactly what the Church teaches so that we know what is the truth and can defend it. You might bring up the notion of being Soldiers of Christ -- like the great St. Athanasius! -- fighting for truth and honor, not bending to the forces of evil that unendingly try to pervert the truth, corrupt souls, and destroy the Church. Stress the importance of praying for the courage of our convictions! It's a good day to meditate on such important ideas, not only for the souls of our children, but for our own souls as well.

One of our favorite kinds of coloring pages for the older children, this one comes with built-in shading:

Click/save/print -- might need to fiddle with it to lighten up a bit.


May 3rd 
Feast of the Finding of the Holy Cross

Finding and Recognition of the True Cross

by Piero della Francesca 

Today' feast day was known as Roodmas in medievel times.  This comes from the Old English word "rood" or "rod" for cross, and "mas" for Mass. Today we generally call it Holy Cross Day.  This feast originated to commemorate the dedication of the Basilica of the Resurrection -- that church having been built by St. Helena (Constantine the Great's mother), in Jerusalem in A.D. 355.  The true Cross was actually found by St. Helena after the basilica was built, but the celebration of both events were joined, falling on May 3rd.

Here's the whole story of the finding of the True Cross from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

In the year 326 the mother of Constantine, Helena, then about 80 years old, having journeyed to Jerusalem, undertook to rid the Holy Sepulchre of the mound of earth heaped upon and around it, and to destroy the pagan buildings that profaned its site. Some revelations which she had received gave her confidence that she would discover the Saviour's Tomb and His Cross. The work was carried on diligently, with the co-operation of St. Macarius, bishop of the city.

The Jews had hidden the Cross in a ditch or well, and covered it over with stones, so that the faithful might not come and venerate it. Only a chosen few among the Jews knew the exact spot where it had been hidden, and one of them, named Judas, touched by Divine inspiration, pointed it out to the excavators, for which act he was highly praised by St. Helena. Judas afterwards became a Christian saint, and is honoured under the name of Cyriacus.

During the excavation three crosses were found, but because the titulus was detached from the Cross of Christ, there was no means of identifying it. Following an inspiration from on high, Macarius caused the three crosses to be carried, one after the other, to the bedside of a worthy woman who was at the point of death. The touch of the other two was of no avail; but on touching that upon which Christ had died the woman got suddenly well again.

From a letter of St. Paulinus to Severus inserted in the Breviary of Paris it would appear that St. Helena herself had sought by means of a miracle to discover which was the True Cross and that she caused a man already dead and buried to be carried to the spot, whereupon, by contact with the third cross, he came to life. From yet another tradition, related by St. Ambrose, it would seem that the titulus, or inscription, had remained fastened to the Cross.
After the happy discovery, St. Helena and Constantine erected a magnificent basilica over the Holy Sepulchre, and that is the reason why the church bore the name of St. Constantinus. The precise spot of the finding was covered by the atrium of the basilica, and there the Cross was set up in an oratory, as appears in the restoration executed by de Vogüé. When this noble basilica had been destroyed by the infidels, Arculfus, in the seventh century, enumerated four buildings upon the Holy Places around Golgotha, and one of them was the "Church of the Invention" or "of the Finding". This church was attributed by him and by topographers of later times to Constantine. The Frankish monks of Mount Olivet, writing to Leo III, style it St. Constantinus. Perhaps the oratory built by Constantine suffered less at the hands of the Persians than the other buildings, and so could still retain the name and style of Martyrium Constantinianum. (See De Rossi, Bull. d' arch. crist., 1865, 88.)

A portion of the True Cross remained at Jerusalem enclosed in a silver reliquary; the remainder, with the nails, must have been sent to Constantine, and it must have been this second portion that he caused to be enclosed in the statue of himself which was set on a porphyry column in the Forum at Constantinople; Socrates, the historian, relates that this statue was to make the city impregnable. One of the nails was fastened to the emperor's helmet, and one to his horse's bridle, bringing to pass, according to many of the Fathers, what had been written by Zacharias the Prophet: "In that day that which is upon the bridle of the horse shall be holy to the Lord" (Zechariah 14:20). Another of the nails was used later in the Iron Crown of Lombardy preserved in the treasury of the cathedral of Monza.
In recent times relics of the True Cross have been studied and found to be made of some species of pine. The wood on which the inscription "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews" (known as the "titulus crucis")  has been scientifically dated to the 1st c. and has been found to have been made of olive wood.  The script is still legible  We know from scripture that titulus was written in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew (Matthew 27:37, Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38 and John 19:19) -- though the Hebrew is missing due to the second half having been lost in the 6th century. It is from the Latin inscription -- "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudeorum" that we get the abbreviation "I.N.R.I." that is found on many Crucifixes. 

The titulus crucis, along with other relics of the True Cross can be seen in Rome's Basilica di Santa Croce in Jerusalem.

Here is the official site for the Basilica of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.

Prayer Before A Crucifix  



 Behold, O good and most sweet Jesus, I fall upon my knees before Thee, and with most fervent desire of my soul, I beg and beseech Thee that Thou wouldst impress upon my heart a lively sense of faith, hope and charity, with true repentance for my sins, and a firm resolve to make amends. And with deep affection and grief, I reflect upon Thy five wounds, having before my eyes that which Thy prophet David spoke about Thee, o good Jesus: "They have pierced my hands and feet, they have counted all my bones." Amen.


En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu


 En ego, o bone et dulcissime Iesu En ego, O bone et dulcissime Iesu, ante conspectum tuum genibus me provolvo, ac maximo animi ardore te oro atque obtestor, ut meum in cor vividos fidei, spei et caritatis sensus, atque veram peccatorum meorum poenitentiam, eaque emendandi firmissimam voluntatem velis imprimere; dum magno animi affectu et dolore tua quinque vulnera mecum ipse considero ac mente contemplor, illud prae oculis habens, quod iam in ore ponebat tuo David propheta de te, o bone Iesu: Foderunt manus meas et pedes meos: dinumeraverunt omnia ossa mea. Amen. 


Note: This prayer is a partially indulgenced prayer. However, if one recites it before an image of Christ crucified, and under the usual conditions, on any of the Fridays in Lent (including Passiontide), one may receive a plenary indulgence.


May 4th

St. Monica

Imagine not only being the mother of a saint, but the mother of a Doctor of the Church!  St. Monica might never have believed it could happen, as frantic as she was for as long as she  was for her son to just simply save his soul!  St. Augustine, bless him, started out as rather a bad egg, and it took this mother thirty-three years of prayer to see her son change his ways, but she never gave up.  St. Augustine tells us that his mother shed more tears for the loss of his soul than other mothers shed for the death of a child, and it was by the grace of God, and these many tears and prayers, that St. Monica lived to see her wayward son convert from a life of sin to a life of holiness.

 How many of us see our "wandering" loved ones and can't imagine this kind of conversion happening?  So far, thank God, all of our children are safe in the fold, but we don't ever, ever rest on our laurels.  The devil is very busy, and the evils of the world can be overwhelming... We can never relax our vigilance and prayers to keep them close to Jesus' Sacred Heart.  But, like most families, we have our share of other dear ones who have strayed away -- some for whom it seems the road back is completely hidden.  But, we can take courage and hope from St. Monica.  Her lesson to us is: never, ever, ever give up.  Never stop praying and hoping. We don't want the salvation of our loved ones' souls more than Our Heavenly Father does!

Prayer to St. Monica

Dear St. Monica,
troubled wife and mother,
many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
Yet, you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence, and profound faith,
you prayed daily for the conversion
of your beloved husband, Patricius,
and your beloved son, Augustine;
your prayers were answered.
Grant me that same fortitude, patience,
and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
that God may favorably hear my plea for

(Mention your intention here.)

and grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Amen.

Dear St. Monica, pray for us!

* A lovely coloring page of St. Monica together with St. Augustine can be found here

May 5th

St. Pius V

One of the great reforming popes of the history of the Chair of Peter, Pope St. Pius V served as Vicar of the Catholic Church for only six years, from January 1566 to may of 1572, but he accomplished more in that time than a dozen regular people do in a lifetime, making decisions that influenced not only Rome, but the entire world -- even up to our day. 

The first thing Pope Pius V did upon ascending the Papal Throne was to re-establish the lost dignity and piety of the papal courts and the Vatican, in general. He dismissed the papal court jester (yes, there were actually papal court jesters, believe it or not!) and forbade horse racing in St. Peter's Square, as well as forbidding bull fighting in Rome. He checked the formerly rampant practice of nepotism in the hierarchy of the Church, and imposed severe sanctions against blasphemy, adultery, and sodomy. 

Never a hypocrite, in his daily life, Pope Pius V exercised great personal piety; he wore a hair shirt beneath the simple habit of a Dominican friar and was often seen barefoot. The care of the Faithful and the lot of the poor were as much a priority as the reform of ecclesiastical corruption and the defeat of heresy. Under his direction, the water supplies and sewers of Rome were overhauled and extended and the inns regulated. He cared for his people, body and soul. Rev. Alban Butler writes: "In the time of a great famine in Rome, he imported corn at his own expense from Sicily and France, a considerable part of which he distributed among the poor, gratis, and sold the rest to the public below cost."

But all of these temporal changes were the least of Pope St. Pius V's accomplishments. In defense of the true Faith against the Protestant revolt (in its height at the time), he dismissed eight bishops in France, reversing the French royal edict tolerating 'Reformers" services; he exerted the renewed teaching of the Roman Catechism, restoring papal discipline, and strictly and firmly put down all compromise with the Huguenot nobility. 

In England, rife with the destruction Henry VIII's apostasy, he excommunicated Henry's daughter and heir to the throne, Elizabeth I, and issued the papal bull Renans in Excelsis (April 27, 1570) which declared Elizabeth I a heretic and released her subjects from allegiance to her -- and ipso facto,  implied the threat of excommunication to all of her followers. In addition, he lent papal approval to her Catholic cousin, Mary Stuart, in her efforts to overthrow Elizabeth's heretical regime.

In defense against the threat of Muslimism, Pope St. Pius V formed the Holy League against the Ottoman Empire, which cooperation of force resulted in the victory at the Battle of Lepanto in October, 1571. In the famous true story of the time, Pope Pius miraculously knew of the victory from the Papal apartments in Rome, though the Battle took place hundreds of miles away (and there were no telephones or internet at the time, of course!). In celebration of this victory of Christianity, Pope St. Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory on October 7th.

Last, but far from least, Pope St. Pius V codified the necessity, the universality, and the timelessness of the Tridentine Mass in the encyclical  Quo Primum.

* Read Lepanto, an epic poem by GK Chesterton - to commemorate the great moral victory against the Moslems -- under the pontificate of Pope St. Pius V.

Pope St. Pius V, we need your intercession in our day more than ever! Please pray for us!

May 6th

St. John before the Latin Gate

The Basilica of San Giovanni
a Porta in Rome, Italy
The "Latin Gate" does refer specifically to a gate, in case you wondered; one particular gate, the Porta Latina, which led into the city of Rome, and this feast day recalls a singular event in the life of St. John, the Beloved Apostle, that occurred just outside this gate.  In the year 95 AD, St. John, the last surviving Apostle, was apprehended by the Romans in Ephesus and taken as a prisoner to Rome. Probably in his seventies at the time, John undoubtedly thought his turn had finally come for martyrdom and it was with a spirit of joy that he watched the soldiers prepare the vat of boiling oil outside the Latin Gate that would be his destiny -- his doorway to heaven. He thought. It pleased God, however, to spare his Beloved Apostle at this time, so when John was submerged in the bubbling hissing caldron, the effects were that of a warm and invigorating bath. He came out feeling and looking better than when he went in. Though "martyred," the last Apostle -- the only one to witness Christ's death on the cross -- did not himself die at the hands of the Romans.

His executioner, the ruler Domitian, witnessing the miracle was unmoved (can you imagine?), but instead of trying again to martyr John (probably wishing to avoid the embarrassment if John once more went unscathed), he banished him to the island of Patmos, and John went on to live about five years more, finally dying of old age circa 100 AD.

Standing at the place of the Porta Latina now is the Basilica of San Giovanni a Porta Latina. Though renovated several times through history, its founding date goes back to the reign of Pope Gelasius (492-496 AD)

May 8th

The Apparition of St. Michael

* Make sure and run over here to read the amazing story of this apparition of the great Archangel! Crazy and awe-inspiring -- with a bucket-list chapel to see some day. And a skull with a hole in it. (Go see!)


The Story of the St. Michael Prayer

One day, after celebrating Mass, the aged Pope Leo XIII (See of Peter, 1878-1903) was in conference with the Cardinals when suddenly he sank to the floor in a deep swoon. Physicians who hastened to his side could find no trace of his pulse and feared that he had expired. However, after a short interval the Holy Father regained consciousness and exclaimed with great emotion: "Oh, what a horrible picture I have been permitted to see!"

He had been shown a vision of evil spirits who had been released from Hell and their efforts to destroy the Church. But in the midst of the horror the archangel St. Michael appeared and cast Satan and his legions into the abyss of hell. Soon afterwards Pope Leo XIII composed the following prayer to Saint Michael, which is the original version:


The Real St.  Michael Prayer -- The Whole Thing

O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.

“Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be.

“Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.

R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered the root of David.
V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.
R. As we have hoped in Thee.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

Let us pray.
O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.”
(From the Roman Raccolta, July 23, 1898, supplement approved July 31, 1902)

(The shorter, more famililar version here.)


Coloring Pages for the Day
(Click and Print)

A highly detailed one:

 A more simple one:



* Check out the beautiful, refreshingly manly depictions of St. Michael at David Meyers' blog!
 
* Lots of culinary ideas for St. Michael and angel feast days over at Catholic Cuisine to celebrate the day.
 
 *
St. Michael, always victorious over satan, guard and protect us!

May 11th 

St. Philip and St. James the Lesser

We don't know much about these two saints -- except that upon their shoulders -- and those of the other ten first bishops of the Church -- rest the box girders of the Church.

It's believed that Saint James may have been a cousin of Our Lord: he's commonly called the “Less” to differentiate him from the other apostle, James -- because he was the second of the two Jameses to be chosen by Christ -- and likely the younger of the two -- but also possibly due his short stature. He is the author of one of the epistles in the New Testament, was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was (according to the Roman historian Eusebius), killed by a Jewish mob in 62 AD. He was thrown from a  parapet and clubbed to death after refusing to renounce the Faith. 

 Saint Philip was one of the first apostles chosen by Christ. was from tiny Bethsaida in Galilee. It was Philip who asked Our Lord at the miraculous feeding of the multitude, "Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?" And it was Philip who in the Upper Room said to Jesus, "Lord, show us the Father and it is enough for us." Philip is thought to have been martyred by crucifixion (though it's a little unclear) somewhere in the ancient lands of Scythia (Eurasia) around 80 AD. He is the patron saint of hatters and pastry chefs.

 Ways to consider celebrating this feast day:

* Since St. Philip was an Apostle to the Greeks, you could serve Greek food for dinner! One of our very favorite Greek foods is Gyros! Easy to make and so good! You could also put together an olive platter for taste-testing, olives and olive oil being chief exports of Greece -- and historically an important national product, not only economically, but symbolically.  Since Noah's Ark, the olive branch has been a symbol of peace, but the Greeks are known to have used an olive branch as a symbol of truce when sent to their enemies. An olive branch also been a traditional award given to the victors in the Olympics going back to the first days of the games in Greece.  Find information on different kinds of olives here and here.

* Also, because St. Philip is the patron saint of pastry chefs -- make or buy and serve pastry for breakfast or dessert today, perhaps? (This idea, we all love, right?)

* Some wisdom shared by the Apostle James to discuss and consider on his feast day: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself unspotted by the world." (James 1:27) Ask: What, then is 'religion'?  How is this an example of what the Church wishes us to understand as the practice of our Faith? Who are the widows and orphans in our own world? How can we support them? Is this all we have to do -- this care of those without other support? What are some other examples of ways to practice our Faith? And, one of the most important discussions to have within our families in this day -- as in all others: how do we "remain unspotted by the world?" How do we live in the world without becoming of the world?

May 13th

The Ascension of Our Lord

A Holy Day of Obligation

From the Baltimore Catechism No. 2, Lessons 21-30

283. Which are the holydays of obligation in the United States?

The holydays of obligation in the United States are these six:
Christmas Day (December 25)
The Octave of the Nativity (January 1)
Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter)
The Assumption (August 15)
All Saints’ Day (November 1)
The Immaculate Conception (December 8)

284. What else does the Church oblige us to do on holydays of obligation?
The Church obliges us to abstain from servile work on holydays of obligation, just as on Sundays, as far as we are able.

285. Why were holy days instituted by the Church?
Holydays were instituted by the Church to remind us of the mysteries of our religion and of the important events in the lives of Christ and of His Blessed Mother, and to recall to us the virtues and the rewards of the saints.

* The placement of the feast of the Ascension changes annually because the feast of Easter changes. By long Catholic tradition (in accounts going back to the third and fourth century and before), Easter is held on the first Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven occurred forty days following Easter -- then the feast of Pentecost took place ten days after Our Lord Ascended into heaven. Paschaltide (aka: Eastertide) comprises the time from the feast of Easter to the eve of Trinity Sunday (the week after the Pentecost, which is ten days after the Ascension), a total of fifty-six days. But the time allotted to Catholics to complete their Easter duty is in total: the 46 days of Lent (including the Sundays) + the 40 days to the Ascension + the 10 days to Pentecost Sunday+ the 6 days to the eve of Trinity Sunday = 102 days -- more than enough time to make a good and pious Holy Communion! 



* Begin the Novena to the Holy Ghost  on Ascension Thursday.

The novena in honor of the Holy Ghost is the oldest of all novenas. When Our Lord sent His Apostles to Jerusalem to await the coming of the Holy Ghost on the first Pentecost, the nine days waiting and praying constituted, at Jesus' direction, the first novena. The only novena officially prescribed by the Church, it addresses the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity in a powerful plea for the wisdom, fortitude and charity so sorely needed by every Christian in every age. To encourage devotion to the Holy Ghost, the Church has enriched this novena with the following indulgences:

    The faithful who devoutly assist at the public novena in honor of the Holy Ghost immediately preceding the Feast of Pentecost may gain:

An indulgence of 10 years on any day of the novena;
A plenary indulgence if they take part in at least five of the exercises, and moreover, go to confession, and receive Holy Communion.

Ascension Coloring Page
to copy/print.

May 14th

St. Boniface

Born "Winfrid"  circa 675 AD, St. Boniface beginnings are murky with the dust of
St. Boniface: Not one to mince words

history, but it is fairly certain he was an Anglo Saxon, believed to have been born near the city of Exeter in England. We do know he was educated by the Benedictines in the abbey of Nhutschelle (or Nursling), he was raised to the priesthood there, and at the death of the abbot, Winfrid was offered his seat as abbot, but refused in order to become a missionary to Friesland (a province of the Netherlands). After a failed attempt to set up secure missions there (due to war being waged there at the time), he regrouped and set sail for Rome, where Pope Gregory II renamed him Boniface, raised him to a bishop, and set him upon his life-long task as the official missionary and papal legate to Germania -- a region still peppered with paganism -- and where the Catholic faith brought by the earliest missionaries had gone cold and fractious and there was no longer any connection with Rome.

In the famous tale related by his contemporary biographer, Willibald, Boniface, determined to begin his work in rooting out idolatry, began with the felling of a giant tree called "Jupiter's Oak." As he lifted his ax to strike the first blow, a mighty wind from nowhere accomplished the deed, blowing down the tree. When no gods struck down either Boniface -- or anyone else -- the people who witnessed the amazing event converted to Christianity. St. Boniface then built a chapel dedicated to St. Peter using the wood from the tree. This chapel eventually became the monastery of Fritzlar, and until the end of his life in 754 AD, St. Boniface labored to convert souls and set up the structure of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. Churches and monasteries dotted the landscape by the time of his death; there were major churches and monasteries in Bavaria (SalzburgRegensburgFreising, and Passau)  and Mainz. Martyred on the way to once again try to bring the Faith to Friesland, St. Boniface's legacy led to a thriving Church throughout the country, and he is, of course, the patron saint of Germany.

* A little German geography brush up might be the first order of the day, followed by a glimpse of the amazing list of German saints that followed St. Boniface.

* Many German recipes to try here. (I want to have a go at the sauerbraten!)

* And something for us parents who enjoy a good beer. Some interesting German -- and German-style beers you might never have heard of here and here.

Also on this date:
St. John Baptist de LaSalle

Founder of the order of Brothers of Christian Schools in the latter part of the 17th century, St. John Baptist de la Salle was an innovator in education and in the training of teachers, a true patron for many of us in the education field -- maybe most especially homeschoolers.

Writings of St. John Baptist de LaSalle can be found here.

Born at Reims, France April 30, 1651
Ordained priest April 9, 1678
Died April 7, 1719
Beatified February 19, 1888
Canonized May 24, 1900

Proclaimed Patron of Christian Teachers May 15, 1950


May 19th

Pope St. Peter Celestine 

The papacy of St. Peter Celestine has got to be one of the most unusual in history.

 After the death of Pope Nicholas IV in 1292 -- and before the strict method of modern day papal elections had been established -- the determination of a successor to the Chair of Peter became bogged down in a quagmire of indecision for two full years. St. Peter Celestine, founder of the Celestine Order, a branch of the Benedictines, was well known as a pious abbot. The months ticking by with the Chair of Peter empty, the cardinals were likely frustrated with their own indecision -- and upon receiving a letter from the humble abbot telling them very plainly that God was displeased with their lack of action, looked upon the communication as a sign from God and elected the abbot as Pope.  He served for only four months, however -- and hampered by his extreme humility to govern with decision, and feeling wholly unworthy and incapable of maintaining such a vital position between heaven and earth, he threw himself at the feet of the cardinals begging to be released from the job and allowed to live the rest of his life in the peace of his monastery.  The cardinals allowed his abdication, but because of  disagreement among the faithful, and in some cases real vitriol surrounding the concept of a papal abdication,  to protect humble St. Peter Celestine from the turmoil, instead of releasing him back to the Celestine Abbey, they consigned him to a cell -- more prison than abbey.  

Still, of St. Peter Celestine's "demotion" Fr. Alban Butler says: "having sat in the chair four months he abdicated the supreme dignity in the church, on the 13th of December, 1294, with greater joy than the most ambitious man could mount the throne of the richest empire in the world. This the cheerfulness of his countenance evidenced, no less than his words."

His last days in the Vatican-appointeded cell, however, were not easy ones - undoubtedly adding to his sanctity. Fr. Butler says: Boniface (NB: His successor), alleging the danger of tumults and of a schism, confined him in the citadel of Fumone, nine miles from Anagni, under a guard of soldiers. The authors of the life of the saint say, that he there suffered many insults and hardships, which yet never drew from his mouth the least word of complaint. On the contrary, he sent word to Boniface, by two cardinals who came to see him, that he was content with his condition, and desired no other. He used to say with wonderful tranquility, “I desired nothing in the world but a cell; and a cell they have given me.” He sang the divine praises, almost without interruption, with two of his monks who were assigned him for his companions. On Whit-Sunday, in 1296, after he had heard mass with extraordinary fervour, he told his guards that he should die before the end of the week. He immediately sickened of a fever, and received extreme unction. Even in that dying condition he would never suffer a little straw to be strewed on the hard boards on which he always lay, and prayed without interruption. On Saturday, the 19th of May, finishing the last psalm of lauds at those words, Let every spirit praise the Lord, he calmly closed his eyes to this world, and his soul passed to the company of the angels, he being seventy-five years old. (Other sources report his age of death at closer to 80 or 81)


* There have been no further popes who have taken the name Celestine, though holy St. Peter's Order of Benedictines took his name, the "Celestines," subsequent to his death. He was canonized in 1313 by Pope  Clement V. He is the patron saint of bookbinders -- and of papal resignations.

* After more than 2,000 years and more than 250 popes, there have been only a handful of papal abdications -- for a variety of reasons. You can read about some of these histories here. 

(As always, consider the source; almost all online articles are Novus Ordo, but in this case, except for the account of Benedict XVI -- our recent non-pope -- there's little reason for the author to misrepresent. Nevertheless, as always, read with care and a healthy dose of Catholic skepticism -- anything you read on the internet or elsewhere.)

* The full biography of Pope St. Celestine with Fr. Alban Butler's commentary here.

May 23rd

Pentecost: Birthday of the Church

The word Pentecost literally means 50. Fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ --  not Easter itself, not the feast of the Ascension, forty days later -- but it is Pentecost  that we consider the Birthday of the Church. It wasn't until the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost, descended upon the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary, that the Apostles, infused with the graces of the Paraclete, went forth into the world, the first bishops of the Catholic Church.



Prayer to the Holy Ghost

Come, Holy Ghost,
fill the hearts of Thy faithful
and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created;
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

Let us pray.

O God, who didst instruct the hearts of Thy faithful people
by sending them the light of Thy Holy Spirit,
grant us by the same Spirit
to have a right judgment in all things,
and evermore to rejoice in His consolation.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

* A sermon on The Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost by Bp. Mark Pivarunas can be found here.

* Ideas for celebrating: 

* Have everyone wear green -- the "default" color of  the Vestments  during the time after Pentecost (the longest season of the Liturgical Year).  

*Light candles (safely, of course 😉) on the dinner table -- and perhaps throughout the house in memory of the tongues of fire, the physical manifestation of the Holy Ghost, that descended upon the Apostles and the Blessed Mother on Pentecost.

* Many many ideas for crafts and menus for the Feast of Pentecost here.


May 25th

Pope St. Gregory VII

Pope Gregory VII is a good pope to learn about following the feast of Pope St. Peter Celestine (above - on the 19th) whose election to the papacy was preceded by much confusion in the actual election process. One of the chief reforms of the papacy of Pope St. Gregory VII concerned the regulation of the election process -- and the primacy of the Church over civil authority. Besides the clarification of the election process, much of this pope's twelve year struggle (1073-1085 AD) from the Chair of Peter concerned the Holy Roman Emperor, Henry IV, and the Right of Investiture -- or the sole right of the Church to anoint and appoint bishops and move them from see to see. Over this issue, Pope St. Gregory excommunicated Henry IV three times! Holy Roman Emperor or not, Henry, as a civil power, had no rights over the governing of the Church. Neither did any other monarchy or civil power. 

But Henry was belligerent, and in his day, being able to wield the power of the Church through its bishops added significantly to a sovereign's command. It's a long complicated controversy, but in a nutshell: In response to one of the excommunications over his noncompliance, Henry the IV illegitimately appointed a false pope (Antipope Clement VII). This action, of course, instead of guaranteeing him the power of the Church only resulted in furthering him from the Church -- and his own people; Henry had not reckoned on the tide of public opinion favoring Pope Gregory instead of him.  Unexpectedly, Henry found his own throne threatened -- and the German princes demanding he make peace with Rome. Which he sort of did -- but not really. 

The ongoing political jockeying and confusion carried on to the death of Pope St. Gregory in 1085 -- in exile due to the encroaching danger of Henry's forces, but the precedent of the Papacy's power of investiture had been set, whether Henry IV and his ilk liked it or not. The problems of Investiture were not solved during this pope's  lifetime, but the eventual success was greatly influenced by his constancy during his papacy -- and undoubtedly his intercession from heaven. At the  Concordat of Worms in 1122  Henry's successor, Henry V and Pope Callistus II finished the work that Gregory VII started, ensuring the primacy of the papacy over its own government.

 In other reforms, Pope St. Gregory VII caused, by threat of excommunication, an end to the ongoing problem of simony in the Church; he also confirmed and enforced celibacy for the clergy.  He made a point of communicating with and forming amicable relationships with as many Catholic nations as he could, establishing papal authority such that he could pre-empt further problems involving investiture. Upon the Schism with the Byzantine Church, and the continuing Mohammedan threat, Pope St. Gregory VII began the first steps toward the Crusades to stem the Muslim tide and recover our Christian holy sites -- though it would be eleven years (1096), under Pope Urban II before the first Holy Wars were actually fought.

Perhaps most importantly, Pope St. Gregory VII is also known for his confirmation and strict upholding of the doctrine of the True Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Pope St. Gregory VII died while in exile in Salerno, Italy, in 1085. He was canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1728.

* A plethora of discussion points from the life of this pope: 

What "primacy" means -- and "investiture." What power does civil authority have over churches? What should it have? What power does the Church have over civil law? What power should it have? How has this changed over the centuries? How have the times affected how we think about his issue? 

Why aren't priests married? Think of some examples of how the married state -- together with the life and duties of a priest would clash. 

What is "simony"? Discuss how both the solving of the Papal primacy problem and the celibacy of the priesthood helped solve this problem.

Interesting to note that though the "home" of the Church has been long and rightly considered to be Rome, there have been several occasions of exile that prove that the real "seat of the Church" is not a place. This idea segues nicely into the understanding that the Church not only does not reside in one place -- but also doesn't exist in one person. In other words, the Church does not cease to exist because the Chair of Peter is vacant -- either literally or figuratively.  Here's a good podcast concerning Sedevacantism that explains much.

May 26th

Ember Wednesday

* Read about the Spring Ember Days here.

Fast and partial abstinence for adults between the ages of 21 and 59 today. Rules here.

* Please pray for priests and for vocations!


St. Philip Neri

Known as "The Second Apostle of Rome" -- after St. Peter -- St. Philip Neri was one of the most influential saints, not only of his era, but of any era. Born Filippo Romolo Neri on the 22nd July, 1515, he was a behind-the-scenes moving force of the counter Reformation. Though a simple priest, he was counselor to several popes, friend and confidant of many  bishops and Cardinals, the mentor to saints -- and a humble, amusing -- and inspiring --  friend to the many faithful fortunate to live in his orbit and those of us who can benefit today by his holy example.

His was the era of the council of Trent; the Church in Rome had been plagued by corruption and an indifferent clergy, the faith of the people perverted by the evils of the Renaissance, and the Protestant Revolt in the north was already destroying the faith of whole nations. But, by the grace of God, the humble wisdom of this parish priest whispered into the ear of the Church, helping to effect change. Besides his counsel to the popes, he influenced many of the cardinals who influenced the popes; he knew and counseled St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Camillus de Lellis, St. John Leonardi, St. Charles Borromeo, St. Felix of Cantaclice, and St. Francis de Sales. For the lay people, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity, and established 45 oratories that still exist today, together with a society of secular clergy called the Congregation of the Oratory to nurture the fruit of these oratories. Though a hallmark of his character was his profound humility, miracles accompanied him everywhere, and he downplayed them and covered them up with his self-deprecating wit. He was known and appreciated for his sense of humor, and his ardent attachment to the Person of Christ drew souls to him like bees to honey.  John Henry Newman, inspired by St. Philip Neri, founded the first Oratory in England. Giovanni  Palestrina composed music for the services held in the Oratories.

Similar to St. John Bosco, St. Philip Neri seemed to understand the way people
worked. He knew that the young especially respond to humor and that it is also a good tool for learning and practicing humility. He is quoted as saying "a joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one." Preferring spiritual mortification over physical -- and capitalizing on the humility of a sense of humor, he once told a penitent that he could wear a hair shirt -- so long as he wore it on the outside of his clothes.  He was, himself, known to mortify himself (joyfully) by doing things like shaving off half his beard or wearing silly clothing. The more he suspected he was gaining a reputation for holiness, the sillier he got, and while some may have thought he sometimes tipped toward lunacy, most appreciated his light-heartedness in a heavy and difficult world. His example of piety and prayer explained all.

Though he was a counsellor of popes and other highborn secular and Religious authorities, St. Philip knew well how to influence the hearts of ordinary people, too. In his practical wisdom, he knew it was important to give young people, especially, something concrete to do in place of mischief. To that end, he scheduled excursions to churches, interspersed with music and a picnic on the way. These excursions turned into little pilgrimages: seven churches in one day beginning at St. Peter's Basilica and ending at the Basilica de Santa Maria Maggiore (almost 14 miles). This "Seven Churches Walk" (on the Via delle Sette Chiese) originally took the place of the evils of the Carnival -- and became a much loved tradition in Rome that is still practiced today.

In all his light-heartedness, though, St. Philip took one thing very seriously: prayer. Prayer was, of course, the very purpose of the Congregatione de Oratorio. He was known, himself, to spend hours daily in prayer; he avoided public Masses and public preaching because he became so easily carried away emotionally and did not want to draw attention to himself.  When asked how to pray, he answered: "Be humble and obedient and the Holy Spirit will teach you." When his body was examined after death, it was found that two of St. Philip's ribs had been broken. This was attributed to the expansion of his heart while praying in the catacombs about the year 1545. 

Not surprisingly, St. Philip was a devoted Confessor, spending many hours daily in the confessional. It was after a day spent thus, hearing confessions after the Mass of Corpus Christi, that he died -- in the early hours of May 26th, 1595, at the age of eighty.

St. Philip Neri was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1615, only twenty years after his
death in 1595. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. His relics may be venerated in the Chiesa Nouva in Rome, the church where he spent the last twelve years of his life. He is the patron saint of Rome, of the US Special Forces, and of wholesome humor and comedy.

* Consider when humor can aid us in our own humility -- and keep pride from destroying our relationships. It's so easy in our frustration with the close proximity annoyances of home life, to lash out -- when instead we can diffuse a situation and maybe even solve a problem by making light of it. For instance...

 I got tired of my husband always leaving open his closet door -- which stands in a peculiarly  visible place in our house -- and realized that my harping on it was having absolutely no effect. I understood that it was an unconscious oversight, not something that he thought about -- or didn't think about, if you know what I mean -- so I had to find a way to make the closet door grab his attention. Knowing how competitive my husband is (aren't all men?), I finally hit upon a solution: I put both of our initials on the door in dry-erase marker -- and every time he remembered to close the door he got a hash mark, and every time I had to close the door, I got a hash mark. I never even mentioned it, but it didn't take a week for him to get in the habit of closing that closet door -- and we both got a laugh out of it. 😊

* This book: The Catholic Treasury of Wit and Humor  is lots of fun! (Also here.)

* This article has a N.O. bent, but it might be valuable for anyone who goes to Rome and has the desire to "follow the footsteps of St. Philip Neri." 

* The best way to honor St. Philip Neri on his feast day is to start the day with Mass, pray your daily prayers, especially the rosary, then have fun as you go about the duties of your daily life. Look for reasons to laugh -- then share them with others!
* Please pray for the intentions of our son, Fr. Philip Davis, CMRI, whose feast day is today!

Look out for this!


May 27th 

St. Bede the Venerable

St. Bede grew up in the twin monasteries of Monkwearmouth-Jarrow in present day Tyne, England, having been committed there (in c. 679 AD) by his parents at the age of seven. Together with a handful of other monks at the monastery, he survived the plague that killed the majority of the population in 686 AD. It seems he was destined by God for important work upon earth. Though he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede did travel to several abbeys and monasteries throughout the British Isles and his large body of work has traveled to us across the centuries.

Saint Bede, an acknowledged intellect in his day, is still well known now, more than fourteen centuries later, as an important  author,  teacher, and scholar of the medieval age. His work Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written in 731, earned for him the title "The Father of English History." Besides his astute documentation of history, Bede was known for his Biblical commentaries and theological treaties, as well as for his work in the area of calendar computing (the disciple of computus), wherein he attempted to calculate the calendar date of Easter, and he popularized the practice of dating forward from the birth of  Christ (Anno Domini – "in the year of our Lord"). A talented linguist and translator, contributed significantly to English Christianity by making the Latin and Greek writings of the early Church more accessible to Christians of his era.  St. Bede is acclaimed the most important scholar for the period between the death of Pope Gregory I in 604 and the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 AD. 

St. Bede -- often called the Venerable, died on the 26th of May, 735, at the age of about 61. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1899; he is the only native of great Britain so designated. As you might guess, he is the patron saint of English writers and historians.

* Consider looking up the meaning of hagiography to discuss with the children. The evidence of the sanctity of many of the saints, their stories, miracles, and influence, inspire and teach us as Catholics. They are a blessing to us for our imitation for the salvation of our souls. It is good to be aware, however, that modern "sophisticated" (read: 'worldly' or 'Godless')  scholars consider the idea of a hagiography a pejorative-- and scoff at the hagiographies held dear by the Church -- especially of the ancient saints. The Novus Ordo  church has gone so far as to discount many of the ancient saints and the evidence of their hagiographies as unfounded and has removed them from their liturgical calendars . We know, however, that they do indeed transcribe the real sanctity of the saints and are backed up by the tradition of the Church. We know by the  histories recorded by saints such as St. Bede the Venerable, that these histories of holy men and women are just that: histories.


May 28th

Ember Friday

(See above)

Complete abstinence and fasting today for adults between the ages of 21 and 59. Rules here.

St. Augustine of Canterbury

Not to be confused with St. Augustine of Hippo, (theologian, philosopher, and Doctor of the Church, circa 354 - 430 AD), St. Augustine of Canterbury is known as the Apostle to England. Originally the prior of a monastery in Rome, St. Gregory the Great had the confidence in Augustine to choose him for the first missionary expedition to England. As the first bishop of Canterbury,  he served from 597-604 AD, founding, in addition to the mission in Canterbury, Churches and settlements in London and Rochester. He also established the first school in Canterbury which provided a steady stream of teachers to support the East Anglian missions long after. Known for his courage, diplomacy and administration skills in the early days of Catholic England,  it was St. Augustine's piety that won him the reverence of the newly converted faithful, who almost immediately considered him a saint. 

* A list of the English saints can be found here. Fascinating to consider that St. Augustine of Canterbury got that ball rolling! (Not my favorite resource, btw, but the best list I could find in a pinch.)

* With the kids: Consider a bit of UK geography, perhaps, to put into context how far away St. Augustine's mission was from the home he'd always known in Italy.  Compare, as well,  the history we know of the Catholic settlement of Ireland by St. Patrick -- and figure out the chronology. Right? Note how St. Patrick converted Ireland around 200 years before the English missionaries made lasting Catholic settlements in England? Here's the nutshell story: After the persecutions of Diocletian (in the early 300s ) and the effects on the British Isles after the fall of the Roman Empire, Christianity, though it did not die out completely, did fade quite significantly and was suppressed also by ruling chieftains; the clergy aslo had dwindled to basically nonexistent throughout what we now know as the United Kingdom -- and it took great saints like Patrick and Augustine to actually bring the faith back to both places.  Fascinating, huh? (You can read more about it here.)


May 30th

Trinity Sunday

At that time, Jesus said to his disciples, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world."

Gospel for Trinity Sunday
Matt. 28




OFFERING TO THE HOLY TRINITY


MOST Holy and Adorable Trinity, One God in Three Persons, I praise Thee
and give Thee thanks for all the favors Thou has bestowed upon me. Thy
goodness has preserved me until now, I offer Thee my whole being and
in particular, all my thoughts, words, and deeds, together with all the trials I may
undergo this day. Give them Thy blessing. May Thy divine Love animate them
and may they serve Thy greater glory.

I make this morning offering in union with the Divine intentions of Jesus Christ
Who offers himself daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in union with
Mary, His Virgin Mother and our Mother, who was always the faithful handmaid
of the Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Ideas for the Menu on Trinity Sunday

  • Tri-color pasta
  • Neapolitan ice cream
  • Tri-tip roast
  • Cloverleaf rolls
  • Tres Leche cake
  • Triple Chocolate Anything, including cake or brownies
  • Triple Sec can be an ingredient for an adult libation
  • Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
  • Triple Scoop Ice Cream
  • Triple Scoop Brownie Sundae with Triangle-shaped brownies

* Have the children try their hands at copying some of the symbols of the Blessed Trinity!



* Teaching the Blessed Trinity to Children 
It's our experience that teaching the mysteries of the Church to children can be easier than teaching them to memorize solid facts. Most children are trusting of our word as parents -- and by extension, they almost always unquestioningly trust the word of God, the word of the Church. As time goes on and they study the Catechism and have a better idea about who God is (Catechism 101), they learn that the mysteries of the Faith result from the gap between the greatness of God and our ability as humans to understand -- but there's nothing that the Church has not gone to great lengths to explain. We have unending volumes of wisdom from the saints, the Doctors of the Church, and the encyclicals of the popes. But sometimes simple is best: the example of St. Patrick's shamrock with its three leaves on one plant is a great visual for the Holy Trinity, and I've always loved the example of St. Joseph of Cupertino in the movie The Reluctant Saint: three Persons in One God, three folds in one blanket.

One of the most important lifelong, daily reviews on the lesson of the Trinity is the properly performed blessing -- the sign of the cross, one prayer in three parts that begins and ends all our whisperings with the Almighty. The sign of the cross should begin and end each and every day with morning and evening prayers, and begin and end our life with Baptism and Extremunction.  All we do should be enacted "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." I liked to remind the children as they learned to trace the cross on their foreheads, breasts, and shoulders that this symbol is not only a wordless reminder of Christ's love for us by His ultimate sacrifice on the cross -- but it also reminds us what we have to do in return: love Him back -- with our whole mind (forehead), our whole heart (breast), and with all our strength (shoulders). And then, hands pointed to heaven: love our neighbors as ourselves for the love of God.



May 31st

The Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

Queen of Heaven and Earth

Painting by Sandra Lubreto Dettori


The Regina Caeli 

Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For he, whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray: O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, his Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 (Latin)

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, Alleluia,
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus: Deus qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus, ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

* Consider learning the Regina Coeli in Latin to pray as a family!

It's a well-known fact (ask an exorcist!) that the devil cringes under the foot of the Blessed Virgin Mary --- and he hates prayers in Latin -- one of the reasons that the conciliar church has suppressed the language of the Church, and all the more reason to learn at least a few prayers in Latin. The Pater Noster, the Ave Maria, and the Gloria are obvious prayers to begin with -- and can be incorporated into family rosaries in Latin. (We very often pray our rosary alternating decades in Latin and English.) The Angelus and the Regina Coeli would be good, too, since we pray one or the other of them every day. It's a great discipline, learning to do this -- for the children and for the parents, too! And Latin is just beautiful, don't you think! Powerful -- and beautiful.


Our Mary Immaculate Queen Seminarian Choir singing Stella Matutina ('Morning Star' in German).