Friday, September 30, 2011

Tell Me about Your Office

Time for a new feature which will be weekly if you like it. 
What popped out at you from this week's Divine Office?  A line from a psalm? One of the readings?  A particular antiphon? Or maybe the way the psalmody of one particular hour or day all hung together? 

This need not be a lengthy meditation (although it can be if the spirit moves you), just tell us what you liked, and, if you want, what further thought or inspiration it gave you.

I'll go first. The entire day's office yesterday was like a mini bible study on the angels. My favorite single line was the first antiphon of the Office of Readings: the sea grew turbulent and the earth trembled when Michael the archangel came down from heaven. Just because it's cool, apocalyptic imagery. I probably wouldn't want to be there when it actually happens, but it's fun to imagine.

Seven Quick Takes

--- 1 ---
My first attempt at joining Conversion Diary's 7 Quick takes. If I post AND link back successfully, it will be something of a miracle. So if you are reading this in CD's comment section, rejoice with me. Thank you Jen for this opportunity.
--- 2 ---
My blog received it's 10,000th  pageview in it's 7 months of existence. Which sounds like nothing since CD must get that much in a week. But to me it's huge. I cater to an elite (i.e. , tiny) niche, and have the stats to prove it. And this number was reached this month rather than next due to the marvelous  Mark Shea giving me a shout-out on Catholic and Enjoying it!
--- 3 ---
This is a trailer for a new Catholic cartoon, The Greatest Miracle. It's about the Mass and angelic activity. It will have limited theatrical release this month:
--- 4 ---
My side yard
Fall is here and it's glorious. There's no better time of year so long as you live in the moment and don't view  it as the harbinger of the high fuel bills and scary driving conditions  to come. The foliage, the drama, the long shadows of late afternoon, the breaking out of sweaters, scarves, and black jeans--what could be better?
--- 5 ---
Last spring, at the Faith&Family Mother's conference,  I was challenged by Pat Gohn and Jen Fulwiler to "let go of fear", and "help Catholic women connect with one another." It took a whole summer of dithering, but I finally stepped out of my comfy bubble and started a women's bible study at church. Feedback from the first session has been good. Next session is next week, and two new attendees will join the present 7. I can't believe I'm actually doing this.
--- 6 ---
I have never blogged about my husband's work, but in honor of the month of the rosary, I think I ought to. Bill is the custodian of the National Pilgrim Virgin of Our Lady of Fatima. This means he takes an incredibly gorgeous, papal-blessed statue of our Blessed Mother to churches all around the country and speaks on the miracle/apparitions/message of  Our Lady of Fatima. He'll be touring Boston  all month. People love his presentation, and even those who think they know all there is to know about Fatima usually learn something new from him. If you live in the Boston area and want to find his schedule, go to the World Apostolate of Fatima website, click on the "WAF Events" tab, and then click on NPVS tour.
--- 7 ---
Apple pie happens a lot around here in the fall. The reason being two old trees full of very ugly apples that no one would dream of just biting into. One has to peel, carve out the funky stuff, and cook the rest before anyone will eat it. To make a good dessert pie, there is nothing for it but to use real, white, artery clogging shortening. If you can't do that, then forget pie and make apple crisp instead. If you can do it, then enjoy one of life's greatest pleasures, homemade pie.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Winner

Congratulations to Sister Allie who had all the correct answers to the archangels quiz.

1.This archangel is a patron of travellers and also of those who would like to get married.1. St. Raphael 2. What is the meaning of St. Michael's name, and why is it appropriate for him?2. Who is Like God? This was the war cry of the good angels as they fought Lucifer.  3. We all know St. Gabriel was sent by God to the Virgin Mary. To whom else did Gabriel make a announcement of a future birth? 3. Zachariah, father of St. John the Baptist 4.Which archangel gave advice about the medicinal value of fish gall bladders ? 4. St. Raphael (Tobit 6:9) 5.Which archangel (s) appears in both the Old and the New Testaments? 5. Michael and Gabriel. (Gabriel- Daniel, chapters 8,9,&10; Luke chapter 1 ; Michael -Daniel chapters 10 &12;Revelation 12:7) 6. His name means "God's strength." Gabriel.

Don't Mess with St. Michael. A true story.

A true story.

When my husband was in grad school getting his M.A in philosophy,  he lived in a guest house of a religious order, along with several of his friends. There  was a small statue of St. Michael in a niche  in the hallway. It was the typical pose, based on that famous painting where Michael is standing on the neck of Lucifer and brandishing a spear.

 There was also something on his head that, as in the picture on the right, looked an awful lot like a hair ribbon. And on this statue it was a faded red-almost-pink color.

One day, as Bill  and a fellow student were walking by, he just couldn't resist. He pointed towards the statue.

"Look at that. He has a bow in his hair! A pink bow! I bet the devil just called him a sissy and that's why he's down on the ground."

At that very moment, the little spear slipped out of St. Michael's plaster hands. It hit the back of Bill's hand.

And drew blood.

This really happened.

Don't forget Gabe and Rafe!

St. Michael tends to steal most of the spotlight today, given all those St. Michael the  action hero paintings and tee shirts  that are out there. But let's not forget the other two archangels. We are familiar with Gabriel because of the two annunciations (to Mary re: Jesus and to Zachariah re: John the Baptist). But today's Office of Daytime Prayer , at Midday, reminds us that Gabriel appears in the Old Testament as well, in the book of Daniel. It only gives a snippet, but if you go to Daniel, chapter 8:15, and chapter 9:2 through all of chapter 10, you will read more about Gabriel and a little bit about Michael as well. The footnote in my Bible says that the man in chapter 10 with the body of chrysolite and face that shone like lightening was also probably Gabriel, although he is not explicitly named as he was in chapter 9. If this is the case, then we see that Gabriel does some warrior work as well, although clearly he is second string to St. Michael, who has to come help him out.

The Mid-afternoon reading is from the book of Tobit, where Raphael makes his appearance. You might also want to go to this book of the Bible to review the whole interesting story of this angel in disguise. 

Still time for Quiz.

You still have time to answer the archangels quiz. See two posts back.

What puts the "Arch" in Archangel?

Pope St. Gregory the Great explains this and lots of other neat stuff about the archangels in the Office of Readings for today's feast:

"You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.

And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High.He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.
So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy."  is the source for the above image.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Archangel Quiz! Win something!

Tomorrow is the feast of the Holy Archangels. Although we tend to refer to all saint's days on the calendar "feasts", this is only a popular usage. Saint's days might be optional  memorials,obligatory  memorials, feasts, or solemnities. These terms denote degrees of importance in the calendar, rank of precendence for liturgical celebration, and usually, the amount of  prayers in the day's mass and liturgical hours devoted specifically to the saint.  

But the feast of the Archangels really is a feast. It has its own special office, so you will not be using the psalter tomorrow, except for the psalms of Morning Prayer, which will be those of Sunday, Week I. 

If you don't make a habit of saying the Office of Readings, tomorrow is a good day to TRY to fit it in, since the antiphons and readings, especially the second reading from St. Gregory the Great, will teach you a lot about these heavenly super heroes. 

Here's a quiz about the angels. You are on your honor to NOT google the answers, not look at others' answers,  but to write answers from your current stock of knowledge in a comment below. On Monday I'll announce the answers. I'll notify the winner who may choose from one of the three following books: 

A Guy's Guide to the Good Life - Virtues for Men by Robert Lockwood , or, 
When's God Gonna Show Up? by Marge Fenelon
Holding on to Hope-the Journey Beyond Darkness by Kathryn Hermes, FSP

The first two  are recent titles from Servant Books. The Guy's Guide has a smear of felt tip marker ink on the cover, (thanks to one of my kids), but otherwise is in fine condition. The third is from Pauline Media.

In the event of multiple winners, I'll put names in a hat and choose.

Here's the quiz:

1.This archangel is a patron of travellers and also of  those who would like to get married.
2. What is the meaning of St. Michael's name, and why is it appropriate for him?
3. We all know St. Gabriel was sent by God to the Virgin Mary. To whom else did Gabriel make a announcement of a future birth?
4.Which archangel gave advice about the medicinal value of fish gall bladders ?
5.Which archangel (s) appears in both the Old and the New Testaments?
6. His name means "God's strength."

Have fun. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bungling Through the Breviary?

?Man Confused Sad Clip Art

Lurching throught Lauds? A little Vague on Vespers?

As promised, this is your weekly forum for asking any questions you have about the Divine Office. Maybe you haven't even started because you aren't sure which breviary you should buy. Maybe your bouncing back and forth among online breviaries and don't understand the differences among them.Perhaps you know you can't do the entire Liturgy each day, but want advice deciding which hours you should pray.

Maybe you are a seasoned  pro at this breviary business, but want to compare notes on the finer points of praying the hours. Or you want to start praying it with someone else and do all the correct gestures and postures for community recitation.

I don't promise to be the final word on every single question, but what I have for you is 30- some year's experience saying the Office alone and with groups. Also, and more important, I have the complete General Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours with me,  and will be happy to look things up when magisterial backup is needed.

So please, ask anything you want in the comment box. And anyone out there who knows what he's doing may comment on the comments if you have anything to offer. E.g. multiple readers can give their experience of the pros and cons of various breviaries. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Most Beautiful Psalm nominee

Like the deer that yearns *
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning *
for you, my God.

My soul is thirsting for God, *
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see *
the face of God? 

Psalm 42 is one of my favorites. It includes nature imagery, it expresses longing for union with God, and it expresses trust in a time of suffering.   This one, plus Psalm 19A (The heavens proclaim the glory of God...) combine to delight me every time Monday of week II in the psalter rolls around. 

Do you have a favorite psalm?

10,000 Pageviews! New Features Coming!

Sometime late last night this blog received it's 10,000th pageview from the time it began last February.

There's also been an increase of six followers on the "Followers" widget, and, I've learned, a whole bunch of  breviary afficianados who subscribe on reader and email. So I'm no so lonely as I'd thought. Thank you, Heather, Kris, Kevin, Michelle, Alex, Sarah E.,Mrs. Pinkerton, and everyone else who has recently signed up. Very encouraging.

Since many of my friends in the Catholic blogsophere get 10,000 views in a month, or even a week, they will clearly not feel threatened by this milestone of mine.  Coffee and Canticles caters to an elite niche, and I have that stats to prove it. 

Nevertheless, it's exciting.  And it's an excuse to review what's happening  here and make some improvements for my recently increased audience. So, here's 2 new things.

1. In this era of Mission Statements there should have been an "About" tab on this blog from day one. Maybe the lack could be explained by my association of Mission Statements with tortuous meetings at my former place of employment, where we had to pretend to be interested in composing steaming piles of jargon and then memorizing them. I quit work two weeks after starting this blog. It took me that long to recover from mission statementitis. But now new visitors who land here on a day when I post strange movie stills or birthday cakes for lazy mommies can figure out what the blog is about on normal days by clicking on my "About" tab.

2. Starting this week I'll have a regular post that invites specific questions about the Divine Office and/or comments on any neat insights you've received while praying the Divine Office.  This has not been a heavily commented blog--it's not controversial enough--but maybe this feature will bring of you out of the woodwork. We'll see. 

Ibreviary Returns and Movie Martyr Mnemonics

And once more comes to my rescue by reminding me that it's the feast of Sts. Cosmas and Damian, whose names, I'm afraid, always put me in mind of these two movie characters. (Cosmo from Singing in the Rain and Damien from The Omen.) I don't always check my calendar to see what feast day it is, so many a good feast comes and goes while I remain stuck in the current weekday. Ibreviary does my thinking for me in this regard.

Still, digital prayerbooks have their limitations, as we saw this weekend. I'm glad I had my real breviary for backup.

Update!  Since writing this post, a commentor Seraphintor mentioned a beautiful and famous mosaic of today's Saints that appears in their basilica in Rome. To the left is a detail. 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Paul, Polycarp, & Phillipians

Another nifty thing about today's Office of Readings, (the absolute best hour of the liturgy which no one ever has time for), is that the two readings are both letters to the Phillipians.

But only one is by St. Paul.

The other is a non-scriptural letter to the Phillipians by St. Polycarp.  Tradition tells us that Polycarp was a disciple of St. John the Apostle. So he wasn't writing so very many years after Paul, who died in AD 69. Polycarp's  letter is thought to be composed between AD 110 and 140,

Just the very fact of their being additional, non-Pauline letters to the same Church community is itself a great reminder of the historic continuity of the Church in it's episcopal teaching authority.  Beyond that, Polycarp has some interesting things to say. For one thing, he gives some good indication that there should be NO dichotomy between faith and works. In the second paragraph, he says,
"This is the joy in which many wish to share knowing that it is by grace that you are saved and not by works, for so God has willed through Jesus Christ."

Got that?  Then he continues further down, "He who raised him from the dead will raise us too if we do his will and keep his commandments, loving what he loved, refraining form all wrongdoing, fraud, avarice, malice and slander..."

Obviously, to Polycarp, grace and works were not an either/or thing. I'm not a professional apologist, so I'll end my commentary here.

Time for a Sunday drive in the country. See you tomorrow.

Clothed in Light and Playing with Monsters

Today's psalter for the Office of Readings gives us Psalm 104, a biggie broken down into three sections. This is one of those glorious psalms of  creation, perfect for a beautiful autumn day such as it is here (at the moment, rain could come anytime) in NW Pennsylvania.

For one thing, it gives the lie to those who claim that people of ancient, agrarian societies were so very, very different in their understanding and outlook on things than us enlightened, modern types, so bent on mere survival and valuing nature mainly as an aid to that survival. Because here is one of those ancient people seemingly on a nature walk, noticing and rejoicing in both the useful-to-man stuff --You make grass grow for cattle, and plants to serve man's to cheer man's heart, oil to make him glad and bread to strengthen man's heart--but also plenty of random stuff that is of little utilitarian benefit. He's just happy that these things exist because they are beautiful, startling, amazing:

You make springs gush forth in the valleys: they flow in between the hills.
They give drink to all the beasts of the field; 
the wild asses quench their thirst.
On the banks dwell the birds of heaven;'from the branches they sing their song...
...there the birds build their nests:
on the tree-top the stork has her home.
The goats find a home on the mountains and rabbits hide in the rocks.
You made the moon to mark the months;'the sun knows its time for setting...
...the young lions roar for their prey
and ask their food from God...
...There is the sea, vast and wide,
with its moving swarms past counting...
the ships are moving there
and the monsters you made to play with.

A note on the image of God playing with monsters. Every other translation I have checked does NOT suggest the image of God playing with the monsters (Leviathan, or, more interestingly, "Sea dragon" in the Douay). They all say that God created the monster/leviathan/sea dragon  to play there, "there" being the sea.  So, much as it is a neat image, one can't be sure  that the psalmist was really intending to convey that God goes swimming with monsters that way we might go swimming with dolphins.

But it is fun to think about it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011 Update

Fr. Paolo informs me that ibreaviary is having  sever difficulties which they hope to resolve soon.

Besides, you might also want to try out  while you await the return of ibreviary.

The Shorty Psalm

Psalm 117, shortest psalm in the Bible, was part of morning prayer today. This is the one that Catholic homeschoolers give their kids to memorize when the competitive evangelical moms in the co-op start going on about all the verses little Joshua and Hannah have already learned.

The New Testament verse we have them learn is "Jesus Wept". Then we get over the scripture memory thing, because we have to get that catechism learned in time for First Holy Communion.

I love Ps. 117 not just because it is easy to memorize and say from memory while I mix pancakes on a Saturday morning, but because it contains the essence of the entire Liturgy of the Hours, which the Church calls a "sacrifice of praise."  God does not need our praise. He is not vain or insecure, eternally fishing for compliments. (In other words, he is not me, thank God).  God demands our praise because it's good for us. 

To praise God is to acknowledge reality. To recognize who we are and what He is. To praise God is to fulfill the highest aim of our nature. To praise God here on earth is to practice for heaven, when we will morph from plodding, fat, aging boomers trying to start jogging for our health, into champion marathoners running along a beach in an endless runner's high.

Loud teenager with autism is demanding a ride in the car which had been promised much earlier. Gotta go.

Ibreviary is Down!

Frowny Face Clip Art

At least on this website, the widget will not display the prayers. In addition, it's not working on my kindle today. All that appears is the name of the hour (Lauds, daytime, etc) but no prayers. I am hoping this isn't something specific to my system, but a glitch that ibreviary will soon correct. I sent their tech support a message, but, you know, ibreviary is run out of Italy. Don't know if they have multi-lingual people to answer questions, and if their using something like google translator, I cringe to think what my message will look like to them in computer Italian.

If any of you are running Ibreviary without difficulties, please let me know.

Meantime, those craving online liturgy can go to   If they had a widget for that I'd be the first to put it up on this site. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lonely for Subscribers

Mark Shea, who was kind enough to plug me today at Catholic and Enjoying It! has 666 followers. I don't expect to ever have that many, but think I'd die happy if I ever hit 100. And I've put every feed widget to the left that I could find to make it easy for you. So, if you want to keep seeing my posts the easy way, why not subscribe?

And I promise I'll never call  you as "minions". 

Padre Pio and Me

The only connection between this post and the Divine Office is that today is St. Pio's memorial. But since the subtitle above does say that I'll occasionally write about other stuff. This is one of those occasions. 

My parents learned about Padre Pio during the late sixties. I was eight or nine. Mom showed me pictures of the Italian friar who bore the wounds of Christ, and told me stories of how he could heal the sick, tell penitents in the confessional their forgotten sins, and appear miles from his cloister to help those in trouble. I was annoyed that the Pope couldn't declare Padre Pio a saint while he was still alive, since it seemed to me that these miracles were all the evidence of holiness necessary. When news of Pio's death was broadcast on the morning news on September 23, 1969, I remember thinking that now, surely, the Pope would get on with the canonization, at once! I had a deep desire for there to be a Real Saint whose time on this earth intersected with mine. That would mean that sanctity wasn't just the stuff of history and legend, but possible even now.

As the years rolled by, I grew to respect the rigor and even skepticism with which the Church examines saints, signs and wonders before giving them formal recognition. Given the monumental task of sorting through the legends and controversies that had sprung up around the Padre Pio, it's a miracle in itself that it took only 33 years before the canonization took place in 2002.

St. Pio has always been a “friend of the family”-- part of our personal cloud of witnesses that includes St. Joseph, St. Therese, and several other favorites. We'd ask his intercession for healthy pregnancies and “a safe delivery of a happy and healthy baby” . He generally came through for us, although I'd wished I'd given more explicit instructions: one of those healthy babies manifested the symptoms of autism at age two. Although Michael is rarely sick, and is in mischievously good spirits most of the time, this isn't exactly the kind of happy and healthy that I had in mind.I've reminded St. Pio of that more than once.

This summer, as we drove Michael to his special needs summer camp in eastern Pennsylvania, the GPS steered us onto a different route from last year. We saw a billboard that read “National Padre Pio Center – 1 mile ahead.” I'd heard about this place before, but had never been there. I recalled reading that it was built in gratitude by the family of a child who had experienced a spectacular healing at the hands of Padre Pio. “Let's pull in,” I told my husband. “We'll take a quick look around, make a bathroom stop, and be on our way.”

We got out of the car and walked along a colonnade towards a building complex that imitated the style of an Italian monastery. Entering a large chapel, I knelt down in front of a statue of Padre Pio. I offered a brief intention for each of my seven children. When I got to Michael, I said, “Give him more words—give him a voice.” Autism is above all else, a severe deficit in language ability. Michael understands many words, but rarely remembers to use them. When he does talk, his articulation is garbled. I could also have asked for less hyperactivity, some social skills, and an end to obsessive behaviors, but I was in a hurry.

Michael, my husband, and I left the large chapel and went into the smaller one, a replica of the chapel in the saint's monastery. A volunteer motioned us toward the front pew. We sat down, and were given to opportunity to venerate a relic. Michael sat down between Bill and me, and began tapping his finger on the plexiglass that protected one of St. Pio's brown woolen gloves that protected his stigmata from the gaze of the curious. The volunteer launched into a prayer of intercession. My first reaction was “Oh, no. How long will Michael sit still for this before he jumps up and screams to get out of here.?”

Instead, Michael began repeating, word for word, with beautifully clear articulation, each phrase that the volunteer uttered. It wasn't exactly a miracle—Michael will repeat things for me when I tell him to—but this time he did it  with no prompting,  for a perfect stranger, and in an unfamiliar setting. To hear polysyllables like “intercession” and “resurrection” flowing from his lips with such clarity was pretty startling. We left wondering if this was the beginning of a  some sort of miraculous improvement.

It wasn't. Michael continues to be moderately  mentally delayed, extremely hyperactive, and given to a whole menu of odd , repetitive behaviors. His speech therapist still finds him frustrating to work with. So what were God and the capuchin saint trying to tell me with that one minute of fluent speech? I'm guessing it is something like this: God has Michael in the palm of His hand. He can—and may yet—bring about changes in Michael's abilities. I am to trust in His plan for Michael as it unfolds, since His plan and timeline are for Michael's greatest good and, no doubt, for mine as well.

And I'm to keep praying.

Here's the  prayer from the shrine website. 
O God, you gave St. Pio of Pietrelcina, capuchin priest, the great privilege of participating in a unique way in the passion of Your Son, grant me through his intercession the grace of (name intention) which I ardently desire; and above all grant me the grace of living in conformity with the death of Jesus, to arrive at the glory of the resurrection. (Glory be...three times)

Padre Pio,and digital breviaries

Today is the feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, aka Padre Pio. Since his canonization was recent, you won't find his proper in a hard copy breviary. But happily, we have and (to the left of this page-the app is free--get it!) to keep us up to date on all the latest saints.

Even if you don't regularly do all the psalms and prayers for the Office of Readings, it's worth turning (clicking) to this hour on any saint's feast  and scrolling down to the second reading, which often as not is something written by the saint himself, or written about him by someone who knew him. (or her, etc. please don't make me bother with the inclusive stuff, we all know what "him" means in these contexts.) Today's second OOR reading is Padre Pio's own account, given to his superior, of receiving the stigmata. If you are reading this after 6:00 PM, the ibreviary widget will already have turned to Saturday's prayers, so for your benefit I've pasted the reading at the end of this post.

I think the lesson we can take away from this somewhat disturbing account is that: 1. God's love for those in close union with him is beyond our ability to fathom, which is why we find this account sort of scary, and 2. St. Pio's profound embarrassment over the outward manifestation of the stigmata is the best proof there is against critics who suggest he caused these wounds either deliberately or thorough some weird psychic self-suggestion.

Out of obedience I am obliged to manifest to you what happened to me on the evening of the 5th of this month of August 1918 and all day on the 6th.

I am quite unable to convey to you what occurred during this period of utter torment. While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th, I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared.

From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony. What can I tell you in answer to your questions regarding my crucifixion? My God!! What embarrassment and humiliation I suffer by being obliged to explain what you have done to this wretched creature!

On the morning of the 20th of last month, in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash. While this was taking place I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. This sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest. The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood. Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday.

Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel deep in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition. Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free from the embarrassment caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. The person of whom I spoke in a previous letter is none other than the one I mentioned having seen on 5 August. He continues his work incessantly, causing me extreme spiritual agony. There is a continual rumbling within me like the gushing of blood. My God! Your punishment is just and your judgment right, but grant me your mercy. Lord, with your Prophet I shall continue to repeat: O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger; do not punish me in your rage! Dear Father, now that my whole interior state is known to you, do not refuse to send me a word of comfort in the midst of such severe and harsh suffereing.

In my next post--a story about my own experience with Padre Pio.

New Page is Up!

At long last, the Lazy Woman who writes this blog has actually put something up under the page tab above that says "Praying the Psalms". It's a collection of posts meant to help us understand the daily psalter.  No longer will readers thirsting for information have their hopes shipwrecked on the shoals of "page under construction-come back soon." Long time readers can ignore this page--you've seen it all before.  Newer readers might want to check it out if ever they have wondered about the following:

  • What's the point of praying a sad psalm when I'm happy or a joyous psalm when I'm miserable? 
  • Is it okay to complain to God or do holy people welcome all suffering without the least fuss?
  • There's some Very Violent & Vengeful psalms in the Divine Office. Why does the Church want us to pray such horrible stuff?
  • If we are in the new covenant, what is the use of all the Hebrew imagery in the psalms that we pray?
  • So much of the Divine Office is praising God. Why does God have  to be praised so much? I know God isn't egotistical, but...
The answer to these questions, plus a few other nifty psalm-related essays, will be found when you hit the tab. Have fun.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Why I Don't Say "Liturgy of the Hours", and a Golden Oldie

I've been asked why I use the term "Divine Office" more often than the Vatican II-encouraged "Liturgy of the Hours".  My preference has nothing to do with preferring traditional over modern terminology.As a matter of personal taste, I actually prefer  "Liturgy of the Hours" for its superior descriptive qualities.  But "Liturgy of the Hours"   is a mouthful to say and a handful to type.  "Divine Office" is just the more efficient way to go. Trust a lazy woman to find the quickest way to do anything.

I'm going to start  the occasional rerun of older posts, especially those that were written when this blog had between 0 and 5 followers. So, to most of you, it will be new material. Today--just a few of my favorite reasons for praying the Divine Office.

1. You get some daily Scripture reading and prayer done at the same time.

2. It takes less than ten minutes  each for the hours of morning, evening, and night prayer if you're reading it by yourself rather than chanting it in a monastery. (An "hour" never went by so quickly!)

3. If you can't get to daily mass it's the best substitute because just  like the Mass the Divine Office is also the liturgy of the Church.

4. By praying the Divine Office you are joining in the universal prayer of the Church being offered by your brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world.

5. You will be praying the  exact same prayers Pope Benedict prays every day.

6. You will be  participating in a tradition that is old as the Church itself. (In the book of Acts, the apostles went to the temple to pray at specific hours of the day.)

7. If you pray the Office on a regular basis, you will find that you have memorized lots of the psalms and other scripture passages painlessly.

8. Once you are accomplished at flipping about in a breviary, your fellow Catholic geeks  will be impressed.

9.You will acquire a cool vocabulary that includes words like breviary, vespers, Te Deum, compline, and antiphon.

10. You will be praying "with the same words used by Jesus, present for millenia in the prayer of Israel and of the Church." (Pope John Paul II)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Small Beauties.

I don't often pay much attention to the responsory after the reading at Vespers. It's just a bridge between the rea:ding and the Magnificat. But tonight's, from the common of Martyrs, is lovely:

Let the just rejoice and sing for joy in the Lord.
Delight in His love, you pure of heart,
and sing for joy in the Lord.

Just... Pure of Heart....Those qualities sound so beautiful. I want to be  both.  How do I know whether I am either? Makes me want to scramble for the Summa or the catechism or a good bible commentary and look them up. In any event, justice and purity of heart were qualities of the martyrs of Korea whose memorial concludes tonight.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another Reason to use Digital Breviaries

If I had stuck with my print breviary today I'd have missed the Office of Readings for St. Andrew Kim Taegon and companions. (aka Korean martyrs). This memorial was added to the universal calendar recently, so our print breviaries do not contain its propers.  The second reading is St. Kim's farewell exhortation from prison. It includes this statement:

"The Lord is like a farmer and we are the field of rice that he fertilizes with his grace and by the mystery of the incarnation and the redemption irrigates with his blood, in order that we will grow and reach maturity."

That field of rice is a small but sweet reminder of how the Church can adapt to and serve any people and culture. He continues:

Dearest brothers and sisters: when he was in the world, the Lord Jesus bore countless sorrows and by his own passion and death founded his Church; now he gives it increase through the sufferings of his faithful. No matter how fiercely the powers of this world oppress and oppose the Church, they will never bring it down. Ever since his ascension and from the time of the apostles to the present, the Lord Jesus has made his Church grow even in the midst of tribulations.
For the last fifty or sixty years, ever since the coming of the Church to our own land of Korea, the faithful have suffered persecution over and over again. Persecution still rages and as a result many who are friends in the household of the faith, myself among them, have been thrown into prison and like you are experiencing severe distress. Because we have become the one Body, should not our hearts be grieved for the members who are suffering? Because of the human ties that bind us, should we not feel deeply the pain of our separation?
But, as the Scriptures say, God numbers the very hairs of our head and in his all-embracing providence he has care over us all. Persecution, therefore, can only be regarded as the command of the Lord or as a prize he gives or as a punishment he permits.
Hold fast, then, to the will of God and with all your heart fight the good fight under the leadership of Jesus; conquer again the diabolical power of this world that Christ has already vanquished.

Andrew Kim was martyred in 1839. But his words might have  been written by St.Perpetua in the year 203, or by  Blessed Miguel Pro in 1927.  Or any of the blessed thousands (millions?) known and unknown to history, who gave their lives for Christ and His Church.

Shameless Plea for Votes!

The Catholic Cannonball Blog Awards is a funky contest for those of us who haven't published books or garnered the kind of attention that those New Media,, and other more prestigious award winners manage to garner all the time. But we nominees are out to prove to the world that, like the children of Lake Wobegon, we are ABOVE AVERAGE. 

Click on the link above and vote for me under the New Kid on the Block category, please.

Those of you who do not know Coffee and Canticles and are visiting here to check me out, please look over some archived posts in order to judge me, since this week I am in Severe Head Cold FogLand, and doubt that anything I write this week will leave you yearning to begin praying the Divine Office. I'll try, but the wit and wisdom tank is running low this week.

And do enjoy the contest sponsor, The Crescat, who is one funny blogger.

Poor Little Me!

Psalm 6 in today's Office of Readings both comforted me and got me to laugh at myself as I read:

Have mercy on me, Lord, I have no strength;
Lord, heal me, my body is wracked;
my soul is racked with pain...
I am exhausted with my groaning.

I read this lines, nodding, thinking, "Yep, that's me, Lord. I'm a piece of misery."

This was followed up with a mucus-infused snort of laughter, since my terrible affliction consists of (drum roll, please) a cold. And my misery is more from having my plans for the week thwarted than from my symptoms,I think. What a big baby am I.

Now to crawl back into bed (since the kid is off to school) and comfortably wallow in my illness. And thank God that my health problems are so few that a cold seems like a Big Deal.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Celebrating? the sorrows of Our Lady

It's   sort of...jarring, to be reading the glorious, hyper-rejoicing psalmody of Sunday Week I while holding in mind an image of, well, "4th station--Jesus meets his sorrowful mother." Or especially, since today I used ibreviary, having just sung the hymn, which was At the Cross Her Station Keeping.   I might have been better prepared if I had read the correct office yesterday (Triumph of the Cross), but my mind was elsewhere.  Without a glance at the calendar I read the regular weekday instead, so I didn't make the usual "14th:Cross; 15th: O.L. of Sorrows" connection that I usually do.

So why is it appropriate to "celebrate" this feast with rejoicing? We're not happy that Mary had so much to be sad about. But maybe it will help to remember that each Marian feast celebrates some gift Mary received, and that each of these was a "first fruits" situation, heralding the fact that we also receive that gift, even if not in the exact manner that Our Lady did.   The feast of the Immaculate Conception anticipates or heralds our baptism, when we too will begin a new life without original sin and filled with grace. The Assumption holds out hope of the Resurrection of the Body.  

This feast is about Our Lady's privilege of being the first human being for whom suffering, joined to Christ's perfect sacrifice, could have meaning. Could have redemptive value. Our suffering is not just something to be experienced and endured. Thanks to Jesus, is something that can be offered and consecrated. Today's Divine Office frequently reminds  us of this truth:

Let us adore Christ, the Savior of the World, who called his Mother to share in his passion. (Invit. antiphon)
Let us rejoice that we have been made sharers in Christ's passion. (Morning prayer, antiphon 2)
In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. (Morning prayer, reading, Colossians 1:24)
I bear with all this for the sake of those whom God has chosen, in order that they may obtain the salvation to be found in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory....if we have died with him we shall live with him. If we hold out to the end we shall reign with him. (evening prayer reading, 2 Timothy 2:10-12)

And the closing prayer this evening is all about Mary and the church sharing Christ's sufferings so as to share in the resurrection.

So that's something to be glad about. Our Lady of Sorrows leads the way in showing that our sufferings have a use, a purpose, and a nobility when joined to those of her Son. That is a reason to rejoice.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Leaving the Breviary on the Kitchen Table

Results in this sort of thing. But putting it up on a shelf or in my room means one less visual reminder for me to say my office.

Does anyone have a solution for this problem?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Resolved: stop skipping Saturday Vespers!

Saturday usually  finds me housecleaning like a maniac. Why, I don't know, since I am home during the week. Oh, that's right. On Saturday I can enlist the kids to join in. Or I imagine that I can enlist the kids to join in. I never seem to remember til its too late that on Saturday they sleep until noon to recover from the rigors of the school week. Well, at least they are not stepping on the freshly mopped floors.

Then there's the big grocery trip. Or maybe a family outing. Or, more likely, dropping kids off at various activities.And yardwork or helping my husband with whatever item in our old house need fixing.  I am usually quite tired by Saturday evening, and for this sorry reason tend to forget all about Sunday Evening Prayer I. I know I miss this particular day of Evening Prayer more than others because, when I actually DO get around to it, the psalms seem so new and interesting.

The fruit of my laziness and neglect today is to notice how wonderfully Sunday I  vespers anticipates and prepares us for Sunday mass.


I know, I'm kind of slow that way. Only been doing Divine Office for 30 years or so.

So tonight Psalm 122 reminds us that our approach to our parish church for Sunday mass should put us in the joyful frame of mind of Jewish pilgrims to Jerusalem: I rejoiced when I heard them say, let us go to the house of the Lord, and now our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem...for the love of the house of the Lord, I will ask for your good.

Last week, Psalm 113 spoke of the sanctity of the entire day of Sunday: from the rising of the sun to its setting, praised be the name of the Lord. And Psalm 116 has eucharistic imagery: The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord's name...a thanksgiving sacrifice I will make.

The week before that, Psalm 119 spotlights the liturgy of the word: Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my steps and a light for my path, and again is eucharistic in Psalm 16 where we claim the one  God as our portion and cup.

Going all the way back to Evening Prayer I of Sunday, week I, we have still more liturgical imagery: Let my prayer rise before you like incense, the raising of my hands like an evening oblation.

Every Saturday evening we conclude psalmody with the canticle from Philippians that begins with the humility of God's Son in taking the form of a slave, and ends with His exaltation: Jesus Christ is Lord!
What a better way to begin and sanctify our Sunday than by proclaiming the mystery of salvation.

So, really, I'd better quit making excuses. Sunday Evening Prayer I is my best hope for putting away the craziness of Saturday, and pausing, exhaling, and starting the Sabbath.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Prayers Answered

This is Harold Mathie. The one I requested prayers for earlier this week. He is doing quite well for his age, breathing without a respirator and doing all the requisite moving and crying and pooping.

The little mommy (my 29 yr old daughter, Bernadette) was released from the hospital today, although she and Daddy will be spending hours each day visiting her little boy. I'll be driving up to Ontario in a few days to help out so Daddy can go back to work.

Thank you, everyone, for your prayers, which clearly have worked. It was easy to "Cry out with joy  the Lord" with Psalm 100 this morning.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy Birthday, Mom!

"When the most holy Virgin was born, the whole world was made radiant; blessed is the branch and blessed is the stem which bore such holy fruit."
Antiphon 2, Morning Prayer, September 8th

Monday, September 5, 2011

Urgent Prayer Request!

My first grandchild will be born in a few hours  c-section, at only 28 weeks' gestation. Please pray for his health and that of his mother, Bernadette. Thanks,everyone.

O God, come to our assistance. O Lord, make haste to help us.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A September Saint I like

A year ago I noticed a second reading in the Office of Readings for this saint.Something the saint himself had written.  It was so memorable, so very human, that this year I wrote about it in a "rest of the story" style for the Faith and Family Live blog .  Come take a look.