Thursday, April 28, 2011

It’s important for moms to recognize that all the small successes in our days can add up to one big triumph. So on Thursday of each week, we do exactly that.  See everyone's miniature triumphs and add your own at

1. Our family had a lovely Easter despite only the most intermittent sunshine. The house was stuffed with family, which is how I love it on holidays.
2. Despite the cooking, candy-buying, and assorted catering to the needs of visiting family, I managed to get to both Easter vigil and to Easter morning mass. Vigil has all the liturgical fireworks, but the sequence sung on Easter morning is very special as well, and I'm so glad I caught it this year.
3. I had a birthday this week--no great accomplishment--but I did  plan and carry out my day exactly the way I wanted it: a lovely day-trip with my husband, which began with a beautiful lakeside hiking trail at a state park we had never visited before, and finished with a shopping spree  at an outlet mall. Thanks be to God that the one day this month with (almost) no rain was my birthday!  On the way home we picked up several Little Caesar's $5 pizzas and a chocolate cake. Then we had a very pleasant, relaxed birthday dinner with the kids.  From now on, my husband and I will have to have a monthly day trip to explore more of the local attractions we'd never gotten around to seeing.

A week of Easters

I have't been blogging much because I'm having too much fun enjoying this week of Easters, aka the Octave of Easter. Doubly so, since my birthday was yesterday, and I usually excuse various splurges and indulgences for the next several days  by reminding my family that since it is the "octave of my birthday", these items are fitting ways to commemorate my birth.

But back to the week of Easters. We're reminded each of these blessed days that it STILL IS EASTER by the day's psalter, which is identical to that of Easter Sunday. The same glorious antiphons about the resurrection, and the same psalmody. In fact, Sunday week I of the psalter is used for every solemnity and feastday.   This makes it pretty easy to get Psalm 63 (O God You are my God, for you I long) and Psalm 149 (Sing a New song to the Lord) memorized after a while.   The Canticle of Daniel is another story. I have been trying to get this one by heart for the last  twenty years, and still get tripped up with the "weather verses" in the second strophe. I either mix up "dew and rain" with "shower and dew", or else forget whether "light and darkness" comes before or after " lightnings and clouds".

Probably I will get it all down straight right in time for the new breviaries, which will contain the new Grail psalms translation, and will have to start all over again. But I'm told that this event is at least seven years away, so will not worry about it now.

I hope all of you are having a week of Easters. This is one of only two Fridays of the year when you are not expected to do any penance on Friday, even if it is your habit to skip meat on Fridays year round. Have a steak or some fried chicken this week in honor of the Resurrection. If the kids have finished their Easter candy, buy some more--it's half price this week.

The Lord is Risen, Alleluia!

This is the day the Lord has made. And tomorrow. And the next day.

Monday, April 25, 2011

  A most blessed Easter Monday  to everyone.   Triduum here was lovely, thank you, with lots of liturgy, lots of family, lots of food. I am glad that the Church states that evening prayer and/or Office of Readings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night are not meant to be done by those attending church on those three occasions. I for one would not have had time!     Easter Vigil in our country parish was a thrill as always--nothing beats the sight of the new light leaping up to the vaulted ceiling of our pitch dark church.   We also made it to the late morning mass on Sunday to hear the gorgeously chanted  sequence between the readings:

Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous: The Prince of life, who died, regins immortal. 

Then home to brunch, where we preface grace before meals by shouting The Lord is risen, alleluia! He is truly risen alleluia! This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad alleluia!  We'll do that before meals every day this week. It's just about my favorite Easter custom.

My second favorite is to live off leftovers from yesterday's Easter dinner for the rest of the week--a much needed custom after several days of much prayer, shopping, cooking, and not too much sleep. Think I'll go curl up right now with a good novel (G.K. Chesteron's Manalive, newly reissued by Ignatius Press), and if I lapse into a morning nap, so much the better.

If anyone is actually here today, share your favorite way to keep Easter Joy alive during this octave week. I'm always up for new ideas (so long as they are easy to implement for a happy but tired woman) for celebrating the best week of the year.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


1. It's Holy Thursday, our "Passover" dinner of lamb, bitter herbs, charoseth, unleavend bread and kosher wine is just about ready to eat, and we will have plenty of time to get to 7pm mass tonight!

2. Got lots of spring cleaning done. It is really looking decent around here.

3. Am maintaining seasonal cheer despite the fact that the weather has no right to be this cold!!!

4. Found myself a cute dress and jacket at Ross's.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Can't help myself when it comes to Psalm 19.

 Augustine's comment on the Passion in  the last post is sufficient for today. But  I can't resist, after all, pointing to the lovely psalm 19 part A from today's Morning Prayer. This psalm is about the beauty of the day and the night sky as a proof  of God's power and goodness and glory. But there's something here for Holy Week as well.

This line about the rising sun: " comes forth like a bridegroom coming forth from his tent, rejoices like a champion to run its course."

As we know, the Rising Sun is a biblical metaphor for Christ, In English we have the added benefit of the words sun and son sounding the same. Anyway, this psalm verse give us a profound image of Jesus preparing this week for His passion like an athlete for a supreme contest. This immediately puts me in mind of Hebrews 12:2--"Let us also with patience to the fight set before us: looking to the author and finisher of faith, Jesus, who for the joy set  before him, endured the cross, despising shame,and sits at the right hand of the throne of God."

Yes, the Agony will come, with its fear, reluctance, and begging for a way out if possible. That was one obstacle in the marathon He runs this week. But clearly, He got His second wind after that.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Awaking the Dawn at 9:00 AM

I'll bet that monastics are already getting ready for mid-morning Daytime prayer when I'm just getting to Morning Prayer. Although I tell myself that someday I should wake up half an hour before the kids and get morning prayer done while the sun is rising, it ain't happening.

But that's okay. There's room for flexibility with the Divine Office. So I don't crack a breviary open until after the kids have left for school and I've had breakfast. Then I sit down with my morning coffee (hence the adorable name of this blog) and awake the dawn between 8:30 and 9:00 AM.

Here's some very motivational, energizing, rise-and-shine verses from Psalm 57 in today's Morning Prayer:

My heart is ready, O God, my heart is ready.
I will sing, I will sing your praise.
Awake my soul,
awake, lyre and harp,
I will awake the dawn...
I will thank you, Lord, among the peoples,
among that nations I will praise you
for your love reaches to the heavens
and your truth to the skies.
O God arise above the heavens;
may your glory shine on earth!

And that's something to take away and pray for the rest of the day: My heart is ready, O God.  Ready to face whatever it is you send me: overdue bills, a sick child, spilled milk, car repairs, spring sunshine, the song of the redwing blackbird. Ready to accept and make of it an offering back to You.  My heart is ready.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Random Beauty from Daytime Prayer

Daytime Prayer (the midday hour you can say at midmorning, midday, or midafternoon) has it's own particular flavor as compared to the other hours. It seems to concentrate on pratical holiness. The daytime psalter talks a lot about virtues and God's law. Daytime prayer is where we find Psalm 119, that marathon psalm of the Hebrew alphabet, spread out over a number of days.

Daytime prayer tends to make me experience more contrition and humility than the penitential psalms that we get during morning prayer on Fridays.  I'm  abashed to hear the psalmists of Israel insisting on complete uprightness and perfection when I know how very much I am not there yet. And then there's this lyrical love for God's laws, God's  decrees, and God's will  that is equally humbling. I may be--during  rare moments of piety--filled with joy over God's love, His mercy, His nearness to us in the sacraments--but the rules and regs? Not my top subject for a rhapsody of delight.

And His Will? There are times when I feel more like cringing when I see a new wave of That coming my way.  But listen to the psalmist:  "I rejoiced to do your will as though all riches were mine"

                                  "My soul is ever consumed as I long for your decrees."

                                   "Your commands have become my song in the land of my exile."

                                    "At midnight I will rise and thank you for your just decrees."
                                     "Let you love come and I shall live, for your law is my delight."

Talk all you want about legalism and what St. Paul said about law vs. grace. I am still in awe of the ideal expressed here. The Jews were at this point --I think-- in exile. They had no temple. The ark of God's presence was gone. But they had His law, His words to them on how they ought to live, and clung to that.
Something for me to keep in mind next time I am attempted to rationalize or explain away something I want  to do--or neglect to do--that is not quite right.

Then picture Our Lord praying these words in the synagogue or while going about His everyday life,or maybe even in Gethsemane.  The only One fulfilling them completely. The One, in fact, for whose lips they were written.

At this point, more words are useless.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Talk about graven images!

The Divine Office is giving me lots of good apologetics this week. Today's Office of Reading contains a selection from the book of Numbers that is the Single Best Verse to give pause to a Protestant  about the Catholic use of statues. I tend to think first about the golden cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus) or the decorations of Solomon's Temple (one of the books of Kings), but this one is so startling that even a Catholic might wonder what God was thinking.

In Numbers 21, we have the story about the Israelites rebelling over  the lack of water in the dessert. God directed Moses to obtain water from the rock, and there's that puzzling verse where God condemns Moses for not being faithful (how? was it wrong to strike the rock? wrong to strike it more than once? or maybe saying "Are we (Moses and Aaron) to bring water for you out of this rock?" rather than crediting God? It just isn't clear. ) 

Anyway, after the miraculous water is provided, God punishes the people by sending poisonous snakes among them. Soon they are all sick and dying. So what is the remedy??

"Make a bronze serpent and mount if on a pole, and if anyone who has been bitten looks at it, he will recover."

Whoa. God is telling Moses and the people to 1. make a graven image 2. hoist it high in the air for everyone to see 3. look UP to it (sort of respectful, reverent, even --dare I say--like an attitude of worship), in order to 4. get healed. Furthermore, this is an image of 5. a snake, something we associate with You Know Who.

Wasn't God concerned that the people of Israel, ever prone to worshipping and attributing powers to idols would attribute their healing to the bronze serpent? Apparently not. So we learn from this story that not only are there circumstances that God will use a Graven Image as a visible sign and conduit of his mercy, but that He also expects us (since even  the idolatry prone Israelite could do it) to make the distinction between the image that we honor and the true God that it represents and Who works through the image. Can you say sacramental?

Furthermore, there's that time when Jesus said, "Just as Moses lifted up serpent in the dessert, so shall the Son of Man be lifted up..."

So next time you get the statues=idolatry argument, respond with, "Suppose I can show you where God commanded someone to make a graven image of an animal so that people could be cured of illness by honoring it?"  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Today's prophecy fulfilled, brought to you by Tobit!

Morning prayer today includes the canticle of Tobit (Tobit 13: 8-11, 13-15). I am about to leave the house to hold auditions for our homeschool Midsummer Night's Dream production, so this will be sketchy, but...

I love this canticle!  It is a perfect example of the multiple levels  of  instruction and inspiration we can derive from praying the scriptures of the Divine Office. Here is Tobit, living in exile in Nineveh. Jerusalem is far away, and a ruin of its former self. Yet Tobit has the faith to sing the praises of the holy city, and express the firm hope that the exiles  will return (which they eventually did) and that all nations and people will someday be "drawn to you by the name of the Lord God, bearing in their hands their gifts for the Kind of Heaven." (a beautiful prophecy about the Redeemer of men, and in particular about the magi as well.)

Next level: While appreciating what Jerusalem meant to Tobit and the rest of the Jews, I am also able to apply what is said here to the Church. The lines near the end, "Happy are those who rejoice in your prosperity. Happy are all the men who shall grieve over you, over all your chastisements, for they shall rejoice in you as they behold all your joy forever,"  put me on a roller coaster of joy and sorrow. I'm rejoicing over my memories of John Paul II's pontificate, when the Church came out of the doldrums of  the 70s and seemed to be in a new springtime. I'm grieving over the scandals that have humiliated us all, even as I recognize that the cleansing now taking place will lead to greater holiness in the long run.

Okay. Gotta run.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Small successes

Small successes add up to one big triumph! Or thus says Danielle Bean over at Faith&Family Live. Here's mine:

1. It's week 4 of Lent and I am still managing to do meatless dinners Monday thru Friday. This is the kids' success, too, since they are not complaining. A Perpetual Jubilee was a big help in supplying lots of great new ideas for meatless meals.
2. I got out of my introverted comfort zone--to  approach my pastor and DRE about starting a women's bible study. They both said yes, and showed me a nice, comfortably furnished room in the former convent that could be used. I wrote up an announcement for the Church bulletin to assess interest. I'm researching materials to find something that is a. interesting b. faithful to Church doctrine and c. not too expensive.
3. Inspired by Jen Fulwiler's talk on "Letting Go of Fear" at the Faith&Family Mom's Day Out, I took a few baby steps toward starting to write a book. Got the table of contents nailed!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Don't "Phllip out" over faith vs. works

From today's Evening Prayer, the reading is Phillipians 2:12. It's the single best verse for the faith vs. works issue that comes up between Catholics and Protestants. Catholics who read their Bibles and listen at mass (and especially, pray the Office) have far more scripture memorized than we give ourselves credit for. Thing is, we don't much bother with the little numbers. Or even the part of the Bible that the verses we know by heart came from. So our conversations with our Protestant friends go like this:

Protestant: Why do Catholics have statues when Exodus 20 verse 4 clearly  states, "you shall not make to thyself a graven image, not the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth."

Catholic: Yes, but that means if you make them for the purpose of worshipping them. Later on, God actually commands Moses to make golden cherubim to decorate the ark of the covenant.

Protestant: where does it say that?

Catholic: Um....Exodus?  Numbers?  Somewhere around there...  And then there's the decorations that Solomon makes for the temple...grapes and some other stuff....guess that would be one of the books of Kings maybe...

This probably sounds very sloppy and unprofessional to your protestant friend.

So, just this once, memorize  "Phillipian 2:12".Here's a mnemonic device: "Don't "Phllip out" over the faith vs works controversy. There are 2 sides to it" That will at least get you to Phillipians 2. You can then read down to find verse 12)  So next time the conversation will go like this:

Protestant: Catholics seem to think they have to say all kinds of prayers, never miss mass on Sunday, do good deeds and follow the commandments in order to "work their way into heaven".  My works and prayers flow from my faith in Jesus, but I don't think I'll go to hell if I don't do enough of them. Romans 3: 28 says we are justified by grace through redemption in Christ Jesus, independently of works of the law." So you see, Christ has done everything to save me. I don't do anything to save myself.

Catholic: Faith versus works is a bit of a paradox, isn't it? Phillipian 2:12 sums up that both are necessary: "work out your salvation in fear and trembling, for it is God who begets in you  both the will and the performance."  There wouldn't be any fear and trembling if we are guaranteed salvation because of having believed in Jesus, would there? Although this same verse also attests that God's work in our salvation is greater, and primary. I think  C.S. Lewis says that the main thing is not to overanlyze it, trying to determine "God did this" and "I did that", since when we are members of His body, the Church, our good actions are in a sense one with His.

Nothing to do with Divine Office, but

It's cold and snowing here this morning, so I will be making soup--meatless soup--for dinner. Here's a good minestrone recipe. And just from experience--you can put whatever vegetables you have on hand in this kind of soup if you don't have, for example, zucchini or chickpeas on hand.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On fire with zeal! Sort of.

Well, the fire of zeal for me is something along the lines of a smoldering birthday candle, but I am definitely pumped.

I spent the last four days doing a 20+ hour round trip in the car in order to attend a one-day event in Boston, and it was worth it!  Mom's Day Out, a first-time effort by Faith&Family Live! and Faith&Family magazine  was an incredibly worthwhile event. It had been years since I'd attended any kind of Catholic conference. I'd forgotten how much fun these were, and more important, how necessary. Women, even the most introverted among us (me) need to spend time with one another with NO voices in the background asking when is dinner and did-you-do-the-wash-yet-I'm-out-of-socks and who will drive me to play practice tonight? 

We need to share our struggles, our successes, and our stories about children who poop in the bathtub.

We need to hear riveting talks that inspire us to go forward in our lives with courage, a sense of humor, and delight in  the Lord.

We need door prizes.

We need to pray together.

Not necessarily in that order.

The hightlight of this conference for me was that not a single mother asked "So, what do you use for eighth  grade language arts?"  Plenty of homeschoolers were there, but thankfully, homeschooling was not the obssession  focus.

Because this event was for committed,  orthodox Catholic women from many situations. The entire range of family size, educational choices, and employment (or lack of) choices was there. I love this experience because it reminds me that the "remnant" of the faithful is not so tiny as it sometimes seems.

 I've come home from this event with a list of new things to try and new things to do. Knowing from a long history that I am a living example of the stony ground where the seed springs up then quickly dies back--I'm both glad and scared that I've told some of my resolutions to people who will hold me accountable. "So, Daria, how is  that plan to start a Bible study going?" is going to start appearing in my e-mail soon. That will be an invaluable help to my flagging zeal.

Now--down from the mountain and back to real life.