It is Advent! And....December is the Month of the Divine Infancy

As of this past Sunday, in both the old and new calendars, the Season of Advent has commenced!  Wishes to all for a holy and blessed Advent which draws you closer to the Christ Child!  (Please see prayer on Home page.)  Lent is a time when we practice sacrifices of self-denial.  Perhaps during Advent, our sacrifices may be ones of charity-almsgiving and good works.  We may consider volunteer work, cleaning out the old clothes in our closets and giving them to the poor, visiting a homebound neighbor down the block, etc.  Admittedly, Christmastime is often a time of stress and feeling like we have too much to do.  But if the very celebration of the Birth of Christ prevents us from exercising charity...then something is wrong.  We all need to downscale.  Also...spiritual reading, the rosary and learning Christmas hymns....children should learn the words to our beautiful hymns and they will likely remember them for a lifetime!

As for the liturgical calendar of December, it is unique in several ways.  Aside from the great feast of Christmas, we also have the Marian feasts of the Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Guadalupe, along with the feast of the Holy Family.  We have the Sundays of Advent when we light the pink and purple candles and the Ember Days of Advent, when we beseech God's mercy and blessings for the coming season of winter.  We have several feasts of the time of Our Lord and the time of the Old Testament....5 Doctors of the Church and December 13th, devoted to 2 saints invoked for blindness!  Here's our sampling....

12/3-Saint Francis Xavier, Priest-patron of missions

12/4-Saint John Damascene, Priest, Doctor/Saint Peter Chrysologus, Bishop, Doctor/Saint Barbara, Virgin, Martyr-invoked against lightning

12/6-Saint Nicholas, Bishop-patron of children, bakers, pawnbrokers, mariners & Russia

12/7-Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor-patron of candlemakers/Vigil of the Immaculate Conception-trad meat at one meal

12/8-Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the United States of America-Holy Day of Obligation

12/9-Saint Juan Diego, Seer of Our Lady of Guadalupe

12/11-Gaudete Sunday, 3rd Sunday of Advent-a day to remember the joy of our coming Savior!

12/12-Our Lady of Guadalupe, Empress of the Americas

12/13-Saint Lucy, Virgin, Martyr-patron of the blind/Saint Odilia, Virgin-invoked against blindness (non-standard)

12/14-Ember Wednesday in Advent-trad meat at one meal/Saint John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor

12/16-Ember Friday in Advent/Saints Ananias, Azarius & Misael, Companions of Patriarch Daniel (non-standard)

12/17-Ember Saturday in Advent-trad meat at one meal/Saint Lazarus, Friend of Our Lord, Brother of Saints Martha & Mary-raised from the dead by Christ (non-standard)

12/20-Saints Abraham, Isaac & Jacob, Patriarchs (non-standard)

12/21-Saint Thomas the Apostle, Martyr-Apostle of India, baptized the Magi/Saint Peter Canisius, Priest, Doctor

12/24-Saints Adam & Eve (non-standard)/Vigil of Christmas-trad meat at one meal

12/25-The Birth of Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, Christmas

12/26-Saint Stephen, First Martyr-patron of stonemasons, due to the fact that he was stoned to death

12/27-Saint John the Evangelist, Apostle-Writer of Holy Scripture, patron of theologians & Asia Minor

12/28-Holy Innocents, Martyrs under King Herod the Great, re-builder of the Holy Temple

12/29-Saint David the King, Patriarch (non-standard)

12/30-The Holy Family

(this blog provides both old & new feasts)

A Strange Dream About the Blessed Virgin...

First of all, I want to impress upon you, how unusual it is for me to write about something like this.  In 8 years of blogging, I don't think I've ever written about a dream of mine.  But this dream I had recently was so extraordinary, I just felt I had to share it.  I'm going to write this sort of "stream of consciousness."  So here it is, for what it's worth....

Such a community of love we have here, getting ready for her to come, like she said she would.  Such a celebration!  The food, the festivities, the togetherness, comradery.  It is so beautiful and she hasn't even come yet!  But we will be properly prepared for her.  We will give the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, the reception she deserves.  We will make it the greatest feast!  But we cannot tell the priests.  They do not know the real reason we are celebrating.  They would laugh at us.  How glorious it will be when we see her!

There is so much to do....we are not ready.  So much still to do!  If things are not right, she may not appear.  I have to try.  I have to get it all right.  We are running so late.  Everyone is gathered around the beautiful area....waiting.  So many people.  But we are not quite ready and suddenly.....

A stillness.  It draws me in.  I stop everything, though I am not ready!  It draws me in.  A great stillness, a great quiet, an extraordinary beauty and peace, such as I have never felt nor comprehended before!  The very air is changed.  It is like...Heaven?  But she is not here.  She does not appear.  Why?  Please come, dear Mother!  She does not come.

Perhaps we have failed.  We were not ready.  We disappointed her.  Why did she not come?  I am saddened.  Such work, such preparation....and for what?  We will make the best of it.  We have all this food!  But she did not come.  I wonder why.

Upon waking from this dream, I still felt the sadness that the Blessed Mother did not appear as she said she would.  I related the dream to my dear husband and do you know what he said?  "She did come. That was the moment of peace and beauty you felt.  But you were so wrapped up in what you thought you had to do, you didn't realize it."

Wow.  Maybe he was right.

Quotes of the Day....

"Reach for the stars.  If you only get to the planets, that's okay.  At least you got passed the Moon!"

(me, I think-don't ask me what it means, it's interpretive)

"If you can imagine it, if you can dream it.....it's probably on the internet."

(definitely me-but most likely someone else has said it too)

"Politics is show-biz for ugly people."

(somebody else-probably a genius)

3 Reasons to Vote Pro-Life.....

1)  The baby is made in the Image and Likeness of Almighty God from the moment of conception.  We are all like little pieces of God....precious and sacred and awesome.

2)  Abortion prevents someone from embarking on his or her unique life journey.....a path that can never be walked by anyone else.  Lives will never be touched, moments will never be experienced....no one will ever hear that voice or look into those eyes.  This person has been deprived of living the life and having the destiny that once was lying ahead with great promise....forever unfulfilled.

3)  The baby the mother feels burdened by at this moment, will one day love her back.  Perhaps, just as she lovingly chooses life and brings this baby into the world, this child will one day enfold her as she passes to the next.

       AND HERE'S ONE MORE REASON!

       AND HERE'S ONE MORE REASON!

These are just a few more arguments to add to your pro-life arsenal. 

I became involved with the pro-life movement back in the 80's, before the internet.  It was a great frustration trying to provide people with proof of fetal development that they would accept.  Now there is info and pictures of actual miscarried babies all over the internet, such as the one above. We also have much better imaging now of the baby in the womb.  There is no reason for any woman to be ignorant of the reality of the baby in her womb any longer! 

BUT....due to all the early chemical abortions and abortifacients, we must also argue that the baby is sacred from the moment of conception-the stage of development makes no difference.

Feel free to email this to your friends....only a few days before the election!

Image courtesy www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2542212/Mother-shares-heartbreaking-photos-baby-miscarried-19-weeks.html

November: Month of the Holy Souls in Purgatory

"O Lord, grant eternal rest to all the souls of the faithful departed

and let perpetual light shine upon them!"

As November commences, we call to mind those who have gone before us, whether in Heaven or Purgatory.  This forces us at this time of year to contemplate our own mortality and ask ourselves the question, "Am I on the road to sainthood?  Are there ways I should be changing my life?"  And Holy Church dedicates this month to those suffering in Purgatory.  May we keep them in our prayers each day of this month.  The words above should be ever on our lips!

As always, we highlight some specific feasts of the month.....3 from the time of Our Lord-Saints Zachary & Elizabeth, Presentation of Mary and Saint Andrew....3 "Greats"......one "The Good" and one "The Wonder-Worker"......3 Doctors of the Church.....a queen.....2 upholding the blessing of large families....2 Marian feasts and the glorious "Christ the King of the Universe," on the 20th!  Each month of the Catholic year has a unique character and opportunities to grow in the Faith and learn about the great Catholic examples who have gone before us.  All ye holy saints, pray for us!

11/1-All Saints Day-Holy Day of Obligation

11/2-All Souls Day

11/3-Saint Martin de Porres, Religious-patron of South America

11/5-Saints Zachary & Elizabeth, Parents of Saint John the Baptist (non-standard)

11/10-Saint Leo the Great, Pope, Doctor

11/11-Saint Martin of Tours, Bishop-patron of soldiers

11/13-Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Virgin, Religious, Founder Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart-20th century saint, patron of immigrants

11/15-Saint Albert the Great, Bishop, Doctor-patron of scientists/Saint Leopold the Good-father of many children, refused the imperial crown (non-standard)

11/16-Saint Margaret of Scotland, Queen-patron of large families & child mortality/Saint Gertrude the Great, Virgin, Abbess, Mystic

11/17-Saint Gregory the Wonder-Worker, Bishop-invoked against earthquakes

11/20-Christ the King of the Universe

11/21-Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

11/22-Saint Cecilia, Virgin, Martyr-patron of musicians

11/24-(Thanksgiving Day) Saint John of the Cross, Priest, Doctor

11/26-Saint John Berchmans, Jesuit Novice-patron of altar boys (non-standard)

11/27-Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (non-standard)

11/28-Saint Catherine Laboure, Virgin, Religious, Seer of Miraculous Medal (non-standard)

11/30-Saint Andrew, Apostle of Our Lord, Martyr-patron of fishermen, Russia & Scotland

This blog provides both new and traditional feasts.

Month of the Holy Rosary: Do you have difficulty praying it?

October is the Month of the Most Holy Rosary.  If you have not been praying it, there are still 8 days left!  If you're having difficulty getting around to it, please read this post and see if any of this resonates with you.....

5 Reasons Why We Should Pray the Rosary

1) The Mother of God has Requested it-What better reason could there be?  Our Lady gave the Holy Rosary to Saint Dominic and has continued through history, to request that it be prayed.  At Fatima, she implored, "Pray the Rosary every day."  She has given 15 Promises to those who pray the Rosary.  The following 4 reasons come from her own list!

2)  Protection and Graces-The first Promise Our Lady gives is this:  "To all those who shall recite my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and very great graces."

3)  Armor Against Hell-"The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against Hell.  It will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy."

4)  Improves Earthly Life and Obtains Mercy-"The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish and will obtain for souls the most abundant Divine Mercies.  It will substitute in hearts love of God for love of the world, and elevate them to desire heavenly and eternal good.  O that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!"

5)  Eternal Salvation-"Those who shall recite my Rosary piously, considering its Mysteries, will not be overwhelmed by misfortune nor die a bad death.  The sinner will be converted, the just will grow in grace and become worthy of eternal life."

5 Reasons Why We Don't & the Solutions

1)  Time-In this profoundly inauthentic life that we are living today, we are pulled in many directions and the spiritual life is not made a priority.  Our Lord said, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you." (Luke 12:31)  We must place the Kingdom of Heaven first, above all earthly concerns.  We all need to examine our lives and ask God how we can do things differently and re-structure our days.  Praying one of the Mysteries (5 decades) of the Rosary should only take about 15 minutes.  If we really do not have that much time, praying only one decade is an option.  It is understandable, some people (think of a mother with 8 children-or any children for that matter!) may be so busy that they cannot find the time and simply fall into bed at night, completely exhausted.  Chances are, if this is you, you are also pretty wound up mentally at this point!  Meditating on just one Mystery as you fall asleep will be a gift to Our Mother, which she will hold precious to her heart.  And it will probably help you fall asleep!

2)  Difficulty Establishing Habit-Even though the Rosary does not take much time, it may seem daunting before you have established the habit.  If this is the case, starting with only one decade will help break the ice.  Get used to praying one decade and then systematically add a decade until you are praying all 5 Mysteries!  Take a time of day when you have a relaxed space of time to pray...for some, this may be the morning (if you're an early bird!), for some, mid-day or evening.  Just stick with it and know that you've got Heaven on your side!

3)  Difficulty Praying Alone-Admittedly, praying the Rosary alone is an intensely internal experience.  Of course, you are never REALLY alone, for all of Heaven is at your side.  But for some, praying alone is difficult.  Many churches have groups which pray the Rosary after daily Mass.....or, pray it as a family.  Another option is to start your own Rosary group at your church or home.  You can be creative!  Rosary praying can be done with children, focused on a particular intention or combined with other activities, such as crafts, Scripture reading or learning religious songs.

4)  Lack of Comfortable Space-For some, the problem may be as simple as having no place to pray.  If you want to pray during your lunch hour at work, think about finding a quiet spot in another area of the building or perhaps outside.  Don't be embarrassed to be seen praying your Rosary!  You are giving a great witness to others and may even be instrumental in someone's conversion.  At home, there may be constant distractions around you.  Your bedroom may be no help if you are not comfortable sitting up in bed.  Every home should have a quiet place where prayer can take place.  You can devote a small room to this, your basement or part of a room.  It's a great place to display statues and other religious art and objects.  It should also be a comfortable place to be.  Soft chairs and soft light, maybe some floor pillows....an inviting, welcoming, peaceful space.  A place your family will want to be, where the spiritual life can be cultivated.  This prayer space will stand in direct contrast to all the electronics, bells, whistles and distractions, much of which is unholy, that this culture makes us think we need.

5)  Scrupulosity-The reason some of us don't pray the Holy Rosary more often, may be that we feel we don't pray it perfectly.  We expect so much of ourselves that we become discouraged and lose motivation.  The solution is to accept that no human being is perfect and that includes you.  We get distracted, our thoughts wander, we might be sleepy.  THAT'S OKAY!  Who's to say that these even are imperfections?  God uses our humanity to humble us, to break us, to refine us, to learn to trust HIM.  So if scrupulosity is your problem:  Get over yourself!  See "Difficulty Establishing Habit" above.  Starting small may help you to get started....and trust in God, not in yourself.

What a better place the world would be if from pole to pole the Holy Rosary resounded from every home to the Heavens!

Please note, I do allow all my posts to be shared via internet, email or printed, as long as this website is included.  Feel free to distribute this or any of my posts.  CM

Image courtesy http://blogs.nd.edu/oblation/2011/05/06/teaching-catholic-practice-praying-the-rosary-with-middle-school-students/

I Grew A Potato!

You have no idea how happy I am!  Whenever I try to grow potatoes, something goes horribly wrong.  This year, without even trying, I got a potato! :):):)  Okay, it was only ONE TINY potato, but it WAS a potato!  My husband and I shared it the other night and it was delicious, a bit nutty in flavor.

Here is our compost bin, that my husband built, in which the little red potato grew ("The Little Red Potato," sounds like a children's book!  You're welcome to write it, I'm not going to.).  Since we have tons of leaves, we needed to build this large bin to put them in and of course we also add our raw produce scraps and yard clippings, in addition to wood scrap from my husband's wood shop (more on that in our next post!).  That's pretty much all that goes into our compost.  I am a compost purist, so I do not use any paper products (due to chemicals), no household dirt & dust (yes I've heard of people doing that-bad idea), no cooked food, no meat, no excrement, no animal products except for rinsed egg shells.  And I make awesome compost.  With lots of worms in it.  Stuff can't help growing in it!  So when I saw this potato plant coming up, I decided to leave it alone and see what would happen.  It only grew that one little one, but it was a fun experiment.  I always like to do things outside the box and see what happens.  To me, gardening is very much about experimentation.  In fact, due to all the variables involved in gardening, it really is always something of an experiment.  I hope one day to get more than one tuber from a potato plant-I will not give up!  (Yes, that's my son's old swing in the background, from when he was little-we still haven't cut it down-they grow up so fast!)

Categories, etc......

FYI-in case you haven't figured this out, if you click on any of the categories at the top of each post (for instance, this post has two categories:  "General" and "Spiritual Life"), you will get all posts with that category.  I realize a side-bar with a list of all the categories would be AWESOME!  And how about a "Search" button?  And there are a lot of other improvements we need to make.  The problem is, that I have had difficulty finding the time to do these things and when I do have the time, I have difficulty figuring out HOW to do these things.  It should be easy, right?  This isn't my first blog.  Yes, I agree it should be easy but for some reason, it ISN'T.  I don't want to say bad things about Squarespace-maybe I'm just not smart enough or maybe I'm not paying enough $ to get these deluxe features....I don't know!  Anyway, I want to reassure you that I am working on these improvements and you should see something happening in the coming days.......

I hope.

BTW, do you know what this coming Thursday is???

The 99th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima! 

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! 

Dear Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, pray for us!

I also wanted to mention that my husband and I have, in honor of the feast of Saint Faustina this month, been praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena.  Its also quite appropriate during this Respect Life "Moved by Mercy" Month (see previous post) and in these final days of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.  The Chaplet Novena is such a blessing to pray.  The first time we prayed it, guess what we found out on the final day....That I was pregnant with our son (after a number of "negative" tests), our only child!  (We also visited the Divine Mercy Shrine in Massachusetts on our honeymoon, which was only two months earlier.)  If you are a devout Catholic, this is no surprise to you-you already know that God often gives us these little signs!  CM:)

October: Month of the Holy Rosary & Respect Life Month

“Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways ~ women, gambling, and farming."

Saint Pope John XXIII, feast October 11th

I'm half Italian (in case you didn't already guess that from my name), so I can put up an Italian joke....and Pope John XXIII was Italian too, so I guess he knew what he was talking about!  FARMING!  Hysterical!  Though I have always thought of Italians as good farmers and gardeners.  Maybe I was wrong.  My father seemed okay at it.  He grew eggplants on our front lawn in Levittown, Long Island.  I feel pretty sure we were the only people on the block with eggplants on the lawn. 

October is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary (see prayer on Home page) and dedicated as "Respect Life Month" by the USCCB-this year's theme is "Moved by Mercy," echoing the Holy Father's Jubilee Year of Mercy, which ends November 20th.  May we pray the rosary for the unborn and all threatened human life and participate this month in any pro-life activities that we can.

October also gives us an array of interesting feasts.  Some great and famous saints:  Saint Therese, Saint Francis, St. Faustina, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Margaret Mary....2 saints invoked for headaches, 2 invoked for demons, 2 female Doctors of the Church and 2 recent popes.  Also, Christ the King on the 30th!

So what can we do about the Rosary this month?  If you're already praying it every day, then....you....probably don't have to do anything.....okay, try to get someone else to pray it, how's that?  If you're not praying it every day, then why not heed the requests of Our Lady of Fatima and begin doing so?  Here are some notable feasts of this month-remember these saints on their feastdays-read about them, pray to them, develop friendships with them.....

10/1-Saint Therese of Lisieux, Virgin, Religious, Doctor-patron of missions (new)

10/2-Holy Guardian Angels/Respect Life Sunday

10/3-Saint Therese of Lisieux (trad)

10/4-Saint Francis of Assisi, Founder of Franciscan Order, Stigmatist

10/5-Saint Faustina Kowalska, Virgin, Religious, seer of the Divine Mercy

10/6-Saint Bruno, Priest, Founder of Carthusian Order-patron of those possessed by demons

10/7-Our Lady of the Rosary

10/9-Saints Denis, Bishop, Rusticus & Eleutherius, Martyrs-Saint Denis invoked against demons and headaches

10/11-Divine Maternity of Our Lady/Saint Pope John XXIII, 20th Century Pope

10/15-Saint Teresa of Jesus (Avila), Virgin, Religious, Doctor-invoked against headaches

10/16-Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Religious, Seer of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (new)

10/17-Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque (trad)

10/18-Saint Luke, Evangelist, Martyr-patron of doctors, painters & sculptors

10/22-Saint Pope John Paul II, 20th Century Pope

10/24-Saint Raphael the Archangel-patron of happy meetings, travel, marriage, healing, the blind & youth

10/28-Saints Simon & Jude, Apostles, Martyrs (brothers)-Saint Jude patron of hopeless cases

10/30-Christ the King

10/31-All Hallows Eve

New Yorkers Will Never Forget....

September 12th-the flag remains at half-mast for the victims of 9/11 at a firehouse in Forest Hills, Queens, NY.

15 years later, someone still remembers the firefighters who gave their lives on that day.  Let us pray for their souls and for their families....and all the victims, including those who continue to live with physical and mental disabilities.  Holy Mother and Dearest Jesus, we lift these intentions to Thee.  Amen.

"Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends." 

John 15:13