Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Catholic Nook: 54 Day Rosary Novena

Photo credit: Allison Kinyon from Rosaries by Allison
Happy Wednesday everybody! And indeed it is a happy day, the feast of St. Therese! I am on the lookout for roses this fall day. :)

I have mentioned that I am starting a 54 day rosary novena in previous posts, but I thought I'd create a dedicated post for ease of finding it and praying along, for those who would like to. I'm going to sticky it as a separate page at the top of the blog for the duration of the novena, for quick referral.

The logistics go like this: for 54 days we pray a full five decade rosary for a specific intention(s). The 54 days (doing a little public math here) represent six novenas (which, of course, consist of nine days each). For the first half of this time period, 27 days, we pray in petition for the intention of the novena. The subsequent 27 days we pray in thanksgiving for God's will regarding the result of the novena, even if that hasn't been made clear to us yet. So, it is really a "power novena" of a considerable length of time. :)

If you're praying along with me right now (and I know at least a few of you are, yay!) we are starting on October 1st, 2014. So, our petition period is through October 27th, kind of easy the way the dates fall. Then, our prayers of thanksgiving will go through the last Sunday in Ordinary Time, which is November 23rd.

According to several articles I've read on this devotion (like this one), regardless of what day you start, you pray the mysteries of the rosary in a very specific order. If you were to do that, you would begin with the Joyful Mysteries on the first day, which aren't the traditional mysteries unless it's Monday or Saturday, but you would begin in this fashion regardless. If you want to really be "by the book" :) you can do it that way. I know myself, which is to say I know that I will not remember what mystery I'm supposed to pray each day using such a system, I will lose track. I like the good old fashioned traditional system, which for Ordinary Time is:

Monday: Joyful Mysteries
Tuesday: Sorrowful Mysteries
Wednesday: Glorious Mysteries
Thursday: Luminous Mysteries
Friday: Sorrowful Mysteries
Saturday: Joyful Mysteries
Sunday: Glorious Mysteries

So that is how I will be going about it. Since it's Wednesday, I already started the Glorious Mysteries in my car as I drove in to work.  I have one primary petition that I'm praying for, and I'm also including intentions that others have asked me to pray for on their behalf. If you would like me to include your intentions, leave a comment and indicate whether you're ok with me publishing it or not. :) If you'd prefer, I can note down your intention but not publicly publish your comment.

For the duration of the novena, I am praying with a new rosary that I broke down and purchased :) from Allison's Etsy shop. A photo of it appears at the top of this post. I was drawn to it because of the Blessed Mother Teresa centerpiece. A good reminder, in my mind, of the power of prayer and staying close to God even amidst spiritual dryness. I wish I had a photo of it in action in my hand, but alas, I left it in my car this morning since that is where I will resume praying on my commute home. I have a little nook in the drivers' side door that I tuck the rosary I'm currently praying with into for ease of grabbing. It's all very sublime. I just adore the new addition to my prayer arsenal.

I have prayed this novena in the past (relating to items in this post :)), and have seen concrete things happen subsequently that I believe are a direct result of my prayers. Has anyone else had this experience?

Happy rosary praying for the duration of Ordinary Time, everyone! I hope that you will join in if you are able. And if you can't commit to praying a rosary every single day (which I totally understand, life and responsibilities can interfere in the best of intentions) if you do it as often as you are able to during this stretch of time, keep all of us in the Catholic Librarian community in your mind and prayers as you do so. We will be united in prayer. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dancing photo shoots, saint dolls & novenas - it's the "little bit of everything" post!

Happy Tuesday everyone! And I am in fact glad that it is Tuesday today. Yesterday was a bit crazy, although a fun day in the end. Let's procure our tea and get started. :)

Last night was super busy because Mike was teaching, I had a photo shoot to attend for my dance troupe, and Henry had a soccer game. Multiple grandparents had to be brought in as reinforcements to get all of this on track without a hitch. :) But it did all work out.

For my part, I headed out about 5:30 pm wearing my pink troupe costume and coverup. Dance coverups are really just caftans, a long, flowy garment of some sort to keep your costume hidden unless you are actually performing. My troupe has matching coverups in hot pink, so picture me leaving my house looking like Mrs. Roper headed out for a hot night on the town. :0 I can only imagine what my neighbors think I'm up to when they see me coming and going. But I didn't want to change at the venue, since we were taking the photos on the back patio of the restaurant Claire works at during the day. It just seemed awkward to have to worry about changing in their restroom, so I went already assembled. I got some strange looks as I walked through the restaurant to the patio, but it's nothing that I'm unused to, lol.

And we had fun. We took a boatload of group shots and one individual shot each. It's nice back there with a view of a small creek and waterfall over the wrought iron fencing. The weather was beautiful too, with mild temperatures, a clear sky with setting sun and just a gentle breeze. So we'll see how those turn out.

Back at home, Henry finished up his indoor soccer season, Mike got though another long Monday of teaching, and Anne colored with my mom, bossing her around the whole time about how to do it "correctly." :0 The night was a success.

Also on my horizon this week is Christmas gifts. I've been knitting, crocheting and beading like the mad women you all know and love. I've been working my way steadily through my list, but of course, the list has undergone some alterations. I will devote a separate post to that at some point. :) I also have a list of items handcrafted by others that I want to get the kids, which use crafts that I decidedly do not excel at. So, we're talking painting and sewing. I've been procuring those little by little since the summer. I have the wooden dolls I mentioned previously, and for Anne I bought a Saint Softie from Saintly Silver on Etsy. She arrived yesterday. :)

This is, of course, Our Lady Star of the Sea, one of my very favorites. :) She is terribly, terribly cute, although not nearly as large as I was expecting. I was thinking this would be something Anne could snuggle with in bed. Well, no. :) She's only 4.5 inches tall, and 2.5 inches wide, a very petite Mary! So this is more in the realm of a small saint doll rather than a cuddleable. But that's ok! She's lovely, and will make a cute stocking stuffer. The dimensions are right there in the description too, apparently your librarian can't read correctly in public. :0 (This is the standard size, fyi. There are in fact listings for larger softies). She's adorable, and check out the back:

A stitched on prayer! All of the dolls have individualized prayers on their backs. A lovely touch. This is *super* cute and a very nice gift for the Catholic child in your life. The owner does have a 5-6 week turnaround time because her shop is so popular, so if you want some for Christmas, better get started now. ;-)

So, I've been tucking all of these things away as the weeks go by. Next on my list is a nativity set for Anne, and I may get her one a wooden one via St. Luke's Brush. We'll see! But I'm excited.

Also! Tomorrow is the feast of St. Therese and we finish her novena up today! Has anybody seen any roses? I haven't, but I wait in joyful expectation. :) AND tomorrow I'm starting the 54 day rosary novena. So if you'd like to join in, have at it! We need to pray a full rosary every day for these 54 days, that runs tomorrow through the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Who's in?

*beams*

Monday, September 29, 2014

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time - It's all about grace...

Happy Monday everyone! Although, I admit, I'm not all that thrilled that it's actually Monday. I had a meting at 9 am this morning, and I just didn't feel quite ready for work socializing yet, PLUS it didn't leave me enough time to make tea, and so now I'm on chat reference and writing this post, tea-less. That's not exactly a good combination.

:0

But at any rate, we had a very active weekend for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which I will chronicle here. I can't leave my desk to go get hot water for tea, which seems profoundly unfair, but you go ahead and enjoy yours as you read.

*martyr*

Ok, so Saturday morning Mike and I took the kids apple picking. This is a fall tradition, and this year we tried out a farm that is much closer to our house than we've journeyed to previously. It was about 30 minutes away, rather than an hour, which translated into SO MUCH LESS bickering our back seat from our offspring. *sighs* It worked out very, very well. The children cavorted on a hay maze and interacted with turkeys. The turkeys were happily pecking away at several pumpkins that were hung up for their ease, and were very friendly. I found it a big discomfiting that there was a sign up advertising fresh, organic Thanksgiving turkey. :0 This is why I could never work on a farm. #wuss We all picked apples, and there was a nice variety in season. We came away with about 12 pounds of apples, some of which Anne and I used to bake an apple cobbler yesterday, see baking selfie above. :) Which resulted in this cuteness happening:

Anne in her new apron. Precious.

We ended up at the vigil Mass, since Henry was spending the night with his grandparents and I told him he still had to go to Mass. This wasn't exactly a popular decision with Henry, but I explained that now that he's received his First Communion, he has a lot more responsibility with regard to Mass attendance. Not attending means that he has to go to confession and tell the priest why he didn't go. That, and Mike backing me up, seemed to make all the difference, and Henry got ready for Mass. :)

Anne was actually out for a girls afternoon with my mom, so it was just Mike, Henry and I at Mass. It's been so long since I went to Mass without a sassy little one climbing all over tarnation that I almost didn't know what to do with myself. :0 I could actually *pay attention* and follow along in my Magnificat, bliss! I enjoyed the Gospel reading very much, from Matthew Chapter 21: Which of the two sons does his father's will? The one who said he would go work in the family vineyard, but then didn't keep his word, or the other who initially refused, but later changed his mind and silently went to work? God appreciates our honesty, and will always welcome us into the fold, even if we were originally pretty stubborn about the whole thing.

This related back to the Gospel reading from last weekend, and it made me appreciate the sentiment anew. The Magnificat reflection following the Mass readings was penned by St. John Vianney, and focused on the danger of lukewarmness in faith. A sinner laments his sin when his conscience kicks in. A lukewarm person, on the other hand, thinks that their relationship with God and their actions are just fine, there is no need to change anything. You suddenly develop a habit of sleeping in on Sunday mornings. "God's ok with it, He knows that I still love Him. I'll go back to church when I'm feeling better." One week becomes another, and next thing you know it's been months since you've gone and received the sacraments. But you're still convinced that God is cool with this.

Been there, done that, my friends. :0 The reflection was a refreshing reminder that even when I get down on myself about the things that I just can't seem to get right, the fact that I still keep trying to do better is a really good thing. I recognize that I continually need improvement, and this fact alone doesn't put me outside of God's grace, you know? It's actually a *good* thing.

After Mass, we dropped Henry off at my in-laws for his sleepover.  This meant that Mike and I had a few hours to go out to dinner, and we had plans to go to a local Mexican place we had been wanting to try out. We had originally planned to bring Anne with us, but she was still with my mom. You know what this means, don't you?

HHEEEELLLOOOO MARGARITAS!!!!

A fun time was had by all. ;-)

How was your weekend, good and gentle reader?

Friday, September 26, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 55} Cute kid stuff, lots of fall book recommendations, and 54 day rosary novena! edition


It's the end of the first of the three autumn months, and what have I been up to, you ask? It is my favorite season of the entire year, after all. Let's settle in with our tea and discuss. :)

-1-Evil smoke detectors that attack in the night...

Work has been busy, as it always is at this point of the semester. I arrived home the other day, pretty pooped, and Anne summoned me immediately into the living room.

"Mommy color with me."

There was no asking involved. This was a demand. :)

"Sure, Honey. Aw, what happened to your finger?"

A bright green band aid was adoring her right index finger.

"The smoke detector did that." *very casual*

Now, Anne is afraid of her smoke detector. I don't know why precisely, but she has expressed this in the past, with lots of requests for the smoke detector to be taken out and "given to another child." Obviously, this is not happening.

"The smoke detector cut your finger, Sweetie?" *very skeptical*

"YES." *very serious* "It's watching me, ISN'T IT, MOMMY?" *WIDE.EYED.FACE*

Ah ha. The blinking light is clearly the culprit. Tiny piece of duct tape, coming right up.

-2- Henry simmers with excitement, Tiffany nervously bites her nails & downloads Kindle books...

Mine and Henry's trip to Maine is in two weeks. Henry is practically levitating he's so excited. Me? Yes, I'm very excited about the actual visit. But I have to fly to get there. And you know...well. I don't like to fly. :) I do it, but I don't know that I'll ever like it. It's a combination of the lack of control and fear of enclosed spaces. I've been listening to the Airline Pilot Guy podcast, hosted by one of my favorite SQPN'ers, Capt. Jeff, and that has helped my fear quite a bit, actually. Knowledge is power, I suppose, and traveling by air is statistically much safer than other forms of travel, and it's helpful to know the reasons why. So, good. Right?

Mostly. :) The fear is less than it has been, but I'm still not anxiety-free. I have my Kindle loaded up with books and am plotting a special portable knitting project to provide distractions on the travel days in question.

-3- Speaking of Kindle books, my current fiction selection...

I started a new Love Inspired Suspense miniseries last week, and so far so good. This is a Christian line of romances, and there are traditional titles (called simply "Love Inspired"), the suspense line, and a historical line. I'm not so much interested in historical romance. Occasionally, but not often. However, I love the traditional and suspense titles. They all feature the characters bringing their faith into the situations they are facing in the book and are quite lovely. The miniseries that I started reading is called Witness Protection, and it is a six book series featuring characters within the federal witness protection program and the U.S. Marshals who guard them. Book 1 was discounted one day (check out Inspired Reads for the scoop on how to find discounted religious titles on Amazon :)), so I downloaded it, and I'm so glad that I did. It is Safe By the Marshal's Side, by Shirlee McCoy:


I already have book 2 on my Kindle, that must have been featured in Inspired Reads one day as well, which is The Baby Rescue, and I plan to download the others and make my way through the miniseries. Happy. :) This particular miniseries has a different author for each book, which can have mixed results (I really like Shirlee McCoy, I've read her books before, so she sets a good precedent :)) but I'm intrigued enough by the theme to keep going regardless.

-4- Fans of saint books for middle readers will want to check these out...

Henry and I recently finished our first installment in the Encounter the Saints series from Pauline Books & Media, which was St. Thomas More: Courage, Conscience and the King. Excellent! Henry was quite taken with it. I have to write a review of it for Catholic Library World now, I have them to thank for introducing me to the series. These books are perfect for children aged 9-12. We liked the St. Thomas More book so much that I promptly ordered 3 more for our bedtime reading, and the first one he wants to start with is St. John Paul II:

We also ordered the selections featuring St. Kateri Tekakwitha and St. Maximilian Kolbe. We can take one along with us to Maine. :)

-5- October book club!

Just a reminder that our October book for the Catholic Book Club is Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus, by Philip Michael Bulman:

I've been wanting to learn more about devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus since hearing about it in a podcast earlier in the year, so this book is perfectly timed for me. It was just released this summer, and I'm very excited to dive into this for my spiritual reading in the evenings!

-6- Also starting in October, all rosary fans join in!

Beginning on St. Therese's feast day (Oct. 1st) I'm going to be praying a 54 day rosary novena. October is the month of the rosary, so it just seems perfect, no? :) Who would like to join in? We'll start, like I mentioned, on Oct. 1st, and finish on Sunday, Nov. 23rd, the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. Each day, we'll be praying a full rosary. For half of the novena (27 days), we pray for our intentions, and then for the subsequent 27 days we pray in thanksgiving for whatever result is God's will for that intention. There are instructions for the novena about which mysteries to pray on what day, but I'm going to be honest: I pay no attention to that. :0 I pray the mysteries of the rosary according to the day of the week and liturgical season. For Ordinary Time, that means this breakdown:

Monday: Joyful
Tuesday: Sorrowful
Wednesday: Glorious
Thursday: Luminous
Friday: Sorrowful
Saturday: Joyful
Sunday: Glorious

-7- Gratuitous baby photo, because who can resist those?

Real quick, I want everyone to go admire precious Baby Gift Universe, little Miriam (don't you just love her name?!) in the baby surprise jacket and hat that I knit her (scroll to take #6 in that post). *heart*

Ok all, I have to get back to work! Have a wonderful weekend, and I'll talk to you on Monday. Go check out more 7 Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Church Triumphant: Spotlight on St. Vincent de Paul

Morning everybody! I'm delighted that it's once again Saint Spotlight Thursday. :) Cristina and I have developed a pattern whereby my book club posts are the 4th Wednesday of every month, and then our saint posts immediately follow, on the 4th Thursday. Very fun!

This month we chose to highlight two saints with feast days coming up within the week, a nice way to stay in touch with our liturgical calendar. #CatholicNerds
Cristina is talking about St. Gabriel the Archangel over on her blog, you don't want to miss this one! There are baby pictures of her adorable son, a namesake of St. Gabriel! *squeals!* His feast is Sept. 29th. Joining him on that feast day are also St. Michael and St. Raphael. I just love that feast of the archangels, and the feast of the Guardian Angels is shortly thereafter, Oct. 2nd, fyi. It's just a lovely part of Ordinary Time. And I'm going to be discussing St. Vincent de Paul, whose feast is Saturday, Sept. 27th. Let's get started!

St. Vincent was born in the late sixteenth century into a humble peasant family in France. His family was able to secure part of his education with local Franciscan friars because they wanted to encourage his intellectual pursuits. As a teenager, he began studies for the priesthood, and was ordained at age 20.

He devoted his priesthood to ministries for the poor and the sick. He founded the lay Confraternity of Charity, the Daughters of Charity, and the Congregation of the Mission, all of which ministered to the poor, nursed the sick, and aided the unemployed. St. Vincent desired to help those who felt they had no one to turn to: outcasts, prisoners, prostitutes, slaves, homeless men and women.

From Magnificat for his feast day, we read:

"He instructed his followers, 'If a needy persons requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer.'"

St. Vincent died in 1660 and is the patron saint of all works of charity.

My personal tie-in to St. Vincent de Paul is that after many years of attending public city schools, I enrolled in a Vincentian college. Founded by the Congregation of the Mission, my Catholic college has a service mission that all students were required to partake in as part of their education there. I remember volunteering at a local hospital as part of the way that I accrued my service hours, and our curriculum included courses in both religion and ethics. It was a breath of fresh air after my prior educational experiences. Which is not a dig at public education at all, because that in and of itself is a valuable service, but I came from a fairly rough middle and high school experience.

While I was a student there, my faith was not yet "my own" in an adult sense (especially if you look at some of the decisions I made during that time period, yikes!), but God was very much working in my life. Although I still found Sunday Mass a bit trying and I lacked a full understanding of what occurs during the liturgy and of the Eucharist, I discovered daily Mass while I was there. The college has an absolutely stunning chapel on campus (and it is a registered parish within the diocese, Mike and I were married there! *heart*) and I happened upon daily Mass one day. That truly changed my life. I started going somewhat consistently throughout my time there. I loved the spiritual pick-me-up of the 20 minute service, it packed quite a punch. Even in my young and naive state, I recognized that something powerful happened at Mass and I was more easily able to identify it in the shorter format since my attention wasn't wandering. An important seed was planted. Around my senior year, I stopped going, and then my faith languished a bit until my second year of law school when I had a major spiritual "reversion" of sorts that led to me becoming rooted in my faith as an adult. And what was the event that tipped the balance towards making that happen? Daily Mass. :) Different college campus, but it all comes back to the Eucharist. Thus, it seems to me that St. Vincent de Paul had a hand in me coming back to my faith, and now cherishing it.

Does anybody else have a devotion to St. Vincent de Paul? Tell me all about it in the comments. And don't forget to visit with Cristina to chat about St. Gabriel. Talk to you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Catholic Book Club: Dominican Life

Happy Wednesday everyone! Today is our official Catholic Book Club installment for September, which is Dominican Life, by Fr. Walter Wagner, OP. You all know that I am a Third Order Dominican, so this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Go get your tea, let's get started!

*procures hot water*

This book is actually a compilation of retreat talks that Fr. Wagner gave to a community of Dominican nuns in Summit, New Jersey. The nuns transcribed and edited his presentations, aiming to retain Father's conversational style with only minor edits for readability. Each talk is its own chapter, and begins with a quote from the Rule of St. Augustine, which is what St. Dominic chose as the guiding precept for his order. Following that, Fr. Wagner expounds upon the selection, discussion the content a bit before moving on to its applicability to Dominican life. It's a very interesting and encompassing Table of Contents (you can see the full sample via the "Look Inside!" feature on Amazon), and therefore I think worth including here:

The Purpose of the Rule
The Rule as the "Other"
To Be Rich
The Sharing of Wealth
The "Special" Religious
Dominican Liturgy
Abstinence in Religious Life
The Contemplative Gaze
Work in Religious Life
The Dominican Habit
Dominican Chastity
Dominican Correction
Dominican Identity
Dominican Bodiliness
Dominican Dysfunction
Dominican Authority
Dominican Freedom

As a Dominican, I found this to be fulfilling spiritual reading. The chapters aren't lengthy (the total print book length is 222 pages, so not a heavy lift in terms of size), which I see as a positive thing. Ideal for a short bit of contemplation each evening before bed. Fr. Wager indeed has an engaging and personal style that comes across nicely in the text.

The thing that I *didn't* love about this book is that I personally find it jarring to read something that feels more like a speech rather than a book. It does indeed read like a transcript. There is still good content there, but I found it a bit distracting. The other thing is that although a layperson can certainly glean lots of good wisdom in these pages (as I in fact did), it does feel like content that was aimed at a target audience of religious. Not everything in the book applies to laypeople. So, that too left me wanting a bit more.

I think that the best way for laypeople to get the most out of this book would be to read it in very short increments, perhaps even less than a single chapter at a time, to really reflect on the material and how it could apply to to a lay lifestyle. As well, the material that is more clearly relevant to the nuns is simply very interesting information for laypeople, an inside glimpse into life within a Dominican monastery.

As a Kindle download, this is only $7.99 and I do think it is a worthy addition to ones queue of spiritual reading, taking the things I mentioned above into consideration. For Dominicans, it really is an essential read, I think. Has anyone else read this book, or perhaps a related book on Dominican spirituality? Chime in in the comments! How can Dominican spirituality be applied generally to all of us in the pews on Sunday mornings?

Do check back in tomorrow for the saint spotlight feature that Cristina and I collaborate on, The Church Triumphant. And next month, Catholic Book Club looks at a new book on devotion to the Sacred Heart, with Sacred Fire: Practicing Devotion to the Heart of Jesus, by Philip Michael Bulman.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Your child feels called to the religious life - are you smiling or tearing up? Perhaps both :)

I'm being a bit tongue in cheek with the title of this post, because I think everyone who reads this blog knows how lovingly I speak of the religious life. I considered it for myself, and although that was not my vocation, I retain a HUGE soft spot for religious men and women, and monastic living. I read tons of books about it, and find the experience so very sublime.

I have in the past fielded the question of how I would feel should Henry want to be a priest. I have always answered, without hesitation, that I would be thrilled. Depending upon who is asking the question, I have received a variety of responses. :0 Some Catholics nod with understanding and agree that they try to foster an openness to a religious vocation in their children. Others may be sympathetic to the way I feel, but don't necessarily share the sentiment. A few people of various religious persuasions have said to me:

"But...no you wouldn't! Don't you want grandchildren?"

I think Catholic religious vocations seem a bit odd to Christians who do not have celibate clergy, and the nun thing seems downright mysterious. It's different from the way many Christians do things, Anglicans and Orthodox being the exceptions that come immediately to mind (though they do have married clergy, but also religious orders). And this is a fascinating sub-topic, but I'm losing my train of thought as is so often the case. :0

This response has made me think about my answer, although my answer has not changed. Sure, I would love grandchildren someday. However, there is no guarantee, regardless of what vocation they enter into, that my children can and/or will provide them. Life doesn't always work out the way we plan, no? There are lots of couples who would LOVE to have children but are not able to. So my child entering religious life isn't the only reason that they may not have children of their own. The important thing is to discern ones' vocation carefully and to do what God is calling you to do. If my children do that, I will be one happy mother.

But over the weekend, this topic came into my heart anew. A friend from social media, Mike Gannon, announced that he is joining the Carmelites. This wasn't exactly a huge surprise, I could see it brewing for well over a year now. I got home from dance class, saw his Facebook and Twitter posts about it, then went and read his blog post (linked above):

"OH! OH, this is VERY NICE, but..."

*SNIFFLE!*

Mike found me shortly thereafter, wiping my nose as I stared despondently at my phone.

"What's wrong?"

"Mike Gannon is going to become a Carmelite friar. It's GOOD! It's just...I will miss him so much on Twitter!!!"

Because you see, the religious vocations of others are all about ME and my social media experience. :0

I realized that my happy go lucky response about my son and the priesthood was based upon him deciding to become a *diocesan* priest. This is quite different from joining a religious order, where a person is obliged to their community. For both men and women, becoming a member of a religious community means that you must follow the structure and rules of your order and your superior. For cloistered nuns, and also monks, this new lifestyle is quite dramatic. It's not like a man studying for the diocesan priesthood who still has the freedom to go about daily tasks as he pleases in many ways.

I did think about this last year when someone else I followed on Twitter (and a good friend of Mike Gannon's), Channing Dale, entered a cloistered Carmelite community. I didn't even know her, but yet I very strongly felt her absence in my Twitter timeline. And although thrilled for her and for the Church, I felt a bit sad when she left. (I remember saying to my knitting friends: "Her last day on Twitter is coming up. I can't even imagine how she'll feel right after she deactivates her account. And, AND! WE WON'T KNOW, WILL WE, BECAUSE SHE CAN'T TWEET!! *sob*) And the same thing is happening with Mike Gannon, though more strongly because I "know" him better (we've never met in real life). He's a staple in my online Catholic community, and I always enjoy his contributions on Catholic life and issues. I will miss him. :(

Mike will hopefully be back on social media at some point beyond his postulancy, but it is a bit of an unknown. Channing (now Sr. Mary Magdalene of the Divine Heart) will not be back due to the specific nature of her cloistered vocation, and this made me think very deeply about something inherent in the religious life, and indeed in a vocation to marriage as well: there is a dying to self involved. It is more dramatic for cloistered religious than it is for others, but there it is. And for people who know and care for a person entering a cloistered community, there is a sense of loss there, I think. I understand that the gain is SO much greater, for everyone involved. But in our humanness, I still think that this is difficult. In terms of your daily interactions with the person, it may feel a bit like they have died. Poof! They are just gone, and you cannot simply call them to hear their voice. That is terribly hard.

For a parent, I imagine that this would be *incredibly* challenging. I'm not saying that I would begrudge my son or daughter a religious vocation, certainly not, but there are things that I would struggle with. Particularly if it were Anne entering a cloistered monastery. I would get over it, and I would be so very joyful about my child offering their life to Jesus, but I would grieve a little bit for their company, I think.

Just keeping it real here, as I always strive to do. :) I would still be thrilled if Henry or Anne felt called to the religious life, whether it be to a cloistered or active community, or for Henry to the diocesan priesthood. But there is an element of emotional pain that I think would be very real as a parent adjusting to this change.

Thoughts? :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

25th Sunday in Ordinary Time - God loves us even though we are unworthy. THANK HEAVENS.

I am really growing to enjoy these Sunday reflection/Mass experience posts that I've been putting out on Mondays. :) This may very well become a regular feature. I'm going to need to make this one somewhat short since my schedule continues to be a bit busy, but no worries! I'm still here with you for the duration of my chat reference shift, so whatever I can get written in that time frame is fabulous. I just have to deal with the chat questions as they come in. For instance, I just helped someone who was looking for books on potty training in our library. Our academic, state university library. That's not a research interest that we have a large collection in, to put it mildly. Glamour, all glamour. :0

Anyway, I'm leaving early to take Henry to the dentist, which is fun for absolutely no one, although I at least get to read a Love Inspired Suspense title on my Kindle out in the waiting room, in contrast to poor Henry. But I digress. Henry was a very good boy at Mass yesterday, so he should get a reward far more appealing than a trip to the dentist, that's for sure.

Anne on the other hand...well, she made the Gospel reading very applicable to my situation. Not that I could HEAR the gospel, since I was taking her, at her very loud request, to the bathroom (ironically enough. *commiserates with chat patron*) When we returned, I got out my Magnificat so that I could go back to the Gospel, since it caught my attention as I was carrying Anne back to the sacristy. It was the parable from Matthew about the landowner hiring workers at varying times during the day but paying them all the same wage, regardless of how long they actually worked. The lesson being that God will forgive us and give us our reward in heaven no matter how worthy or unworthy we are, so long as we agree to what He asks of us. In our case, we should repent, ask for forgiveness, and go forth desiring to please Him.

This made an impression on me given that I had yelled at my children as we readied for Mass. :-\ It doesn't justify it, but they had fought all morning, and then *someone* refused to put her shoes on as we were about to leave the house. It was a frustrating situation, I was feeling emotionally at the end of my rope because they had both been behaving so poorly for hours leading up to this, and the shoe thing just made me snap. Can't *anything* be easy with a 3 year old? Apparently not.

It's a good thing that God never turns his back on us even if we're late to the party, no? Our opportunity to be redeemed is just as strong as someone who has lived the life of an angel from birth. Is there such a person, by the way? I'm thinking no. :0

I thought about this throughout Mass, which was good since Anne did not make things easy for me, and praying for patience certainly helped my cause. For the second time in 2 weeks, she had to be removed from the sanctuary for poor behavior, and a talking to administered out in the side vestibule. We had things like, oh... leaping off of the pew and into the aisle. Obstinate and dramatic throwing of self to floor when Mommy tries to pick us up. Loud *shushing* of the MUSICAL ENSEMBLE when they started playing. When our favorite usher came to collect our envelope, Anne looked at him unblinking as she held the envelope hostage, him with the basket offered in smiling expectation of her cuteness. Without missing a beat, Anne slowly *crumpled the envelope in her fist* as if sending some sort of nefarious message about the depth of her capabilities to embarrass her mother. It wasn't a good scene.

But we made it, and the Gospel message was certainly well received. We are all in need of God's grace. Especially this Catholic librarian.

And speaking of helping each other along in this earthly path, don't forget that today is Day 1 of the Novena to St. Therese. Sign up to join in!

I have a post planned tomorrow on the religious life and our children/friends. If that's a topic of interest to you, do come back to chime in!

How was your weekend, dear reader? Leave me a comment. :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Quick Takes {Take 54} Feasts, novenas, eye searing crafts & teaching edition...

-1- Tiffany is actually going to be *quick*? How shocking!

This is going to be a fairly quick edition of 7 Quick Takes (and if you've been reading my blog for some time, you know that I have a very loosey goosey interpretation of "quick" :)) since I have yet another busy work day today. Imagine that! Actual *work* interfering with my fun Catholic/writing/dancing/online shopping tasks. I have two World Civilizations classes that I'm going to be presenting in today, so I need to finish my preparation and then teach in the afternoon. It's not my favorite part of my job, if I'm being honest, but I always prepare and do my best to be concise and engaging. I could juggle knives and some kid in a hoodie will still fall asleep in the back row, but you can never win 'em all. ;-) I try my hardest to do the absolute best job I'm capable of, and it usually goes very well. So here's hoping!

-2- Today's feast day is...

 St. Januarius:

Ever heard a strange story about some blood in Italy liquifying and bubbling on an annual basis? That's this guy. :) Gosh, I love being Catholic.

-3- St. Therese's feast day approaches!

The novena to St. Therese begins Monday (9/22) and I will be joining in for certain.  Sign up via that link and you will receive an email with the prayers in it each day, makes it easy to not forget. I adore St. Therese's feast day. The thrill of looking for the sign of roses while you pray it just adds to the allure. :) Back when Mike and I were dating, I threw a party on the feast of St. Therese, cooked all of this crazy flower-related food, and invited all of our Catholic friends. He seemed to find this pretty charming and proposed to me soon thereafter. :0 I've always loved her feast even more as a result.

-4- 54 day rosary novena anyone?

 I'm thinking of starting a new 54 day rosary novena right after the St. Therese novena. Does anyone want to join me? So, we would start on her feast day of October 1st, and commit to praying a daily rosary for 27 days of petition (that would end October 27th), and 27 days of thanksgiving, giving us a final date of November 23rd, which happens to be the last Sunday in Ordinary Time. If you'd like to join in, I'll post reminders on the key dates next week. :)

-5- Book club on Wednesday!

 I will be posting a review of our September book club selection on Wednesday, which is Dominican Life by Fr. Walter Wagner, OP.


I'm about 88% of the way through the book according to my Kindle, so I will finish up this weekend. I have mixed feeling about it's usefulness for laypeople, and I will detail all on Wednesday. :) If anyone else has read this book, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments on that day!

-6- Crafting with very LOUD yarn...

 I love colorful things, and apparently my children have inherited this trait from their mother. At Henry's request, I made him a pair of socks with yarn that actually hurts your eyes to look at it:


I just finished them this week and he's already worn them. :0 For Anne, I'm knitting watermelon mittens:

Mitten #2 is just missing a thumb and will be finished tonight. The striping pattern doesn't perfectly match Mitetn #1, because nobody got time for that. ;-) But they look handknit and fabulous.

-7- My favorite post to write this week...

...if you haven't read it, is my troupe's dancing adventures on Wednesday. I just love chronicling those. Although far from glamorous or perfect, my life is worlds more interesting now than when I was an awkward teenager and twentysomething, let me tell you. And I'm very grateful for it, and to have my Mike by my side as we navigate life's journey together.

All right, back to my lesson planning! Talk to you all on Monday! Head to Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes, and have a great weekend! :)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tech Thursday question: Family tablet?

In a bit of an interesting trend, I appear to be coming up with technology questions on Thursdays. I was looking for a topic for today's post on which I could be brief, since it is a bit of a busy day. I'm on a search committee, and we had a meeting this morning at 8:30 (thank God there was coffee). Not that 8:30 is all that early, it's just that I had to be on campus, stuff dropped off in my office, and then journeyed to the other side of the academic spine and ready to talk to other human beings by 8:30. I had to get up a bit earlier and leave right after Mike dropped Henry at school in order to make this happen, so my routine is all off. And you know how I am about my routine.

:0

Anyway, as I was contemplating what to write (came up with the 54 day rosary novena, which I will incorporate into tomorrow's 7 Quick Takes post, so look for it there :)) I journeyed over to Amazon to check on a book order I had placed for Anne that is due to arrive later today. And what do I see? Amazon has new Kindles out today, one of which is a Fire Tablet for a mere $99
 My interest was immediately piqued, because tablets have been on my mind. We need a new family tablet, and so Christmas gift ideas have been floating around in my brain. We really just need something that Mike can use for web browsing (he doesn't have a Smartphone, and isn't interested in one just yet), Henry can use for games, and I can use for video chatting. I can also use my phone for that, but a bigger screen that you can affix to a spot via a stand up case would be very useful depending upon the circumstance. This new and very inexpensive Fire tablet actually has a front and rear facing camera. Intriguing. However, I haven't heard fantastic things from other Fire owners on their impressions of older versions of this product.

I am also considering an iPad Mini:

They can be had on Amazon for around $250, and I've heard nothing but good things about the quality of the product. This would have a bigger screen and a nicer camera. It is certainly more expensive, though. Since I have zero experience with either of these items, your input would be greatly appreciated. :)

I have a Kindle e-reader which I absolutely adore, but that is a completely different product from the tablet line. I also note that all Kindle e-readers are now moving to a touch screen. I would love one of those, but I can't justify it just yet when my older Kindle still works like a champ, and I use it *daily*.

Ok, so, have at it! I would appreciate everyone's input on this one. :)