"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Friday, February 26, 2010

March Picture Book Basket

I know that there are other things, besides St. Patrick's feast day, that happen during March (and a few of the books below reflect that); however, since we are part Irish, we enjoy immersing ourselves in the delightful, and sometimes sad, Irish picture books that are available on our shelves and at the the library.  Some of the picture books that we will be reading this month are listed below.

Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmany Hill by Tomie de Paola
My boys really like this Irish folktale in which Finn outwits his giant rival, Cucullin, with help from his wife Oonagh.
Good Saint Joseph by Father Lovasik, S.V.D.* (March 19)
Father Lovasik chronicles St. Joseph's life as the foster father of Jesus in simple and easy to understand words.  He also shares some short prayers that can be said to the Holy Family, and why St. Joseph is the protector of families and the protector of the Church.

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie de Paola
My children love Jamie O'Rourke and I like that they can learn from his mistakes.  When Jamie's wife injures her back, lazy Jamie has to figure out a way to feed himself.  He catches a leprechaun and that's when his troubles begin.

Tomie de Paola's Jamie O'Rourke and the Pooka is equally appealing to my children and will also be read this month.

Katie's Wish by Barbara Shook Hazen
Katie wishes that potatoes would disappear.  Shortly afterwards, the Irish potato famine begins and Katie feels guilty for her wish.  She is eventually sent to America and learns that her wish did not bring about the potato famine.

My Path to Heaven: A Young Person's Guide to the Faith by Geoffrey Bliss, S.J.*
Fr. Geoffrey Bliss, S.J. has provided children with an excellent Ignatian retreat.  The details in the black and white illustrations grab the attention of more than one of my children.
Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola* (March 17)
If you have a son named after St. Patrick, this book should be part of your home library.  My Patrick saw it on Our Lady of Victory's table at a homeschool conference a couple of years ago and proudly exclaimed, "Look, Mommy, it's Patrick.  He's my saint."

Saint Ciaran: The Tale of a Saint of Ireland by Gary D. Schmidt (March 5)

Saint PatrickSaint Patrick by Ann Tompert (March 17)
Ann Tompert presents a simple biography of Saint Patrick's life and fills it with factual information.

Saint Patrick and the Peddler (Orchard Paperbacks)Saint Patrick and the Peddler by Margaret Hodges
A kind and thoughtful young peddler, who is experiencing hunger due to the potato famine, is visited by St. Patrick in his dreams.  When he finally listens to what St. Patrick is telling him, his life is changed.
I enjoyed the little bit of history that Margaret Hodges shared regarding St. Patrick's life and the story behind the inspiration for the book almost as much as the story itself.  We will be reading this book again.

Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi (March 19)
Leo Politi tells the story of the return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano through the eyes of a young boy, Juan.  Juan is sad when the swallows leave San Juan Capistrano.  Julian, the mission gardener and bell ringer, comforts him by sharing that the swallows return each year on St. Joseph's Day, March 19.  Delighted by what Julian shares Juan makes a small garden, hoping that at least one family of swallows will make their nest there when they return.

St. Patrick's Day in the Morning is a favorite March read-aloud in our home.  Young Jamie wakes up early to prove that he is not too small to March in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.  Jan Brett's illustrations enrich this wonderful story even more.

Before immigrating to the United States from Ireland, Fergus carved himself a shillelagh from his favorite blackthorn tree.  Thanks in part to the shillelagh, his story is retold by one of his descendants each St. Patrick's Day.

That's What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully*
This book is new to us, but I could not pass it up after noticing the author and the illustrator.  As three mischievous leprechauns attempt to dig up their pot of gold and place it at the end of the rainbow, they can't help but pull some comical pranks.

Tim O'Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott*
We have not read this book before, but it sounds really good.  Tim and his wife are really poor.  He goes looking for work and finds some wee folk instead.
Update:  My children immediately recognized this story, as a slight variation of one in a Faith and Freedom reading book.  They liked how the author took the story and adapted it into a cute Irish tale.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Suffering and Love

On Sunday, our pastor gave an excellent sermon on suffering.  He drove his sermon home with a final nail in the bulletin by including a quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen on suffering and love.
     The lesson of the Crucifix is that pain is never to be isolated or separated from love. The Crucifix does not mean pain; it means sacrifice. In other words, it tells us, first, pain is sacrifice without love; and secondly, that sacrifice is pain with love.  Firstly, pain is sacrifice without love. The Crucifixion is not a glorification of pain as pain. The Christian attitude of mortification has sometimes been misrepresented as idealizing pain, as if God were more pleased with us when we suffered than when we rejoiced. No! Pain in itself has no sanctifying influence! The natural effect of pain is to individualize us, center our thoughts on ourselves and make our infirmity the excuse for every comfort and attention. All the afflictions of the body, such as penance, mortification, have no tendency in themselves to make men better. They often tend to make a man worse. When pain is divorced from love, it leads a man to wish others were as he is; it makes him cruel, hateful, and bitter. When pain is unsanctified by affection, it scars, burns up all our finer sensibilities of the soul, and leaves the soul fierce and brutal. Pain as pain, then is not an ideal: it is a curse when separated from love, for rather than making one’s soul better, it makes it worse by scorching it.

     Now let us turn to the other side of the picture. Pain is not to be denied; it is not to be escaped. It is to be met with love and made a sacrifice. Analyze your own experience, and do not your heart and mind say that love is capable of overruling, in some way, your natural feelings about pain; that some things which otherwise might be painful are a joy to you when you find they benefit others. Love, in other words, can transmute pain and make it sacrifice, which is always a joy. If you lose a sum of money, is not your loss softened by the discovery that it was found by some very poor person whom you loved? If your head is racked with pain, your body wasted and worn from long vigils at the bedside of your child, is not the pain softened by the thought that through your love and devotion, the child was nursed back to health again? You could never have felt the joy, nor had the faintest idea of what your love was, if that sacrifice had been denied you. But if your love were absent, then the sacrifice would have been a pain, vexation, and annoyance.

     The truth gradually emerges that our highest happiness consists in the feeling that another’s good is purchased by our sacrifice; that the reason why pain is bitter is because we have no one to love and for whom we might suffer. Love is the only force in the world which can make pain bearable, and it makes it more than bearable by transforming it into sacrifice. If the dross of pain can be transmuted into the gold of sacrifice by the alchemy of love, then it follows the deeper our love, the less the sense of pain and the keener our joy of sacrifice. But there is no love greater than the love of Him Who laid down His life for His friends. Hence, the more intensely we love His holy purposes, the more zealous we are for His kingdom, the more devoted we are to the greater glory of our Lord and Savior, the more we will rejoice in any sacrifice that will bring even a single soul to His Sacred Heart.

The Eternal Galilean
Thanks to this quote, I finally figured out what I am readingfor Lent.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Lenten Discipline


The Lenten discipline consists of three separate parts:
1. Corporal or External Fast, including the abstinence from certain foods, drinks, and amusements, i.e. music, and parties during Lent.

These points of fast should be stressed today especially with the mania for entertainment besetting our society;

2. Spiritual or Internal Fast which consists of abstinence from all evil----sin.

Saint John Chrysostom taught that the "value of fasting consists not so much in abstinence from food but rather in withdrawal from sinful practices."

And Saint Basil the Great explains: "Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, suppressing evil desires, and avoiding all gossiping and swearing. To abstain from these things----herein lies the true value of fast!"

3. Spiritual Change achieved by the practice of virtues and good works must be the main objective of our fasting.

The Fathers of the Church insisted that during Lent the faithful attend the Lenten church services and daily Mass.

In the course of the centuries, our fasting discipline has undergone numerous and radical changes. Today, unfortunately, the observance of Lent is but mere formalism, reduced to abstinence on certain days and without any stress on one's spiritual growth or the amending of one's life style.

It is urgent that we return to the pristine spirit of the Great Fast which is so badly needed in our materialistic world.
Read the rest, including suggested practices, at Catholic Tradition
We will try to add these practices to some of our other Lenten traditions

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Must Read

The Cure of Ars: The Priest Who Out-Talked the Devil by Milton Lomask is a book that should be read by Catholic families during this Year for Priests.  A few weeks ago, my husband finished reading the book to my children and me, and we were sorry to have it end.  Milton Lomask captured the life of St. Jean Marie Vianney in words that appeal to both young and old.  He also succeeded in touching the listeners' hearts, giving us a motto to make our own.  Thanks to this book, the words, "Do only what is pleasing to God" are often in our minds and on our lips.

St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney, pray for us and our priests!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Miss my Mom

My Jesus, I adore Thee.
My Jesus, I love Thee.
My Jesus, I trust in Thee.
My Jesus, have Mercy on me, a sinner.
My Jesus, Thy Will be done.

My mother died several years ago and I still miss her terribly. During her illness, I had seen her every other day and sometimes every day until St. Valentine's Day; this was the last day that I saw her alive. My children got colds and what I thought was the throw-up flu (severe ear infections were diagnosed on February 22) and I could no longer visit her. The night she died, my dad tried to call, but by the time I answered the phone, the person on the other end had hung up. My dad called me early the next morning and told me. My children and I rushed over to my parents' house. My husband met us there.

The day my mother died, I took advantage of the fact that my husband stayed home to help me, and I went to Mass.  I arrived early and I knelt and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, "Dear God, my mom has suffered so much. If my mom will go straight to Heaven, please take her." I did not expect God to answer my prayer at 10:03 that night and I have regretted my prayer so often, but a priest told me that it was a prayer of love. I am thankful that she is no longer suffering; however, sometimes, I selfishly wish that I had continued to pray for a miracle.

The day my mother died, I lost my mom and my closest friend, next to my husband.

Dear Mary, as I told you shortly after my mother died, I entrust myself totally to your care.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

Please pray for the repose of my mother's soul.

Friday, February 12, 2010

He Usually Knows What We Will Say

After returning from Mass on Sunday, Finnian ran into my room and said, "I was very good at Mass, so I had my throat blessed."

A few minutes later, he returned and the following conversation took place:

Finnian (whispering):  "Mommy, please may I have a hotdog for lunch."

Me:  "Go and ask Daddy."

Finnian (in a loud voice):  "Oh, I give up!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Andrew Paul
miscarried at 10 weeks
Thursday, February 4, and Sunday, February 7

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Worthwhile Listening

Yesterday, I listened to:

Banish Envy from Your Heart
"Banish from your heart this shameful and destructive vice. Let charity reign amongst you, and do not envy one another any more. Rejoice with the joyful, and mourn with the sorrowful. Take a sincere interest in the weal or woe of your fellow man. Grant to every one the good which belongs to him, even to your enemy; and do not refuse your sympathy to any unfortunate person, not even to your enemy."
~ St. Jean Baptiste Marie Vianney

Marriage is a Vocation, Not a Lifestyle Choice

Be Holy as the Holy Family is Holy
"You can tell the strength of a nation, by the strength of the family life in the nation."
~ Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.

Today, I listened to:

11th Hour Salvation: A Reason for Supernatural Hope
Act of Hope
O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon for my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.

Mental Prayer is Essential for Salvation
"God has established Holy Communion with the power to transform us into saints."
7 Possible Obstacles to Our Sanctification:
1. Mortal sin
2. Deliberate venial sins
3. A lack of generosity in pursuing God's will and uniting our will to His.
4. Lack of bodily mortification.
5. Lack of interior mortification.
6. Lack of spiritual reading.
7. Lack of mental prayer.
"All the saints became saints because of mental prayer."

Thank you to Jessica for bringing Audio Sancto to my attention a couple of years ago.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Sword Fighting

My little boys enjoy pretending they are knights.  This morning, as I lie in bed, feeling dizzy, they are pretending to be knights, blowing their horns and sword fighting.  A few minutes ago, the following was heard from the hallway:

Finnian:  "Oh, I am wounded."

Catherine:  "Go see Mommy and she will bandage you up."

Finnian:  "No, I am a man."

I pray that everyone has a blessed Sunday.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Candlemas Poem

My mother-in-law shared this poem with me several years ago.  This morning, a member of our homeschool group shared it via email.

Our Lady of the Candles

I have seen a candle lit.
I have watched the slow
Consuming of the strength of it
That a light may glow.

And I have thought upon a maid
That to the temple came
And offered all herself to be
Wax -- to feed a flame.
~ Sr. Mary Catherine, O.S.U. ~

The Feast of Candlemas

The Presentation in the Temple ~ Philippe de Champaigne
The Feast of Candlemas, which derives its origin from the local observance of Jerusalem, marks the end of the Feasts included in the Christmas cycle of the liturgy. It is perhaps the most ancient festival of Our Lady. It commemorates, however, not only the obedience of the Blessed Virgin to the Mosaic Law in going to Jersualem forty days after the birth of her Child and making the accustomed offerings, but also the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, and the meeting of the Infant Jesus with the old man Simeon -- the Occursus Domini, as the Feast was originally termed. This is the principal theme of the liturgy on this day: Jesus is taken into the Temple "to present Him to the Lord." So the Lord comes to His own Temple, and is met by the aged Simeon with joy and recognition.
The procession on this day is one of the most picturesque features of the Western liturgy. The blessing and distribution of candles, to be carried lighted in procession, preceded the Mass today -- a symbolic presentation of the truth proclaimed in the Canticle of Simeon: Our Lord is the "Light for the revelation of the Gentiles." The anthems sung during this procession, eastern in origin, well express the joy and gladness of this happy festival, and the honor and praise we give to our Blessed Lady and her Divine Son by this devout observance.

Words to Warm the Heart

Finnian:  "Mommy, I love you!  You are my best friend."

Thank you, God, for blessing me with such loving children.

Monday, February 01, 2010

February Picture Book Basket

As I started to put together this month's book list, I was thinking of saints' feast days and St. Valentine's Day. However, after adding Eve Bunting's The Valentine Bears and Else Homalund Minarik's A Kiss for Little Bear to our basket, I went down a little bear trail.  In addition to reading the books below, I am looking forward to hopefully doing some bear-related and St. Valentine's Day crafts with the children.

The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward
Johnny decides to go hunting for a bear, so that he can hang a bearskin on his family's barn wall.  He comes back with a live bear cub.

Big Sister and Little Sister by Charlotte Zolotow*
Little sister grows tired of big sister always telling her what to do, so she runs away.  When big sister comes calling for her in the field, little sister does not answer.  My two eldest listened to this story over and over again when they were young.

Blessed Sebastian and the Oxen by Eva K. Betz (February 25)*
This is one of the books in the Saints and Friendly Beasts series published by Neumann Press. The hand-drawn illustrations add to the beauty of the story.

Brigid's Cloak: An Ancient Irish Story by Bryce Milligan* (February 1)
Bryce Milligan tells a tale about one of Ireland's most beloved saints and her cloak.

Can't You Sleep, Little Bear? by Martin Waddell
Little Bear is afraid of the dark, so Big Bear responds with loving kindness.

Hedgie's Surprise by Jan Brett*
This story is very familiar to my children.  The red in the delightful illustrations inspires me to pull it off the shelf several times in February.  Hedgie and Henny attempt to outsmart the Tomten and save Henny's eggs.

The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica by Kathleen Norris* (February 10)
Kathleen Norris shares the loving story of St. Benedict and his sister, St. Scholastica.

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? by Nancy White Carlstrom

A Kiss for Little Bear Else Holmelund Minarik
After receiving a wonderful picture from Little Bear, his Grandmother sends him a "thank you kiss".  It is given to little bear in a unique way.

Our Lady of Lourdes by Father Lovasik, S.V.D.* (February 11)
Fr. Lovasik tells the beautiful story of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette in an easy to understand and read children's story.

Saint Bernadette (A First Book for Little Catholics) by Father Gales (February 11 or 18)*
In clear simple language, Fr. Gales retells the beautiful story of St. Bernadette and the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes.   I pray that this book is eventually reprinted, as it is perfect to read to young children on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, or the traditional Feast of St. Bernadette, or on April 16.

Saint Brigid and the Cows by Eva K. Betz* (February 1)

Saint Valentine by Ann Tompert (February 14)
Ann Tompert weaves together fact and legend to retell the story of Saint Valentine, a priest who lived in Rome during the third century.  The watercolor illustrations depict ancient Rome.  My readers have enjoyed learning about some of the legends surrounding Saint Valentine from this book.

Sleepy Bears by Mem Fox
Sleepy Bear gets ready for his long winter nap and then wakes up in the spring.  I have not read this book before and the cover doesn't really appeal to me, but we have enjoyed other books by Mem Fox. 
Update:  We will be checking this book out again.  My older children have read it over and over again to their younger siblings, laughing at the descriptions of some of the bears.  The illustrations add to the story.
The Valentine Bears by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Jan Brett
Mrs. Bear plans a Valentine's surprise for Mr. Bear, despite the fact that they are still in hibernation.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
This book has been read many times, since my oldest pulled it off a library shelf 9 years ago.  It has also been reenacted by several of my children.  The lyrical words and fun illustrations grab their attention and feed their imaginations.

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