Category Archives: tradition

Musings about Marriage

I have a friend getting married in a few months here. She has the luxury of being what some would classify an “older” bride, which I am sure has it’s pros and cons. I think about if I had gotten married right out of college, my wedding would have been so different than what it was when I was 25. The guest list would have been impossibly long, the bridal party would have had to have been strategic and the focus would have been on ME! (After all, pick up any Bridal magazine and that’s what you are told.)

It’s funny when you talk to people about weddings and marriage. Everyone tends to have their own two cents. I have an acquaintance who feels very strongly that any couple even contemplating an engagement should be in therapy, exploring the ills of their past and bringing it all out into the open. Another woman I know looks down on “short” courtships (i.e. fewer than 3 years) because how will you know how a person will act in a crisis when you are married if you are never in a crisis while dating? So in her view, it’s best to date until a crisis hits so you can see how the person you are with will react and upon that base your decision. Another woman I know, eschews the whole marriage ideal and would rather just have fun.

According to recent US Census Data, the median time for divorce in the US is about 8 years. Reasons given for the splits? In part less money and less sex. I’ve been married to the Mister for 5 years… that means we have about three years before we head down to the courthouse, right?

Nope.

Like it or not, believe it or not, marriage is a promise that you make. I promise that you make to your beloved and with God as the Witness.

An example from a typical Roman Catholic Wedding Ceremony:

I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. I, ____, take you, ____, for my lawful (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

And it’s not just Religious Ceremonies that have the cornerstone on marriage vows. From “Civil Ceremony Wedding Vows

[Groom]: do you take [bride] to be your wife? Will you love, honour, and cherish her, in good times and in bad, and do you promise to stay true to her as long as you both shall live?
(Groom): I do.
[Bride]: do you take [groom] to be your husband? Will you love, honour, and cherish him, in good times and in bad, and do you promise to stay true to him as long as you both shall live?
(Bride): I do.

Hindu Weddings involve the Saptapadi, or seven steps:

With each circuit, the couple makes a specific vow to establish some aspect of a happy relationship and household for each other.
To provide for food always.
To give you excellent health and energy.
To make you perform your vrithas (rituals) as ordained in Vedas, during your lifetime.
To give you happiness in life.
To make your cows and good animals grow in strength and in numbers.
To make all the seasons be beneficial to you.
To make the homams (sacrifices to be done in Holy Fire) to be performed by you in your life as ordained in Vedas, successful and free from hindrances.

Traditional Chinese Wedding Vows

, you are willing to marry as your , in sacred marriage together for life?
Whether has sickness or health, poverty or wealth, beauty or is plain, in good times and in bad, you are willing to love her, to comfort her, to respect her, and protect ?
And willing to be forever loyal to ?

Are we seeing a trend here?

Some Catholics like to think that they have the cornerstone on marriage. But in reality, every marriage is sacramental. The husband is a conduit of grace for his wife; The wife is a conduit of grace for her husband.

Don’t get me wrong. Marriage is hard, but the good days outnumber the bad. There are days that I don’t really like the Mister, but I love him dearly and because of that love that I have for him and the promise that I made to God, I will never give up on my marriage. In this land of no-fault divorce and celebrity 55-hour marriages, the focus is more on the day- the dress, the guests, the food, the party- than on the journey after. And what does that lead to? Marriages lasting less than 10 years and people who go when the going gets tough.

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What are your thoughts on the state of marriage in our present society? Have we become lassez-faire about it all? Is marriage just another step in one’s life? Now, I do want to clarify, in the above post the marriage to which I was referring does not involve abusive spouses or other dangerous situations. Does that make sense?

Pax Christi!

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Filed under family, marriage, sacraments, Thursday, tradition

Reminiscing: the Dress

Again, I was hanging out with Hallie and the girls at Betty Beguiles, and she started a trip down memory lane about wedding dresses. I’ve been married for 5 years and I admit, I was curious as to the fit of my dress.

But, first, the story. The Mister and I had a pretty uneventful engagement, except for a massive disagreement with the parents over a wedding detail. And to be honest, I really can’t remember what the issue was today. Anyway, we became engaged in January 2005 and I graduated with my Masters in May 2005. We attended our Pre-Cana session that summer and were planning a small wedding for September 2005 with plans for a larger event later in 2006. (We didn’t want to live together before getting married, hence the smaller wedding.) So, the weird thing is that, we were planning on getting married in Door County, Wisconsin and Wisconsin law states that you have to have your license something like 30 days before your wedding AND the clerks office is only open M-F, bankers hours. I was in Madison, The Mister was in Chicago and we were not exactly near Door County to get said license. But we had a plan.

The Mister’s parents gifted us an early wedding gift in the form of a trip to Key West, which we took in late August 2005. The plan was, upon returning from our trip we were going to head up to northern Wisconsin and get our license for the September wedding. But then, Hurricane Katrina stranded us in Florida for 2 extra days and we ended up missing our window of opportunity. But it was all good! Because, while we were in the Keys… The Mister and I eloped! It was a bit of a shock for our parents and what was even funnier was that the first person we called after eloping was our priest, Father Matt. You can see where our priorities were. Ha!

All’s well as ended well and the Mister and I are still very happy together, after five years and two gorgeous girls. My dress, that I wore in September 2006, is a strapless, mermaid cut dress with black detail in the overlay. I loved it then and I still love it now, especially since I still look pretty rockin’ in it! I’ll admit, looking back, I kind of wish I had gone a little more modest. Maybe, sleeves with that silhouette, but what can you do? I also didn’t wear a veil, which could be why I wear a chapel veil at Mass!

(In September 2005, we did have a church wedding but I wore a simple while suit. Very 60s chic!)

suit

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Filed under family, history, marriage, tradition

Jesse Tree Day 5: Sarah

Scripture: Gen 18:1-15, Gen 21:1-17

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day. 2 Abraham looked up and saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he hurried from the entrance of his tent to meet them and bowed low to the ground.
3 He said, “If I have found favor in your eyes, my lord,[a] do not pass your servant by. 4 Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”

“Very well,” they answered, “do as you say.”

6 So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs[b] of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.”

7 Then he ran to the herd and selected a choice, tender calf and gave it to a servant, who hurried to prepare it. 8 He then brought some curds and milk and the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them. While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.

9 “Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him.

“There, in the tent,” he said.

10 Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”

Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”

13 Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”

15 Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I did not laugh.”

But he said, “Yes, you did laugh.”

1 Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. 3 Abraham gave the name Isaac[a] to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6 Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” 7 And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”

Hagar and Ishmael Sent Away

8 The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9 But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10 and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12 But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring[b] will be reckoned. 13 I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

14 Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

15 When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. 16 Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she[c] began to sob.

17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there.

A long time ago, old Abraham’s wife
Got the biggest surprise she’d had in her life.
Sarah and Abraham knew they were old.
But God said they’d soon have a baby to hold.

When Sarah heard this, she let out a laugh.
Could she have a baby at ninety and a half?
But just as God said, right before her eyes,
A son was born! She got her surprise.

(From My Princess Bible by Andy Holmes)

I think Sarah had a reaction that any of us would have when faced with an impossibility, she laughed. We tend to laugh when nervous, laugh in disbelief, laugh to disguise our discomfort, laughter can be a knee-jerk reaction to something that we just can’t process in that moment. Before she was told by God that she would bear a child for Abraham, Sarah decided to take things into her own hands (how many of us have never felt that way…) and decided that Abraham should have a child by her slave, Hagar, at least that way Abraham’s lineage would live on. So.. Ishmael was born of the union between Abraham and Hagar. And that was all fine and dandy until Sarah conceived and bore her son. Once Isaac was weaned (so he was most likely around 3 or 4 years old and Ishmael was maybe 4 or 5) Sarah decided she wanted Hagar and Ishmael out. (Granted, Ishmael was mocking Isaac, but still not cool, in my opinion.) In deciding this she basically gave Hagar and Ishmael a death sentence in sending them away, but God takes care of all of his people. God promised Abraham that out of Ishmael a nation would come as well, because he too was a son of Abraham. We call that nation of Ishmael the Nation of Islam. Judaism, Islam and Christianity are called “Abrahamic Religions” because all three have Abraham as a common ancestor and despite all of the differences we like to bring up, we are all sons and daughters of Abraham.

Ornament: Baby Feet

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So, I hope you enjoyed today’s devotion. Unless indicated, all devotions are out of my brain, so if you don’t like them, you can tell me. 🙂 I will try to post additional musings as time permits, but no promises. Don’t forget to enter to win an autographed copy of Little Star by Anthony DeStefano. You have until Dec 13! Click Here to see the post where you can enter!

Pax Christi!

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Filed under Advent, breastfeeding, Catholic, family, Friday, tradition

Jesse Tree Day 4: Abraham

Scripture: Gen 12: 1-7, Gen 13:2-18, Gen 18:1

1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.[a]
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”[b]

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring[c] I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.

3 From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4 and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

5 Now Lot, who was moving about with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents. 6 But the land could not support them while they stayed together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to stay together. 7 And quarreling arose between Abram’s herders and Lot’s. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

8 So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herders and mine, for we are close relatives. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.”

10 Lot looked around and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan toward Zoar was well watered, like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt. (This was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.) 11 So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan and set out toward the east. The two men parted company: 12 Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the people of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the LORD.

14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring[a] forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

18 So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the LORD.

1 The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.

How many of us honestly have the faith in God that Abraham does? Here he was, one day, minding his own business when all of a sudden, God begins speaking to him. He could have just brushed off the voice of the Almighty as being a figment of his imagination, but he didn’t. He stopped and listened. And that voice began telling him some far-out things. Abram was old but for men that really is a moot point as men are still fertile when they are old. But here’s the kicker, his wife, Sarai was old too, and as we know, for the ladies, fertility is not forever. So, here are Abram and Sarai, both past middle age, past the ideal parenting ages and they are being told by some mysterious voice that not only will they have offspring, but that their offspring will be like the “dust of the earth.” (Gen 13:16) That’s a lot of people. Abram, like Noah before him, trusted in the Lord with all of his heart and put his faith in God. If we could have one iota of that faith, imagine the good works that could be done through us. But remember, God can do much with just a little. All he asks of us is to have faith the size of a mustard seed.

(And a little FYI: I have “Faith” by George Michael totally stuck in my head right now.)

Ornament: Man on Camel under a star filled sky

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So, I hope you enjoyed today’s devotion. Unless indicated, all devotions are out of my brain, so if you don’t like them, you can tell me. 🙂 I will try to post additional musings as time permits, but no promises. Don’t forget to enter to win an autographed copy of Little Star by Anthony DeStefano. You have until Dec 13! Click Here to see the post where you can enter!

Pax Christi!

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Jesse Tree Day 2: The Fall of Man

Scripture: Gen 3: 1-24

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.

8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”

10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”

12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

16 To the woman he said,

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Ornament: Serpent and the Apple

Today’s Devotion is from Madeleine L’Engle:

When we left the garden we knew that it would be
forever.
The new world we entered was dark and strange.
Nights were cold.
We lay together for warmth, and because we were
afraid
of the un-named animals, and of the others: we
had never
known about the giants, and angels gone wild.
We had not been told
of dwarves and elves; they teased us; we hid
whenever they played.

Adam held me. When my belly grew taut and
began to swell
I didn’t know what was happening. I thought it was
the beginning
of death, the very first death. I clung to Adam and
cried.
As I grew bigger something within me moved.
One day I fell
and the pains started. A true angel came and
pushed the grinning
creatures back. Adam helped. There was a tearing.
I thought I’d died.
Instead, from within me came a tiny thing, a new
creature,
red-faced, bellowing, mouth groping for my breast.
This was not death, but birth, and joy came to my
heart again.
This was the first-born child. How I did laugh and
sing!
But from this birth came death. He never gave me
any rest.
And then he killed his brother. Oh, my child. Oh,
my son Cain.

I watched from then on over every birth,
seeing in each babe cruelty ready to kill
compassion.
For centuries the pattern did not change. Birth
always meant death.
Each man child who was born upon the longing
earth
in gratefulness and joy brought me only a fresh
ration
of tears. I had let hate into the world with that first
breath.

Yet something made me hope. Each baby born
brought me hurrying, bringing, as in the old tales,
a gift
looking- for what? I went to every slum and cave
and palace
seeking the mothers, thinking that at least I could
warn
their hearts. Thus perhaps the balance might shift
and kindness and concern replace self-will and
malice.

So I was waiting at that extraordinary intersection
of Eternity and Time when David’s son (Adam’s
too)
was born. I watched the Incarnate at his mother’s
breast
making, by his humble, holy birth the one possible
correction
of all that I by disobedience had done. I knelt and
saw new
Adam, and I cried, “My son!” and came at last to
rest.

I have nothing to top that.

Jesse Tree Day 2: The Fall of Man

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So, I hope you enjoyed today’s devotion. Unless indicated, all devotions are out of my brain, so if you don’t like them, you can tell me. 🙂 I will try to post additional musings as time permits, but no promises. Don’t forget to enter to win an autographed copy of Little Star by Anthony DeStefano. You have until Dec 13! Click Here to see the post where you can enter!

Pax Christi!

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First Sunday of Advent

Scripture: Matthew 24:37-44

37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

Today begins my favorite season in the Liturgical Year: Advent! For me, there is something about the preparation and the waiting that really speaks to me. The other nice thing about Advent is that it forces you to slow down and really enjoy the preparations for the Christmas season.

Today, before our evening meal, we blessed our Advent Wreath and lit the first candle. We spent the entire meal trying to prevent the three-year-old from blowing the candle out (one of the reasons she loves going to Mass… candles EVERYWHERE!) but the evening was very spiritual.

What else is kind of neat is to try to imagine myself in the place of Mary. I have carried and borne two children and that last month of pregnancy is difficult. You are tired of being pregnant, baby is getting heavy, you definately have the pregnancy waddle going on and your joints are so loosey-goosey that you are afraid to do simple acts for fear of dislocation! I can’t be sure, but I can imagine that Our Blessed Mother felt the same way. But she was carrying no ordinary baby… she had the Savior of the world in her Womb! No pressure there.

One tradition that our family started last year is the Jesse Tree. It is an Advent Calendar (but there are no chocolates involved) that traces the linage and the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The title comes from that Jesse was the father of King David. God promised David that his Kingdom would last forever – and that through him and his seed God would save his people and bless the world. Two centuries after the death of King David God spoke through the prophet Isaiah and said:

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. (Isaiah 11:1-4)

During this season of Advent, I will be posting Jesse Tree Devotions, along with the ornament that we are using. There are different versions of the Jesse Tree out there and it’s great because each family can make it their own. The tree onto which we will be hanging our ornaments is painted on our sliding glass door… and if I may say so, it’s not half bad.

Jesse Tree on DoorJesse Tree Ornaments

Edited to add: There are 24 Jesse Tree Ornaments, but 28 days in Advent. To make the ornaments last the entire Advent season, we are only doing Jesse Tree devotions on Monday-Saturday while the four Sundays of Advent will be reserved for candle lighting and whatever else your family does on the Sundays of Advent. I will post the Gospel Reading from that day though. Makes everything more uniform and us type A folks like that uniformity.
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So, I hope you enjoy the devotions. I will try to post additional musings as time permits, but no promises. Don’t forget to enter to win an autographed copy of Little Star by Anthony DeStefano. You have until Dec 13! Click Here to see the post where you can enter!

Pax Christi!

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Children’s Book Review: Little Star

A King is about to be born! The stars in the heavens are competing to shine the brightest to celebrate his birth. But when they see the poor family, the donkey, the shabby stable, the stars all think, That can’t possibly be a king. We’ve been fooled.

All except one. The smallest, loneliest star in the sky, Little Star, is the only one to understand what the king is about to bring to the world. But what can Little Star do for him?

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by best-selling author Anthony DeStefano about reviewing his latest Children’s Book, Little Star. As I was humbled and honored by his request and, of course, I jumped at the chance.

Mr. DeStefano’s book has all of the elements of the traditional Christmas Story, told from the perspective of the stars in the heavens. The story of the Nativity is intertwined with themes of self-worth, perseverence and ultimately, self-sacrifice out of love for others. (hmm… sound familiar?)

For me, the mark of a “good” Children’s book is if it can make me cry and this one certainly does that (and for those of you who do not know me personally, I do not cry easily.) The illustrations by Mark Elliot are beautifully rendered and are works of art in of themselves. My eldest daughter, the three year old, loves this book and calls it her “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” book and right now, really wants it back. *smile*

If you are looking for a nice addition to your family Christmas traditions, please pick up a copy of Little Star. While the text is easily designed for children aged 3-8, children of all ages will love and appreciate this heartwarming tale.

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Want a chance to win your very own, autographed by the author, copy of Little Star? Well… all you have to to is leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas tradition or Service Project. For an additional entry, Become a Fan of Caffeinated Catholic Mama on FaceBook!

Entries will be accepted until Monday, December 13 at 11:59p (CST) and the winner will be drawn by random number generator on Tuesday December 14th.

Pax Christi!

(I was provided a review copy of Little Star by the author, in exchange for my honest review.)

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Just icing on the cake

I was reading the St. Louis Review (Catholic News) this weekend and there was a letter to the editor that just made me climb on my soapbox and rant at DH.

The letter, written by a Grandmother, outlined the various grievences that she had with the Mass and people attending said Masses. Her points included:

-people not genuflecting/ bowing before entering the pew
-young people not paying attention
-young children hanging on their parents, turning around, not using books,
-chewing gum and then receiving Communion
-the presence of loud music and singing of songs that are “anything but hymns”

She closes by saying:

What on earth will our faith be like 20 years down the road? Will my young grandchildren have a strong faith to see them through life’s hard times? Singing and shaking hands will not do much with standing by a hospital bed. It all makes me sad and very tired.

So of course, the CCM got all up in arms and was ready to fire her own letter to the editor when I decided to bring it here instead.

Now, I can see some of her points. It does irritate me when I see kids playing on their Nintendo DS or PS3 or iPods during the Mass, my husband does not genuflect and sometimes I just want to tie my 3 year old to the pew, but then I remember a few things:

1. My 3 year old is, after all 3. What I expect a 3 year old to accomplish during the Mass is totally different than what she CAN accomplish.
2. All the other stuff: other people’s behavior, music selections, skills of the choir, quality of the homily, is not why we are there.

We attend Mass to take part in the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist, all of that other stuff is just extra. I try my best to remember that fact and when I find myself being disparaged by the extra stuff that I don’t like, I offer it up. Offer the suffering that you might be experiencing because of the extra stuff up for a poor soul in purgatory and pray that the Lord helps you to stay focused on the task at hand.

At our Parish, we are fortunate to have a multitude of Masses to choose from: If you want an early meal, try the 5pm Vigil Mass; want a more contemplative Mass, 7am; want a more grown up Mass, 8:45a; contemporary? 10:30 is for you and if you want to raise the roof with Praise and Worship songs, hit up the LifeTeen Mass at 12:15p.

The writer asks how her grandchildren’s faith will be shaped in 20 years. To that, I have to respond with the hope that their faith is firmly grounded in a love for and of Christ which can only be done with the Church and the Domestic Church (home) working in concert.

And as Saint Augustine said: “Cantare est bis orare.” (To sing is to pray twice.)
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Tomorrow is “Ask CCM Tuesday!” If you have questions about Catholicism, conversion, RCIA, Natural Family Planning, Breastfeeding, Cloth Diapering, Frugal Living, Knitting, Crochet, Biology, Forensic Science, Marriage, Parenting, Gentle Discipline, etc., etc., please send me an email at:

CaffeinatedCatholicMama (at) gmail (dot) com

In your email, please include your first name and your location and let me know if you want your name withheld when I answer your question on the blog.

I have no prizes to offer for your questions other than the knowledge that you might be helping others with their questions!

Pax Christi!

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When I grow up…

I recently discovered “The Pious Sodality of Church Ladies” blog and I now have the goal of becoming a Church Lady. Written by 5 Catholic Church Ladies, the blog runs the gamut from food to fashion with a nice traditional Catholic spin.

If you are a budding traditionalist, like me, their insight is invaluable! Check ’em out!

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To Save a Life…

Recently, the news covered a tragedy that no family wants to face; woman is 11-weeks pregnant and in grave danger of losing her life. According to doctors, the patient was in “heart failure” and if the pregnancy were to continue, mortality of the mother was “close to 100%”

From NPR:

“They were in quite a dilemma,” says Lisa Sowle Cahill, who teaches Catholic theology at Boston College. “There was no good way out of it. The official church position would mandate that the correct solution would be to let both the mother and the child die. I think in the practical situation that would be a very hard choice to make.”

But the hospital felt it could proceed because of an exception — called Directive 47 in the U.S. Catholic Church’s ethical guidelines for health care providers — that allows, in some circumstance, procedures that could kill the fetus to save the mother. Sister Margaret McBride, who was an administrator at the hospital as well as its liaison to the diocese, gave her approval.

In the end Sr. McBride, with the ethics committee, approved the abortion and the woman’s life was saved, but in doing so, Sr. McBride was excommunicated from the Church. Why? Because, Sr. McBride, as a Catholic, has the responsibility to respect all human life, even that of the unborn.

From the Catholic Cathechism:

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,”77 “by the very commission of the offense,”78 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.79 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”81

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, “if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual. . . . It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence.”82

2275 “One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.”83

“It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material.”84

“Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities. Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity”85 which are unique and unrepeatable.

(emphasis mine)

The decision of the bishop of excommunicate Sr. McBride has drawn ire from those who disagree him.

From Feminsiting.com

The abortion was necessary to save the patient’s life. And of course a fetus couldn’t survive if the woman died at 11 weeks – a fact that wouldn’t change my feelings on saving a woman’s life anyway, but it does show Olmsted’s interest really isn’t in saving life.

The position of the Phoenix archdiocese is clear: a fetus is more valuable than the life of a woman. In fact, it’s more important not to directly terminate a fetus than to save a woman’s life even if the fetus couldn’t survive anyway. Which means a nun who acted to save a life has no place in that church according to its top official.

From womensrights.change.org

At the very least, a life-saving abortion such as the one in question should be accepted by the Catholic Church as an act of self-defense. As the Catholic Church’s Catechism says: “Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow. So why, for some elements of the Catholic Church, is the fetus’ so-called “life” the only one sacred and worth saving? Why deny women the ability to defend their own lives, which the Church has stated is a legitimate aspect of morality.

(Edited to add: It took a lot of thinking today to address the section that I’ve bolded and put into italics. The author does make a valid point in that a person is entitled to self defense to preserve their own life, however, in the Arizona case, the fetus was not causing the mother harm, rather it was her own heart acting as aggressor to her life. Now I guess you could say that the pregnancy exacerbated an already dire situation but we still don’t know if the heart condition was in play before the pregnancy.)

I am not going to get into Canon Law (because I am not a Canon Law scholar) and if the bishop was right or wrong to excommunicate but what I know to be clear is this, and rebuffs the two conclusions above: The reason why the abortion was a grave offense is that doctors were not 100% that the woman was going to die. Our faith teaches us that God is always in control and every life is sacred to him. Miracles happen everyday, and this case might have ended in the miracle of God saving both the mother and child had the mother been allowed to carry her pregnancy to term. God may have chosen to take the child home to him before the end of the pregnancy. When human interfere with the Divine Will of God is when problems arise. Faith requires us to trust in God, especially when the road is dark and dangerous.

In 1961, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian physician and mother, died as a result of saving the life of her unborn child:

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.

A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decided between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The Servant of God lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km from Magenta).

As far as excommunication goes:

Excommunication, it must be remembered, is a medicinal penalty intended, above all, for the correction of the culprit; therefore his first duty is to solicit pardon by showing an inclination to obey the orders given him, just as it is the duty of ecclesiastical authority to receive back the sinner as soon as he repents and declares himself disposed to give the required satisfaction.

There are so many difficult decisions in life and God wants us to come to him when we have to make those choices. He will always show us His will which may or may not be aligned with our will. Please remember the mother, the baby, Sr. McBride and the whole ethics committee at St. Joseph’s Hospital in your prayers.

Edited to add: I emailed my priest about excommunication and here is the conversation:

Hi Father!

I wrote a blog post this morning about the Arizona nun who was excommunicated for voting with the ethics committee to OK an abortion to save a mother’s life, and I have a question:

I understand why the nun was excommunicated. Were the priests involved in abuse cases also excommunicated? If not, why?

A quick answer is just that anyone who actively participates in an abortion (including a husband who drives his wife) automatically incurs an abortion. That can be removed in the confessional through absolution. However, since this took place in the public forum, the church was forced to respond publically as well. So the difference canonically is private vs. public sin. In both cases the soul is in mortal peril. If a priest publically supported the abuse of minors, or racism, etc…he would incur the same public penalty.

So, to clairfy, the priest involved in the sex abuse scandals were most likely excommunicated as well? Would they have to be found guilty by a jury first or are the allegations enough?

No, private and public sin are two different realities. Anyone in moral sin is “excommunicated” or out of communion with the church. Formal cases are only made public in public circumstances.
(end of email conversation)

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Agree with me? Disagree with me? Let me know your thoughts! But, please keep the debate respectful. Remember sitting behind each screen is a person with feelings.

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