Friday, October 29, 2010

The Souls of the Faithful Departed

From 1999 to 2001 I was the Director of Religious Education at the Spiritus Sanctus Academies in Ann Arbor Michigan. At that time the schools had a weekly letter called the Monday Mailer that went home to each family. I wrote a short essay/article each week for that letter. Here is an excerpt of one of those articles.
(note: this was originally published on October 18)

The Souls of the Faithful Departed

As we approach the Feast of All Saints (November 1) we need to remind ourselves of the ways in which God’s Family works. All members of God’s Family, on earth, in heaven’s doorway (purgatory), and in heaven itself, relate to each other in very real ways. Our older brother’s and sisters who have died in God’s friendship, and been purified, rest at the feet of our Savior in constant worship. But their worship does not distract them from caring for their younger siblings. Being perfectly united to Our Savior they can’t help but care for us. Just as any good sibling, they constantly intercede on our behalf.

And we, in our turn, look to them for help, guidance, example, and prayers. We honor them for the virtues they possessed on earth and the way in which they have shown us the path to God. This honor cannot take anything away from Our Savior since He is also Our Creator. When we honor the sanctified of His Family, we honor Him. Today we honor our brother St. Luke: the evangelist, the physician, the friend and companion of St. Paul. We ask him to pray that we speak of Jesus with great courage and skill, as he did. We ask him to pray that we find Godly companions on our earthly journey, just as he had in St. Paul.

When family members pass through the doorway into the next life, they count on us for prayers as they undergo any remaining purification. In order to help us remember those siblings, Holy Mother Church has designated a day to pray for the family members who are suffering in purgatory. This day is called All Souls Day (November 2). But, just like any good mother, She doesn’t leave it at that. She asks us to add a simple prayer into our regular daily routine, perhaps at the end of a meal, or in addition to our grace before meals. No matter where we put the prayer, when we say it we are demonstrating our love for our siblings in Christ, just as any good family member does often.

May the divine assistance remain always with us and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Go Giants!!

They won!!! 
And now Patty's team is headed to California!!....wouldn't it be great if Patty was coming too--do you think the Texas Rangers would take her and her cute kids with them???

What fun for the kids to come back to the U.S. and have our local team winning the playoffs! This is their introduction to baseball since they had very little exposure living in the U.K.----most exposure came through Wii. 
D has been wearing his San Francisco Giants hat around town and people always comment on it and ask about his favorite player or if he watched the game. So far, no favorite player, and "watching the game" is more of an idea than a reality. But it is fun non the less. And we have been seeing some imaginary baseball games in the backyard...though M claims her favorite game is cricket (don't worry, we are working on her!). 

As for the adults of the Kennedy family...well, I have to confess I probably wouldn't be paying attention at all if they weren't in the playoffs. As much as I love the game of baseball, I have never been really big on actually watching on any regular basis. 

But this is fun! And what fun to be watching the World Series along with my new blog friend Patty!!


A ladies man from way back...

6 year old boy: Papa, I can't believe how much you kiss Mama.
Papa: You think I kiss Mama a lot, huh?
boy: Yes, especially at Mass...(pause)...You know, when we shake hands.
Papa: Oh...well kissing at that time is special for Mama's and Papa's
boy: When I am big and I marry a woman I am going to kiss her a lot.
Papa: Well, that's good.
boy: Yah, I am going to kiss her in the morning, at night, AND at Mass.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Holy Jeans, Batman!

What would you do?

I am a failure at patching jeans. Sitting on my laundry room counter are no less than 9 pairs of jeans that have holes big enough that I can't stand letting my kids wear them in public...not to mention the one pair that is mine!! Every patching attempt broke through within two weeks. I thought I might just give them away, but most charities ask for clothes WITHOUT holes. I have no sewing machine, and even if I did I am not sure I would know how to sew them up....wouldn't it just get all puckered? Sewing a patch on by hand seems....well....just too hard! 

What would you do? Make a quilt out of the material? Turn them into clever, crafty...ummm...pot holders? Purses?

I hate to just trash them!

And while I am whining, what happened to Toughskin Jeans---maybe Sears still sells them, I haven't looked, but thats beside the point!!
What happened to jeans that cowboys wear to protect them against brambles, thorns, cows horns, etc? These couldn't even stand up to a little carpet burn!!

Note to reader: Yes, I realize that I am using waayyyy too many exclamation points. My high school English teacher----Mr Korte----would have marked up this blog post with red ink, I am afraid. But I needed those little dashes and dots to help you see my desperate situation. 
Batman! Where are you???

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Today we had our first field trip with the local homeschooling group--Cornerstone Homeschool Connection. We went to Dell'Osso Family Farms to see tons of pumpkins and do fun farm stuff. And all that with some great new friends! (not pictured--except in the background--since I don't feel comfortable showing pictures of other people's kids on my blog without permission).

Say "Go-Cart!"

Queen of the hill

Go speed racer, go-oh

"Hey, where'd they all go?"


And they're off!

Now, THAT was fun!

How corny!

This was one bumpy tractor ride!

Okay guys..don't look so enthusiastic!

This pony was called Mrs. Pony
(the other horses were given much more creative names)

This horse was named Spirit.

Pick a pumpkin? Really?!!

26 pounds of pumpkin!

Farmer D can handle the wheel barrow all by himself. 
This girl loves her cars and her horses!
Three happy Kennedy Kids......priceless.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We Had a Tea Party Today

No, there were no pretty teapots. Just lots of signs. 
And flags.
And pictures of famous conservatives.
(not shown: three life size card board cut outs of Sarah Palin)

Were there crazies? Whackos? Nut-cases? Well, depends on what you mean. If dying your hair bright red just for the day is "crazy"....then yes. If donning lots of your hat, on your shirt, huge flag poles in your "whacko", well then, yes. If carrying signs that say things like "Throw the Bums Out" or anything pictured below: 
warrants the title "nut-case"....then, yes. 

But, you never met a nicer bunch of folks to have an impromptu picnic with. We were early birds, arriving about noon and leaving by 1:30. People were still arriving and festivities were scheduled to go on till 6pm. For us it was a nice introduction to this historical grass roots movement. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Spelling in the age of computers

This isn't A, it is M at about age 2. We start the computer thing early here!

When asked to spell her name, A will proudly give you each letter, in order, with a little extra at the end: 

Me: How do you spell your name A?
A: "A-#-#-#-#-#-enter"

Can you tell how A learned to spell her name? 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And the Two Shall Become One

It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. "


Forty eight years ago today, my parents were married. And the foundation for my own marriage and family life was laid. My parents have four children still here on earth and three in heaven. Through the many crosses and joys of family life they taught us that the practice of our faith was most important; that our success in life was our personal responsibility; that family life required selflessness; and that love permeated a happy home.

This year we honor the anniversary of that sacrament with sadness in our hearts as we mark another first since my Dad died. However, with the eyes of faith, there is no sadness without joy--the joy of knowing that our goal is that we will all be together again in heaven, some day.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In which I generalize about Germans and Italians

This post over at Faith and Family reminded me of my trip first trip to Italy.
In 2000, I had the great privilege of a pilgrimage to Rome on my own. I stayed with the friends of a cousin and spent my days exploring Rome a lone most of the the time. I went to Mass at St Peter's almost daily. The first day there I happened upon Mass at the back altar (in front of the giant "cathedra" (chair) and the round window with the Holy Spirit in the center. The Mass was said in Latin and there was a variety of folks there, obviously from all over the world. At communion time, I stood sort of waiting for "my turn" and I quickly realized that there was not going to be a ordered procession up to communion. So, I left my pew and headed up. On my way some tiny, elderly Italian ladies elbowed their way past my, making sure they got up to communion before the priest ran out. Most people just joined the crowd (there really wasn't much of a line) when they were ready. It was chaotic, but strangely efficient.
This picture is from a later trip to Rome and is not Cardinal Ratzinger. That bright round light in the left corner is the window I mentioned. 

The very next day, I was at St. Peter's again for Mass at the back altar and Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) was the celebrant. In the front rows were a bunch of pilgrims obviously part of a larger group. By the homily I was pretty sure they were German since the Cardinal seemed to be speaking to them directly. When communion time came, they rose and began to file out in orderly fashion. Much to their surprise, the little Italian ladies came barreling down the aisle and took their places as close to the front of the line as their elbows could get them. I could see the looks on the German pilgrim's faces and I tried not to laugh. I remember wondering where we Americans got our habit of receiving communion in such an orderly fashion...was it from our German ancestry? (I have little of that in me)

Throughout that pilgrimage as well as my other trips to Rome I have wondered whether or not this fashion of "go up when you are ready" isn't a bit better than the row by row practice we have. I thought that people who needed time to prepare could (without spending time wondering if it was their turn yet) and those that needed to refrain from receiving could do so without really being noticed. Maybe we are overly concerned with uniformity, or perhaps it is "how things look" that we worry too much about. I know that in my parent's diocese they have decided that people should proceed to communion from the back row forward. I am sure they are sincerely trying to make some theological point (the first shall be last?), but the result is that you spend all your preparation time looking over your shoulder to see if it is your turn.

Personally, I would rather have my eyes closed, focused on my prayer so that I can receive my Savior with a ready heart. And, yes, I am willing to brave the elbows of any little old lady.

(By the way, I got to receive Holy Communion from Cardinal Ratzinger that day. I was thrilled since I was already a big fan of the man. Little did I know he would someday be Pope!)

Crown Of Roses

From 1999 to 2001 I was the Director of Religious Education at the Spiritus Sanctus Academies in Ann Arbor Michigan. At that time the schools had a weekly letter called the Monday Mailer that went home to each family. I wrote a short essay/article each week for that letter. Here is an excerpt of one of those articles.

October 7- Feast of the Queen of the Holy Rosary

Crown of Roses
Fulton Sheen, in his book titled “The World’s First Love”, tells a story of the early Christian martyrs. As the young virgins marched into the Colosseum to face certain death, they wore festive robes and crowns of roses on their heads. They were dressed “to meet the King of Kings in Whose name they would die.” At night, the faithful still living would creep back into the Colosseum and collect the roses, saying their prayers as they went, one for each rose. At the same time, far away in Egypt, hermits counted their prayers on pebbles. These spiritual bouquets developed into what became known as the rosary, which means “crown of roses”.

The prayers said on the rosary have not always been the same. The Eastern Church had a practice of repeating invocations to the Blessed Mother while meditating on the life of Christ. In the West, St. Brigid of Ireland meditated on the life of Christ using a rosary made up of the Our Father and the Hail Mary. Around the 1200’s, St. Dominic received a command from the Blessed Mother to preach and popularize this devotion.

The 150 prayers said in today’s rosary came from the practice of reciting the 150 Psalms of David. At a time when books were scarce and many people unable to read, the recitation of the Psalms was largely impossible for the average lay person. So, the Hail Mary and Our Father were substituted. Eventually, the 150 Hail Mary’s were split into fifteen decades separated by an Our Father and the Doxology (the Glory Be). These prayers come almost entirely from the Scriptures, with the exception of the end of the Hail Mary: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” This was added in the Middle Ages when the Black Plague was sweeping Europe and many faced what appeared to be the “hour of their death”. The prayer commonly said after the Glory Be was added in 1917 when the Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima. Because of the great decline in morals, Mary asked that we intensify our prayers for sinners. So we added: “O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy”

The Rosary is unique since it is both a mental and vocal prayer. As we say the Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s, we are meditating on the life of Christ. It is as if we think the prayers, rather than say them. The Rosary is also a multi-sensory prayer, best said aloud and with the rosary beads. While the lips move and the fingers touch the beads the heart and mind dwell on the beauty of the life of Jesus Christ and His Mother.

The Rosary is a devotion that is found throughout the Universal Church. It is one of the few devotions mentioned in the Catechism more than once (CCC #971, 1674, 2678, 2708). With the exception of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is perhaps the most important devotion in the life of a Catholic.

I know many of our families have made the Rosary a regular part of their family devotions. This month, many more of our families are making a commitment to pray the Rosary as a family. These families have seen the fruits in their lives from this effort. Please consider incorporating this powerful prayer into your family’s devotional life. Remember, also, to pray for each other to grow in love of Christ through devotion to His Blessed Mother.

Monday, October 4, 2010

One of those parenting gems....

I love when I find a quote or saying or quick concept that sticks in my head and helps motivate me in my parenting journey. I found one today.

Leila over at Like Mother Like Daughter has this to say:

I have noticed that parents think they can put off demanding things of their child until some undetermined time when that child is "more reasonable." But in fact, your child will be reasonable later on if you quietly present him with opportunities -- in the area of food, dress, sleep, and behavior -- now in which to obey and meet your standards.

Blunt. Brilliant. True. 

Recycling and Sin

Since I haven't been very good at regular blogging I thought I would help myself by recycling some of my old writing. I enjoy reading that younger, still "just a catechist, not a mom" me. I hope you do too.

From 1999 to 2001 I was the Director of Religious Education at the Spiritus Sanctus Academies in Ann Arbor Michigan. At that time the schools had a weekly letter called the Monday Mailer that went home to each family. I wrote a short essay/article each week for that letter. Here is an excerpt of one of those articles.

“What is God doing when I am sinning?”

This may be one of the most important questions your child can ask. It touches on who God is, what is His role in my life, what does He see when He looks at me, and, ultimately, how should I see myself. Since we don’t have a God-cam, we have to construct an answer based on what we know to be true about God. We know, by God’s own revelation, that He is love, that He created each of us because of His love and that He intends for us to share in His life. We know that what He wants for each of us is our own happiness. And, He happens to know, as our creator, our happiness can only be achieved by union with Him and with His will.

In an effort to answer this question, I would like to take some literary license and put words in God’s mouth.  Imagine that you are the one sinning. As God sees you sinning, He calls you by name and says to you:

“By love I created you and my love for you compels me to want only the very best for you—eternal happiness. Yet, I know that this sin you are committing is a lie. It won’t make you happy as you think it will. It can only bring unhappiness. Because I love you so much, I have made you to be free. And in your freedom you have chosen to turn from me. But I will not leave you there. Here, I will shower grace down upon you so that you can stop doing that which hurts you more than any physical pain. Here is more grace that you can know that what you have done is wrong. And here, more grace so that you can be truly sorry for what you have done. I will give you even more grace so that the sorrow arises out of love in your heart for Me. And finally, I will surround you with the grace of My presence so that you will be able to resist that sin again. I love you with an everlasting love and continue my faithfulness to you.”

Friday, October 1, 2010


D would like to officially dedicate his lego creation (pictured below) to his Godfather (who gives him legos) on the occasion of his birthday. Happy Birthday Uncle Bud!

Lego School

The great thing about homeschooling is that legos can be school work! Here is a narration (he talks, I keyboard) from D: 

That doesn't look like an embarrassingly late summer vacation does it?


Happy Feast of St Therese!
Some of my friends on the side bar have great ideas for celebrating today (see Shower of Roses especially). 
I am going to start the novena that I wanted to start 9days ago. 
Oh....and have a yummy dessert that takes little time to fix. cream? Anything chocolate?