Tuesday, December 16, 2014

All the Baby Jesuses-- My Favorite Family Christmas Traditions!

I have to confess that I LOVE the Christmas season!  It has always been a time of joy for me, and despite the stress, I truly love every minute.

I offer this description of my family's Christmas traditions at the inspiration of  Patience Brewster, a designer of Christmas gifts, ornaments, and greeting cards.  My favorite Patience Brewster ornament is called Jambo! Zelda Zebra because it reminds me of a very special little girl named Bridget, who had a fondness for zebras.

We have quite a few Christmas traditions in our family.  As Catholics we, of course, celebrate the four weeks before Christmas with an Advent wreath.  Grace before dinner includes a short meditation on the season and a candle is lit for each of the four weeks before Christmas.

We also start the season with a small empty manger.  When someone does a good deed or makes a sacrifice they may put a straw in the manger. The goal, of course, is to have the manger full of straw by Christmas so the Baby Jesus will be kept warm.

On Christmas morning from the time my children were very small we started a tradition I learned when studying Japanese history at the University of Michigan.  I had a wonderful modern Japanese history professor.  He was kind, engaging, and extremely knowledgable.  I'm sure I learned a great deal from him, but the information that has stayed with me the longest was his description, casually mentioned, of what he and his wife did on Christmas morning with their children.  He said they always made the children stay upstairs until they heard "Joy to the World" being played.  Practically, that gave Mom and Dad time to get everything ready downstairs.  I don't think I had even met my husband yet, but I made a mental note of what a fine idea that was.

And so that's what we have always done.  The children stay upstairs until they hear the hymn "Joy to the World."  It gives us time to get all in order but it is also a reminder to the children, right up front, of the reason we are celebrating this day.

We have a number of Nativity scenes among our Christmas decorations.  We never put the Baby Jesuses in until Christmas morning, another reminder of Jesus' arrival on Christmas day.  So at the top of the stairs the children would wait, my own six and my two nephews who were always with us.  Before the music started, we would pass out a Baby Jesus to each child.  When "Joy to the World" began, each child would come downstairs and place the Baby Jesus in the appropriate Nativity scene.

My nephew Luke never minded taking the large white plastic Baby Jesus outside to the Nativity Scene in the yard.  Out he would go in his pajamas.  I think he may have enjoyed the drama of it and the size of the Baby Jesus HE got to carry.

The parade down the stairs was an adorable combination of reverence and excitement.  Ok, well maybe the excitement was a little more prevalent.  Then we would gather around the Advent wreath where all the candles were lit.  The Baby Jesus was placed in the manger that had slowly filled with straw pieces from the family's good deeds during Advent.

Then we sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, the Newborn King.

After that?  Well, after that, we head for the stockings and presents and all chaos breaks loose!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

An Alzheimer's Awakening....

My mother had Alzheimer's Disease for many, many years.  Once, toward the end of her life, we tried to say the rosary with her.  What happened next was truly amazing.

Read more here.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Saint Francis Xavier

Today is the memorial of Saint Francis Xavier who was the first Jesuit missionary and spent ten years evangelizing Asia.

In Japan, Saint Francis spent a year learning the language and then wrote a catechism for the Japanese people.  Having spent myself well over a year (:-) studying the Japanese language, the efforts of St. Francis Xavier are particularly dear to me.  

I love the Japanese people.  I spent a year of college living and studying with them.  They are a gracious and kind people.

Less than .5% of the Japanese population is Catholic even now.

Through the intercession of St. Francis Xavier may the Japanese people come to know the fullness of your truth.  Oh, Lord, please bring the Japanese people into your fold.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Thanks Be to God.

Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances;  for this is the will of God for you.
1Thessalonians 5:16-18

We had a joyful Thanksgiving with everyone except Jim home.  He was sorely missed but we will see him in a few weeks.

So happy to have Anne and Zach back in Michigan.

As Americans most of us live each day scarcely thinking about how very blessed we are.  Freedom, especially freedom of religion, abundance, the ability to live as we please...For the most part, we lack for nothing.  May we always remember that God has been very, very good to our country and to each of us as individuals.

May we remain forever grateful.

Friday, November 21, 2014

SAHMs Are Home Because We Believe That's Best for Our Kids.

As a stay-at-home mother of some 30 years now I really feel that you mothers who have chosen to be home with your children all or most of the time could really use some encouragement.

From the president's recent insult to the feminists' rants you would think there were no women who willingly and gladly chose this path in life.  And yet there are some 10 million of us.

We do not stay home because we are incapable, incompetent or lazy.   We stay home because we believe that the very best care that can be given our children is mother-care.  We love them more than anyone and we want to be the one to teach them, to guide them, to laugh with them, to love them.  Am I right?

And we would not trade the years we have done this for any job whatsoever.  In fact, we would not trade those years for the world.

For those who have not seen it, I talk some more about this from a Catholic perspective here at Catholic365.com.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ISIS-- How Do They Get People to Join??

ISIS has some 30,000 fighters from 80 different countries and a few thousand from the West.

I've found myself wondering why on earth people would want to join such a group.  I mean, really.  Murderous psychopaths who commit barbaric acts against innocent civilians....who would want to join them?

Ayman S. Ibrahim has proposed three possibilities in First Things Blog.  First, he says that passages of the Qur'an are interpreted literally to justify the horrific acts of terrorism.  Many Muslims are unaware that there are later interpretations that do not take these passages literally.  Passages about the Paradise awaiting Muslims are also used.

Second, they use early Muslim history to support their claims.  To the Sunnis, the early years of Islam are considered sacred.  Muhammad was a hero and a role model and some of his actions are used to justify current acts of murder.

Third, Ibrahim says there is a great appeal to the concept of the caliphate, one unified Muslim community.

OK.  So those are the arguments they use, but why do they work?  I would think it would take more than some passages of the Qur'an to justify barbarism.  Would joining ISIS not require a complete deadening of the conscience?

Jesse Singal at the website Science of Us discusses why people would join ISIS with psychologist John Horgan of University of Massachusetts Lowell who has studied terrorism for over 20 years.  Horgan says that there is a strong moral pull.  They want to do something meaningful with their lives and many feel "a need to right some perceived wrong."  ISIS also presents people with the opportunity to feel powerful.

Could it be that the there are those who are so starved for the notion of a right and a wrong that even the false, distorted, and broken religious tenets upheld by ISIS have a kind of appeal?  Has moral relativism left such a hole in the hearts, minds, and souls of people in this century that radical Islamism is preferable, even appealing, in contrast to no sense of morality at all?  Perhaps this is the case.

Believers will also find plausible the effect of diabolical influence.  We know there is a spiritual battle going on, that we are fighting against principalities and the powers of darkness.  Clearly, evil is present in ISIS.  One could even say there is a presence of pure evil.  And when things just don't add up very well, it is always likely the father of lies is involved in some way.

Unfortunately, we children of God have demonstrated a real susceptibility to lies.  There was Eve in the Garden of Eden.  She was in close relationship with God.  Her life was perfect, was it not?  And she had none of the innate brokenness brought about by original sin.  Yet she believed the serpent.  She knew God intimately and yet fell for the lie that God was hiding something good from her.

We're weak.  We fall.  It's true for those who decide joining ISIS is somehow a good thing, as well as for  those of us who look on in disbelief.  Perhaps with similar influences we would be equally deceived.  There but for the grace of God......

We must pray against this evil and against all evil.  And we must always speak the truth, even when faced with opposition and ridicule.  There are those who are hungering for the truth.  If they don't hear it, evil can fill the void.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle....

Friday, November 14, 2014


Yesterday was the first snow I've seen this winter!  (I did hear that it snowed on Halloween but I didn't actually see it.)

The best part of Michigan weather is that we have four distinctly beautiful seasons and the signs of the beginning of each one are always a little exciting-- the first crocuses in the Spring, the first leaves starting to change in the Fall, and the first snowflakes!

The beginning of winter does evoke some mixed feelings though.  Last winter, in particular, was unusually brutal.  The temperatures were bitter cold.  There was a lot of snow.  And we had a great deal of ice that came and just stayed on the streets and on the sidewalks.  Slippery surfaces for a very long time.

But knowing that winter brings adversity adds a certain drama to its beginning.  I must confess, I love a good blizzard.  Once everyone is home, I love the winter weather advisories.  I love predictions of huge snowfalls.  I love seeing it all come down.  (Although I don't love driving in it...not even a little bit.  I don't need that kind of life and death drama.)

So yesterday was the beginning of it.  I heard some people moan.  May we all gain what the Lord would have us gain from this winter, be it patience, endurance, courage, stamina, compassion for others.  There will be all sorts of opportunities for grace.  God is good.  All the time.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thanking the Lord for Anne!!

Celebrating the birth of my oldest daughter today!!

Warning:   Maternal Bragging!

Anne is a wonderful sweet, gentle woman.  I am so proud to be her mother.

She is an excellent daughter, sister, wife, and award winning intensive care nurse.  (She is also tough and strong!)

May the Lord bless her with everything good thing!

Thank you, Anne, for the blessing you are to our family!  So happy that you are back in Michigan.  A dream come true!!!
Even though you are working today, may you have a fantastic birthday!!

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of Anne's life.

God is good.  All the time!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sleep!! We've Got to Sleep!!!

I read a very interesting article yesterday in the November issue of Prevention Magazine.  The cover read "Wake Up Refreshed! AND save your brain.  To read the more condensed version of the article go to this site.

Well, who isn't interested in saving their brain?  Those of us who have witnessed Alzheimer's Disease up close and personal are especially interested!!

According to this article, too little sleep damages the brain.  The damage may even be permanent.  And it looks like it increases the risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease.

People who have trouble sleeping, maybe even getting less than 6.8 hrs. according to one study, show changes in brain volume in areas important to memory and problem solving.
Maiken Nedergaard at the University of Rochester discovered something really interesting in a study of mice.  There is, as reported in this article from Prevention Magazine, "a kind of plumbing system for ridding the brain of unwanted waste.  Importantly, this cellular trash includes beta-amyloids and other proteins, the dreaded buildup of which is associated with cognitive problems, including Alzheimer's disease....The researchers found that this system became twice as active during sleep, allowing the brain to vastly increase its removal of potentially harmful gunk.  Put another way: When you don't sleep enough, your brain might get overrun with the most destructive kind of neurological trash."
And for you young people who insist you're getting enough sleep (you know who you are...), one study of healthy young people who had less than 7 hours of sleep for 7 days showed a decrease in cognitive performance that continued even after three additional nights of good sleep.

Link to Alzheimer's-- Studies have shown a definite correlation between sleep deprivation and mild cognitive impairment and dementia.  Both of those conditions are very linked to future diagnoses of Alzheimer's!!  One study of 15,000 people showed that people who have less than 5 hours sleep for several years perform poorly on memory performance tests equivalent to 2 years of additional brain aging!!  Another study of older people showed that people who had had 3-4 years of insufficient sleep had a 50% higher risk of brain again.

Well!!  Time to get more sleep!  This is a simple way to reduce one's risk of Alzheimer's!

And who would not like more sleep anyway.  Makes us happier, more pleasant to be around, and better able to function.  We all know that even without a study, right?

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Obedience Matters....Children, obey your parents....

It seems that requiring obedience from one’s children is very much out of vogue these days.  In fact, there are some parents who make no effort at all to make their chlldren obey. 
I frankly don’t understand this kind of parenting by persuasion.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s great to teach your children to do what is right with persuasion, gentleness, kindness and respect.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church instructs us in our responsibility to educate our children “first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.”  But there will inevitably come a time when children will defy the parents and no amount of persuasion will change the child’s mind.  Many parents throw up their hands and give in at this point.  They will blame the behavior on the child and claim that there is nothing they can do about it.
In reality, there is a lot a parent can do about it.  You can tell the child that he must do as you say or there will be consequences.  You can give them to the count of three.  Once you say three, the consequences must be enforced, be it loss of privileges or a time out, or whatever.  For a teen it could be grounding, loss of driving privileges, etc.
I have seen the parents who seem to think it is wrong to enforce their will on the child.  They tell a child that it’s time to go, but the tone of voice conveys very clearly that it’s optional.  The child then ignores the parent.  The parent gently repeats what is evidently a request several different times while everyone waits.  Eventually, the child decides to go and complies.  In the meantime others are incovenienced and the child is taught a dangerous lesson.  You don’t need to do what your parents say.  It’s OK to ignore your parents.
Read the rest of my article here.
See Catholic365.com for other articles from a faithful Catholic perspective.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Mr. President....seriously?

Noah Rothman has written a good article at Hot Air about the president's press conference following Tuesday's election.  He describes some of the curious statements our president made.  First off, the following:
“To everyone that voted, I want you to know that I heard you,” Obama began. “To two-thirds of voters that chose not to participate in the process yesterday, I hear you, too.”
My question to the president is just exactly what message did you hear from the two-thirds who did not vote?  Did you consider that they might be saying they are so despondent about the direction the country is heading that they didn't care enough to vote?  Did you hear their apathy?  Their disillusionment?  Or did you actually think they were saying something else??

Rothman goes on:
Obama made sure to draw a contrast with Republicans in Congress by noting that he is the figure with the most political legitimacy. “I’m the guy who is elected by everybody and not just from a particular state or a particular district,” Obama said when asked to address the “devastating losses” his party endured, “and they want me to push hard to close some of these divisions, break through some of the gridlock, and just get stuff done.”.....Read more here.
The president thinks that he is "the figure with the most political legitimacy?"  What?  Because the whole country voted for him and not just a particular state or district?  Did your yes-men actually present this argument with straight faces?  May I remind you, Mr. president, that they voted for you two years ago, not on Tuesday.  And that the devastating losses of your party do indeed represent the disappointment of your supporters.  How could it be interpreted any other way? (Read Rothman's whole whole article here.)

They want you to "just get stuff done?"  And what "stuff" would that be?  If they wanted you to accomplish items on your political agenda why would they not vote in your party to help facilitate that goal?  How could you possibly draw the conclusion that they are still behind you?  

The press conference was disturbing.  Our president was so unpresidential, so completely lacking in humility and grace.  May the Lord help him. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Obama Disses Stay at Home Moms

Yes, he really did do this.  Liberals are quick to insist that the president really meant this and that.  Yes, he was saying that when women take time off work to stay home and care for their own children they face a loss of income when they return to the work force.  Here are his exact words.:
Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.
The Weekly Standard posted the following video:


Snopes claimed that Mr. Obama did not say women should not stay home with their children with a long explanation "explaining the context" of his remarks.
his view wasn't one that "slammed" stay-at-home moms and stated "we" don't want anyone to choose to be a stay-at-home mom; rather, the choice to which he referred was for women to fairly have the option of deciding whether to remain in the workforce or to stay at home with their children, without (in the latter case) having to lose their place on the employment ladder and thus be relegated to earning lower wages for the rest of their working lives. In short, President Obama did not "slam" stay-at-home moms; he instead argued current policies affecting mothers are unfair and should be changed to allow, among other things, expanded maternity leave and affordable daycare and preschool options to ensure women have more choice in deciding how to balance their economic and family lives. Read more at http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/sahm.asp#6hJVZcLDJ0uttM04.99
I have found Snopes in the past to be very helpful in sorting out fact from fiction.  After this I will remember that they have a political agenda.  Actually, Snopes, you have reworked the facts here.  He did not say that women should have more choice in deciding how to balance their economic and family lives.  You are deciding that's what he meant to say.  But the President of the United States is responsible for his actual words.  He said "that" (staying home with one's children) is not a choice we want Americans to make.  Snopes has just lost all credibility in my book.  It's on video.  We know what he said.  We don't need you to tell us what he meant and then claim that our quoting his actual words is somehow false.

In response to the president one is, first of all, tempted to ask who is this "we?'  You, Mr. President, and your far left supporters?

And why is that not a choice you want women to make?  Why?  Because it doesn't fit the feminist playbook?

Is it that you buy the feminist lie that a woman is somehow less of a person for staying home to love and care for her own children?

Or perhaps you buy the feminist lie that a mother's needs and desires should never be sacrificed for the sake of her children?

Or perhaps it's the horrible lie that work is only valuable if it earns a paycheck!

You owe an apology, Mr. President, to the over 10 million mothers who have chosen to stay home with their children.  You need to apologize for insulting their life choice and for presuming to know what is best for a mother.  You need to apologize for dissing their decision to put their children's welfare above finances.  A woman has a right to choose what is best for her children and her family.  You have no right to assume you know better.

Friday, October 31, 2014

"War on Women" is Profoundly Sexist Narrative.

The whole democratic "war on women" theme is profoundly insulting to women.  I'm sorry.  I find it incredible that the idea ever gained any steam at all.  It was just so ridiculous.

In the minds of those who are using this theme, the big issue for women is avoiding pregnancy and having other people pay for whatever method is used for that end.

Seriously?  That's what's most important to women?  The avoidance (and, apparently at no cost!) of the very potentiality that gives a woman her most sacred biological dignity?

Those who are advancing this narrative could rightly be questioned about their own attitudes toward women.  Are women so incapable of understanding constitutional issues that they can't see the First Amendment violation in forcing Catholic groups to finance things that contradict the church's teachings?  Are women all about sexual freedom without consequences?  Or would that be what some democratic men are all about.

A war on women??  Seriously?  Does this not minimize the horror of what war really is?  Not having birth control paid for is war?

I suppose women can't really understand that our country is threatened by an actual war.  They probably shouldn't worry their pretty little heads about terrorism in this country and abroad.  They probably could not really put the two and two together that the economy, candidates' personal integrity and sensible and strong foreign and domestic policy might be just a little more important.

No.  It's all about not having to pay the $30.00 or so to make sure they can have sex without getting pregnant.  That's what the democratic party thinks is so important to women that they would put the issue in the same category as war.

It's not unemployment.  Not the erosion of religious freedom.  Not the dissing of our important allies. Not the release of gitmo prisoners to go back to fight against us.  Not an administration repeatedly lying to the American people.

No.  Democrats who campaign on this issue think women care the very most about not having to pay for birth control.  They have profoundly insulted all women by taking this position.  It's sexism, pure and simple, and should be revealed for what it is.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Glory of God is All Over Michigan's Autumn!

From the Michigan.org website comes this beautiful description of Fall in Michigan....
Fall begins with a slow dance of turning leaves. The colors of autumn crescendo into a flurry of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. When the 19 million acre woods explode in their annual blaze of glory, the fall colors of Pure Michigan invite you to take a fall vacation and soak it all in. 

This is Gallup Park, about a 25 minute bike ride from my house.

Really helps motivate me to get on that bike and ride when such a beautiful destination awaits.

Everywhere you look there is color..

We have rough winters here....very rough winters sometimes.  But we have four beautiful seasons..

And Autumn is the most spectacular...

The glory of God is all over everything...

God is good.  All the time.  Blessed be God!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More on the Rosary...

Perhaps you have heard enough about the rosary.  I know there are some very good Catholics who are not drawn to the rosary as a devotional.  I always think in response that the way to start loving the rosary is to start saying it on a regular basis.  Just thinking about the rosary may not be that appealing for two reasons.  First, just thinking about the rosary and whether or not it seems like a devotion that you would enjoy does not bring forth the grace that saying the rosary imparts.  And secondly, the idea of saying 53 Hail Marys and 6 Our Fathers probably sounds repetitive and bland.  What is important to consider is that while you are saying the rosary you are to contemplate the mystery of each decade.

Contemplating the mysteries draws your mind into the lives of Jesus and Mary.  You are invited to immerse yourself into these mystical realities.  Therein lies the avenue for grace and peace to flow within you.

It can be hard to stay focused on this task.  It's OK if your mind wanders a little.  Jesus knows how our minds work.  Just draw your attention back.

I have written a series of prompts and ideas for meditating on the rosary for Catholic365.com.  They are not deep theological treatises or profound philosophical insights.  Just ideas and Scripture quotes that have helped me stay focused on the mystery.  I offer the links to these ideas below for anyone whom they might help.

The Joyful Mysteries

The Sorrowful Mysteries

The Luminous Mysteries

The Glorious Mysteries

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Rosary...

The rosary....It is difficult to explain how significant the rosary is in my life.

There was a time in my life when I had a great deal of trouble sleeping.  I clung to the rosary.  I said many, many rosaries those nights.  Eventually I started falling asleep after having said several.

Now, I just have to have a rosary in my hand when I fall asleep.  It's as though I have to have that connection with the Blessed Mother.  I don't feel secure without it.  Some nights I barely finish the
Apostles Creed before I fall asleep.

When I was a little girl the sisters at our parish Catholic school told us that if you fell asleep saying the rosary your guardian angel would finish it.  Well, why not start one at least then?

Now, I sleep pretty well.  But I nearly always start a rosary.  If there's something weighing on my heart I ask the Lord to help me finish it, if that is what he would like.  And, if I fall asleep, could he please receive the completed rosary from my guardian angel for the intention with which I started it.

If I find myself wide awake in the middle of the night I start a rosary for the first person who comes to mind.  Sometimes, this appears to be a randomly selected person.  No matter.  I say the rosary for that person anyway, because they may indeed need it.  Occasionally I have found out later that that person was really in need of prayer.

The above photo is the corner of the headboard on my bed.  Lest you think that the number of rosaries hanging there is some indication of my devotion, let me confess the reason for their being there.

I do always sleep with a rosary, usually a plastic one because they do not tangle.  One by one, these rosaries have slipped off the top of the bed after I've fallen asleep and have accumulated on the floor behind the headboard.  I finally pulled the bed out and, with the help of my daughter, retrieved them all out.  This photo shows the accumulated supply.  :-)

I guess I won't have to look for a rosary for a long time now.  Thanks be to God.

Monday, October 27, 2014

He Leads the Mother Ewes with Care!

To any new mothers who may be reading this, Congratulations!   You have cooperated with the Author of Life and look what God has wrought! Love has miraculously created a new person who is, and will forever be, unique in all of human history.  And you, you have been given the privilege of caring for this new life.  What a sacred and humbling responsibility. ....

No pressure or anything....LOL
Read my entire post here on Catholic 365.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Thanking God for the Gift of Mike and John! The Birthday Boys!

May God bless these two men.  My second oldest son and my husband of 34 years who happen to share the same birthday!  Mike always says that John is the best birthday present he ever received.

I want to honor my husband Mike for being a devoted father, a loving and hard working provider, and a skilled engineer.  Mike is a man of kindness, gentleness, and concern for others. I will always be grateful for his openness to life and his dedication to our family.  May the Lord bless him on his birthday and always!

I also want to honor my son John.  Most people know that John is a gifted pianist. No need to elaborate. :-) What others may not know is that he is also a man with a kind and grateful heart, a keen intellect, and one who lives life with a positive attitude and a ready smile.  May the Lord bless him and guide him all the days of his life!

I thank you, Lord, for blessing me with Mike for a husband and John for a son.  May your love and your grace always be upon them!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Lesson Learned and the Power of St. Anthony

Perhaps some of you read my gripe post about my new iphone.

Yes.  I declared that I hated it.  (And I did hate it.  I like it a little better now.)

Yesterday, I lost it.  I remembered having it at the 12:00 Mass and had no recollection of seeing it after that.

I pleaded with my longtime good friend St. Anthony.  Repeatedly.  Kept looking, even in the odd places, but no luck.  I looked all through my minivan, under the seats, everywhere.  Not there.

This morning I went to 6:45 Mass and checked where I had been sitting yesterday.  I checked the Lost and Found.  I retraced my steps from the church to my car, in case it had fallen out of my pocket.

I even cleared off my desk thinking it might be under papers.  Nope.  All the time, pleading with the Lord to hear the prayers of St. Anthony that I might find that phone.

Finally, I said to the Lord something like this, "I know I complained about that expensive iphone.  I know I complain about a lot of things.  I'm sorry.  Perhaps you want me to realize that I really have been very blessed.  I may not find this phone.  It's OK.  I will accept that.  Maybe that's what you want and its loss will draw me closer to you."

About five minutes later I found the phone.  It was sitting in plain sight on a table in our family room.  I can't imagine I hadn't looked there.  Perhaps St. Anthony moved it there.  He's moved other things.

Thank you, St. Anthony.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you for the phone and thank you for putting up with me.

God is good.  All the time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ebola Czar....reporting to whom?

So Ron Klain has been appointed the ebola czar.  We have a National Institutes of Health, a Center of for Disease Control, and a Department of Health and Human Services, but I guess when there isn't strong enough leadership in the existing bureaucracy a new bureaucrat is deemed necessary.

Ron Klain is a former chief of staff to both vice president Gore and vice-president Joe Biden.  Not sure how that qualifies him.  He has no medical background.  I've heard his appointment defended with the argument that his role is implementation and he's very good at that.  OK.  How is he going to know what to implement?  He will coordinate efforts at multiple agencies-- CDC, NIH, and potentially State Department and even the military.  Does he not need to know what efforts need to be coordinated?
I hope he surrounds himself with knowledgeable people and does get the job done.  Just seems like a medical person at one of the already established organizations ought to have been able to do it.  I guess they are busy with other things.

Even more curious is the fact that Klain will report, not to the president as one would expect, but to National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  Yes, the Susan Rice who claimed on all the Sunday talk shows that the Benghazi attack was a spontaneous demonstration in response to a video and that there was no evidence that it was a terrorist attack.  It was not spontaneous.  It was not in response to a video and it was clearly an organized, terrorist attack.  Inexplicably, the media never held her or the administration accountable for misleading the American people.  Yes, that Susan Rice.  One might also ask what does ebola have to do with national security.  Yes, I think one might ask that question.

Ultimately, the administration says Ron Klain will report also to the Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco.  Does anyone else find it odd that ebola is being treated as a national security issue?  It's a health issue.  The Department of Homeland Security was originally established, according to their own website, to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, to reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and to minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. (their wording)

How is the ebola virus related to terrorism and national security?  And why is Obama treating it this way?  Is he trying to minimize the very real security threats to the United States?  Is he trying to take our eyes off the ongoing threat of radical Islamism?

I find the whole situation very puzzling, including the use of American troops to fight ebola in West Africa.  We should help West Africa in every way we can.  But is this a good use of the military?  Is our president so reluctant to acknowledge the true purpose of the military that he wants to focus our soldiers on a nonmilitary mission?  And call a health threat a national security issue?

The Obama administration continues to keep me wondering....

Monday, October 20, 2014

Ebola Patients Isolated from Loved Ones AND the Sacraments??

I continue to think about and feel saddened by some information given to us at Mass this Sunday.  My pastor explained, in talking about CDC guidelines for ebola, that patients are in complete isolation, unable to even receive visits from their priest and unable to receive the sacraments.

I first thought, What?!  How can that be?  Who could be so insensitive, so cruel as to deny the sacraments to a person in very real danger of dying?  And yet it appears that that is exactly what is going on.

We are told that ebola can be treated safely.  Of course, initial assertions to that effect have turned out to be wrong.  Two nurses who treated Mr. Duncan, Nina Pham and Amber Vincent, have contracted ebola.  But now the protocols for the required protective gear have been increased.  Presumably, the CDC will continue to say that ebola can be treated safely.

If the medical personnel, when wearing proper protective gear, are safe to enter the room of an ebola patient, then why would a priest in protective gear not be protected?  Or a Eucharistic minister?  I can't think of any reason why an ebola patient should be denied access to a priest!  Nina Pham suffering from ebola right now is a devout Catholic!  And she cannot receive the Eucharist or the Sacrament of the Sick???

For that matter, it also seems logical that an ebola patient should be able to have a family member with them.  Perhaps two at a time as in an ICU.

Is the concern that a priest or loved one might not be able to safely put on and take off the protective gear?  Well, have a professional do it for them!

As a Catholic, I know the tremendous healing power of the sacraments.  But even someone who did not know that ought to be able to understand the spiritual comfort they bring to someone who may indeed be dying!

And to not be in the presence of loved ones?  Are we not to consider the emotional comfort that a loved one brings to a sick person?  Should the worst case scenario unfold should these people have to die alone?  This is inhumane.

Perhaps there are other factors I am not considering.  Perhaps I do not know enough about infectious disease.  It just seems to me that some kind of accommodation could be made that acknowledges the humanity of the suffering patient.

Friday, October 17, 2014

St. Ignatius of Antioch

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  As part of the homily at Mass today Father Bob said that it is believed that St. Ignatius of Antioch was the child that Jesus brought before the Apostles when he said, "Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven."

What a lovely thought that a young child, used as an example by Jesus, would come to be one of the Fathers of the early Church.  What would it be like to be that child, singled out by Jesus, held by Jesus.  Is it any wonder that Ignatius became a great saint, martyred for the faith.

Read more about his life here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just my (perhaps uninformed) two cents...on banning travel from West Africa

I find the refusal to ban travel from the countries with large ebola outbreaks curious.  Does it not just make sense that one way to stop ebola from getting here is to not allow people, temporarily, to travel here from those countries?

The reasons I have heard to not ban travel seem flimsy.  What about relief efforts and aid workers?  Well, clearly, exceptions could be made for those people.  Perhaps even arrange for charter flights for them.  There could even be humanitarian exceptions made for people separated from family, funerals to attend, etc.  I think that problem could easily be handled.

Wealthy people could still simply travel to another country first, and then here.  Well, not if you do not accept people into this country holding passports from the nations where the disease is widespread.  It could stop with the passports.

People will then lie about where they've been.  Well, they could, but there would be a lot fewer people trying.  Isn't that like saying we shouldn't ban people from coming here because then they'll lie and come here anyway?  The current system allowed someone in who had been exposed to ebola.  Perhaps he did not know it.  The current open system did not prevent ebola from being brought to this country.

I have noticed there is a real dichotomy among people advocating for a travel ban and those resisting it. Liberals resist the ban.  Conservatives favor it.  Why is that?

I think liberals associate a travel ban with segregation and they are extremely sensitive to anything that looks like that.  Well, we do isolate patients here.  Why should it not be done on a global level?

Would we be abandoning countries that are poor and less equipped to handle medical emergencies than we are?  Not at all.  We could pour American resources at the situation.  We could give big grants to organizations already on the ground who have the knowledge and the wherewithal to handle ebola.  Doctors Without Borders, Catholic Relief Services, International Red Cross, Samaritan's Purse come to mind. We could build clinics!  We could send personnel. We could provide protective equipment.  Banning travel would not have to mean ignoring the problem or abandoning the suffering people!!

But it could mean preventing the disease from becoming widespread in the United States.

Am I missing something?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

And the Birthday Celebration Continued....

The surprise party was a little before my birthday and on the actual of my birthday we had a small family celebration as well.  My family is so good to me.

Complete with gifts...

Gluten Free Cupcakes...

These cupcakes were amazing.  They really tasted no different than cupcakes made with wheat!  So good I asked my daughters if they were SURE they were gluten free.  And, yes, they were sure.

Then my children (all of them) gave me this locket from a company called Origami Owl.  It's a glass locket!  Each of the charms inside represent something significant to the people in our family.  It's so cute!  They had ten charms to go with it:  a teapot, a lighthouse, a sailboat, an airplane, piano keys, a medical symbol, a camera, a dancing shoe, a bicycle, and a drama mask!!  I love it.  In fact, I'm wearing it at this very moment!!

Thank you, Everyone, for making this birthday so very special.  Thank you for the gifts, all your work, the time, and, most of all, for your love!!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

"The whole Earth is full of his glory." Isaiah 6:3

Yes, the whole Earth is full of his glory.  Indeed.  I don't know how one can make the case that there is no God or that there might be no God when His glory is all over creation.  It's all over!!!

And I must say that, in Michigan, His glory is especially evident in the Fall.  I mean it's just gorgeous.  It really is.  The changing leaves are just getting started and there still are some hardy flowers left.  We must savor them.  Winter is coming.

Some views of God's creation that came before my eyes today....What a beautiful day it was!

Changing leaves....

Flowers hanging on....

As always, God is good.  All the time.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Kale! It's the new broccoli!

Remember when broccoli was all the rage as an extremely nutritious vegetable?  A grocery cashier recently told me she was amazed at the number of people buying kale.  Don't get me wrong.  Broccoli is a good vegetable.  But kale surpasses it in a couple areas. Broccoli has 87% of the daily requirement for vitamin A compared to kale's 206%.  Broccoli has 494% of the daily requirement for vitamin K. (not bad!) But kale has 684%!

There's just one problem with kale.  It's not very tasty.  It's kind of bitter and a little chewy.  So you have to have a good recipe to doctor it up if you're going to eat kale and enjoy it.

I posted this kale slaw recipe a while ago but I'm posting it again because the kale in my garden (pictured above) is doing great.  It's a Martha Stewart recipe and you can find her link here.  I'm amazed that my entire family, everyone, loves this recipe.  And it's kale!!

Kale Slaw

2 large bunches of kale (but not TOO large) --about ten cups
1 yellow, orange, or red pepper
2 carrots, thinly sliced crosswise (or julienned looks pretty if you have a slicer)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup salted peanuts
2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup salted peanuts (a different 1/4 cup :-)

Slice kale crosswise thinly.  (If you use curly kale it will look like that crinkly packing material)
Thinly slice pepper lengthwise. (or chop in bite size pieces)
Toss carrots, pepper, and kale.
Puree 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup salted peanuts, 2 T brown sugar, and salt.
Pour dressing over vegetables just before serving. (Or anytime.  I like it poured over earlier, even hours earlier.)
Sprinkle with 1/4 cup nuts, coarsely chopped.

This recipe can also be made with almonds, but use a smaller amount of almonds in the dressing. (gets too thick otherwise)

I may make it today.  It's delicious!!


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Our Lady of the Rosary

Catholic Answers Magazine has a terrific article on the history of the Battle of Lepanto by Christopher Check.  Read the entire article entitled "The Battle that Saved the Christian West" at the link below.  The information I give here is taken from this much more thorough article.


Pope St. Pius V is described as one of history's greatest popes.  As Christopher Check writes:
During his six-year reign, he promulgated the Council of Trent, published the works of Thomas Aquinas, issued the Roman Catechism and a new missal and breviary, created twenty-one cardinals, excommunicated Queen Elizabeth, and, aided by St. Charles Borromeo, led the reform of a soft and degenerate clergy and episcopacy.
Pius V chose a 24 year old Austrian with a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother to lead the Holy League of Catholics from many countries to fight back the Muslim Turks' attempts to control the Mediterranean. 

Taking the young warrior by the shoulders, Pius V looked Don John of Austria in the eye and declared, "The Turks, swollen by their victories, will wish to take on our fleet, and God—I have the pious presentiment—will give us victory. Charles V gave you life. I will give you honor and greatness. Go and seek them out!"
Priests offered Mass and heard confessions before the battle.  Pius V asked the faithful to go to their churches and say the rosary.  Every man in the fleet was given a rosary.

As the Holy League approached the Muslim fleet they were rowing directly against the wind.  Miraculously, the wind shifted 180 degrees and blew at their back.  They unfurled a banner which had been given them by Pius V with an image of our crucified Lord.

Before word had reached Pius V, he had a vision the victory of the Battle of Lepanto while consulting with his cardinals.  He told them, "Let us set aside our business and fall on our knees in thanksgiving to God, for he has given our fleet a great victory."

As Christopher Check outlines, the celebration of the Victory at Lepanto eventually led to the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary as follows:

Timeline for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
  • In thanksgiving for the victory at Lepanto on the first Sunday of October 1571, Pope St. Pius V ordered that a commemoration of the Rosary should be made on that day.
  • At the request of the Dominican Order, in 1573 Pope Gregory XIII allowed the feast to be kept in all churches with an altar dedicated to the Holy Rosary.
  • In 1671, the observance of the feast was extended by Pope Clement X to the whole of Spain.
  • Pope Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church after the important victory over the Turks gained by Prince Eugene on August 6, 1716, the feast of our Lady of the Snows, at Peterwardein in Hungary.
May we never underestimate the power of the rosary and Our Lady's intercession.  Mary, Queen of Peace, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us and especially for persecuted Christians everywhere!!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Incredible Birthday Surprise!!!

My family surprised me with a birthday party this past weekend.  My husband and all my children (with the exception of one who lives on the other side of the country) helped plan it.  It was a big birthday party, shared with my good friend Patti who is 5 days younger than I am.

My children helped make the food, decorate, set up, and arranged for many lovely details. (together with Patti's family)

My son-in-law's mother, who owns a catering business, donated her time and planned and put together the entire menu.  My son-in-law's mother happens to be the sister-in-law of my good friend Patti. (Did you follow that?)  She is my good friend as well.  Since my daughter got married, I have long thought there should be a name for these made-by-marriage relationships.  For example the mother of my son-in-law could be my moson-in law.   Or she could be my dautmom-in law (my daughter's mother-in-law)  And the brother of my son-in-law could be the broson-in-law.  Or whatever. :-)  In any case these people are all my family.   And Patti would be the sildautmother-inlaw (sister-in-law of my daughter's mother-in-law) OK!  I'll just call them all friends!!!!

If was a wonderful time.  Except for my daughter's wedding, I can't think of another time when I was in the presence of so many people I love.

My children had a notebook where people had written kind words about us, poster boards where people wrote what they appreciated about us.  They had decorated the tables with Fall theme-- balloons, candles, confetti.  My son's girlfriend had purchased and arranged flower bouquets.  They all came early.  My daughter's boyfriend, whom we had only just met recently, came early and helped set up the tables and other preparations.

My SISTER FLEW IN FROM ST. LOUIS!!!!!!!!!!!  In the first few seconds as I was realizing what was happening, I saw my sister's face in the crowd.  That was when I started to cry.  My brother was also there from Lansing and my dear niece Monique had come from Detroit!  My oldest son and his girlfriend drove in from South Bend.

And if that wasn't enough for me to feel completely indulged there was an entire buffet line of delicious food that was all GLUTEN FREE!!!  As many of you know, I cannot eat even the tiniest amount of gluten any more.  The food was fantastic!!!  And even about half of the desserts, many of which were made by my daughters, were gluten free.  That was a lot of work!!

The cake was a flourless chocolate cake made by Patti's daughter.  Patti and I blew the six candles out together.

There was coffee and all kinds of tea which my daughter had arranged, knowing that Patti and I are big tea drinkers.

They even had two large mugs (Patti and I like large mugs.) custom decorated by one of my daughters. Each had our name written on the handle (which was good lest we take home the wrong one. :-)

I'm sure I'm forgetting some details which I will add to this post as I remember them.

When I returned home that night I received a text from my youngest daughter's boyfriend who is a student at Notre Dame and also the son of one of my closest friends.  (He's also one of the nicest young men I know.)  He said that he was sorry he couldn't attend the party, but that he would go to the grotto that night and light a candle for me.  I love that grotto.  I have lit many a candle there myself.  It is a peaceful place where the presence of the Blessed Mother can be keenly felt.  To end this special evening with the knowledge that a candle had been lit for me at the grotto was....I can't put it in words.

THANK YOU!  THANK YOU! THANK YOU! to everyone who made this happen and especially to my husband and my children!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God is good.  All the time.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Happy Feast of St. Francis

I love St. Francis.  Who doesn't?  My mother was a secular Franciscan and there were always pictures/statuettes of St. Francis around our home.

My son Jim was due to be born on October 4, the Feast of St. Francis, but he came a day early.  Later he chose St. Francis as his Confirmation saint.

So today at Mass I was happy to hear my pastor, Father Ed Fride, speak extensively about St. Francis in his homily.

He said that that oft repeated quote about preaching the Gospel and use words if necessary was not really said by St. Francis.  Rather St. Francis advised people to preach the Gospel with their lives and use words when you have permission from the bishop.  It was something to that effect.  Quite a different directive, I would say.  Father Ed pointed out that St. Francis was never hesitant about preaching the Gospel with words himself.  In fact, he would preach to the birds when no one else was around.  This link from St. Anthony's Messenger at Americancatholic.org covers thoroughly the history of the misquote.    

Love my pastor Father Ed.  Happy Feast of St. Francis.            

Friday, October 03, 2014

Thanking God for the Gift of Jim!!!

Jim at his college graduation weekend this past Spring.

Jim with parents Mike and me, and his two youngest sisters.

Jim with sisters Mary and Liz, and girlfriend Elle.

Twenty-four years ago this past Spring, I was in Florida convinced by telltale signs that I was miscarrying the child I was carrying.  I walked tearfully along the beach praying the words from Job, "Though you slay me, yet will I praise you."

Upon returning to Michigan I scheduled an ultrasound fully expecting the bad news that the baby was gone.  Instead my grief was turned to joy as I saw the one and only Jim turning two rapid somersaults on the ultrasound screen, at a mere 5 weeks or so from conception.  He was moving so quickly the doctor had great difficulty measuring his heart rate.

Today, Jim turns 23!  He's a graduate student in theology and we couldn't be more proud of him.

Happy Birthday, Jim!  May God bless you in every way!! I thank the Lord for the gift of your life!

God is good.  All the time.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels

The church has taught of the reality of our guardian angels since the beginning of Christianity.

In recent years, even our secular culture has become fascinated with these heavenly beings.

One of my favorite devotionals, In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez, (not to be confused with Conversations with God-- a book I most assuredly do not recommend) today's reading includes the following:
     We have to deal with our Guardian Angels in a familiar way, while at the same time recognizing their superior nature and grace.  Though less palpable in their presence than human friends are, their efficacy for our benefit is far greater.  Their counsel and suggestions come from God, and penetrate more deeply than any human voice.  To reiterate, their capacity for hearing and understanding us is much superior even to that of our most faithful human friend, since their attendance at our side is continuous;  they can enter more deeply into our intentions, desires and petitions than any human being, since angels can reach our imagination directly without recourse to the comprehension of words.  They are able to incite images, provoke memories, and make impressions in order to give us direction...
Fernandez also says that they "can grasp reality beyond the capacity of our human intelligence..."

The above picture by Thomas Blackshear hangs in my upstairs hallway.  I like it better than the guardian angel picture of my youth.  It includes the Scriptural quote "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." ( Psalm 91) Entitled "Watchers in the Night," I like that it conveys the strength and power of our guardian angels.  Very reassuring.

We know that angels can assume the appearance of human beings from Hebrew13:2 "Do not neglect to show hospitality, for by that means some have entertained angels without knowing it."

Some twenty years ago I had a number of my children together with a few of their friends in a Wendy's for lunch.  I was a little stressed and as I passed out the Kid's Meals, ketchup for the french fries, etc.  I looked up to see a lovely woman at the next table dressed in a white suit.  She was looking at me very directly.  Her demeanor was very tranquil and she was smiling.  There was no food in front of her.  I remember laughingly saying, "You're pretty brave sitting so close to us in that white suit."  Unruffled, she continued to smile and said, "Your children are very well behaved."  I thanked her and remember feeling very reassured and peaceful after that.  I never saw her leave.

It was later that day as the image of that woman kept coming back to me that I considered that she may have been an angel.  White suit, no food, never saw her leave, words conveying peace....I really don't know.  But I have acknowledged that she may have been.  And all these years later I still remember her.  Thank you, Lord, for reminding me then, and so many times since then, that you are always with me.  Thank you for the protection and care of our guardian angels.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face

St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face was St. Therese of Lisieux's Carmelite name.  Today the Catholic Church celebrates her memorial.  She is also affectionately called The Little Flower.  The Society of the Little flower explains her nickname.
St. Therese loved nature, and often used the imagery of nature to explain how the Divine Presence is everywhere, and how everything is connected in God's loving care and arms. Therese saw herself as "the Little Flower of Jesus" because she was just like the simple wild flowers in forests and fields, unnoticed by the greater population, yet growing and giving glory to God. Therese did not see herself as a brilliant rose or an elegant lily, by simply as a small wild flower. This is how she understood herself before the Lord - simple and hidden, but blooming where God had planted her
Therese, in her self-described littleness, should be an inspiration to us all.  She is my Confirmation saint and I have a special love for her.  I love the following quotes listed in Quotable Saints by Ronda DeSola Chervin.
Here was one lady talking about my pretty hair and another, just going out the door wanting to know who that very pretty girl was...The thrill of pleasure I felt made me realize that I was full of self-love.  I am always ready to sympathize with the people who lose their souls-- after all, it's so easy, once you begin to stray along the primrose path of worldliness. 
Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest thing right and doing it all for love. 
Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God.  Do all that you do with love.
As part of her devotion to making small sacrifices, Therese had a string of beads each of which could be pushed along to count the sacrifices and good deeds she had done that day. What a lovely idea.  At the end of the day, she could thus see how many little deeds she had done for the Lord that day.  The following link from the Society of the Little Flower has a great description, complete with pictures showing how to make sacrifice beads.


May the Little Flower pray for all of us in a special way today.  And may we all learn, though her example, to be a saint by doing little things with great love as she did.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Feast of the Archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel

In 1884 Pope Leo XIII had a vision of Our Lord talking to Satan.  Satan boasted that he could destroy the church in 75-100 years if given more time and more power.  The Lord granted Satan the time and the power.  Consequently, Pope Leo XIII wrote the St. Michael prayer and instructed that it be said at the end of every Mass and it was until 1959.  I am please to say that at my parish, Christ the King in Ann Arbor, MI, we have reinstated the practice.  With the world in it's current state, what better time to bring back this powerful prayer invoking the force of St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Hosts, to battle for us against the horrendous evil we are now witnessing.

Here is the abbreviated form of the prayer:

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray.
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Hosts,
by the power of God,
cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

St. Michael the Archangel, Pray for us!!!!

Smart Phone Lesson-- Less is More

Such a pretty face.
Cute little phone.  Love the color.
I wrote last week that I hate my new smart phone.

Do I still hate it?  Yes, but not as much.

It's very attractive to look at.  I like that.

I'm getting better at typing messages and that is nice.

But I still have to redo a lot of typing and and I still get stuck being unable to move the cursor...I know what you're supposed to do but sometimes it doesn't work for me.

If I hadn't stopped biting my nails a few months ago I think typing would be easier.

My advice to myself about my smart phone is this:  Stop trying so hard.  The harder I try, the more I mess up.  Less attention to what I'm doing seems to be better than more.  I think, as is true with many things, the more I focus on being aware of what I'm doing, the more I block my body's ability to unconsciously adjust to what is needed.  I'm speaking primarily about typing and getting just the right pressure and just the right spot.

Maybe a life lesson here.  Less is more.