Sunday, September 17, 2017

Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows


On the 15th of September, we celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. It is a great devotion to have/remember because no matter what we suffer we always have an understanding Mother to turn to who will make our sorrows lighter. 

The Seven Sorrows are as follows:

1. Prophecy of Simeon
2. Flight into Egypt
3. Loss of Jesus for three days in Jerusalem
4. Meeting on the way to Calvary
5. Crucifixion/Death of Jesus
6. Jesus taken down from the Cross
7. Burial of Jesus

The chaplet pictured consists of meditating on these mysteries/sorrows of Mary, while praying an Our Father and seven Hail Mary's. (It will soon be available for purchase at handmadecatholicshop.com!) The chaplet originated in the 13th century to honor and meditate upon the moments Our Lady shared most deeply in the Passion of her Son.

Sometimes in our lives when we can't understand why we should suffer and think that God should take away all our troubles because He is God, it is helpful to turn to Mary, who willingly suffered in union with Jesus in order to bring about our salvation. This is all God asks of us---a willingness to suffer, that is, to accept our trials for love of Him and to remember that we can never suffer as much as Jesus and Mary did for us. In our darkest moments, we have to remember that all we endure is but little repayment for the price Our Lord and Our Lady paid for us.

Words of St. Bernard: "All of you, who see yourselves amid the tides of the world, tossed by storms and tempests rather than walking on the land, do not turn your eyes away from this shining star, unless you be overwhelmed by the hurricane. If temptation storms, or you fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star: call upon Mary." 

                                                                                ~ Therese

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Song of Bernadette


The Song of Bernadette film opens with the line: "For those who believe in God, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe in God, no explanation is possible." This 1943 movie gives a stirring presentation of the apparitions and miracles of Lourdes that reflect this statement. With 5,200 cast members and an Academy Award winning lead for "best actress of the year," the efforts to portray the events of 1858 in The Song of Bernadette pay off.

To begin, the movie brings alive the sufferings and poverty of the Soubirous family, who lived in an "old jail" that was not even fit for prisoners. Early in the film we are introduced to Bernadette's humility and generosity despite her poor health. It doesn't take long for the movie to jump right into the heart of the story, that is, the visions the saint had of Our Lady. For a fortnight, Mary would appear to Bernadette, calling for penance and the praying of the rosary. 

One also witnesses the political resistance and general opposition to Bernadette's faith, alongside the acceptance and belief of thousands of the faithful. With the growing miracles of the spring water of the grotto, even the doctors have to admit something unexplainable by earthly means is taking place. Viewers are gratified especially when her parish priest, Peyramale, eventually rallies to her side in so many instances. A particularly good scene is with the Bishop of Tarbes who says: "The Commission (to look into Bernadette's apparitions) can render only one of three decisions. First, 'you're an impostor little Soubirous. Away with you to a home of juvenile delinquents'. Second: 'you're a madwoman little Soubirous. Away with you to an asylum.' Third: . . ." Peyramale cuts in: "You are the rarest of mortal beings, little Soubirous."

When Bernadette shares the name of her Lady as the "Immaculate Conception," debate ensues among the clergy. When one of the priests says he thinks the Lady made some kind of blunder, Bernadette says she will let her know that. Bernadette's simplicity and sincerity render most objectors speechless. She manages to win over many hard-hearted souls through her piety, as well as her conviction in the Lady's messages. Her heroic acceptance of sufferings, especially toward the end of her life in the convent, would inspire anyone to bear all for the love of Christ.

One can hardly appreciate the beauty of the saint's life only by seeing this film or reading books about her, but they do aid in the visualization of the deep wealth of her virtues and gifts. I highly recommend this film to anyone who wishes to revisit such a beautiful event in history as Our Lady appearing at Lourdes.

                                                                                          ~ Therese


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Five First Saturdays


The five first Saturdays devotion is one that is so intimately connected with the anniversary of 100 years since the Fatima apparitions. Our Lady expressly asked for these conditions to be fulfilled for five consecutive first Saturdays:

1. To receive Holy Communion.
2. To make a good Confession (eight days before or after).
3. To recite a five decade Rosary.
4. To spend 15 minutes meditating on one or all of the mysteries of the Rosary.
5. Offer the devotions in reparation for sins committed against the Immaculate Heart.

Why five?

1. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Immaculate Conception.
2. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Divine Maternity.
3. In reparation for blasphemies uttered against her Virginity.
4. In reparation for those who impress hatred for her in the hearts of children.
5. In reparation for insults committed against her sacred images.

Those who observe the five First Saturdays receive the promise of Our Lady who will help at the hour of death with all graces needed for the salvation of their souls. Let us respond generously to the requests of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for a world so in need of God's mercy and for the conversion of poor sinners and the country of Russia.

                                                                                 ~ Therese

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Royal Road of the Cross


The "royal road of pain" is a phrase that Fr. Owen Francis Dudley (English author of several Catholic novels) uses in his book, The Shadow on the Earth. In this work of fiction, the reader is introduced to Father Dudley’s iconic character, the Masterful Monk, also known as Br. Anselm. The novel begins with a mountain climber who has been injured on the Alps and is brought to the monastery of Issano where Brother Anselm lives as a monk. Having served as a doctor in the war, Br. Anselm is called, and it doesn’t take long for him to determine the mountain climber will be crippled for life. The “Cripple” as he is to be called undergoes a search for meaning in a life that has been stripped of all worldly hopes and possibilities for the future.

Three major players in The Shadow on the Earth are the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist, all of whom share their ideas about life with the Cripple. Dudley uses Br. Anselm’s character to refute these positions with Catholic teaching to reconcile a good God with a suffering world. While the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist all argue from different angles, the answer to their questions is the same. Br. Anselm confirms the goodness of God, Who contains all infinite perfections in Himself and shows that, when understood through the Crucifixion of Christ, suffering is redemptive and valuable. The Cripple’s witness of these arguments sets his mind working on accepting his own sufferings and lot in life through a gradual conversion from despair to hope. Despite the firm objections of the Atheist, Optimist, and Pessimist, the Cripple considers the claims of the Catholic Church, not because of Br. Anselm but because the Cripple has found God. And in finding Him, the Cripple is willing to endure all pain in union with Christ on the Cross.

The idea that inspires me most in this work of Dudley's is the concept of the royal road of the cross. Every suffering no matter how great or small is Jesus asking us if we will share His Cross with Him. To accept is to follow a royal road, a road that our King has chosen before us and laid out for us as the path to Heaven. Dudley's character the "Cripple" asks Br. Anselm, "Supposing you were in my position; supposing you knew that you had to lie on your back for the rest of your days, cut off from the pleasures of life, and having at times to suffer pain like this--how exactly would you take it?" Brother Anselm answers, "How would I take it? I would take it as an honour--an honour to be chosen for the royal road of pain; and I would take it as a privilege, to be asked to share so fully the Cross with Christ."

When seen in this light, suffering becomes a gift--a means of uniting ourselves more closely to God and offering these pains for the salvation of souls. Let us value suffering because through it we share in the great honor of resembling our God Who died for us.

                                                                                          ~ Therese

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Attachment to Heaven

St. Mary's Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption (Covington, KY)
All spiritual writers frequently talk about detachment from the world and earthly things, which is the same as saying "attachment to Heaven." We just celebrated the feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, which helps us remember we are pilgrims on this earth and our true home lies in eternity with God.

Divine Intimacy, one of my favorite books, has an excellent passage on this topic: "The Feast of the Assumption is a strong appeal to us to live ever intent upon heavenly things, and not to allow ourselves to be carried away by the vicissitudes and seductions of the world. . . . Mary's Assumption shows us the route we must follow in our spiritual ascent: detachment from the earth, flight toward God, and union with God." To reach this end, we must fulfill the will of God in our lives and accept all our sufferings because the closer we are to Christ on the Cross in this life, the closer union we shall share in His reign in the next.

To aid us in fulfilling the will of God, we should try to remove all obstacles to His grace acting in our day to day life. This means detaching from the things of this world. Yes we have to live in this world, but we must live in this world as Christ did while on earth, which was with mind and heart always fixed on the things above. If there are worldly things in our lives that are dragging us and attaching us to earth so much that we cannot keep our gaze on the things that are eternal, then we need to examine our situation and see what can be removed so we can better serve God. For example, I recently discovered how much social media was weighing me down (not that it cannot be used for good) but it was leaving a negative impact on my life. Removing social media seems to have made it easier to think on the things of Heaven rather than of earth.

Let us imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary (who appeared to the Fatima children today) and make many sacrifices for sinners who have no one to pray for them, which will keep us focused on God and Heaven.

                                                                    ~ Therese

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Excitement of DIY Projects


Do you like DIY projects? In my book, being able to do something yourself is very important. Why pay someone else to do it if you can? My parents are big on DIY so I guess you could say I grew up with the idea, but with so much information available now anyone can really get into DIY.

There is something very satisfying in stepping back and looking at a project that you brought to completion. And usually (if you did it right) the project will stand the test of time and maybe you can pass it onto your children. 


DIY projects can be as simple as these window boxes which I was very excited to put together! Or as complicated as house renovation with ripping up tile, new kitchen cabinets, or repainting. One of my favorite DIY projects was building bookcases with my dad for either side of the fireplace for my mom's birthday. To me the best part of DIY is the memories.

The memory for these window boxes is the state on the bottom, which comes from my mom's childhood home! It's been brought along through six different houses! So whatever your project is good luck and have fun! And it's always more fun if the whole family gets involved. 

                                                                                    ~ Therese

Friday, August 4, 2017

Blueberry Crumble (Gluten + Dairy Free)


This has become a new family favorite, guys! A must try! 

Ingredients:

3 cups quick oats
1 cup GF flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (medium sized) blueberries
1 1/2 T maple syrup
1 T corn starch
1 T orange juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour oil in slowly until well mixed and/or crumbs begin to form. Take half the mixture and line a 7x11 glass pan with the crumb mixture as the bottom crust (packed firmly). Save the other half for the top. Bake crust for 10 minutes. Put berries, maple syrup, corn starch, and juice in a saucepan and stir over medium heat for two minutes or until juices begin to thicken. (Blueberries should still be round not completely smushed). Pour filling on top of the baked crust and add the rest of the crumb mixture over the top and pack down. Bake entire mixture for additional 25 minutes. Serves eight-ten. Enjoy!

                                                                                   ~ Therese