Saturday, June 30, 2007

Mary's Garden, An Inspirational Gardening Story

Here is a story I wrote for Helium. Really, I wrote it for myself. I do have some regret that I gave it to Helium. I entered it into a contest. It is the last day of a contest sponsored by a publisher, GreenPrints Magazine. They put up several titles, I entered two. The title link above, An Inspirational Gardening Story, and the category called, OOPS! click the links to read the stories. If I am chosen, I will be paid, but I will also get a neat little byline and be listed as the winner of the contest. Theoretically it doesn't matter where you are in the ratings, the publisher can choose any story he likes. That is exciting.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

F. Y. I. re: Motu Proprio

Just thought I'd post an FYI. If I did it right, you ought to be able to click on the title and get to the article. I'm watching the developments.

Here is a Motu Proprio Tip Sheet provided by Amy Wellborn, if you are looking for further information on the topic. Thank you to Beth, on Chronicles of Mommia for the link.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Now, I Understand

Mother was called at sixty-one.
Cancer claimed her. Life undone.
We struggled through life
she and I. Days of strife
trying to understand each other.
Good times too, but always another
struggle ahead. The ironic thing
when she died, I was just beginning
to understand the experiences of her day
and how she came to be the way
I knew her. So different from me.

She was a child of change
in the life of the Church, and range
of thought in the world. She embraced
equality for women; and I traced
the differences in our points of view
to feminism. Its philosophy so new,
she had yet to learn the effect
it would have on families and reflect
as I’ve been able, about the role of women.

But now I understand. I understand
what I never could before. I understand
our differences resulted from the choices
we made in life. Our separate voices,
though not of the same opinion,
each reigned throughout the dominion
of our own distinct lives. Despite
all of this, which seems so trite,
now, I understand. There was always love.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Simon-Peter Says: Excuses, denial, displacement, in the commbox please.

I nicked this from the Simon-Peter Says blog. It is a very interesting blog post looking at the statistics of what has happened in the Catholic Church since VII. He has made up some easily understood graphs that all Catholic bishops and priests should take a gander at. We can only pray that this information will present undeniably to the hierarchy the big white elephant in the middle of the living room that they apparently refuse to see. Now, to get them to look...

Simon-Peter Says: Excuses, denial, displacement, in the commbox please.

Female Acolytes and Vocations

With a shortage of priestly vocations, allowing women and girls to serve on the altar is counter to the cause. It ought to be an 'all boys' club. Of course, this practice has been sanctioned by Rome, as we can see in Redemptionis Sacramentum. Here we find one paragraph which starts out well and ends on a most regrettable note.

[47.] It is altogether laudable to maintain the noble custom by which boys or youths, customarily termed servers, provide service of the altar after the manner of acolytes, and receive catechises regarding their function in accordance with their power of comprehension.[119] Nor should it be forgotten that a great number of sacred ministers over the course of the centuries have come from among boys such as these.[120] Associations for them, including also the participation and assistance of their parents, should be established or promoted, and in such a way greater pastoral care will be provided for the ministers. Whenever such associations are international in nature, it pertains to the competence of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to establish them or to approve and revise their statutes.[121] Girls or women may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop and in observance of the established norms.[122]

This was yielding to what is politically correct, another victory for feminism, and has not been in the best interest of vocations. It is disturbing to have girls and women serving as acolytes. This sort of statement from the Vatican sends mixed messages. We hear more and more from the laity how women ought to be allowed to be priests, then there wouldn't be a priest shortage. To allow girls to join the boys up on the altar gives a false impression that we will someday see them as priests. The Catholic church will never allow that, if the Church ever did allow for the ordination of women, we would be Protestant. What is interesting to note here, is, Bishops cannot require priests to use altar girls.

The last sentence quoted above, "Girls or women may also be admitted to this service of the altar, at the discretion of the diocesan Bishop and in observance of the established norms." leaves me wondering exactly how girls were ever put up on the altar to begin with. It was always men and boys on the altar, never girls. The truth of the 'established norms' is there has been a trend of validating liturgical abuses in the Catholic church since Vatican II. If you do not like the way things have been done traditionally, do it your own way, eventually the Vatican will see the trend and respond. In Liturgical Time Bombs in Vatican II, Michael Davies has written about the abuses which were legalized in this manner. Regarding this particular issue, he states,

"Female acolytes were legalized, so the law permitting only male acolytes was no longer being broken--- liturgical discipline has been restored!"(1)

It is also disturbing that since the church has become more 'accessible' to the laity there has been a drop in vocations (at an alarming rate) and a drop in Mass attendance. We are supposed to be counter cultural when we are living our lives, counter cultural in that we stand up for what is right and set the example. Catholics were joked about because they actually were counter cultural, constantly concerned for their souls. Why is it that we aren't concerned (as a society) any more? The church gave a little towards making things 'better' and now things are so bad that we have schools and churches closing because there is no one in the pews and no one to say Mass. Remember the old adage 'Give them an inch and they'll take a mile,' it applies here as well.

Many Catholics today do not see and appreciate the beauty and mystery of our Catholic faith. It is not their fault. I like to say that I was raised in the "Love and Parachutes' era of CCD because all I learned is that Jesus is love, and all the books had balloons and parachutes on the cover. I've told my students this. It gets a laugh, but my point is that for a millennium things were done the same way. Then with Vatican II they changed the whole way that we worship. Catholics no longer knew what to expect. The Mass was different, the books were different, the priests were different, everything was changed. Parents and teachers no longer knew what to teach kids about the faith. Everything was too different too fast. We see the end result of 'Love and Parachutes' every week in our classrooms and in the pews. The result is that we have catechists who find the text books too hard to teach from because they were never properly taught in the first place.

In Catholic Christianity, Peter Kreeft states:
"Half a century ago such a book would have been superfluous, for Catholics knew then twenty times more than they know now about everything in their faith: it's essence, its theology, its morality, its liturgy, and its prayer; and there were twenty times more books like this one being written."(2)

That is the truth. The Church Militant doesn't even know what sin is any more. The people who are still coming to Mass want to be there, but most (not all) of the attendees cannot tell you why they are Catholic, and what it means to be Catholic. Catholicism is about Tradition. Novelty, political correctness, and local customs are not Catholicism.The understanding of Catholicism is so watered down today, all the aides we had in the Mass, the awe inspiring rituals that were abandoned, contributed to understanding. They made a catholic wonder, want to learn more. That awe inspired vocations. The understanding of Christ's True Presence in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and all her rituals made it clear. Novus Ordo services are so close to Protestant now, by design, that the average Catholic is confused about the differences, or lack thereof. Again I refer you to Michael Davies (3).

Differences Noted Between the Catholic Mass and a Protestant Communion Service Before Vatican II

  1. The Catholic Mass -- Latin. Protestant Communion Service -- vernacular.
  2. Catholic -- much of the liturgy inaudible. Protestant --the entire service is audible.
  3. Catholic -- only two readings. Protestant -- generally three readings.
  4. Catholic -- no lay readers. Protestant -- lay readers used.
  5. Catholic --clearly performing solemn rites upon the altar facing the East. Protestant -- a meal served upon the table, often facing the congregation. (The celebration of Mass facing the people is a pure innovation and a complete break with Catholic tradition in both the Roman and Eastern Rites. It is not mandated, recommended or even mentioned in Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. See The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council.)(4)
  6. Catholic -- kneeling throughout long periods of the service, particularly for the reception of Communion. Protestant--little kneeling; Communion often received standing.
  7. Catholic -- the people receive Holy Communion on the tongue. Protestant--Communion given in the hand.
  8. Catholic -- Communion received only under one kind. Protestant -- Communion received under both kinds.
  9. Catholic -- frequent liturgical reference to the doctrines of sacrifice and Real Presence. Protestant-- no reference whatsoever to the offering of any sacrifice beyond that of the congregation offering itself. Some references to the Body and Blood of Christ which could give the impression of the belief in the Real Presence.
Prior to these changes, boys were taught to serve, and it wasn't easy. The Latin Mass was hard to learn. The acolytes formed relationships with the priest through it all. They had a front row seat to all the miracle of Transubstantiation. They had to pay attention to ring the bells, to answer the priest. They had full participation in the Mass and they wanted to be priests. They wanted to be priests. That is what we are missing now. There is so much less for acolytes to do, they sit and yawn through Mass. They miss cues. They are not needed to lead the congregation in the same way. They do not have so much to learn. They are not right in the thick of things, they are on the sidelines. When you factor girls into the mix, young boys that age do not want to serve with girls no matter what they say. The boys who like girls have a ready distraction to lead their thoughts elsewhere, away from serving Mass. It is not good in any way. It does not help vocations.

Parents today are discouraging service because the priests aren't having the same influence on his parishioners. Priests of today tell me that they are not trusted by the diocesan offices, by the parents, by the parishioners, or by society. Parents are also encouraging their sons to seek the monetary rewards of a prestigious business career over a vocation of service, personal sacrifice, and celibacy. Without parents honoring the priests, and giving their sons the opportunity to serve, there are going to be less vocations. There isn't the sense of 'sacred' in the church buildings or in the liturgy anymore. Parents are discouraging vocations as a result. Because their numbers are dwindling, they do not have the time to spend with the acolytes as they once did. Some of that 'negativity' could be undone if the priests and the acolytes were side by side through most of the Mass, the boy serving the priest, assisting in this special way with the sacrifice. Holding such an important role, being so closely involved, what boy wouldn't at least consider being a priest, even for a moment? A fleeting moment is all God needs, that momentary open-mindedness, and that seed can take root.

(1) M. Davies, Liturgical Abuses in Vatican II (Rockford, IL: Tan books, 2003) p. 57.

(2)P. Kreeft, Catholic Christianity (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2001) p. 10.

(3) Davies, p.51.

(4) M. Davies, The Catholic Sanctuary and the Second Vatican Council (Rockford, IL: Tan books, ....)

For Further Reading (I'm sure there is a lot more out there on this topic):
This is a thread from Catholic Answers Forum, looking at the comments, it is obvious there is a problem.
Girl Servers Cause Sexual Confusion at the Altar by David L. Sonnier
Father Fessio Files, scroll down a bit to find the question about female servers.
Zenit Dispatch on Female Altar Servers Question answered by Father Edward McNamara

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Ignorance is no excuse when we have neglected to learn what we are obliged to know.
~St. Ambrose

I had this posted on my desk for years. Then one day it disappeared, as things often do in a large family. I hadn't noticed straight away, and when I went looking for the quote, to use it once again, I could only remember the vague idea. Without being able to string enough of the words together in the proper order, Google was of no help! Then today, I was checking out other Catholic blogs and came across this one, A Thorn in the Pew.

Right there, below her bio, is this quote! Thank you for solving this nagging question in my mind. Sometimes I feel like I'm losing that mind bit by bit. Go check out A Thorn in the Pew. I'm going to add her to my favorites and keep an eye on this blog. This blogger is a Traditional Catholic homeschooling mother who is fighting for the souls of those she loves; and for the Catholic church to preserve the integrity of the Liturgy and get back to the basics of Catholicism. Sound familiar?
After reading the comments from A Thorn in the Pew, I went and looked up Josiekat's Trunk Boutique. Take a look. My fellow blogger is talented! Beautiful work!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


Quilting is an art, and those who are really excellent at it possess a talent which will leave their masterpieces to the enjoyment of many future generations. What a legacy to leave behind! And, interestingly enough, when I was doing a little research for this article, I discovered that colonial quilting is somewhat of a myth! America's Quilting History is a whole branch of a website called Womenfolk. There is a most interesting article about colonial quilters, which attempts to dispel this myth. The article was written by Judy Anne Johnson Breneman.

I started thinking about quilts quite a bit recently when I received one for a gift. Handmade, hand stitched, in the pattern called Ohio Star. This is what my quilt looks like, but this is not the actual quilt. I included this so you could see the pattern.

Miniature Dollhouse Quilt - Ohio Star Quilt

My quilt is king sized and it was hand pieced by some young Amish girls in PA. It is red, white and blue. The tiny little stitches, all uniform and straight are an amazing example of the skill which can be developed with patience and practice. I love to sew, and I enjoy hand stitching, but I cannot envision ever having the patience to stitch an entire king sized quilt! I will, however, make a bed skirt and pillow shams for my bed, probably on my machine. When I find the time to get this project completed I will be sure to photograph the ensemble all put together on the bed. Details of the hand stitching will be photographed as a close up for you to see. It is an heirloom that will be passed down. Now to figure out which child will inherit do parents decide these things anyway?!

My 'Listoff' List

On my favorites list to the right you will find a blog called Listoff. I submitted a list called, "What Three Year Olds Do For Fun" which Adam published today! I'm thrilled because I love his blog, and I do not know him, so he put up the list because he found it entertaining. By the way, all of the things on the list...they really happened, all done by my various children. Now you know why I escape the insanity! ;-)

Friday, June 22, 2007


Daddy was just in the kitchen making dinner. It is Friday, pizza is on the menu. Mommy is at the computer trying to come up with a topic to write on for her blog. The many children in the household are running amok when a funny little conversation is overheard. Mommy has a topic! Hiccups.

Daddy: What are you two doing? Get off the freezer!
5 year old daughter, Maria: We are doing Hiccups.
Daddy: You're doing hiccups?
7 year old son, Jack: No, we're doing PUSH ups.
13 year old son, Bobby: No, you are doing chin-ups!

Mommy gets laughing hysterically. I love being a mom of many children!

A little plug for Sag Harbor Gifts

I have been working on a post about quilts, hopefully to be put up over the next day or two. It set me to thinking about my talented friends, of which I have many. You can see on my favorite blogs link to the right, Sag Harbor Gifts, which is a blog owned by my friend, MaryT. She also has an e-bay store with the same name. Please stop in and visit her blog, she is a fabulous writer and a talented artisan. You will be entertained, have many pretty things to look at, and may even find a gift for yourself or someone you love.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


One of the things that I have enjoyed during my experiment of blogging and seeing if I can actually do this 'writing thing' is that my mind has been challenged in some really exciting ways. When I have had 'writer's block' which I really haven't had in the truest sense, I go to Helium and peruse titles. I find myself mulling over some topic that may never have crossed my mind, EVER before. Sometimes I just write about it, totally off the cuff. Other times I think about it for a few hours or days. Occasionally I will research a topic and form an opinion on it. Many of the articles are about things I never really gave too much thought to before trying to write about it. Fun, fun, fun.

Well, surprise, surprise! I found myself writing to a debate question tonight. The topic is "Should it be compulsory for couples to sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage?" Not only will my husband raise an eyebrow over the debate topic, he will also check that he is actually reading my article. He may wonder if he called up the wrong author on this one. I surprised myself with what I wrote, and which side I chose. Click on the red button on the left side to see what I wrote. You may have to scroll to find the button. Let me know what you thought. It is a debate, feedback is fun!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle Is The Hand That Rules The World

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grown on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace

This poem beautiful in both its simplicity and its message. It so perfectly expresses what motherhood means and all that we are charged with when we become a mother. Wallace eloquently describes what I've always seen to be the most important aspect of motherhood, teaching children about the Lord. What a great charge God has placed us with, the souls of our children, teaching them to keep their souls in a state of grace. Protecting their purity. Illustrating custody of the eyes, the mouth, the ears. Modeling modesty in our demeanor, manner of dress, tone of voice, through patience.

We are the first teachers of our children, Wallace points that out once again for us when he says, Mother's first guide to the streamlets. Mothers hold the power to guide their children to good or evil. I do not think that anyone deliberately leads their children to sin. But I do see a disturbing trend in society. Mothers who are leading their children astray because they are ignorant. They do not realize they are teaching their children wrongly because they have accepted immorality as a societal norm.

"There is nothing more fearful than ignorance in action." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, Criticisms, Reflections and Maxims)

Admittedly, this sounds a bit harsh. How did society get to the point where immorality is the rule rather than the exception? Modesty is one of the gifts of the Holy Ghost. When mothers sport fashions that are too tight, bare too much skin, or draw the eye to linger over private areas of the body (and here I'm including pants which are too tight) she is moving further from God and is teaching her children to tolerate this manner of dress in others. Worse still, is when she dresses her children in similar fashions. Mothers are called to a higher standard of life. Wallace illustrates my point here, in his poem.

Grown on for the good or evil, Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;

How does fashion influence good or evil? Men and boys are visually stimulated. That is one reason why the video industry is so popular with the male gender. By dressing in a provocative way, women are bringing the men in society to a near occasion of sin. Once the mind starts to wander in such an immoral way, the downward spiral begins. There is so much evil which stems from the desensitization to sex that prevails in society today. When people are no longer shocked by a plus sized woman sporting a tank top hanging on for dear life by two tiny spaghetti straps, her midriff exposing her pierced belly button, hanging over the top of her too tight shorts, and her thong strap hanging out the back, society is in trouble. We are not surprised by the inappropriateness of the full figured woman, or even the tight body sporting the same outfit. Really there is no difference in the lack of propriety exhibited by either. From this point it is only a very short hop to cohabiting instead of vows.

We need to keep Satan at bay and defeat him. Right now it feels as though Satan is winning. The fashions are leading to a loosening of morals. Just look at commercials on the television. We do not have one in our home for this reason.

Satan is fully aware of the claim that Wallace makes in his poem. That is why Satan is tempting women. When you destroy the faith and morals of women, you can collapse society faster than through any other method. By tempting women with the desire to compete with and outdo men, Satan has begun to destroy families. Men do not want to compete with their wives and when they are put in the position of feeling inadequate in any way (income, athleticism, etc.) it becomes unbearable to them. Women can effectively destroy the love of their husband by being too masculine in appearance, mannerisms, and abilities. Now women dress like men, are aggressive like men, compete in business and sometimes they are the executives who direct men at work. The divorce rate is soaring, even among Catholics.

Working outside of the home, once they become mothers, is how Satan is tempting women. They want the money and the 'stuff' it will buy, they want the recognition of a job well done. But, children are coming home to empty houses with television, video games and the Internet to entertain themselves. When your moral compass is an electronic device instead of a nurturing mother, society goes astray, and we can see the results. Teens acting out the behaviors practiced by 'role models' on television. Life today is more dramatic than the soap operas. The local kindergarten class of 17 students has 11 children whose parents have split up. Four of the eleven live with their grandparents because the parents aren't mature enough to raise their own children. These five and six year old children are moved around from one household to the next, witnessing the drama in their parent's lives. Job drama, romantic drama, financial drama, housing dramas. We owe it to our children to give them a safe and secure start in this world. We owe it to them to love and nurture them, creating a happy environment for them to grow up in, setting limits, making rules and modeling virtue.

Keep, oh, keep the young heart open /Always to the breath of God!

This is the key, forming our children to love and worship God. Modeling a prayer life, making God a central part of family. Living a virtuous life, trying to eliminate your vices and faults so your children can witness victory over vice is an important lesson for children to learn. When you improve yourself, they will notice your efforts. When you keep children actively engaged in healthy, moral activities, always turning their eyes to the Lord, they will thrive and flourish. We need to look to the ultimate role model for motherhood. The mother who was presented to us by our Lord, when he was dying on the cross for our sins, His mother, our Blessed Mother, Mary, Ever Virgin. She will lead us back to Him, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Women have the power to lead the charge against Satan because women can and will define society through the children. When mothers are looking for rewards in their work, the daily grind of the job is thankless, but the greatest reward any mother can receive is through leading her children to God and improving society through the caliber of the children she sends into the world.

Satan is fully aware that the hand that rocks the cradle is, in fact, the hand that rules the world.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to my dear husband and to all dads everywhere!

Enjoy the day celebrating the fathers in your life, your own dad, your husband, male role models in your life, your God father.

We will be away this weekend celebrating Father's Day, see you all next week!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Baking bread

Baking bread is indeed a meditative and rewarding experience. I have been working hard at mastering the technique. Having been raised by a 'modern woman' who espoused many of the ideals of feminism and independence for women, one concept I learned young was to not spend time making from scratch what I could make from a mix or buy pre-made. Bread is the perfect example of this.

I've always admired those who can create such warm and tasty masterpieces from the simplest of ingredients with ease and confidence. Never having any opportunity to try before, my first attempts were rather comical. In one of my earliest and most memorable failures I had started yeast for the dough and was interrupted by unexpected visitors. Madame Yeast, being the rather persnickety creature she is, got a bit offended at being left alone so long. When I returned and proceeded with the bread recipe, she held a grudge against me and refused to cooperate. My bread turned out like biscuits, all crumbly and hard to hold onto, impossible to slice. I could just see her scoffing at me, "You do not desert Madame Yeast! She will not forgive and forget!" The bread was tasty, but it wasn't really bread. My family appreciates all efforts to fill their bellies, but I was disappointed.

Thankfully each subsequent attempt was more successful. I discovered in addition to being left alone, Madame Yeast detests liquid which is either too warm or too cool, and sometimes she likes a little sugar in the mix. She is also sensitive to the weather, proofing environment, and storage conditions. Once I figured out her eccentricities I was well on my way to being a happy bread baker.

Despite all of the early failures I continued to persist because of the desire I had to feed my family nutritious, hand formed bread. Oh, I did try a bread machine for a while but I found them to be more bother than they were worth. I didn't like the hole in the bottom of the loaf from the mixing. I would take the bread out of the machine to rise in a pan and bake without the hole. That worked well until we had so many children that one loaf from a bread machine wasn't enough to go around. Bread machines cannot handle a large family. Even when I used the machine I felt like I was cheating somehow. I wasn't kneading the bread by hand. This is where the meditative part of the bread making experience comes in.

Did you ever watch children play with dough? They all love it. Preschools cannot make the stuff fast enough. They love to roll it out, cut shapes, make snakes and logs, and squish it. We have a natural yearning to play with dough. Most of us suppress the urge, but some of us never quite outgrow it. That is a good thing, it keeps people eating fresh, homemade bread! There is one major difference between the dough preschoolers play with and the dough that bakes up into scrumptious bread however, and that is consistency of the dough. Kneading bread dough is hard work, but it is indeed very rewarding. While you are kneading, your entire upper body is engaged in the effort to push and fold, push and fold. The process is repetitive and mindless. It is a great time to think, I like to pray when I knead bread. During advent my husband helps to knead because of the quantity of loaves we produce. I need his strong shoulders and upper arms to help with the task. When he is kneading bread we have conversations. Whether praying or talking, the kneading process is always a pleasant experience. Hard, muscle building work, but it is a wholesome and virtuous task, taking your hands and working the dough to make a basic food for your family. Depending on the type of bread you are making you may still get to form snakes and logs, circles, or balls. You also are able to slash the top. Just like when you were a child, all the 'fun' is still there.

When you go to the trouble of making the bread to feed your family you can't help but draw a parallel to the Eucharist. Christ changed bread, the basic food of life, simple fare, wrought by human hands, made with love, into his Body. He feeds us and nurtures us with the most basic food for our souls, Himself, and he uses the most basic food from earth to do it. It is no wonder He chose bread, the food of life, to be the substance for transubstantiation. Once you experience making bread, you come fully around to the meaning of "The Bread of Life".

Then of course, at long last, there is the joy and sensual delight of the moment when the bread comes out of the oven. You've been inhaling the aroma of the bread baking, and the hot, freshly baked loaf is too much for the senses. Around our house the first loaf is for instant consumption. Steaming, the bread is just calling for butter, and the first bite is like heaven on earth. It is rewarding to set out a loaf of hand kneaded, home baked bread for your family to enjoy, and the process of getting there is almost as good as the first bite.

Helping Students with Memorization

There is one method which I have employed in teaching my children memory work, in particular, the memorization of poetry. It has proven itself reliable through all of my children. First you read the poem aloud to the child so he can feel the rhythm, the cadence of the poem. Make sure you begin with the title and author. They need to learn to quote both at the beginning of the poem. The student will learn it like the first two lines of the poem in this manner, and the title and author will be forever associated with the poem itself.

After reading through the poem once, you choose a small section of the poem to work on, depending upon the age of the student. You may want to try a couplet or a stanza. Then you read the line and have them repeat it. Follow this procedure for five minutes and then stop. Consistently practicing for five minutes a day will ensure your student learns the poem in no time at all.

This method works very well for any aspect of memorization. If the student is really struggling with some memory work (history dates come to mind) doing this memorization exercise at bedtime will help immensely.

Poems to Help Children study the Holy Ghost

As a home school teacher, and a catechist, I am always seeking ways to teach faith to the children. Often poems and songs make the perfect memory aide. Here are three I wrote about the Holy Ghost. The first one is calling on Him to Help us. The second is about the Gifts of the Holy Ghost and the third is about the Fruits. Feel free to use them with your children, but please credit Lily A. Thorns with authorship.

Come Holy Ghost, Paraclete

Come Holy Ghost, Paraclete
These are the words I often repeat
Crying out for your Wisdom again and again,
in a prayer you have never failed to claim.
Be it study or chores or friends I debate
You always manage, somehow, to relate
The answer I seek, if only I listen
A solution will find me, in quiet submission
To God's Holy Will in every respect
of my life, you will guide me, in every aspect.

The Gifts of the Paraclete

Through your gifts, O wise Paraclete
My actions will make my soul complete
Your wisdom will guide me in all of my days
Counsel will help me to improve my ways.
Understanding will show how reasonable I can be
Fortitude provides the resolve I will need
Knowledge lights the path to the Lord
Piety shows in the Truth I am moored.
The fear of the Lord, I know what that is
Remembering the just punishments God gives.

The Fruits of the Holy Ghost

Your fruits, Holy Ghost, serve to remind
What I need to always keep in mind.
Charity shows true love of God in our actions
Joy is the happiness which brings satisfaction
Peace is contentment deep in the soul
Patience, ability to wait, a worthy goal
Kindness should be shown to all fellow man
Goodness forsakes evil each time it can
Giving of yourself is generosity
Gentleness is showing how meek you can be
Faithfulness, living your life in God's trust
Modesty in dress and behavior's a must
Self control is an art everyone must master
Chastity is a gift to your love ever after
Please guide me to Jesus where I want to be
Forever united for all eternity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Can Men and Women be "Just Friends"

Here is a little essay I wrote, it is a bit artsy in form, pondering the question, Can Men and Women be 'Just Friends'?

I wrote this for Helium as a little experiment. I wanted to see if I could compete against 150 other authors! If you aren't aware of how it works on Helium, you choose from an infinite number of topics to write about, your article is posted, and then rated by other authors. Whenever you post an article you are asked to rate articles. You can also just go in and rate them. The down side is you sign away your article. The up side is you get feedback on your work. Instant feedback. You can also make some money on Helium, but I haven't quite figured that out yet. It is incidental, I'm having so much fun writing, I'm addicted to the ratings! I haven't left my best writing on Helium because when something really strikes me, I have to hold on to it. I've had a couple of decent efforts I've left there, but all of my Helium writing is 'off the cuff' so they aren't as well developed as if I took a lot of time preparing it. Everything I've written for Helium has been a 'first draft' so to speak.

So, for my little experiment, I put myself in a pool of 150 authors writing about men and women being friends. I'm quite pleased to find myself, 12 hours later, sitting at number 31. My goal is the top ten, we'll see if the article makes it. If you want to see all of my articles on Helium you can go to Lily A. Thorns and check it out. By the way, if you want to write for Helium I will be glad to send you an invitation. Write to me at my email address, just click 'About Me' on the left and you will find a link. I would be happy to send you an invitation. Mind you, the ratings are addictive!

Oh, and do check back, I have post ideas mulling about for Never Fading Wood as well, but oh, the time to post. This is the busy time of the year for a mother of a large family. The school year is winding down, or should be. Sports are in full swing. Lots of ferreting the kids!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I am hoping that one day this week I may find some time to figure out how to post pictures to my blog which match my musings. I think it would make visiting the blog more interesting visually. I have no idea how to do it. Not being very experienced with this sort of thing I only know how to post my own photos, that would not be very interesting! Maybe I need to pursue photography so I can illustrate what I write. Or, perhaps one of my children will become interested in this task, I'll have to get them thinking about that. Keep checking in, I hope to have something to look at between writings very soon!

Thank you all for your comments both on and off blog. I have many ideas in my head, but no clue as to whether they are any good at all. I really appreciate the feedback!

Praying to Saints

I have written another piece for Helium about the Catholic practice of praying to saints. This, of course is a common misconception. I am quite excited about this piece because it is ranked number one of six at the moment. I hope it stays there, in the number one place. I often tell my students that we do not pray to the saints but ask them to pray along with us in an intercessory role. Hop on over to Helium and read the essay! Let me know what you think about it. I'm all ears.

Saturday, June 9, 2007


Here is an essay that I wrote for Helium on happiness. Click here to read my essay.

The Lost Art of Sewing

This article I did let go on to the net. It is just a little commentary, if you are interested to read it you can click here.


No, I'm not mad at anyone, it just popped into my head :-) I don't know where it came from. Does that ever happen to you?

elling, yelling, yelling.

Never Fading Wood, revisited

In my first post I named this blog Never Fading Wood in honor of our Blessed Mother. Ironically, I accepted that title at face value. I found it duplicated in many lists of the Blessed Virgin, liked it for its being an unusual and lesser known title, as well as for its poetic sound. But, why would Mary be called 'Never Fading Wood'? I have to wonder.

This is a topic of discussion in my home right now. First of all, why did I just accept it at face value, without researching it, not that I doubt it is a valid title for her, but why didn't I look into it further? I instruct my children be inquisitive about their education and their hobbies. I'm a naturally curious person. Isn't it rather strange that I would just name my blog and be done with it?

Well there is the obvious time factor. Just noting the titles I've given myself will clue you into how busy I am. I took a long car drive to visit someone recently and as I was driving the thought occurred to me that I never did look into it. Of course I need long car drives with the radio turned off to get around to it; but it did eventually dawn on me that I do not know the origin of this title for her.

Surfing the net today yielded no results. It just produced more lists containing the titles of Mary. So now I'm left to my imagination. And to my blog. I'm sure until I get to the bottom of this one, it will be a topic revisited here, speculation of why Mary is called Never Fading Wood. And if you know, please provide the story. I'm very interested :-)

Obedience, a Sermon I'd Rather Forget

About a year ago I was at Mass and there was a visiting priest I was unfamiliar with. He related a story and I am not sure what he was trying to tell us by it. He stated that he knew of a couple who had been married a long time and the wife wanted to learn to drive so she could get her license. The husband had said no. She asked this priest what to do and he told her if she wanted to drive she ought to regardless of what her husband said.

I have many issues with that because if she had been expressly told not to get her license by her husband, why would a priest tell her to go ahead and do it against his wishes? There were no particulars to his story, there was no information about why the husband said no. Perhaps the husband had a valid reason to deny his wife her wish? But, even if he was being mean spirited, his decision, on the basis of the Sacrament of Marriage should be final. If a husband does not treat his wife with kindness or respect, he will have to answer to God for his behavior. In order for his wife to not have the same problem standing in front of God, she needs to respect his wishes, no matter how unreasonable they seem. Unless he is being abusive.

That is not to say that a wife cannot present her point of view, perhaps even argue, but there comes a point where there must be a final word. A woman could consult her priest, books, etc, but in the end there needs to be a final decision. Humility and marriage vows would require the wife to bend her will. A truly loving husband looks both to what his wife wants and what is best for the marriage and what is best for her in making a decision. Even if he is lacking in some way, if he expressly forbids his wife to do something (even as mundane as getting a license) why would a priest stand in front of the congregation and tell us all that if your husband is lacking in judgment to go ahead ignore him? Why would he encourage discord in the home and tell her to do what she wants?

In order for a man and a woman to live in harmony, in wedded bliss, someone must be the head of the household, and that person needs to have the final word or nothing will be accomplished. To have a loving marriage, husband and wife both deserve love, admiration and respect. When you give you receive. If a wife is attentive to all the needs of her husband, he will be attentive to her. If a wife gives her husband the gift of obedience, he will give her wishes the respect and due reflection that she desires. But, as with anything in life, we are not always happy. There are times in life when the husband may say no and the wife may think he is being unreasonable. And, maybe he is. But maybe he isn't.

I have discussed this sermon with people in the past. One argument I've heard from women is that it is abusive for a man to prevent his wife's obtaining a license. I say, not necessarily. What if his concern is a medical one? What if he has some 'sense' of apprehension that he cannot ignore? What if his concern is a financial one? He cannot afford to provide her with a car and gas, he cannot afford to put her on his insurance, or some other financial concern. What if his concern is a selfish one? Maybe she has for many years been his joy, he always knows where she is because he drives her where she needs to go? She's always liked it, he's always been glad to be her chauffeur. She's always been able to get where she needed and wanted. We cannot say for sure. Counseling a woman to disobey her husband, sending her home to do battle is ill advised in most circumstances. That priest may have been a better counselor and friend to help her figure out how to rationally explain her side of the story to her husband, and send her home with instructions to obey his decision in the end.

There is also a phenomenon exhibited in husbands when it comes to reasonable requests. Even if they initially must deny the request, if it is reasonable, within their means and power to grant it at a future date, they will. Often, when it is 'their idea' it becomes a gift to lavish. But if you nag him to death to change his mind it becomes a thorn in the paw of the kingly lion. That same husband, may at some future date say to his wife, "I thought it would be fun to have a driving lesson today, what do you think? Would you still like to learn?" Then he can have the vast pleasure of giving her what she wanted all along.

It is not easy in the glory days of feminism to be a woman. We grow up trying to prove something to the world. That we are as good as, if not better than men. This is the root of discord and disunity in many lives. If we can get past this burning passion to prove ourselves as men, and accept the roles as God designed, then we can expect that our husbands will consult us in their decisions, consider carefully the requests that we make, and make a just and final determination.

With priests standing in front of a packed church and extolling the virtues of disobedience and dishonor, actually counseling the women present to stand strong against their husbands, is it any wonder that the Catholic rate of divorce is nearly as high as the general population?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Is Chivalry Dead?

This was an article I wrote for a website designed to put your name before the public. Check the websites listed under my favorites, you will find it there. Just before I pushed the 'publish' button on their site I read the user agreements. I would lose all the rights to my work. I'm not sure I can take a favorite topic and sign over all the rights to my thoughts like that. Not on this topic. So, instead of getting reviewed by my peers and seen in such a venue (which does tug at me somewhat as an opportunity missed) I hold onto this and print it here. So, comment! Then I will not feel so bad :-)

Feminism has killed chivalry. It is, after all, what women wanted. Women wanted to be equal to men. The mantras we were spoon fed from infancy through college were, 'You can be anything you want to be' and 'Anything boys can do girls can do better' or 'You are equal to men' but feminism, by the currently accepted definition, is wrong.

Let's look at the current definition of feminism from which states:
1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. (sometimes initial capital letter) an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.

By reading this definition one can easily see exactly how feminism affected the demise of chivalry. Except for number three which is the true meaning of the word. The word itself is an oxymoron. Definitions one and two mean 'equal rights for women' but definition number three is what feminism truly is. Feminine character.

What exactly comprises feminine character? Anything that IS NOT masculine. Motherhood is the ultimate expression of feminism, but try and tell that to the abortionists who want to murder instead of nurture. The 'feminists' are going against their feminine character.

Feminine character is selfless. In order to nurture you must sacrifice your self and your needs. Having six or eight or ten children is exhausting. And selfless. But the 'feminists' aren't having large families. They are having large incomes, fancy cars, beautiful clothes and large homes instead. But the homes are empty. Mother is working. She may even be the CEO of the company.

Feminine character is joyful. Yes, women who manage a home, cooking and cleaning for a large family can be happy, even joyful. How many career women are filled with joy? Where does the joy come from in a career? Buying things? We all know that material goods are just a band-aid placed over a wounded heart. If you are sad, go buy something to cheer yourself up, if you are happy, buy something to celebrate. But what about the stay at home mother who forgoes the money to keep house for her husband? Can she be joyful without the bling career women flaunt? OF COURSE. True happiness is true feminism.

Go back to your bible. The old Testament. All the way back to Adam and Eve. What did God say to them? He told Eve that her husband shall be her master. He told Adam that he will work to provide for them both. Adam was to work, Eve was to be a wife and mother. That is the nature God gave men and women. When we fight our God given nature, when we try to convince ourselves that our free will is to be the opposite of God's design, we cannot be joyful, self sacrificing and feminine.

This is exactly how feminism destroyed chivalry. Men love women. Men want to be adored by women and not compete with women. Men want to pamper women, and they want women to treat them like men. It is not a weakness in character to allow a man to hold a door, to lift something heavy, to fix something which has broken. Men want to be braver, smarter, richer, stronger, bigger and better than women. When women nurture that desire in their men by admiring, and complimenting him, accepting his affections and his protection, and by allowing him to be a provider and a whole man, well then marriages are sweet and blissful, children are cared for and happy, families stay together and women are fulfilled.

Until this happens chivalry will be remain buried in the ground. We occasionally will experience chivalrous behavior from men. When you do find a true gentleman among men look at the women in his life. I'll bet the women you find will be feminine in dress, mannerisms and appearance. I believe you will find them to be nurturing, self sacrificing and filled with joy. Chivalry must be encouraged and inspired. Only a true feminist, one filled with feminine character has that power. That is why chivalry is dead. Real women are becoming extinct, and without real women, chivalry will die too.

Schoolboy hues

This one is a work in progress, what do you think of this? I'm not sure it is done yet, though I feel it is close. This one was inspired by one of my sons. I home school, and when he was younger he would get so frustrated. I always joked that if I could only find a way to write his lessons on a football he would gain good grades faster.

There is nothing quite so forlorn,
As a student's notebook, pages torn
fists upon the table will beat it
the schoolboy hangs his head defeated.

"But Mother," he pleads, "I don't do well
Describing how the waters swell
Or wondering why the sky is blue,
Should it be some other hue?"

But with a knock upon the door
His heart beats out a different score
He grabs his football helmet and runs
Poem left upon the table, undone.

A mother's work is never completed
But she cannot hang her head defeated.
It is up to her to prod him again
She'd settle for poetry upon the pigskin!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Names, terms, words

What are some of your favorite words? Words mean so much and have such power, we ought to use the right ones to express our thoughts. Most of us are lazy about words. I know I am. Oh, I'm delighted when I find just the right one. But how often do I attempt to find the right word, unless I'm writing? And even then, sometimes the word just comes to me, but other times I must go and seek it out, hunt it down and tie it into my message. It always seems that when I'm speaking or tossing off an email to a friend I don't even try to come up with anything other than ordinary vocabulary. I'm in such a rush to say what needs to be said and move on.

What are your favorite words? Randomly list them for me. Some of mine, in no particular order are:

fluidity, acquiesce, sanguine, scuppered, aesthetic, banana, penchant, tranquility, bonanza, canine, Bolivia, archipelago (how do YOU pronounce that word, many debates on that one), velvet, charity, sensuous, simpleton, breviary, ambo, lilac, lily (of course), rose, lavendar, chocolate (what self respecting woman wouldn't like that one?), harbor, humility, enigmatic, nymph, muse, muscular, crunch, fluff, forensic, perpetual, rendezvous, escargot, cedar, whisper, pop, glug, vexation, duty, witticism, criticism, phonics, perplexity, articulate, eloquence, thesaurus (not only a useful tool when discussing words, but also an awesome specimen itself), gorilla

I could go on, but I think I will do this again another time. What are your favorite words. Pretty ambitious for a new blogger to start off with a question, dontcha think?


This is a poem I wrote for my friend, another acrostic. It was supposed to read SPIN DYE AND WEAVE but somehow it ended up SPIN DYE AND WEAVING which is a problem stylistically. When I finished the poem and realized what I had done I was so attached to the sentiment that I didn't change it. It is what I wanted to say about my friend, how much I admire her for taking something difficult in life, an injury, and making something beautiful. The poem was a birthday gift. Laurie, you are amazing!

Sanguine at the wheel
Protracting the fibers
Intuitively. Twisting the strands
Nimbly, rhythmically she spins.

Delineated in her mind,
Yarns are pigmented
Expressively, instinctively.

Advancing her tranquility,
Never yielding to the limits imposed,
Doctors and nature defied.

Warp and weft on the loom
Exactly ordered to their design,
Aesthetically arranged by Laurie.
Victoriously the fabric exhibits her
Independence from the
Neurology that tried to
overn, but couldn't contain her soul.

A Young Girl's Hair

My four girls were all the same
When upon a pair of scissors they came
About the age of three or four
Their baby locks all hit the floor.

It makes no difference if you tried
To make the offending scissors hide.
Whatever cuts, they do not care
Two used nail trimmers on their hair.

Doubtless, it is always done
The day before a big reunion
Or when the photographer will be
Taking pictures for posterity.

Marriage, an acrostic poem

Matrimony, a sacrament of God's love
Acquiescing to His Holy Will.
Requiring love and commitment
Resplendent with consanguineous joy
In sickness and in health
Agape, and leading your spouse to
God. You exist to inspire achievement of
Everlasting happiness in heaven.

Never Fading Wood

Why did I choose this name for my blog? Because it is one of the many titles for Our Blessed Mother. It is also somewhat poetic and I am deciding whether or not to pursue an MFA in writing. For this same reason I post under the name Lily. Another title for the Blessed Mother is Lily Among Thorns. It is in honor of her that I choose the name Lily to sign as my own on the internet.

I'm somewhat surprised that I've decided to join the bloggers in cyberspace, as if I didn't have enough to do already! But, I feel that writers should practice their craft and I need to see if anything I write is portfolio worthy. In order to apply for acceptance into an MFA program for writing, you must submit a portfolio. All I've written in the past is lost for various reasons. This is an experiment of sorts, to see what I can generate, and how easily the words come through my brain and down to the keyboard.

Please comment. Whether you like what I wrote or not, tell me why! Be specific, the only rule is to be courteous. I'm looking for honest critiques and would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by and please return often to see what is going on in the Never Fading Wood!