Thursday, November 29, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
I learned something new yesterday!
Below is a post from the Cross Reference blogspot, another new discovery which I will be adding to my blogroll. Do stop by and visit Jeff.
At the local church, I teach confirmation classes. I’ve remarked in the past that if I lived in a more populous area, with more resources in the parish, I would not be teaching this class. As it turns out, I was asked to do it, but with more resources available (as in humans) I would never have presumed. In fact, I think they would have told me, “Thank you for your interest, Mrs. Thorns, you are welcome to bring cupcakes for snack time if you desire.”
I’m not selling myself short here, for an average Catholic TODAY, I know quite a bit. But, would I throw myself up against some of today’s scholars? Not a chance! I’m a smart cookie and I can figure out how to get answers, I read quite a bit, and I have spent most of the last 15 years devotedly learning and researching the faith, which does give me a leg up on most of my peers as far as Catholic formation. However, fit to teach teenagers the faith and prepare them for Confirmation? Never would I have imagined it. Yet, God calls us to fulfill roles, and prepares us to do the job.
What did I learn? Here is a reprint of the post from Cross Reference, the title is a link:
Liturgy: What's in a name?
The technical (proper) term is extraordinary minister of Holy Communion. Why is this title correctly preferred over terms like...
* Eucharistic Minister
* Special Minister of the Eucharist
* Special Minister of Holy Communion
* Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist
Pick apart the name. See if you can figure out where it's right and the others are wrong.
I learned the fine difference in meaning between Holy Communion and Eucharist! I knew there was a difference, didn’t know what it was. More pearls to pass on to my students. Go to the comments section of this post, the answer is explained. While you are at his website, check out the two posts on the ‘Jenga Mass’ and the 'Jenga Mass Part Two' which are fascinating if you love the Liturgy and have read anything on the subject.
It seems to me that the young men of today are well prepared to be leaders speaking out on behalf of our beautiful Catholic faith. Deo Gratias! We need strong young men, well educated, and fearless. Whether laity or religious, strong, young men will lead the Catholic faithful of today back to the head of the mystical body, back to Christ’s Church, back to the basics of Catholicism. Much has been lost or forgotten. At least some remember, or take the time to learn correctly, speak up, and pass the information on.
We live in a true colonial home, about as old as the USA. As such, it required updating for heat, electric, etc. There is no heat upstairs. Living in the northeast, it can be quite chilly. We also get pretty good winds whipping around here in the mountains, and the wind can at times, whip right through the house and through you!
I love the four seasons, and wouldn’t give up the winter for anything, and I enjoy the cold weather. My philosophy is to just put on another sweater. But, when you go to bed, the room is cold, the sheets are cold, and changing into your bedclothes makes you cold.
My hubby always laughs at me and tells me that I married him for his body heat, as he is always warm. Last night, when I went to lie down, he was asleep on my side of the bed. I know he prefers the other side so I nudged him to move. He was over on my side to warm it, and I was able to rest in a nice warm bed, as he moved over to the cold side! The very cold side, our room is very chilly. What a guy!
So there you have it ladies! My husband is the greatest!
This is not a picture of my chilly house, lol, but I did think it was a good visual for how cold I am when I go to retire for the night.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Thanksgiving. It is not my favorite holiday. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating, food preparation, visiting, etc. But, this holiday is an observation of the thanks for the harvest that allowed our ancestors (well some of Americans can actually claim that) to survive. What is really on the minds of many on the occasion of Thanksgiving?
Well, I can only speak from my own experience. We had one of our smaller groups this year. At the table we had 13. For dessert we had 25 people. The focus was on football and shopping. There were discussions of food, jobs, school, the economy, gas prices, technology. Except for one discussion on Confirmation, there was no mention of God, religion, faith or thankfulness. None at all.
That leads me to wonder, what are we thankful for, in our society today? Fat salaries, small families, and the toys to spend the fat salaries on. The complaints from the Thanksgiving I attended were centered on how government is sucking away too much of our money, and how the high gas prices are making many things un-affordable. Yet, as I glanced around the room, I saw my relatives all decked out in designer clothes, with blue tooth devices hanging off their ears. I saw much gold jewelry and shoes that were so ugly that they must be high fashion, on the men in attendance. There were iPods hanging off of belt loops and expensive cars parked in the driveway.
Since it was the eve of black Friday, discussions centered on what everyone would be buying, and how early they were heading out. I must admit to going out twice in my middle aged years, and both times were for a unique item that was a planned purchase, and the price was so low I was lured. Since we got rid of the television, I no longer have any idea about what is out there, and since our income is much lower than average for our family size (due to numerous children and one income as I stay at home) I rarely go into stores, unless for something specific.
Of course, there were big inquiries into what all of my children wanted for Christmas and since we have no television, they really didn’t know. They do have some commercial desires, as do any children, originating from seeing what everyone else has. They do not develop great longings for random items because they are not bombarded with product advertisements. I would be overwhelmed if my children were to respond to that holiday question of, “What do want Santa to bring you?” with “Well, we’d like you all to return to the Church and our happiness will be complete.” Admittedly that is a fantasy given the young ages of my crew, but wouldn’t it be nice.
We read (I think on Digihair’s blog) that “Ho Ho Ho” is being banned in some places because it is offensive to women. Hmmmm, what do I think about that? Well, I suppose there is a certain type of woman who might be offended, but I doubt Santa will be the one to offend her. Any self respecting, honorable, modest, well behaved, chaste woman would never even think of “Ho Ho Ho” as offensive, but perhaps the commercialism he stands for may make a few of us cringe.
At Mass on Thanksgiving morning, the priest mentioned how this is not a religious holiday but as all things come from God, we should thank Him for all of our blessings. I wish that was remembered more, even amongst those I love the best in the world, it is sometimes lacking. The priest had baskets of rolls, all wrapped up individually, with a Thanksgiving prayer inside. What a beautiful gesture on a non-religious holiday. We were all to take the blessed bread home with us to have with our dinners. I enjoyed mine with my coffee before all the fuss of the day began.
Maybe I’m getting old (though I hope not), or maybe I’m getting more sentimental (that is possible, many births, the death of my mother, etc.), or maybe I’m just starting to get my priorities right (sometimes better than others), but I prefer simplicity, low technology (note not the absence of technology, just perhaps not so much), good home cooked food, hearth and home, to just about anything else. I would love to celebrate any holiday, if it could be done without so much commercialism. Why aren’t we focused on God anymore. He must weep when he is forgotten especially on a day of thanks.
Friday, November 16, 2007
This is actually our second snowfall this year, the first being last Saturday. Since that one happened while I was asleep, it doesn’t count for much. When I had to go out Saturday morning, and crested the mountain, there was snow on the ground. On the return trip home, an hour later, it had all melted. Thus far today we’ve had no accumulation, just flurries and a bit of hail at one point, of course I was outside for that, but it has been ongoing all day long. I actually love the four seasons, if I ever had to move to where there weren’t four seasons I think I would miss them terribly. That being had, I am not happy to be cold today! Even my fingers and toes are cold, inside the house. Living in a huge, old, drafty house makes these initial cold days quite a shock. The upstairs (where our bedrooms are) is f-f-f-f-freezing, but there is nothing like snuggling under layers of comforters to sleep with a cold nose! Maybe I’m cold because I’ve lost weight this year? Maybe I need to put some pounds on to stay warm for the winter, like a bear? Do you think the doctor would condone hibernation weight? I guess it is doubtful.
Between the shorter days and the colder weather my mood is starting to dip into the doldrums. It is a disease I’ve been plagued with for a few years now. It doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, it is just truly a seasonal case of the blues. Now it is time to hunker down with some good spiritual reading to stay on track and not get really blue. I will also start with my winter entertainments of needlework, everything from embroidery, to mending, to sewing, to knitting and crocheting. But, more than anything, the thing that keeps me happy all winter is baking bread. It is physical activity, a spiritual exercise, and it is olfactorily satisfying, not to mention delicious. Guess it is time to get baking bread!
I will post our favorite holiday bread recipe when I start baking it. As a hint, I’ve already prepared the vegetable puree we use it the recipe...sweet potato and/or winter squash. I bake and puree the squash, then freeze it in one cup quantities. I have over 20 cups in the freezer! Each cup contributes to two rather large loaves of bread. Plus we also love pancakes made with the squash, a nice dish for Friday nights. We do all Fridays meatless, not just lent. Tonight, my dear daughter is preparing a pasta dinner, with sauce from scratch. Teens are a lovely help sometimes.
As far as my needlework is concerned, this year I intend to finally make my coat which I’ve had the fabric for two years now. Since it is cold out perhaps I will be inspired to work on it this week. It shouldn’t take long. Also slated is an afghan which needs finishing, a poncho for one of my children, and perhaps some hats and mittens for a few of my crew. I have a beautiful cross stitch which I made for someone and need to mail off. I’m also considering making some first aide herbal ointment for Christmas gifts, if I can get on the stick. I made some earlier this year and it came out so well that I may make more.
In the plans for stretching my mind this winter is studying Latin. As a fellow blogger so aptly reminded us, those who wish to call themselves Traditional Catholics ought to know Latin. Well, I’ve been ‘learning’ it for years, teaching it to my children. I have not really studied it myself. Sure, I know some prayers and can follow the Mass somewhat (if I lose my place I can find it again) but do I really know it? Not really. It is time to learn. It is on the agenda for this winter.
Snow at Louveciennes
Just my two cents, for whatever it is worth.
Bloggers, are people too and as such, we have all kinds. There are some who are very academic and others who are ridiculous, just as in real life. There are those who are devout and those who lack any spirituality whatsoever. I could belabor the point and continue rattling on, but you get the idea.
Many of us read and comment on the same blogs because we have similar interests, so some of you will know what I’m referring to, for the rest of you, generalities will suffice and you will still be able to follow the thread of thinking here, I hope.
There has been a debate going on between blogs which has gotten rather ugly. One blog has stopped accepting comments because they’ve been so hurtful. Another blog has a sometimes witty author who has a bit of a sting to her posts. I’m sure she is very lovely(giving her the benefit of the doubt), unless you get on her bad side. Then she can be mean. But, it is her blog, she can write what she wants and needn’t apologize for it. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, no one is forcing you to. The same should apply to the one who has gotten hurt, who is also very witty. If you visit a blog and you don’t like it, don’t go back. But, in this case I think it went deeper. I think that one blogger felt she needed to somehow help the other see the error of her ways (as she perceived it), and perhaps she had some points worth making, but under the sting it all got lost. Incidentally, in this particular debate, I take no sides. I think both had valid points and each had less than stellar moments where they perhaps crossed some invisible line of blogger etiquette.
I am a proponent of all things in moderation. Except devotion to God. We are all to strive to be the best we can be, and to grow away from worldly things and closer to our Lord. We are mere human beings, and as such we suffer under the burden of original sin. Whatever means we employ to remind ourselves of our task, our ultimate goal, it is worthy. Personally, I wear skirts all the time. I haven’t always done so, but I started to do so to remind myself to pray without ceasing. Every time I struggle to figure out a way to do something that I was accustomed to doing in jeans and face some difficulty or inconvenience due to the skirts, I pray. In the meantime I figured out how to be much more feminine in my carriage, and behaviors than I had been used to, because in skirts you need to watch how you sit, move, and even get in or out of a car (or truck as I drive). My husband appreciates my femininity being more visible, and frankly, I enjoy it. There are days when my outfits aren’t as pretty as others (like today where I’m wearing a denim skirt which is missing its lower button, an old shirt, and sneakers) but I wouldn’t wear this outfit to go out anywhere either. I like longer (nearly to the ankle) and flowing skirts because they make me feel pretty and feminine. I like the way the skirts move when I walk and fall about the chair when I sit. It is a part of being a girl that I enjoy.
One thing about doing something in moderation, even wearing skirts, is that I try to be as fashionable as I can afford (even if it means a wardrobe purchased entirely at goodwill or some discount retailer) but I do want to look fashionable. I adore retro fashions (even as far back as regency fashion) but only if I can pull it off without making a spectacle. I’m not courageous enough to sport something which will make draw too much attention, positive or negative, because I don’t like to be the focus of attention. As much as I admire beautiful, retro clothes, unless I can update them to blend into society (fabric, hemline, neckline, sleeve alterations) I cannot bring myself to do it. Now, that is personal style, taking what you love-say Victorian fashion-updating it and making it your own. See, I told you I was a former fashionista, it still shows up in my thinking every now and again. I love hats of every sort, never had the boldness to wear them. I wish they would make a fashion come back, I LOVE them.
Does this all mean that I would mock someone for their fashion choices? No, and any good, decent person wouldn’t do it either. But, on the other hand, many people nowadays have no sense of propriety in either manners or attire. Anyone who wears clothes is asking for attention of some sort. Some are trying to be invisible. Some are going for shock value. Some are trying to impress the Joneses. Some are dressing to please the opposite sex. Some dress to say, “I don’t care what I look like, I’m just throwing this on because I must wear something.” Some are just trying to make a statement. If correction is required (and you'd better know for sure), it is to be done charitably, and before correcting someone there should be some thought put into it. For the love of God (charity) requires forethought before wagging your tongue.
There are times when the fashions of others prove to be lessons for those we love, like when the ‘lady’ who is standing in front of your son in the grocery store has a shirt too low cut and every time she reaches into her cart you can identify the brand of her undergarments, or even if she is wearing any. That is a lesson for your son in averting his eyes, and also for what he should not be looking for in a girl. Any girl who would flash just anyone anywhere is probably not the type of girl you’d wish your son to date. It is also a chance to instruct your daughter in what she should avoid in wardrobe choices AND why. But, this instruction to your children should be done privately. Sniggering aloud, saying, “Look at THAT” is not good manners. Nor should anyone snigger at the lady who is dressed so modestly as to make a spectacle of herself.
Personally, I think I would notice someone dressed to any extreme. Maybe that is again the former fashionista in me. But, unless the clothing is totally lacking in modesty, I generally admire people who have the courage to blaze their own trail and have a personal style, whether it is fashionable and attractive or not. You must give people credit for having the courage to step out the door, especially when they are doing so for the love of God. Even if you do not agree with or approve of a person’s theology, methodology, or sense of fashion, if they are attempting to glorify God, even if you think it is a misguided attempt, mocking someone for their belief in God and how they live it out is bad manners. Educating people who are wrong (if they even are, and sometimes that is just your opinion and maybe you should keep your mouth shut) should be done charitably and privately. Even if you think a blogger is asking for it, all correction should be done with charity.
All of us who blog have something to say. We like to think we have something important to say, or something of value to report. Many of us hold very strong opinions. We all like the attention blogging brings or we wouldn’t track who is reading what we write and site meter wouldn’t be so busy. We should all realize if we put things on the net they will be read. We should also realize that if we do not want people to know what we really think then we ought not to blog, and if our skin isn’t thick enough, we shouldn’t put ourselves out there to be read and commented upon. But, readers ought to have some manners as well. Comments should all be polite, even if disagreeing. There is a fascination with earlier times, English literature, books of manners, classic stories. I have said so on here, as recently as last week, and I think it is because we have such loose standards in today’s society that we find ourselves wondering if there are any standards at all. Kindness and charity is a choice that should be exercised because it is the right way to behave. But, as I said at the beginning, this is just my two cents.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Another occupation filling my time of late has been teaching a cooking class at the local elementary school. I know, I know, like I have so much free time! As anyone who knows me or reads this blog is aware, I home school, but that doesn’t prevent me from participating in the community. It is much like my teaching confirmation classes at the local parish despite my traveling to the TLM whenever I can. If I am needed, I will do my best to oblige.
The program at the school is funded by the parent/teacher organization. The PTA requires submission of lesson plans, in advance. Apparently they’ve had some classes go bust due to poor planning on the part of well intentioned volunteers who couldn’t quite get their act together. As a dutiful volunteer, I submitted my plans. I was asked to teach ten students in the kindergarten/first grade level.
Four days before my first class I get a phone call from the school secretary who informs me that due to some new district regulation we are not permitted to cook or bake on the school premises outside of regular school hours. Hmmm, a monkey wrench if I ever heard one! Original plans included homemade graham crackers, hot chocolate (from scratch), muffins, that sort of thing. Now we’ve had to retrench and do things like dips, fruit salads, and no bake treats held together by peanut butter, lol. Not so much cooking and baking as food preparation and presentation. Oh well.
Today, we will be making party foods, CHOCOLATE to be precise. First up are chocolate top hats made by dipping vanilla wafers into chocolate, then a marshmallow is dipped and stuck onto the cookie. While the chocolate is still wet, little decorations will be stuck on. Very cute for little ones, don’t you think? The second treat is a chocolate covered banana rolled in sprinkles. For a drink...party punch! Not exactly a nutritionally balanced meal, but then again it is a party for cooking class where cooking has been prohibited!
Yet another roadblock was thrown up today...no sterno either! So, whilst I have one crockpot (dip sized if you can imagine) which will work nicely for dipping bananas, the tiny little fondue pot I planned to use for the top hats is a no-go. Good thing I’m a creative sort. We shall use microwave safe mugs and hope for the best. Hopefully the chocolate will stay a warm enough temperature to work with.
I’m bringing some of my less expensive yet still pretty platters to serve the snacks on, a table cloth, my punch bowl and glasses. If nothing else it should be a pretty sight, and the chocolate covered kids will be much appreciated by their parents at bath time this evening, lol.
Image nicked from here.
Monday, November 12, 2007
May God bless Anna as she begins this important work.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
This is another post from my cache of Helium articles. I love poetry! I find it so disturbing when vulgarities appear in literature and poetry, it just reinforces bad behavior in society, and let's face it, we don't need to go and encourage this sort of language. To view this article on Helium, click here.
The use of profanity in poetry indicates a lack of creativity and a level of immaturity on the part of the writer. Everyone is capable of writing and using obscene words, but that doesn't make everyone a poet. Poetry is an art form, beauty in the written word. The use of expletives is exactly the opposite, it is crass and bane.
A poet searches for the precise words to use to get his message across to the reader. In the creation of a poem, many words are rejected, they don't feel right. The sound isn't sensuous or the rhythm is wrong. Sometimes the locution and cadence work, but the word choice is off and the poet goes on the hunt. Settling for swearing is like selling out. Why use such low language in a literary art form? A poet is called upon to do better, and if he cannot rise above the riffraff, he is neither creative, nor a poet.
Finding alternatives to foul language is not always easy. Anyone who has tried to break bad speaking habits can attest to the difficulty of the task. But the poet is called upon to be a master of language, a professional in phrasing. The poet has time to think, rework, and rewrite. It is part of the passion, and poets are indeed, very passionate people.
Some will mistake profanity for passion, thinking the only way to express deep rooted, intense emotion is through the use of inappropriate language. Occasionally the poet is attempting to write for shock value through profanity. This exhibits a level of immaturity in thought and expression and ought to be avoided.
It may be necessary to cause a reader discomfort through poetry. It may even be desirable to manipulate morphemes to bring your audience along the emotional journey you would like. Finding synonyms, working with metaphor and simile, using alliteration and punctuation, these are all far more effective than assaulting and offending through the use of blasphemy or other four letter words.
There are many tools in the belt of a poet who is masterful at his craft. Many like to call themselves poets. Few achieve greatness in the field. Time spent studying the tricks of the trade is time well spent. The satisfaction of expressing your ideas and conveying your message in an unusual and thought provoking manner cannot be matched. The elation of a completed poem, the perfection, brings peace and joy to your soul.
Even a disturbing poem, well written, provides some serenity for the poet, because some emotion or event has been worked out through the process, and the poet can release it. Profanity exercises neither intellect nor imagination. The ugliness can never bring peace to your soul. Profanity has no place in poetry.
As you may recall, I started this blog with the intention of practicing my writing for a portfolio. A venue for sharpening my skills if you will, as well as a place to record what I’ve written. I also write quite a bit on Helium, though I haven’t written much in a while as I get rather frustrated with the whole rating system. They’ve improved quite a few things since I’ve written there this past summer, so perhaps I ought to give it a go once again.
Reading, however, has always been a passion of mine. At one point in my adult life, after years of neglecting my passion in favor of being a wife and mother, I was advised by a medical professional (of all people!!) to pick up my passion once again. After great grief, one needs to fall back on the things which provide comfort. For me, aside from my faith which is the greatest comforter, I find reading and writing to be relaxing, enjoyable, fulfilling, and it brings peace to my soul. It is also something entirely for me, which as a mother of a large family, me has been a bit neglected these past two decades.
So, what have I been reading? I’ve been reading through the classics. Well, obviously that is a rather long list, I’ve been making a dent in them. I have also been doing a lot of spiritual reading, which seems to be cyclical for me. I do not read spiritual books all of the time, but I often have one going along with some great work of literature. I am looking forward to reading a book about St. John Vianney which has been recommended to me. If I had to choose a favorite saint, he would be among my top favorites.
Also on my reading list of late was Harry Potter. I’ve already explained in an earlier post why I felt the need to read those books. I was surprised at how good the story was. One advantage I had was I read the books straight through. One disadvantage of doing that is the series really penetrated my thoughts for the two or three weeks it took me to read the seven books. I suffered through the first book, really didn’t enjoy it too much. Somewhere in the third book my interest was piqued, then I was hooked. The story is rather dark, definitely for a teenager and not for the young, but it was entertaining. There are some people who shouldn’t read this series, that is for the family to decide, but I enjoyed them myself. Surprise, surprise.
Upon a suggestion from Mary over at Against All Heresies, I’ve recently read the Maximum Ride books by James Patterson, also a current teen series. I must admit the story was compelling, dealing with genetic experimentation on humans. The heroine of the story is a girl named Maximum Ride, and she is a genetic experiment where they injected avian DNA into her making her bones lighter, her eyesight like an eagle, and she has wings which work, so she can fly. Patterson’s writing style was in teen-speak. I found the books to be a VERY fast read. I think I read all three of them in less than 48 hours. I didn’t care for the writing style very much, but the subject of genetic experimentation was handled in a way that would make teens pause and think. For that accomplishment, Patterson is to be commended.
More to my taste, however, I’ve just finished A Room With A View by E.M. Forster. This one really tugs at your heart strings, and also illustrates quite vividly why honesty is the best policy. The classics are more interesting to me, I think, because even the most indelicate subjects are handled tastefully, no vulgar descriptions, one doesn’t tend to learn new obscenities to spew in a moment of anger. Bound into the same volume are two more novels by E.M. Forster. I am currently reading Howards End. I’m not far enough into the story to comment on it really. I think I’m likely to pass on Maurice, the third of the stories. Has anyone read that one? It doesn’t seem like one I would much care to read.
But of all the books I’ve been reading lately, my hands down favorite has been The Books of Pellinor. I thought I wouldn’t like The Crow, as it is primarily about Maerad’s brother and I was disappointed at the thought of not continuing Maerad’s story. But, as it turns out, this third installation was excellent. Just as good as the first two, it really fleshes out Hem, Maerad’s brother, who is much more important to the story than was originally realized. Between Potter and Pellinor I’m developing a taste for fantasy stories where I never would have predicted.
Coming back round to writing, all of this literature (some definitely better than others) is starting to plant seeds into my head. Little story ideas are beginning to grow. I’ve always felt there is a story in me somewhere, ever since I was a little girl I expected I would write a book. I always thought it would be a creative non-fiction piece, but now I wonder if I’m not going to end up writing some teen fiction. There is so much trash out in the market these days, it is no wonder kids don’t want to read anymore. This is where my thoughts have been of late, while my computer is acting up, I’m reading and apparently forming ideas for some phantom book I hope will come into existence one day. If the seeds start to take root and grow, you all will be among the first to know! God bless!
Note: The image above is a live link back to the company where you can buy that lovely stationery set.