Thursday, November 28, 2013

Giving Thanks {Giver + Receiver}

Someone recently quipped that Thanksgiving was 'all about abundance' and cited the number of pies Bridget bakes for the feast as exhibit A for the abundance argument.  Truth be told, I bake quite a few pies for this celebration.  I love pie.  My mom always baked pies for my birthday cakes, but I digress.

The heart of our celebration today centers on 'giving' Someone.  Getting stuffed on seasonal delicacies and saturated with televised sporting entertainment may be the hallmarks of the day in many American families, but the true meaning still remains: We give Thanks to God for His abundant blessings.
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me . . . Mark then you who forget God, lest I rend and there be none to deliver. He who brings thanksgiving as his sacrifice honors me. To him who orders his way aright, I will show the salvation of God. ~Psalm 50:14-15, 22-23

What better place to thank God than in His holy house, the Church?  The word Eucharist means thanksgiving, and by God's grace our family will begin this secular holiday within God's house, praising Him and receiving Him in holy Eucharist.  The rest of the holiday is, as they say, gravy.
The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating or drinking, but of justice, peace, and the joy that is given by the Holy Spirit. Whoever serves Christ in this way pleases God and wins the esteem of men. Let us, then, make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another. ~Romans 14:17-19
I give my humble thanks to God:
  • For the gift of life and faith given to me by my parents in cooperation with our Lord who gave His life to save me from my sins
  • For the gift of eternal life offered through my baptism and renewed through frequent sacraments, especially Holy Communion and confession; for the Holy Catholic Church
  • For the gift of our marriage, and my husband's infant baptism on the same day as my own
  • For our children Zachary, Joseph, and Peter; for our other pregnancies and miscarriages
  • For our parents, grandparents, siblings, families, Godparents, priests, and the Church Triumphant ~ the saints in heaven
  • For our Godchildren, foster children, spiritual children and their families
  • For our friends, prayer warriors, benefactors, students, teachers, readers, employees, contacts, Scouting and home schooling families, 
  • For the Fraternal Society of Saint Peter (FSSP), Benedictines, Carmelites, Passionists, Dominicans, for our Seattle Archdiocese, and our parishes
  • For our health, home and daily sustenance
  • For our freedom and for those who defend true freedom and the right to life for every human being
  • For Truth

I offer thanksgiving to Almighty God for the many and varied resources so readily available to build up my faith and deepen my knowledge of the Truth:

The Holy Bible
Divine Intimacy
Divine Office 
Church Militant TV
Father Z's blog 
Audio Sancto Sermon Series
The Holy See
Spiritual Food for Thought
Father Broom's podcasts
Father Jim Northrop's podcasts
Father Lappe's homilies
Father Hollowell's blog
Father MacRae's blog
The Radical Life
Divine Mercy: Saint Faustina's Diary

And lest I forget, there is one last thing to be especially thankful for on this day:

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eagle Scout Board of Review {Joseph Passed}

Troop mates Caleb and Joseph await their Eagle Scout Boards of Review.
On one hand, Joseph's formal interview for Eagle Scout Rank resembled a 'rubber stamp' experience for a job well done and completed exactly according to the prescribed formula.  

On the other hand, Joseph's Eagle Scout Board of Review included escalating levels of anxiety and a drawn out suspense-filled wait in the hallway after the lengthy interview with an unfortunate precedence nagging his memory, "The last time I had to wait this long for an answer, it was 'No.'"

Whatcom District's Eagle Coordinator gives board of review and public speaking pointers.
Joseph's Scouting career includes many highlights, including serving as Senior Patrol Leader as well as two-time patrol leader of his Burning Bullfrog Patrol.  Jettisoning his patrol to earn the prestigious National Honor Patrol (twice), Joseph's leadership and his patrol's eagerness to achieve set the bar high for Troop 3's other patrols.  Improved communication skills and self confidence blossomed from his experience as troop scribe and chaplain's aid, and various other positions of leadership along the way.  Strong bonds of friendship and healthy doses of competitive sports and group games inspired Joseph to keep suiting up and showing up throughout his years in the troop.

The community Eagle board panel passed Joseph; Mrs. Quinn was his troop witness, and Tim the proud papa.
Paddling the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit (twice) and hiking the 50 mile North Cascades trek Cross to Ross, along with many other Scouting adventures, Joseph certainly advanced in his leadership and survival skills in the great outdoors as well as the more mundane indoors.  Advancing in character, faithfully living the Scout Oath and Law, and maturing into a fine young man along the trails and trials, Joseph earned the highest rank in Boy Scouts.  When the official application clears the national level, it will be official and Joseph will be awarded the Rank of Eagle Scout.

Congratulations, Joseph!
Congratulations, Caleb!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Home Weekend with a Twist

Peter and Joseph prepare for a ride on Galbraith.

Mountain biking, duck hunting, football viewing, and a pizza dinner were all part of the predictable plans for Peter on his second home weekend this fall.  But the big (tiny) surprise rested in his arms as he welcomed a new foster sister, Angelina.  Peter woke up early with lots of love to share and helped feed and bathe our little visitor at the crack of dawn.  Of course early rising is part of Peter's normal routine at high school seminary, but nevertheless, his willingness to jump right in was heartwarming. 

'Angelina' rests in Peter's arms

Joseph's role as the primary teen assistant around the house is relaxed on Peter's home weekends, so not only does he anxiously await opportunities for fun with his little brother once a month, but also gladly shares the chores and duties.  Joseph, true to his easy going nature, joined Peter for a chanted evening prayer (praying the Psalms) one night, doing his best to follow the unfamiliar routine reverently.

Peter feeds 'Angelina' breakfast.

We celebrated another first for Peter as he moved up the ranks of altar servers at our local parish, accepting Father Altenhofen's invitation to serve as acolyte.  Just as Zachary mentored Joseph a few years ago, Joseph trained Peter before vesting, and stood nearby in the role of cross bearer ready to assist if any situations arose.  Peter handled his new liturgical role with poise and reverence, and took great care to perform his duties properly and not to draw attention to himself.

Peter serves as acolyte at Sunday Mass, behind the scenes at E's baptism.
Peter serves first Mass as acolyte, assisting Father Joseph at the altar as Joseph looks on from the cross bearer seat.

Returning to school Monday evening with a bag of clean laundry and a pile of books, Peter greeted his schoolmates and spent a few minutes in the game room before the bells rang for evening prayer.  As many of the major (college) seminarians had not yet returned from home weekend, several of the high school students, Peter included, were able to pray vespers from within the Benedictine's choir.  Joining the community's Liturgy of the Hours in the abbey church and feasting on home made piroshky (freshly prepared by the high school boys under Father Peter's tutelage) rounded out my monastery drop-off experience quite nicely.  Peter's home weekends really are a blessing for all of us.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Working the Night Shift {Fostering a Newborn}

After Mass on the Feast of Saint Charles Borromeo, we answered a call to take in a newborn whose parents cannot yet take care of her.  Due to a strange 'coincidence,' it seems like Saint Charles himself was involved in this new foster placement, but I'll save the 'communion of saints' story for another day.

For privacy purposes, we shall call her Angelina on the blog.  To answer the most common question: No, we don't know for how long she will be with us.  It could be one week, one month or longer.  The fostering process involves much mystery and many moving parts.  Our prayers (and hopefully yours) go out for little Angelina and for her family at this time of separation and the various trials and tribulations accompanying such an unsettling occurrence.

Within 24 hours of our new foster placement, our friends began showering gifts upon little Angelina.

Speaking of St. Charles...
St. Charles Borromeo, St. Peter Canisius, St. Turibius of Mongrovejo and St. Robert Bellarmine are the only four people mentioned by name at the beginning of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; cited as responsible for the Council of Trent, which gave way to the modern day catechism. Have you ever looked at the Catechism of the Catholic Church?  Inside, the teachings of the Church are clearly taught with Biblical citations throughout.

If your authority on what the Catholic Church teaches includes lapsed and/or poorly catechized Catholics or anti Catholics, there's a good chance you'll be pleasantly surprised when you discover what the Church actually teaches and why.

Recently, someone shared an interesting fact gleaned from a historical study of the reformation.  Another asked in response, "I wonder if you will also study the counter-reformation?"  If studying one side of the great divorce of the Church makes sense, doesn't studying both sides of the huge break seem appropriate?  The documents from the Council of Trent make for some interesting reading:


No one, moreover, so long as he lives this mortal life, ought in regard to the sacred mystery of divine predestination, so far presume as to state with absolute certainty that he is among the number of the predestined,[74] as if it were true that the one justified either cannot sin any more, or, if he does sin, that he ought to promise himself an assured repentance.
St. Charles Borromeo was a key player and brave leader in the counter reformation, and quite an effective reformer within the Church.  He's also a personal friend and a great and powerful intercessor, alive in heaven.  My grade school and parish Church was named in his honor, and I consider him one of my finest teachers.  Thank you, Saint Charles Borromeo; please pray for us!

Friday, November 8, 2013

News from Notre Dame {Zachary's 2nd Year}

Notre Dame; the Golden Dome

About this time last year,  my husband Tim arranged for a surprise return home for Zachary during Notre Dame's fall break.  Although it would have been truly awesome to have a repeat performance this year, it wasn't in the cards, so Zac spent his break week on campus getting caught up on homework and sleep.  His break from the normal university routine allowed for a few extra phone calls, which we enjoyed greatly. 

Rival football fans, Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff visited Zachary at Notre Dame for the Oklahoma University game in October, and proudly sat in the OU section with a crowd of supporters bussed in from Chicago for the big event.  Grandma's Sooners claimed victory, but Zachary's time with his grandparents included many other special moments that were less rivalry and more camaraderie.  Taking a long tour of campus, attending daily Mass together at the Basilica, and eating out off campus were a few of the highlights.  Grandpa's trusty camera bit the dust, and Zachary tends toward photographic minimalism, so unfortunately there are no images to share from their time together at ND. 

Autumn view from Zachary's dorm room in Knott Hall

This year, Zachary joined a few extra curricular clubs, including the Notre Dame men's boxing team.  Early season training focuses on conditioning and sound quite intense; Zachary reports icing up to five different injuries so far.  Training with punches begins soon; please consider this a prayer request.  All for a good cause, the boxing club season culminates with the fundraising event "Bengal Bouts" which supports missionary work in Bangladesh.

On the topic of sophomore year academics, Zachary reports that his philosophy class "Paradoxes" is his favorite.  Second year German studies continue, and Zac's renowned theology professor, Father Daley, S.J., is both teacher of "Conversions" class and a coach for the boxing club.

Zac's view from the stands at a ND hockey game
In six short weeks, our firstborn will return home for Christmas break and share a bit of wintery adventure and family time here in the Pacific Northwest.  Six weeks...six short weeks!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Abbey Visit {High School Seminary Parents' Day}

Peter picks up the flute and joins the high school seminary orchestra.

Some things just feel right, even though difficult, painful, or requiring great sacrifice.  Peter's attending high school seminary this year as an 8th grader is one of those things.  Our family and home school just isn't the same without Peter here, and the past few months adjusting to his absence have been both trying and rewarding.

Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff join Joseph, Peter and Father Peter, rector, after Sunday Mass.

Given that Peter comes home for a few days' stay each month, and that his orthodontic appliances require the occasional visit home for business' sake, we enjoy his company fairly regularly despite the miles and international border that distance us.  Peter uses a phone card and an old fashioned pay phone to call home every so often which offers the gift of instant communication that the one-week+ snail mail routine can't offer.  The students do not have access to the internet, so all other modern forms of staying in touch are out.

Peter, tour guide at Westminster Abbey, BC

A few times each year, the high school seminarian host a performance for parents and families showcasing their orchestra and elocution programs.  Combined with the show, parents are able to visit with the monks who teach the seminarians and receive important feedback about their son(s)' grades, behavior and adjustment to community life at the monastery.

Peter performs on stage in an adaptation of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

An added bonus to any visit to the monastery is the open invitation to join the community for chanted Liturgy of the Hours.  Sounding bells from high above in the abbey's tower alert everyone when the time for prayer draws near.  On our recent visit for Parents' Day festivities, Peter shared his prayer book with his Grandma Billie and Grandpa Cliff, who were visiting the abbey for the first time.

Showing us around the beautiful campus on a break between Mass and midday prayer, Peter shared his favorite viewpoint, hidden away behind the seminary.  We also made a stop at the cemetery, to continue our All Souls Octave prayers for the holy souls in purgatory.  The little cemetery saw many visitors that day on account of this special season of remembrance.

Brothers reunited for the day
Father Peter, harpist, shares his instrument with a seminarian's siblings on Parents' Day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Outgoing T3 Senior Patrol Leader {Joseph's Term Ends}

Joseph prepares the troop meeting agenda one final time on election night.

Not one who clamors for the spotlight, Joseph served well as the leader of his Boy Scout troop for the past six months as the Senior Patrol Leader.  He faithfully organized the meetings and coordinated the outings, including several grand outdoor adventures.  Joseph delegated as needed and made sure all the various moving parts were in order during his half year term.  Mentored diligently by his Scoutmaster/dad, Joseph worked hard behind the scenes to make sure the events ran smoothly and the collective goals and individual requirements could be achieved.

Holding a scepter of power, soon to be passed off
Adding a touch of charm to everything, and always ready with a grin, Joseph's leadership skills blossomed during his term as SPL.  Having completing his Eagle Scout Project and rank application, Joseph will soon face the district board of review to complete the path from Life Scout to Eagle Rank.

Joseph and Connor lead the troop ASPL elections, collecting ballots to be counted in secret.
Game on!
Highlights of Joseph's term as Senior Patrol Leader:
  • Summer camp
  • Cross to Ross 50 miler
  • Aviation Merit Badge
  • Good meetings
  • Submitting Eagle Rank application
Introducing the newly elected troop leaders, Joseph prepares to hand off SPL to Connor.

"It was fun while it lasted and it's good to be done." 
~Joseph, Life Scout & outgoing Senior Patrol Leader

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Never Forget the Dead {All Souls}

Do you give more thought to fallen leaves than to your fallen relatives and friends?  Some of our dearly departed are still awaiting heaven, in a cleansing place called purgatory, and benefit from our prayers and sacrifices on their behalf.

Whether one believes in it or not, purgatory is real and if we end up there we'll wish more people down here were earnestly praying for our release.  On All Souls Day (November 2) the Church commemorates all the faithful departed and we continue to hold them in our prayers in a special way throughout the month of November.

Priests are allowed to offer three Masses on All Souls Day.  Participating in these Masses (though not required) is an honor and a gift we can give the poor souls awaiting heaven. 

Father Saguto, FSSP, offers Mass at Holyrood Catholic Cemetery on All Souls Day.
An altar boy lights the candles surrounding the catafalque on All Souls Day.

Biblical scholar Dr. Scott Hahn gives a straight forward answer to questions surrounding the biblical truths of purgatory in an interview on EWTN's Journey Home.  As a former anti-Catholic and still zealous evangelist, his perspective is especially insightful

Father Vreeland, FSSP, prays absolution over the catafalque at High Mass.

If you've never been to a Solemn High Requiem Mass for All Souls Day, St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, Illinois, uploaded a video of theirs.  Consider it a history lesson in this year of faith.

Today I attended my first High Requiem Mass for All Souls Day at North American Martyrs parish in Seattle.  The Gregorian Chant from the choir loft above sounded heavenly, as always, and the somber tone of the sequence before the Gospel was especially moving.  I posted a short clip (above), which, though a poor amateur recording from the pew, gives a little auditory taste of today's high Mass in Seattle.

Someone once told Venerable Fulton Sheen, "I don't believe in hell."  Rev. Sheen quipped, "You will when you get there."  The same could be said about purgatory, "You'll believe in it if you stop there on your path to heaven." 
 II Mac 12:38-46
Hebrews 12:29 
1 Cor 3

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Heavely Friends {Holy Day}

My best friends, role models, and namesakes are in heaven.  These holy friends are certainly not dead, but living in heaven and stand ready and able to assist me (and you) by their prayers of intercession. 

Today we celebrate and commemorate our heavenly friends on the Solemnity of All Saints.  I wouldn't miss going to Holy Mass today for anything!  I am sad to think of so many Catholic Christians who no longer believe in Holy Days and don't follow the teachings of the Church about the obligation to attend Mass today.  But I get it, for I was once very far from caring one whit about holy days of obligation myself.  Please, God, have mercy.

Today's Divine Office readings included passages from the Book of Revelation (5:1-14) and from a sermon of St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor (+1153).  St. Bernard's sermon so eloquently teaches about the reasons why we celebrate this Feast and invoke the saints' intercession in our daily struggles.  I love that this sermon dates back to the 1100's:

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honors when their heavenly Father honors them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendor with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.  - St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor +1153

Saint Bernard, and ALL SAINTS: Pray for us!