"In fact, woman has a genius all her own,
which is vitally essential to both society and the Church." --John Paul II

Monday, December 13, 2010

YMCA Says Santa Is Contraversial Figure

Ho, ho, ho...Frosty? Really?

Secular Santa Is 
Politically Incorrect

I don't get it! What's so funny?

 See what I have to say about it:
Faith on the High Wire

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Prayer request for a tiny saint's family

In August, baby Gianna's mother wrote....

We were ushered out of the room and into the perinatologist’s office who confirmed what the other lady had told us. She called it Trisomy 13.
I had been praying to St. Gianna Molla since finding out I was pregnant and had thought that if it was a girl we should call her Gianna.

Gianna was born on Friday night and lived for forty-five minutes. Her short life was spent in baptismal innocence, basking in her family's love. Please pray for her grieving family.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Does the Pill remake the brain?

Progesterone and estrogen are steroid hormones, and can cause changes in the very structure of the brain.   The Pill works by overriding a woman's natural hormonal cycles and replacing them with artificial hormones on an artificial cycle.  Gee!  What could go wrong?

It turns out that the brain is a veritable sponge for steroid hormones....
Whereas the subtle structural effects of naturally-occurring steroid hormones and sex differences in the brain have been extensively studied, few studies have examined the role of synthetic hormones on changes in the human brain.  What happens, then, when the female brain gets a significant and artificial dose of steroid hormone, either progesterone, estrogen or both?...

 It appears that the brain, that sensitive organ replete with steroid receptors, reacts to its hormonal milieu with startling structural modifications.  ....women using hormonal contraceptives showed larger gray matter volumes in the prefrontal cortex, pre- and postcentral gyri, the parahippocampal and fusiform gyri and temporal regions, when compared to naturally cycling women. The brain works like a neural beehive; the proper coordinated functioning of groups of tasked neurons are important to successfully accomplish a variety of mental tasks -- even the sensory processing and motor coordination needed for something as simple as picking up a hot cup of coffee without scalding oneself. Again, we do not know whether this increased gray matter translates into better or worse performance, but there likely is little good about treating a woman's brain like a spongy accordion.  

How could we have seen that coming?

....a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

-- Humanae Vitae II.17 (emphasis added)

Spotted at Aliens in this world

Thursday, September 30, 2010

When the Feminine Geniuses get together, there is always fun, food and lively discussion. Such was the case this morning over coffee at my home. It had been a long time since we had gotten together, almost the entire summer. We were well overdue for a little fellowship. So, I laid out the master plan to have the coffee here and to make a wonderful array of offerings.

We all know what happens to the best laid plans, right? It never happens the way you hope. I had one child come down with a rabid sinus infection that has left her exhausted and feeling weak and cranky -- and, home from school, but thankfully not contagious. So, outside of needing to rearrange life for doctor's appointments and pharmacy visits, I found myself only slightly behind in preparation for the get together.

I was able to get the house tidied, and do the necessary shopping for the treats I had in mind. But, priorities being what they are, I didn't have time last night to do the prep work for the savory chorizo frittata that I hoped to bring to the table today. That will have to wait for the next coffee.

To add an additional challenge to the idea of having friends over for coffee, I decided to start Weight Watchers again this past Monday. So, I tried to make something that wouldn't be too outrageous to my points plan and still taste amazing! The Apple Puff I made came out to be only 4 points per serving! YIPEE!

Here's the recipe:

Apple Puff

1 pkg of puff pastry, thawed
8 granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 1 inch bite sized pieces
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp smart balance buttery spread, cut up into pieces
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
2 mandarine oranges -- zest and juice only
pinch salt
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup Craisins
1/8 cup pecan pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees; in a large bowl, mix apples and next 10 ingredients; while apple mixture rests, roll out one puff pastry onto a greased baking sheet to approx 9 x12 in., place apple filling in a large mound on the center of the puff pastry; on a large, ligthly floured cutting board, roll out second sheet of puff pastry to approx. the same size as the first; place on top of the filling and fold over the edges to seal, then crimp with a fork around the perimeter; cut two to three vent holes in the top of the pastry to allow steam to escape; bake at 400 for 10 min., then lower the oven temp to 375 for the remaining 30 min.; remove from oven when golden brown and allow to cool for about 10 min.

Wow, was this a big hit! And, somehow a wonderful apple puff, joined with the baked goodies that the other ladies brought, set the stage for not only a satisfying visit, but lively conversation, as well. Politics, religion, you name it, everything is fair game at an FG coffee. We're downright fearless in thwarting the rule of avoiding taboo topics at a friendly gathering! And, interesting doesn't even begin to describe the conversation that ensued.

I had a wonderful time and just can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Blessed Mother

As I was at Mass this morning, the priest mentioned how we typically celebrate in the Mass the birth of a person into eternal life, not their birth into earthly life. He said we commemorate Mary's birth because her being born into the world had both spiritual and temporal implications that were staggering. Through her, the gates of heaven were able to open once again for man in the Birth, Life and Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ Jesus. Her fiat was a necessary and pivotal moment in salvation history and in the history of mankind.

On this Feast Day of her birth, let us remind ourselves of how fortunate we are to have had a woman chosen from all women who was willing to reverse the mistake of the fallen Eve; who could say YES out of love and humility. Let us in our birthday wishes, ask her to give us a gift -- the gift of her constant intercession for us to become holy.

Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother.

All that I am is Thine and all that I have is Thine,
through Mary, Thy Holy Mother!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's Sarah Up To?

Feminine Genius?

Or, just bravado?

Drudge Report: Look Who's Going to Iowa!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

100 Years Ago Blessed Mother Teresa Entered the World

Aug. 26, 1910 - 5 Sept. 1997

Visit this beautiful site to learn more about this amazing women who understood feminine genius in all it's complexity and simplicity.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Assumption Swizzle

I posted my Seven Quick Takes over at Pansy & Peony, including a link to a seasonal refreshment: the Assumption Swizzle.

The Dominican Sisters and Oprah: Encore Presentation

Did you miss the Dominican Sisters when they rocked Oprah in February?

Well, you'll have another chance is coming up on Monday, August 16, when the episode will be repeated.  Check, as they say, your local listings.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Please pray for Kathy and her son....

...poor Eddie has pneumonia.

Update:  Discharged!  But follow-up prayers never hurt. :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Does "Christian" YA lit still send the wrong message?

Over at First Things, David Mills discusses an article about the success of Christian YA lit written for girls, and how it seems that these books have gone from being unbearably preachy to... perhaps a little too subtle?

From [article author Ruth] Graham’s description, these new girls’ books don’t in fact seem particularly Christian, unless Christianity is reduced to a certain code of behavior.
In the newest books, old-fashioned values are embraced for newfangled reasons. Modesty is endorsed, not because of shame, but because of self-respect and practicality: Protagonist DJ in Spring Breakdown opts for a one-piece swimsuit over a teensy bikini because, “I like to swim. And I like to move around.” Besides, another character reflects later, “Sometimes subtle is sexy.”
That is true, but it is not modesty.It’s the opposite. Practicality is not modesty either. None of these reasons, nor those mentioned elsewhere in the story, are actually “Christian values,” even though they support decisions Christians would generally approve. They’re aren’t really “old-fashioned values” either, as that term is usually understood....  If Graham is right, these writers have merely taken the lessons they want to teach and found practical or worldly reasons for them.

Thoughts?  I wonder if, in the end, it would be better for kids to read a good secular book than to read a book with the subtle message "Christian living is practical!"  

(Off topic, I think it's kind of funny that many of the intended young readers of these books are probably being taught to reject the "works righteousness"of the Catholic Church.

Please do not start trying in the comments box to convince me to reject "works righteousness"; that topic has been flogged to death plenty of other places.  Besides, I need to unload the dishwasher.)

Friday, July 2, 2010

Catholic Distance University

Well, what do you know?...I had no idea that this video was up on Youtube...Fun surprise! I'm not so happy with the goofy look on my face, but I'll not let pride get the better of me. All in the service of God -- even if I have to look goofy!!!

This was produced a couple of years ago and was presented at the annual gala.

God bless, Catholic Distance University!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nancy's favorite word

Oh, Nancy....

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Vivid Example of Feminine Genius

A true sign of Feminine Genius lies in the understanding that life is sacred and deserves dignity because all life is made in the image and likeness of God.

Signora Bocelli displayed Feminine Genius! Watch and listen:

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Every 28 Days Or So...

it is necessary for faithful women friends to gather. There's a camaraderie in that fellowship that makes fully living and practicing the Catholic Faith seem not so "outside reality" -- at least that's how the culture views it. But, it is real, more real that what we experience in the world. It is the filter through which we assess everything around us. And, every 28 days or so, we cycle through a new set of stories to include joys, trials, new adventures and down right aggravations -- from politics to hairstyles -- the aggravations make us laugh the most.

Laughing -- that is key. I know many notable saints frowned on the excesses of joviality -- I wonder if monastic life might have seemed more pleasant with a smile on one's face. We all have different paths to perfection, thank God -- mine must include laughing, because if I didn't laugh, I'd be headed in a more southerly route.

Humor does abound at our coffees; we take ourselves just a little less seriously. We do, however, always manage to have serious discussions through the laughter. It's unbelievable, but true. I always seem to come away with several nuggets of wisdom and information that I need or that may have otherwise escaped me. I am particularly grateful for this!

And as for shared empathy -- my world always seems just a little more manageable when I know that I am not alone in the antics of my hectic life. This might fall under "misery loves company" but, I would prefer to look at it this way: we're here to support one another and muddle through it all as joyfully as possible. And, this is why I so look forward to my coffee once a month with the Feminine Geniuses.

I am reminded of Psalm 126:
A song of ascents. When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, then we thought we were dreaming.

Our mouths were filled with laughter; our tongues sang for joy. Then it was said among the nations, "The LORD had done great things for them."

The LORD has done great things for us; Oh, how happy we were!

Restore again our fortunes, LORD, like the dry stream beds of the Negeb.

Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy.

Those who go forth weeping, carrying sacks of seed,

Will return with cries of joy, carrying their bundled sheaves.
I know that, at least once a month, I need to be reminded of the great things the Lord has done for me and that the heavy lifting that we all do as wives and mothers will be shared in our stories of joys and sorrows.

I know that, at least once a month, we will be restored. Once again, "our mouths will be filled with laughter" and we "will return with cries of joy" because the Lord has done great things for us. We just need to come together and lift each other up in that fact.

I love my coffee with the Feminine Geniuses. I can't wait for next month -- or sooner if we can manage!

Thank you, ladies!

Oh, Brother -- Or Should I Say, Deacon's Wife!?

I am constantly pressing the laity to know the Faith. It is their right to be taught correctly. It is their job to demand it -- respectfully, of course. First, you must know some of what you are missing -- please, visit me at Faith on the High Wire and search "laity" to see what you can do to become a more informed member of the Church Militant!

As for the Deacon's Wife -- Feminine Genius FAIL!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seriously? -- Seriously!

Can the USCCB please vet the organizations to which they choose to be affiliated? For goodness sakes, how are we supposed to take their leadership seriously on issues of morality if they don't know what the coalitions they support are up to, such as lobbying for pro-abort & homosexual agendas.

USCCB Belongs to Pro-Abort Coalition Supporting

Kagan with Video Ad

LifeSiteNews.com & Deal Hudson deserve a big thank you for bringing this to the surface!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Planned Parenthood Mother's Day: what next?

Just a quick note -- if you or someone who know is grieving this Mother's Day for a child lost to abortion, please consider a visit to http://afterabortion.blogspot.com/.  Emily and Amy know this grief.  They have information about dozens of organizations that are ready to help.  

And please be assured of our prayers.

Celebrate Mother's Day the Planned Parenthood Way

Generations for Life tells us how (with a hat tip to Barbara Curtis for the link):

This morning, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards sent an e-mail to supporters encouraging them to celebrate Mother’s Day by — how else? — giving money to Planned Parenthood:

Supporter — It’s almost Mother’s Day … and if you have a mother in your life who’s anything like me or my mom (the late Texas Governor Ann Richards), then you know nothing would make her happier than a gift that represents bold and compassionate values. Like a gift in her honor to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. We’ve made it quick and easy — and we’ve even made it pretty.

Kind of a mixed message, don't you think?  "Hey, Mom, guess what?  I'm going to honor your gift of life by helping other women kill their children!"

Sorry, there's no way to make this pretty.  Even a vacuum cleaner with a pink bow on it would be better.  I'd recommend flowers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Arguing Semantics Over Polygomy?

The art of semantics is apparently alive and well in France, at least in one Muslim man. A naturalized French citizen, he wishes to rationalize the fact that he has several wives by saying he has but one wife and three mistresses. Polygomy is in violation of French law to which he is now subject as a citizen. President Sarkozy may be grasping at straws to get this bit of moral indignation to fly in his country -- no one in France seems too concerned about the keeping of mistresses, at least according the article. To read the whole story for yourself visit Life Site News.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Anniversary Pope Benedict XVI

Today marks the 5th Anniversary of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Dr. Robert Royal at The Catholic Thing, writes a tribute, of sorts, to the pope. It is intelligent, insightful and right on target describing the person of Benedict XVI with honor and respect.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

National Day of Prayer Unconstitutional

I would like someone to please show me an article or an amendment in the Constitution that addresses the constitutionality of a national day of prayer. US District Judge Barbara Crabb wrote in her decision, "In this instance, the government has taken sides on a matter that must be left to individual conscience." (read the whole article at LifeSiteNews.com) The government is not knocking down doors and forcing people to pray a national prayer. They are allowing for a day that recognizes religious freedom. What is unconstitutional about that? Was that no small part of the basis for our founding as a nation?

Another instance of Feminine Genius FAIL!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Art of Wearing a Scarf

If you are scarf-impaired like I am, you might find this Talbots video helpful.  (Still not sure how many of these looks are good for those of us who are short of neck.)

HT:  The Church Ladies

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

FG Fail: "Bare Chested Equality"

Kathy has a post about two dozen women in Portland, Maine, who did something very brave about a very important social issue:  they put on a march.  A topless march.  Something about equal standards for public nudity.  It's not a legal issue; apparently it's legal for women to go topless in Maine, so they can be denied service at the ice-cream stand just like shirtless men are.

So I guess they're protesting social expectations, because the idea that women should put on at least a bikini top at the beach (you know, two triangles of fabric and two strings) instead of lying around in the nude is OPPRESSIVE and it's just one step from there to a burqa yada yada yada.  (Meanwhile, it seems to me that men and boys are covering up more at the beach -- more long baggy trunks and loose shirts, or those bodysuits.  Guess they haven't gotten the message that they're being oppressed.)

I somehow doubt these silly females intended their topless protest to be taken seriously.  I just wanted to put up a FAIL post.

Think Delilah's just striking back against the patriarchy because she has to wear her little tube top?  You GO girl!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Husband to a Saint: Pietro Molla has died

Pietro Molla, husband of St Gianna Molla, died on Holy Saturday at the age of 97.  He will be buried tomorrow. 

Gianna is best known for her heroic choice for life, enduring a complicated pregnancy to bring her daughter Giana Emanuela to term. (Interestingly, it was on a Holy Saturday that Gianna gave birth to little Giana. Gianna died a week later, on Easter Saturday.)

After the death of his wife, Pietro was left to bring up their four children, all under the age of five.  One of those children died two years later.

What kind of man lives to see his wife canonized?   Gianna's vocation as mother blossomed out of her vocation as wife.  Perhaps it's worth learning more about Mr Molla and about Gianna's life with him.

St Gianna, pray for Pietro and for us.  May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Regina Caeli

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Terri Schiavo

Theresa Marie Schindler Schiavo
Dehydrated and starved to death
by order of the State of Florida's Sixth Judicial Circuit Court

Thursday, March 25, 2010


John Collier, The Annunciation

Litany of St. Gabriel the Archangel on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of Our Lord

Litany of St. Gabriel

Lord, have mercy on us. Christ, have mercy on us. Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary , Queen of Angels, pray for us.
Saint Gabriel, glorious Archangel, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, strength of God, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, who stands before the throne of God, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, model of prayer, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, herald of the Incarnation, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, who revealed the glories of Mary, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, Prince of Heaven, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, ambassador of the Most High, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, guardian of the Immaculate Virgin, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, who foretold the greatness of Jesus, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, peace and light of souls, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, scourge of unbelievers, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, admirable teacher, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, strength of the just, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, protector of the faithful, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, first adorer of the Divine Word, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, defender of the Faith, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, zealous for the honor of Jesus Christ, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, whom the Scriptures praise as the Angel sent by God to Mary, the Virgin, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, blessed Archangel Gabriel,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Jesus Christ.

Let Us Pray: O blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, intercede for us at the throne of Divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in Heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How to Pray for the Nation

Don't miss this post from the Anchoress, as she shares advice from a reader:

“God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved.”

So I try every day now to pray for the salvation of the president, all members of Congress, and the American people. I cast my cares upon the Lord.

We are in a deeper battle here, which you well know . . . I also think in the end this all has to do with the salvation of souls, including the souls of our president and these politicians who deign to rule over the rest of us. I think we who believe must hold fast to Christ, the True Center, and bring as many along with us as possible.

The Anchoress comments,

Yes. How perfectly right. God’s will will always be for the salvation of the individual involved. And it follows that the salvation of the individual involved will lie in that individual’s conforming him/herself to the Word and Will of God.

Chew on that, for a while.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Who is the archetypal feminine anti-genius?

If I'm going to snark on Feminine Genius FAIL then I need to come up with a graphic. So who should get the nod?

  • Medea?
  • Margaret Sanger?
  • Elizabeth I?
  • Lady MacBeth?

Your nominations, please! Lurkers are especially encouraged to comment....

Feminine Genius FAIL: Nancy Pelosi

"Today is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, particularly important to Italian-Americans. It’s a day where we remember and pray to St. Joseph to benefit the workers of America, and that’s exactly what our health-care bill will do. … Every order [of nuns] that you can think of was there [on a list of endorsements], saying they wanted us to pass this life-affirming legislation." -- Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, 19 March 2010

"...women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling."  --closing message of the Second Vatican Council

So:  Feminine Genius FAIL as well.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Not even Irish?

I realize this is a day late, but it still needs telling.
When I was in the work force BC (before children), I had the pleasure of working with many lovely and well meaning people. I remember one young fellow in particular of the Protestant variety. It was St. Patrick's Day, and a Monday to boot, and he was wearing ORANGE. (I must confess, that I, too, used to wear it, but I am all GREEN now.)

I couldn't let that go, so I approached him and recounted how I used to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day and now I'm Catholic and understand what a great gift this holy man was to the Church and the world and I'm proud to wear my green.

He responded with, "Oh, you deluded Catholics. You just believe everything the Pope tells you. Why are the Irish so excited about St. Patrick? He wasn't even Irish!" And he walked off. A little later, I pointed out that most missionaries aren't from the country they serve, and this was true of the good Bishop for sure.

I have no idea if that made any difference to him. But it was a painful reminder of my own ignorance of the faith before my conversion to Catholicism. Once I understood the true teachings of the Church, there was no denying the One True Faith.

So I wear my green with pride on St. Patrick's Day. And my littlest child wore a Bishop's Mitre to the public school St. Patrick's Day parade, not a silly leprechaun hat. Seemingly small witnesses of the Faith can have real power to those who might otherwise never hear the Truth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Peony's St Patrick's Day Menu

Peony: bringing the authentic!

Afternoon snack:  
Baked Tostitos and picante sauce
Kerrygold Dubliner cheese

Beef and Guinness Stew -- on the stove
Soda Bread -- if I can get in in the oven in the next half hour

Just remembered that I polished off the Bailey's last night.  How do you say D'oh! in Irish?

Kathy's St. Patrick's Day Menu

Corned Beef & Cabbage -- in the slow cooker

Black & Tans -- 1/2 Guinness & 1/2 Harp mixed
Irish Soda Bread -- homemade!
Boiled Potatoes -- with butter and parsley

What's on your St. Patrick's Day menu?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Speaking of Butter... (free cookbook download!)

Deal Seeking Mom brings news of a free download of a cookbook by Rachel Allen ("one of the hottest TV chefs in Ireland", per Harper Collins) (and it's really an abridged version with recipes "selected by Kerrygold", but it's still free.)

The coupon code is KGLD-0319-2010-RACB and is good for the first 10,000 downloads. (Well, only 9,999 at most; I've already downloaded my copy.)

x-posted to Pansy & Peony

mmmm..... butter....

The Geniuses loooove butter!  TipNut has some tips on cooking and baking with butter up today, including the answer to the question of how much is a "knob" of butter, anyway?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Feminine Genius in History

Whether you're looking for spiritual reading during Lent or a book for your summer vacation, I highly recommend Isabel of Spain: The Catholic Queen by Warren Carroll.

This wonderful book reads like an adventure novel rather than a dry work of historical dates and facts. Dr. Carroll makes real and compelling the extraordinary events of Isabel's life and times. The reader feels a powerful connection to Isabel across 500 years. Like all saints* of the Church, she becomes accessible as a friend.

Queen Isabel of Spain, in partnership with her husband Fernado, raised five children while managing to unite her fractured and fractious country, finally vanquish the Moorish invaders who had occupied Spain for 770 years, and launch Christopher Columbus on the expedition that would forever change the world. And she did it all in humble service to and for the love of Our Lord her God.

Perhaps more remarkably, Isabel so thoroughly reformed the Church in Spain that it withstood the Protestant Revolution virtually untouched and completely intact.

Dr. Carroll's extensive documentation of the almost unbelieveable events of Isabel's life and reign assure the reader that these accomplishments are indeed fact. This magnificent book is a must read for those seeking proof of the Feminine Genius. It is a beautiful confirmation of the earthly potential of every woman who puts her faith in God and His Church.

*While Isabel has not yet been cannonized, I share Dr. Carroll's hope that she will be 'St. Isabel' one fine day. Check out Daughters of Isabella for more information.

Friday, March 12, 2010

St Frances of Rome says....

"A married woman must often leave God at the altar to find Him in her household care."

Source: the Women for Faith and Family Facebook page.

Note to self: get their magazine.

Sleep -- So Nice to Sleep!

Have you ever been So tired that you just must sleep -- but, you can't?

Sometimes I will go for days without sleeping well, or at all. I have tried herbal remedies and concoctions. While they work for some people, one actually caused me kidney stones. Thank you, I'd rather not sleep than go through that again!

I've also tried the prescription medications that are touted as being able to give you a pleasant night's sleep. Have you ever listened to the side effects? Dry mouth, headaches, nausea, feelings of grogginess, suicidal thoughts. Thank you, I rather not sleep than go through that again!

I am of the mind that sometimes it just takes an event to change the sleep pattern -- even if that pattern is caused by hormones. I just had a vicious stomach virus in my family. There was, of course, very little sleep happening, especially when it hit me.

Since the virus has resolved, I have experienced a better sleep than I have had in years. Now, I am not suggesting that we with insomnia all go out and get stomach viruses. But, I do think that there is a connection between the behavior, the change in brain chemistry and the resetting of my sleep clock!

This is just an opinion piece with nothing to back it up beyond my personal experience. I am going to try and look at some of the science later -- now that I've had some sleep. (smile!)

Right now, I plan to start my day in a pleasant mood, reflect on Scripture with my Bible Ladies, and enjoy the rest of the day with my kids who are off from school today. Thank you, Lord --it's nice to feel rested.

Has anyone else with insomnia experienced this same change of sleep pattern as a result of an increase of activity or illness? I'd be really curious to know.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Bishop Loverde to his flock: "Prayer and Fasting this Monday"

From the Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington to his flock:

I invite you to take part in a day of prayer and fasting on Monday, March 15 for protecting the life, dignity, health and conscience rights of every human person in any legislation that Congress considers. I also invite Catholics to pray and fast for this intention beyond March 15.

In moments of concern and crisis, Catholic tradition through the centuries has unfailingly urged the faithful to turn to the spiritual aids of prayer and fasting in order to draw closer to our Lord and His will. Through these deliberate actions, we communicate a desire to avoid sin and unify ourselves with that which is right and good. I firmly believe that, working together while open to God’s wisdom, the citizens of our nation can respect the dignity of each human person both in law and in practice.

The complete letter online

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Feast of St Frances of Rome

Poor Frances!  Born in 1384, by the age of eleven she was sure that God was calling her to be a nun.  However, her father was sure Frances was being called to marry (after all, he had arranged the marriage.)

In an effort to do God's will, she finally consented to the marriage.  Her new husband was from a noble family, which meant that the new bride was thrust into Rome's high society.  Doing God's will now meant living up to her mother-in-law's standards of what a society wife should be: attending banquets and paying calls and entertaining.

To her surprise, though, Frances found a kindred spirit in her sister-in-law.  Together they prayed and did works of charity, while performing the roles expected by their family.  When famine came to Rome, they shared as much as they could with the poor.  Frances's father-in-law took exception to her generosity -- how could she give away all their stores when there was a famine on! -- until the contents of the family's granary and wine cask were found to be miraculously replenished.

Over the course of her life, God granted Frances visions (often, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, "in the form of drama enacted for her by heavenly personages.")  She was also given the favor of being able to see her guardian angel (who at one point advised her to lay off the bread-and-water and the hair shirt).

Frances continued to persist in her trust in God and in her generosity to the poor through hard years of war and invasion.  She eventually founded the Oblates of Mary, a lay order for women attached to a Benedictine monastery.   After she was widowed, she moved to the Oblates' house to live in community with the other widows of the order:  religious life at last!  She died at the age of fifty-six.

Catholic Online, my main source, has much more about Saint Frances, including this lovely prayer:

Saint Frances of Rome,
help us to see the difference between what we want to do
and what God wants us to do.
Help us to discern what comes from our will
and what comes from God's desire. Amen.

Especially when God's desire comes in a way we're not expecting....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Little Irish Stew among Friends

Today, a few of the Geniuses got together for food and fun. We had delicious (if I do say so myself) Irish Stew from this month's Cooking Light magazine.

The stew was very easy to make. I used all two tablespoons of raisins from the little single serve box. Peony is here with me and reminds me that we just couldn't wait that extra hour for the simmer, so we shortened the cook time. But other than that, we were by the book. Oh, and there was the matter of the beer. I bought Guinness Stout instead of Draught.

OK, so there were a few modifications. But it still hit the spot. And we didn't even drink the rest of the beer!

Nine levels of prayer

Part one of a series at The Divine Life

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Take Up Your Cross -- A Lenten Reflection

My life is hard, I'll be honest. I have six children, one with significant special needs and five others with their own chronic health issues. I have had my own serious health issues and other trials over the years that have made living my vocation challenging. I have a heavy cross to bear, so shouldn't I be whining about taking on another penance during Lent? Don't I already suffer enough?

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Lk 9:23)

This passage reminds me of an email I received a couple of years ago that spoke about a man who wished to trade in his cross because it was too big. He went into a large hall to examine other crosses and chose one that was small and easy to carry. He journeyed through out his life contented with the small cross until it was time to pass over into heaven, he found that he needed to bridge a large chasm between this world and the next. His new, self-appointed cross was too small to help him get to heaven. Of course it was, that was not his cross to bear -- he had rejected the cross that was meant for him by God.

The Lord Jesus also tells us that we should take on the yoke of obedience, His yoke, and he will provide rest for our weary and burdened souls. (Cf. Mt 11:28-30) So, to find rest in Christ Jesus, we need to follow Him, offer ourselves in service and do penance to make up for offenses that we have committed against the Body of Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers this: "Taking up one's cross each day and following Jesus is the surest way of penance." (CCC 1435)
Penance is a burden of love. It is a chance to offer back just that little bit more; to show Christ that, not only will I carry the cross He has given me, but I will add a little weight to it by choice. It doesn't have to be anything substantial, just a small act of love that deprives the senses of some pleasure. In this way we atone for those sins that harm the honor of God and add to Christ's Passion.

I want to come after Jesus. I want to be obedient and take up my cross. The weight of my cross is perfect for me because it was chosen for me by God. I don't despair over the cross that I have, because I do not carry it alone. I have the aid of my guardian angel who is there to protect and guide me; the holy saints in the Church triumphant, whose Queen is the Blessed Virgin, who bolster me on this journey with their prayers; the Lord Himself, Who in His mercy desires that I should be with Him for eternity.

So, no whining or lamenting -- I will take up my cross this Lent, adding just a little extra burden of love. I will do it because it is my hope to be with Jesus in heaven. I will do it with joy knowing that each little effort lessens the pain of Christ Crucified, who takes our sins upon Himself so that we may be saved.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kennedy & Bayh Resignations -- Political Climate Change?

For the past week or so, Patrick Kennedy's announcement not to seek re-election for his congressional seat in Rhode Island has been on my mind. I have crafted a couple of blog posts that just seemed inadequate to the matter at hand, so I deleted them. Then the other day, I was driving along with my husband and we were listening to the news on the radio. The report was about Senator Bayh, Democrat from Indiana, deciding not to seek re-election in 2010.

"What could be going on here?" I wondered.

Ted Kennedy dies and a republican, Scott Brown, wins his seat in a special election -- in Massachusetts! Did Patrick Kennedy truly have higher motives than just poll numbers to cause him to step away from the campaign trail in 2010? Or, did he just see the writing on the wall?

I read a few blogs that gave Mr. Kennedy the spiritual benefit of the doubt, recognizing that he was still mourning the loss of his father, Sen. Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts. But, I have to admit, my cynical nature lead me to think that was probably just the spin -- a leopard from Camelot is highly unlikely to change his spots, and those spots spin. It's a pride thing, I think; he's not a sure bet for re-election, so exit looking noble and find a new Kennedy-esque thing to do. Cousin Joe's got Venezuelan oil all wrapped up, but Patrick did mention wanting to be more like Aunt Eunice in her work with the Special Olympics. Perhaps, he could judge the bowling competition?

Seriously, this announcement by Sen. Bayh speaks volumes, in my estimation, about the change in trend of American political thought. American's do not seem to be tracking with the hope and change platform any longer. It is less than what they hoped for and changing in a dangerously wrong direction.

More specifically, as Catholic Americans, we need to understand the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of solidarity with regard to our expectations of our government, and what our duty is toward others. It seems that perhaps these principles have been shelved by some politicians -- they are not a unique brand of Catholic doctrine, but universal in nature to all mankind. And now, innately, they are emerging as a battle cry from a collective American conscience, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

It will not surprise me in the least if a new sense of moral fortitude emerges from pruning away these branches from the political vine. As spring emerges, I envision a new shoot stretching out with a different perspective on hope; an ethic based on the Constitution will push up from under the fertilizer that has been shoveled thick above it. From beneath the muck and mire, the voice of the people, like a burgeoning crocus, will arise to see the sun. All this is possible because of our country's freedoms mandated in the Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

The American people appear to be loudly and clearly expressing their desire to have control over their own health care decisions; their disgust with government takeovers in the private sector; their impatience with the continual bashing of past administrations for frivolous spending sprees when both this administration and the last had some serious issues with spending. Americans simply want their money to belong to them. They wish to control how to spend and give as they see fit, and they want for their grandchildren to be able to live without shouldering a debt that will soon be into the quadrillions of dollars. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the people who do the living and breathing and working and dying in this town, Mr. Potter... -- Oh, wait...I seem to have channeled George Bailey --the average American, wishes to live in a secure country in which the rights of the citizenry are respected and their concerns are heard and represented in Washington, DC by their elected officials.

Did Mr. Kennedy really bail because of his commitment to family and the desire to actually have one of his own? Did the words of admonishment from Bishop Tobin make him take stock of what is truly important in life? Or, like Sen. Bayh, did Patrick Kennedy just realize that his brand of politics is losing ground with his constituents and it was time to investigate other prospects? I pray that our elected officials will stop and assess the political climate change (pun completely intended) in our country and resist thinking they know what is best for the American people without first listening to what the people want from their elected officials -- respect and sincere consideration regarding matters that concern them.

Attende, Domine

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"The Catholic Girl's Guide" (1906)

Advice from Father F.X. Lasance to young ladies (married and unmarried) and wives. Read it online

Hat tip: Vivificat, who has a treasure trove of links to spiritual books.

5 Do-It-Yourself Skills Every Woman Should Have

Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty! So, which of these five have you taken on?

I've tried #1 but was defeated and had to get a plumber's help. #2? Way too proficient at it (those toddler wipes may be flushable but not a box at a time. #3 I want to try.

Fat Tuesday!

It's Mardi Gras!  Any big plans?  Mary's posted a pancake recipe!

Our previous plans were scuttled due to the weather, so I'm musing on how best to mark the day.  Pancakes sound good, with plenty of bacon; maybe I'll even rummage around and find the molds to make dinosaur pancakes.

I'm also thinking about making a pan of brownies -- an au revoir to the pleasures of dessert before tomorrow.  So, that takes care of the fasting; in the prayer department I plan to use my Magnificat regularly....

How about you?  Any plans for this day?  How about the next forty?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You don't have to be a genius to have a genius

Feminine genius?  Yes, you, Mary!   And -- cooler yet -- you not only are a feminine genius, you HAVE a feminine genius!

If we hop in to our Etymological Time Machine and steer it to ancient Rome, we'll see the word "genius" referring to a kind of local or familial spirit.  Towns and gates had their own genius; so did clans, families, and individuals. 

The concept lives on in the idea of personification (for example, "The Spirit of St Louis", the "Spirit of Christmas", Uncle Sam, the Statue of Liberty, and so on.)  
The Genius of America, Adolphe Yvon, 1858

As for the word itself, it didn't begin to take on its contemporary meaning of "super-smart individual" until almost the 1700's, and even now I don't know if it carries this meaning in languages other than English.  Its older meaning carries the idea of an essential spirit or character.  It comes from the same root as "generate" and "genial", and is a cousin to the word "nature."

*    *    *   

The idea of  "the feminine genius" takes my mind in so many different directions, I hardly know where to start.  Certainly it involves giving proper respect to the vocations of mothering and childrearing.  But how does the feminine spirit manifest in the lives of women who are married but struggle with infertility -- and may not be called to adopt children?  For women who are single, who aren't mothers, who don't see Mr Right on the horizon but who don't feel called to religious life?  How does that spirit play out for them?  What about when the children grow up?

How does the feminine genius manifest itself in the workplace -- especially in a workplace that isn't part of the traditional teacher-nurse-housekeeper realm of women?  (And how did some work come to be considered "women's work" anyway?)   And are there ways that we should be taught to develop and express that spirit?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

who me? a feminine genius?

Good Afternoon Blogging World,
Hello from the snow capped mountains of Northern Virginia. Oh that's just my car buried in the recent and ongoing blizzard.

Anyway, if your new to this lovely site, welcome. If your wondering who we are, well some days we wonder as well. This site was started over coffee one morning. Good friends, wonderful encouraging conversation, lots of formation in who God made us to be as woman and wahllah...a blog is born.

So I am surrounded by intellectual giants here, woman who study God's word and the church doctors, devouring their genius like I do Doritios. How can I possibly keep up with them? I don't. I can't. God said it was OK to just be me with my obsessions for modest fashion, good inspirational fiction, being a wife and mother, baking - lots of baking and living the life of a domestic goddess. These are the things I will write about here. I am that woman who strives to learn and become a better version of herself each and every day...while eating Doritos of course.

My name is Mary. I am a Roman Catholic wife, mother, sister and friend. I strive to be less like Martha and more like Mary. One day I know I will succeed...by God's grace alone.

Feminine Genius? A work in progress...how about you?

Group read: "Why is this woman's work anyway?!"

I'm one of those women who would much rather read than do housework, so I got a kick out of Leila's post:

All I want is affirmation and love-bombs about every little thing I do -- Look, honey, I am presentable today! Look, I neatened up this corner! Look, we have dinner! Instead I get the smackdown from God Almighty: You're only doing what you are supposed to be doing -- don't be such a baby.

And you know, the truth is that all those things are simply background for the real business of loving each other and getting to heaven.
And since this is something that I've been mulling over myself, I was very excited to see her go on to say....

I want to talk about a serious question that comes up, and its answer underlies the whole purpose of what we do, blog-wise, family-wise, life-wise...

It's this: Why should *I* have to do all this? Why is all this the woman's lot to preside over? Am I not good enough for the world to recognize my work with something tangible, like a paycheck? How can I explain my home to someone else? To myself? What about someone who isn't Christian?

....to answer the question in an orderly, satisfying way, you might want to do some reading....

And Leila's recommended reading?

Woo hoo!  Leila will be discussing these books over Lent.  Mulieris Dignitatem is out of print but you can download it from the Vatican website (suggestion: copy the text and paste it into a text document to avoid that annoying parchment background.)  We have it linked here (click the book cover) and on our "What is the Feminine Genius" page.   I just read Mulieris Dignitatem and feel like I've alluded to Leisure about 150 times over the last four months, so I'm eager to follow along.

photo illustration by solcookie, used under a Creative Commons License

The Role of Mothers in a New Liturgical Movement

A short article by Deborah Molinari on the special opportunities that mothers enjoy to assist in the renewal of the liturgy:

Rooting the family in the liturgical year helps to produce lives which are God-centred and continues the formation and sanctification of the Catholic family that flows from the sacred liturgy. This in turn can then be more readily carried into one's adult life, whether as a priest, religious or as a layman, to be fostered yet further in ourselves and in others. Evidently, everyone has an important part to play in the new liturgical movement, but as it relates to the "domestic church," to bringing the liturgical life into the home, it seems to be the case that in most homes it is the mother who plans and organizes the special celebrations, foods, crafts, songs, stories and prayers, along with appropriate catechesis, for her family in accordance with the Church's liturgical calendar. This is why the Catholic mother's role can be understood as so important and vital for the new liturgical movement, for it is in the home that the formative seeds of the liturgical life can be planted and nurtured.

cross-posted to that other place I blog; HT: a Facebook friend

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Feminine Geniuses in the News: Dominican Sisters (and Sayuki the Geisha) on Oprah

Updated with more Oprah linkage

Today!  On Oprah!  Sex!  Geishas!  who are not sex workers!  And nuns!  Who don't have sex!  And live in hidden worlds!  And no sex!  Ever!  Sex!

Did we mention sex?

Nobody -- nobody -- but Mother Assumpta Long and the Ann Arbor Dominicans could have gotten me to watch Oprah.  Some random notes and impressions from the sisters' segment:

  • "Not everybody who hits a crisis point in their life... is called to be a nun.  Especially if they're men!"  --Sister Mary Judith

  • Oprah:  But what about sex???

  • I am amused by Oprah agreeing that our culture bombards us with messages of materialism and sex.

  • "[Christ]" is a hard husband to be married to because if something goes wrong in the relationship I know that it's me!"  -- Sister Mary Judith, rocking the audience.
  • The sisters are completely rocking the show: they're ready for the awkward, salacious questions (what about sex?  what about breaking the vows?!) and are turning them around to focus on the joy and dignity of their vocations.

  • "Every women is called to be a mother."  --Mother Assumpta Long

  • "[The sisters' lives] are actually very liberating." -- Oprah's correspondent Lisa Ling

  • I wonder what the discussion boards on Oprah's website are going to be like?

  • Has Oprah always been this... coarse?  Not just in terms of titillating subject material (did we mention sex?) but just her tone of voice and her manner?  Or have I been watching too many Jane Austen movies lately?

  • "After the Show" footage of the Sisters of Mary

I'm glad I was able to stifle my impatience long enough to watch the show.  And there's fuel for reflection on the compare-and-contrast between the life of geisha and the life of religious.  There are the superficial similarities -- the dedication, the life apart, the apprenticeship, the special clothes -- but where the life of the geisha turns the feminine genius into a commodity, the life of the vowed religious turns it toward profound relationship and the utter gift of self.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Power of Feminine Genius

What a great gift we have been given! We can proclaim with pride that we are Catholic women and that Our Lord has created us with the greatest of all gifts, the opportunity to assist in the creation of new life. We can boast of God’s great model to all women, Mary His mother. She is our mother, too; the first and most excellent female example of how to best know, love and serve God. We have an opportunity to share the light of Christ’s love for us. But, our faith needs to be bolstered constantly through prayer and sacrifice against the ever-present temptations of our society. Pope John Paul II wrote specifically to women in the encyclical, Mulieres Dignitatem (On the Dignity of Women), 1988:

"If you knew the gift of God" (Jn 4:10), Jesus says to the Samaritan woman during one of those remarkable conversations which allow his great esteem for the dignity of women and for the vocation which enables them to share in his messianic mission.

The present reflections, now at an end, have sought to recognize, within the "gift of God," what he, as Creator and Redeemer, entrusts to women, to every woman. In the Spirit of Christ, in fact, women can discover the entire meaning of their femininity and thus be disposed to making a "sincere gift of self" to others, thereby finding themselves.

During the Marian Year the Church desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the "mystery of woman" and for every woman-for that which constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the "great works of God," which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her. After all, was it not in and through her that the greatest event in human history-the incarnation of God himself-was accomplished?

Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for "perfect" women and for "weak" women-for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal "homeland" of all people and is transformed sometimes into a "valley of tears"; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.

The Church gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine "genius" which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations, she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness.

The Church asks at the same time that these invaluable "manifestations of the Spirit" (cf. 1 Cor 12:4ff.), which with great generosity are poured forth upon the "daughters" of the eternal Jerusalem, may be attentively recognized and appreciated so that they may return for the common good of the Church and of humanity, especially in our times. Meditating on the biblical mystery of the "woman," the Church prays that in this mystery all women may discover themselves and their "supreme vocation."

May Mary, who "is a model of the Church in the matter of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ," (63) obtain for all of us this same race," in the Year which we have dedicated to her as we approach the third millennium from the coming of Christ.

With these sentiments, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to all the faithful, and in a special way to women, my sisters in Christ. (MD, 31)

After reading this, how can Catholic women feel anything but respected and embraced by the Church, and empowered to bring Christ to others through her. We are women on a mission; women who are called to enlighten ourselves, our families and our neighbors. We are meant, by virtue of our “supreme vocation,” to not only bring, but to be Christ to others. That mission starts with the undeniable truth that the root of our femininity is incontrovertibly linked to our maternity. We as Catholic women are the bearers of the next Catholic generation. It’s time to own that great gift and build up the Kingdom of God by means of our “feminine genius”.
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