Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Family Tragedy

A tragedy has struck our family.

I struggle to see God's hand in this situation and there is so much within me that wants to turn away from Him; but my deepest core continues to know there is some plan here. All I see is pain, loneliness, orphaned children; but God sees so much more.

Please pray for my family; that the next 18 months will not only go by quickly but may be drastically shortened.

May purgatory be emptied.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Liturgy of the Hours

The Liturgy of the Hours is the second greatest prayer of the Church - second only to the Sacrifice/Celebration of the Mass and is required for all priests to pray each day.

Our family has been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for several years. It has only been in the last year that we have tried to do every hour as many days as possible.

Learning this beautiful prayer is difficult for me. There are pieces to the prayers all over the place and the 5-ribbon set doesn't feel like enough, but more would be even more overwhelming!

With a wonderful priest and close friend, I have formed a framework in my mind so I know what to expect next.

This chart is a rough attempt to visualize that framework.

Liturgy of the Hours Definitions:

  • Antiphon: a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle (usually a line from the psalm itself)
  • Hagiography: writing on the life of a saint as a guide for the faithful. 
  • Versicle: a short sentence said or sung by the prayer leader, to which the other participants give a response

Liturgy of the Hours Prayers: 

Office of Readings:



Invitatory is done as you begin the first prayer hour that you do each day.
When said, it replaces the Introduction.
Lord, open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim Your praise.
Glory Be (aka Doxology)
Psalm 95 with Antiphon
O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory Be
Examination of Conscience
Examination of Conscience and Act of Contrition
Optional throughout the day
Psalms framed by Antiphons
Typically, three Psalms
one Psalm divided into three sections.
Each Psalm (or section) ends with the Glory Be
Typically 1 Psalm
Saturday and Wednesday have 2 Psalms
Scripture Reading & Responsory/Acclamation
Responsory is call/response: the response is shorter in the middle
The last line is the Glory Be – only the first part – ending with the longer version of the response.
Second Reading:
Hagiography &
Church Father,  
Saint, Documents
Gospel Canticle
Canticle of Zechariah (Benedictus)
Canticle of Mary (Magnificat)
Canticle of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)


Our Father
Our Father
Our Father
Te Deum
(Sundays and Feasts)
Te Deum
Concluding Prayer
Begins with “Let us pray” when the Our Father is not utilized.
Dismissal only
Let us praise the Lord – and give Him thanks.
(and blessing when priest/deacon is present)
Dismissal only
(and blessing when priest/deacon is present)
Dismissal only
Marian Hymn
4 options
WHERE TO FIND IN THE 4-volume set

Night prayer is all together in a   one-week cycle.

Saturday is “after Sunday evening prayer I”

The Liturgy of the Hours Books: 

  • Shorter Christian Prayer: Includes selections of Morning and Evening Prayer in an easier to navigate format. Good to get started, but does not include the full Morning and Evening prayers sets. 
  • Christian Prayer: This version contains the complete texts of Morning and Evening Prayer for the entire year. 
  • 4-Volume Liturgy of the Hours: Everything you need for the entire year, every hour of the day. Volume 1 is Advent and Christmas; Volume 2 is Lent and Easter; Volume 3 is Ordinary Time Weeks 1-17; Volume 4 is Ordinary Time Weeks 18-34. 

Notes on Intercessions: 

  • You may add your own intercessions after these and before the Our Father. 
  • The italicized portion is usually saved for large groups praying together. 
  • Various options for this section. 
    • Alone: Pray the introduction, followed by the italicized. Pray all of it straight through (or skip the italicized for the remainder). 
    • With someone else: the leader prays the introduction; the second person reads the first half of each intercession, the leader responds. 
    • With a group: some people can group together and do the style just above; or third person can pray the italicized line. OR someone can pray the entire first/second line and the other pray the italicized. 
    • So many variations. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Novena for the intercession of St. Othmar

Daily prayer:
Dear St. Othmar, your love for Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd made you a good shepherd for your brothers and God's people. Yet because of your goodness and justice, you were unjustly imprisoned. Pray for me, who am so helpless and alone. Intercede with God for me that He bring visible and speedy help to those in danger of unjust imprisonment. Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive  the consolation and help of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and  sufferings, particularly -
(make your request here)
- and that I may praise  God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Othmar, to be  ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as  my special and powerful patron.  Amen

Day 1
Dear St. Othmar, your love for Jesus Christ gave you the resolve to take on the responsibility of abbot over the cell of St. Gall. This community was not organized into a monastery, but you chose to form it into one for the better spiritual perfection of your new spiritual sons. You did not have to take on this additional care for souls, especially since these souls were already living a religious life. But you wanted the best for them and to produce the best for God. Be a shepherd and father also to me, who am in need of the love and guidance of Christ my Savior. Do not pass over my poor, fearful soul, but take me under your fatherly robes and care for me when I am forsaken by the world and even at times by family and friends.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me. 

Day 2
Blessed St. Othmar, you were never afraid of the judgments of your fellow men as long as you were pleasing to God and useful to souls. You restored the Rule of St. Columban at your monastery despite the weakness of those contented by the corrupted practice. When that was not enough to bring harmony among your spiritual sons, you did not hesitate to replace the founding rule with the Rule of St. Benedict despite the expected opposition among the monks. Your courage aided the spiritually of your monastery and prepared you for the greater trial to come. Grant that I may imitate your courage and your single-hearted focus on God's glory, so that I might also accept every unjust criticism, trial, judgment, or action with complete resignation to the will of God. 
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me.

Day 3
Good St. Othmar, your love modeled the love of Our Holy Savior especially in your care for the sick and for children.  During your time at St. Gall, you no only built a monastery and reformed the monks, but you also built a school, a  hospital, an almshouse, and the first leprosarium in Switzerland.  "Whatsoever you do to one of these least brethren of Mine," says the Lord, "you do to Me."  He further added, "Let the little children come to Me."  You taught your monks to bring this kind of goodness and love into the world no matter the cost in time, labor, resources, or mental taxation.  You taught them that to imitate the Good Master is worth any cost.  Pray for me, St. Othmar, that I may never regret any good that I have done in the name of Christ, even if it should cost me dearly in this world.  Teach me to look for a reward for my labors not in this life, but in the next.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me. 

Day 4
Diligent St. Othmar, when Karlmann, the brother of King Pepin, offered you the opportunity to request royal support for your monastery, you took the long and difficult task of making this request upon yourself.  Your zeal for the Lord's Vineyard made you ready to take every difficulty upon yourself that could help your children grow in wisdom and grace.  Your guilelessness and trust came from your long association with Goodness and Truth Himself, Jesus Christ.  Although this trust would be used against you by the world, you remained a living icon of what it means to imitate Christ, to be the salt of the earth, and to let your light shine before men.  Counsel me, O holy abbot, who have been likewise sorely betrayed by the injustice, selfishness, lies, and treachery of the world.  Help me to remain steadfast in my trust in God.  Help me to believe that it is still possible to love my neighbor as myself, and even to love and pray for my enemy.  May I still be willing to bear every hardship to improve the spiritual and temporal conditions of those entrusted to my care.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me. 

Day 5
Just and upright St. Othmar, after your long journey to the king and a favorable reception, the worldly Count Warin and Count Ruodhard used their power and their guile to try and steal some property from the Monastery of St. Gall.  Despite their power and their threats, you refused to allow injustice to prevail and the work of the Lord to be hindered.  You openly and fearlessly spoke against them and refused to bow to their demands.  Again, your courage and boldness came from your faith in God as your providential Defender and your just Judge.  Pray for me that I might also have the courage in every trial to uphold justice and right despite the threats and temptations of the world, no matter the cost to myself.  May I never regret defending the sanctity of God by upholding the just ordering of society.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me. 

Day 6
Faithful St. Othmar, because you fought for justice for your monastery and defied the worldly counts, they waylaid you on your journey home and made you their prisoner.  They made false accusations concerning you to cover their crime and their selfish motives.  How frustrated, powerless, and discouraged you must have felt at times, trapped in the dungeon of Bodmann Castle.  Yet you found true the exhortation of St. Paul, "When I am weak, it is then that I am strong" because Christ Jesus was with you.  Beg God for me, I pray, that I might have the same grace and strength to face lies, slander, violence, and imprisonment.  Help me to open my heart to the same peace and confidence that you experienced through your faith in Our Redeemer.  He is the Light in every darkness, and though I walk in the darkness of the valley of death, I shall fear no evil in Him.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me.

Day 7
Long-suffering and patient St. Othmar, after a couple of months the wicked counts removed you to the island of Werd in the Rhine to try to discourage you even more and tempt you into giving in to their demands.  Here you were even more isolated and any chance of rescue even more hopeless.  Yet you did not give in to their unjust demands.  How lonely and desolate you must have felt at times.  But God was your rock and your shelter, and you rejoiced to share in the suffering of Christ your Lord, knowing that He was with you, giving you your daily bread and the strength to persevere.  Be with me, my friend and father, who likewise face imprisonment and am already often a captive to my fear.  Be with me in prison when I face all the temptations of the Devil and my enemies to worthlessness, despair, and sin.  Teach me to remember that Jesus is with me and in me as long as I keep my heart pure and faithful, and that His love and mercy abide forever.  In Him, I can do all things.  May He be my only hope and consolation when the world fails me.

St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me.

Day 8
Happy St. Othmar, after six months of imprisonment and persecution you died a holy death still in the clutches of your captors.  What joy you must have experienced to leave this corrupt and sinful world behind.  How peacefully you must have faced death knowing that you upheld justice and truth to the end.  Although your captors were victorious over you for a short time on earth, the story of your virtue and leadership soon defeated their plans even here, to say nothing of the verdict of Eternal Justice.  Taken into Heaven, you prayed for the conversion of your enemies and to progress of your spiritual children at St. Gall.  You became a greater power for good by your death even than you had been in your life.  Intercede with Almighty God for me that I might persevere to the end in my faith and righteousness.  Help me to remember that it is always darkest just before the dawn--the dawn of the Sun of Justice, Christ Jesus Our Lord.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me.

Day 9
Dear St. Othmar, just as God granted you an inexhaustible spring of virtue and grace to face the trials of your life, He also honored you in the eyes of the Christian faithful with wondrous miracles.  During your life, the barrel from which you distributed food and alms to the poor was sometimes seen to contain more than naturally possible.  It became as bottomless as your generosity.  After your death, devout men rowed to the island of Werd to recover your body and give it Christian burial.  Not only was your body incorrupt, but as they rowed back with their holy burden in the hot sun, their barrel of wine never grew empty.  These barrels have become the symbol of your generosity, which is a reflection of God's generosity in Christ.  Give to me of those bottomless graces that God has entrusted to you.  May I overflow as fully with virtue, love of God, and good humor as you did during your earthly life.  May I learn from you to hope in Christ and imitate Him in all things, no matter my situation in life.
St. Othmar, pray for those imprisoned. St. Othmar, pray for me. 

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stranger Things: Review of a Review

A review of the review, so to speak.

I get so flustered when I read things that make no sense to me in the moment; so let's see if I can intellectually work through this review of the show Stranger Things.

Caveat: I'm not going to say that everyone should watch it; each family has to make their own choices for their own family. Based on accurate information.

I will add upfront, there is post at Patheos about the good things in the show: Stranger Things is the most Catholic Thing on TV

The following review is from Women of Grace. My responses are inserted between each paragraph.

MB writes: “I have not seen the massively popular Stranger Things but I’ve heard that it’s quite ‘creepy’. I also know that they’ve put out a Stranger Things ouija board which makes me wonder if there’s anything demonic or problematic with the show itself? Lots of friends have recommended it but they’ve also talked about Harry Potter before so I’m hoping to get a clearer answer on whether watching the show is problematic. Thank you in advance.”
The Stranger Things TV show is indeed problematic on a variety of levels.
For those who have never heard of it, Stranger Things is a recent Netflix sci-fi/horror hit starring Winona Ryder that is based in the fictional Indiana town of Hawkins in the early 1980’s. Hawkins is the home of the Hawkins National Laboratory which performs scientific research for the government. However, the disappearance of a young boy named Will leads the town to discover that the lab is also involved in paranormal and supernatural experiments. These activities lead to the creation of a portal to an alternate dimension called “the Upside Down” which is full of surreal monsters.
Meanwhile, a little girl arrives on the scene at the local diner, dressed in a hospital gown and with a shaved head. Her name is Eleven and she has all kinds of otherworldly powers such as clairvoyance and the ability to move objects with her mind. She was apparently used in experiments at the lab and managed to escape. Eleven, who claims to know where Will is, and is able to communicate with him, is then employed in the plot to find the boy.
There are a variety of disturbing themes running through the show, such as references to a “stronger power,” Eleven’s use of her powers to kill people, premarital sex between the characters, shoplifting, profaning the name of Jesus, and a variety of illicit escapades.
All evil or immoral things that happened in this show - had suitable consequences or the situation is one in which a conversation can be had about how some people are raised in certain ways and don't know the proper truth.
Focus on the Family’s Plugged In, says that although the series does give us a new set of heroic tweens and teens, these kids are also prone to “swear like testosterone-deficient sailors.” They also play Dungeons & Dragons which is sure to set off alarms with parents due to the game’s darker elements. And even though the children are against alcohol and tobacco, the adults in the move indulge with great abandonment.
Adults are allowed to drink and smoke. And it was the 80s - a different time, when more people did smoke as a normal thing. It's culturally and historically accurate. Cussing? Public school teens, some of whom don't have parents who are very involved. They are in need of the Truth and grace - not judgment. Their characters fit.
“When the scene shifts to the high-school set, sex (or the heady, fearful promise of it) never seems far away,” the review states.
The violence is also a factor. “Even though the violence hasn’t been particularly bloody, death is not uncommon. The monsters, and many of the men, are out for blood. And they’re not above spattering a bit of it across the screen.”
As for the games spawned by the show, they do have a new Stranger Things Ouija board which youth are gleefully using to ask the “spirits” to reveal the contents of upcoming shows.
I'm not judging a show by the products created from it, unless they were put out before or immediately at the start of the show.

You have to go looking for those. If you're a family that doesn't do commercials or themes, you probably won't know these exist. I didn't know they existed until I read this review.

We don't go for merchandise in our home anyway, so it's just the show for us, thanks.
In this article appearing on Buzzfeed (caution: obscene language) three teens – including one who says he never plays with the board because he’s Catholic – ask the board a series of questions about upcoming shows. The first question they asked was whether or not there was a spirit in the room, which received a “yes” answer. The three then ask it a series of questions about the upcoming shows, which characters are going to “hook up” and which are going to die.
So were the answers correct? ;)

I think this article was changed from its original - because at one point it mentioned the use of a ouija board within the show itself. Mom sets up strings of Christmas lights and paints letters on the wall under them for her LIVING son to communicate with her. I've had a child who couldn't talk or write with his hand and we used an alphabet chart on a placemat for him to speak to me; until we got a keyboard he could type on. Ouija boards are for connecting with demons though the users generally intend to speak to the dead. SPOILER ALERT: Will's not dead. Ouija boards aren't used to speak to living human beings. Computers, keyboards and pointing to an alphabet chart are.
The show also has it’s own themed Monopoly board game as well as an Eggo Card game.
All in all, Stranger Things is the typical non-family-friendly fare.
And we'll skip the various awesome family dynamics going on here - family that sticks together; family that was falling apart or was fully fractured that healed and came back together. Redemption for some; continued evil choices by others leading to consequences; self-sacrifice out of LOVE.
I would not categorize this show and its alarming by-products as healthy for anyone, regardless of age.
By-products? The only by-products in this household were some awesome conversations about the themes, the plot, what we would do different, what could be next, SAMWISE GAMGEE!, how to hold up under severe mental stress, trauma, separation from family ---- and lots more!

And let's take this back to sanity: Stranger Things is the most Catholic Thing on TV

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Religious Education Time and Homeschool Transcripts

This afternoon I was setting up the format for my son’s high school transcript. We live in a state that doesn’t require record-keeping or reporting. We only need to “provide instruction the same number of days as the local public school” with no actual definition as to attendance; so we’ve always just done our own thing for tracking – some years that means nothing in particular other than finishing a resource. We don’t even have set start/end dates, though I basically utilized the liturgical year as our guide for grade level.

As I set up the transcript, I put theology first. It is the most important and I want it counted as a separate subject, even separate from “electives”.
Indeed our faith is key to our entire lifestyle.

The first item I entered was my son’s attendance at the local parish’s religious education program this coming semester.

Legoboy in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium
Age: almost 2
Background TMI: He didn’t enroll in 7th grade because the curriculum used and the ensuing discussion would have been a waste of his time – redundant for a child coming out of 11 years in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium – he started at age 1! Also there are serious legitimate concerns regarding the teacher for the class he would have been in. Not for the children’s safety or theological teaching, but for personality conflicts and a negative attitude about the atrium. This year, the whole 7th-9th grade program has been revamped – and I LOVE IT! It more fully supports children coming out of several years in the atrium as well as honors their natural faith interests at this age. We didn’t do first semester because of personal issues going on – we didn’t know if he could commit. And I am strong on commitment. Fortunately the resource used is one we have already done as part of our homeschool CGS atrium for the oldest children (Altaration). He isn't missing out on much - though I would have liked him to have further exploration and discussion on this program. 

He is enrolling for second semester, because while our family issues continue, we have arrangements for his steady attendance regardless of outcomes. They are utilizing the new YOU program – the updated version of Theology of the Body for high schoolers. I was able to preview the videos online and see the textbook and teacher manual. LOVE IT! I had reservations for homeschoolers on the original TOB for high school, but the YOU is appropriate.

Ok great. Let’s add it to his transcript. Typed in the title of the class, the name of the resource, go to total up the hours. OH. Ok. Hmm.

I’m not sure how many homeschoolers have actually thought this through on a practical level, but have merely responded to it intuitively.

Our local religious ed program is 28 sessions for 1 ½ hour each time. 42 hours of instruction time for the entire school year. Most other parishes in the general vicinity are 45-60 minutes each class, maybe meeting 20-25 sessions. Our local archdiocese would like to see a minimum of 30 hours of instruction time, over the course of an entire school year.

Let’s look at the transcript. To record a credit for a full year, 180 hours of instruction time must be achieved. Public schools have some room for padding this – 48-53 minute classes can count for 1 instruction hour at our local public high school. In a 180 day school year, children can have a certain number of excused and unexcused absences, thus reducing the number of attended hours; as well as school events, fire drills, and other occurrences that cut into this time. Homeschoolers tend to go for recording actual instruction time for the entire 180 hours needed. We are already outside the norm, we don’t usually want to invite any questions on how well we are following the law.

180 hours for an entire year. This is 90 instruction hours for a one semester course. 45 instruction hour for a quarter-year course.

Even our generous local parish does not provide a full 45 hours of instruction time through the entire school year. Not even enough to count for a quarter-year course on a transcript, if using the full clock hour definition.

This is why many homeschoolers intuitively don’t see the value of the parish religious ed program. Because the pastors and the DREs are saying “we are providing less than a quarter-year course of instruction on the faith.”

I understand we parents are fully responsible for our children’s faith formation and that the parish is supposed to be an assist to that noble undertaking. By offering so few hours of instruction (setting aside teacher quality, curriculum quality, scheduling issues, how much we study the faith at home already, setting all that aside! And focusing on the number of hours provided), the parish religious ed program is saying of itself “we don’t value religious instruction enough to provide even the public school equivalent of a quarter-year course.”

At 42 hours, our local parish provides more actual instruction hours than our local public schools do for a quarter length course, considering their usual classes are 51 minutes long but get to count for a full “hour.”

This still leaves me wondering – a quarter-year course on something that is so foundational to our very being.

And it leaves me understanding why those same homeschoolers who say no to the regular religious ed program leap at the opportunity for a 2-hour weekly atrium that meets 30 sessions – providing 60 hours of actual instruction time which is only 16 ½ hours short of a full semester course. These families see something of value – value for their time, their children’s intelligence, their family’s faith formation.

Official Definition
Public school:
don’t usually finish the book; absentee time still counted as instruction time (up to a point)
finish the textbook, add in supplements to fill the time; absentee time not counted as instruction
1 year course
180 hours
51 minutes = 153 instruction hours;

180+ hours
½ year course
90 hours
51 minute classes = 76.5 hours
90+ hours
¼ year course
45 hours
51 minutes = 38.25 hours
45+ hours

The chart as an image:

A re-formatted version of this post as an explanation to pastors and DREs:
Religious Education Hours - Letter to Pastors and DREs

Monday, February 9, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Team Work - Family

Being a family, means we are working together for an ultimate goal of reaching Heaven - little goals in the between-time, like assuring proper usage of finances and other resources over which God has given us stewardship.

I grew up with several friends whose parents did everything; these children, then teens, then young adults who struggled with the most basic of tasks. I was blessed to grow up in a family situation where I DID stuff - real stuff. Sometimes it was just observing (Grandpa would NOT let me touch his saws and other heavy machinery as a very young child - he cared about my safety!), but I was right there in the truck with Grandpa delivering play sand to a customer; among many other tasks and experiences gleaned from my other Grandpa, both of my grandmothers and my mom.

The thing is, I honestly know people who honestly could not put together some casters on a shop-vac at age 20 - and some even at 25. Really. As parents, we should consider whether protecting our children from any kind of manual labor is really a good thing in the long-term. Children shouldn't be on physical labor inappropriately or alone - but we work *together*. Unless it is a task he is perfectly capable and competent at. Like the following one.

Today, as he did with a regular carpet vacuum a bit over a year ago, we came home from making a vacuum purchase and Legoboy got right to it:

Hm. Let's not SIT on the underside until we take off the lid. 

Yay! DONE! 

Chilling with some reading and some cookies. 

What!? I just put your vac together
and you want me to eat in the (GASP!?) DINING room!?

That's right, Kiddo. Get moving.

Yes that is still Christmas items in the background - actually our O Antiphon Tree and our basket-manger with Baby Jesus; and our books and CDs/DVDs. We celebrate Christmas fully until January 11 (this year); and in many ways we are still celebrating until February 2: The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple (technically the Wise Men arrived after that, by the way; but anyway).

We have put off purchasing the shop-vac. We need one for the basement. I have borrowed two from two different friends since we moved in, thinking it might be just a short-term need. Now we are looking to move the wood-cutting area from one side of the basement to the other and I really want to keep saw-dust down; as well as we need to clean out the window areas more thoroughly. There is simply always something to clean up that I would rather NOT go through our rather awesome Shark Navigator I use in the rest of the house. So $63 later (shop-vac and an attachment set with a chisel nozzle and a brush nozzle (I didn't actually want the brush, but it might come in handy - it was packaged with the chisel, I had no choice if I wanted the chisel)), here we are: the proud owners of a shop-vac ;)

It has a hose I can connect directly to the saw to get most of the sawdust, keeping the saw cleaner, then I can clean up as needed which will be less often and more thorough than previous practice.

And we can keep the wasps swept up until we find the nest and eradicate it.

Oh yes - and it has a blower! He is looking forward to a bit of a thaw to see if it works to blow some leaves off the back driveway - instead of our usual sweeping!
Hmmmm. This could be useful for the porches too.....