Monday, May 31, 2010

Etsy Rosary Guild Giveaway

Who doesn't like free stuff? At the Etsy Rosary Guild blogspot, they've started something new.  A giveaway on a monthly basis.  The first to share their time and talents is Jeanine from Heartfelt Rosaries.  She wire wrapped this bracelet by hand! That is something I would love to learn how to do.   To enter the contest and to learn more about Jeanine's work, click on the link above to the Etsy Rosary Guild.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Triune God

Today is the feast day of the Holy Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  For me, there is nothing more intimidating than this idea of the Triune God- three persons, yet one God.  The very thought of the Trinity's ultimate cosmic power makes me feel like an ancient cowering Grecian underneath the powerful and unpredictable hands of their mythic gods and goddesses.  Although the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not different gods, they do each possess extreme power and take on different roles.   Although the Trinity should always evoke a holy fear, if I think about what the Trinity stands for, it does because something I can relate to and a relationship I can strive for. 

Individually, these three Persons don't intimate me quite as much as they do as a whole.   I can certainly relate to Jesus as my friend and brother.  The Holy Spirit is my constant companion, my inspiration, my comforter.  The Father is loving and merciful.  So why then is it when the three are combined, (which in reality they are always are) do I find it hard to relate to the Trinity?

Perhaps its because I am not thinking about what the Trinity actually is and I guess part of it is because it's a mystery- something I will never understand!  The Trinity is all about a loving relationship but not just any relationship.  It is the ultimate, infinite circle of love that we ourselves yearn to be a part of- whether we know it or not.  This is something I can relate to.   I have many relationships, yet I still yearn for a deeper love, a deeper intimacy--always something more.  This is the gift and the curse that is given to us so that we might not be too attached to earthy things and always remember our eternal home and eternal lover who waits for us.

There is another way I can relate to the Trinity and that is in the procreative act.  There is nothing that reflects the action of the Trinity more than the procreative act.  The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father so much that life bursts forth, and that is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit then joins in the continuous circle of love for the Father and the Son.  While my family is not always the perfect model of the Trinity, it is something that we can always strive for because it doesn't stop with the procreative act. It continues on and on as our children grow and as my husband I become older.  The Trinitarian love reflected in our family become ever more purposeful and needed as the years go on!  If my husband and I stop working on giving self donative love to each other, our relationship will grow stale; and as my oldest son grows to learn what real love is, he finds meaning and purpose in his relationship with his sister and parents.  This cycle of love reflects the Holy Trinity.

Still, the meditating on the Trinity, will always bring me to a humble state,  as it should.  When I pray to the Trinity, I am, and will always be, kneeling before my creator, my redeemer, and the very breath of God.  There is nothing more humbling than to admit that all power, all good, all love belongs to the Triune God.  Alone, I am nothing.  If there is anything that is good in me, it comes from the Trinity and is only given to me on lend.   When I die, it is all taken away and the only remains is the love of the Trinity.  Only then, will I experience true fulfillment through the loving relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  My greatest wish is that my family will be there to experience it with me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Big News for the Clay Rosary Girl

As some of you already know, I am expecting my third child in November! That makes me about four months pregnant.  Next month, I will be going in for a sonogram, and hopefully they will be able to tell us if we will be having a boy or a girl. I'm not one for waiting more than 20 weeks to find out that out! We already have some names picked out, so I'll let you know what what we have decided when we find out if it is a boy or girl.  The due date is November 7.  Please keep the new baby in your prayers!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lighten Up!

Today is the feast day of St. Philip of Neri who was known for his ability to be "cheerful and laugh from the depths of his burning love for the crucified Christ."  Sometimes Catholics are given a bad rep about not being able to have a sense of humor.   Excuse me if I find it hard to laugh at our world's disturbing sense of humor.  It certainly doesn't mean I don't have a sense of humor at all!  Being a Christian doesn't mean I'm a stoic or unnecessarily prude.  Being a Christian means I can find joy in all the ways I encounter Christ.   When I think about how much God loves me and you, that joy makes me profoundly happy and I may even let out an occasional joke or two ;) 

A sense of humor can tell a lot about a person. A good sense of humor shows a healthy self respect.  A person who can laugh at themselves shows that they are not too proud and do not have a poor self esteem.   Sometimes poking fun of each other in a light hearted way is the best way to show camaraderie.  Also a good sense of humor shows a positive outlook life.  When life gives us lemons, a joyful person will not be shaken to the core, but sees things in the right perspective with right proportion.  Keeping a good sense of humor is sometimes the best medicine in times of sadness.

In the same way, a poor sense of humor can reveal vices, unhealthy attitudes and a poor self image.   It revealed Sarah's lack of faith in Genesis 18, and got her in trouble with the Lord! There are many jokes I simply do not think are funny and it's not because I don't have a sense of humor.  For example, jokes that are demeaning to men or women or the sacrament of marriage never make me laugh.  Also jokes that show a distorted view of sex only make me frown. Maybe for this reason, I am very choosy when it comes to my friends and who I hang out with.  I find it pretty easy to tell who is going to make me feel uncomfortable in a social setting and with whom I will be able to enjoy myself and share a few laughs.

A life with Christ is one of full of joy.  They will know we are Christians by our love and our joy.  Elizabeth's baby, St. John the Baptist, knew Christ's joy even before he was born! "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy." Luke 1:44.  We can experience Christ every time we see our neighbor, appreciate nature, pray and especially when we receive the Eucharist. Just like St. Philip of Neri, all this joy can't help but make a person laugh from the depths of a love for Christ.  

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Madonna Accessories

Today I rewarded myself for a long, hard busy season while supporting Etsy artisans at the same time! Look what I got. Aren't they cool?! I can't wait to sport all my new Madonna accessories.  And Saint Francis happens to be my second favorite saint.

"Adorn yourself with eminence and dignity, And clothe yourself with honor and majesty." Job 40:10
Maybe wearing awesome religious jewelery is not what Job meant, but I think it's a close second :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Poem for Mary

Thoughts for the Month of Mary

It is noon.
I see the church open,
and I must enter.

Mother of Jesus Christ,
I do not come to pray.
I have nothing to offer
and nothing to request.

I come solely to gaze on you,
O Mother.
To gaze on you,
weep for joy.
and know this:
that I am your child
and you are there.

I come only for a moment
while everything is at a standstill,
at noon!

Just to be with you,
O Mary,
in this place where you are.
Not to say anything
but to gaze at your countenance,
and let the heart sing
in its own language;
not to say anything
but solely to sing
because my heart is overflowing.

For you are beautiful,
because you are Immaculate,
the woman fully restored in Grace,
the creature in its first honor
and its final bloom,
as it issued from God
on the morn of its original splendor

You are ineffably intact,
because you are the Mother of Jesus Christ,
Who is the Truth in your arms,
and the only hope and the sole fruit.

by Paul Claudel
taken from Magnificat, May 2010 Issue

Paul Claudel (d.1955) was a poet, a playwright, a diplomat, and a member of the French Academy.

I Am A Proud Sister

Yesterday,  my brother, Robert, graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. I couldn't be more proud of him and his accomplishments. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelors degree in electric engineering. He will be continuing his work at St. Jude's Medical Research Center where he interned.  He has a heart of gold and a passion for helping those in need.  His determination, hard work, and commitment to excellence in everything he does has brought him this far and will no doubt bring him much more success in the future.  I pray that he continues to follow God's Will in the path that God will show him. 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mary at Pentecost

Thoughts for the Month of Mary

Luke tells us in his Gospel that Mary was present at Pentecost.  Being a Mary lover, I always loved this little tidbit of info, but until recently I had no idea how her presence is central to the purpose of Pentecost.   Obviously Catholic artists have known this for centuries because when I googled "Pentecost" images, almost every single one had Mary front and center.  And I thought it was going to be hard to find such an image!!

Stephen Ray explained this concept beautifully in one of those Light House Media CD's  you get from the back of Church.  He said it something like this: What happened at Pentecost? A new church was born.  What is the Church? The mystical body of Christ. Who gave birth to the first body of Christ? Mary did when the Holy Spirit over shadowed her.  So, it's only fitting that when the Holy Spirit comes again to overshadow, Mary is there front and center to labor in prayer and give birth to Christ again in a sense. "Isn't that beautiful?" he asks. Yes, it is, Stephen Ray. Yes it is.

Mary is needed at Pentecost.  As the only living vessel worthy of being filled with the Holy Spirit to give birth to the God Man, she is the only person worthy of giving birth to the Mystical Body of Christ.  Can you believe I just came up with that?! I think it's neat that the more you learn about Mary, the more you realize how necessary and amazing her role is in salvation history and in our salvation.  Her presence is so subtle in the Gospels, but in Catholic culture and tradition, she really stands out.  It's like she took her place as Queen of Heaven and Earth and now she means business.  Literally. Rosary business! Get our lasso, girl, and let's round us up some sinners!

God Bless Your Sunday and I pray you have a Holy Spirit filled Pentecost Sunday!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Living Simply

The Holy Family knew how to keep it simple! 

I've been thinking a lot lately about living simply and how this is a trait that many holy people have, and many saints have done.  But in all the examples I can think of, these holy people and saints who have so few possessions, are people without families to take care of. So how does this concept apply to someone whose needs extend way beyond their own?

But first, how does a simplified life help one achieve holiness? After watching a movie about St. Vincent De Paul, I started to see the appeal for a life of poverty- which is one way of simplifying things! St. Vincent was helping the poor, but found himself drifting from God ever so slightly because of the possessions he still had.  When he gave up everything, he could truly focus on God and the poor.

I recently read a quote about housekeeping that drove this 'living simply' idea home for me. It said, "Everything we own- from the tiniest button to the every piece of furniture- takes a little bit of our time."  How true is that? Yesterday I scrubbed every inch of my hardwood floors, which is my entire first floor.   It didn't take me as long as it sounds because my house is very small!  I often dream of having a nice big house, a minivan, a new wardrobe, or new toys for our kids, but if I had these things not only would it take more time to clean, it would keep my focus even farther from the Master of Simplicity, Jesus himself.

It brings me back to the question I have been trying to answer for myself.   How can I, who have so many responsibilities, keep it simple?  Having a tight budget has helped us to cut the excess.  We don't have cable, fancy cell phone plans, video games, or even an mp3 player.  But our kids have too many toys and I find our house filled with too much stuff in general.  The temptation to buy the newest, best thing out there is so great sometimes, we give in and get something that takes our focus a little farther from a poor and simple life that Jesus taught. 

Living simply is something everyone is called to in a different way, but I would love to hear how you do it in your home.  Please leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

It's been almost three months since I did one of these and I've been itching to do another one lately, so this Wednesday, what's up with...

Clay Rosaries: I'm nearing the end of my busy season and I have to thank all my wonderful and generous customers for giving me the best, busiest season I've ever had.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Me: thankful for a great vacay in FL with Eric's family and happy to be home again.  We are still catching up on things that needed to be done since being gone- like cleaning out the rain gutters that have sprouted maple trees and taking care of the boxelder bug infestation that took over our yard in our absence (yuck!) and catching up on rosary orders.

Kids: Liam had so much crazy fun with his cousins in Disney world, but we didn't realize what a homebody he was until after the third day and everyday thereafter, he asked when we were going to our "new home in Virginia".  He really did miss being home!
Analee: In disbelief, I witness Analee play "dress up" for the first time this morning. I was taking out some summer clothes from a box in the attic. She took out a pair of my leggings and put them around her neck and put a dress on her head.  Not exactly a fashionista yet, but she'll get there. Being a girly girl is hard wired in this 15 month old, that's for sure!

Hubby: Is soooo happy we are having friends over tomorrow night for dinner, he sounds like our three year old when he's going to a play date!  He hasn't hung out with friends in a very long time (way too long!).  Not having weekends off really plays its toll on friendships, so we are thankful our friends are coming down to see on a weekday to see us :D

What's for dinner: Pizza. For the first time since Disney, I'm not cooking.  Eleven days of eating out (mostly junk food) I was ready to come home and start cooking healthy (and cheap!) meals again. Eating out every day was a fun break, but I really like to cook and I missed it, plus no more $12 hamburgers and $5.00 soft drinks! But tonight I think I'm ready for a pizza :)

What's on my mind: Thankful I have God in my life to give EVERYTHING in my life meaning and purpose.  Nothing can shake the peace that God gives.  Even when bad things happen, I know that there's a reason and that good can come out of it.  He brings joy out of the ordinariness of life and even out of sorrow.  "Happy the people who acclaim such a king, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who find their joy every day in your name, who make your justice the source of your bliss," (Psalm 89).  Nothing compares to the joy that loving and being loved by God brings!

Something that made me smile: Getting an email from Sarah Reinhard! Mark Shea mentioned a give away she had on her blog for three of his books, so I entered. She wrote me back a personal email and said she loved my work and was wondering if I'd donate a rosary to a fundraiser for! Heck yeah! I was honored to be asked. She rocks. and I guess that makes me kind of a big deal. hahaha! just kidding. But seriously, she is kind of a big deal! 

Good link? I have to share this Youtube video that my friend also posted on her blog. It's a hilarious spoof on rap music for parents who own minivans.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An Allegory for Mary

 Thoughts for the Month of Mary

One of the coolest stories I've ever heard having to do with Mary was an allegory about how Mary's prayers for us work.  I heard this at a few of the Youth 2000 retreats that I was on in High school and it moved me so much, that I never forgot it. I told it to my students when I was a teacher and recently, I told it to the students at the rosary workshop. It's so simple, yet so true and convincing.  Here it is in my best rendition.  Let me know if you've ever heard this before.

There once was a peasant who had a favor to ask of the king.  But since he was only a peasant, he knew the king would never answer his plea.  The king didn't have any reason to listen to a poor peasant who had nothing to offer a king.   Knowing that this king had a mother whom the king dearly loved, the peasant went to her for help.  After all, what kind of son wouldn't listen to his mother? So the peasant brought an offering to the mother of the king. It wasn't much, but it was all he had.  He brought her a broken basket with a couple of rotten apples, some brown bananas and other pitiful looking fruits.  The kind queen took small offering and told the peasant that all will be well.  The peasant thanked her and went on his way trusting that the queen would solve his problem.  The queen took the basket of fruit and threw it out of her window.  She then replaced the peasant's offering with her best offering.  She took out her silver platter and placed on it beautiful, exotic and lush fruits that were a delight for the eyes and treat for the mouth.  She also placed on the platter, delicious treats she knew the king favored.  She herself brought the beautiful offering of fruit and treats to the king and humbly asked the favor the peasant requested. The king of course granted the request!  This was an offering fit for a king!

The peasant in the story is like us who come to God with requests. Our prayers are like the rotten fruit basket full of our own pride, selfishness, and other vices, not to mention all the distractions while we pray!  Our prayers are less than perfect, but Mary, who is full of grace and humility, not to mention the Mother of God, is more than willing to take our pitiful prayers and make them like gold before laying them down at the feet of Jesus.  And finally, our prayers and requests are fit for a king!

Madonna Artwork

One of my favorite shops on Esty sells the most whimsical Madonna art I have ever seen.  I just love it.  If my house actually had a design theme, I would chose whimsical and this painting above would hang in my doorway.  Someday...someday...

The artist name is Flor Larios and she is a self taught artist- just like myself!  She paints beautiful reproductions of paintings/icons/images of Mary.  She also does other women like Frida, storybook characters and angels, but I like the Madonna reproductions. I've purchased a broach, a box and pendant, and recently a little something else that a friend of mine may receive when I see her next ;)  Here is her blog, and here is her Etsy shop.  Below is a reproduction of our Lady of Guadelupe that I would love to get my hands on!

She wrote me an email when I ordered from her last to say she checked out my store.  She told me that she is not a religious person herself, but that her Madonna work is inspired by her mother who loves the Blessed Virgin. I think that if her mother loves the Blessed Virgin that much and if Flor is making all this Mary art, that it will only be a matter of time before she comes to love Mary herself.  Mary has a way of charming her artists, I should know! In the mean time, I'll be praying for Flor and buying more of her whimsical Madonna art.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Clay Rosary Store is Open!

The store is open at last and I am accepting orders on all items.  Thank you for your patience and I look forward to making your rosaries!

Eucharistic Bead- at LAST!

Finally, after two botched tries of making a Eucharistic bead, I succeeded! Eucharist means thanksgiving and, boy, am I thankful this finally turned out! As I worked, I prayed that the Lord's Will be done and I prayed that if it was His Will that this bead would turn out well. Thank You Jesus for answering my prayers!

I started out my third try with a different brand of clay called Kato clay. I have to order it from the Internet since it's not sold in any stores around here. It's a harder clay, but it's also more consistent, which makes it great for squares and rectangles. I combined the blue and yellow blocks to make a green color, as you can see in the picture. 

Next I made the Host and Chalice- after doing this twice in the past month, I was pretty good at it!

Then I added black outlining and the green clay to make a rectangular shape.

Here's what it looked like after 20 minutes of stretching the clay. You can see that the white clay was slightly softer than the other colors, but that was ok because the host was a little big to begin with.  Don't let the look of this ugly looking cane fool you. It's what's on the inside that counts!  After stretching it a good deal more, I sliced it up into small beads.

Here they are! Finally, a Eucharist bead worthy of the clay rosary! Praise God!!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Queen of Angels

Thoughts for the Month of May

One of the many titles of Mary "Queen of Angels," or in Latin, "Regina Angelorum"  I'm sure you've heard of this before, but did you know that this means she is also the Queen of the fallen angels too?  Recently I heard this somewhere and I thought it was one of the coolest things I've learned in a long time. Because she is the Queen of ALL angels- Satan is especially hateful and fearful toward Mary and flees at the very sound of her name. That is why her intercession is so powerful against attacks of the devil. St. Bridget tells us in her book of revelations that "God made Mary so powerful over the devils that not only can she instantly terrify them with a single glance, but also that the devils prefer to have their pains redoubled rather than to see themselves subject to her power." And St. Bonaventure makes this comparison: "Just as wax melts before the fire, so too do the devils melt" before the face of Mary.  St. Bernard states that the devils not only fear her name, but they even tremble at just the sound of it. Blessed Allan de Roche adds that "just as all heaven rejoices when the ‘Hail Mary’ is said, so also do the devils tremble and take flight when it is said."   I always find comfort in saying a Hail Mary when I am scared or in trouble.  Knowing that Mary's intercession is so powerful over demons makes me think of all the times I can ask for her prayers when think someone else may be under the attack as well.

So the next time you're scared or feel under attack, pray a Hail Mary to the Queen of Angels. It always works for me and I know it will work for you too :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

St. Louis De Montfort's Guide To Saying The Rosary-Part 4

(Mary) She is our Mother and our friend. She is the empress of the universe and loves us more than all the mothers and queens of the world have ever loved any one human being. This is really so, for the charity of the Blessed Virgin far surpasses the natural love of all mankind and even of all the angels, as Saint Augustine says.

Blessed Alan de la Roche said: "Let everyone who loves you, oh most holy Mary, listen to this and drink it
    Whenever I say Hail Mary The court of heaven rejoices And the earth Is lost in wonderment. And I despise the world And my heart is brim-full Of the love of God When I say Hail Mary; All my fears Wilt and die And my passions are quelled If I say Hail Mary; Devotion grows Within me And sorrow for sin Awakens When I say Hail Mary. Hope is made strong In my breast And the dew of consolation Falls on my soul More and more- Because I say Hail Mary. And my spirit Rejoices And sorrow fades away When I say Hail Mary . . . .
For the sweetness of this blessed salutation is so great that there are no words to explain it adequately, and even when its wonders have been sung, we still find it so full of mystery and so profound that its depths can never be plumbed. It has but few words but is exceeding rich in mystery; it is sweeter than honey and more precious than gold. We should often meditate upon it in our hearts and have it ever upon our lips so as to say it devoutly again and again."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

St. Louis De Montfort's Guide To Saying The Rosary-Part 3

The Hail Mary - Blessings
This Heavenly Salutation draws down upon us the blessings of Jesus and Mary in abundance, for it is an infallible truth that Jesus and Mary reward in a marvelous way those who glorify them. They repay us a hundredfold for the praises that we give them. "I love them that love me....that I may enrich them that love me and fill their treasures." *1* Jesus and Mary have always said: "We love those who love us; we enrich them and fill their treasuries to overflowing." "He who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings." *2*

Now, if we say the Hail Mary properly, is not this a way to love, bless and glorify Jesus and Mary?
In each Hail Mary we bless both Jesus and Mary: "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus."

By each Hail Mary we give Our Lady the same honor that God gave her when He sent the Archangel Gabriel to greet her for Him. How could anyone possibly think that Jesus and Mary, who often do good to those that curse them, could ever curse those that bless and honor them by the Hail Mary?
Both Saint Bernard and Saint Bonaventure say that the Queen of Heaven is certainly no less grateful and conscientious than gracious and well-mannered people of this world. Just as she excels in all other perfections, she surpasses us all in the virtue of gratitude; so she would never let us honor her with love and respect without repaying us one hundredfold. Saint Bonaventure says that Mary will greet us with grace if we greet her with the Hail Mary.

Who could possibly understand the graces and blessings which the greeting and tender regard of Our Lady effect in us? From the very first instant that Saint Elizabeth heard the greeting that the Mother of God gave her, she was filled with the Holy Spirit and the child in her womb leaped for joy. If we make ourselves worthy of the greeting and blessings of Our Lady we shall certainly be filled with graces and a flood of spiritual consolations will come down into our souls.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Communions

I'm back from vacation and I was pleasantly surprised by emails and blogs of First Communicants who shared pictures and stories of their special day.  I love to hear about how the day went for those who receive my rosaries because I feel a special tie to them and their celebrations even if it's in a very small way.

Here is Emily Osborn of Texas on her special day.

And here is Jamie Jo's daughter (nicknamed Ballerina Rose) from Minnesota with her rosary and a picture of their wonderful family on her special day. I love all the prep work that Jamie and her family did for her daughter's Holy Communion.  She wrote all about it on her blog for days ahead. It makes that special day all that much more meaningful!

Aren't they beautiful girls! They are radiant! What a special day and how lucky I am to be a part of it in a small way!

Here is a link to another First Holy Communion story from Why I Am Catholic by Allison Salerno. It makes me reminisce back to my First Communion and what I remember. I remember writing a prayer that we had to memorize to say to Jesus after we received the Eucharist. I said this prayer automatically every I received Jesus until I was almost twenty years old! It was something very simple like: Thank you Jesus...I love you... I don't remember exactly, but after I said my prayer, I stopped praying. Thankfully at twenty, I realized my prayers needed to mature past a second grade level. Not that simplicity isn't good and the basics aren't important-- just that we should always be GROWing in our faith and knowledge of God.
I actually remember a lot of that day- going up to receive, taking pictures afterword, getting ready before hand, the cake, etc.  I'm not sure I really knew what I was receiving, but it was all in God's time. Now I know that the Eucharist is the most important thing in the world. It's the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. It's what makes us part of the body of Christ and it gives us eternal life. Without the Eucharist, we would die of spiritual starvation.  We cannot give Christ to others if we do not have him ourselves.  Thank you, Jesus for the Eucharist! and Congratulations to all who received their First Holy Communions this year!!

St. Louis De Montfort's Guide To Saying The Rosary-Part 2

Continued from yesterday's Post...

Second Rose

Since the Holy Rosary is composed, principally and in substance, of the Prayer of Christ and the Angelic Salutation, that is, the Our Father and the Hail Mary, it was without doubt the first prayer and the first devotion of the faithful and has been in use all through the centuries from the time of the Apostles and disciples down to the present.
But it was only in the year 1214, however, that Holy Mother Church received the Rosary in its present form and according to the method we use today. It was given to the Church by Saint Dominic who had received it from the Blessed Virgin as a powerful means of converting the Albigensians and other sinners.
I will tell you the story of how he received it, which is found in the very well-known book "De Dignitate Psalterii" by Blessed Alan de la Roche [1]. Saint Dominic, seeing that the gravity of people's sins was hindering the conversion of the Albigensians, withdrew into a forest near Toulouse where he prayed unceasingly for three days and three nights. During this time he did nothing but weep and do harsh penances in order to appease the anger of Almighty God. He used his discipline so much that his body was lacerated, and finally he fell into a coma.
At this point Our Lady appeared to him, accompanied by three angels, and she said:
"Dear Dominic, do you know which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world?"
"Oh, my Lady," answered Saint Dominic, "you know far better than I do because next to your Son Jesus Christ you have always been the chief instrument of our salvation."
Then Our Lady replied:
"I want you to know that, in this kind of warfare, the battering ram has always been the Angelic Psalter which is the foundation stone of the New Testament. Therefore if you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Psalter."
So he arose, comforted, and burning with zeal, for the conversion of the people in that district he made straight for the Cathedral. At once unseen angels rang the bells to gather the people together and Saint Dominic began to preach.
At the very beginning of his sermon an appalling storm broke, out, the earth shook, the sun was darkened, and there was so much thunder and lightning that all were very much afraid. Even greater was their fear when looking at a picture of Our Lady exposed in a prominent place they saw her raise her arms to heaven three times to call down God's vengeance upon them if they failed to be converted, to amend their lives, and seek the protection of the Holy Mother of God.
God wished, by means of these supernatural phenomena, to spread the new devotion of the Holy Rosary and to make it more widely known.
At last, at the prayer of Saint Dominic, the storm came to an end, and he went on preaching. So fervently and compellingly did he explain the importance and value of the Holy Rosary that almost all the people of Toulouse embraced it and renounced their false beliefs. In a very short time a great improvement was seen in the town; people began leading Christian lives and gave up their former bad habits. [1]. De Dignitate Psalterii. The importance and Beauty of the Holy Rosary, by Blessed Alan de la Roche, O.P., French Dominican Father and Apostle of the Holy Rosary.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. Louis De Montfort's Guide To Saying The Rosary

The Secret of the Rosary

by St. Louis De Montfort


First Rose

The prayers of the Rosary
The rosary is made up of two things: mental prayer and vocal prayer. In the Holy Rosary mental prayer is none other than meditation of the chief mysteries of the life, death and glory of Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Vocal prayer consists in saying fifteen decades of the Hail Mary, each decade headed by an Our Father, while at the same time meditating on and contemplating the fifteen principal virtues which Jesus and Mary practised in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.

In the first five decades we must honor the five Joyous Mysteries and meditate on them; in the second five decades the Sorrowful Mysteries and in the third group of five, the Glorious Mysteries. So the Rosary is a blessed blending of mental and vocal prayer by which we honor and learn to imitate the mysteries and virtues of the life, death, passion and glory of Jesus and Mary.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Saying the Rosary- The Right Way.

While it is true, as Kimberly Hahn is quoted, "The only bad rosary is the one that is not said," there is a right way to say the rosary.  If you however, have found yourself saying the rosary the "wrong" way, don't despair! It is still very efficacious to say, no matter if a part was left out.  I recently read a post by a Catholic convert who had been saying her rosary the wrong way for four years.  She was very embarrassed to discover she had been missing a big part of the rosary.  I didn't think it was such a big deal since I had been saying the rosary the wrong way all of my life until I was almost 20 years old.  No one had ever explicitly told me that while you say the Hail Mary's you also meditate on the life, death and resurrection of Christ.  I knew that there were the mysteries that you said before each decade, but I never put two and two together until I read St. Louis De Montfort.

Saying the rosary with both things in mind- the mental and vocal prayer can be tricky at first and the rosary itself can take some getting used to, but with perseverance, Our Lady will guide us to a more and more perfect rosary.  In the next couple of days, I will be posting some more instructions on the rosary from The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis De Montfort.  This is a wonderful book and after reading, you will want to say the rosary every day!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all moms, grandmothers, great grandmothers, godmothers, and spiritual mothers!

God's Helpers

God could not be in every place
With loving hands to help erase
The teardrops from each baby's face,
And so He thought of mother.

He could not send us here alone
And leave us to a fate unknown;
Without providing for His own,
The outstretched arms of mother.

God could not watch us night and day
And kneel beside our crib to pray,
Or kiss our little aches away;
And so He sent us mother.

And when our childhood days began,
He simply could not take command.
That's why He placed our tiny hand
Securely into mother's.

The days of youth slipped quickly by,
Life's sun rose higher in the sky.
Full grown were we, yet ever nigh
To love us still, was mother.

And when life's span of years shall end,
I know that God will gladly send,
To welcome home her child again,
That ever-faithful mother.
--George W. Wiseman

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Magnificat

Mary's Magnificat or the Canticle of Mary is the prayer of praise that that burst forth from her during her visit to Elizabeth. Mary, full of Grace, was inspired by the Holy Spirit to say these beautiful words:

Luke 1:46-55 (New American Standard Bible)

The Magnificat
 46And Mary said:
         "(A)My soul (B)exalts the Lord,
    47And (C)my spirit has rejoiced in (D)God my Savior.
    48"For (E)He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
         For behold, from this time on all generations will count me (F)blessed.
    49"For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
         And holy is His name.
    51"(H)He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
         He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
    52"He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
         And has (I)exalted those who were humble.
         And sent away the rich empty-handed.
    54"He has given help to Israel His servant,
         In remembrance of His mercy,
    55(K)As He spoke to our fathers,
         (L)To Abraham and his descendants forever."

 Cross References:

Here is a unique and beautiful song on the Canticle of Mary written by Saint Hildegers von Bingen who was a mystic nun. It is sung by Emily Van Evera and Sister Germaine Fritz. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

For You, from Mom

"Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the fountain of your joy? "

The Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego and You!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces

I have this picture in my entryway and I use to center my thoughts while I pray the rosary. 

Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces

by Father William G. Most
Closely related to the Catholic teaching on Mary's cooperation in the redemption is the teaching that, with through and under her Son, she is Mediatrix of all graces. What exactly does this mean?
The term Mediatrix in itself could refer to either the objective redemption (the once-for-all earning a title to grace for all men), to the subjective redemption (the distribution of this grace to individual men), or to both. It is most usual to use it to refer only to subjective redemption, i.e. , the process of giving out the fruits of the objective redemption, throughout all centuries. We must consider whether or not the term Mediatrix applies to all graces or only to some. We will ask also about the nature of the mediation: is it only by way of intercession, that is, does Mary simply pray to her Son that he may give us grace, or does God also use her as an instrument in distributing grace.
To begin, we can say without doubt that the title "Mediatrix" is justified, and applies to all graces for certain, by her cooperation in acquiring all graces on Calvary.
The Second Vatican Council (Lumen gentium ## 61-62), said:
... in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope, and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace.
This motherhood of Mary in the economy of grace lasts without interruption, from the consent which she gave in faith at the annunciation, and which she unhesitatingly bore with under the cross, even to the perpetual consummation of all the elect. For after being assumed into heaven, she has not put aside this saving function, but by her manifold intercession, she continues to win the gifts of eternal salvation for us. By her motherly love, she takes care of the brothers of her Son who are still in pilgrimage and in dangers and difficulties, until they be led through to the happy fatherland. For this reason, the Blessed Virgin is invoked in the Church under the titles of Advocate, Auxiliatrix, Adiutrix, and Mediatrix. This however it to be so understood that it takes nothing away, or adds nothing to the dignity and efficacy of Christ the one Mediator. For no creature can ever be put on the same level with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer...."
 You can find the rest of this from this website. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Our Lady of Kibeho

Our Lady of Kibeho is a little known Marian apparition that was approved in 2001. Our Lady appeared starting in 1981 to school children in Rwanda.  She came to promote peace, forgiveness, and the rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Mary.  She came to Rwanda, but she said she is the Mother of the World- the Mother to Everyone. She also warned of the genocide that would happen if the Rwandan people failed to convert their hearts and learned to love and forgive.

Immaculee's book, Our Lady of Kibeho, not only tells the story of Our Lady of Kibeho, but does so with such heart felt love and devotion for Our Lady, that one cannot read it without gaining a deeper devotion to Mary.  Immaculee Ilibagiza is a Rwandan Holocaust survivor and tells her amazing story of survival and forgiveness in Left to Tell, and Led by Faith.  She is now an international speaker.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Redemptoris Mater

Sometimes even us Catholics have hard time giving Mary praise because we think it might take away from the praise due to God.  It may seem like a valid fear, but one needs to look more carefully at the difference between worship and praise.  God commands that we never worship anything or anyone but God, so we never worship Mary.  She is not a goddess and Catholics never make that claim.  We always understand that she is only a mortal, just like you and me, but unlike any other mortal, she has been given a title that no other before or after her can ever claim.  She is the Mother of God.  God saw her humility and gave her the honor of bearing his Son.  But it doesn't stop there. At the foot of the cross, he also gave her the honor of Mother of all humanity when he said to John, "Woman, behold your son."  Then when she was assumed into heaven, he gave even more honor.  He made her mediatrix of all graces, and crowned her Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Because of all these honors God has given her, it is only fitting for us to praise her and honor her the same as Our Lord has done. 

We should never fear giving her too much honor and praise.  She keeps nothing for herself and gives all the glory to her Son.  In fact, she gives more glory to her son than we can give to him.  Since our prayers are filled with our many vices, sins and distractions, they are less than perfect.  But Mary's prayers are always perfect because she is full of grace.  If we give our prayer to Mary, and ask her to give them to her son, we can be sure that our imperfect prayers are made more perfect and pleasing to God than we could ever do on our own. 

"Mary, the exalted daughter of Sion, helps all her children wherever they may be and whatever their condition, to find Christ the path to the Father's house."
--Pope John Paul II (Redemptoris Mater, n. 47) You can find the entire encyclical here (which has just been added to my reading list.)

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May is the Month of Mary

During the month of May, which is the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will try to post a tidbit on Mary every day. Here is the first one that explains why May is the the Month for Mary and gives a beautiful reflection on the the Blessed Mother.