Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ski Vacation!

Ok, this is a picture of the resort we stayed at just before Christmas. All seven of us spent 3 nights, 4 days in this beautiful place called Maplelag in Northern Minnesota. I couldn't rave enough about the hot tub, sauna, the FOOD and the perfectly groomed ski trails. Oh, not the mention I was afraid my husband would move into the steam room "I'll never be the same!" If you're looking for a wonderful yet very affordable vacation - consider this place. You will NOT regret it. All the kids loved every minute and didn't want to leave. The rental equipment is very high quality, my feet didn't get the least bit cold or wet. You can ski right from your cabin door and no worries about the wind or cold as all the trails are surrounded by the trees. We ever got up early one morning and skiied in the dark - breathtaking!
I'm super busy at work, will try to post some "real" stuff soon!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Out of Town! entire family will be leaving tomorrow for a 5 day weekend of Nordic Skiing, as its known in Minnesota. That's Cross Country skiing for all you non-Scandinavian-descent-non-Minnesotans. We're heading to a quaint resort of cabins "Up North" (translation - Northern Minnesota :) where there's NO phone, NO TV/video games/computers etc. Just good old outdoor recreation in the woods, not only skiing, but snow shoeing, sledding, sauna and of course rolling in the snow in your bathing suit when you can't take the heat anymore!! We plan to play alot of cards and board games and hope to take at least one ski outing at night under the stars. Oh, one more benefit to this place is the meals are included and are served good ol smorgasbord style! And no, that's not a buffet - that's different! If you have a spare moment, please lift my family up to Mary's prayers for a safe trip!
May Mary's prayers go with you always! Amen+

The Very First Mass

"Now there stood by the Cross of Jesus, MARY, HIS MOTHER" who by Her perfect assistance at HIS FIRST MASS on Calvary became our whom we now offer the prayer that she may help us to stand more worthily by the "CROSS OF JESUS" Amen+

Friday, December 14, 2007

Black Scapular IV

General Information About Scapulars - Continued

The first thing to be done is find out if enrollment in a particular Confraternity is necessary before wearing one with the rightful expectation of spiritual benefit. This varies with the type of scapular, but most scapulars do not require any sort of enrollment that your parish priest can't perform. The scapular you purchase should come with the neccessary enrollment prayers. Scapulars can be purchased from Catholic Gift Shops, Catholic mail order catalogues, or the internet. Here's my favorite scapular maker. They're quite inexpensive, and you can also often find free ones from various places, or you could do a Google Search for "Free Scapulars." But remember, generally you get what you pay for. After you get your scapular, you must take it to a priest who will "invest" you by reciting the included prayers of investment. He will normally bless this first scapular but it is not neccessary to have subsequent scapulars blessed. Remember, different scapulars have different prayers for investment. The exception is the green scapular, which does not require investment at all, but simply needs to be blessed. The proper way to get rid of worn out scapulars -- or any sacramental -- is to either burn it or bury it.)

Scapulars (excepting those which are proper to the Third Orders) can also later be replaced by a religious medal called the "Scapular Medal", but if this is done, the new medal must be blessed. This medal must "show the image of Our Most Holy Redeemer, Jesus Christ, showing His Sacred Heart, and the obverse that of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary," according to a decree of Pope St. Pius X.

Black Scapular III

Image ~ Black scapular of the Passionist Order

Ok, this post is about scapulars and their associated devotion in general. I have been unable to find an image of a black scapular of Mary's seven sorrows, otherwise known as the Servite Black scapular.

A scapular is a Catholic sacramental normally composed of two small pieces of wool cloth connected by string that is worn over the neck, under the clothing, such that one piece of cloth hangs over the chest, and the second piece of cloth hangs over the back ~ thus the name scapular as they hang between the scapulars, or shoulder blades. They derive from the scapulars which make up part of monastics' religious habits -- that ankle-length (front and back), shoulder-wide, apron-like part of the habit that basically consists of a long rectangular piece of material with a hole for the head. Some have hoods and some tie under the arms. Monastic scapulars came, over time, to be called jugum Christi (the yoke of Christ), and receiving the scapular (becoming "invested") took on solemn meaning.

In addition to regular monastics of the First Order (i.e., friars) and Second Order (cloistered nuns), laity attached themselves to various religious orders, too, in what are called "Third Orders." Some lay members of Third orders -- "tertiaries" -- are "Third Order Religious" who live in a monastic community and generally take vows; most others are "Third Order Secular" who live in the world and generally make solemn promises. In the beginning, many of these lay people were invested with the full habit; later, they came to wear only the very small scapulars under their clothing. In addition to these Third Orders, Confraternities of lay-people (married or single -- just "regular Catholics") developed. These were invested with Scapulars of Religious Orders to which they were attached. For example the Brown scapular of the Carmelites, the Black scapular of the Servites, etc. It is these scapulars for lay people belonging to a Confraternity or a Third Order that one generally thinks of when one hears the word "scapular."
Some scapulars have privileges and indulgences attached to wearing them, but like any sacramental, scapulars are not magic; their efficacy depends on the proper intentions and faith of the wearer. Only by following through on the promises one makes when becoming invested can the benefits associated with them be had. They act as reminders, too, of these things they signify and of the Saints who are parts of the religious community in question. They are reminders to live in purity and holiness.

Friendly reminder, to reverently kiss one's scapular is an indulgenced act.

Black Scapular II

Image ~ Servite Habit Rosary
I am attempting to educate myself about the Servite order which was founded with a special devotion to Our Lady's Sorrows. It is my wish to share what information I find with you here and I'd appreciate any education you might share with me and the readers of this blog.

Here's a site with a nice synopsis of the order's charism and founding. In brief:

"The Order of Servites is the fifth mendicant order, the objects of which are the sanctification of its members, preaching the Gospel, and the propagation of devotion to the Mother of God, with special reference to her sorrows."

{The founders} "While engaged in the exercises of the confraternity on the feast of the Assumption, 1233, the Blessed Virgin appeared to them, advised them to withdraw from the world and devote themselves entirely to eternal things. They obeyed, and established themselves close to the convent of the Friars Minor at La Camarzia, a suburb of Florence. Desiring stricter seclusion than that offered at La Camarzia, they withdrew to Monte Senario, eleven miles north of Florence. Here the Blessed Virgin again appeared to them, conferred on them a black habit, instructed them to follow the Rule of St. Augustine and to found the order of her servants (15 April, 1240). The brethren elected a superior, took the vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty, and admitted associates."

"The canonized Servite saints are: St. Philip Benizi (feast 23 Aug.), St. Peregrine Latiosi (30 April), St. Juliana Falconieri (19 June), and the Seven Holy Founders (12 Feb.)."

"In the United States they are to be found in the dioceses of Sioux City and Belville. There is also a third order for seculars, as well as a confraternity of the Seven Dolours, branches of which may be erected in any church."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

"Is it not I, your Mother who is here? Are you not under my protection? Are you not, fortunately, under my care?” ~Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Black Scapular

The above image is of the founders of the Servite Order. As they were praying in devotion to Mary's sorrows, she appeared to them and gave them the Black Scapular of her sorrows. Thus was the order founded in the year 1240.

I have at various times gone on a quest of sorts to find out more on a lesser known, yet still Church approved and valid sacramental known as the Black Scapular. This is what I've found:

Black Scapular Order of Friar Servants of Mary: (Servites)A.D. 1240
"The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolors of Mary," or "The Our Lady of Sorrows Scapular," has on its front a depiction of Our Lady of Sorrows. Our Lady appeared to seven rich and prominent citizens of Florence who decided to give up their worldly possessions and follow Christ, promising to honor His Mother in her sorrows. Thus began the Servite Order. Mary gave them the Servite habit and said that "these garments shall be to you a perpetual memory of the sufferings of my heart." This is the more common Black Scapular.The General of the Servite Order may grant the faculty of investment with this scapular to other priests." (source)

The black scapular of the Seven Sorrows of Mary: "After Pope Alexander IV’s formal establishment of the Servite Order in 1255, lay men and women formed a confraternity in honor of the seven sorrows of Mary. As a sign of membership, they wore a black scapular, usually with an image of our Mother of Sorrows on the front." (source)

Black Scapular: "Origin:1233 appearance of Mary to the founders of the Servite Order Purpose: Invoke the protection of Mary, Mother of SorrowsPractices: Wear the scapular with special devotion to Mary's Seven SorrowsSource: The Black Scapular is not widely distributed/promoted separately, but is part of the Five-fold Scapular" (source)

I know its not much. I've attempted to contact the Servite order with no respose regarding this scapular, I'll post next on their third order Servite apostolate which I think is less than thriving. I pray for a renewal of such an apostolate and devotion to Mary's sorrows in general. Stay tuned...

Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Meme! Ho Ho Ho!

Oh yes! Another meme! This one comes from me to you via Angela Messenger - so blame her! :)

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, whichever is easier and/or cheaper.
2. Real tree or artificial? Up to me? - prelit fake. But alas... my small effort to submit to the will of my husband means a real messy, real tree!
3. When do you put up the tree? The weekend after Thanksgiving. The kids decorate it - words cannot express how much I despise putting the lights on the tree!
4. When do you take the tree down? Just after New Years
5. Do you like eggnog? Love it but don't drink it much due to the extreme excess of calories contained therein! I could always be talked into a glass with rum though...
6. Favorite gift received as a child? New bike around age 10. It was one of those 70's nightmare bikes now, but the COOLEST back then. It was white with red and blue stripes and a long banana seat. I rode it around inside the house for days.
7. Do you have a Nativity scene? Yes two actually, one on the altar of our prayer room and a larger one in the living room in front of the fireplace.
8. Hardest person to buy for? My dad, he doesn't need a thing and has every golf accessory on earth.
9. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? My high school boyfriend gave me this really ugly sweater which unraveled the first time I washed it. He admitted to me it was from K-Mart.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail - always of the Blessed Mother with family pictures inside.
11. Favorite Christmas Movie? Its a Wonderful Life - is there another?
12. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Oh, around Halloween.
13. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes, many times. If I get something I don't need or like, I'll keep it in the package and give to someone else. Did the same with wedding gifts. Except for clothes, those I return.
14. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Green bean casserole. Yes I know that's strange.
15. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Multicolored and flashing enough to cause seizures.
16. Favorite Christmas song. Angels We Have Heard on High & The Wassail Song
17. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home, travel to husband's family in Montreal - alternating years. This year we are home.
18. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer. Not even close.
19. Angel on the tree top or a star? No, we have a terrible time getting them to stay on a real tree. I find myself totally apathetic about tree toppers...
20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas presents on EVE after supper, stocking "Santa" gifts on Christmas morning.
21. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The burden of having to buy gifts for so many people. I find standing in line at the post office to mail presents a close second.

Tagging: YOU!

Great Article

Terry over at Abbey Roads 2 as always is hitting nails on the head in a recent post on the fear of the Lord.

"According to some notions developed from post-Vatican II theology, servile fear of God is often considered a negative, imperfect expression of devotion to be avoided. Yet servile fear is typically an initial, fundamental disposition in the spirituality of the pre-convert and newly converted soul. The fear of hell is not a bad thing, after all, it is one of the components normally expressed in a good act of contrition."

The entire post deserves a thorough read.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mass as a Sacrifice

(photo credit - Cathcon)

It behooves us all to think on all the things that happen at EVERY mass that we cannot see. Picture the sacrifice that our Lord makes for you. Picture the angels who gaze with amazement at every consecration. Think of the poor souls who cry out with joy as the drops of Christ's blood fall upon them from the altar of your church.

Our Lady of Hope - Part V

This comes from the official website for the Sactuary of Our Lady of Hope situated at the apparition site in Pontmain France. We ought to meditate and think on the meaning of Mary's appearance. She who is the Mother of Our Lord and Savior does not appear for just any reason. Whenever heaven sends her and she appears, there is significance for us all.

"The Virgin Mary did not speak at Pontmain. How should we interpret this apparition, the different expressions of the Virgin Mary and the message which unfurled at her feet ? Of course the revelations add nothing to the revelations of Christ, which are complete in themselves. They were not meant to teach us anything new, but rather to awaken our sleeping consciences.The Virgin Mary appeared at Pontmain to help us to understand Christ. Her message is centred on Christ. The first part of the message, “But pray my children” echoes Christ’s urgent exhortations to pray unceasingly, following the example of the Virgin Mary, of the centurion Corneille or the numerous blind or paralysed people we find in the Gospel. Jesus asks us to pray with insistence, faith and humility to fulfil God’s will and not our own.The next part of the message, “God will answer you very soon” is the continuation of this message. It reminds us that all prayers are sent to God, and God alone, who gives us everything. It also tells us that prayer is effective : Jesus repeated this message forcefully. The end of the message, “My son lets his heart be touched” is a reminder of Christ’s part in the divine plan. Mary shows Christ in all his humanity, by which “he should become in this way completely like his brothers” (Letter to the Hebrews 2, 17)."

Thursday, December 6, 2007

New Meme!

This one comes from Swiss Miss at St. Monica's Kneeler:

Participants are to post 8 random facts or habits about themselves on their blog. Have fun!
1. When I was a kid, I went to a Swedish language immersion camp and after three years there was fluent. Yes, I even knew all those odd Swedish folk dances and wore a folk costume. A nerdier activity could not be found.
2. Garnet is my favorite gem stone.
3. I sometimes wear my slippers in public (they sort-of look like shoes :)
4. I'm addicted to lip gloss, have been since 3rd grade, wear it all the time. This is one of those absolutely-must-haves-cannot-leave-home-without-it-or-I'm-miserables. I have been known to wake up in the middle of the night and put it on, of course its right on my nightstand.
5. I have two statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary in my office: Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Our Lady of Knock.
6. I LOVE the Minnesota State Fair. A trip there is not complete without looking at EVERYTHING in the 4H building, french fried green peppers and cheese on a stick.
7. My perfume is Coco Madmoiselle by Chanel.
8. When I was in high school, I protested what I thought was an unfair detention (still believe it was unfair) and I decided in principle to not comply. I never showed up for it despite the daily "yellow note" on my locker reminding me of said detention. I was ordered to go by the Principal, the school board (private school) AND the traitorous school counsel. Never went, told them all they'd have to expel me. I was sure I was done. This went on for MONTHS. I finished the school year, showed up for class the next fall and not a word was said. Isn't that strange??
Everyone interested in this meme is hereby tagged!

"What have you done?"

Cain & Abel by Titian (c 1570 - 1576)
(photo credit)

"The Lord’s question: "What have you done?", which Cain cannot escape, is addressed also to the people of today, to make them realize the extent and gravity of the attacks against life which continue to mark human history… Whoever attacks human life, in some way attacks God himself." —POPE JOHN PAUL II, Evangelim Vitae; n. 10

Consider this today's call to prayer of reparation.

Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart/Actus reparationis
Most sweet Jesus, whose overflowing charity for men is requited by so much forgetfulness, negligence and contempt, behold us prostrate before Thee, eager to repair by a special act of homage the cruel indifference and injuries to which Thy loving Heart is everywhere subject. Mindful, alas! that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities, which we now deplore from the depths of our hearts, we humbly ask Thy pardon and declare our readiness to atone by voluntary expiation, not only for our own personal offenses, but also for the sins of those, who, straying far from the path of salvation, refuse in their obstinate infidelity to follow Thee, their Shepherd and Leader, or, renouncing the promises of their baptism, have cast off the sweet yoke of Thy law. We are now resolved to expiate each and every deplorable outrage committed against Thee; we are now determined to make amends for the manifold offenses against Christian modesty in unbecoming dress and behavior, for all the foul seductions laid to ensnare the feet of the innocent, for the frequent violations of Sundays and holydays, and the shocking blasphemies uttered against Thee and Thy Saints. We wish also to make amends for the insults to which Thy Vicar on earth and Thy priests are subjected, for the profanation, by conscious neglect or terrible acts of sacrilege, of the very Sacrament of Thy Divine Love; and lastly for the public crimes of nations who resist the rights and teaching authority of the Church which Thou hast founded. Would that we were able to wash away such abominations with our blood. We now offer, in reparation for these violations of Thy divine honor, the satisfaction Thou once made to Thy Eternal Father on the Cross and which Thou continuest to renew daily on our Altars; we offer it in union with the acts of atonement of Thy Virgin Mother and all the Saints and of the pious faithful on earth; and we sincerely promise to make recompense, as far as we can with the help of Thy grace, for all neglect of Thy great love and for the sins we and others have committed in the past. Henceforth, we will live a life of unswerving faith, of purity of conduct, of perfect observance of the precepts of the Gospel and especially that of charity. We promise to the best of our power to prevent others from offending Thee and to bring as many as possible to follow Thee. O loving Jesus, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mother, our model in reparation, deign to receive the voluntary offering we make of this act of expiation; and by the crowning gift of perseverance keep us faithful unto death in our duty and the allegiance we owe to Thee, so that we may all one day come to that happy home, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit Thou livest and reignest, God, forever and ever. Amen.

Interesting Bible Study

Go here for a very interesting article about how the Prostestant bible proves the truths of Catholisicm. Let me know what you think! Found this via Catholic Mom in Sweden, Thanks Heather!

Pray for our Priests

(photo credit - Cathcon)

Let us never forget to pray for priests. They are in desparate need of our prayers in this time of spiritual warfare. The prince of this world is striking at the head in order to scatter the flock of Christ's church. Do not fall asleep in this regard as it is our solemn duty to support our parishes with money and our priests with prayers.

Most gracious Heavenly Father,
We thank you for our for our faithful priests and bishops, whose spiritual fatherhood and example of fidelity, self-sacrifice, and devotion is so vital to the faith of your people.
May our spiritual fathers be guided by the examples of Saints Peter and Paul, all the Apostles and their saintly successors. Give them valiant faith in the face of confusion and conflict, hope in time of trouble and sorrow, and steadfast love for you, for their families, and for all your people throughout the world. May the light of your Truth shine through their lives and their good works.
Assist all spiritual fathers, that through your Grace they may steadily grow in holiness and in knowledge and understanding of your Truth. May they generously impart this knowledge to those who rely on them.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen+

Our Lady of Hope - Part IV

The Basilica of Our Lady of Hope
Pontmain, France
This beautiful basilica is a lesser known (therefore not as busy) active pilgrimmage site for Catholic devotion. This is an official and accepted Marian apparition site with all the spiritual benefits as well as the indulgences that go with all pilgrimmages. For more information about a visit to honor Our Lady of Hope, go here.
The following is a copy of their schedule from the above official site for this Basilica:
07h30 Mass in the parish church
11h00 Mass for pilgrims, in the basilica in summer and the parish church in winter
11h45 Angelus / Prayer of intercession / Midday prayers
16h00 Holy Rosary, in the basilica in summer and the parish church in winter
16h30 Vespers, in the basilica in summer and the parish church in winter
17h00 Holy Hour, in the basilica in summer and the parish church in winter
Confessions and spiritual guidance from 10h15 to 11h00 and 15h00 to 17h00.
09h00 Mass in the parish church
11h00 Mass for pilgrims, in the basilica
15h30 Holy Rosary, vespers and blessing of the Blessed Sacrament (or other celebrations according to the circumstances), in the basilica in summer and the parish church in winter
17h00 Mass, in the basilica in summer and the parish church in winter
Confessions and spiritual guidance from 9h30 to 11h00 and 15h00 to 17h00

We recommend following a prayer path, either individually or in a group. It will take the pilgrim from the parish church to the barn and then on to the basilica.Either visiting the Cross or following the Way of the Cross will lead to a spiritual change which opens us to the path of life : Christ is alive !
I would LOVE to hear from anyone who's been there or knows someone who's been there. Looks to be an excellent and active site and I pray I and my family can get there someday. Also, take a look at this page. Looks like several high quality religious sites to visit in the area making for a potentially rich pilgrimmage. Nearby is an apparition site for St Anne I've never heard of!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Our Lady of Hope - Part III

When the children first saw here she stood with her hands extended "like the miraculous medal." What impressed the children most was her delightful smile, which seemed to be directed at each one of them individually. As news of the strange doings spread quickly throughout the little village, the Curé, the Sisters, and all the inhabitants gathered on the spot. After they had recited the rosary at the pastor's direction, a large white banner slowly unfolded under the figure of the Lady and on it were written in letters of gold the words:

"But pray, my children. God will soon answer your prayer. My Son is willing to hear you."
The need for prayer was all around them and through the children's innocence to see Mary; the hopelessness gave way to prayer for hope. Hope that God would hear their prayers.

Then one of the Sisters led the group in the singing of the hymn, "Mother of Hope". Our Lady's reaction was immediate. Her smile broadened until the children cried out, "She is laughing!" and she raised her hands to beat time to the music. When the hymn ended, however, her expression became grave for the first time and in her hands there appeared a large crucifix. The cross itself was blood red, the corpus a darker shade. At the top was an extra crosspiece, of white, on which was printed in red letters the inscription, "Jesus Christ." During this part of the apparition, Our Lady's eyes sadly contemplated the cross, the symbol and the pledge of our salvation. With the singing of the hymn, "Ave Maris Stella," the cross disappeared, and Our Lady smiled again, though this time not without a touch of sadness. This tender expression remained on her face until, after the recitation of night prayers by the crowd, a white cloud veiled the Lady from view and the apparition was at an end. Before the news of the event at Pontmain had spread beyond the neighbourhood, Our Lady's promise came true. The very day after the apparition, the Prussians halted their advance and withdrew ten mils. Peace came to the devout clients of Mary in Western France.

The Bishop of Laval lost no time holding a thorough inquiry into the apparition. Careful questioning of the four children and many adult bystanders led him to pronounce that a true apparition of the Blessed Virgin had taken place at Pontmain and to authorize her "cultus" at the scene. Many years later Pope Pius XI, after an exhaustive examination of the evidence, confirmed the decisio0n of the Episcopal court and granted a Mass and Office proper to our Lady of Hope of Pontmain. The barn from which the children had first seen the strange vision in the sky was turned into a chapel and soon became a place of pilgrimage. After the death of the elderly pastor, Father Michael Guerin, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate were placed in charge of the shrine. They erected the great basilica of Our Lady of Hope, which was consecrated in 1900.

During the trying days of German occupation in the last war, devotion to Our Lady of Hope received a new impetus. Since the end of the war, tens of thousands of pilgrims have journeyed to Pontmain to pay their thanks to the Mother of Hope or to seek her further intercession. The Oblate Fathers and Brothers introduced the devotion to America in 1952.