Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: The Four Teresas: Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisiuex, Teresa Benedicta and Mother Teresa

I love to read books and give my personal, unedited and not always charitable opinion on said literary work.  Some of these books come to me free with the promise of posting a review (good, bad or indifferent, these publishers or store owners just want to get a review out there) ... while others I bought or borrowed and feel called upon to review.

This particular book by FUS alumna, Gina Loehr, is one of those that was sent free for a review.  Well, did I hit the jackpot on this one!  Titled The Four Teresas, this book is part biography, poor spiritual reflection, and part catechesis all rolled into one.  The book's theme links the four Teresas with Jesus's two greatest commandments (as noted in Matthew 22: 37-39): 
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Loehr takes this scripture passage, explaining just how to live this command from the Lord, by detailing the lives of four Catholic holy women:
  1. Therese of Lisieux as a prime example of loving God with all your heart
  2. Teresa of Avila as a prime example of loving God with all your soul
  3. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein) as a prime example of loving God with all your mind
  4. Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a prime example of loving your neighbor as yourself
Loehr gives a wonderfully complete biography of each of these wonderful role models.  Than she links their spirituality, life and works to the part of Jesus's commandment.  And finishes the section with a reflection on how we, today, in whatever walk of life can emulate these ladies.  She shows where the saints had failings ... just like we do ... but how they took those failings and fulfilled, joyfully and completely, God's will for each.

An interesting side-note is that all four Teresas are linked not only in name, but also in spiritual chrism (three were Carmelites and the fourth, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, credited St. Teresa of Avila for her vocation and how she carried it out), and in fighting for what they believed to be God's will.  They were strong women ... willing to buck society and family to do what they knew was right.

This is a book that I'll turn to again and again for inspiration when I'm feeling the need for some spiritual sustenance.  Loehr's writing is accessible and makes the lives of these amazing women seem accessible to one and all.  I highly recommend this one!

This book was sent as part of The Catholic Company's review program.  I was required to write a review, but all comments above are my own honest opinions of the work reviewed.  For further information about The Four Teresas or to puchase a copy, please see The Catholic Company's website.

Feast Day: Feast of the Visitation ....


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Feast Day: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Enjoy this very special Sunday ... where we embrace the fact that only by Faith can we truly know that there are Three Persons in One God!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Feast Day: St. Augustine of Canterbury

St. Augustine of Canterbury (not to be confused with St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Monica's son) was prior of the monastery from whence came Pope Gregory the Great.  When Pope Gregory decided to send a missionary group to evangelize the pagans, he immediately thought of his former prior.  Augustine, along with 30 companions, made the dangerous trip into the unknown area we now know as England.  Christians had gone before to evangelize but the Saxon victory over the lands drove those Christians into hiding -- St. Augustine's mission was to bring them the Gospel, help the Christians come out of hiding, and convert the other inhabitants.  St. Augustine worked with all the peoples of England for eight years before his death.

For a wonderful living book about Augustine and his travails, Augustine Came to Kent is an excellent resource (and makes a wonderful family read-aloud).

St. Augustine, you went forth into unknown and unfriendly lands to bring Christ to the peoples, help us always to be willing to go where God wills.  St. Augustine, pray for us!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Feast Day: St. Philip Neri

St. Philip Neri, a businessman-turned-priest, founded the Congregation of the Oratory and was a major reformer (both through his actions and his words) of the late 16th Century priesthood.  [An interesting personal note:  the first time I ever traveled outside the United States, I went by myself to the UK for a two week trip.  When I landed on a Sunday, found my way to my b&b, and set out to explore London -- jet lag wasn't an issue as I was all of 23 years old! -- I found a Catholic Mass at the Brompton Oratory.  At the time I had no idea what the name meant, figuring it was a British way of saying "Catholic Church".  It wasn't until YEARS later (like maybe 5 years ago!) that I found out about St. Philip Neri and his Oratorians -- including St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622) and John Henry Cardinal Newman (famous English convert whose cause is up for canonization).

St. Philip Neri, help us to always live in sweetness, patience, humility and charity.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Feast Day: St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, born in France in 1779, is the patron saint of school girls for the simple reason that she dedicated her long-life to the education of girls ... founding and supporting the establishment of more than 100 schools and convents in 12 countries (St. Rose Phillipine Duchesne brought the order and its schools to America).  St. Madeleine and several friends founded the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (RSCJs) in 1800 -- a personal note:  my sister was educated by the RSCJs in San Francisco.  Two years later, St. Madeleine was elected their superior general at the age of 23 and remained in that post for sixty-three years, weathering the secularization of France (during the French Revolution) and much of Europe. 

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat, patron saint of school girls, help me to be the teacher and guide God would have me be!  Pray for us.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nurturing Creativity Daybook ... the week at a glance 05/24-29/2010

Here's this week's creativity in the heart of our home:

  • on my needles: I have just started another project for the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program; the "Season-spanning Cardi" and the "Felted Fair-Isle Yarn Basket" should be up on the Knit Picks's site soon. I just finished "Memories of Eire" ... a vest in a gorgeous dark heathery green that was wonderful to knit.  I just have to finish drafting the pattern, and that will go out this week.  I'm putting the finishing touches on  "Fisherman's Jacket for the Boys" and will hopefully send that out at the end of the week.  I have a few other projects backed up .... and some submission out for approval. 
  • more knitting:  I've opened a Ravelry store and started posting some of my designs -- some freebies and some for sale.  Check 'em out and see what you think....
  • on the craft table: SEWING projects have still not gotten started but they WILL get done this week; String Bean and I need the fun skirts, dresses and capris we'll be sewing. 
  • on the kitchen counter: we're trying to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables ... so this past weekend we made Celeste's famous beet salad (finally got the recipe from the dear woman!) and onion soup.  I'm going to take the greens from the beets and saute them in bacon grease (after I've fried-up crisp bacon) along with some grape-tomatoes and serve it all over whole-wheat thin spaghetti.  Doesn't that sound great?  With Kotch home for a while this summer .... we'll be having fun experimenting with food-stuffs for dinner this week ... 
  • Greek festival is our end-of-the-week destination! Talk about nurturing creativity -- music, food, crafts, lots of great non-typical stuff to enliven our family conversations
  • in the garden: we've had lots of rain 'round these parts and the garden is bursting -- all the transplants are going well and the seeds are popping up with lots of greenery and hints of later color. 
  • more in the yard:  we're designing a modular tree house that we'll add to bit-by-bit to make a "castle for the kids". We've had to put the construction on hold with all the rain ... but we do have the railed-platform up and dh will be building the ladder on the screened-in porch to best the rain
  • in the school-room: we'll continue thru the summer on a lower-gear with readin'-ritin'-rithmetic to ensure a smooth transition next Fall.  We'll enroll in the summer reading program at our library and be doing special projects throughout the summer (including taking a class or two down at a nearby farm).  Also, a group of homeschooled kids are getting together a version of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses".  All three little ones are in it ... and we'll be practicing all summer long.  String Bean will also, God willing, start piano this summer while the boys have started fencing.
  • miscellaneous creative pursuits: our friend's dog finally went into heat and we're hoping to spend much of the summer visiting our future family pet!  Mini-schnauzers are beautiful and full of life (these will be raised in a house full of kids so will be very used to the active-ness of little ones) ... while being small enough so that even dh is fine about it!
So what are you doing to nurture creativity in your home?  

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Happy Birthday ....

to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church... on this feast of Pentecost!

Today we finish the Easter season with a celebration that remembers the birth of the Catholic Church 50 days after Jesus Christ resurrected, almost 2000 years ago.  Jesus promised to send the Paraclete, our advocate and help here on Earth, so that we may continue His work on Earth and eventually re-join Him in Heaven.

Happy Birthday .... and Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Online Resources: Listography ... how cool is this?

This is so cool ... and I have a dear fellow homeschooler/Catholic and former Coloradan native to thank for this.

Listography is a spot where you can create and keep and REMEMBER listings of whatever ... Lissa's link above goes to her resource-list for Middle Ages studies.

I can see using this for all those bits and pieces where I start a unit on one thing and then go off on a tangent ... or I bookmark some great sites and then forget where they are ... watch for my links to my own unit study lists as I delve deeper into this amazing resource.

Let me know if you think it's cool ... or if you find a better, similar resource.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lake: Fishing Tournament today!

Life at the Lake is an amazing family experience.

Today is a prime example of the wonderful memories we are building down here: the littles and dh and I headed to the front pond this morning (at 0800, no less) for the annual Children's Fishing Tournament hosted by the non-profit Lake Youth Foundation (I'm on the board of directors of LYF as secretary so I had to help, but we would have gone anyway).
Bam-Bam caught two fish ... Lego Maniac caught one ... String Bean tried (she's a trouper -- she really didn't WANT to try, but did anyway).  String Bean also helped schlep paper plates, napkins and chips in anticipation of the hungry hordes descending on the food tables when the buzzer blew to mark the end of the tournament.

Here are some pix to give you a good idea of mine and the 130+ kids (plus their families) who came to enjoy the time as the lake, try to win one of the 20 trophies, eat a wonderful lunch of hotdogs/hamburgers donated  (and cooked!) by Clearwater Grill, and come home with a fishing rod, reel, lures and all kinds of other cool stuff (yep, EVERY single fisher went home with a whole "fishing kit" to encourage this wonderful outdoor activity).

The next LYF activity?  Cardboard Boat Regatta in July ... the boys are already designing their Greek War Ship ....

Life is good out here at the Lake.

Monday, May 17, 2010

May Family Weekend: Part 2 ....

Elegant Eliza's Christening
Almost all of the group from Saturday's extravaganza, showed up at the Presbyterian Church for Elegant Eliza's Christening ... we filled a few pews!

the brothers ... Gr'uncle and Poppy
the "men" ... dh, Gr'uncle, Poppy and dh's brother
cousins and best buddies
String Bean and Nanna (and Molly)
String Bean (Molly), LegoManiac, BamBam, me, dh

God bless, you, Eliza ...
Welcome to the Christian world. 
You and your mom and dad are always in our daily prayers!


May Family Weekend: Part 1 ...

Poppy's 80th Birthday!

Once upon a time .... well, about a month ago ... my SIL and I cooked up a plan of such historic proportion, I just have to share it with you now. 

Seems my dear FIL would be celebrating his 80th birthday on May 20th.  We decided to plan a party .... but not just any party .... a duct-tape-themed surprise party was rapidly organized.

My first action was to check the library for books about making things with duct tape -- and did you know there are actually quite a few?  Ductigami: the art of the tape is the best I found, but there was also The Jumbo Duct Tape Book, Got Tape? Roll Out the Fun with Duct Tape, The Ultimate Duct Tape Book, to name just a few.  These books gave me great ideas for duct-tape wearables to create for Poppy.

While I was taping, folding, taping, ripping .... my dear SIL was creating a list of all the many things Poppy has fixed (either with or without duct tape) over the years.  She called/emailed all the guests and asked them to create their own list ... at least 10 things ... Poppy has fixed over the years.  She and her daughter created a "Mr. Fix It" scrapbook (with a duct tape name plate, of course) that we'll fill with all the pictures and comments about Poppy and his "fixes".

Friday evening, with the van loaded with kids and must-have "on board" entertainment ... we headed down to SIL's house, doing our best to "sneak" in at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday so that Nanna (N&P live up the street from SIL and her family) wouldn't see us and get suspicious. 

So far so good .... altho keeping our three away from N&P's with the thought of toaster-strudel, gold fish and gogurts was a major challenge.  Thank goodness for Lucy and Max -- one an 80-pound husky and the other a 10-pound dachshund/terrier mix!

SIL and I decorated and putzed around all day ... making pasta salad, broccoli salad and prepping the mounds of chicken for the evening's barbeque.  Dh and SIL's dh were sent off for supplies (and came back with an interesting "party hat" for Poppy) and we continued to decorate: duct-tape streamers, duct-tape placemat, duct-tape cup and duct-tape utensils.  Name cards were .... duct-tape!  We also decided that Poppy really would need a tie for such a serious dinner -- we made one out of .... duct-tape!

Here is a photo-essay of the evening (with only some editorial comments ....):
Dapper Dan and his party hat and tie (with monogrammed "tie clip")
BamBam helps Poppy unwrap our "gift"
tool belt and suspenders!
String Bean, whose new love is embroidering, made a "poppy" for Poppy while Kotch, who had to work this weekend, sent a painting she'd done of ....

The guests included:
Poppy's lovely wife of just about 60 years (another big celebration this summer!)

SIL's kids (who are all ADULTS, now!  How did that happen????)  The one in the middle, just had a baby girl 3 months ago ...
Elegant Eliza (with a VERY proud daddy) was the youngest at the party,
but didn't seem to mind being passed
from 2nd cousin
to aunt
to 2nd cousin
and back to the proud aunt!
Other guests (who refuse to be photograped!) included dh's brother/sil/nephew from Charlotte, Poppy's younger brother, a family friend and of course SIL/dh and me and dh ...
a total of 21 folks celebrating the birth of the Patriarch 80 years ago ....

God bless you Poppy!  We love you, Mr. Fix-It!