Think on These Things {Fr. Lasance}

21396-Bouguereau, William-Adolphe

“One secret of a sweet and happy Christian life is learning to live by the day. It is the long stretches that tire us. We think of life as a whole, running on for us. We cannot carry this load until we are three score and ten. We cannot fight this battle continually for half a century. But really there are no long stretches. Life does not come to us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time.”

-My Prayer Book, Fr. Lasance

August · March

Congratulations, Brother Simeon!!!


Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!
The Holy Cross be my light! Let not the dragon be my guide!
(Latin rhyme abbreviated on the medal of St. Benedict)

Happy Feast of St. Benedict!

I just wanted to share some of my heart’s joy upon hearing this morning that my dear brother in Christ, Benedict, has received his scapular and his name in religion!

Brother Simeon, if you see this post before you get my card, know that there is a card on its way to you! I am just thrilled for you and so grateful to know you! I am praying, today and always, that Our Lord and Lady will bless you, keep you, and make you a Saint, dear brother in Christ! Thank you for all the letters & prayers and for being willing to share this great journey we are on!

 A few quotes for you (because we love quotes!). . .

“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
-St. Catherine of Siena

“He who desires nothing but God is rich and happy.”
-St. Alphonsus Liguori

“Leave sadness to those in the world. We who work for God must be lighthearted.”
-St. Leonard of Port Maurice

“Tribulation is a gift from God; one that He especially gives His special friends.”
-St. Thomas More

“Let us throw ourselves into the ocean of His goodness, where every failing will be canceled and anxiety turned into love.”
-St. Paul of the Cross

“Give me ten truly detached men, and I will convert the world with them.”
-St. Philip Neri

God bless you and congratulations!

In our Loving Lady,




His heart burned like a candle {Happy Feast Day, St. Joseph!}

sjg-1 (2)

“He was the man of action,
Captain of industry,
And his soul was like a single pearl
Lost in the sea.

“He was up and doing
By daylight and by dark,
And the sheltered veins within him
Sang like a lark.

“He swung the adze, the hammer;
He paid the public tax,
And his heart burned like a candle
Virginal, of wax.

“Coming home at evening
He had his loaf and wine,
And he saw in a young Child’s eyes
All the stars shine.

“He read in a Woman’s face
The sun of love and beauty,
As all the while he went about
Doing his duty.

“The shop he kept as carpenter
Was swept by seraphim,
Almost, the Son of God
Was lackey to him.

“An eagle on Patmos
Soaring, saw and heard
The secret things that Joseph knew
Who never said a word.

“Most blessed, baffling man,
History’s one sphinx–
It must be heaven is
What Joseph thinks.”

The Carpenter by Charles L. O’Donnell, C.S.C.

A most jubilant feast of St. Joseph to you all today!

There is ever so much to be said about our holy father St. Joseph, the Saint of Silence whose praises should ever be sung, but I will let him and other Saints who can tell of him better than I can speak!


“The means that he (Satan) most utilizes are the sins against holy purity,
because purity is one of the virtues most beloved by God,
and in this way Satan desires to destroy the image of God
present in each creature through this virtue.
And it is because of this, that God asks all humanity
to have devotion to my Chaste Heart; He wants to give men the grace
to overcome the temptations and attacks of the Devil in their day to day lives.


“The invocation of my name is enough to make demons flee!
I promise to all the faithful that honor my most Chaste Heart
with faith and love, the grace to live with holy purity of soul and body
and the strength to resist all attacks and temptations by the Devil.
I myself will preciously protect you.
This grace is not only destined for those who honor this heart of mine,
but also for all their family members who are in need of divine help.”
-St. Joseph to Edson Glauber


“Go, then to Joseph, and do all that he shall say to you;
Go to Joseph, and obey him as Jesus and Mary obeyed him;
Go to Joseph, and speak to him as they spoke to him;
Go to Joseph, and consult him as they consulted him;
Go to Joseph, and honour him as they honoured him;
Go to Joseph, and be grateful to him as they were grateful to him;
Go to Joseph, and love him, as they love him still.”
– St. Alphonsus Liguori


“The two disciples, going to Emmaus, were inflamed with divine love by the few moments which they spent in company with our Savior, and by His words.
What flames of holy love must not, then, have been enkindled in the heart of St. Joseph, who for thirty years conversed with Jesus Christ, and listened to His words of eternal life; who observed the perfect example which Jesus gave of humility and patience,
and saw the promptness with which He obeyed and helped him in his labors,
and all that was needed for the household!”
– St. Alphonsus Liguori 


 “The Lord has arrayed Joseph, like with a sun,
in all which the saints possess together in regard to light and splendor.”
-St. Gregory of Nazianzus

“I have never known anyone who was truly devoted to him
and honored him by particular services who did not advance greatly in virtue,
for he helps in a special way those souls who recommend themselves to him.”
-St. Teresa of Avila


“It is now very many years since I began asking him for something on his feast,
and I always received it. If the petition was in any way amiss,
he rectified it for my greater good.”
-St. Teresa of Avila

May sweet St. Joseph watch over you always, and may we all take refuge in his most Chaste Heart and grow daily in imitation of his manifold virtues!



‘It is God Himself who asks it. . .’


I am speechless at what I just found out on Portraits of Saints!

“Here in this Heart you will find Me living, because it is pure and saintly.
That all hearts could be like this one, so they could be My home on earth.

Imitate this Heart so that you may receive My graces and blessings.”
-Our Lord (in the second apparition)

“That all may spread devotion to my Heart, it is God Himself who asks it.
For all those who listen to my plea, I give my blessing.”
-St. Joseph

I did not even imagine it would be this beautiful!!! And be done so soon! Thank you, Tracy! What a gift. This fatherly Heart has truly cradled me and obtained so many graces for me already. . .

Oh, Most Chaste and Pure Heart
of St. Joseph,
I consecrate myself to your heart
where all souls shall be protected.
For love of thee, I surrender to thee,

Oh, and by the way, the Benedictines of Mary are accepting enrollments in their novena of Latin Masses in honor of the Most Pure Heart of St. Joseph (from March 19th-27th) until Sunday the 18th. If you would like to enroll a loved one or friend in the novena and have them receive a card in time, you should go ahead and do so today or tomorrow.
You can enroll here!

Sancte Joseph, Virginum Custos et Pater, ora pro nobis!


“Well, I’m back.”


“Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will,
and being just what God wants us to be.”
-St. Therese

I have not forgotten about you all! I have been eager to share with you my journey, there and back again, but it has been quite a lot to process and absorb from beginning to end. Sunday afternoon I came down with a little cold which I am now nursing (and which I am so grateful waited until after my trip and High Mass!!! Little bits of providence.) It’s a cozy sort of feeling, to be sitting here with a mild cold, the diffuser running beside me and the soft strains of Jesus, My Lord, my God, my All whispering from my speakers. The quiet morning routine is in full swing downstairs; my dear big sister just brought me a cup of sweet tea, and I am here at last to share with you all that God has shared with my heart through the tremendous trip that began thirteen days ago.

Where to begin?

untitledMy time at Ephesus was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my nineteen years. If I were Anne Shirley I would definitely call it an epoch in my life; but perhaps the best way to describe it all–the journey there and back again and all the time in between–is a Lent packed into one week. As I expressed to my family the other day, I really feel like it should be Easter already! (Don’t worry, though, I haven’t broken into the chocolate. Except for once on Laetare.)

I set out to take the next step I could distinguish on the path that our Lord has traced for me, full of hope, joy, and an eager expectation of many graces (I mean, after all, I’d kind of prayed a lot of novenas and had half the people in the world praying and fasting for me!)

Looking back, I can see now that our Lord answered each of these expectations in an overwhelmingly abundant way, although the answer was not what I expected when I stepped into the airport. Not in the least! Christ truly is the Master Author–it was the perfect plot twist that no one expects but that perfectly fulfills every facet of the story in a breathtaking way. The longer I live, the more firmly I believe that I am a character in the most amazing book ever.

 Old Dusty Book

“Praise ye the Lord:
for He is good:
sing ye to His name,
for He is sweet:
whatsoever He pleased, He hath done
in heaven and on earth.”
-Offertory from
Laetare Sunday


If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you probably won’t be very surprised by the fact that God has surprised me again. The one thing about vocational discernment I have truly learned is that His plans for my future are beyond my grasp, and will remain so until He is ready to reveal them. Come to think of it, it would be very frustrating as an author to have a character who was constantly trying to guess what I was going to have happen next–begging me to reveal their incredible destiny to them–too restless to get to the future to appreciate the present. What if I wanted to surprise them? (Bear with me being whimsical for a moment!) What if I knew that the sufferings and trials they would have to undergo one day would be too much for their wills to bear in the present? That the joys to follow would not be as meaningful and deep to them now? I would know that they would be unable to live and grow now if they were consumed with a knowledge of their future.

Looking towards my journey, it seemed quite possible to me that I would, at some point in the visit, receive a real sense of Yes! This is the place for me! This is the answer to all my longings and expectations! I knew it was possible something else would happen, but I was ready to receive a certainty of belonging there. After all, there were all those novenas. . .

 In the months and weeks leading up to the trip, I was full of anticipation and excitement, trying to keep my family brave and upbeat as they processed emotionally the idea of my radical departure from them. I spent hours looking through old Ephesus newsletters on their site, photo galleries, reading about them, and chattering about them to anyone who would listen. I marked the days off one by one. I prayed the novenas. I practice-packed to make sure I could fit all I needed in carry-on-size-luggage, and then finally packed. Then the day came, and we were off to the airport. (By the way, I absolutely loved flying. Gazing out of the tiny window, I constantly had John Gillespie Magee, Jr.’s High Flight circling through my head: “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings. . .”)

Although, as I’d admitted to plenty of people, I really didn’t know much of what to expect, I was full of positive thoughts and emotions on the flight to Kansas City. Dad was already experiencing internally his own Agony in the Garden–but was so brave at concealing it that I couldn’t tell. We landed, got our rental car, and made our way up to St. Joseph, then to Gower, and finally all the way out to the gates of Ephesus.

Full of excitement, we found the Sister I was to meet, who told Dad where he was to stay and whisked us off to the chapel, where None was beginning. It was completely surreal to be finally in that space–to be seeing the faces of nuns I had seen in photos so many times. It was dreamlike, and with the kind help of the friendly aspirant I was to room with all week, I managed to follow some of the office. Then Dad went off to where he was staying, and I joined the community for dinner.


The privilege of being allowed into the cloister, of being able to share in just about every aspect of the Benedictines’ daily lives for a whole week–which had to be at least a little disruptive for them!–is a gift I will ever be humbled by and grateful for. Every one of the nuns that I encountered was absolutely dear and edifying in her own way. What an incredible experience it was, to be allowed to enter into the workings of the heart of the Church for a week. Ephesus, I found, is a house of beauty and simplicity, of holiness and order, of joy and prayer, just as the house of Our Lady should be. Finally, after months of imaginings, conversations, pictures and emails, I was there, and I could taste, smell, touch, see, and hear it all.

It was beautiful. And, I will be perfectly honest, it was the most difficult week of my whole life.

To start with, the silence was almost startling–not because I didn’t expect it, but because I didn’t know how to really conceive of it until I was in it. It was a whole silence–not just of the tongue, but of the hands, the eyes, the whole countenance. I didn’t really talk with any of the Benedictines for a couple of days, when we were allowed to join the Novitiate for recreation–so much fun–and didn’t have a real conversation about my visit and discernment and everything until Wednesday, when I sat down with Sister Scholastica and talked for a while. I don’t know what I was expecting, going to a place where silence was kept, but it wasn’t that!

After dinner on Friday I was directed to the kitchen, where the first thing I did was help one of the novices and my fellow aspirant (without whose bright spirits and friendliness I don’t think I would have survived!) cut mold off of heads of cauliflower. Then I helped peel and cut up carrots. Then I sorted through lettuce and spinach and picked out the icky parts–though nothing was thrown away, just given to the chickens or the compost pile.

As we worked in silence–and it was a very revealing silence–everything began to catch up to me. Exhaustion from travel, the letdown of anticipation and the nervousness that came from not knowing what to expect, anxiety over not knowing if Dad was settled all right and when I would get to see him and call the rest of the family. As I picked through spinach, tears began to seep through, and the thought came to me suddenly that, if I were to decide then and there that I just had to go back home, I could be sure that Dad would take me right back and not think twice about having come all the way to Missouri for nothing. Then I really started to cry–though silently, of course.

 Finally some time came when I was free and I went to sit on the front porch and called home. It was cold, and windier than I had expected–the wind and I got used to each other over that week–and I was trembling and fighting tears from my voice as I talked to Mom and my siblings. They were encouraging and loving as we chatted, and I tried to be brave. Soon afterwards came Compline and then, to avoid breaking Grand Silence, Dad took me outside the chapel to say goodbye.

I can’t effectively describe the ways in which moments like that one throughout this journey have made me grow in love, respect, and confidence in my father, just as I have grown in a realization of how much I rely on and need my mother and how much my siblings mean to me–and how insignificant any friction with them always is.

Standing just outside the chapel in the freezing wind, Dad and I hugged each other and then let go. (Yes, Dad, I’m tearing up just thinking about it!) I was crying, although it was the last thing I wanted to do because I knew–or thought I knew–how hard this was for him. I couldn’t help it. I tried to reassure him that I was fine and would be fine until they came to get me, what seemed like an eternal week from then, though I wasn’t so sure of that myself. He smiled, held my hands in his, and reminded me of how God had brought me here and would take care of me. He told me I was safe and that I could do it. And then he told me that he would come and get me sooner than a week if I needed him to.

Finally, I was beginning to emotionally process what my family had already been processing yet for some reason I had been unable to until then–the pain of separation–the cost. Of course this was healthy and natural, but it was very painful. We said goodbye, and I went to bed with the shivers and cried and prayed until I fell asleep.

Looking back now, the days really blend together in my memory, homogenizations of psalms, work, meals, Masses, recreations, struggles, and finally joy and peace. There was a beautiful but bewildering sense of timelessness–which makes sense, because one is stepping into what Ven. Maria Teresa Quevedo called “the vestibule of Heaven”.

The first few days I struggled hard with my anxiety–the kind that clutches your chest and refuses to be shaken off completely. My mind would not stop running–I was constantly analyzing, processing, trying to understand why I felt the way I did and what I actually thought about things there and when my anxiety would go away so I could feel more like myself. Although I could see the beauty of the life, although everyone was kind, I was upset and I just wanted to be home! I was utterly homesick, not just for my family, but for everything–my house, the foothills and trees I love, my friends, my schedule, my parish, anything familiar. My missal was a friend with its simple familiarity, but it made me long to be back at my church, between my siblings in our pew. High Mass on Sunday made me want to cry because I knew how much Mary would love it. I felt completely uprooted and dropped in the middle of nowhere, far from everyone I knew–though, as my brother reminded me during one teary phone conversation–Jesus was there. Jesus was there, Deo gratias. Otherwise, I would not have been, and could not have lasted the week.

Abraham and Issac
Rembrandt van Rijn, 1634

But on a deeper plane than simple homesickness, those first few days saw my own battle, the same one that Dad had been fighting on the plane ride and as we said goodbye–the battle of Abraham, although I was Isaac. What if God really did ask this of me? Could I really let go of everything–would I really give Him my family and everything that I had ever known, apart from Him?

Although it was anything but pleasant, I consider this battle one of the most important of my life so far, because in the midst of it, I was bereft of pretty much everything except God, and learned how to rely on grace when I had nothing. Yes, Lord. I’m afraid, Lord, but take away my fear! Thy will be done, became my prayer.

That little victory–just being able, over and over, to repeat that surrender–took away my fears. Christ showed me that His grace is sufficient and perfected His power in my weakness. Finally I truly joined my family in their act of offering Isaac.  (By the way, if you’ve never listened to Danielle Rose’s Abraham’s Offering, this is one of the most beautiful songs ever!)

All this was interior, and there were battles to be fought at the same time with adjusting to a completely different sleep schedule (4:45 am – 8:45 pm) and eating schedule, and the work. It was mostly simple work (for which I was very grateful!), but when one is tired in body and spirit, peeling garlic for four hours or removing dead bean vines from wire fencing in the cold can be downright difficult. However, I did feel as though I was earning my keep, and came away with a whole new appreciation for how much one can get done in a day! I began to sleep better because I was so tired. Then of course there was the prayer–the Office became easier to follow along with over time and practically reading the entire book of Psalms over the course of my stay was one of my favorite parts of the trip. There is so much expression of the spiritual life–and of Christ’s life–in the psalms, sometimes startlingly so. I loved discovering the psalms in a new way, and they upheld me in some of the most difficult struggles.

There were very real joys even in the most difficult days–bright smiles from passing novices or postulants–a bit of beautiful snow–conversations with my family–tiny pieces of Providence seen in finding time to shower, to rest, or text home now and then–the particularly apt Psalms when I was low–the friendship of the other aspirants–good food (I ate more there than I was at home!)–and many other little encouragements and consolations that kept me going and reassured me that I was truly being well taken care of by my Heavenly Father. I began to rely more upon Him, knowing that I had cast myself upon His care in a way I never had before, trusting Him for my needs, great and small. And the Eucharist was there each day–my lifeline! I relied very heavily on Our Lady and St. Joseph and my patron saints, and they certainly did not let me down! As my dad encouraged me to do on the phone, I began to contemplate that there is no sorrow we encounter that Our Lord or Our Lady have not already undergone. I grew closer to Our Lady in her sorrows, especially in the Flight into Egypt and the Loss of the Child Jesus. How consoling that was!


After the first few days, I felt myself beginning to emotionally relax (although there were still teary moments. . . melancholic to the end!) and get more used to the schedule. I knew that I was growing–that I had been broken down and was being put together into something rather new–but, paradoxically, I felt at the same time that I finally understood my age. Does that make sense? To put it simply, I realized that I am still more a girl than a woman.

I’ve always wanted to give God my youth, abhorring the idea of delaying my vocation indefinitely so I can “live a little first”, whatever that means. Knowing myself, I can easily see that zeal has never been my problem so much as impatience. I’ve never lacked in eagerness to embark on my vocation, but I have often been lacking in contentment with what I have in the present (which you could probably glean from skimming through a few of my earlier posts!)

It’s easy to see where most of the time this longing of mine has been pure impatience, and looking back to the time leading up to my trip, I smile to remember how I dreaded the possibility of Sister Scholastica sending me home with a, “Give it a year or two and see if you feel the same way.”

To end your suspense, that’s exactly the conclusion she and I came to. And I’m the happiest person alive!

How so?

I finally understand my state in life for the present; and, to quote St. Therese again, Holiness consists simply in doing God’s will, and being just what He wants us to be. Finally, finally, I understand that I am simply doing His will by being content to be a young woman at home. I am still with Christ in His Hidden Life in Nazareth, meant to grow in wisdom and age and grace here, now! He is not in a hurry to take me from the bosom of my family–just like with Abraham, He asked only the willingness, and He gave us back to each other. What a loving Lord I have!

girlThe thing is, it’s always easier to be holy in the future than in the present. It’s so easy for me to imagine my vocation as the key to suddenly reaching new heights of virtue and sanctity, the moment the ring is on my finger or the veil is on my head–and it’s true that, for most of us, our vocation is the path to Sainthood (the exception being very young Saints). But virtue can only exist in the present–as a matter of fact, we can only exist in the present. We can only grow into Saints one moment at a time. (These simple things boggle my mind sometimes!) My Heavenly Father knows, and has finally gotten it through my thick skull, that I still need my childhood. That chapter of the story is not yet complete–my maidenhood–there are still parts of me that must grow and mature in ways I can’t understand yet. But that’s fine with me. Finally, I am content just to bloom where I have been planted until my Divine Gardner is ready to transplant me elsewhere. Contentment! I am so happy to be home–so happy–there is so much here that I had taken for granted!

This was the great and unexpected gift I received at Ephesus–the clarity of understanding how I am to serve and please God with my life now. I think that has been a cause of restlessness for my soul since long before I started this blog. What a gift!

As I said before, the retreat truly broke me down and put me back together, and beyond this clarity I feel I don’t know anything for certain, certainly not about my future. But I’m at peace–I know He will lead–so I’m leaving the future up to the Author and getting busy with the present!

“My dear Sam, you cannot always be torn in two. . .
You have so much to enjoy, and to be, and to do. . .”


“Well, I’m back,” he said.


Two days. . .


Only two more days!

“But I will stay in Ephesus. . .for a wide door for effective work has opened to me. . .”
-1 Corinthians 16, 8-9

With an appropriate amount of butterflies, I approach this long-awaited visit, this peek through a wide door for effective work! The closer I draw the more I feel the need to plant my trust firmly in our Lord, our Lady, and St. Joseph (to whom I have entrusted this trip in a special way!). I feel the need to continuously purify my intentions, cast away my fears, and throw myself upon the will of God Who has never disappointed me–God Who cannot disappoint. Again, I must repeat my refrain: Whatever Thou dost want, however, whenever Thou willest, O Lord! The desires of Thy Heart are what matter to me, what my life is for! Thy Will is all I will!

My particular prayer for this trip is to have the purity and silence of heart to hear whatever Our Lord desires to tell me while I am there, to place no obstacles to whatever graces He chooses to send me, and to be able to be myself and relax and discern clearly if this is the place where God wants to fit me for Heaven and use me to help others on their journey there.

If so, here I am, Lord! If not, show me where! Give me courage and simplicity, trust and joy, and the freedom of always obeying Thee!


I feel overwhelmed by the love, prayers, and sacrifices of so many people on my behalf for this trip and my discernment, even people I barely know! It is truly humbling every time someone tells me I’ll be praying for you! It is a beautiful reminder of the reality that I am one member of the Mystical Body of Christ, with many wonderful brothers and sisters supporting me spiritually. At the same time, it is for this Mystical Body that I am seeking my vocation! I will be praying a novena to St. Dominic Savio (starting tomorrow) throughout my visit for each person who is praying, fasting, or making sacrifices for me. Thank you so much! You will never know the reassurance and comfort it gives me to know that I am on this journey supported, guarded, and confirmed by your prayers!

I haven’t posted at length about it yet, but during this past month I have discovered and been strongly drawn to the devotion to the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, according to the (Church-approved!) apparitions of 1998 in Itapiranga, Brazil. St. Joseph revealed his heart to Edson Glauber in a series of nine apparitions, sometimes alone, sometimes accompanied by angels, Our Lord, and Our Lady. The messages which St. Joseph gave along with the revelation of his heart are absolutely breathtaking (I strongly encourage you to read them fully here). Another Saint has stolen my heart, and a couple of weeks ago I consecrated myself to His Chaste Heart.

As I was first reading the account of the apparitions, I realized in amazement that my visit coincided with their twentieth anniversary, beginning tomorrow and ending on March ninth! What a grace. . .what a comfort to know that I am going hidden in St. Joseph’s cloak, with his staff to guide me and his most Chaste Heart to protect me! Truly, there is nothing to fear.


I look forward to being able to share the visit with you all once I’m back! You will all be in my prayers there, in Our Lady’s House!

God bless you!
In our Loving Lady,


Think on these things (Transfiguration)


Praised be Jesus Christ!

Outside my bedroom windows, the world is dark and somber and chill. For the past several days, we’ve been enjoying beautifully balmy temperatures, blue skies, and admiring the green creeping in to everything. The daffodils, telltales of my birthday-time, have sprung from the brown leaves like the gold trumpets of angels. The (purple) redbuds have begun to flower, signaling Lent. It was perfect weather for the Ember Days. It wasn’t difficult to stir up gratitude to God for the gifts of nature!

Today, it looks like November again. I know the redbuds are still in bloom somewhere beyond the gray leafless trunks I can see from here, and blue still hides somewhere behind the suffocating gray of clouds and the sniffling drizzle of rain. It’s comforting to believe and know that spring and sunlight and color are not distant. . .only from my eyes.


Like Christ?

“And He was transfigured before them, and His face shone like the sun. . .”

Happy Sunday!



Think on These Things {Immaculate Heart of Mary}

“And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest,
whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely,
whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline,
think on these things.”
-Phil. 4

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Although I will probably be producing less frequent full-length posts here over the course of Lent (I do hope to make one soon about the most incredible birthday ever!), I thought it would be fun to start a series entitled Think on These Things, consisting simply of a beautiful quote or two from the Saints and an accompanying image to spark reflection and held to “keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.
I hope you enjoy and pray for a holy and fruitful season for you all!

p.s. Ten days until Ephesus!

Think on These Things


“The Holy Virgin is often compared to a mother, but she is much better than the best of mothers. . . The heart of this good Mother is all love and mercy;
she desires only to see us happy. We have only to turn to her to be heard.
The Son has His justice, the Mother has nothing but her love.
God has loved us so much as to die for us; but in the heart of Our Lord there is justice, which is an attribute of God;  in that of the most Holy Virgin there is nothing but mercy. . .
“The Heart of Mary is so tender towards us, that those 
of all the mothers in the world put together are like a piece of ice in comparison to hers.”
-St. John Vianney (Catechism on the Blessed Virgin)

“My Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God.”
-Our Lady of Fatima

Happy Feast Day Ss. Francisco and Jacinta! May they (and Servant of God Lucia!)share with us their burning love for the Immaculate Heart of our most sweet Mother!


In our Loving Lady,


Let us begin {with a big smile!}


“Take your eyes from yourself and rejoice that you have nothing–
that you are nothing–that you can do nothing.
Give Jesus a big smile each time your nothingness frightens you.
Just keep the joy of Jesus as your strength–be happy and at peace,
accept whatever He takes with a big smile.”
-St. Teresa of Calcutta

“I will extoll Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast upheld me,
and hast not made my enemies to rejoice over me:
O Lord, I have cried to Thee, and Thou hast healed me.”
-Offertory from Ash Wednesday

One day down: thirty-nine to go! And I’ve already discovered something about myself:

I am weak! (I know, so shocking.)

And yet, Mother Teresa’s idea of meeting my nothingness with a big smile is making more and more concrete sense to me. It makes me think a lot of Blessed Chiara and her beautiful smile. During her illness, she wrote about exactly what Mother Teresa was getting at–the joy of knowing our nothingness and relying completely on Christ.

Chiara Luce2

“I must learn to trust Jesus more, to believe in his immense love. In this period, the occasions for embracing my Spouse have certainly not been lacking; as a matter of fact, I’ve had a very high temperature for about a week, which, being already very debilitated, makes me very weak; but these are so many occasions for love that I have to be even more rooted in God. I offer my nothingness so that the Holy Spirit can bestow his gifts of love, light and peace upon the youth; so that everybody can understand what a free and immense gift life is and how important it is to live every instant in the fullness of God.
I feel so little and the road ahead is so arduous that I often feel overwhelmed with pain! But that’s the Spouse coming to meet me.
Yes, I repeat it: ‘If you want it, Jesus, so do I’.”

When I get a clearer glimpse of my weakness and nothingness, which suffering (especially in voluntary penances like fasting) tends to provide me with, there are two potential reactions: that of misery, and that of joy. Misery and frustration because my pride is hurt, or joy and peace because I know that Christ knows that I am nothing, and it does not disturb Him. It does not deter His love. It seems to attract it!

This self-knowledge, that I am but dust, is comforting because it is true. I have nothing good of myself–I can do nothing good when relying on myself. And yet I desire to be a Saint. I desire to live a life of heroic virtue and holiness and the charity of a martyr.

This apparent paradox and frustration of my very life and destiny does not frighten me, though, because of the great but undeniable mystery that Christ loves to work through weak vessels. He made all the Saints–our Lady–out of dust–out of nothingness. As Fr. Mawdsley would say, it’s a proof of His divinity. One of the greatest, I think.

I know that reminders of my nothingness are given to me to help me “take my eyes from myself” and make me rejoice that I am not supposed to find the strength to get to Heaven, to become a Saint, to practice the smallest virtue, even simply to fast, anywhere in myself (thank God!). I have to cast myself completely upon Christ, like a child. He wants my total reliance and trust to rest upon Him–to let Him do the heavy lifting behind all my efforts this Lent and during all my life. He has made Himself my example, my life and breath, my very food!

He alone can fill my emptiness, and He alone can give me the strength to empty myself of every obstacle to Him. The steps, the temptations, and the difficulties are simply “so many occasions for love that I have to be even more rooted in God.”

I can only love Him as He desires if I am rooted in His own most Sacred Heart. I can only be a martyr if I am rooted in His Cross. I can only fast if I rely on His strength in fasting and temptation. That is the way of holiness, of sanctity, of freedom and of joy! And, in a most wonderful way, there will be nothing I cannot do for God; I will never be able to say “Enough!” to Him, because it is Christ Who is doing all good in me, the Omnipotent One. There is simply no other way than this; and to try to do it on my own would not only be futile, but displeasing to Him because of my pride.

At the end of Lent, and at the end of my life, I will not dare to tell the Lord, “See how well I overcame my sinfulness? See all the wonderful things I did for You? See how holy I’ve become?” I hope and pray that I will say nothing except, “I will extoll Thee, O Lord, because Thou hast upheld me, and has not made my enemies to rejoice over me. O Lord, I have cried to Thee, and Thou hast healed me.”

Surely that is why the Saints smiled, especially during Lent!


 May Our Lord bless you with the joy of relying on His strength as you battle vice, do penance, and strive to grow closer to Him in this beautiful season!

In our Loving Lady,



Will it! {To a fellow soldier on the anniversary of Confirmation}


My dearest brother,
One year ago today, you were enrolled in the army of Christ, marked with the indelible character of a soldier in the great spiritual warfare. A year ago this day, you received the fullness of grace within your soul to make you perfectio, a perfect Christian. And I was there, with my hand upon your shoulder, as the Holy Ghost rushed upon you.

Neither of us (as far as I know!) felt a rushing wind or saw tongues of flame. You did not begin to speak of the wonders of God in various tongues. But the same God, the same Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, descended upon your soul just as He came to the Infant Church on Pentecost, with no less reality and power. It was just with less drama. To you, He chose to descend in silence and sweetness and to rest on you like a dove.

Have you ever wondered why? Wouldn’t it have been a whole lot easier (not to mention cooler) to have rushing wind and a flame over your head? Wouldn’t it have made your faith like iron, with no room for doubts? Wouldn’t it at least have strengthened it, at least more than the invisibility and silence with which He came?


No, my Thomas Aquinas. You have been given a better part, in a way, than even the Apostles. For as our Lord told St. Thomas the Apostle, Seeing, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen, and have believed. Blessed are you! Within your soul you have the gift of Faith. It is your door to God. It is through that door that the Holy Ghost came to you in Confirmation. No matter what, fight to keep that door open to Him, and defend it from any and every temptation, letting no evil thought into the place where only He should dwell. How you will please your Captain by living the life of a faithful soldier! As a Saint once said, Christ has few friends, so His friends should be good ones. You are the friend of Christ. Be ever a good one!

I love you so much. You gave me such an honor in asking me to be your sponsor. We worked together for a long time to get ready for your Confirmation day–you remember all the afternoons when I would read aloud to you and our drills on the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. We had a lot of help from Star Wars there, didn’t we? You’d think a Jedi would have more respect for the difference between _____ and _____. The assembly of the Jedi masters is called the Jedi ______. That was fun. And there were times that were less fun, like working on the paper on St. Thomas Aquinas (I was kind of a drill sergeant. Sorry!). But you worked hard, and finally February 5th, 2017 came.

It was such a special day for our family, with both you and our younger sister receiving the Sacrament. Isn’t it beautiful that Mary and I share the same Confirmation date (in different years), as do you two? I was filled with holy envy (is that a contradiction?) that you could receive the Sacrament in the Old Rite, but such joy. We were both blowing our noses from our tenth cold of the season, remember? Our pews were loaded with way too many Confirmandi and sponsors. All you boys were groomed and suited up. I was squished between the broad shoulders of two full-grown-men sponsors. I don’t think our church has ever been that full. Our dear bishop emeritus was there, under whom you’d already had the joy of serving at the altar a few times. It was he who sealed you with chrism and tapped you on the cheek (it could have been more severe, but I only got a handshake, so count yourself lucky!)

Then there was High Mass, followed by the reception downstairs. That day there were chicken fingers and cake and congratulations, an outpouring of love and gifts. But none of it could measure up to what you had received from God. Within your soul, in all His fullness, shone the Paraclete. God.

And just like in any soldier’s life, the splendor and excitement of the day of receiving your credentials, your uniform, and weapons, and being deployed into battle gave way to the true test of your mettle in the ordinary combat of everyday. You have fought in the battles of growing from a boy into a good man, of prayer, of school, of virtue, of living in a family without killing anyone (so far, so good). And I have seen you grow in more than height since last February (even though I know it fills you with glee to tower over me and peer down at your little Confirmation sponsor). You are a young man I am proud to call my brother. You are generous and kind, gentlemanly and loyal.

And you are still in the trenches, still fighting, sometimes for inches of spiritual turf. Sometimes I know you feel depleted, weary, unsettled, distracted. Sometimes you may be wounded. Sometimes the wounds of your friends will hurt you more than you could have imagined. Sometimes your weapons–prayer, sacrifice, and the Sacraments–will seem more a burden to carry than a help. But I know you’d never drop your guns in the mud. I know you won’t lie down, and you won’t leave the trenches of the Great Battle against Satan, the flesh, and the world. You won’t betray the Captain you love. When you are wounded, you will let Him heal you and return to the fight. When your brothers fall, you will carry them back to Him on your shoulders. One day you will be more than a soldier–you will be a Knight. You may have the souls of a family on your shoulders then–or the souls of all the faithful as a Priest. You will have to grow stronger, and let Him patiently pick you back up every time you fall.

 The many battles will change you, strengthen you, purify you, until victory is at last yours, and you can lay your head to rest upon Christ and let Him carry you to an eternal reward. As your holy patron Saint has said, “the status of a soldier remains after the victory, to the glory of the conquerors and the shame of the conquered.”

What glory awaits you in Heaven if you fight faithfully for Christ all your life! I know you have what it takes, because God is dwelling within you. Christ is your Captain. Your Blessed Mother stands at your side, ready to smite your enemy as soon as you turn to her. Your Guardian Angel rushes to your assistance when you call. All the Saints and Angels in Heaven, all your fellow Church Militant are with you. What must you do?

Will it.

Will to love God above everything, because He deserves your love. Will to fight for Him when all seems lost. Will to lay your life on the line every day for Him and for your brothers and sisters. Will to keep your weapons clean and well in hand. Will to avoid every occasion of sin. Will to never give up. Will holiness, will courage, will charity.

I will be praying for you always, my brave soldier. I’ve got your back.



It is for your consolation {on the heavenly birthday of St. Blaise}


Praised be Jesus Christ!

A most happy feast of St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, and Holy Helper to you!

O God, Who dost gladden us by the annual feast of blessed Blaise, Thy Martyr and Bishop: mercifully grant that we, who celebrate his heavenly birthday, may also rejoice in his protection. Through our Lord. Amen.

Believe it or not, First Saturday Mass this morning was my first time to ever actually assist at the Mass of a Holy Helper! (Last year I was at Mass on St. Vitus’ day, but he got liturgically trumped by Corpus Christi. Not that he minded!) What a special grace and spiritual joy! And to have my throat blessed by our dear parish priest in the name of one of my Fourteen Angels–right before choir practice–it doesn’t get much better than that!

Through the intercession of St. Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, may God deliver
you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness:
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

St. Blaise was born to rich and noble parents, received a Christian education and became a bishop while still young. He was bishop of Sebaste in Armenia when persecutions arose. In obedience to divine direction he fled into the mountains, and there he dwelt in a cave that was often visited by wild beasts. He tended to those animals that were wounded or sick, and they began to come to him to receive his blessing. Eventually he was found by hunters seeking animals for the amphitheater, surrounded by his faithful beasts. They seized him and took him to the governor.

On the way, Blaise and his captors encountered a poor woman whose pig had been carried off by a wolf. At St. Blaise’s command the wolf returned it to her unscathed. As they continued onward, a child was brought to Blaise choking on a fishbone and at the point of death. The holy bishop healed him and then journeyed on towards his martyrdom.

Blaise was scourged and deprived of food. While in prison awaiting execution, the poor woman he had helped came to visit him, bringing two fine wax candles to help brighten up his cell. (I can only imagine how this simple act of gratitude and kindness comforted the suffering Saint!) Before being beheaded, he was tortured by having his flesh torn with iron combs.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Father of mercies and the God of comfort,
Who comforteth us in all our tribulation;
that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress,
by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God.
For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.
Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation:
or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation:
or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation,
which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.
That our hope for you may be steadfast:
knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings,
so shall you be also of the consolation, in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Epistle from the Mass
Sacerdotes Dei of a Martyr Bishop (today)

How selfless he was, this Saint of Comfort! How he consoled the suffering, even the animals in the mountains, even on his way to martyrdom! Even the little consolation of the poor woman’s candles he manages to turn into a gift to the Church Militant from his place in Paradise! The blessing of the throats in his name is not just a lovely little tradition or a wise thing to do in flu season. The two candles should be a most powerful symbol to us of the union that generosity and great suffering had in the heart of St. Blaise. If he suffered–and he did–it was for our exhortation and salvation. If he was comforted, it was for our consolation.

This is one Saint I cannot wait to meet! O, let us pray to St. Blaise and follow his example of heroic generosity and compassion as, embracing the Cross, we partake in both the sufferings and the infinite consolations of Christ our Lord!

Thank you, Holy Helper and Saint of compassion, for answering my prayers for baby Isaac, who was able to come off the respirator today, on your feast day! Blessed be God!

11 Blaise

“Consolamini, consolamini, popule meus. . .
Quare moerore consumeris? quare innovavit te dolor?”

St. Blaise, Bishop, Martyr, and Holy Helper,
ora pro nobis!

God bless!
In our Loving Lady,


O Innocence, how beautiful you are!


Praised be Jesus Christ!

A most joyful Candlemas to you!

 Adorn thy bridal-chamber, O Sion, and welcome Christ the King:
with loving embrace greet Mary, the very gate of heaven;
for she bringeth to thee the glorious King of new light:
ever Virgin she remaineth, yet in her arms doth bear
the Son begotten before the day-star; that Child
Whom Simeon did take into his arms and proclaim to the nations
as Lord of life and Savior of the world.
-First Antiphon of the Candlemas Procession


Almighty and everlasting God, we humbly beseech Thy Majesty,
that as Thine only begotten Son was this day presented in the temple
in substance of our flesh, so Thou wouldst cause us too
with purified hearts to be presented unto Thee. Through the same our Lord
-Collect from today’s Mass

A few days ago, on the feast of St. John Bosco, I picked up my dad’s copy of Forty Dreams of St. John Bosco and browsed about, certain of finding something worth contemplating (one of these days I need to just read the whole book). Dad’s bookmark was in the middle of a dream, and so I flipped back a few pages to start from the beginning of that chapter, titled Innocence Preserved by Penance.

I was allured pretty quickly by the description of a glorious green slope, described as an earthly paradise, “brilliantly illuminated by a light purer and brighter than the light of the sun”, and by the huge carpet that stretched to cover the slope, several miles wide. Its edges were inscribed with gilded Latin verses, such as Beati immaculati in via, qui ambulant in lege Domini, “Blessed are they who pass through life’s journey unstained, who follow the law of the Lord”. (I know; so cool!)

Don Bosco was a spectator in this dream, watching as two beautiful young girls, twelve years old or so, dressed in purest white and emanating “heavenly modesty” and “an ardor of the purest love and a joy of heavenly bliss” spoke back and forth in sweet voices.

I was so struck by the beauty and power of their dialogue on innocence that I just had to share some of it here. (I think it’s a very appropriate feast day for a reflection on the virtue of innocence, don’t you?)


“Who can describe the beauty of an innocent soul? Such a soul is splendidly robed like one of us, adorned with the white stole of Baptism. His neck and arms are resplendent with divine jewels; he has on his finger the ring of union with God. He walks lightly on his way to eternity; moreover, there stretches out before him a road adorned with stars. . .
“A living tabernacle of the Holy Ghost, with the Blood of Jesus in his veins, coloring his cheeks and his lips; with the most Holy Trinity in his unspotted heart, he sheds around torrents of light, which clothe him with the brilliance of the sun; a shower of flowers rains down from on high and fills the air. Wafted all round are sweet strains of music of Angels, echoing his prayer. Mary Most Holy stands beside him, ready to defend him. Heaven is open to him. He is a charming sight to the immense legion of Saints and blessed spirits, who receive him and welcome him. God, in the unapproachable splendor of His glory, points out with His right hand the throne He has prepared for him, while in His left hand He holds the shining crown which is to adorn him forever.”


“The innocent is the desire, the joy, the applause of Paradise. His face is adorned with ineffable joy. He is God’s son; he has God for a father and Paradise for his inheritance. He is continually with God: he sees Him, loves Him; he possesses and enjoys Him; he has a ray of the delights of Heaven: he is in possession of all His gifts and of His perfections.”

“That is why innocence in the Saints of the Old Testament, in the Saints of the New Testament and especially in the Martyrs appears so glorious!
“O Innocence, how beautiful you are! When tempted, you increase in perfection; when humbled you rise more sublime; in the combat you come forth victorious; and in death you fly to your crown. In slavery you are free; in dangers you are tranquil and safe; in chains you are happy. The powerful bow down to you; the rulers welcome you; and the great seek you. The good obey you; the wicked envy you; your rivals emulate you; your adversaries succumb to you. Should men unjustly condemn you, you will always come out victorious.”

21110-Bouguereau, William-Adolphe

“Oh, if the young knew what a precious treasure innocence is, how jealously they would guard the stole of Holy Baptism right from the beginning of their life! But unfortunately they do not reflect, and they do not imagine what it means to stain it!”

“Innocence is a most precious liquor, but it is enclosed in a vessel of frail clay.”

“Innocence is a very precious gem, but its value is not known; it is lost and easily exchanged for a worthless object.”

“Innocence is a golden mirror which reflects the image of God. But a breath of damp air is enough to dim it, and one must keep it covered with a veil.”

“Innocence is a lily.”

“But the mere touch of a rough hand spoils it.”

“Innocence is a white robe: Omni tempore sint vestimenta tua candida–‘Let your garments be glittering white at all times.’

“But one single stain is enough to soil it; therefore, one must walk with great precaution.”

“Innocence is integrity; it is lost if it is spoiled by a single sin, and it loses the treasure of its beauty.”

“Just one mortal sin is sufficient, and once it is lost, it is lost forever.”

“He can rise again! God’s mercy is infinite. A good Confession will give back the grace of God and the title of son of God.”

“But no more innocence!”


“A great mistake which boys make is that of thinking that penance must be practiced by sinners only. Penance is necessary also in order to preserve innocence. . . This should be continually preached, inculcated and taught to children. How many more would preserve their innocence, while at present there are so few!
“And Jesus, the Holy and Immaculate One, passed His life in privations and sufferings.”

“So did Mary Most Holy; so did all the Saints.”

“It was to give an example to all youths. St. Paul says: ‘If you live according to the flesh, you shall die; but if according to the spirit, you shall give the death-blow to the inclinations of the flesh, you shall live.'”

“Therefore, without penance, innocence cannot be preserved.”

“And yet many would like to preserve their innocence and live a free and easy life. . .”


“The way of the innocent has its trials and sacrifices, but it has its strength in Holy Communion, because he who communicates frequently has eternal life:
he is in Jesus, and Jesus is in him. He who lives of the same life as Jesus
will be raised up by Him at the last day. . .
“And the Virgin most sweet, beloved by him, is a Mother to him.”

“. . .innocence crowned with penance is the queen of virtues.”

I don’t think much need be added to this; except that our Lord has been putting the thought of innocence on my mind and heart very often since I read that, and I wanted to share with you something that moved me profoundly towards a desire to preserve innocence at all costs, especially in children, and towards a deeper gratitude for the gifts of Baptism.

If you’ve read all the way to the end of this, congratulations!

Let us pray and do penance!
May our Eucharistic Lord and our Mother Most Holy preserve innocence in souls!
May they never cease to defend and strengthen us against those that try to steal it!



God bless you!
In our Loving Lady,


“The things which you have received in me” {on the feast of St. John Bosco}


Praised be Jesus Christ!

I think that listening to the Bounty Hunters is one of my favorite things to do in the whole world. After my family and parish and friends, it will probably be the thing I miss most if I am called to the monastic life. Knowing this, I savor every song I get to listen to!

 This small bluegrass band, entirely composed of members of both Fraternus and our parish’s TLM community (my dad, brother, the Knight, the Editor, and another musical genius), grew into being at occasional parish potlucks and, with more purpose over several months, in our garage or living room. They sit around in a circle and, for a few hours of the evening, fill the whole house with songs like Eastbound and Down, Folsom Prison, and Shady Grove. I try to ensure that they keep coming back with cookies; but it really isn’t necessary, because they already seem to be having the time of their lives just playing together, young men and grown men getting equal kicks out of creating music together, sharing songs and laughing at each other’s mistakes. Clowning around.

Listening to their songs and observing their wonderful chemistry just delights me. It honestly feels like something that belongs in a story. When they perform for a larger audience than just my mom, sisters, and I, I scream and clap as loud as I can (completely embarrassing my younger sister). I try to catch the Knight’s eye in a shameless attempt to make him crack up in the middle of a song. I watch my brother perform with practiced smoothness and elegance and feel such a pride in him. I gape as the Editor’s fingers (inches longer than mine) fly across the strings of his mandolin. I consistently discover new layers of talent to admire in Mr. B. I close my eyes and just listen to my dad’s voice sing–I don’t think there will ever be a sound in this world more beautiful to me.

But, in its essence, the band is more than music–and that, I suppose, is why I am their #1 fan. It is five wonderful men, young and grown; not just good musicians but good men. And I know without a doubt that if they were any less than that, their music could not possibly have such a magical effect on me.

 So last night, we had the Knight and the Editor over for chicken stew and noodles and a long-overdue jam session. They brought ice cream (a long story. . .) and I made cookies. The Dash was able to be with us as well, and we all crowded around our table. After a while Mr. B and a couple of our neighbors showed up, and we had a shindig. An absolute blast.

Towards the end of the evening, as I sat close to Mary and listened to their last songs, I remembered sort of absently that tomorrow (today) would be the feast of St. John Bosco (probably reminded by his lovely portrait hanging near our door, above where my brother was seated). And it struck me that all of this was due in a special way to him.

Emmanuele and Michele2
My family loves Flavio Insinna’s portrayal of St. John in Don Bosco: Mission to Love. We have watched this movie many times. It’s one of my favorites.

I can’t sufficiently describe how much I love and believe in the Fraternus organization, and especially our local chapter. Even more so I can’t quite grasp the magnitude of what it has already done for the men in my family, for so many wonderful men and young men I know (like the members of the Bounty Hunters), for me as a young woman, and for my family. Frankly speaking, without Fraternus, we would not have the Latin Mass in our lives. And that is a tremendous thing to comprehend.

Through joining Fraternus, my dad and brother started to associate on a weekly basis with faithful TLM-goers, men and boys who quickly gained their lasting respect. Not forceful, but absolutely persistent, they encouraged us to “Come and see”. Come and see something so special–so right–the secret source of what was going on at Fraternus, what was fueling so many of these truly masculine men and their lovely homeschooling families in the lifestyle they had chosen. Come and see.

Although I heard most of these things second-hand, it was all really impacting my dad. I saw him stepping more and more into his role as head of our house. He led us in praying a Pentecost novena as a family (the original novena!), asking for guidance in this matter of the Latin Mass. Coupled with the timing of changes in our parish, their invitations and most of all the appealing example of these Fraternus men and boys, we determined to go and check it out.

One Mass, and most of us were completely sold. For those of us who were a little unsure, a little bewildered, Dad spoke up, maybe a little startlingly to some of us, but confident. “This is where we’re going, guys.”

 Although I didn’t really realize it at this time, this was a twofold epoch in our family’s history. The gift of the Traditional Mass goes without saying. But this is one of the first times I clearly remember Dad, consciously and firmly, taking the reins of a matter of the spiritual life of our domestic church–the most essential matter–as its bishop. Already our family had received a great grace through Fraternus, and through that first Trad Mass. The effects of broken manhood, in us like everyone else, were starting to heal.

It’s impossible to count the gifts each one of my family members have received through the Traditional Liturgy, through the community it has created and the friendships we have gained. The thought overwhelms me and fills me with gratitude. From the Liturgy itself, an infinite gift, to being part of choir; from the unimaginable pride I feel in seeing my brother serve at the altar to the wonderful prayer group I could never have imagined being a part of; from parish ballroom dances to the Bounty Hunters playing in our living room last night; over the last sixteen months, all of these gifts have rushed upon our family like a flood. And, as God ordained, it all came to us through Fraternus. And we almost certainly would not have Fraternus if, back in the nineteenth century, a poor Italian farm boy had not said yes to God when called to the priesthood, and repeated that yes when called further to pour out his whole life for the salvation of poor and lost boys.

I love to think of the five young men in this scene of the movie as the first Fraternus Knights.

All of this has been on my mind and heart since last night. And it has made me realize for the first time that, as powerful and far-reaching the devastation is that one perverted man’s sins can cause, the fruits of one life lived in holiness–of one single saintly soul–impact the whole world unendingly.

     I’ve always known and believed that we received graces from the intercession of the Saints. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to experience the patronage of particular ones in wonderfully powerful ways. But I never, until today, understood that their actions in their earthly lives created a concrete legacy of blessings for us. Their lives have continued to bear fruit a hundredfold, and will through all the rest of time, fruit they probably never could have imagined themselves. All St. John Bosco sought to do was to improve the lives of poor boys in Italy, in a simple loving obedience to the plan of God for his life. But, through that simple yes, his life became a river–one little trickle of which found its way to our family in 2016 and watered us abundantly with joy and truth and grace.

As I stand on the cusp of my own vocation, looking towards one of the most important fiats I will ever say to God, the yes to be repeated again and again, what a powerful and profound reality this all is. When our Lord calls you and I into our vocation, the response we make will have anything but an isolated importance. When our Lord asks obedience and virtue of us in the little moments of everyday life, our choices are anything but insignificant. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that, one way or another, they will impact the whole world. They are, simply and truly, the legacy that all of humanity, and especially our fellow members of the Mystical Body of Christ, will receive from you and I.


“For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy,
whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame,
if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.
The things which you have both learned, and received,
and heard, and seen in me, these do ye,
and the God of peace shall be with you.”
-Epistle from today’s Mass

St. John Bosco, pray for us!


Choosing Joy: the hidden gifts of fasting


“To deny one’s self in order to follow Christ.
“To chastise the body.
“Not to seek after pleasures.
“To love fasting.”

The Rule of St. Benedict, The Instruments of Good Works (Chp. 4)

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Septuagesima has come! Cue the countdown to Lent! Cue the Tracts! Farewell the Alleluia and Gloria (except on feast days, like that of St. Martina today)! And cue the approach of the Holy Fasts.

  “And every one that striveth for the mastery refraineth himself from all things. . .
I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty; I so fight, not as one beating the air: but I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection. . .”
-Epistle from Septuagesima Sunday

The Lord has gently begun to turn my heart and mind towards the thought of fasting; especially in light of the vocation I am seeking, one which fasting is a pillar of. After all, the holy founder of the Benedictine family admonished his sons to love fasting. To love it.

But what is there to love about fasting? What hidden beauty and joy is really hidden in austerity, self-denial, and hunger? And is it truly important, not only to do, but to love?

 If one peers at fasting as it was once practiced, not only by great Saints but by the whole Church–the full Lenten fast (fasting on one full meal and two small ones, etc., every weekday of Lent), the from-midnight Eucharistic fast, vigil fasts, Ember Days–this idea of fasting starts to seem important, while at the same time becomes less frightening. If our Holy Mother the Church, in the richness of her wisdom and tradition and love, prescribed fasting for her children on such a regular basis, then it must be good, healthy, and not harmful. Certainly it must be important.

To go even further, if Christ Himself–purity and innocence Itself–fasted for forty days in a desert, it must have been (at least in part) to unveil to us the hidden gifts of fasting, to dispel our fear of it. Our Lord hungered to show us that fasting is a friend, a helper, and a true necessity of our souls, to be loved and sought after and practiced faithfully.


“This kind cannot be cast out but by prayer and fasting.”
Mark 9: 28

For me, the instrument which St. Benedict names right before the love of fasting is a great key to understanding fasting: Not to seek after pleasures.

I will be the first to admit that, coming from a family that loves food, I often find myself seeking after pleasure by the act of eating. While this may seem innocent enough, I am beginning to realize that, while the pleasure may very well be innocent, the seeking is subtly but truly harmful. It is a lie of my concupiscence that prompts me to seek after pleasures for my body, blinding me to the fullness of joy and satisfaction which, by grace, I possess already in Christ dwelling within my soul. Truly it is a disordered symptom of fallen nature that makes me feel somehow discontented and in need of diversion and pleasure, when in my heart of hearts, I possess God.

“Virtue, even attempted virtue, brings clarity. Indulgence brings fog.”
-C. S. Lewis

While concupiscence certainly rears its head against my soul in areas besides that of food, fasting is a wonderful antidote to the whole problem, because instantly it causes me to step back, to detach from the fog of distraction and pleasure and blindness. It is really like a spiritual silence, a stillness in my inmost being that allows space for me to refocus upon God, for Whom my soul pines with a hunger quieter than that of the body but far more deadly whenever I turn myself towards anything but Him. Fasting turns me towards God as my one and only End, my one and only Joy, the only One to be sought.

That is the first beautiful gift that fasting discloses to the soul; it empties, only to make room for the fullness of God; it stings, but only in order to wake the soul to the presence of its only true Comforter; it weakens, but only to lead to soul to realize its weakness and obtain ultimate security by casting itself upon God. Fasting, in a word, turns us back to God.

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Closely knit to the first, the second gift is a mighty one as well: the act of denying ourselves strengthens us, just as the act of indulgence weakens us, in resisting sin and thus overturns concupiscence itself. Fasting, united to the fasting and sufferings of Christ, is a powerful remedy to our fallen nature. What a gift! What a weapon to be laid hold of with eagerness!

“Lord, give bread to those who have hunger,
and hunger of Thee to those who have bread.”
-Haitian Proverb

Fasting is also very useful in reminding us of the hunger pangs of the poor–and of the pain of Christ Who ever suffers in them. Feeling a little of what the hungry feel detaches us, at least on occasion, from the thoughtless ‘security’ of our daily lives. It is one thing to be hungry when you know that, if you feel like you’re about to pass out, you can run to the pantry for some crackers. It’s another thing–difficult to truly imagine–to be without food and altogether helpless to obtain it, for yourself or your family. Yet that true hunger consumes so much of the world beyond my home. It is a sobering thought–one that pulls me out of myself, encourages both compassion and gratitude, and moves me to pray for others, which is always good!

It’s true that fasting isn’t fun. But, as Father Augustine Wetta said so well in his book Humility Rules:

“Everyone comes to a point in his life where he has to choose between fun and joy. And to choose the former over the latter leads to a whole lot of emptiness. These decisions aren’t always life-changing, but they do have a cumulative effect; and they are often very difficult because  joy takes work. Ironically, the rich young man went away sad because he threw in his lot with fun.”


Fasting is one of those points in my spiritual journey. It’s fun to eat as much as I want, when I want, because I want to. But there is incredible joy–matchless joy–in seeking nothing but God, in refraining myself from everything to strive for the mastery of the life of love. I choose joy!


An Act of Love
(From the 1962 Missal from Angelus Press)
To be said before receiving Holy Communion

As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after Thee, O God!
My soul hath thirsted after the strong living God;  when shall I go
and appear before the face of God?
For what have I in heaven? and besides Thee, what do I desire upon earth?
Let blind and infatuated worldlings intoxicate themselves with the
false, transient, and fading happiness of this life; for my part,
nothing besides Thyself can content me, either in heaven or on earth.
Come then, O Thou Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world!
Come, Thou Beloved of my heart! Come, to nourish, comfort, and enliven my sickly soul. O God of my heart! let me neither love, seek, nor think on any other object
but Thyself alone; for Thou alone art my consolation,
my treasure, my joy, my life, my all!
“My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. . .
Thou art, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God!”
“Who will give me wings like a dove and I will fly and be at rest!”

God bless you!
In our Loving Lady,


Think of Jesus Christ {a true love for our holy priests}


“When you see the priest, think of Jesus Christ.”
-St. John Vianney

As, day by day, my visit to Ephesus draws steadily closer, I have begun to realize the inadequacy of my love for our holy priests. The very life of the Benedictine of Mary, Queen of Apostles, is to love Christ and serve Him specifically in His holy priests; to follow in Our Lady’s example of hidden, humble service to the Apostles in her little house at Ephesus. What a beautiful life. . .to be Mary to the Apostles of today.

Yet I have not escaped completely innocent from the knowledge of scandals committed by priests. Nor have I avoided contamination from the even more damaging and far-too-common attitude of general negativity, criticism, and judgment towards the clergy today. It has clogged my own heart, far too many times.

But how can one reconcile such an attitude, no matter how prevalent or seemingly justified, with St. John Vianney’s words: “When you see the priest, think of Jesus Christ”? I am coming to realize that one cannot. The great Saint of all parish priests, whom the devil feared so much, said simply, Think of Jesus Christ. Not of anything else. Not of the particular priest’s perceptible holiness, or apparent lack thereof. Only Jesus Christ.


Certainly it can be extremely frustrating to be a traditional-minded Catholic at times, especially when one must face and, at times, suffer from the example and actions of the clergy. Honestly speaking, it can be very hard to see Jesus Christ in the face of a very liberal-minded priest; it is very hard to see Him in the bishop who seems determined to do all but destroy reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament in his diocese; it seems nearly impossible to see him in the clergyman who pronounces watery doctrine, false doctrine, no doctrine at all from the pulpit. Frustrating. Painful. Angering. Because surely, the actions of His own priests must frustrate, pain, and anger the very Lord we long to see in them.

  And yet: When you see the priest, think of Jesus Christ.

The other day, weighed down by my imperfect love of the priesthood and my own pessimistic attitude towards priests, I asked our Lord simply, Increase my love for priests.

I didn’t have to wait too long. Saturday afternoon, I was sitting here at my desk typing up an email when Mary said, “Hey Lena, are you busy?” {Something exciting to share.}

“Not really.” {True enough.}

“Come here! We’re going to spend twenty-four minutes watching the vocation story of an FSSP priest.” {How could I say no?}

This is actually the ordination of Fr. Gregory Bartholomew (now at Christ the King in Sarasota, Florida); one of my favorite priests I’ve never met!

It probably is no secret to you that Mary and I are absolute FSSP geeks. We are the happy beneficiaries of their LiveMass ministry, and dream of meeting an actual FSSP priest one day (maybe at Ephesus???). Their close involvement with Ephesus is certainly one of the things that drew us to that community in the first place. The three-hour stream of the ordination of seven Fraternity priests last year was probably the most wonderful, beautiful thing I have ever seen. That single event certainly planted deep seeds of reverence and love for the priesthood somewhere in my soul, but like any seeds, they needed some water and sunlight. And my Divine Gardener had not forgotten them.

So I pulled up my younger sister’s desk chair to Mary’s side at her computer, and watched Fr. James Mawdsley relate the story of his conversion, his discernment of the priestly call, and his love of the Traditional Mass, in an interview posted on Fr. Z’s blog (you can see it here). I can say quite honestly (apart from the ordination and LiveMass!) that it was the most worthwhile thing I have ever watched on the Internet. Watch it for yourself and see why!

There was more there than the incredible story of the circumstances God used to draw Father to Himself, to the priesthood, and to the Trad; more than the breathtaking points Father made so simply about God and the Holy Mass; what struck me most was the profound humility and conviction in his eyes, in the way he spoke and the words he used. I suppose I was struck powerfully by the image of Jesus Christ in this priest.

 I have been incredibly blessed in the priests that I have known, particularly in my parish priest and spiritual director, and in the beautiful example of so many dear Fraternity priests. But I think our Lord needed, at this particular time in my life, to bring my attention to His Presence in His priests in a particularly powerful way.


The Traditional Mass points us to, as my dad once said, the proper understanding of Who God Is, who the Priest is, and who we are not. In the Trad, it is easy to comprehend that the participation that God desires of each of us is truly in the mind and in the heart (loosely quoted from Fr. Mawdsley) and that we don’t need to try (and it would be futility anyway) to do what the priest is doing. The distinction between our role and the priest’s is very clear, and should be humbling to both the priest and the congregation. It is the Priest alone who touches the sacred vessels. It is the Priest alone who pronounces the Sacred Scriptures. It is the Priest, assisted only by his altar boys in cassock, who enters into the sanctuary of the Lord as one who belongs there. It is the Priest’s voice alone that God obeys in the Consecration. And it is the Priest’s anointed hand alone that touches the Sacred Host and assists our Lord in His coming to the souls of the faithful.

 The deliberate silence of the Canon teaches us eloquently that “The congregation present can contribute nothing to the sacrificial act itself; the people are present before a mystery which it is for the consecrated Priest alone to accomplish. The Priest has entered alone in the Holy of Holies to pray and offer sacrifice for the whole Church.”*

This is one of the manifold reasons why we love the Traditional Mass. It shows and extolls what a high and beautiful office the priesthood is, while simultaneously, as Father says in his talk, the priest is constantly whispering prayers for mercy on his own unworthiness. The priesthood is a tremendous thing.

“What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God–a man who is invested with all the powers of God. ‘Go,’ said Our Lord to the priest; ‘as My Father has sent me, I send you. All power has been given me in Heaven and on earth. Go then, teach all nations. . .He who listens to you, listens to Me; he who despises you despises Me.’ When the priest remits sins, he does not say, ‘God pardons you’; he says, ‘I absolve you.’ At the Consecration, he does not say, ‘This is the Body of Our Lord’; he says, ‘This is My Body.'”
-St. John Vianney

Let that sink in for a moment. This is My Body.


In view of the clarity that the Traditional Mass gives us in regards to the dignity of the priesthood, is it not a shame that the attitude which so many Traditional Catholics sink into is one of disparagement? Most especially when Christ Himself said He who despises you despises Me? This is something to be pondered.

 When our Lord ascended into Heaven, we know that He conferred the dignity of priesthood upon none other than His Apostles–upon weak men who had shown manifold faults. The papacy He conferred upon St. Peter. These were His chosen, His friends, who would indeed drink the Chalice He was to drink. After the Resurrection, He did not dismiss them because of their faults (as He certainly would have had the right to!), but gently opened their eyes to their own unworthiness and His redeeming mercy, and filled them with unspeakable graces for His infant Church.

But, it is intensely important to remember, He did not give the dignity of the priesthood to His Mother. I love to think about the humility of Mary in her life after the Ascension. She, Dei Genitrix, through whom the Author of Life had come into the world, who had given God flesh, was now, by His Will, dependent upon the Apostles to give to her Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Only through them could she receive our Lord again into Her bosom. Only through them could she adore Him, hidden in the Blessed Sacrament, and share that Divine gaze again that filled her Immaculate Heart.


How our Blessed Mother, always so united to the Divine Will and the most grateful and humble of all creatures, must have loved those first Priests, with all their failings and imperfections! How she must have fallen to her knees to kiss their anointed hands! How joyfully she must have served their smallest needs, just as she had served those of the Christ Child! How fervently she must have prayed for them in her little house at Ephesus! How she must have loved them!

Of course she loved St. John, beloved of the Heart of Christ, so dearly! Perhaps John reminded her more than any of the others did of Christ Himself in his innocence and love. But to every one of the apostles she was wholly a Mother, a servant, and a refuge. There is simply no doubt that Mary looked upon each priest, each Apostle, each of their successors, and thought of her Son, fulfilling that last command of Christ to her:
“Behold, your son.”

That, and no other, is the attitude with which we must look on each and every priest. With Mary’s attitude; with Mary’s humility and Mary’s love. Earnestly, fervently, and faithfully, we should pray for their sanctity and perseverance in the service of the Church, especially when we see the pain that sin and scandals cause. But, regardless of what the individual priest does or seems to be, we must never cease to see in them the One Who says, with their lips alone, This is my Body.”

This was the duty of Mary, and this is the duty of the laity.


“O Lord Jesus, born to give testimony to the Truth, Thou who lovest unto the end those whom Thou hast chosen, kindly hear our prayers for our pastors.
Thou who knowest all things, knowest that they love Thee and can do all things in Thee who strengthenest them.
Sanctify them in Truth. Pour into them, we beseech Thee, the Spirit whom Thou didst give to Thy apostles, who would make them, in all things, like unto Thee.
Receive the homage of love which they offer up to Thee, who hast graciously received the threefold confession of Peter.
And so that a pure oblation may everywhere be offered without ceasing unto the Most Holy Trinity, graciously enrich their number and keep them in Thy love, who art one with the Father and the Holy Ghost, to whom be glory and honour forever.


Our Lady, Mother of Priests, Queen of the Clergy, Queen of Apostles, pray for them!

Happy feast of St. Francis de Sales!
In our Loving Lady,

*Commentary on the Mass in the Angelus Press 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal. All photos from; artwork from


A Poem and a Short Story

Praised be Jesus Christ!


When our Lady sings the heavens
Hush to hear her lark-soft voice

Angels ravished by her beauty
With the listening stars rejoice

While she soothes her Jesu’s cry
Gently with this lullaby:

Rock-a-bye, my God, my Baby,
Hush now. Close your little eyes

But Your face adream so charms me
That for bliss I agonize:

Though You cannot see me now,
Your gaze enkindles me somehow.

-St. Alphonsus Liguori

While we are still in the Christmas cycle, with the Presentation fast-approaching, I wanted to share this beautiful poem written by one of my favorite saints in honor of the love between Our Lady and the Infant Jesus.

On the same note and for the same intent, I also want to share a short story (from a far inferior author!) for anyone who would like to read it. Click here to view the PDF file.

Happy feast of St. John Chrysostom! God bless you!

In our Loving Lady,


Novena to St. Blaise begins today (and some Thursday morning ramblings)

11 Blaise

Praised be Jesus Christ!

It’s been a while since the novena of a Holy Helper (St. Barbara at the beginning of December). Advent, Christmas, Epiphany have come and gone. 2018 is here. I have not only gotten in contact with the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, but have been invited to “tarry at Ephesus”, as St. Paul and the Apostles did, for a week in early March. My excitement is steadily growing from disbelief to nerves to a joyful tightening in my throat when I realize I’m actually going to “come and see” this most beautiful place–perhaps the place where I will spend the rest of my life with my Spouse, die in His arms, be buried on His holy ground, and waken to His Voice at the Resurrection of the dead. All at Ephesus–the house of Mary.

Image from one of the newsletters of the Benedictines of Mary

I spent a lot of yesterday morning (as Mom was faithfully doing financial figuring for the trip. . .thank you, dear parents!) going back through so many of Ephesus’ old quarterly newsletters (back to 2015), only to discover a new one in my inbox a little while later! I really do have a crush on this community. At the same time it is a hand-flexing exercise: a continuous letting-go of my own desires, because it is all about His Desires. However, if that’s where He calls, boy howdy! I will be happy. I have started reading the Rule of St. Benedict (encouraged by reading Fr. Augustine Wetta’s Humility Rules, a gift from my spiritual director). I love it so far! I keep thinking of In this House of Brede. . .I really should read that again!

So much has happened. It seems so easy for me to forget how many intercessors I have in Heaven, who are much more faithful in their prayers for me than I am in my prayers to them. It is easy to let days, even weeks and months, slip past without really thinking of them, without acknowledging all that they have lovingly done for me through their intercession. How grateful I am to every one of the Cloud of Witnesses, especially those who have reached out and pulled me into their arms, made me their special little sister and servant, for reasons I can’t conceive of. But they have. . .with extravagant love. . .shown me that they desire my heart’s devotion. St. Alphonsus and St. Leonard; St. Therese; the Holy Helpers; Blessed Chiara and Carlo Acutis; so very many Saints; so much love. I should never feel alone with so many friends! I must never forget what they have done, and desire to do, for me and for all the Church Militant!

I have recently received the gift of getting in touch with a young man who is discerning the same path I am, in the same religious family, whom for the purposes of this blog I’ll call Benedict (he’ll understand when he reads this). This has been such a blessing to me. Last year I lost a most precious friend, a Dominican Sister with whom I had exchanged letters, mostly on spiritual topics, for twelve years. I think one thing I miss most about our special friendship is the ability we had to write those kinds of letters, about Christ and His goodness, about the spiritual life and the religious vocation. I feel that, with Benedict, I’ve been given that ability back. What a gift!

In a recent letter to me, he wrote in encouragement:
“You don’t just have family & friends praying for you, you have all who make up the Body of Christ! Just think about all the wonderful saints who have gone before us; those saints who struggled just like us.”

As much as I seem to go on and on about Saints here, I so need to be reminded of this. It is easy to make a feast-day post, to post fourteen novenas a year (most of which I miss at least a day or two of myself), to find beautiful images and fun trivia about the Saints to share. It’s easy to encourage devotion and mindfulness in others, and even pretend I’m a mindful devotee, while it’s all so very difficult to practice consistently myself!

But how to become more mindful? How to grow into the practice of a true devotion of love, imitation, and prayer towards so many Saints? How can I honor and thank them faithfully and consistently?

I know I should be more faithful in invoking them by name each day as part of my prayer, and thanking them for the graces, seen and unseen, they’ve obtained for me. Posting their novenas and finding information about them to share is certainly a good way to refresh myself and bolster my devotion. Then, of course, I should remember to invoke them when needs under their special patronage arise, such as invoking St. Vitus for Baby Isaac’s seizures. . .thanks be to God (and St. Vitus) we’ve just heard that the seizures seem to have subsided!

As Mary mentioned in a recent post, she and I have been adding some devotions, tailored to the dedication of the day of the week, to our shared prayer routine. This has been so wonderful, taken little time, and helped me in elevating my mind to heavenly things in the middle of the day.

So, one might ask the obvious question. . .why not do the same with my patron Saints? Why not assign one or two to each day of the week and add a special prayer to them (of which there are many beautiful ones, especially on the back of Portraits of Saints holy cards!) to my daily routine?

Here goes (Sunday being excepted as the Lord’s day):

Monday: St. Alphonsus & St. Leonard
Tuesday: St. Clare
Wednesday: St. Therese
Thursday: The Fourteen Holy Helpers
Friday: Blessed Chiara & Carlo Acutis
Saturday: St. Anthony

Of course, St. Clare is my patroness, to whom I ever feel a need to grow closer (I’m very excited about this, just for that reason!); Chiara and Carlo are ever a pair in my mind, as are St. Alphonsus and St. Leonard; and I just realized that I’ve never posted about all St. Anthony has done for me, and that I need to do that very soon! (Have you ever noticed that I’m particularly drawn to Italian Saints?)

Please pray for me to persevere in simplicity in these devotions that I have already undertaken, but hope to practice more seriously and faithfully than I have ever before. Thank you!


I will be offering my novena to St. Blaise for baby Isaac’s healing and all the needs of his family. Besides being patron of infants, St. Blaise is also invoked against throat ailments and choking, and is the patron of wild animals, veterinarians, and builders. I hope to post more about him on his feast day, February 3rd.

Novena to St. Blaise

“O God, Who dost gladden us by the annual feast of blessed Blaise,
Thy Martyr and Bishop: mercifully grant that we, who celebrate his heavenly birthday,
may also rejoice in his protection. Through our Lord.

By the way, if you’re a fellow geek and are ever interested in a more in-depth novena to the Fourteen Holy Helpers, there is a beautiful one which includes a litany (for private devotion) here.

Happy feast of the Conversion of St. Paul! God bless you!

In our Loving Lady,


Memorares for Isaac


Praised be Jesus Christ!

If you didn’t see Mary’s post yesterday, or are already praying, please keep praying with confidence to Our Lady for baby Isaac and his family. As of the last update, he has come out of the coma, but is suffering from seizures that are difficult to control. If you would, pass this intention on, and offer a prayer, whether Mary’s beautiful novena to Our Lady of Lourdes, or something you know by heart, like a Memorare, as often as you think of it.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother.
To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.

St. Joseph, pray for us!
St. Isaac, pray for us!
St. Raphael, pray for us!
St. Vitus, pray for us!
St. Paul, pray for us!
St. Jude, pray for us!
St. Rita, pray for us!
St. Gianna Molla, pray for us!
Fourteen Holy Helpers, pray for us!

In our Loving Lady,



Let us Pray


Praised be Jesus Christ!

If you haven’t already been notified by The Missive (as I have!), today is an annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children, called for by our bishops.

In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.
-General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 373

In thinking about how overwhelmingly heartbreaking the reality of abortion is to anyone who understands the truth of the matter, how horrible this complete shattering of maternal love is to those who recognize the sacredness and beauty of the family, and how astutely the warped lies of the Adversary have infiltrated our society, I cannot imagine what pain abortion causes to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

Passion (2)

“I am thinking about God, Who is so sad because of so many sins!
If only I could give Him joy!”

-St. Francisco Marto


“Men are lost because they do not think of the Lord and do penance.
“What is it all for? If they only knew what eternity is!”
St. Jacinta Marto

It is so easy to sink into thinking that we have prayed for the end of abortion for so long that our prayers are unheard, powerless, or just not good enough. We can slip into a subtle despair or anger so easily, forgetting that Jesus and Mary weep for each baby that is lost to such rampant evil, each mother that is deceived. As our parish priest reminded us last week, even when it is impossible to see the fruit or effect of our prayers, we have no idea how much worse things might be now without them. If the prayers of faithful Catholics for thirty years only saved one child–and there certainly have been children saved–would it not all be worthwhile? If they served only to comfort the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, can we say they were wasted?

Let us not lose heart in praying and doing penance. Let us become more generous than ever. Let us give and give until it hurts, without counting the cost, without losing heart. This is spiritual warfare, and we cannot accurately gauge its progress by what we see around us in this world, in our lifetimes.

As the Angel of Fatima told Lucia, Francisco, and Jacinta (such wonderful models of prayer and penance):

“What are you doing? Pray, pray a lot!”
“The Hearts of Jesus and Mary are attentive to your supplications!”

Two Hearts

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
Most Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

In our Loving Lady,


Graces, glasses, and a glimpse of now


From the Martyrology:

January 16th anno Domini 2018 The 29th Day of Moon were born into the better life:

At Rome, upon the Salarian Way, the holy martyr Pope Marcellus I, who for his confession of the Catholic faith was first cudgelled by order of the tyrant Maxentius and then sent to take care of the beasts which were fed at the public cost, in the which service he died, clad in sack-cloth, (in the year 309-310.)
At Morocco, in Africa, (in the year 1220,) the holy martyrs Berard (de Carbis), Peter, Accursius, Adjutus, and Otho, of the Order of Friars Minors.
At Arles, (in the year 429,) the holy Confessor Honoratus, Bishop of that see, whose life was rendered famous by his teaching and miracles.
At Moerzo, the holy Confessor Titian, Bishop of that see.
At Al-Arish, in Egypt, holy Melas, Bishop of that see, (in the fifth century,) who was exiled under the Emperor Valens and suffered other hardships for the Catholic faith’s sake, but at length fell asleep in peace.
At Fondi, in Campania, (in the sixth century,) the holy Abbot Honoratus, (who was set over the monastery of Fondi) of whom mention is made by blessed Pope Gregory.
In the monastery of Perouse, the holy Confessor Fursey, (Abbot of Lagny, in the year 650.)
At Rome, holy Priscilla, who gave up herself and all that she had to the service of the martyrs.
V. And elsewhere many other holy martyrs, confessors, and holy virgins.
R. Thanks be to God.



Sometimes courting couples just need a chance to talk uninterrupted. And sometimes I just need some Adoration time. What a blessing to have two hours of it Saturday!

Kneeling before our Lord in the Eucharist, there should be no hiding, no resistance. And so it finally came out–the prayer that should have defined every moment of my life, and especially of my vocational journey, so far. I was trying to wait patiently for a response from the Benedictines about the questionnaire I had filled out and submitted to them last week. I was praying for direction, for grace. I was feeling the pain in my family’s increasing anticipation of my departure, and trying to console them and understand how I will feel myself when the time comes. I was trying to make my room into a monastery and praying the entire Divine Office every day. I was trying to learn Latin.

But it wasn’t enough. Imagine that.


One day, Lord, I will have learned. And I think I’m getting a little closer–step by step–but thanks be that You are so patient.

The problem is rarely that I’m not trying hard enough. It’s rarely that I’m apathetic or indifferent towards striving for holiness, seeking my vocation, wanting to be a Saint. Usually, it’s just that I need to let go and let Our Lord do the heavy lifting; let Him carry me where He wants us to go.

I’ve been holding on so tight; look at these knuckles, they’ve gone white.
Fighting for who I want to be; I’m just trying to find security.
But You say let it go, You say let it go,
You say life is waiting for the ones who lose control.
You say You will be everything I need.
You say when I lose my life, it’s then I’ll find my soul; You say let it go.

I hadn’t listened to Let it Go by Tenth Avenue North for years, but it came into my head the other day and I know why.

Slowly, in my discernment, I’ve learned to repeat St. Gianna’s words in difficult moments. Whatever God wants. Whatever God wants. And truly, I do want that, although my surrender always needs purification. But most of the time, I was just loosening my fingers, allowing a little color back into my knuckles only to clench again soon. I wasn’t letting go.

But kneeling before my ever-patient bone Pastor in the monstrance Saturday, I looked at Him and said in my heart, This is not about the desires of my heart, but of Yours. I only want what You want, when You want, and how You want it to happen.

I didn’t realize what a grace this was at the moment, how through that tiny prayer Our Lord had managed to pry my fingers loose so He could take my worries, fears, insecurities, desires, and ultimately my heart into His pierced Hands. For that is what happens whenever I do let go. I guess that is the falling part of falling in love–trusting Him to catch it all–but how can the Hands that made the world and caressed Mary’s face and bore the nails of the Cross fail to catch me? How can the smallest detail slip through infinitely careful Fingers?

So we came home from Adoration, and after a little while I checked my email. And there it was: an email from the Guest Mistress, entitled Discernment Visit.

I don’t think more need be said, except that I know Our Lord has it all handled. The if and when and how of this whole journey, of my life, my vocation, today, are up to Him.

Last night I had a meeting with my spiritual director–such a blessing–and was relating to him what an emotional time it naturally is for my whole family, how sometimes I worry for them and wonder how it will be when Mary and I leave. Guess what he told me?

When you give yourself to the Lord, He takes care of things. He will take care of your family. You will be called to deeper trust, and He will take care of them. Let it go.

When he said those three words, I had to smile and glance at the big, beautiful icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help above his head.

. . .glasses


When I was younger, and Mary first got glasses (now long replaced by contact lenses), I can clearly remember thinking That’s just because her eyes are so light. I have strong brown eyes–perfect vision. I’ll never need glasses!

Ha. Haha.

For some reason several months ago, we decided to give each other vision tests after lunch one day. One way homeschooled kids entertain themselves. . .anyway, my delusions about my perfect vision were doomed.

I discovered that the difference between the strength of my left eye and right eye was scarily significant. And then I got obsessive. I started testing my right eye with street signs, football scores at the bottom of the screen (I mean, those are ridiculously tiny anyway!) and any sort of distance-reading. It wasn’t very good. I insinuated to Mom (pestered might be a better word) that I should probably go to the eye doctor sometime. Then I started to notice the way that my eyes tended to drift out of focus a lot while writing. That couldn’t be normal. I pestered more. I must have escaped the doctor-phobia gene that seems to run through some of my family.

So a couple of weeks ago, we finally went. The kind and informative doctor, after a series of tests and stuff (I kept thinking of Mary in Little House on the Prairie), told me that I was nearsighted in my right eye and farsighted in my left. How disillusioning. But glasses would help relieve my left eye of its lifelong strain to compensate for my right, and should be worn especially while focusing on reading, writing, or using a computer (hence I’m typing this glasses-clad!).

I couldn’t help thinking how funny it was, the difference in my sibling’s reactions to seeing me with glasses for the first time. Mary’s was an enthusiastic You look beautiful! Oh my goodness! (spoken like an empathetic fellow glasses-wearer). My brother’s was a big smile and a hug. You look so cute! My younger sister’s was a giggle, a series of searching looks, a short period of trying to get her head around the fact that I was the same person and not some stranger (quipping in Jim Reed fashion: “Who are you and what are you doing in Pete Malloy’s locker?”) and finally asserting that she likes them, but they look absurd when I push them down my nose and look at her over the rims (which I do when I tutor her in grammar, just for the fun of it!)

And then there were friends; first the Dash, who said they made me look smart; the Knight, who happened to be serving Mass the first time I wore them in public, and restrained his curiosity for all of choir practice until we burst out of church and he exclaimed “Hey four eyes! You look great! When did you get glasses?” We went bowling later (I actually came in third out of the seven of us! I think that my whispered prayers to my guardian angel were really helping!) and then to the Dash’s apartment to play board games. When I pulled out my glasses to show a couple of other wonderful brothers in Christ, one of them assured me, “You don’t look too bad,” and the other, after a couple rounds of Scattergories, “Lena, you look like a librarian! In a good way!”

One thing everyone seems to agree on is that my glasses have the nun-look. Which is perfectly fine with me!

. . .and a glimpse of now


January 16th, 2018. 10:45 a.m. We expect to see some snow today, but for now all is gray and still. Fribourg Mass will begin in forty-five minutes. Voces8’s Lux, a Christmas gift, has been seeping through my computer’s speakers song by song and drawn to a close. I’ve just switched over to my Paint Everything Blue playlist, mainly songs from the soundtrack of the movie Therese.

Nine beautiful (I think!) copies of Paint Everything Blue are stacked on the floor by my desk; one is packaged downstairs, waiting for clement enough weather to let us make it to the post office. One cup of coffee has brought me to a state of near-wakefulness. Dad’s Fraternus jersey lies on the chair by my window, waiting for me to get around to stitching his captain’s patches on (I get kind of whimsical about doing that sometimes and imagine I’m a medieval  maiden embroidering my knight’s colors onto his sleeve before he goes into battle. Then I glance at my crooked, uneven stitches and come back to reality.)

Ideas for the short story I’m working on flit through the back of my mind, waiting for a chance to shape themselves on digital paper. A request for banana bread from an otherwise helpless-in-regard-to-tomorrow’s-breakfast sibling is pending in my queue of things to get done today, along with discussing travel options to Missouri with my parents and making a couple of tweaks to my current project on Lulu for whenever I print more copies.

What a beautiful, beautiful life I’ve been given! What a time of life to savor!

A parting thought. . .


“If you can make a moment of Eucharistic adoration before the altar where Jesus is truly present, you will see how wonderfully you can increase your level of holiness.”
-Carlo Acutis

Chiara Luce3

“I feel so little. . .I often feel overwhelmed. . .
But that’s the Spouse coming to meet me.
Yes, I repeat it: ‘
If You want it, Jesus, so do I!'”
-Blessed Chiara Badano

In our Loving Lady,


The voice of the Bride


I’ve debated back and forth with myself on whether or not I wanted to post about this, but in the end, I know I want to share it with you, especially so you can pray for me to have perseverance and know that I am praying for you as well. Most of all I want to share (as is the purpose of this blog!) the joy of the graces Our Lord is giving me as courtship gifts.

One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; *
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

That I may see the delight of the Lord, * and may visit his temple.
For he hath hidden me in his tabernacle; *
in the day of evils, he hath protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle.

He hath exalted me upon a rock: * and now he hath lifted up my head above my enemies.
I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation: *
I will sing, and recite a psalm to the Lord.
Psalm 26

Since Monday, I’ve been setting my alarm clock to 5 a.m. (with a wistful glance at the holy card of St. Vitus that stands on my nightstand) and trying (although, ridiculous as it sounds, this is the hard part) to get into bed by nine. Why? Because I’ve been integrating the Divine Office, in its eight beautiful parts, into my day, roughly at the same times that it is prayed at Ephesus.


 I feel very blessed and privileged to be in a position, even outside a monastery, where I have the time and ability to do this. It is a great grace, and while it is certainly challenging, it makes me so happy!

“What is here the dowry of the Bride?
It is her miseries, her weaknesses, but likewise her heart to love
and her lips with which to praise. . .
in the name of Christ and with Him, she offers the adoration and praise
of all her children to the Father.
This praise is the voice of the Bride, the voice that delights the Bridegroom.
It is the canticles sung by the Church in company with Christ,
and that is why, when we join in it in faith and confidence,
it is so pleasing to Jesus Christ.
In God’s sight it surpasses in value all our private prayers.”
-Blessed Columba Marmion

Back-to-back Matins and Lauds first thing is certainly the most arduous part, mainly because my brain is pretty useless before coffee; but I hope it makes our Lord smile to see me kneeling in my pajamas and glasses (yes, I got glasses. . .will elaborate later) in front of my computer (not having a breviary [yet!] I read the Office off of Divinum Officium), stumbling through Latin pronunciation (that probably makes my guardian angel bust a gut laughing sometimes!), trying to move my mind beyond the discomfort of standing or kneeling (I’m still not sure exactly which I should do for the lengthy part. . .I know that it’s proper to stand, at least in the chapel, but it’s not quite ideal reading it off a computer!).

There is the surface image; and I hope it makes the Bridegroom smile.

But there is something much deeper there, almost in spite of my inadequacy. . .my miseries and weaknesses. . .my heart and lips are not speaking to Him alone, but are consumed in a great Canticle, an infinite love, the ceaseless song of the Bride of Christ and of the Angels in Heaven to the Father of infinite goodness.

One painting in the transept of my beloved parish church 🙂

“The most deadly poison of our times is indifference.
And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits.
Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.”
-St. Maximilian Kolbe

It is so delightful to become more familiar with the psalms, especially when particularly amazing prophecies (mainly, right now, to do with the Epiphany) leap out at me. Yesterday, I found myself smiling in wonder during Vespers when I read:

Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: * we have found it in the fields of the wood.
We will go into his tabernacle: * we will adore in the place where his feet stood.
Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: * thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.
For the Lord hath chosen Sion: * he hath chosen it for his dwelling.
This is my rest for ever and ever: * here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.

Thou and the Ark, which Thou has sanctified. . .

In Called by God: Discernment and Preparation for Religious Life, which I received for Christmas, the author encourages young women who are discerning the religious vocation to discern by actually preparing to live it. Please pray for my perseverance as I strive to prepare myself to answer God’s call, wherever He leads me.

And I feel sure that, even as I blunder through Latin and get distracted with the ache in my back or a speck on my glasses, the Bridegroom is not only smiling–He is delighted because, even from my lips, the voice of His Bride is singing to Him, morning and night.

Heart of Jesus

  Praise ye the Lord, because psalm is good: * to our God be joyful and comely praise.
The Lord buildeth up Jerusalem: * he will gather together the dispersed of Israel
Who healeth the broken of heart, * and bindeth up their bruises.
Who telleth the number of the stars: * and calleth them all by their names.
Great is our Lord, and great is his power: * and of his wisdom there is no number.
The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him: * and in them that hope in his mercy.
-Psalm 146, from Lauds this morning

“I will speak with My bride… And when I speak to My bride,
 you shall know that I cannot speak of anything but love.”
-Hugh of St. Victor

Happy feast of St. Hyginus, Pope and Martyr!

In our Loving Lady,


Paint Everything Blue is available!!!

PEB front

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Yay–it’s finally here! My first novel, which I have mentioned several times on this blog and written about at length in a previous post, is available for you to purchase!

After some deliberation, prayer, and discussion with my family, I’ve decided to take the simplest route possible when it comes to “marketing” Paint Everything Blue (if you even want to call it that!) If you are interested in buying, just click over to my new page titled Paint Everything Blue (appropriately!). If you email me at the given address with the desired quantity and your shipping address, I will calculate shipping costs and let you know the total price (somewhere in the neighborhood of ten to fifteen dollars per copy, I would imagine. . .I still have some math to do!). At that point you can mail me a check, and upon receiving it I will ship your order to you.

I know this is super old-fashioned, but simplicity is always good, and my only goal here–the whole goal of the project from its infancy–is to glorify God and bring honor and love to Our Lady. At this point in my life, I am seriously discerning a religious vocation, living at home, and am not in any need of an income. In keeping with the spirit of the great Evangelical Counsel which I hope to embrace fully one day, I will be donating whatever profit comes from the books equally between the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, and the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word (EWTN).

I would also welcome any questions or feedback (if you’re a friend who’s already read it!) concerning Paint Everything Blue per the same email address. Know that I pray for each and every one of you who visit this blog, whether you’re a faithful follower or just happening across it!

From the back cover:

Humming the ‘Salve Regina’, he slips in and out of the daily lives of six hurting souls.
They are tangled in their grief, desperation, and spiritual darkness;
but he consistently finds a way into their labyrinths with his goodness and simplicity.

From the streets to the café tables, and even to the shadows of the old church,
none of them knows who he really is. Like a mantle, a mysterious light and cheer
are wrapped around him; and yet, between the mantle’s folds, these six people begin to perceive a great suffering that is steadily beautifying their own.

Many, many thanks to the family and friends who have done so much to help me finish this book and see it in beautiful published form! Deo Gratias!

In our Loving Lady,


In such a place of rest. . .


Sleep! Holy Babe! upon Thy mother’s breast;
Great Lord of earth and sea and sky,
How sweet it is to see Thee lie
In such a place of rest,
In such a place of rest.


Sleep! Holy Babe! Thine angels watch around,
All bending low with folded wings,
Before th’incarnate King of kings,
In reverent awe profound.
In reverent awe profound.


Sleep! Holy Babe! while I with Mary gaze
In joy upon that face awhile,
Upon the loving infant smile
Which there divinely plays.
Which there divinely plays.

A most merry Christmas to you all! Let us, with Mary, gaze in joy upon that Face awhile, the Face of God made Man! Our Lord has come! Venite adoremus!

You might enjoy the lovely Christmas videos that the Benedictines of Mary at Ephesus have put out–I know I did, so I thought I would link to them here. Merry Christmas!

In our Loving Lady,


O Emmanuel: Ero Cras!

The last of the Golden Nights is here!

December 23rd: O Emmanuel
(O God with Us)


O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver,
the desire of the nations and the Savior thereof,
come to save us, O Lord our God.

O come, O come Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice, rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Rex Gentium

Clavis David
Radix Jesse

Tomorrow, I come!



O Oriens, O Rex Gentium

December 21st: O Oriens
(O Dayspring)


O Dayspring, Brightness of light eternal,
and Sun of Justice, come and enlighten them that sit
in darkness and in the shadow of death.

O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadow put to flight.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

December 22nd: O Rex Gentium
(O King of the Gentiles)


O King of the Gentiles and the desire thereof,
Thou cornerstone that makest both one,
come and deliver mankind, whom Thou didst form out of clay.

O Come, Desire of Nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

A blessed and holy Ember Friday to you!

In our Loving Lady,