Nativity PreK and K Packs

December 17, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lizzy calls these her Christmas “specials”:






Christmass Song Guess-o-rama

December 16, 2015 § 1 Comment

a carol - Lady Laura Teresa Alma-Tadema

a carol – Lady Laura Teresa Alma-Tadema

Resurrecting this for my kids:

from: December 15, 2008

I found this bit of fun over at  Stepping Heavenward.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Guess the Original Christmas Song Titles

01. Felicitations for the Season

02. Sterling Carillon

03. Circuitous gambol of Festive Conifer

04.Awesome hibernal acreage

05.Altitudinous celestials acclaim

06. Senior flattened by cloven aviator

07. Covert observation of matriarch’s scandalous osculation

08. Petite birthplace

09. Sprightly venerable benefactor

10.Allegiants proceed

11. Enquiry of mutual auditory perception

12. Hushed darkness

13. Noel – envisage blanched

14. Inaugural Yule

15. Royal Eastern trio

16.Planetary jubilance

17.Theurgical cool guy

18. Matchless season

19. Full-grown enumeration of holiday hopes

20. Commencement of Yuletide complexion

Christmas Carol Game Answers
01. We Wish You a Merry Christmas | 02. Silver Bells | 03. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree | 04. Winter Wonderland | 05. Angels We Have Heard on High | 06. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer | 07. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause | 08. O Little Town of Bethlehem | 09. Jolly Old St. Nicolas | 10. O Come All Ye Faithful | 11. Do You Hear What I Hear? | 12. Silent Night | 13. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas | 14. The First Noel | 15. We Three Kings of Orient Are | 16. Joy to the World | 17. Frosty the Snowman | 18. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year | 19. Grown up Christmas List | 20. It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Immaculate Conception

December 8, 2015 § Leave a comment


The Immaculate Conception
Peter Paul Rubens

If You Wish to be Loved, Love.

April 10, 2015 § Leave a comment

Hecato, says: “I can show you a philtre, compounded without drugs, herbs, or any witch’s incantation: ‘If you would be loved, love.'”

Seneca ~ Moral Letters to Lucilius IX.6

My dad has cancer.   This is one of those numbingly painful things that has been pulling my heart and peace to shreds.  So I have been going to back to essentials: prayer and Mindfulness,  a heart turned toward simplicity and Stoicism resting in the peace of Christ.     It has also led to some conversations with family.  Most particularly a very insightful moment with my mom.

Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, Caravaggio

Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy, Caravaggio

We were talking about life – that whole messy business and something clicked.  She was expressing how her whole life she had never really felt loved.   My dad and I were assuring her that she was loved but there was the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff.   I came up with some wholly inarticulate version of “I have been trying to tell you I love you my whole life but you never believe it.”  Which led to her realizing the kind of odd cruelty her own lack of self worth inflicts on everyone who loves her.   No one can ever love you enough that you feel loved unless you have the faith that you are loved.  The only way you feel love is love someone else and have faith that they love you.

With a new appreciation of this truth I see it all around me.  In Seneca’s quote from Hecato. in random articles I read online and in thr Prayer of St Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, the faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

It seems that it is always in pain that we learn more about love.  I hope that my mother can see that the truest path to being loved is to love with no regard for any return but to love wholly and Holy and true.

We are Lions

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

Lion in winter

Géza Vastagh ~ A Lion in the Snow

Proverbs 28:1 The wicked flee though none pursue; but the just, like a lion, are confident.

One of my favorite stories from the Gospels is in Mark. Jairus, a synagogue official, whose 12 year old daughter is near death comes to Jesus in hopes that he will heal her. Christ agrees to help but before they can leave there comes the dreaded news. “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” I can feel Jairus’ heart break at the news, his trip was in vain, it would have been better to have stayed at his wife’s side. This child was precious to him, thus his last minute, desperate trip to see this crazy faith healer that most of the religious establishment were already ridiculing and worse. He had risked his position on the outside hope that this person could do something to save his child. And now his child was gone – why trouble the teacher any longer. Just as he is about to leave Jesus puts his hand on Jarius’ shoulder, smiles warmly at him and says almost joyfully – “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” And there was nothing to fear; the child who was dead lived and there was nothing to fear for Christ had entered their lives and their home and all was well – for it could be nothing else with Jesus there.

“Do not be afraid; just have faith.” There is so much contained in that simply statement of Jesus. I can think of nothing more dreadful than the news your child has died and in response to this Jesus simply says “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” What ever evil surrounds us we need not be afraid God wills all things to his end. Even if we suffer, even if we die, even if something precious to us is taken away God is with us and in the end, as long as we have faith, we have nothing to fear. We have every right to walk with confidence in the light of our loving God. We are lions and need fear nothing.

This thought was pressed into my heart in response to prayer for peace with a terrible level of agitation that seemed to be swelling around me. There just seemed to be so much fear. Fear that our children will be lead astray by the world, fear that forces working against the church would be successful, fear of strangers, fear of vaccinations, fear of food additives, fear of pollution, fear of gays, fear of the internet, fear of war, fear of seemingly every thing. I was tired of the fear and it did not feel right, good or even useful.

It felt like we were deer, hiding ourselves in the bushes, watching the wild dogs walk in the meadow. It occurred to me that my children would not want to be the deer, the prey, waiting for the enemy to attack. They would see the enemy with their strong teeth and sharp claws and feel at best weak – at worse they would despise being always afraid and would want to leave. Would they envy the freedom of walking in the sun while I tried to keep them safe in the shadows? And that sweet response from Jesus whispered in. “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” We are lions.

Mother and Cub wikicommons

Mother and Cub wikicommons

We have as children of the King of all Creation the blessed right to roar. We have in our souls the love and joy born of Grace and we walk in the sun. Our children can watch the wild dogs scatter as they know that nothing in the world can touch them for they are not truly of the world. There is nothing in the purveyors of sin and sorrow to admire – a child of God would debase themselves to join them. My older children have begun to wrap themselves in this idea as they walk out into the world. They do not need to worry about those things that would tell them their faith is worthless or a fantasy. Sin with all its temptations is beneath them and when they do stumble it is only a stumble for they belong to Christ – He will recover His own. They need only set aside their sin and return to their place in the sun for they will always be welcomed back. They are lions; they roar.

Yes, there is pain, sorrow, hardship, grief and loss. It is true that sometime there is more comfort in being the lamb than the lion and we are blessed in those moments to be both. But just as Christ is the Lamb of God He is also the Lion of Judah. We are called to be imitators of Christ, we walk in the light of God, we scatter the enemies of Christ to the shadows – we do not dwell in the shadows ourselves. Our natural space is in the sunlight of God’s love. We need not fear anything for our Lord and savior has conquered all that would trouble us. God’s strength makes us lions when the world would have us be frightened and when we are sure that our struggles have overcome us Jesus smiles at us and encourages us – “Do not be afraid; just have faith.”


March 18, 2015 § Leave a comment

Girl Reading ~ George Cochran Lambdin

Girl Reading ~ George Cochran Lambdin

“Why would you want to start blogging again?”, an earnest question asked by my 13 year old. Each of my children give me a gift, Hannah gives me thoughtfulness. The question forced me to think. Why write? Why write and “put it out there”? The answer really comes down to this: when I write I am a better me.

The reason I chose Simply Catholic as the name of my blog is that those two words encapsulate not just who I am but also so much of what I intend for myself and what I strive to become more of. They are more or less the essence of my best self. The more I can align myself with those two words the more content I am and the more fulfilled I am. Writing and the act of putting it out on the internet helps me keep the perspective I need on my own life. If someone else enjoys it or finds it useful — all to the good.

My life is a Catholic life. I will honestly confess that I am “bad-Catholic” but with the grace of God I am a Lioness; the love of Christ infuses me as warm as the sun, as gentle as the moon and as merry as a stat lit sky. God has placed on me certain burdens and difficulties – I have no delusion that I am in any way unique in the weight or number of those burdens although sometimes I do forget that and feel sorry for myself. As much as I despise the platitude “ God never gives you anything more than you can bear” I do find that when place those burdens on the yoke that Christ gave me I am able to bear them with ease – Christ’s yoke makes all burdens light. When take things into my hands and take too much to heart, when I attempt to carry the burdens too close it all overwhelms me. Practicing my faith makes dealing with the rest of my life possible. When I am writing about my faith I think about it more deeply, center myself in it more firmly and find more about it to love.

The other theme of my life is simplicity. When you have seven children simplicity is just a matter of practical survival. Simplicity as a lifestyle and as a movement is something I am drawn to because I have a tendency to over-think everything and allow stuff to take over too much of my space and commitments to take up to much of my time. It is very easy for me to let perfect become the enemy of good and to get so wound up in non-essentials that the essentials don’t get done. There is a vicious cycle where my mind is cluttered which makes me less attentive to my external world which leads to my space and time being cluttered which makes my mind more cluttered. Mindfulness and prayer clear my mind of the thoughts and worries that chase around inside my head. Simplicity is the outward manifestation of mindfulness and the external support that buttresses inner peace. Writing about it helps keep me accountable to myself and It helps me stay organized and at peace. It helps balance and calm the spiritual, material, emotional, cognitive and temporal aspects of my existence.

When I was younger I really failed to appreciate how quickly life flies by and how easy it is to forget even things we know in the moment we will always remember. “I am way to busy living my life to document it” I said at one point scoffing at my mother-in-law, Dana, when she complained that I didn’t take enough pictures. But now, of course, I wish I had documented those things better and journaled more. Journals and pictures are repositories of memory and after watching both my grandmother and my mother-in-law, Irene, deal with memory loss I find myself very much aware that memories of are the gold of life. So I will journal more so that I can capture memories in text and keep them for that time when my mind fails to hold fast to those most precious things and I will take more pictures even though I am no longer able to share them with Dana.

That is why I am starting to blog again. As silly as even saying the word “blog” might be I live in a modern world and this is the tool that I have. Bless you if you have read this; I know it is just so much navel gazing – but sometimes that is ok.

( image found

Advent is close

November 10, 2009 § Leave a comment

Elizabeth Floss has a wonderful Advent post up.

I am still combing through the links.

Snow days and cookie baking

December 16, 2008 § 4 Comments



Today is another snow day for Ashley so she is making cookies.   So far we have gingerbread going.  They are spicy and rich, dark molasses type.   They are one of my favorite cookies.  Later we will start the candy-cane cookies and maybe get to the teacakes today.  I need to acquire a new cookie press before doing our spritz.  Last we will do the sugar cookies.  But it might take most of the week to get it all done.

Kyle went into work, late, but he still went.  The roads in our neighborhood are glazed with thick ice, but the main roads seemed clear enough.  The house is warm, Christmas music is playing, the air is spicy and as soon as Kyle gets home it will all be good in the world.

Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 4, 2008 § Leave a comment

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today begins the Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Advent – The First Week

December 1, 2008 § 1 Comment


For Advent I am sticking a week long post on the top of the page,  if you scroll down you will see the newest articles I have put up.  I also haven’t been doing Reflections.  I will pick these back up after Advent.

Pieter the Elder Bruegel - The Numbering at Bethlehem

Pieter the Elder Bruegel - The Numbering at Bethlehem

In the crowd of people can you see them? The carpenter and his young wife on the donkey’s back are nearly lost. People are busy, children are playing, and everyone has something important to do. Among all this business the very reason this moment exists is almost forgotten. What a perfect image for our world. God winds His way through our lives weather we notice Him or not. Maybe that makes it even sweeter when we turn and see that glimmer of Christ in a place or moment when we least expected to find it. Hope is being open to the possibility that God will reach into our lives at whatever time He pleases and will surprise us with something beautiful.

Sunday, Novemeber 30, 2008

 We made our Advent wreath and we lit the first candle after dinner while we sat around the table eating cookies and talking about the fun things we want to do this year as a family for Christmas.

This is the start of a journey.  It is a journey that we all know well, yet every year it is a new journey.  The unexpected awaited us around each turn.  The star we follow, the light that has shown on us for every year leads us anew.  This is a journey we take confidently knowing that Jesus waits for us at the end.  That beneith the star is love, life, peace and joy — our hope is in journey.

This seems the perfect day to take a little time to set things aside and find quiet and peace as we begin our Advent season.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Mondays are so taken up with business for me.  The children have their CCD and Hannah has ballet.  So between getting something ready for dinner before leaving the house at 1:45 life feels rushed.   
While I was looking for some music yesterday I came across of snip of one of the Nativity movies.  The scene where Joseph is frantically searching for a place for Mary who is in full on labor.  Learning of the manger he actually picks her up and rushes to the creche.  He falters for a moment at the horrible little spot, but having no other option lays her softly in the hay to continue the birth. 
Mary is in a sense the center of Advent for me.  I am not a big “Marian” type.  I certainly don’t see anything wrong with a devotion to the Blessed Mother, it is just no chrism.  Except for Advent.  The first time I started to catch a glimmer of Advent through the eyes of Mary was the year I was pregnant with Ashley.  My first baby.  I was far from “home” and family.  I had very little support and felt very disconnected.  I could feel Mary’s heart in Christmas that year.  The overwhelming reality of motherhood was  pressing everyday a little more as this little person growing inside of me.   It made me identify with her in a way I had never been able to appreciate  before.


 This song gets stuck in my head.  The plaintive cry of a woman overwhelmed not just by the child she is expecting, but the unparalleled magnitude of what this all means for herself and world.  Just what has she been chosen for and can she do it?  It is the desperate joy of being a tool in the hand of God.   And it feels desperate.   A sense of trusting in God because that is all you have.  Child birth is like that for me.  I get to the point where there is nothing left but just having the baby.  There is no end, just the moment and while that moment is horrific it is also magnificent.  Possibly (hopefully) the closest thing I will ever get to understanding the ecstasy of the martyrs.

There is something about being a mother that draws me to God more fully than anything else in my life.  It is my vocation.  Everyday reminds me how small and unworthy of the task before me I am and how much my every breath depends on the Grace of God.  This is a great thing, a wonderful thing, my most worthy work.  It is through this very base act of having children that I am connected to the Incarnation.   Advent brings that home in a real way each year.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


The Annunciation - Henry Ossawa Tanner
The Annunciation – Henry Ossawa Tanner

Wisdom and grace are so often connected to Mary.  That in the fiat she exercised the ultimate freedom in offering all she was to the service of God.  I think this is the great contradiction that so many modern atheists fail to grasp.  If you haven’t already heard about the controversy in Washington over the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s display you might want to watch this video:

The card reads “There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”  I am sorry (not really), but that is just so much willfully stupid post modern sentimentality and naivete.  There is the underlying supposition that if there was no religion that people would have no differences and nothing to fight over.  It is John Lennon’s simplistic ideology morphed into a misbegotten creed which ignores not only human nature but all the good that religious feeling and belief have added to the world and totally ignoring the real evils and wrongs committed by those individuals and regimes with no faith.  But somehow I don’t think these people really bother with thinking things through very far.  They have a belief and will not look at anything that might weaken that belief.  And they accuse people of faith of being the illogical ones… sort of funny in a sad way. 

And it is of course the exact opposite of Mary’s simple declaration of faith and submission..  It is somewhat ironic that (arguably) the most praised, honored and respected of woman in all history is a  girl who did nothing more important that have a baby.  I know that thought probably makes many woman bristle.   We girls are taught early on that having a baby is NOT what makes a woman important.  Certainly it is nothing to be proud of or take any satisfaction in.  Motherhood is fine if you really want to be ghettoized in the suburbs with endless boring days of play-dates and grocery shopping but it isn’t important or really fulfilling.  No woman really worth any notice, no one any girl should aspire to would be just a mom.  Anyone who praises motherhood or is happy being just a mom must be wrapped in the social constraints of a cruel misogynistic patriarchy that only values woman for their wombs.  Just look at the most important woman in the Catholic church who is only important for the babe she bore.

But then that pesky reality intrudes again and despite all the decrying of how life draining, unimportant, unfulfilling and useless to the world motherhood is there are plenty of us who embrace this life and love it.  How we ever managed to free our minds from the endless conditioning that we had in public schools and college is nothing short of a miracle.  For those of us called to this vocation Mary’s journey to Bethlehem is a model.  I don’t think all women are called to motherhood – or even called to it the same way – there are some woman who are called to balance career and family in unique ways for the glory of God and the betterment of the world.  But for many of us modern women who looking to fulfill this vocation in a small and simple way Mary is the ultimate example. We leave behind what we have been taught to desire career, fame, or economic independence, and find joy in the simple things, the small and poor things.  There is where we see our star and follow it, no matter where it might us led even to that lowly stable long ago and the mother who was brave enough to say yes.


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