Tagged: Easter

My Lenten Walk in Pictures and Quotations

Last year for Lent I participated in an online book club via WINE (Women in the New Evangelization) in which we read and discussed Walk in Her Sandals.  Our facilitator (Allison Gingras of Reconciled to You) came up with the fun Instagram challenge below.
lenten walk.png
At first I was content to share a picture but as is my way I quickly had to make it harder for myself by coming up with a quotation for each day as well.  Having done all that work, I thought I would at least share the fruits of my labors in case anyone might find them helpful or enjoyable!
The quotations are attributed, and the pictures are all mine.  🙂
DAY 1         
Word:  Walk     Picture:  Conservatory in Como Park, St. Paul, MinnesotaLent pic 1Excited to start the Lenten journey!
DAY 2     
Word:  Disciple     Picture:  Roof of parking garage in downtown Knoxvillerefugee-march-14Love this picture of Lorelei with the sign she carried when we marched in solidarity with immigrants and refugees. With our parish church in the background and the sign she is holding, I think this picture says a lot about the demands of discipleship.
DAY 3     
Word:  Grace     Picture:  Cathedral of the Assumption, Louisville, KentuckyLent pic 2“Do you want the Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often.” ~ Saint John Bosco  
DAY 4     
Word:  Season     Picture:  Forks of the River Trails in Knoxville, TennesseeLent pic 3“Love is a fruit in season at all times and within reach of every hand.” ~ Mother Teresa 
DAY 5     
Word:  Open     Picture:  Statue of Mary in my gardenLent pic 4“Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise. Whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts . . .” ~ Henri Nouwen
DAY 6     
Word:  King     Picture:  Main Altar, Cathedral of Saint Paul in MinnesotaLent pic 5“This is the calling of Christians: . . . To make this kingdom of Christ a reality, to eliminate hatred and cruelty, to spread throughout the earth the strong and soothing balm of love.” ~ Saint Josemaria.
DAY 7     
Word:  Gift     Picture:  William on his 16th birthdayBest of 2017 - Willima's birthday“If you . . . know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?” ~ Matthew 7:11. May we all greet God’s gifts with the same delight William showed upon opening this one!  
DAY 8     
Word:  Wait     Picture:  side altar, Cathedral of Saint PaulLent pic 6Psalm 130:5-6: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.”
DAY 9     
Word:  Hosanna     Picture:  Sky in front of my houseLent pic 7Isaiah 6:3: “Holy holy holy, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of Your glory!” 
DAY 10     
Word:  Empty     Picture:  Ancient bowl at the Minneapolis Institute of ArtLent pic 8Empty me, Lord, that I may be filled with You. 
DAY  11     
Word:  Abandon     Picture:  Carl Cowan Park in Knoxville, TennesseeLent pic 10Saint Ignatius Loyola: “Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they would allow His grace to mold them accordingly.” 
DAY 12     
Word:  Heart     Picture:  University of Tennessee Trial Gardens, KnoxvilleLent pic 11Psalm 51:10: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”
DAY 13     
Word:  Cleanse     Picture:  Front porch of our former homeLent pic 12      Psalm 51:2: “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
DAY 14     
Word:  Love     Picture:  Our mantel at ChristmasLent pic 131 Corinthians 13:13:  “There are three things that last . . . The greatest of these is love.”
DAY 15     
Word:  Sacrifice     Picture:  Pieta at Cathedral of Saint Paul in MinnesotaLent pic 14Mother Teresa: “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt and must empty ourselves. Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His LOVE than in your weakness.”
DAY 16     
Word:  Saint     Picture:  Chapel of Saint Patrick at Cathedral of Saint PaulLent pic 15“All hail to Saint Patrick!” ~ Father Frederick Faber
DAY 17     
Word:  Generous     Picture:  Forks of the River Trails in KnoxvilleLent pic 16St. Louis de Montfort: “Pray with great confidence, with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water which flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.” 
DAY 18     
Word:  Trust     Picture:  Lighthouse in Duluth, MinnesotaLent pic 17“I will trust the promise. You will carry me straight to shore.” ~ Rend Collective
DAY 19     
Word:  Good     Picture:  Detail of one of my Christmas decorationsLent pic 18Good Saint Joseph, pray for us! 
DAY 20     
Word:  Victory     Picture:  Bookwalter Cemetery in Knoxville, TennesseeLent pic 191 Corinthians 15:55: “Where, O death, is your victory?”
DAY 21     
Word:  Sight     Picture:  Cathedral of the Assumption in LouisvilleLent pic 202 Corinthians 5:7: “We walk by faith and not by sight.”
DAY 22     
Word:  Strength     Picture:  My son Teddy after sweeping the LiftathonLent pic 21Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him that gives me strength.”
DAY 23     
Word:  Cross     Picture:  Freedom Baptist Church in Rosedale, MarylandLent pic 22We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.
DAY 24     
Word:  Mary     Picture:  Boticelli painting at the Baltimore Museum of ArtLent 23“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”  ~ Saint Maximilian Kolbe
DAY 25     
Word:  Suffering     Picture:  Bookwalter Methodist Cemetery, KnoxvilleLent 24Lamentations 1:12: “Is it nothing to you, all who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering?” 
DAY 26     
Word:  Prayer     Picture:  St. Peter’s Catholic Church, Harpers FerryLent 25“Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven.” ~ St. Ephraim of Syria 
DAY 27     
Word:  Silence     Picture:  Jefferson Rock in Harpers Ferry, West VirginiaLent 26“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa 
DAY 28     
Word:  Faithful     Picture:  E. Vedder Painting, Baltimore Museum of ArtLent 27“The Sorrowing Soul between Doubt and Faith”   Mother Teresa: “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
DAY 29     
Word:  Petitions     Picture:  Statue at the Baltimore Museum of ArtLent 28Saint Thomas Aquinas: “. . . Since she is the Queen of Mercy . . . She cannot refuse your petition.”
DAY 30     
Word:  Watch     Picture:  My son’s kitten, SawyerLent 29Luke 21:36: “Be always on the watch . . . that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
DAY 31     
Word:  Frozen     Picture:  Saint Francis in my gardenLent 30“The sky can never be frozen/because its vastness has chosen/all warmth of our lives as we look above/with unbreakable hearts armoured in love.” ~ Munia Khan 
DAY 32     
Word:  Peace     Picture:  Festival of Nations at DollywoodLent 31“Let there be peace on earth . . .” ~ Sy Miller and Jill Jackson
DAY 33     
Word:  Darkness     Picture:  Jack O’Lantern Spectacular in LouisvilleLent 32“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
DAY 34     
Word:  Sunrise     Picture:  Morning in my front yardLent 33Psalm 65:8: “The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders; where morning dawns, where evening fades, you call forth songs of joy.”
DAY 35     
Word:  Maternity     Picture:  Cathedral of the Assumption, LouisvilleLent 34G.K. Chesterton: “Mary leads us to Christ, but Christ leads us back to His Mother, for without Mary’s maternity, Jesus would become a mere abstraction to us.”
DAY 36     
Word:  Beginning     Picture:  Pellissippi Greenway,  KnoxvilleLent 37“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:16.17.
DAY 37     
Word:  Freedom     Picture:  Cades Cove, Smoky Mountainsfall 2016 2“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” ~ John Paul the Great
DAY 38     
Word:  Spring     Picture:  My summer gardenLent 38Saint Therese of Lisieux: “If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.” 
DAY 39     
Word:  Joy     Picture:  Painting by Emily for my father’s birthdayLent 35“All the trees in the forest sing for joy.”  Psalm 96:12
Picture 2:  John and I, Christmas Eve 2016
Lent 36“Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love.” ~ Mother Teresa
 
DAY 40     
Word:  Flower     Picture:  Late Summer gardenLent 39Saint Jean Vianney: “As a vigilant gardener labors from morning till night to destroy the weeds in his garden, and to ornament it with flowers, so let us labor every day to uproot the vices of our soul and to adorn it with virtues.”
DAY 41     
Word:  Light     Picture:  Cades Cove, Smoky MountainsLent 40“God is light, and in Him there is no darkness.” 1 John 1:5
DAY 42     
Word:  Fire     Picture:  Backyard Christmas tree bonfireLent 41“Go forth and set the world on fire.” ~ Saint Ignatius Loyola
DAY 43     
Word:  Sisters  Picture:  Emily and Lorelei on Election Day 2016Lent 42       “Sisters are different flowers from the same garden.” ~ Unknown
DAY 44     
Word:  Room     Picture:  Inn at Woodhaven, LouisvilleLent 43“When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father.” Matthew 6:6 
DAY 45     
Word:  Happiness     Picture:  Lorelei with a longed-for Christmas giftLent 44“You pray, you love–that is the happiness of man upon the earth.” ~ Saint Jean Marie Baptist Vianney
DAY 46     
Word:  Drink     Picture:  Teddy during Junior Parents’ WeekendLent 45Ecclesiastes 9:7: “Eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart.”
DAY 47     
Word:  Easter     Picture:  Immaculate Conception Church, KnoxvilleIMG_5380John Paul II: “We are the Easter people, and Alleluia is our song.”
Have a blessed Lent!
 
 
 

Walk in Her Sandals: A Path to Greater Holiness

Don’t laugh, but high up there on my list of personal goals is a desire for greater holiness.  I’ve known a few holy people in my life–have you?  They radiate peace and God’s love and you feel blessed to be in their presence.  I’d like to be one of those people, but they are rare.

I’d also like to be the kind of person with a prayer routine, or the kind who keeps a prayer journal, or attends daily Mass and/or adoration, or has a spiritual director.  While other women are envious of the well-kept houses and perfectly behaved children they see on Facebook and Pinterest, I’m jealous of the spirituality of the Catholic women I have encountered online.

Wow, how messed up does that sound?

As a someone who delights in reading and learning, you would think that at least I could manage some regular spiritual reading.  Yet the inspirational books with scriptural reflections for each day lie unopened on my nightstand, and my pile of unread religious books grows ever higher.  Whenever I manage to open one of those books, I fall asleep within minutes.

Life is busy and life is hard, and most of the time I have to content myself with at least the notion that I am living my faith through my actions instead of devoting time to prayer and spiritual reading.  I think that’s a bit of a cop out, though, and that’s one reason I was grateful for the opportunity I was given to read A Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women.

In exchange for my honest reflections and as part of my participation in the Siena Sisters blog hop, I received an advance copy of this creative take on the Passion of Jesus.  One thing I AM good with is deadlines so I was able to make time to read this book so I could share it with you.

Not that it was a big sacrifice.  I really enjoyed reading it, and I stayed awake too.  Written in sections by a team of ten Catholic women, this book is meant to be used as a Lenten study, either for an individual or a small group.  It is divided into six chapters, each showcasing a spiritual gift unique to women with accompanying scripture and exegesis, personal reflections, suggestions for prayer, questions for group discussion, and guidance for evangelization.

The heart of the book for me, though, were the stories that make up an imaginative thread that gives the book its title and its life.  Each chapter introduces us to some of the women who knew Jesus or his disciples, and invites us to experience the events of Holy Week through their eyes.  I’ve read things like this before, and they can easily seem a little too precious, but these stories were well done, the women carefully characterized, the narrative compelling and moving as each woman encountered Jesus and His message in her own way.  I just loved these stories.  They really brought the scripture, which  I of course have heard hundreds of times, to life in a new and exciting way for me.

I recommend you go here and order Walk in Her Sandals before Lent.  I plan to read it again myself at that time, and maybe I will be able to move a little further down that road to holiness by Easter.

This post is part of the CWBN Siena Sisters Blog Hop.  Click the picture below to see what everyone else had to say about Walk in Her Sandals.

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Easter Blessings

As I’ve written before, I love Easter.  It’s my favorite holiday.

This Easter felt like even a bigger deal than usual to me.  For one thing, all holidays post-fire feel like milestones.  I know what happened to us doesn’t compare to a death in the family, but things are different now.  Not only are we in a new place, but we’ve lost all the trappings of celebrations past–the baskets, the bunnies, the decorations.  Easter has never been about decorating for me, but I do particularly mourn the loss of my three Polish Easter eggs, brought to me from Poland by a Georgetown History Graduate student back in 1990 when I was the secretary of the History Department there.
So the first thing I had to do was use the last of my Target gift cards for an Easter Basket shopping trip.

Jake with the new Easter baskets, waiting for me to finish up at Target


Stress and finances have made inroads into the once annual excursion for new Easter clothes–getting a new Easter dress was practically a religious observance for me well into my college years, and I took great pride in the matching outfits I scored for the three “big kids” when they were small–but this year several of us decided to get some new things.  Jake had a nice suit John bought him last fall, and he and I found an Easter tie (thank you to the giver of the TJMaxx gift card!).  John took Teddy out suit shopping, but finding a suit that would accommodate his large chest and relatively small waist proved impossible, so he ended up with a blazer and pants.  I took Emily dress shopping, and I actually used my own Christmas Kohl’s gift card to get some new things for myself (more on my lack of personal possessions in another post!).  The little people were content with “new to them” items given us after the fire.




I waited a little late (Yikes! the day before!) to go bunny shopping.  It turned into a three-hour odyssey, and in the end finding matching bunnies for four out of five kids (one considers himself past wanting bunnies on Easter) proved impossible.  Lorelei has carried her sheep around every day since, and William was delighted with his possum (to replace one lost in the fire) so I needn’t have worried.


The Easter Bunny brought plenty of candy.  There was much speculation by William and Lorelei on the nature of the Bunny, where he comes from, what he looks like, why he does what he does, and who his “minions” are.  There were also sweet rolls for breakfast.  There are always sweet rolls (hot cross buns, really, only I’m not crafty enough for that so they are just glazed) or cinnamon rolls made from the sweet roll recipe (and I was trying for less mess and stress) on Easter morning.  This was my mother’s tradition, but the glitch this year is that no one has the recipe any more.  I had copied it down years ago in my notebook of special recipes.  My mother lost the original and had taken to calling me if she needed it.  You know what happened to my notebook.  I couldn’t find the exact recipe online.  Between the two of us we figured it out–they tasted like they were supposed to!
Easter Mass is the greatest celebration of the Church year.  We made sure to arrive early–in fact we were so early we had to wait outside for the previous Mass to finish up!  But that was okay because we were treated to an Easter Parade as folks exited, and we got to talk to the people who go to ten o’clock Mass!  The Church looked beautiful, and we sang the right songs.

 
We’ve had guests over many times since we moved–four birthday celebrations and a Christmas Open House–but we had not yet hosted a holiday dinner.  We went out on Thanksgiving, and my sister did Christmas.  We had not hosted a holiday dinner for quite some time, actually–the last time was two Easters ago, at our then-new house, the house which is now burned down.  We were so happy and hopeful that day, with no way of knowing either the very bad or the very good things that were headed our way.
Anyway, I decided Easter would be a relatively stress-free way to begin our turn at holiday hosting.  We made a rule that no one could bring more than two things.  My mother brought fried chicken and angel biscuits.   My sister Anne (Betsy and her husband were not with us this year) brought macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes.  I made baked beans, green beans, and sickeningly sweet tea–just the way we all like it.  Emily made lemon bars and mint juleps.  My father and stepmother brought a butter pecan cake.  Anne’s mother-in-law brought a ham.  And even Lorelei made some cookies (with Jake’s help).   All together there were 18 of us for dinner!  We did it buffet style and it went smoothly and was delicious.
Of course Easter would not be Easter for the little people without an Easter egg hunt.

photo credit: Emily Sholly


It was a truly blessed Easter.  How was yours?

Good morning, Baltimore!


Baltimore, Maryland was not a place I ever thought much about growing up.  I doubt it was on my list of places I wanted to visit.  But I married a man who was born and raised in Baltimore, where his mother and other relatives still live, so I have spent a lot of time there in the past 23 years.
John and I both went to Georgetown University, an hour away from Baltimore barring traffic mishaps (there are almost always traffic mishaps), so when we were dating, and then engaged, our visits there were frequent.  And we lived in Alexandria, Virginia for the first year of our marriage, and continued to be able to make it to town for holidays and family events, or just to visit.  Even after Emily was born, for awhile we made it up three times a year or more.
Moving seven people over 500 miles and paying to feed and house them for a week is a more difficult and expensive proposition.  For many years now our visits have had to be limited to once a year for the most part.  We have learned to avoid holidays, which are stressful and don’t make for the best visits.  So now our yearly summer vacation is spent in Baltimore.
Being the thrifty homemaker that I am, I discovered Hotwire years ago and can almost always score motel rooms at $50/night, usually at the same Days Inn in Glen Burnie (just outside the city) that has become our home away from home, with its big pool (yes!) and free breakfast (essential).
Because John’s mother lives in a small rowhome and our big family can be overwhelming in such tight quarters (okay, anywhere, really!) our visits have evolved to our spending the day doing something fun as a family and then meeting the Baltimore folks either at a restaurant or at the house for dinner.  They especially enjoy sharing new restaurants with us, but one evening must include crabs.  Even Lorelei is happy to pull the legs off her crab and use the hammer to smash the claws.  Picky William ate four crabs last night.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is loaded with fun things to do, like the Maryland Science Center and the Baltimore Aquarium.  We’ve also visited the Walters Art Museum and the grave of Edgar Allan PoeFort McHenry is a great historical site, and the kids enjoyed seeing the tanks at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds on this trip.
Baltimore is a Catholic town, so we also enjoy the great variety of churches to choose from when our visit includes a Sunday.  We’ve most frequently visited Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, which is close the the motel we stayed at when the kids were small, but we’ve also been to St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, the Basilica of the Assumption and a Tridentine Easter Mass at St. Alphonsus.
Growing up in Tennessee, which takes eight hours or so to drive across, it’s hard for me to get used to how close together everything is up here.  But it makes vacation even more fun, with access to all the attractions in D.C. like the Smithsonian Museums and the National Zoo, and the three hour drive (theoretically) to the beaches of New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.  Over the years we have hit Wildwood, Ocean City (both of them!), and Rehoboth Beach.  We drive to the beach in the morning, swim till we are tired, then walk the boardwalk before driving back to Baltimore.
The neatest thing about our visits, though, is seeing the relationship the kids have with their family here, especially with John’s paternal grandmother, who is 92, looks 72, and is in complete possession of her feisty personality.  When I asked William what he was looking forward to about vacation, he didn’t even mention the pool or the beach.  He said, “Seeing everybody.”  It warms my heart to see the smiles on the kids’ faces when we walk into their grandmother’s house.  Even seeing family here so seldom, our children have a bond with them.  You would think they might “get crabby” about vacationing in the same place every summer, but they don’t; they enjoy it.

Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia, Alleluia!

I loved Easter long before I appreciated its religious significance–the excitement of the Easter Bunny, the new clothes, the family dinner, the egg hunt, and most of all the springtime.  It’s my favorite holiday as an adult, not just because for Christians it is the climax of the Church year, but because it is a fun family time that is not as demanding as Christmas and which takes place at the time of year that makes me happiest.
This was our first Easter in a new home, and we had a wonderful time.  We put the kids at our new outside table, and later we all sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful day.  But it was an emotional day, too.  The evening before, both my mother and my youngest sister were present at the Easter Vigil service at our church, Immaculate Conception.  There was a freakish accident involving the sacred fire from which the Easter Candle was to be lit.  My mother saw our deacon and two altar servers catch on fire.  My sister and my niece, just arriving, heard the screams and knew that something was terribly wrong.  We have known Patrick, one of the servers, since he was born, and he is in my son’s class at Knoxville Catholic High School, so we were particularly upset and worried about him.
I haven’t been to the Easter Vigil in years, as much as I loved it as a child, because a service that lasts from nine until midnight just doesn’t work well with five children.  So I got my first inklings of the news from a Facebook post, more from WBIR’s Twitter feed, and the rest from a phone call to my mother who had stepped out of Mass (which did go on, and how our pastor did it is a miracle itself).  As you might imagine, we thought of little else the rest of the evening, even as we went about the usual holiday preparations, filling baskets, rolling out dough.
Father Joe rose to the occasion again at Mass the next morning, encouraging us to sing out those alleluias, upset as we all were.  Then during the Prayers of the Faithful came another blow when we were asked to pray for the soul of Bob DeWine, who had died just an hour before.  His death was not tragic–he was 90 years old, and died surrounded by his family on Easter Sunday morning, surely a significant and blessed day for a Christian to enter New Life.  But how the church will miss him!  How difficult it was that morning, to celebrate and sing the joyful songs while death and tragedy were still so near.
The three people injured in the blaze are going to be O.K.  The deacon and his daughter are still being treated at the burn center at Vanderbilt; Patrick has been released and is recovering at home.  Bob DeWine is celebrating Easter in Heaven this year.  Resurrection takes on a new meaning for all of us this Easter season.

bob dewine 1

Here’s one view of a memorial set up in the back of our church for Mr. DeWine, who was an usher at the 10 a.m. Mass for many years.


bob dewine 2

He always had a big smile and a “good morning” as he held open the church door.

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