This blog's mission is simple--to encourage moms who are married to non-Catholics and raising their children in the Faith. If you know a mom who needs a little encouragement in continuing her efforts, I would be delighted if you would share Kathleen's Catholic with her. Thank you!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Little Mary Grace

I urge all of you today to visit Angela's blog, called Mary Grace Holmes, named after her daughter who was born asleep at 21 weeks. I promise you that the photos will stay with you for a very, very long time. They will fill your heart and place in you a reality of what true, pure love is. What a remarkable family Angela and her husband have made.

I am also asking all of you to pray for Angela and her family. Leave a comment for her and let her know that you are doing this.

God bless.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lenten Bouquet and Lenten Link-Up 2010

It's time for the Lenten Link-Up at Catholic Icing again! Visit Lacy's blog for a bucket load of ideas for observing Lent and making this season-in-waiting meaningful for your entire family--you'll find everything from crafts for the kids, to books, prayers, and observances, to Lenten recipes.

Let me add one more idea right now: I call it my Lenten bouquet, and it's a great way to "mark" your Domestic Church during its observation of this unique season. This bouquet is a symbol of waiting and the promise of new life. It is simply a collection of twigs placed in a large glass vase that is surrounded by a plain violet or purple cloth. Spring-flowering twigs brought in from the cold will gradually open their buds and bloom. Choose twigs from shrubs or fruit trees, such as lilac, dogwood, cherry, peach, or apple. Cut the ends of the twigs at a sharp angle, or slice them up the center, to allow water in. At first, the display seems very stark--it's beautiful simplicity is perfect for Lent! If you keep the water plentiful, the twigs will gradually open their buds as Lent proceeds and as we get closer to the Resurrection. The progress is very slow, so I have had many visitors ask why I have "those twigs" on my dining room table. The perfect conversation piece! It gives me a great excuse to explain Lent.

By the Easter season, the blooms are open and they are beautiful. On Easter Vigil, I change the violet cloth to a white cloth our children decorated with glitter pens. They painted on Easter eggs, crosses, and the word "Allelulia." Give this a try. And feel free to leave a comment and let us know how you "mark" your Domestic Church.

And please don't forget to visit Catholic Icing for lots and lots of great ideas!

If You Arrive Late and Are a Little Frazzled

Check out my new pages, Edifying Catholic Books and Catholic Links for Catholic Moms. As the names imply, they list books and on-line resources of all kinds that are true to the Catholic faith. Pages are located at the top of the blog. I hope you enjoy them, especially during this Lenten season.

If you are still searching for a Lenten promise you can fulfill for our dear Lord, there is still time to begin! Perhaps these resources can help you. Don't give up or put it off! Christ is always pleased to see you, even if you arrive late and are a little frazzled.

There are many ways to add to your Catholic contemplation and prayer. You needn't be afraid if you cannot make a big sacrifice this Lent. Even the smallest acts are pleasing to God and will be blessed, if they are done with a full heart in both love and earnest, with your eyes on Heaven.

May Our Lord, Jesus Christ, bless you in your efforts to draw closer to Him. God bless.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Holy Communion: Jesus' Amazing Love Story

by Kathleen Blease

This is a post I ran in January. In this Lenten season, I feel the need to post it again. In the observance of Lent and in the contemplation of Our Lord's sorrowful passion, we are reminded of just how precious Holy Communion is. I added a photo in the middle of the text.

It has taken me years to understand how the Mass is a sacrifice, not just a remembrance of the Last Supper. And, you know, it is all very simple and very reasonable and real. It took me a while to understand, but I’m glad I finally do!

To be direct, let me put it this way: I know me. And you know you. And since I know me and you know you, then we have to admit that it is indeed a sacrifice for Jesus Christ to leave His Kingdom in Heaven to endure you and me. Would you want to leave the perfect beauty of Heaven to live with you? Would I to live with me?

Let’s review what happens at the Mass itself, and then maybe I can be more clear.

The Mass is well arranged to help us prepare to receive Christ. First, we approach the Lord calling to mind our sins and asking for His mercy. Then we say, “Glory to God in the Highest,” to remind us just how merciful God is to us sinners. As the Mass progresses, we hear from the Old Testament, including the Psalms traditionally attributed to King David, the Acts of the Apostles, and then the Gospel of the Lord itself. (I’d like to add here that the Old Testament is just as Christian as the New Testament. It explains how God prepared a nation into which his Only Son was born. And for this we are to be grateful to the Hebrew nation.)

These first parts of the Mass bring us into the Light of Christ in a humble way and with the best mindset.

Then, in the Creed, we also address that Christ is one hundred percent divine and one hundred percent human. You know, in the Gospel, Christ uses the words “Son of Man.” His is very humble. I can’t help but be moved by the image of Christ, Son of God, standing before the people and saying that He is one of us! How remarkable is it that the perfect form of God chooses to be one of us and love us with all His might! Don’t forget that God has every power to come to this earth in any form, yet He chooses to be human, beginning as we do, as a tiny and helpless babe.

Well, now, this is not the whole story. Christ did something that was never done before, something brand new to humankind. He died for us, he an innocent lamb, to show us exactly what perfect love looks like. He gave His very last drop of blood so we could see and believe.

(The Passion of the Christ)

This love story begins so beautifully. And there is no ending! It is the everlasting covenant.

There is yet one more facet to this amazing story we should all bear in mind. It did not take place in history. It is taking place today. Jesus still exists. His love still exists. His sacrifice is still taking place. He shouldn’t be spoken of in the past tense. He still walks this earth. How so?

Let’s return to the Mass. The altar is prepared for Holy Communion. As the gifts are brought up to the altar, we bring what is in our hearts. We are to give to Jesus our hearts as He is about to give Himself to us. He calls us to be in Him and He is in us.

And then the beauty of Heaven begins. At the Consecration, Christ is now the priest of the Mass and Heaven touches Earth. Did you ever notice how clergy, such as a bishop or the Pope, remove their skull caps while preparing the altar? They are subjugating themselves to Christ. And they now become Christ’s hands. Yes! Heaven is now touching Earth right there before your very eyes through the hands of the priest! Christ tells us in the Gospel that the bread now becomes His Body. And the wine now becomes His Blood. All through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the Eucharist. The Invisible Christ.

Jesus is sacrificing Himself all over again for us, as He first did on Calvary. Christ reigns in Heaven, with all the glory of the angels and His Heavenly Father. He reigns in complete love and peace, and yet He chooses to come down from Heaven and be with, crazy mixed up people He will forever love…us, living in this human world. He is here through the priest’s hands. And then He is in us through Holy Communion, the Eucharist.

And so Christ is giving himself to us again and again and again. Every day at every Mass. Think about how many Masses there are each day in the world. Perhaps every hour? Every quarter hour? Every minute? Each and every time the Consecration takes place, Heaven is with us, because its King, Jesus Christ, is with us in the Eucharist.

Make no mistake about it. Do not become confused by what others tell you. When you are receiving the Eucharist at Holy Communion, you are receiving Christ himself. Yes, it is a remembrance, but not just a remembrance. Jesus didn’t say, “Think of this bread as my body.” Or, “This bread is a symbol of my body.” No. Christ said, This IS my body. This IS my blood. The blood of the new and everlasting covenant. The fulfillment of the covenant God the Father made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses and Joshua. And you are receiving that fulfillment from Heaven itself.

Jesus himself instituted the Eucharist. People didn’t just make this up to honor him. The Eucharist is so perfect and reasonable that only God could have come up with this. And it is complete, Christ in His entirety. It is truly divine!

I would doubt that the Twelve Apostles understood what the Lord was saying at the Last Supper. It took quite a while for it all to make sense to them, I should think. It certainly would take a while for me to understand. But their hearts were in the right place. Theirs were with Christ. They came to Him with their hearts…and HE DID THE REST!

Of course, Peter’s denial of Christ certainly didn’t appear as though his heart was in the right place. His fear overwhelmed him, but when Christ appeared to the Apostles after His crucifixion, Peter was elated and began to understand all that Jesus placed in his heart. Jesus then ordained His Apostles during His forty days with them after His Resurrection, Easter Sunday. He instructed them in all they needed to do. I can only imagine how fear must have struck them again when Christ ascended into Heaven, and the Apostles felt they were alone. But, alas, Christ did send the Advocate He promised, and Peter’s heart was moved into action at Pentecost. He and all the apostles knew what to do next.

They didn’t give up their lives for a symbol made with bread and wine. Today, our priests don’t give up careers, family, and the opportunity to give their parents grandchildren for a symbol of bread and wine. Just like the Twelve Apostles, our priests, our modern day Apostles, give their lives to Christ, a deep abiding love. The Twelve Apostles didn’t leave the comforts of their home and family to travel to strange, foreign lands and suffer persecution for a symbol. They loved the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is Christ Himself, whom they love with complete devotion. He is for all generations to receive. And today our priests are living this amazing love story. When they give up marriage, they do not live without love of another. They live in love; love is their life.

At every Mass, at every Holy Communion, you receive the same Christ who touches Peter and calls him the rock upon which He builds His church. You receive the same Christ who heals the lame, who makes the blind see, who raises Lazarus from the dead! This is the same Christ who dies on the cross for you, who is resurrected, who is ascended into Heaven, where he reigns as its King.

Imagine, this all-loving and perfect Christ longs to be with you each and every day, and in a physical way. Not through a symbol, not through just a prayer, but through a physical host that resides in you. IN YOU!! When Jesus hung on the cross, He said, "I thirst." Mother Teresa, now Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, had a calling from Christ, during which He placed in her heart the meaning of these two endearing words. He thirsts not for a drink but for us to come to Him. To love as deeply and as abidingly as He loves us. Near His last breath, He is calling us, aching for us. These are the words that sustained Mother Teresa in her work and made her the living saint we all loved. And He gives us Holy Communion so we, too, can physically live with Him and hear His call.

There is no doubt that the Mass is indeed a sacrifice. Without the true presence of Christ, it is a prayer service. Prayer services are good, and prayer will bring you closer to Christ by putting your mind and heart with Our Lord. But a prayer service is not a Mass. A Mass is receiving the physical Christ in His body, blood, soul and divinity. Yes, you are also receiving his soul and divinity, which are the essence of Christ.

Now, as I said: I know me. And you know you. And since I know me and you know you, then we both know that this indeed is a complete sacrifice…to leave Heaven and endure me and you! All out of love and compassion. He is truly crazy about us and devoted to us, His Father’s creation! If you are to be the only person on earth, He will still die for you, so you will understand His deep devotion and seek His Heaven.

Go to Mass. Love Mass. Sit in the front pew so you see only your Christ. Sit in front of the tabernacle. Visit the tabernacle as often as you can. Visit with Christ. You do not need your church to hold Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to do this. Many churches welcome visitors anytime. Also take a few moments after Mass to pray in front of the tabernacle. Don’t just leave after the recessional hymn. You can visit your friends anytime; they will understand. When you are before the tabernacle, give Christ your heart. You don’t need to say anything. He will say it all to you by filling your heart with an understanding and peace that can only reside in love. This is indeed Jesus Christ, Our Lord and King, who reigns with love and compassion. And as Catholics, we receive Him at each and every celebration of the Eucharist, the Mass. God bless.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rewrite, My Friend! Rewrite!

My son's 7th grade paper. Three drafts to an A.

The science fair is over. The classroom is cleaned and the rubber cement has been scraped off the floor. One research paper is finished and another is in the mix.

In a past life, when I worked at the Times Books imprint at Random House, Inc. in Manhattan, a young author by the name of Robert Wright had just completed his first book, Three Scientists and their Gods. If memory serves me, Bob just started, scarcely in his 30s, as the editor in chief of the Atlantic Monthly. He was tall and slender, topped with blonde hair and a boyish face. He wore a tweed jacket and a certain look of intellectual exasperation. “Bob,” I inquired, “I’m putting your book into production. Is there anything you would like to do before I send it downstairs to the production editor?” “Yeah,” he said as he ran his hands through his hair, “You can let me re-write it!”  I smiled: “Why? It’s good!” His hand punched the air to make a point. “Oh, but I can make it better!”

Yes, indeedy, anything written can be made better (except the Word, of course). Now, there are a few types of editors: copyeditors read manuscripts for tiny details and make sure that all the t's are crossed and all the i's are dotted. Line editors read them for grammar and smooth-sailing sentences; clunky ones are nixed and rewritten. Then there is the developmental editor. Ah, yes. We are cut from a different cloth. We don't have the master eye for details like the other two; we obsess over logic. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How are our best buddies. They go with us everywhere and drive everyone crazy. When there’s a hole in the writer’s logic, it’s the developmental editor who introduces him to the 5Ws and How. And we don’t stop there; you see, we can’t sleep at night if chapter one should be chapter three and chapter three should be chapter twelve. Or, Heaven forbid, a lame paragraph sends the reader down the wrong path, only to meet the dead end of confusion. It kills us to see logic wasted. Linear, my man, linear!

The developmental editor is the editor about whom authors have strong opinions. Some rave over how she makes beautiful books out of the piles of spaghetti plopped on her desk. After all, it's not the editor's name that graces the covers; these authors send thank you cards and breathe a great sigh of relief. Others pout and cry uncle: “You’re making me redo this? One time is enough for me!” For these authors, the developmental editor is more than happy to take it upon herself to re-write the manuscripts as she sees fit, on the sneak. Better to re-write than to face the mobs with an incoherent diddy of a book, and (gasp) with her name listed in the acknowledgments. I can only speculate that these authors breathe a sigh of relief, too, but thank you cards are not forthcoming under these circumstances.

After some years in the biz, I now have my newest victims-- my boys. They are young, fresh, and very reluctant. Oh, to be the son of a professional book editor. The torture. Rewrite! Rewrite! Ever since my guys have been old enough to fashion a paragraph, I have impressed upon them that they should never be married to what they write. There is always a new way to express an idea. Writing is an exploration and a journey; and the more you dig in, the more you grow. To get right down to the crux of the matter: Like many tasks in life, it's better to be in love with the process than the outcome. If you’re looking to get it right the first time, you’re heading for an experience that’s about as exciting as the dentist’s drill! Heady stuff for a third grader, I know, and my sons have gone through as many as four drafts before hitting the editorial home run.

My oldest son, in 8th grade, is now accustomed to my edits. He leaves his paper dutifully on my desk and asks me to "give it a read.” The red editing pencil comes out, and the work begins. I follow a few basic guidelines. Sentences and paragraphs that are well crafted receive a positive note. I use standard editing marks to show him how to fix sentences that are grammatically incorrect or clunky. Or if I suspect there would be a better way to explain something, I ask him, in the margin, to think about another approach. On the other hand, sentences that could be rewritten to sound more mature are left alone. After all, it’s his paper, not his mom’s, so it's better to let the youngster's voice shine through. Nevertheless, holes in logic are noted with my trusty 5Ws and How. I treat him just like I would an author. And, you know, he tackles it (the whining has subsided over the years to a small sigh), searching and researching to find the materials, crafting his work to make it right—or as Bob Wright would want “better!” Over the years, I have found that fewer sentences sound less than mature, and his paragraphs are more fleshed out without his mother’s prompting. Well done, son!

Now a note about red pens and pencils: I once read in a well respected home schooling magazine that red pens and pencils are a no-no. Children, apparently, find them insulting and become overwhelmed by a paper covered in red marks and comments. This, the expert said, leads to tears and disappointment. Hmm. I never thought of this. So when we visited Staples at the start of the school year, I happily asked the boys what color pens they would like me to use. I heard that purple was a favorite among the school age sect. I presented a few gel pens for approval. My boys screwed up their faces, simultaneously. (I love when that happens.) “Why?” they said. “If you use purple, we won’t see it all that well. No, we like red. Get red.” So much for educator’s psychology. The checking and editing pencils made by Ticonderoga are perfect for the job—red and erasable (hey, even us editors need to erase!).

Well now, whatever happened to Robert Wright? I hear he’s still out there, thrashing out the big ideas he loves to explore to get the kernels on paper. I haven’t read his more recent titles, but I suspect that he’s finding out why book critics are called book critics. It's a tough world, publishing is. Well, Bob, you were right. Big ideas take an enormous amount of patience and most of all, yes-indeed, rewrites. Enjoy the journey! God bless.

Monday, February 22, 2010

King of His Domain

by Kathleen Blease

He was in full regalia, this king of his domain. Each and every visitor was met by his salute. His name was Tom, and he guarded his kingdom with fervor and zest. Tom greeted me as I turned into the dairy farm’s driveway, waddling behind the car, calling out “Halt, who goes there?” By the time I reached the end, he quickly made an about face and returned to his post, perhaps to meet the next intruder.

(photo source:

I went into the store, purchased jumbo eggs, meat, and milk. On my way out, a little cat met me, and I bent down to scootch his ears. While putting the packages in my car, I noticed a little white egg a hen had deposited in the snow right next to the back tire.

I hopped in, turned the car around (mindful of the egg), and was met by his majesty at the driveway. Tom rushed my SUV head on, puffed up, noisy and nosy, strutting his stuff. I stopped and he came along side the car. I pushed the gas pedal, and the king bird ran along side me, waddling, as his feathers were out in full suit and armor, his chin curled over his massive breast.

A little more gas. By the time I peered out the window, his suit of armor was half its former size. He was in streamline mode. Smooth as silk. His neck extended out as far as it could reach, his beak leading the way. He was in full stride! Chaaaarge!! His face was bright blue, and his eyes were focused straight ahead, set on the finish line. Oh my, he was in his glory! At the end of the driveway, he fluffed his feathers again, puffed up, curled his chin back, and began gobblin' his command: “Away with you! Away with you!”

What a beauty!

When I got home and pulled into the driveway, a little black-capped chickadee landed on the birdfeeder next to the car. He puffed up his plumage and with a loud and raspy “chick-a-dee-dee-dee!” barked his command: “Away with you! Away with you!”

All creatures great and small, the Lord God made them all! God bless.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Food for Fridays

by Kathleen Blease

The Lenten season is always a challenge for us moms with growing teenagers and hungry husbands! New recipes make it into my recipe box.

At Mass on Ash Wedsnesday, Father explained that Lent means "to lengthen." The days are getting longer, and more light is entering our world. Spring is just around the corner! New life is about to spring up! Even with a foot of snow on the ground, my husband and I are perusing seed catalogs and planning our garden. I'm dreaming of cooking with my own homegrown fresh herbs and vegetables again. There's nothing like going out to the garden to fetch dinner!

Lent is a great time to make the transition from heavy winter roasts and casseroles, like pork roasts and lasagna, to lighter and healthier meals. What a wonderful season is Lent! We make sacrifices to Christ, through our Lenten promises, grow closer to Him, and become healthier all at the same time. Our Lord certainly does know what's best for us.

Check out the new feature to Kathleen's Catholic--my new Lenten recipes in the link above. A delicious soda bread. A bright bean soup. And a scrumptous egg croquette. (My teenage son just said, "Oh, yea, I like your croquettes!") They're very satisfying and easy to prepare. Perfect for Fridays. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Be Marked!

Be marked as people of God!

Man, remember from ashes you came, and to ashes you will return.
Repent and return to the Gospel.
Hear the good news.

I just read an excellent post about repenting. Give it a read at A Book of Everything. May the Lord bless you and lead you to His salvation this Lenten season! God bless.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Love Letters from Heaven

Check out my January posts for more Love Letters.

God's love letters are all around, in the beauty He created just for you! Take a look, and never doubt that your are loved!

all photos copyrighted by Roger L. Blease

Our Lady of Mercy Church

Easton Cemetery

great blue heron on our frozen pond

from my childhood to my sons'

the next move

Boy Scouts' flag retirement

Colonial Williamsburg

Think Spring!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

St. Valentine's Day Surprise

by Kathleen Blease

(photo source:

I wasn't going to write a post today. I thought I ran out of things to say about St. Valentine's Day. But then I went to Mass. You never know where and when you will find suprises of the heart.

I'm going to tell you a secret. Yes, I'll make it public. I am a claustrophobic. Haven't always been, but I am now. Sitting in crowds is a big problem, including at Mass.  And so there's one thing I need to do every Sunday-- I sit in the second pew, as close to the altar as I can possibly get, with everyone else behind me. (In the first pew sits the same elderly couple every week, so I don't want to take their seat. It's a small pew.) In my usual seat, I see only the priest and the altar. And I also have the privilege of seeing special moments, like the one I witnessed today.

Right after the homily, Father reminded us that today is National Marriage Day, as well as St. Valentine's Day, so he called all married couples to the front of the church. Little by little, couples timidly made their way to the altar. Father had one child hold a rose for the wives. Another child held a candle for the husbands. Then Father announced that the couples were there to repeat their Baptismal promises and their Wedding vows.

One young father seemed a little nervous. He stood with his wife, looking back to his small children. He took a few steps to rejoin them, but thinking twice, he returned to his wife and took her hand. When I peeked over my shoulder, I saw three children, the youngest about two years old, quietly peering over the pew.

Father continued with the baptismal promises and the vows. Then I noticed some movement up the center aisle. The two year old toddled up to the man. Without even looking up to be sure he had the right person, he wrapped his hands around his daddy's leg. Dad's hand came down to rest on the little one's head. Eventually, the little guy scootched down, and his Daddy and Mommy repeated their wedding vows while their little boy was sitting on Dad's foot. Tiny penny loafers peeked out from between Dad's feet. Tails from his oxford shirt hung out from under his cable sweater. He arms were wrapped tightly around his dad's leg.

Oh, how I wish I had a camera! What a way to celebrate the Feast of St. Valentine. Somehow, I think the saint is in Heaven smiling in pure delight. Yes, I'll bet he's thinking, this is good. God bless.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

St. Valentine's Day with Kids

by Kathleen Blease

(learn to make your own at

These last few days I have been pondering what I can write about St. Valentine's Day that could stir the soul and make it a memorable feast. But to tell you the truth, I don't have anything grand to tell you. (I think St. Valentine's life is testimony enough!) My favorite valentine memories are quite simple, and they revolve around our kids.

When our boys were little, my husband and I tried in vain to enjoy a romantic dinner for two at a posh restaurant, only to find it expensive and empty. Then it finally dawned on us what was missing--our kids! Perhaps it was the babysitter who had the best time, drawing and crafting with the kids while we dined in quiet surrounds.

Now, every year, my husband cooks a gourmet dinner. I set the table with china, linen, silver, and crystal, and the boys fashion valentines out of construction paper and stick glue. Candles stand at the center of the table. We eat, we drink (sparkling cider for the boys), we tell the boys stories of how we met, fell in love and married, and, of course, we share those times when we were anxiously expecting the arrival of our baby boys. The food and drink are wonderful. The company is terrific. And the valentines are adorable; each year they reflect the boys' ages, artistic abilities, and, of course, their sense of humor. To top off the evening, we savor chocolate-covered strawberries.

The pile of valentines I now have is growing, and the years are certainly rolling by! Now in their teens, our children still look forward to our traditional St. Valentine's Day feast here at home.

It all seems to make sense to me. I asked a little girl last week what she plans to do for St. Valentine's Day. She looked at me a little confused and said, "Oh, no. Valentine's Day is for grown-ups, not kids." I have to disagree. St. Valentine devoted himself to marriage and family. What better time to instill in our children how much we (husband and wife) love each other with tender devotion! What better time to throw open the heavy curtains of daily life and let your children see your warm, fuzzy, googly-eyed feelings for your sweetheart! It might become a habit. And, you know, they just might like it.

Happy St. Valentine's Day! God bless.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Three Days Until St. Valentine's Day

"The water, air, and trees just outside the window fill the head with scent, and at last, the face in the mirror looks like the person it always wanted to be; it's gleaming, rosy, and smiling. True love simply can't be hidden. It radiates the undeniable quality of feeling alive!"

from Introduction by Kathleen Blease, from Love In Verse: Classic Poems from the Heart

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

St. Valentine and Our Priests

by Kathleen Blease

I interrupt this countdown to St. Valentine’s Day for a special report.

Headline: Priests worldwide are in need
of St. Valentine greetings!

St. Valentine’s Day this year falls on a Sunday. St. Valentine was a wonderful priest, who gave his life for the conferring of the sacraments. On his feast day this year, give the priests of your parish a special valentine. Pray for them!

Let’s not forget that their love is deep and abiding. It is their love of Christ that makes our Lord a spiritual and physical reality for us. They bring Christ to our weddings, through their consecrated hands. They baptize our children and bring them into the Light of the Family of God. They consecrate the bread and wine and bring Christ Himself to us at every Mass, so we can have Christ in us and with us; we needn’t go through life without Him. Our priests bring Christ’s compassion to us in the sacrament of Reconciliation, to lift our burdens and cleanse our souls. They bless our homes. They pray for us. They anoint us when we are sick. They bury our loved ones and pray for their happy repose. They educate us. Provide for us. And tell us what we need to hear and know. Because of them, we are God’s people! Just what would we be without these shepherds? What would our hearts be?

After Mass this weekend, spend some time with the Lord and thank Him for our priests. Don’t just leave after the recessional hymn. Walk up to the front pews, or the kneeler in front of the tabernacle, and spend some time with Christ, offering Him your heart. Thank the Lord for your husband, who a priest has bound to you. Praise Him for your children, who a priest welcomed into the parish family. St. Valentine was devoted to marriage and children! And so are our priests!

Dear St. Valentine,

What a wonderful priest you were. Even imprisoned, you healed the blind and gave hope to hearts in love. How those hearts sought you out! You then gave your life for the sake of the sacraments. Pray for our priests today, St. Valentine. Pray that they realize how much their parishioners love them! Help them find comfort away from their homes and families. And may they feel the joy of your feast day! Amen.

Upon leaving the church, be sure to say to your priest, “Happy St. Valentine’s Day, Father!” Perhaps you can ask your children to make a valentine for him, with a prayer card of St. Valentine placed in the center. Or you could present him with a goodie bag of valentine cookies.  Something to show him how much you appreciate his love of Christ! You might want to visit Lacy's Catholic Icing for some terrific baking and craft ideas.

(craft from Lacy's Catholic Icing)

Now…our countdown continues. Four days left until St. Valentine’s Day! God bless.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Five Days until St. Valentine's Day

Dearest  St. Valentine,

How you gave your life to bind love, but not just for love's sake! Your mission of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony was also for children, that they may be filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ under the mantel of Our Lady and a blessed marriage. St. Valentine, dear saint and martyr, pray for our children. Amen.

"How sweetly your child longs for you as he grows and explores the world.... And it is little wonder: He began as a tiny individual tucked under your heart where he grew, cell by cell, until he was ready for the world.... Perhaps, then, it is biologically built into us to seek our mothers for comfort...for life!"

from Introduction by Kathleen Blease,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Six Days Until St. Valentine's Day

Dear St. Valentine,

Pray for our hearts and minds. Pray that we are filled with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may celebrate the love that has walked into our every day lives!


(photo from

"The first time two hearts connect, that is the day to mark and celebrate, for it’s the birthday of life. The first day of life as it should be!”

from Introduction by Kathleen Blease, from Love In Verse: Classic Poems of the Heart

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Countdown to St. Valentine's Day!

Seven days until St. Valentine's Day is upon us! So why do we celebrate love so urgently?

Maybe because...

“The path we travel before love is found often seems to be a tangent without destination, but then love steps in front of us and our destination is made perfectly clear. The path brought us right here. Arriving at a beautiful surprise, arriving at love."

from Introduction by Kathleen Blease, from
Love In Verse: Classic Poems of the Heart

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pray for Us, Our Lady of the Snows!

"View to a Snowball" photo copyrighted by Roger L. Blease

Our Dear Mother in Heaven,
Pray for us, Our Lady of the Snows!
Cover us with your pure mantel!

To learn more about Mother Mary's title, Our Lady of the Snows, click here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

St. Damien Boy Scout Troop of Molokai

by Kathleen Blease

Being a mom of two Boy Scouts and a counselor of the Scout’s Catholic religion emblem program (called the Ad Altare Dei), it does my heart good to hear about kids doing great things to celebrate the Faith.

So let me tell you about the St. Damien Boy Scout Troop of Molokai, Hawaii. This group of young men devoted their Boy Scout Troop to St. Damien. It was unusual in itself to name a Troop after a Saint, but if that wasn't enough, these kids decided that they would set off for Belgium and then for Rome to witness the canonization of the hero of their island, the Blessed Fr. Damien de Veuster of Molokai. They first traveled to Belgium, to visit the saint's birthplace. Then it was off to the Vatican for the canonization. What an effort! What an experience for young men!

Fr. Damien de Veuster was ordained to the Sacred Heart Fathers in 1864, then sent to Hawaii to work in the missions on the main island. In 1873, he volunteered to work in the leper colony located on Molokai, devoting himself particularly to the children of the colony, although he showed great care to lepers of all ages. He became known as the Leper Priest, the Hero of Molokai. Within the colony, he was also a builder of churches, schools, and clinics, and he reportedly built some 600 coffins. In 1885, he announced that he, too, contracted the terrible disease, yet he remained vitally active in caring for his charges in every way, providing them with love and human diginity. He died in April of that year. His feast day is October 11th.

St. Damien was canonized on February 21, 2009. For more information about St. Damien, click here. Or to find a book on the saint, click here.

Check out the St. Damien Boy Scouts, follow their blog, and watch their clips about their travels. My boys belong to a Troop of more than 100 Boy Scouts (the biggest in our council), so St. Damien's troop seems small by comparison...small, but mighty! Let's pray for their continued success!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Science Fairs: Celebrations of Creation

by Kathleen Blease

All ye Creation rejoice! It's science fair time of year! And what is science? It's the study of our Heavenly Father's creation, of course!

At this very moment, I can hear a whirring sound coming from the classroom.  It's my son's newly homemade electromagnetic generator. My other son is still collecting samples for his microscope slides, of which he now has seventeen. Today I helped him collect some cheek cells from our cat, Honey Bun. (She didn't like that too much.) The science fair is taking over the house...and the curriculum.

Taking the advice of Andrew A. Campbell, author of The Latin Centered Curriculum, up until now (8th and 6th grade) I had always let my children learn science through their own curiosity, experiments, discoveries, and readings. This gave me the opportunity to instill in the boys solid elementary skills, such as math facts, spelling, penmanship, and basic Latin, which, when put together, took quite a bit of time everyday.

Still, I included bios of scientists and explorers in their reading requirements, and in that way we covered quite a bit. Last year, I made of list of my son's favorite books about nature, flight, and science, and it filled an entire page. Coupled that with his science fair project, along with some photos of his masterpiece, and that section of his annual portfolio was well presented. 

Science fairs are a great way for the kids to learn solidly a specific scientific principle, as well as how to present a project in oral, graphic, and written forms. Both boys have done well in the fairs throughout the years, bringing home awards such as Best of the Fair, Brainiest Entry, and Best in Science. Their projects had names such as:

Father's Fingerprints in the Family
Colored Roofs, Comfortable Homes 
Extra-ordinary Things from Ordinary Life : A Nature Collection With Shark Teeth and Bat Skeleton
Are Plant Cells Shaped to Match their Jobs?
The Science Behind Pinewood Derbies
Alley Oop! The Upside Downs of Pinhole Cameras
A Radio that Requires No Power

If you'd like basic instructions to any of these projects, leave a comment and let me know! I would be happy to share with you!

In the meantime, I thought I'd direct you to some science fair resources. I have to say that these have been extremely helpful. Many of our science projects we concocted ourselves (such as Colored Roofs, Comfortable Houses); others came from science fair experts, such as Janice VanCleave.

Check these out:

Discovery Channel's Science Fair Central
This website will help you design a presentation with your child. When we first started attending science fairs, I was clueless about how to help my children present their projects in the standard science fair format. In fact, I didn't even know that there was a standard! A sound presentation includes a display board, abstract, observation notebook, and an official experiment report. Here's a great opportunity to help kids learn a bit about graphic design, note taking, and composition. It's well worth the effort.

Even if you think your child is too young to write a report, it can still be done! And with a benefit to your little one. Design a few questions about the project, and then ask your child to answer them in a interview fashion. Type out his answers. Keep them simple, but do clean up the grammar and sentence structure. This will do two things: First, it will give your child confidence that a report is done and bearing his name. Second, it makes a solid impression on him and helps him see exactly what he learned from the experience. Some science fairs require an interview with your child, sans the parents. So this will give him ample practice in explaining his work. And if the science fair doesn't include an interview, the report will present your child beautifully.

Science Toys You and Your Kids Can Make.
Younger children, grades K-5 will need parental assistance. Older children, grades 6-8, would need only minimal assistance. My younger son really enjoys this site. Last year, he made a crystal radio from a cardboard box, copper wire, a crystal and an ear piece. It required no power. I'll warn you, though, you will need to live very close to civilization or a radio tower. We found it worked only when we were right across the street from a tower, but it was very exciting! This year, he learned how to make a homemade Van deGraaff generator and a homopolar motor. The motor took only a few minutes and was crafted from magnets, a D battery, and copper wire. Very exciting to watch it do its magic.

Janice VanCleave has been a big help to me. She has two books specfically about science fair projects, in which she covers how to proceed using the scientific method...very important to science fair judges.

Janice VanCleave's A+ Science Fair Projects

Janice VanCleave's Guide to More of the Best Science Fair Projects

If you have any science fair stories, projects, or proud-parent moments, please share! And good luck at the fairs! God bless.

Monday, February 1, 2010

What's THAT on Your Child's Desk?

by Kathleen Blease

Yesterday, I took a good, hard look at my son's desk. Here is a list of its residents:

1. Various 1" binders for Latin, Language Arts, Ancient History, Intro to Chemistry, and so on
2. Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer
3.The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Benjamin D. Wiker
4. A Basic Dictionary from Scholastics Books
5. Lamp light--no one there to use it, and it's still on
6. Two model airplane kits
7. One superglue tube
8. The contents of one superglue tube that ruptured
9. One airplane fuselage and various pieces
10. Batteries--different sizes
11. Piece of titanium (from what I've been told..??)
12. Sandpaper wrapped around piece of titanium
13. Elmer's glue
14. Paint brush
15. Instructions to some airplane, but not the one he's working on
16. Nuts and bolts
17. One nail
18. One roll of aluminum foil (So that's where it got to!)
19. Plasma globe
20. Scotch tape
21. Screw driver
22. Plastic placemat of the Periodic Table
23. Various bird feathers
24. Two empty beer cans
25. Wire and alligator clips
26. Bird skeleton (Yes, it's real.)

On my oldest son's desk, I could find these items, among a pile of art supplies and textbooks:

1. Ear wax
2. Melon mold
3. Cat's whisker
4. Tree fungus
5. Hunk of cat hair
6. A History of Architecture by Spiro Kostof

Ah, yes! It's that time of year again. Time for history term papers and science fair projects.  (The ear wax, melon mold, etc. are for microscope slides.) Homeschooling moms have gotta love it!

What's on your child's desk?

P.S. Check out my post Love Letters from Heaven (from January 2010). My son's plasma globe is the second picture. Gorgeous, isn't it?
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