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!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Snuggle Up and Read With Your Little Ones: Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes

When our boys were little, we had story time everyday at ten in the morning. We pulled a book from a huge stack I rolled home from the library just down the hill. Snuggled up on the couch, we went from one adventure to another, absorbing the words and sinking into the colorful illustrations. I will always treasure those days! And I'll never regret the energy I spent hauling those books home with two little boys in tow. Each calorie burnt was well invested.

Here's a picture book moms will enjoy, about being different and celebrating. Slippery Willie's Stupid, Ugly Shoes by Larry Peterson. Check out the video, then visit Slippery Willie's blog.

Maybe, just maybe, the Easter Bunny might pop this little gem into one of your children's Easter basket.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Buen Camino!": The Pilgrimage of a Secular Franciscan (Part II)

What is it like to go on a pilgrimage on foot in a foreign land? Secular Franciscan, friend and relative Patricia Dervish takes us along on The Way of St. James in northern Spain. To join her in Part I of her journey, which includes photos and a map, click here.

When we left Patricia, she wrote...

As I thought over the previous six days, I was struck by the variations for walking the Camino.  Some walked solo, some in pairs, some in groups.  Some couples walked hand in hand.  Some groups parted and came together again at rest stops, or other bends in the road.  I saw two companions with a piece of rope tied to each of them as they dragged their gear in a travel wagon.  I saw another couple aiding each other as they carried their octogenarian bodies over rocky, rough spots.  Other pilgrims walked when they could and caught a ride on the Lugo road when they tired. I spent one morning with a woman who walked all the way from France with a pack on her back.  In contrast, I met a group of Canadians who had guides and a van.  The van carried their bags, and the guides checked on them as they walked along, providing historic information about the specific area we were traveling through, and preparing picnic lunches in various shady groves.  I treasured all encounters. So many variations on the Camino, echoing the variations in our human family.

And now, Part II of
"Buen Camino!":The Pilgrimage of a Secular Franciscan

by Patricia Dervish

At sunset I sat at the feet of St. Francis, part of the iconic monument in Monte de Gozo, and looked from the mountaintop to the city in the near distance, reflecting on  my spiritual path.  Each day I poised a question to myself, to hold in my heart, and in the sacred space of the journey.  I had reflected on gratitude, on God’s treasures in the created world, on the sacrificial life, on penance, on surrender, on friendship, on gifts, on the balance of action and contemplation in my life, on peacemaking, on my unique sacred tasks, on the living presence of our God.  On the mountaintop looking to  Santiago, I was filled with joy and a profound sense of peace.

The iconic monument on Monte de Gozo,
where I reflected on my spiritual path.
At daybreak of the seventh day, I walked the last three miles from Monte de Gozo to Santiago slowly.  I looked forward to the Pilgrim’s Mass, to the chance to explore the ancient town, and to receive my compostela.  I did not want to hurry, however, since I was reflecting on how I was going to carry the lessons of the Camino and this retreat back into my life.  There were so many things I learned and I struggled then, as I do now, to summarize.  But, I will try for they are gifts to me from the Camino. 

I received the gift of gratitude.  Great, great gratitude for all that is, all that has been, and all that is to come.  I was, and am now, so grateful for the strength and endurance of my body, for the kind “friends for the road” that I met along the way, for every bit of food and water offered so generously by the Galicians, for all of creation that sang to me, buzzed around me, sheltered me in downpours, cushioned me in falls, for the gifts of joy and love that the Spirit offered through each one I met.  Thank you, God, thank you.

I was gifted with a deeper understanding of myself and my life.  The Franciscan Rule calls us to a radical inner conversion.  I embraced that call even more deeply on the Camino, understanding more fully the lessons of one of my spiritual teachers that a radical inner conversion will reorganize my internal reality, reorder my relationships, and redirect my path as it unfolds before me.

The Camino taught me that the path is made as we walk it.  I didn’t know the Camino before I got on it.  I didn’t know what I would encounter, despite some great pictures shared by pilgrims on the social networks.  And despite the fact that I have been a long distance walker for a long time, my physical training for the pilgrimage did not go well.  I broke a bone in my back in one fall, radically dislocated a finger in a second, and seriously bruised both knees in a third.  I felt out of shape and fragile and doubted my ability to walk even seven miles, let along seventy.  But I learned, once again, that we don’t have to show up for the tasks of life in perfect shape.  We just need to show up.  We just need to be there, be present, and be ready to take the next steps as God unfolds them.

Everyone enjoyed the kind hospitality of the locals,
who provided for us in simple but meaningful ways.
I was gifted with a powerful sense of connectedness to others.  Our world seems to thrive on competition.  The Camino is different.  It thrives on cooperation.  Pilgrims on the Camino, strangers for the most part, became friends for the journey.  We shared food, water, information, and intimate sleeping space where forty or more tired bodies breathed together, almost rhythmically, for eight or so hours a night.  We also shared silence, a deep silence in our walking and sleeping that strangers often do not share.  A connectedness formed, and this connectedness to each other nurtured our connectedness to God.

God felt so present on the Camino.   Perhaps this is why Jesus retreated often to the wilderness.  Most of the days I spent in silence, since October is not a busy pilgrimage month.  The silence outside opened the space inside.  Without the usual duties, demands, and distractions of life I became profoundly aware of the presence of God all around me. I experienced a sense of moving beyond myself into the arms of our loving God. 

Protective Grace took my hand
as I found myself alone
in a forest for what seemed
to be a very long time.
As I was embraced by God I humbly received God’s most generous gifts--the gifts of grace.  Sheltering Grace hovered over me as I walked the last five miles of a day through a pelting rainstorm.  Protective Grace took my hand as I found myself alone in a forest for what seemed to be a very long time.  Radical Grace held me as I sobbed over life’s sorrows and losses.  Joyful Grace accompanied me to a hilltop sunrise.  Playful Grace urged me on to find yet another Torta de Santiago, that delicious dish of eggs, onions, and potatoes, and to rest and share stories with pilgrims in the café.  Poetic Grace read with me the poems of St. Francis that I carried in my pack.  Prayerful Grace prayed with me by the quiet streams and kneeled with me in the fern covered forests.  Invitational Grace awakened in me an awareness of God’s Living Presence within my own being and urged me to enter into the sacred space with the Holy Mystery, and to know that from that sacred space all of life flows.

I will return to the Camino.  But until that time, I offer to all I meet its greeting – “Buen Camino.”   Good journey, my fellow sojourner.  May peace and safety and well being and joy be your companions for the day.  Buen Camino.

If you would like further information about Patricia's pilgrimage or how you can plan your own pilgrimage along The Way of St. James, contact her at

Susie Lloyd - UNEDITED: Channeling my Inner Mother

The last time I worked in an office, voice mail was just being installed.

"What's this new fangled thing?"
"I dunno."

It was a revelation that someone could leave you a recorded and detailed message on your phone. Thank goodness I moved up the ranks to editor by then. Editorial assistants must have been fearing for their jobs. The biggest responsibility listed on the job description was answering the phone and taking messages. In those early days, I tallied miles running back and forth between my little broom closet office and my boss's, waving little slips of pink. But by the time technology caught up with us, I was well beyond the newbie stage.

Susie Lloyd has a great take on technology and "mommy-brain." As least that's what I call it. Right at the top of her post is a link to a (very) short video. Watch carefully, or you'll miss it. If you're under 40, you won't get it. But if you worked in an office back in 198_...err, back then, you'll laugh alright!

Here's the link...

Susie Lloyd - UNEDITED: Channeling my Inner Mother: "Woman returns to work after 30 years Watch the four second video. That would be my mother. When I took typing back in 1983 on state of th..."

Monday, March 28, 2011

from I Can't Wait to Meet My Daddy


You're about to become a father. A daddy. Soon the little wonder who has been filling your days (and sleepless nights) with anticipation will be in your arms warm and soft. The word innocent finally has meaning.

How is it this beautiful creature holds the entire future in such a tiny heart? All your hopes and dreams--all that you are, all that you ever wanted to be--alseep in your arms, a beautiful package.

Those sweet eyes will be looking to you for what the world is, or what it's supposed to be. Those delicate fingers will hold yours tightly now and, perhaps, at your final hour.

This person you helped make has never been here before, now will be ever again. You baby is like no other. Unique in every way. And because of this little one, your heart will be stirred, thrilled, overwhelmed, maybe even scared, and suddenly your own needs will fall away from the center of your world, replaced by your child.

Still, no matter how much you want to give your baby, there is just one thing every child wants: Daddy. That's you!

A daddy. What a wondeful gift to give your baby. It will last a lifetime.

Kathleen Blease

from I Can't Wait to Meet My Daddy, a gift book for expectant dads.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

An Edifying Reflection on Abortion and The Rosary's Sorrowful Mysteries

Catholic author Peggy Bowes is devoted to the Rosary and all its Mysteries. At her blog, Don't Know Much About the Rosary?, and in her book, The Rosary Workout, she illustrates how the Mysteries of the Rosary apply to our every day lives.

Sadly, abortion is a fact of our nation's daily life. Peggy has posted an excellent article at Catholic Lane.

Just what do the Sorrowful Mysteries have to do with abortion? How does Christ respond? Click here to read The Sorrowful Mysteries at Planned Parenthood.

God bless!

Friday, March 25, 2011

"Buen Camino!": The Pilgrimage of a Secular Franciscan (Part I)

(If you have already read Part I, click here for Part II.)

What is it like to go on a holy pilgrimage on foot? A friend and relative of mine has offered to share!

I'm delighted to bring to you today a wonderful guest, Patricia Dervish. While Patricia has been discerning her call to the lay Catholic order of the Secular Franciscans, she took a pilgrimage on foot, called The Way of St. James, along the region of northern Spain. Today I am posting Part I of II. Join me in thanking Patricia for sharing her story with us, and please pray for her during this holy Lenten season.

by Patricia Dervish

The Way of St. James is the pilgrimage to a region in northwestern Spain, Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.   Since medieval times, thousands have made this pilgrimage on foot, horseback, donkey, and more recently on bicycles, fulfilling a call to make the journey of the pilgrim to honor our God.  In mid October, 2009, I walked the last one hundred kilometers of The Way of St. James, also called the Camino de Santiago, holding my sacred intentions in my heart.

Pilgrimages are a part of many religious traditions.  In Christianity, Rome, Jerusalem, and this small town in the northwest corner of Spain are generally thought of as the most important pilgrim destinations.  Many believe that the followers of St. James (the apostle) brought his body to rest in Santiago after he was martyred in A.D. 44. His sacred tomb is located inside the cathedral. 
the cathedral
Thousands now travel ever year to the cathedral to embrace the statue of St. James, attend the pilgrim’s mass celebrated every day at noon, and pray.

There are several routes to the town of Santiago de Compostela.  The Camino del Norte follows a coastal path traveling west across Spain.  There is a route that begins in Portugal and travels north.  The most popular, however, is known as the Camino Frances, or the French Route, which begins in France, traverses the Pyrenees, and follows a path through Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Sarria, to Santiago de Compostela.  The route from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France to Santiago is 800 kilometers or 500 miles.  Hardy pilgrims make the journey in about four weeks. My pilgrimage began in Sarria and ended seven days later on the steps of the cathedral.
A map of the various routes of The Way of St. James.
The author's journey took her along northern Spain for 7 days.
(map source: Wikipedia)
My walk in Spain was part of a larger pilgrimage.  I am in formation to become a member of a lay Catholic order, the Secular Franciscan Order, and had planned a 21-day solitary retreat to read, walk, pray, and reflect on God’s calling to me.  I began my retreat late in September, traveling first to Assisi in Italy to celebrate the feast day of Saint Francis, and pray at San Damiano, the Portiuncula, and La Verna.  I traveled then to Spain to continue my retreat.

There are suggestions in the literature that St. Francis made the pilgrimage to Santiago sometime in 1214.  By the time of my arrival in Sarria, Spain, 24 hours after leaving Italy, I didn’t know how.  In comparison to the saint's lengthy travels, my journey looked like this.  The bus from Garibaldi Square delivered me to the train station in Cortona, where I took a train to Florence.  In Florence, I found a bus to the airport and flew to Madrid.  A fifteen minute study of the public transportation in Madrid and two subway rides delivered me to Tirso de Molino, the metro station closest to my friend’s apartment on Calle Magdalena.  I visited briefly with my friend, rested an hour, repacked my backpack to carry the least amount of things possible, and took another two metros rides to Atocha, the main train station in Madrid, to catch the overnight train to Sarria.

Even with all the conveniences of modern travel, the 24 hour period from Garibaldi Square to Sarria left me reeling and looking for coffee.  I have yet to find the details of St. Francis’ journey from Italy--across the Mediterranean Sea then across Spain--but I assume he took a boat or two and walked a great distance.  I marveled, once again, at the Saint’s stamina.

I arrived in Sarria a little after 5:00 a.m. on October 7. I stood at the train’s exit, waiting for the screeching of brakes, the anticipated call of the conductor, and the automatic opening of the doors.  I jumped off the train with backpack and camera in tow, and wandered through the yet deserted and dark town looking for an open café.  I found one which offered piping hot rolls and coffee and discovered other pilgrims starting their journeys there.  Each pilgrim carries a pilgrim’s passport.  Along the Camino there are places that offer sellos, or stamps, thereby tracking the journey to indicate that you have indeed made it.  There is an official office in Santiago that reviews the pilgrim’s passport and issues a certificate, called a compostela, to those who have journeyed the Camino.  Sarria is a popular starting point for many because it is the last point traveling west where one can enter and still receive the official compostela.

The pilgrim's passport was an important part
of the journey.
The pilgrim’s passport also allows the pilgrim to stay at refugios, or hostels, along the way.  The refugios vary from place to place but are usually simple, with bunk beds, warm showers, and a kitchen to prepare meals.  Some refugios offer rooms with places for six to eight pilgrims.  Others have large dormitories where as many as eighty pilgrims sleep in one room.  Regardless of the arrangement, I found the refugios to be clean, safe, and a great way to learn from others about their adventures and sometimes about their interior journeys. 

The Camino itself is not hard to follow.  There are yellow arrows painted on markers, rocks, sides of buildings, and trees that signal any turns on the path.  I ventured on roads, across bridges, through quiet forests, to grass lands, through villages and farms, up hills, through streams, and lost my way only once.  The yellow arrow was a comforting and reassuring site.
The author is guided by markers of the yellow arrow.
The scallop shell is also everywhere on the Camino and is, in fact, the symbol of the Camino.  Many pilgrims wear a scallop shell as a necklace, or pinned to their backpacks, or tied to their shoes.  There are many legends about how the shell came to be the symbol of the Camino.  Regardless of the legends, however, shells are common in Galicia and were useful to early pilgrims as makeshift cups for water or utensils for shared food.  I was particularly drawn to the shell because it is also one of the symbols on the Franciscan cross. 

My favorite symbol, however, was not painted or etched, but flowed from the mouths of everyone I met.  “Buen Camino” other pilgrims would say as they passed.  “Buen Camino” said the farmers in the fields, the children playing by the side of the road, the shopkeepers, the women and men in cafes and bars and churches who stamped the pilgrim’s passports.  Soon I too embraced the words almost as a chant as I greeting others on the journey.                                                                         
"Buen Camino," said the farmers in the fields.
I walked about twelve miles a day, from Sarria to Portomarin, from Portomarin to Palas de Rei, then to Melide, Arzua, O Pino, and finally to Monte de Gozo, a few miles outside of Santiago de Compostela.  In medieval times, pilgrims paused there to engage in a bathing ritual in the streams nearby, washing themselves and their clothes after their long journeys.  I engaged in my own water ritual before entering the holy city, but mine was at a laundromat and a shower room in the pilgrim’s hostel. 

As I thought over the previous six days, I was struck by the variations for walking the Camino.  Some walked solo, some in pairs, some in groups.  Some couples walked hand in hand.  Some groups parted and came together again at rest stops, or other bends in the road.  I saw two companions with a piece of rope tied to each of them as they dragged their gear in a travel wagon.  I saw another couple aiding each other as they carried their octogenarian bodies over rocky, rough spots.  Other pilgrims walked when they could and caught a ride on the Lugo road when they tired. I spent one morning with a woman who walked all the way from France with a pack on her back.  In contrast, I met a group of Canadians who had guides and a van.  The van carried their bags, and the guides checked on them as they walked along, providing historic information about the specific area we were traveling through, and preparing picnic lunches in various shady groves.  I treasured all encounters. So many variations on the Camino, echoing the variations in our human family.

Click here for Part II.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Lenten Meals from The Little Catholic Kitchen: Soup's On! Hearty Stuff in a Bowl Served With Satisfying Muffins

by Kathleen Blease

You might also be interested in :
Burgers on a Friday? Only These!
Alicia's Soda Bread (aka Scone)
To go with Fish: Mango Salsa and Summery Cous-Cous Salad

Looks Like a Soup Day!

On this fine spring morning, we awoke to six inches of snow on the ground. Looks like a good day for soup! Here's a quick and healthy recipe from The Little Catholic Kitchen. Serve this hearty dish with my favorite bran muffins. There are two recipes below: one that uses whole wheat flour and bran, and one that's 100% bran. Both are delicious and just sweet enough to please everyone.

Kathleen's Lenten Bean and Vegetable Soup

I made this for Ash Wednesday. It requires no chicken or beef stock. Everyone gobbled it up! Be sure to rinse the canned beans before using them. If you use whole barley, it will require more time to cook, so add it to the vegetables at the start of the soup.

2 14-oz. cans your favorite beans (I like 1 can black beans and 1 can navy beans), drained and rinsed
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, including liquid
4 carrots, diced to size of beans
2 stalks celery, diced to size of beans
1 large onion, diced to size of beans
6 cups water
2 handfuls pearled (or whole) barley
1 c. frozen corn
3 bay leaves
tbs. rosemary leaves
fresh cracked pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese for serving

Yields: 6 servings

In dutch oven or large sauce pan, bring water to a boil. Reduce and add carrots, celery, onions, bay leaves and rosemary. Simmer until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes, barley, corn, salt and pepper. Simmer until soup is thick, the vegetables are fork tender, and the barley is done, about 45 minutes. The longer the soup is simmered, the better, for a fuller flavor. Stir in parsley. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Bran Muffins

Just sweet enough, this muffin is excellent with the raisins. If you're looking for a wheat-free recipe, check out the one that follows. You may use wheat or oat bran. These are most delicious served warm, but they keep and freeze well, too.

1 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. bran, wheat or oat
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. molasses
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 c. milk
1 c. raisins

Yields: 12 standard muffins

Preheat the oven at 375. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, soda, and salt. Stir in the bran. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and milk. Mix until thoroughly combined. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until almost combined. Add the raisins, and mix again until just combined. Do not mix any further, or else they will not rise. Bake in muffin tins until skewer inserted comes out dry, about 30 minutes.

100% Oat Bran Muffins

Here's a wheat-free version. Wonderful served warm!

2 1/2 c. oat bran
2 tsp. aluminum free baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. honey or maple syrup (or 1/4 c. honey and 1/4 c. maple syrup)
2 tbsp. canola oil
1/4 raisins

Yields: 12 standard muffins

Preheat oven at 425. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. In another bowl, mix together wet ingredients until they are completely incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix until almost combined. Add the raisins, and mix until just combined. Do not over mix. Fill muffin cups full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Joseph: The Greatest of All Earthly Fathers

Today is the feast of St. Joseph.

There was a time when my husband and I were facing some very difficult decisions, the kind that would change our family's life for a very long time. It was wrenching to face those challenges, but we did...with the help of St. Joseph...and succeeded.

This was when I finally learned more about Jesus' foster father and why he is the greatest of all earthly fathers. What a gift he gives to us!

At the end of the post linked below, I give you the prayer of intercession I turned to during those tough times. After I said my rosary, I prayed this prayer, then--and this is important--I reflected on St. Joseph's role as husband, father, protector, and provider. In other words, I didn't just rattle off the prayer and expect something magical to happen, although magic did happen, which I noticed only in retrospect. But in the meantime, I was so happy to be able to call upon him in Heaven, and then ask him to take my prayers to his little boy, Jesus. He was a great comfort to us.

Click the link below to read my reflection on St. Joseph. God bless!

Kathleen's Catholic: St. Joseph: The Greatest of All Earthly Fathers: "by Kathleen Blease What a tender sight to see: Our Lord, a little boy, leaning his head on his daddy’s chest. Do you remember your little ..."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

For St. Patrick's Day: Quick and Tasty!

Alicia's Soda Bread

A friend of mine gave me this recipe. She quickly wrote it down from memory, and it's excellent. Buttermilk makes all the difference, but plain milk will work if necessary. Another friend of mine, Mary, tells me that her Irish grandmother would have called this a scone. Soda bread or scone, it's delicious and easy to make. Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day!

Visit The Little Catholic Kitchen for more delicious recipes.

3 c. all purpose or bread flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. each aluminum free baking powder and baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. buttermilk
1 c. raisins or dried cranberries

Yields: One large loaf

Preheat oven 350. In large mixing bowl, whisk together dry ingredients. Then add buttermilk all at once. Stir until almost combined. Add the raisins or dried cranberries. Mix until just combined. Do not mix past this point, or else it will rise less. This will be a sticky dough that is hard to mix with a spoon. Flour your hands and mix by hand if necessary. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with non-stick cooking spray (such as Pam). Place the dough in one heap on the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes. If the top browns too fast, place a sheet of foil on top, without wrapping it. When finished, the loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom with your fingers. Delicious served warm or room temperature.

Lenten Meals from The Little Catholic Kitchen: Burgers on a Friday? Only These!

Salmon Burgers

These are delicious, satisfying, and remarkably healthy--high in calcium and omega-3s. You can cook these on the grill, but I like to saute them in a pan with a little olive oil. Serve on a burger bun with all the fixings, or just by themselves, along with a salad. If you don't have green onions (also called spring onions or scallions), finely diced yellow, white or red onions also work great.

Visit The Little Catholic Kitchen for more delicious recipes.

1 14-oz can canned pink salmon (such as Chicken of the Sea), drained.
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon style mustard
3/4 c. dry bread crumbs
1/2 sliced green onions (include as much of the green as you'd like)
2 whole eggs (or 3 egg whites), beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Yields: 4 servings

Drain and flake salmon. (There's no need to remove the bones, as they are soft. They also contain a lot of calcium and omega-3 fatty acids. The skin can also remain.) Add all other ingredients and gently mix. Try to keep a few salmon chunks in tact. Form into 4 large patties. Grill or saute in pan with olive oil until crispy on the outside. Serve alone, or as you would a hamburger.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Great Lenten Resources at Your Fingertips: Catholic Media Promotion Day

Here's a great opportunity to find something special to help you through your Lenten Journey.

St. Maximilian Kolbe is in Heaven smiling upon us, enjoying the Catholic Media Promotion Day. In the saint's time, he was a master of communications technology and had millions of readers.

Lisa Hendey, founder of, is helping to promote this grassroots effort. At her website, you'll find dozens of links that can help you throughout your Lenten journey. Whatever you prefer--books, podcasts, blogs, TV shows, and so on--you'll find the best at Lisa's site. Click here to go there now.

Lisa writes:
"This grassroots effort is designed to help spread the word about all of the great work being done in Catholic Media.
"We’ve asked our family of contributors to share their favorites, and here are some wonderful suggestions for you to enjoy. In parentheses, you’ll see the names of the contributors who made these recommendations."
The Catholic CyperCommunity is alive and well. You can also find links to Catholic websites, as listed at Kathleen's Catholic by clicking here. Check it out!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Got Family Meal Time? Better to Say YES. Here's Why.

Allison at Totus Tuus Family & Catholic Homeschool found a very interesting report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. It explains how the family meal benefits our children in a plethora of ways. It's almost shocking just how much children are affected when the family meal is absent in their lives.

As a parent, of a child of any age, you should read this.

Click here and travel on over to Allison's blog and read all about how eating with Mom and Dad --and learning table manners, among other things--protects our children from otherwise chilling realities.

God bless!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lenten Meals from The Little Catholic Kitchen: Today, A Little Bit of God's Green Earth on Your Plate

Figuring out a simple Lenten meal can be pretty easy, no? Just cook up a little fish, and you're done. Hmm...

Wouldn't it be nice to make those fish meals a little more bright? When I make these two recipes, below, I think a lot about God's it is fresh and various. There is plenty for us to explore and enjoy on this planet. (I'm also remembering just how much Christ loved his Father's creation, too.) A Lenten Friday is a great time to put aside the heavy comfort foods and get back to the basics...and revel in a few recipes that reflect something of God's green earth--wheat, mango, cherries, herbs. Can you taste it? Me, too!

This Lent, I'll bring you some of my recipes from The Little Catholic Kitchen. Click the link to see all the recipes, both meat and meatless, that I've posted throughout the year. Happy Lenten Friday!

Kathleen's Mango Salsa

This is one of my own creations. Try this with any fish. I think it's particularly good with salmon that's been pan sauteed. It's also delicious mixed with cous-cous. To make a healthy salad out of leftovers, flake the salmon and add to the salsa/mango mix. Add a little olive oil, if you'd like. This makes a great lunch the next day.

1 mango, peeled and finely diced
1 small zucchini, peeled and finely diced
1 14-oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1/2 14-oz. can black olives, sliced
1 14-oz. can peach slices or halves, finely diced
1/8 c. finely diced fresh cilantro (optional)
lime juice to taste
kosher salt to taste

Yields: 6 large servings

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients well. Let sit for one hour to blend flavors.

Kathleen's Cous-Cous Summery Salad

Are you hankering for the taste of summer? Okay, this recipe calls for a chicken bullion cube, which disqualifies it for Lenten Fridays. So, for Fridays, take the bullion cube out and add a little salt and pepper to taste. (A bullion cube is mostly salt anyway.) By the way, if you need to know: cous-cous is made of wheat. Check your grocery store for fresh herbs and tart cherries. If you need to use canned tart cherries, rinse them thoroughly before dicing.

1/2 c. uncooked instant cous-cous
1 c. water
1 chicken bullion cube
1 navel orange, peeled and diced
1/2 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 c. tart cherries, pitted and diced
1/4 c. fresh mint, julienned
generous squirt lime juice

Yields: 4 servings

Cook cous-cous in water and chicken bullion cube, until fluffy, about 15 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Set aside. In a large bowl, gently mix the cous-cous and all other ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. If the mixture is a little too dry, add more lime juice.

My First Mortification This Lent

Ash Wednesday Mass was beautiful. The church was packed, so the line to receive ashes was long. The lady who sat behind me is a prominent member of the parish. I belonged to this parish for more than twenty years, before moving out of the area and joining another out of necessity. I thought Ash Wednesday would be a good day to visit.

Besides, this parish has noon Mass, while many don't. I like to get our ashes early, so we can wear them throughout the day, even if we're just staying home.

After the ashes were distributed and just before the offering, the lady tapped me on the shoulder. "There are ashes all over the floor. People will step on them during Communion and grind them into the rug."

I nodded. Yes, I thought, that would be a shame. And I casually concluded, but what can you do?

She continued. "I can't kneel down to clean them up. Would you do it?"

I turned around and looked at her. Now?

Anyone who knows me will confirm that I am the ultimate introvert. In fact, I'm terrified to get up in front of people. The thought of going to the front of the church, kneeling down, and cleaning the floor was not on my mental plate. But, I was asked and it seemed the job had to be done.

Reluctantly, I left the sanctuary to go to the ladies' room and grab some paper towels. Then I returned and knelt down in front the altar and began sweeping the ashes. But it didn't work. I was making a mess. Do I stay and try harder?

Sensing that Father was ready to begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and being very much aware that I was kneeling down in front of the altar in front of a packed church, I quickly gave up, left to discard the paper towels, and returned to my seat in the front pew. I was glad that was over. The lady behind me quickly thanked me for trying.

Once Mass was finished, I was enjoying the recessional hymn and was singing at full volume, soaking in the remarkable acoustics of the place. In this sanctuary, one doesn't really need a microphone, although the priest is still wired in.

At the last beat of the song, just as I was finishing my final note and closing the hymnal, someone was poking my shoulder. I don't know why, but I thought someone--surely someone, says my ego-- noticed my nice voice and wanted to send a compliment or two my way.

Poke. Poke. Poke. Ooo, get ready to say, "Oh, thank you. That's nice of you to say."

Instead, it was the lady who sat behind me. She looked crossed.

"I didn't mean for you to use water! Or paper towels! I meant that you should just..." Her fingers were making little jerking actions. "...just. pick. them. up. with. your. fingers." And she promptly went up to the altar and began picking. them. up. with. her. fingers.

My first mortification this Lent. I had to smile. Thank you, Lord, for keeping my ego in check.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Clearing Away the Angst and the Dust

This is a whole new thing for me, to have two teenage boys. They were at each other's throats again yesterday, as they have been for months. This is the part of homeschooling I wish I could simply erase. Can't we go back to the elementary years when the biggest tempratantrum was over a little spelling assignment and the two of them wrestled on the living room rug?

I've been chalking up the tension to the typical wintry cabin fever, and I've been told that this is normal for teenage boys. But my motherly instincts are telling me otherwise, that this is not normal for brothers who are otherwise very close.

What gives?

I have to admit that I haven't been the cheeriest family member among us, either. I wonder if my own interior angst is directly affecting the boys.

My impatience.
My selfishness.
My eyes not on Heaven.
My days have a decisive lack of prayer, contemplation, petitions, and thanksgiving.

I feel like I am alone, struggling to educate and raise the boys, struggling to care for the house, struggling to help my husband in his own struggles.

In many ways, things have been looking up. All the things we have prayed for are happening. Roger is gaining some strength back, and his blood tests prove that his health is slowly improving. (He looks so much better! Just a few weeks ago, he called the boys outside to have a snowball battle. I loved watching him from the kitchen, running through the snow while carving a softball in his hands, sneaking around the garage, looking for his next victim. He hadn't been able to do that in ages.) His business has new and bigger opportunities, offered to him through just one timely phone call. I have two writing projects on the table. And the boys are healthy, doing well in their schoolwork, and enjoying their activities in the parish's youth group as well as Boy Scouts.

And yet you could cut the tension in this house with a knife! Why?

Well, all I can think of now is thank goodness Lent is here. Talk about needing to get back on track!

A chance to pray and contemplate again.

A chance to fast and give a little gift each day to Our Lord, starting with my morning cup of coffee. The operative word is starting.

A chance to put my eyes back on Heaven.

A chance to go from my desolation to consolation--that is, the consolation I can offer to Jesus.

A chance to clear away the sins that have been piling up.

A chance to turn to Our Blessed Mother and observe the operations of her soul.

Of course, I could have done these things--and had the proper mindset--throughout the year,  avoiding all this angst that has accumulated. But I am human, a mom human, and I have a human habit of losing track of these imperative devotions when the world knocks on my door with homeschool research papers and fair projects, with knitting projects, with writing cleaning, shuttling kids, groceries...yadda, yadda, yadda. The noise of busyness!

I ignored our quiet and gentle Lord, who has been waiting for me all along.

Have a wonderful Ash Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Three Pillars

Here's an excellent essay about preparing your children for Lent, and how to make simple yet meaningful changes that can help them discover what Lent truly is about. It's not about giving up sweets. Check it out, and God bless!

Of Sound Mind and Spirit: 3 Pillars of Lent Prepare our Hearts for Christ: "Preparing a lesson on Ash Wednesday and Lent for yesterday’s 3rd grade CCE class clarified my own discernment for Lent this year. Growing ..."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Butter-Free Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies--Quick and Awesome for "Fat Tuesday"!

(photo copyright Roger L. Blease)
Fat Tuesday, Faschnacht, the day before Ash Wednesday, the last chance to binge...whatever you call it, it will be here tomorrow!

Here's a quick cookie recipe that takes no time at all, and believe it or not, it's a little healthy, too--whole wheat flour, oats, raisins, nuts and cinnamon--so you can feel a little bit better about your last-chance munch fest. If you like, add a little flax seed meal or wheat germ to boost the fiber.

Toss all the ingredients into one bowl, spoon onto greased cookies sheets, and pop the little dough mounds into the oven. Out will come fresh aromatic cookies that are delicious and cinnamony. Mmm!

Although they do keep for a few days, these are at their very best right out of the oven. These are also terrific for breakfast, and they will surely lure a few sleepyheads out of bed.

Butter-Free Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

1 c. canola oil
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
2 jumbo eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 1/3 c. quick-cooking or regular rolled oats
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 c. raisins
1 c. chopped walnuts

Yields: Approx. 3 dozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 4 cookie sheets.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil and sugar until fully incorporated and smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk again. Add all dry ingredients. Mix together with a spoon. Add raisins and walnuts. Stir well. This is a very stiff and dense cookie batter. Drop by tablespoon on greased cookies sheet. Pinch each little mound so the dough stays together while baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until they are no longer shiny and are well set. Do not over bake. They should still be soft and a bit moist when taken out of the oven. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheets so they firm up, then transfer them to wire cooling rack. 


Friday, March 4, 2011

Homeschool Photos For Fun

Okay, only a homeschool mom would get a kick out of these photos. But I know lots of you are homeschool moms! So go ahead and get your kicks, just two. ;-)

A little paper sculpture that Max made while listening to my rendering of With Lee In Virginia by G.A. Henty. His hands are always busy! Max is our builder and inventor.

These pins would eventually label Ben's biology project, a dissected fetal pig, which led to his science fair project, Man & Pig: The Similarities Between Human and Swine Nervous Systems.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Passion Through the Eyes of Mary

I love this video, linked below. It gives us a special perspective of The Stations of the Cross.

We witness what Mary witnessed, and it illuminates some of the operations of her soul. Have you ever thought about how Mary shares the operations of her soul with us, a perfect and pure soul that's never been soiled by sin--a soul that is completely free, never bound by what sin brings? Pretty amazing to think about that. She gives us the perfect example of human love, a perfect example of how to live free. Little by little we can apply these operations to our own daily lives. What an amazing gift our mother gives us!

Lent is just around the corner. Ash Wednesday is March 9. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are our Catholic Lenten obligations. Just a gentle reminder! Maybe this video will help put you in the right frame of mind.

God bless!

Here is the link, first posted during Holy Week of 2010...

Kathleen's Catholic: Mary, Mother of God: "Our Christ's Passion through the eyes of Mother Mary. Christ's first temple and Mother of God, Mary of Nazareth never left her beloved Son..."

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Design A Scarf for A Friend or Loved One: Secrets from the Experts

It's not too late to design a scarf for a friend or a loved one.

Your kindness is always welcome. Spring yarns, winter wools, mohair, cotton, laces, ribbings, and cables are surely the stuff of comfort! Just a skein or two will do.

Here's a great article from Lion Brand Yarn to help you beat the "roll" that inevitably takes over your design--if you don't know the secrets! It's all here. Lion Brand article.  Have fun, and keep your needles clicking!

God bless!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Cat and Her Human

Sigh. My human is in my chair...
...again. the right. Do you think this would be a good time to ask for a new collar and a St. Francis medal? A little cat bling.

To read the story about our cover girl, Honey Bun, and how she came to us, click here. God bless!

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