Are you homeschooling this year?

Whether you are a new homeschooler or an ‘old’ veteran like myself and Joan, you might consider finding the time to visit Homeschool Connections.

https://homeschoolconnectionsonline.com/

Director Maureen Wittman is a long-time, dear friend of both Joan and I. We’ve spent many a homeschool conference (back when we actually had those) laughing and sharing about the ups and downs of running a family as well as small, Catholic apostolate and homeschooling.

They have courses, taught by qualified instructors, available for almost all ages. Should you have a high schooler, you can arrange for dual enrollment with Franciscan University.

This Thursday they have “Jumpstart Your Homeschool – A Conference for Parents” planned.

You can register here:

https://events.catholichomeschoolconference.com/?__s=ackzzq4sevpdpipxp4vf

Maybe this is just what you need to get excited for what will certainly be an exciting school year!

Do you know how big our God is?

Greg Rakozy, Unsplashed

How’s life where you live? Here in the Wonderful World of Watkins (www) we are dealing with the ongoing stress of this 2020 world as well as a broken AC system (along with a 90 degree heat wave), overflowing toilets/sewer issues (eeewww) and my kids packing up for an adventure with their oldest sister in an attempt to give Matt and I an empty house for a few days. Our first empty house in 30+ years.

In other words, life right now is fairly typical of a large family life AND a life complicated by an older house that regularly breaks.

But our God is so big, nothing is beyond His concern and love. The toilet issue was solved by an amazing husband who got to Home Depot this morning at 6:00 AM, fixed the problem and was off to the train to DC for work by 8:30 am. He was assisted by my oldest son who was home and able to help only because covid has made his college plans go kaput.

I was able to get to Mass in a nicely chilled with working AC church and receive Jesus which not everyone can do. And check out the readings! Please – http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/073020.cfm

Fr. Dunn’s homily was a reminder of the need we all have to clean out our nets on a regular basis, “What is bad they throw away.” (Mt. 13:48). Check your own nets, he said, and see what you might be carrying around that Jesus wants you to toss in a bucket. And with today’s headlines, there seems to be more bad than good. I left Mass knowing what I’ll be meditating on this upcoming weekend.

Once, back at the house, everyone is helping each other with their laundry, their packing, the chores, etc. which allows me to sit here in front of a fan pointing only at me which makes the inside temp of my home of 86 mostly tolerable.

And best of all – in the midst of all of this – one of my daughters shares this:

While I am not really present on any social media and I’m not sure what I think of TikTok, this little boy’s confidence and assurance made my heart sing –

MY GOD IS SO BIG, SO STRONG AND SO MIGHTY,

THERE’S NOTHING MY GOD CANNOT DO!

I suggest we all start singing that song when faced with any problem.

Happy Feast of St. Martha

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary 1628 Jan Bruegel and Rubens, wikicommons

This sister in faith can often get a bad rap – she is after all remembered most for her attitude during one of Jesus’ visits to their (Martha, Mary and Lazarus’) home – “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” (Lk. 10:41).

BUT, she was also the one who recognized Jesus’ authority upon His return trip to their home after Lazarus’ death – “She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” Jn. 11:27

In other words, she is us. She forgot, as we do, that the most important thing for us to do is make some real time for Jesus in our day. She then has that moment of real clarity when she recognizes who Jesus is and what He is doing.

Together with her sister, Mary, she is our patroness for one of my favorite virtues, eutrapelia, which reminds us of the need to take time to restore ourselves body and soul. Their flower is the dandelion. These flowers (of a sort) are, at both times, a joy to see when they are in our child’s hand and a frustration when we are yanking them from our lawns! They remind us of the need for balance; the give and take between what we need to do versus what we want to do.

So, when you ‘are anxious and worried about many things’ (and aren’t we all these days?), take heart. Martha is always praying for us and reminding us to remember that Jesus is ‘the Messiah, the one who is coming into the world.’ Plan to take a moment from your worries today; spend some time with Jesus and restore yourself.

For your prayerful consideration – Here are the names of Felician Sisters who passed

From the National Catholic Register:

Following is a list of the sisters who succumbed to the coronavirus, with their dates of death and their ages:

Sr. Mary Luiza Wawrzyniak, 99 (April 10)
Sr. Celine Marie Lesinski, 92 (April 12)
Sr. Mary Estelle Printz, 95 (April 12)
Sr. Thomas Marie Wadowski, 73 (April 15)
Sr. Mary Patricia Pyszynski, 93 (April 17)
Sr. Mary Ramona (Florence) Borkowski, 93, Lodi, New Jersey (April 18)
Sr. Mary Clarence Borkoski, 83 (April 20)
Sr. Rose Mary Wolak, 86 (April 21)
Sr. Mary Janice Zolkowski, 86 (April 22)
Sr. Mary Alice Ann Gradowski, 73 (April 25)
Sr. Victoria Marie Indyk, 69 (April 26)
Sr. Mary Martinez Rozek, 87 (April 28)
Sr. Mary Magdaleine Dolan, 82 (May 10)
Sr. Mary Danatha Suchyta, 98 (June 27)


May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Please consider sending your love, prayers and condolences

(capri23auto from pixabay)

While every day is the perfect day to do a spiritual or corporal work of mercy, today seems to be a bit more than perfect.

The headline reads, “13 Religious Sisters die from coronavirus in Michigan convent”. Every death is a moment of sadness as family and friends grieve the loss, but I cannot imagine the sadness of these sisters who have lost so many of their companions so quickly.

https://www.today.com/health/13-religious-sisters-die-coronavirus-michigan-convent-t187581

This story was covered by several outlets including the New York Times and local Michigan news outlets.

Perhaps you, along with your Behold club families might consider sending a card or spiritual bouquet to the Felician Sisters as sign of our gratitude for their commitment? Let them know they and their sisters are not forgotten.

Their address:

PRESENTATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
36800 Schoolcraft Road
Livonia, Michigan 48150-1172

Thank you!

On becoming double yoked with Christ

Henry Waldeck, Oxen Yoke, c. 1938,
NGA 20277, images.nga.gov

We know of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, but do we ever think of Jesus as the Strong Ox? This image was brought up at Daily Mass this morning where the gospel has Jesus telling us, “my burden is easy and my yoke is light”. (Mt. 11:28-30)

Now, I will admit that I am more prone to think that His yoke is NOT easy and His burden is NOT light. I have only to look at the cane I carry due to my MS, the national headlines and the struggles so many friends and family members are facing to get into this attitude. We can so readily believe that we are carrying all of our burdens alone. But, we aren’t.

Fr. Jim wanted us to know that while the image of the Good Shepherd might be more familiar for us, Jesus is also the strong ox, ready to carry our burdens with us. We need to remember that we are double-yoked with Him. Fr. Jim talked briefly about how farmers train young oxen by placing them side by side with more seasoned partners; oxen who’ve been working longer, and who know what they are doing. The younger ox is expected to walk alongside this veteran; learning as they go from the stronger ox who is sharing their burden, showing them the way.

In Holland, Julius Garibaldi Melchers
(August 11, 1860 – November 30, 1932)

This was a new image to me! Honestly, I had always imaged myself strapped with a single yoke, heavy and burdensome. I was the milk maid, carrying the yoke alone, two buckets full of milk splashing on my skirt and my legs, falling to the ground wasted!

The road is uneven, full of stones and holes while my buckets were overfull of what I had to get done – wife and mother, the cooking and the chores. You know; you have the same list and are walking the same rough road. And for too many days, I have felt as if my yoke was mine alone – hard, not easy; heavy, not light and carried all alone.

Never, ever had I thought about the double yoke but here it was being placed in my mind and my heart. I am not alone to carry my burden as Jesus is right by my side! I just need to remember this and allow Him, as the older, more wise, better behaved ox to lead the way and teach me where to go and how to get there. I came home from Mass this very morning to see if what Fr. Jim said was true and – it was!

You can do a deep dive into how to train oxen for work if you want, but simply put, “To get young oxen used to the yoke, you can put the ox which is to be trained along with an ox already trained.(Farming with Animal Power (FAO – INADES, 1977, 57 p.)

We are not alone – ever. But, we need to remember and allow Jesus to carry our burdens with us. In looking back, I can easily see that those days I felt most burdened were the days I did not ask for Jesus’ help or seek His grace in prayer.

Today’s Mass reminded me (once again) to start my day by putting on my yoke with Jesus beside me. I can do this through prayer, a Spiritual Communion on those days when Daily Mass (if only on-line) isn’t possible and a bit of time reflecting on Scripture. Inspired by today, I’ve got a new scripture on my bathroom mirror to remind me of God’s promises – “Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1) 

Yoke yourself to Christ, His words, His Church, His sacraments and not the world. 

Overheard today on More2Life!

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation

You may not know this but I am a weekly contributor (Fridays, 10:15ish, EST) on More2Life on EWTN Radio with Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak. https://www.ewtn.com/radio/shows/more2life

After today’s segment, I received an email through our Behold Publications website asking me for some notes on what I had to offer.

Here’s the email: “I only caught 5 minutes and it was your phone interview with Lisa and you spoke about this Praise tools that you use to overcome and battle the evil one’s lies, etc. I NEED THIS MORE THAN I CAN EXPRESS! If this is you, please, please, please will you email me the list of tools that you spoke about today that you use everyday to battle the lies and the battle of the evil one.”

So, Robyn – wherever you are – this is for you with love and prayers for you and your family as well! (my 3-4 main points are in bold with some bonus material too long for my typical segment!)

On today’s More2Life program, I joined the conversation about the need to arm yourself for the battles we face in life. Greg said we should work on being warriors rather than worriers. I talked specifically about how actively praising and thanking God throughout the day really helps in this regard.

Praising God in the woods!

I’ve learned that this need really rings true to me, on a daily basis. When you are battling a chronic illness, as I am, it is easy to wake up already discouraged when the assessment of your physical condition reveals you were not healed overnight (as usual).

So, I strive to wake up ready to face a world knowing it has already been conquered, “I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” (Jn. 16:33)

And, while I did not mention the need to say a few morning prayers before you even set foot on the ground, I hope that is obvious. Pick a favorite or two or just call down the Holy Spirit, “Come, Holy Spirit and fill the heart of this faithful servant!”

But, what I did mention is the need to create your own interior soundtrack. Don’t let the lies of Satan, the whispers of a world without love, or your own struggles tell you that there is no hope, that you are forgotten, or what you are facing will triumph and defeat you.

No! Instead, fill your mind with songs of praise from an on-line source or your own playlist. I’m a big fan of Matt Maher, Lauren Daigle, John Michael Talbot (I grew up on his old stuff) or beautiful Gregorian chant. Starting off your morning with powerful music reminding you of God’s love on your phone or pandora/spotify account will help you start your day right.

Then be sure to memorize or write a few verses of power on your bathroom mirror and/or around your home. These words of promise and hope such as Isaiah 40 or Jeremiah 29:11, Mary’s Magnificat or the ancient prayer, Te Deum, can restore yours strength throughout the day of battle we all fight. Strive to keep these songs and words on a loop in your heart and mind so as to drown out the accusations and lies of the evil one.

Then, take a journey back in time and make your own box of miracles or just a list of all the times you have felt the touch of God, or have seen Him in action in your life. Now I don’t have any ‘real’ miracles but I always think that being able to receive Jesus everyday (even spiritually) counts as one. 🙂

You can start with the gift of the Church and her teachings and move onto when you first received the sacraments. If you are married, add the special dates/events/times of your dating, wedding and marriage. How about children? Aren’t each of them a miracle? Even with their flaws and imperfections, along with our own, these loving relationships are a gift from God and a sign of His own love.

Our list includes stories from both Matt’s and my childhoods, finding a long lost relative during a family reunion in Maine (true story), how we got our first 15 passenger van, and how we were able to buy the house I know call a home. We strive to add it often but not often enough.

Revisiting these miracles during times of trial or darkness will remind you of God’s work in your life. Let’s take a lesson from the Hebrews who knew how important this was and did it for themselves – check out Miriam’s song of praise in Exodus 15 and any # of the Psalms!

Finally, I spoke of the need to end each day with prayer and gratitude. After our family’s evening prayers, we go around the room and ask everyone to say what they are thankful for. It can be as simple as a good dinner, a swim in the pool, or more profound such as a job offer. Over the months since we have started to do this, it has made a difference that I find hard to put into words.

There were many times I thought doing this was more of an act of sacrifice than anything else. There’s always enough days when finding something good can be hard, but this is exactly what God has asked of us! In Hebrews 13:15, Paul speaks of this sacrifice, “let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise.”

We might not ‘feel’ like things are going well, but God has not abandoned us! So, when it is hard (as all sacrifices are), taking some time to reflect and actually find something/anything good at the end of our day is a worthy sacrifice (as well as a real sign of God’s love).

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul tells us to put on the armor of God. It is my hope that these suggestions can help you arm yourself with ‘faith as your shield’ and ‘the sword of Spirit’ against a faithless world.

Novena to the Holy Spirit Begins Today!

Santa Maria della Visitazione in Venice, “The miracle of Pentecost” by Padovanino, visible behind the main altar. Wikicommons

Lovingly called the ‘original’ novena, we will pray as the Blessed Mother and apostles did,

“When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:13-14)

No upper room is required as your living room, bedroom, or outside on the front porch will do just fine.

We all know we need another outpouring of the Holy Spirit – we need healing, direction and grace. And for many of us, we are praying especially that Pentecost will be our return to CHURCH!

Check out:

https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/novena-to-the-holy-spirit-13406

Or:

https://www.praymorenovenas.com/novena-to-the-holy-spirit

How are you doing?

Are you doing okay? I just wanted to send some love your way. What we are going through is unprecedented but our God is greater than any fear, anxiety or uncertainty.

There are so many resources out there to help you with family life, homeschooling (we are all homeschoolers now!), and our Catholic faith that I don’t want to add too much to your list but I did want to share just two things that have made life a bit easier at my house. For all of us, we found:


My family has ‘traveled’ to Mass on the Isle of Man, at the Shrine of Knock, Ireland, the Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton right here in Maryland, the Church of St. Joseph in Abu, Dabai, United Arab Emirates (!!) to name just a few. I’ve taken all of you and your intentions with us and we’re keeping track of all the places we go on a list as well as with stickers on our world and USA maps (yes, I’m a nerdy homeschooler with maps hung in our ‘office space’). It is really cool to see lovely churches around the world and hearing Mass said with different accents. The only downside is that you might hear homilies better than you’ll ever hear at your own parish 🙂

And we’ve gotten great words of comfort, encouragement and instruction from Ascension Presents through such recent offerings as this:

Last week, I finally gave in to the repeated request from my kids (one of whom is over 20 but loves a good puzzle) and allowed a card table to occupy the center of our living room. This was #3 and we’re on #4 –

And I’ve been crocheting again:

In other words, we’re doing much of what we’ve always done such as homeschooling, going to Mass and family prayer BUT we’ve also be open to what these look like under isolation as well as adding a few new things. This actually has been an unexpected opportunity to allow God to step into our lives in new and unexpected ways.

What’s up in your home?

A Holy Week On-line Retreat for your older kids (and you!)

If you are looking for a something new & exciting your older kids (and you) this Holy Week, consider checking out what Camp Veritas is offering. They are offering what they hope will be The Best Holy Week ever with help from the CFR (Franciscan Friars of the Renewal) and others.

https://www.campveritas.org

Here’ is the welcome letter –

Greetings!

We at Camp Veritas know what a tough time this is for everyone. Amid the uncertainty and fear we want to offer some hope and support. We know that there are many virtual resources being developed; yet we felt it important to offer some familiar faces with pertinent content to walk alongside you all during Holy Week and so…

We are hosting our first ever virtual Holy Week retreat! It is geared towards our Camp Veritas and Fearless Teens and their families. The retreat will consist of 2 bite-sized talks each day and an invitation to pray various devotions as a family (with resources offered for support).

Presenters will include: Fr. Columba and some of his CFR brothers, Fr. Joseph Gill, Fr. Jeffrey Maurer and more! They will create connections between the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ with the concrete realities we are faced with right here and now!

If you would like to receive emails each day with direct links to the talks please fill out this form https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSe9XZ5ErBMjBbnW4L7YTp0QeF2fplJtjGDfN6G3mNOe8IprLQ/viewform.

You do not have to sign up to participate in the retreat, this is only if you want to receive a daily email throughout it!

You can directly access the talks each day of Holy Week, starting on Wed Apr 8th, from any of our websites and social media platforms. We ask that everyone who participates subscribe to our (Camp Veritas) YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Lm72Fldx_s – this will help us potentially be able to Live Stream there and help you stay better connected.

Our prayers for all of you during this unique Holy Week, we invite you (even if you don’t participate in the retreat) to find ways to connect with our Lord during the commemoration of his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

God Bless,

Your Camp Veritas Team