"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Baby Bunnies

There was a discovery in our yard this morning after Mass.  Remember the "rabbit hole" I posted earlier this summer? Well…it looks like it wasn't vacated after all (as I had thought).  Arwen discovered them out on our lawn and gathered them into a bowl with a towel. Thank heavens she thought to get gloves! (I think I'll be getting myself a new pair of gardening gloves…as "cute" as they are…ew!)

So, what do you think? "Cute" or "Ew"?

Ok, I think this one is precious. 

If they survive a few more days, I'm sure my resident photographer will have more for me to share with you.  We aren't sure if the mother is around, so we put them back in their hole for safety.  If the momma bunny shows up, they should be ok. If not, the local wildlife rescue will take them. We made Arwen call herself. It was a great little learning experience for her, working with the humane society to learn how best to handle the situation.  …learning all the time…:)

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Worth pondering...

  • The text of Archbishop Cordileone’s speech on marriage from Thursday in Washington, DC.
    “Every child comes from a man and a woman, and has a right, a natural human right, to know and be known by, to love and be loved by, their own mother and father. This is the great public good that marriage is oriented towards and protects.”

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Making of my Oratory

Linking to the HOST
The Little Oratory
I told you that I found my "spot" for the oratory.  For the record, I did not re-paint it because of the
oratory.  I was going to paint it first, and then the spot struck me, and it all coincided perfectly!

 I had to decide on a color in a room that gets terrible light.  I joked that this was the room "where color comes to die".  I'll have to keep it in mind when I cover "light" and "color" with my children in science class.  So, as I suspected, "banana cream" won out.  Thanks to one Amazing Woman (my mother), it was painted in one day; six hours to be precise.
I could envision the beauty even at this point!
Not pretty yet, but a glimpse at the color.

Thank you, Mom!!!  And smiling while she works…this woman proves that it takes the practical to facilitate the sublime.  My little room for prayer would never have become the haven it is without her time and talent.  She definitely gets a cut of the graces won in front of my little oratory.

Remember that blue couch? My brilliant mother came up with a solution: move in the outdoor wicker furniture!  She ran to World Market for me and found some bright and cheerful cushions (because of the dim lighting, this room needs illusions of warmth).  Isn't it pretty?!

Once the walls were done, it was time to make my oratory.  First, I collected a bunch of icons and statuary…we had a lot to choose from.

I became overwhelmed and decided all of our patron saints would go to the children's rooms where I'd make each of them a little prayer space with their own special icons. (That will be another day).

I brought in a hand molded lamp from Croatia, brought to me by my brother who lives in Eastern Europe, and the beeswax candle I had been saving.

The kids got in on the fun and tried different arrangements!

Then I began to arrange.  This was much more difficult than I had anticipated! (I had thought it would be the fun part!)  I tried to put into practice the guidelines laid out for me in The Little Oratory.  There had to be symmetry, a crucifix perhaps, the face of Christ.  Mary on the left, Jesus on the right…I tried so many variations!

I tried that large icon of the Mother and Child you see as the center image, but that left little room for anything else on the wall, and she fits beautifully on the side wall of this room.

I knew I had to have the icon of the Holy Family.

 I decided I would put my archangels up at the top of the altar, like the angels around the throne of God.  I chose the crucifix to be at the center, with the (only) two metal icons I have on each side (the Holy Family and the Trinity).
archangels above crucifix
Below, at the foot of the cross, I placed the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
  (I apologize for the awful photos, they're all from my phone. I'll work on getting better ones up.)  And that was it!

So, here it is! My Little Oratory:

by candlelight

I lit the candles for the first time this morning and I breathed a deep peace.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Galadriel (my 7 year-old, randomly in the kitchen):  "Does Aunt Ann have a cow?"

Me: "Um, no. Not that I know of. Did they get a cow?"

Galadriel: "Wait, what was I milking?"

Me: "A goat. They have goats."

uh huh...

Backyard Update

I tend to get excited rather easily about new ideas.  The Little Oratory has been percolating in my mind as I go about my rounds in these first days of Summer.  Our yard has needed attention for a number of years and has been neglected since we usually leave for the summer months.  So, since we aren't leaving this year, I have been able to get to some of the projects I've been wanting to do for too long.

To begin, I planted a bunch of hosts along the edge of our forest to neaten it up.

Then I planted a whole bunch of hydrangeas. I need to get more pictures of these, but here's one bloom that Arwen captured. I need something that doesn't require much sun, but that is large, so it doesn't get dwarfed by the scale of the forest.

There is a sort of clearing in the middle of our woods, and I've long wanted to turn it into a little shrine area.  Well, since I've got "Oratory" on my mind, I thought…ingenious! an outdoor oratory!:)
 Right now it's still bare, with our little St. Francis perched on a rock.  I tried to frame out the "entry"with hydrangeas, which I'd like to place paving stones between, making a path inwards.  I have my eye on a beautiful and large Mary statue at the local garden center.  A birdbath would round things out…and a bench! We'll see how much I can get done. But it's there I'm my mind.

As a fun little surprise, we discovered a bunny hole in our yard this year.  Well, I'm playing the part of Mr. MacGregor this year, as the rabbits have eaten my roses (shoo!!).  But there will always be a part of me that is on the side of the rabbits! Bilbo was excited at the prospect of feeling the bunny fur that is left in tufts around the hole.  I am guessing we'll have little kits hopping about soon.  

I need to get some more pictures, but that's what I've got for now.  A little peek at my summer hobby. I really do love gardening!!  Flowers just make me happy.  However, I need to get back to the inside of my house, which always suffers when I get lost in an outdoors project for the afternoon.  Luckily, pasta salads are a good summer dinner…so I can sort of slough off in the kitchen and get away with it!;)  At least, for a day or two.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Summer in the Little Oratory-Chapter 2

I found a spot.  A spot for my oratory. Even if we aren't sure we need one, since our whole house is an oratory. I'm just going to make one and see.  There's something to just taking someone's word for it. And technically, this idea comes from the Catechism (CCC2691)…so, it's not just Auntie Leila.

Actually, my quibbles on this subject from my first post were answered in Chapter Two, specifically, under the section entitled "Holy Decorating":

 "It's nice to have a small reminder of faith throughout: a crucifix, an image of our Lady.  The idea isn't to shock and awe with our religiosity….On the other hand, we Christians want to reflect our belief and devotion in every room…so it's fitting to have a reminder wherever we are."

But… the prayer corner or little oratory is still worth creating as a sort of altar in the domestic church.  The Catechism recommends a considered place for personal prayer, suggesting that such a 'prayer corner' within a Christian family "fosters prayer in common"(CCC2961).

So, I'm sold in theory.  And here's a peek at my ideas.  Right now, the room looks like this.

Pretty, huh?:)
 Yep, I think there are six or seven paint samples on my wall, and there are way more swatches laying around. And…I'm pretty sure I"m going with "Banana Cream", a pretty creamy yellow color.  The decorating tips are coming in handy--Leila and David recommend soft whites on the walls, and "neutral colors that relate to nature's tones".  That way, the artwork can stand out and not clash with the paint color on the wall.
This guy is going to be replaced too(do you see the paint stain on the corner?)…on the cheap! Wait till you see my (mother's) ingenious idea! 

 You'll have to wait to see how this project evolves.  I'm personally curious to see! But back to the book study!!

Chapter Two just might be my favorite. I keep re-reading sections. I read things out loud to my husband.  
It's really…good.  The section "A School of Virtue and a Domestic Church" is pure poetry!  I just had to scan in some highlights:

    " The child has to learn about the existence of everything….Yet as a child, he must first be                         loved….Even the first act of the mother, which is tenderly cradling her child at her breast, is formative. 

 As soon as we start to think about this, we realize that far from benefiting from lectures on "The Good" or The True" or even "How to Behave", the child can really learn virtue only in a setting where he can be nurtured and corrected by those who are simultaneously struggling themselves to grow in virtue and who treat him with the warm affection only family bonds can supply." 

Yes! Love my children! I think I often feel like I need to deliver those lectures on "The Good" and "The True" and "How to Behave"…when I really just need to struggle to be virtuous myself and treat my children with warm affection.

There's enough to ponder all summer in itself!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Little Oratory

Yes, I bought it.  You can too, here's the link.
 Laugh if you must. I cannot resist books that are in the self-help line of mothering.  But this one was by Auntie Leila, guru of motherhood and housekeeping! The great one. Call her what you will, but read her blog! Then see if you aren't tempted when you find out she has written a book.  Plus, there is free art in the back of the book made by an artist who has a connection with one of my favorite past professors.  David Clayton is the artist and he works at Thomas More College where a certain Dr. William Fahey is president.  There are just certain people whom it is good to keep company with, if only by hidden and somewhat stalker-like methods.

So, in fairness, I had decided I would love this book before I ever opened the cover.

But I am so glad I did! Because I just loved it! I loved the decorating advice (natural colors, fibers, symmetry) because I always struggle on that front.  Some people (usually artistic) have a knack for decorating. I am an impressionist, so my decorating can look a bit…hodge podge.  Concrete and practical tips are very helpful.

It's awesome that there are free prints to frame right away in the back of the book…so you really just need to find a place on your wall and get a frame and you can make your little oratory right away.  It makes the book something of a "kit".:)

I'm a huge fan of the line drawing illustrations throughout. They were very inspiring in offering different ways to create an oratory in diverse locations.

And then…there's the whole Liturgy of the Hours thing.  Mm. Again.  First it was Elizabeth Foss who told me she set her phone to bells for each of the hours. Then it was Sarah McKenzie who, I think also listened to the hours on her phone.  And now Auntie Leila?!! All of my blog mentors! All telling me it changed their lives.

So. I tried. Once. I uploaded the hours onto my phone (which I'm completely proud of myself for doing since I'm technologically dense).  I listened to part of the morning prayers once.  The voices sounded like robots. My children started mocking.  My husband said that he had tried to do the Liturgy of the Hours but that it was hard for him…too many words. Too long. There really is a lot there with the psalms and songs…

But now Leila is suggesting just one hour. Vespers? And then there is this notion that it could be sung in church and the general public could simply attend.  That would be so amazing.  I wonder if I could ask some priest around here…  we'd probably need some musician as well.  But perhaps in time.  And until then, as long as Elizabeth is hosting the "Summer in the Little Oratory", I might just try vespers for summer and see how it goes.  If it is life changing, I'm going to tell you!

Now, one final thought.  I am one of those cradle Catholics who grew up praying the rosary and loving my mother's beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother, which we always crowned with flowers during May, or gave fresh bouquets of flowers to.  I can't imagine my fireplace mantle without my own "Mary" on it.  I also have much loved crucifixes to cast glances of love or supplication at throughout the day.  I have icons. I have statues of favorite saints, perhaps with a candle next to it.

  These are little places throughout my home that make my home our little domestic church, our little oratory.  But…I do not have a prayer table.  Not one specific place with a collage of icons and a candle that we draw around to pray as a family.  We sit on our couch and look at the mantle with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima and see the crucifix on the wall.

  St. Joseph is on a side table and St. Therese on the piano.  There are candles, perhaps one on the coffee table to light as we pray.  So…my big question is…does this count? Or would it be better to create a sort of shrine.

  A prayer space set aside. Not just the entire home, but a more poignant place in that entirely Catholic home.  My husband thinks what we have is good enough.  I mean, we are hard pressed to find room for more sacramentals in our home! But, I'm pondering this. And if I am inspired (and I am getting creative), I will be sure to share what comes of it.

That's where I'm at after my first foray into "The Little Oratory".  It has certainly challenged me, and I'm excited about what good may come from it yet!