Sunday, December 26, 2010

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - A Girl of the Limberlost****

"This coming-of-age novel is engaging on several levels. The naturalist's love of the Limberlost, the tormented mother-daughter relationship and the final realization of perspective and truth all work together in a truly delightful story."

This book is phenomenal! I don't even know where to begin with singing its praises! Well I suppose the best place to begin is with the exceptional main character, Elnora Comstock. She is an incredibly strong and beautiful woman and a fantastic role model for girls. She has a strength that is rooted in herself which gets her through every trial and tribulation which she must endure. Nearly everything that this book teaches flows from Elnora. Perhaps the greatest lesson that Elnora embodies is a control over emotion which allows her to make clear-headed decisions and retain her composure even in the most stressful situations.

In addition, this book is fantastic for highlighting the mother-daughter relationship; showing the effects both of a bad relationship and a good one. It clearly demonstrates the effect that a mother has on her child, how she influences his or her entire life both by the way she raises her child and the way she conducts herself.
Since I am studying to be a teacher I was very excited to find some great advice for teachers in this book:
"You have an hour to put an idea into our heads that will stick for a lifetime and grow for good. That's the way I look at your job. Now, what are you going to give us? We don't want any old silly stuff that has been hashed over and over, we want a big new idea to plant in our hearts."
Another fantastic quote:
"The world is full of happy people but no one ever hears of them."
I wish I could say more about this book, it's so fantastic, but I'm afraid I'll give the whole thing away! So I'll just say that it is an absolute must read!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius**

"The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are a fascinating insight into Stoic philosophy and while we don't advocate Stoicism, we do appreciate that he tells you how to get up in the morning when your pillow doesn't want to let you go."

Meditations is basically a book of advice. In virtue of this, it is rather tedious and hard to get through, despite being a fairly small book. It's not a bad book but I wouldn't say it's a necessary read. Marcus Aurelius gets some things right and some things wrong in his meditations. The things that he gets right you can find in the Bible and the things he gets wrong aren't worth reading. It's actually rather frustrating how he comes so close to the truth at some points and then veers rapidly in the other direction.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Mama Mary!

Today is the feast of the birth of the Blessed Mother!!!!! In the eloquent words of Fr. Conrad "Happy your mother's birthday!"

Mary was the only child of Sts. Anne and Joachim. The couple were growing old and it seemed impossible that they would ever have children. They both prayed fervently and each received a vision of angel telling them that Anne would bear a child and they were to name her Mary. Nine months later our blessed mother was born!

So happy your mother's birthday! Go make a cake and get her some flowers!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Regina

Regina was born in Autun, France in the 200's. Her parents were pagans but when her mother died in childbirth, Regina's Christian nurse had the child baptised. Regina's father was furious and disowned the girl, who went to live with her nurse as a shepherdess.

Regina grew into a beautiful young woman who soon caught the eye of Olybrius, the prefect of the province. Having dedicated her life to God, Regina rebuked him. Before leaving on a journey, Olybrius threw the girl in prison where she remained until he returned.

The head jailer was Regina's father, who had offered to reconcile with his daughter when he discovered that she had an important suitor. But she rebuked him as well and so, to prove his indifference to his daughter, Regina's father guarded her extra closely, locking her in an iron belt chained to the wall.

When Olybrius returned from his journey he once again approached Regina and she once again refused him. He then had her scourged and tortured. Lying in her cell that night, Regina had a vision of the cross and heard a voice telling her that her release would be soon. The next day she was again tortured and when she still refused to relent Olybrius had her beheaded. Many were converted when they witnessed a dove hovering over Regina's head.

St. Regina is the patroness: of poor people; of shepherdesses; and of victims of torture.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Saint of the Day - Blessed Bertrand

Bertrand was born around 1195 at Garrigue, in the diocese of Nimes, France. Not much is known about his early life, other than that he was a Cistercian priest who was fighting the heresy of Albigensianism.

He met St. Dominic while the saint was traveling with Bishop Diego. The two became lifelong friends and Bertrand assisted in convincing Dominic to join him in fighting heresy. Bertrand was one of the first to join the new Dominican order, taking the habit at Toulouse in 1216. He served as St. Dominic's right hand man, even taking charge of the order while Dominic travelled to Rome to seek papal approval for the order.

Bertrand was later sent on mission to Paris with Matthew of France. These two established and governed the first Dominican foundation at Paris where they developed the Dominican scholarly tradition.

In his later years Bertrand was appointed provincial of Provence. He was known for working miracles, for his austerity and holiness, and his humility. So great were his gifts that some began to refer to him as a second Dominic.

In 1230, Bertrand had travelled on mission to Garrigue to preach to the Cistercian sisters of St. Mary of the Woods. While on this trip he fell ill and passed away. The sisters buried him in their cemetery until it became clear from the vast number of pilgrims coming to visit his tomb, that Bertrand needed a more suitable burying place. Unfortunately, his relics were destroyed during the protestant revolution. Bertrand was beatified by Pope Leo XIII on July 14, 1881.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Bertin

Bertin was born around 615 near Constance in France. He spent his childhood studying at the Abbey of Luxeil, France. The monks of this abbey followed the austere rule of St. Columban. Though, being only a student, Bertin was not obliged to follow this rule, he chose to do so anyway and was thus prepared when, upon reaching adulthood, he entered the order.

In 639 Bertin led two other monks in joining his relative, Bishop St. Omer, in the region of Pas-de-Calais in northern France. Their's was a missionary journey, to evangelize to the heathens of this desolate region.

The evangelization did not initially proceed very well. However, the monks took advantage of the opportunity to establish a monastery, which they placed under the patronage of St. Mommolin. Bertin was appointed abbot, a position in which he served until his death.

The new monastery, and the example of the holy monks, served as a beacon for the pagans and soon brought many to the faith. Bertin's example was especially inspiring and he soon had one hundred and fifty monks in his care. Twenty-two of these monks have since been canonized.

Bertin went on frequent missionary trips along with sending other monks on similar trips to England and other parts of France. When, due to old age, he was no longer able to make these trips, Bertin devoted his time to prayer and fasting, preparing himself for a holy death. He passed away of natural causes in 709.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Rosalia

Rosalia, a descendant of Charlemagne, was born in 1130 at Palermo, Sicily, the daughter of Duke Sinibald and his wife Quisquina. From a young age Rosalia was aware that she was called to dedicate her life to God.

Upon entering adulthood she abandoned her family home and all worldly possessions to live out her life as a hermitess. A popular legend tells how Rosalia was led by two angels to a cave near her parents home. It was in this cave that she would spend the rest of her life, alone with her Lord. Rosalia expressed this desire when she etched into the wall of the cave the words "I, Rosalia, daughter of Sinibald, Lord of Roses, and Quisquina, have taken the resolution to live in this cave for the love of my Lord, Jesus Christ."

Rosalia spent the rest of her life in this cave, dedicating her life to prayer and fasting. She died alone in this cave, apparently of natural causes, in 1160.

In the year 1625, the plague was raging in Sicily. A man received a vision of this forgotten young woman who implored him to search for her remains. He led a group of monks who discovered Rosalia's cave and, in it, her relics. They paraded these relics through the city of Palermo and within three days the plague had vanished. The intercession of Rosalia was credited for this miracle and she was quickly declared the patroness of Palermo and all of Sicily.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Saint of the Day - Pope St. Gregory the Great

Gregory was born in in 540 in Rome, Italy the son of Gordianus, a Roman senator. Gregory came from a family of saints, his mother being St. Silvia of Rome, his aunts Sts. Emilia and Tarsilla, and his great-grandfather Pope St. Felix III (who entered the priesthood following the death of his wife).
Gregory began his adult life by following his father in a political career. He served as prefect of Rome for a year before discerning a religious vocation. Upon this realization he sold all his worldly possessions and entered the Benedictine monastery of St. Andrew. He was eventually selected to be abbot of St. Andrew's. The Holy Father also recognized Gregory's talents and named him one of the seven deacons of Rome along with appointing him papal legate and sending him on a diplomatic mission to Constantinople where he remained for five years.

Upon the death of Pope Leo the Great in 590 Gregory was unanimously elected to be the next successor of Peter. Gregory, the first monk ever to be selected as pope, desired nothing more than to remain in his monastery but, after much prayer, he discerned that this was the Lord's will and accepted the invitation to ascend to the chair of Peter. This ascension occured on September 3, 590.

As Pope, Gregory had to deal with civil, as well as spiritual, matters, due to the helplessness of the Byzantine empire. In this role he negotiated a "separate peace" with the Lombards, a tribe of barbarians set on invading Rome and appointed governors to Italian cities. Gregory used the material possessions of the Church to relieve the sufferings of the poor and sent missionaries to France, Spain, Africa, and Britain which he had been particularly devoted to since witnessing the sale of English children in the Roman forum. Gregory insisted on the primacy of the Pope and promoted devotion to the liturgy especially sacred music. From this emerged a style of music known as Gregorian chant.

Gregory also composed numerous theological writings for which, after his death, he was declared one of the four great doctors of the Church.

Pope Gregory I passed away in Rome on March 12, 604 of natural causes. He is the patron saint: against gout; against plague; of choir boys; of educators; of England; of Kercem, Malta; of the diocese of Legazpi, Philippines; of masons; of Montone, Italy; of musicians; of the papacy; of Popes; of San Gregorio nelle Alpi, Italy; of schoolchildren; of singers; of stone masons; of stonecutters; of students; of teachers; and of the West Indies.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Ingrid of Sweden

Ingrid was born in Skanninge, Sweden in the 13th century. She spent much of her young life under the spiritual direction of the Dominican priest Father Peter of Dacia.

Upon entering adulthood, Ingrid became the first Swedish woman to take the Dominican habit. In 1281 she founded the first Dominican convent in Sweden, St. Martin's, located in her hometown of Skanninge. She lived a cloistered life in St. Martin's until her death of natural causes in 1282.

Throughout her life, Ingrid was known for her sanctity, and a devotion to her sprang up almost immediately following her death and many miracles have been reported at her tomb.

Ingrid's cause for canonization, which had been brought by the Swedish bishops before the Council of Constance, was disrupted by the reformation. In the upheaval of the reformation St. Martin's was destroyed along with St. Ingrid's relics and her cause for canonization was never again taken up, so she has never been formally canonized, but is regarded as a saint by many and has her feast listed on the liturgical calendar.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Welcome to September!

In the liturgical year each month is assigned a special devotion. Due to her feast on September 15, the month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows. There are seven sorrows of Our Lady, all of which are bound up in her supreme sorrow at the foot of the cross. The seven sorrows are as follows:

1) the prophecy of Simeon - "and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, 'Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

2) the flight into Egypt - "When they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Rise, take the Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.' Joseph rose and took the Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt."

3) having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem - "After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but His parents did not know it. Thinking that He was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for Him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding Him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. After three days they found Him in the temple"

4) meeting Jesus on His way to Calvary

5) standing at the foot of the cross - "Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala."

6) Jesus being taken from the cross - "After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus. And Pilate permitted it. So he came and took His body."

7) the burial of Christ - "They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where He had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by."
Our Lady is described as having a "martyrdom of the heart" at the foot of the cross. Pope Pius XII states that "She it was who, immune from all sin, personal or inherited, and ever more closely united with her Son, offered Him on Golgotha to the Eternal Father together with the holocaust of her maternal rights and motherly love. As a new Eve, she made this offering for all the children of Adam contaminated through his unhappy fall. Thus she, who was the mother of our Head according to the flesh, became by a new title of sorrow and glory the spiritual mother of all His members."

Also, important as we begin September, are the Holy Father's prayer intentions for the month. First, the Holy Father asks that we pray "that in less developed parts of the world the proclamation of the Word of God may renew people's hearts, encouraging them to work actively toward authentic social progress." Secondly, the Holy Father prays "that by opening our hearts to love we may put an end to the numerous wars and conflicts which continue to bloody our world."

Saint of the Day - St. Giles

St. Giles was born to a wealthy family in Aegidus, Greece in the 6th century. When his parents passed away Giles distributed his wealth amongst the poor. This action brought him to the attention of many people who desired to follow him. Having no desire for followers, Giles moved to France in 683 to seek the quiet life of a hermit.

Giles settled in a cave in the diocese of Nives, France, where he lived in peace for some time. Giles life was one of extreme poverty so that, legend has it, God sent a hind (female deer) to provide milk for Giles. One day a royal hunting party chased the hind into Giles cave and shot at it, missing and, instead, hitting Giles in the leg. The king sent physicians to care for Giles and became himself a frequent visitor of the hermit, despite Giles protestations.

The king's admiration of Giles caused his fame to spread throughout France. The king built for Giles and his new followers a monastery on the spot of his cave. After Giles death the monastery was deemed the monastery of Saint Gilles du Gard. During his life, Giles served as abbot of the monastery for which he wrote his own rule.

St. Giles died of natural causes in the monastery sometime between 710 and 724. He is the patron saint: against breast cancer; against epilepsy; against fear of night; against insanity; against leprosy; against mental illness; against noctiphobia; against sterility; of beggars; of blacksmiths; of breast feeding; of cancer patients; of cripples; of disabled people; of Edinburgh, Scotland; of epileptics; of forests; of handicapped people; of hermits; of horses; of lepers; of mentally ill people; of noctiphobics; of physically challenged people; of paupers; of poor people; of rams; of spur makers; of Tolfa, Italy; and of woods.

Saint of the Day - St. Fiacre

St. Fiacre grew up in a monastery in his native Ireland during the 7th century. Monasteries, at this time, were centers of learning so that by the time he reached adulthood, Fiacre was a well educated man. He was especially knowledgeable in the areas of healing and gardening. Gardening, at this time, was not simply a nice pastime for little old ladies but was a necessity to provide the people, and particularly the monks, with food and medicine. Fiacre was well versed in the art of healing which required him to know which herbs ought to be used to treat specific diseases.

Fiacre's reputation as a holy man and accomplished physician spread far and wide. Flocks of people came seeking his assistance, thereby disturbing the peace which he cherished. Fiacre, therefore, fled to France where he established a hermitage.

A famous legend about St. Fiacre recounts how he requested a plot of land from the bishop in order to establish a garden to grow his food and healing herbs. The bishop, St. Faro of Meaux, told Fiacre that he was welcome to take as much land as he could entrench in one day. The following day Fiacre walked around the perimeter of the land he wanted, dragging his spade behind him. In the wake of his spade trees toppled, bushes were uprooted, and all manner of obstacles were removed. A local woman accused Fiacre of sorcery but St. Faro was of the opinion that it was a miracle.

In addition to being a gifted physician, Fiacre is also known to have performed miraculous healings.

Fiacre passed away on August 18, 670 of natural causes. His miraculous garden remained a place of pilgrimage for centuries and his relics have been distributed to cathedrals around Europe. St. Fiacre is the patron saint: against barrenness; against fistula; against haemorrhoids; against piles; against sterility; against syphilis; against venereal disease; of box makers; of cab drivers (Fiacre cabs are named for him); of costermongers; of florists; of gardeners; of hosiers; of pewterers; of taxi drivers; and of tile makers.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Aristides

St. Aristides was a convert to Catholicism living in Athens during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. He is best known as an apologist and philosopher who composed a treatise in defense of Christianity.

Persecution had once again raised its head in the Roman empire following the emperor's initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries. This act had caused a flare up of pagan zeal leading to persecution of Christians. In response to this, Aristides composed his apologetic treatise and delivered it to the emperor while he was staying in Athens in 126 a.d.

Aristides is believed to have passed away between 133 and 134 a.d.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Pammachius

Pammachius was born into the Furii family in the fourth century. As a young man Pammachius attended the schools of rhetoric where he first met his lifelong friend, St. Jerome. In 385 he married the second daughter of St. Paula, Paulina.

Pammachius was one of several people who denounced Jovinian, who was later condemned at a synod in Rome, to Pope St. Siricius. This denunciation caused St. Jerome to write his own criticism of Jovinian's teachings, however, Pammachius criticized this work "for prudential reasons." This led to a correspondence between the friends, in which Jerome thanked his friend but defended his work.

After Paulina's death in 397, Pammachius devoted his life to prayer and works of charity. With the help of St. Fabiola, Pammachius built a hospice for the poor at Porto.

He continued his correspondence with St. Jerome, urging him to translate Origen's "De Principiis." Pammachius also condemned the Donatist heresy and exhorted the people of Numidia to abandon it, for which action he received a letter of thanks from St. Augustine.

Pammachius died in Rome in the year 409.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Medericus

St. Medericus, or Merry, was born in Autun, France. Little is known of his life until, at 13, he entered a Benedictine monastery at St. Martin's in Autun. The 54 monks in this community lived lives of prayer and penance.

Merry was eventually chosen abbot of the monastery, much against his will. As abbot he preached by example and the reputation of his sanctity spread throughout the country. He was always aware of the temptation to become prideful due to his position so when he found himself becoming quite popular amongst the monks and lay people he fled to a forest four miles from Autun. He lived here for several years, living by the work of his hands.

His hideout was discovered at the same time that he fell ill, forcing him to return to the monastery. In his old age, Merry led the monks on a pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Germanus in Paris. He lived in Paris for some time with St. Frou (Frodulf) in a cell next to a chapel dedicated to St. Peter. It was in this cell that he suffered for 3 years from a painful illness before passing away peacefully in 700 a.d.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Augustine

Augustine was born on November 13, 354 in Tagaste, Numidia, North Africa, the son of Patricius and St. Monica. Though his mother did her best to raise the boy as a Christian, his studies in Carthage were determined to pull him in the opposite direction.

Away from the influence of his mother, Augustine began to live recklessly. He began drinking and carousing and fathered a son, Adeotadus, out of wedlock. He fell in with the Manicheaen sect, and remained in this moral state for eleven years.

When Augustine returned to his mother in this state she became alarmed and began to pray fervently for her son's conversion. After nine years of anguish, Monica's prayers were answered and her son turned to the faith and was baptised by St. Ambrose. His mother passed away shortly thereafter.

Augustine had long been noted as a scholar and orator and he now used these talents on behalf of the Gospel. After returning home and dividing his property amongst the poor he entered a monastery and began to write treatises culminating in his Confessions, a powerful autobiography, City of God, and Retractiones. He was eventually ordained a priest and, in 396, Bishop of Hippo. As bishop he fought heresies, including Manichaeism and founded religious communities.

He perished during the siege on the Roman empire by the vandals on August 28, 430. He has since been declared a Doctor of the Church.

St. Augustine is the patron saint: against sore eyes; of brewers; of the diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; the diocese of Ida, Philippines; of the Isleta Indian Pueblo; of the diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; of Ponte Nizza, Italy; of printers; of the city and diocese of St. Augustine, Florida; of the diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; of theologians; of the diocese of Tucson, Arizona; and of Valletta, Malta.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Monica

Monica was born, to a Christian family, in 333 A.D. at Tagaste, North Africa. She had a pious upbringing, but, at a young age, was married to a pagan official named Patricius. Monica's prayers and endurance allowed them to have a peaceful marriage in spite of his bad-temper and adultery. Together, they had three children, Augustine, Navigius, and Perpetua.

Monica's constant prayers for her husband led to his deathbed conversion, giving his wife much consolation. However, her prayers were immediately turned to her eldest son, Augustine. He confesses in his writings to having been a lazy and troublesome youth. Throughout the time he spent in school, first in Madaura and then in Carthage, his mother was concerned for the state of his soul. When he returned to her, at the age of 19, as a heretic, having entered the Manichaean sect, she became greatly alarmed and increased in her efforts for his salvation.

Augustine records in his Confessions a dream which Monica received around this time. "In her dream she saw herself standing on a sort of wooden rule, and saw a bright youth approaching her, joyous and smiling at her, while she was grieving and bowed down with sorrow. But when he inquired of her the cause of her sorrow and daily weeping (not to learn from her, but to teach her, as is customary in visions), and when she answered that it was my soul's doom she was lamenting, he bade her rest content and told her to look and see that where she was there I was also. And when she looked she saw me standing near her on the same rule."

Not long after receiving this dream, Monica approached a bishop who had also been a Manichaean before entering the Church. She pleaded with him to intercede with her son but he saw that, at this time, anything he might say would only make the situation worse, since Augustine was not yet open to hearing the truth. However, this bishop assured Monica that "the child of those tears shall never perish."

Monica spent 9 years in anguished prayer for her son, even following him to Rome and Milan. While in Milan, she encountered Bishop Ambrose who assisted in her efforts to bring Augustine to the faith.

The two eventually succeeded and, a few months after Augustine's conversion, Monica passed away in the ancient port city of Ostia where she was buried. Augustine recounted her in his Confessions: "I will not speak of her gifts, but of Thy gift in her; for she neither made herself nor trained herself. Thou didst create her, and neither her father nor mother knew what kind of being was to come forth from them. And it was the rod of Thy Christ, the discipline of Thy only Son, that trained her in Thy fear, in the house of one of Thy faithful ones who was a sound member of Thy Church."

St. Monica is the patroness of: abuse victims; alcoholics; the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers; Bevilacqua, Italy; difficult marriages; disappointing children; homemakers; housewives; Mabini, Bohol, Philippines; married women; mothers; victims of adultery; victims of unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse; widows; and wives.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Doctor Zhivago***

"This tale of revolutionary Russia is rich with detail and the character of Lara is almost more fascinating than that of Zhivago himself."

Well . . . I love the Russian writing style! This is only the second Russian novel I've read but they both shared a uniquely Russian style that I really appreciated. This does include some jumping around which can be confusing at first but it all comes together eventually. I also love all the beautiful Russian names, which also can be confusing but the main characters are the ones that keep turning up and the others don't matter as much so don't worry about them.

Now, in terms of the actual story. It literally took me until the last page of the epilogue to decide whether or not I liked the book. In the end I definitely liked it. The book is really more about how people's lives intertwine than about Zhivago or Lara specifically. There is one passage from the book that really illustrates this: "The man who had just died was Private Gimazetdin; the excited officer who had been shouting in the wood was his son, Lieutenant Galiullin; the nurse was Lara. Gordon and Zhivago were the witnesses. All these people were together, in one place. But some of them had never known each other, while others failed to recognize each other now. And there were things about them which were never to be known for certain, while others were not to be revealed until a future time, a later meeting."

On the last page of the epilogue the idea is also put forth that main character of the book is not actually Zhivago but, rather, the city of Moscow. "But Moscow, right below them and stretching into the distance, the author's native city, in which he had spent half his life - Moscow now struck them not as the stage of the events connected with him but as the main protagonist of a long story, the end of which they had reached that evening, book in hand." As a matter of fact, Zhivago, himself, is not a particularly likeable character. Even Lara is not nearly as good as she's painted. By far the best character in the book is Tonia. And poor Pasha is just pitiable.

I think I would have discovered that I enjoyed the book much earlier had I had those two ideas, that the book was about the intertwining of people's lives and that Moscow was the main character, in mind. In fact, I would like to re-read the book and see if I enjoy it any better now that I understand that.

Some great quotes:

  • "She must stop all this nonsense. Once and for all. Stop playing at being shy, simpering and lowering her eyes - or it would end in disaster. There loomed an imperceptible, a terrifying borderline. One step and you would be hurtled into an abyss."

  • "and she merely wondered: 'Does one always humiliate those one loves?'

  • "The intended revolver shot had already gone off in her heart - and it was a matter of complete indifference whom the shot was aimed at. This shot was the only thing that she was conscious of. She heard it all the way to Petrovka Street, and it was aimed at Komarovsky, at herself, at her own fate, and at the wooden target on the Duplyanka oak tree."

  • "I don't know a movement more self-centered and further removed from the facts than Marxism. Everyone is only worried about proving himself in practical matters, and as for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of their infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore the truth."

  • "People must be drawn to good by goodness."
  • "There are limits to everything. In all this time something definite should have been achieved. But it turns out that those who inspired the revolution aren't at home in anything except change and turmoil, they aren't happy with anything that's on less than a world scale. For them, transitional periods, worlds in the making, are an end in themselves."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Crazy Time

So it's getting to that crazy time of year known as back-to-school. Due to this I am rather behind in my posting. I will catch up on all the amazing saints and feasts I've missed this weekend but it may not be until next week when I'm settled in Steubenville. Actually, don't hold your breath for posts this week either. I'm a little overwhelmed with packing and other such things that need to get done before next Sunday. So I'll try to catch up and keep up but don't count on it. In the meantime, God Bless!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Clare

St. Clare was born on July 16, 1194 in Assisi, Italy. She was the daughter of a count and countess, her mother being Blessed Orsolana. In her childhood Clare was greatly influenced by the piety of her mother and was known to save food from her plate to give to the poor.

As she grew older Clare was recognized as a beautiful girl and many men sought her hand in marriage. However, Clare had long sought to follow God wherever he called her and she discovered this calling upon hearing the preaching of St. Francis.

On the night of Palm Sunday, 1212, Clare fled her family's home to meet St. Francis in the Portiuncula Chapel, one of three churches that St. Francis had literally rebuilt. There, she cast aside her fine garments for a simple dress of sackcloth and a veil, along with parting from her beautiful golden hair. With these simple acts she offered her life to God as the first woman to enter the Franciscan order.

Clare, her cousin Pacifica who had fled with her, and her sister Agnes who joined them the next day, lived for a time with a community of Benedictine nuns at San Paolo delle Abadesse until Francis finished the convent of San Damiano which was being rebuilt for their use. While with the Benedictines, Clare's uncle, her guardian since the death of her father, came with a group of soldiers to bring the girls home. They all refused and when the soldiers attempted to carry Agnes away she cried to Clare to help her. Clare immediately fell to her knees in prayer and Agnes suddenly became too heavy for the soldiers to lift. When they found they were unable to carry any of the girls they gave up for the time being, though Clare's uncle continued in his attempts to bring the girls home, but was never succesful.

The girls eventually moved into San Damiano where they were joined by other ladies, including Clare's mother, many of whom were from Assisi's noble families. Francis, himself, presided over the "Poor Ladies," for a time, before Clare was assigned the role of abbess.

The cloistered sisters devoted their lives to work and prayer. Every Franciscan, both the friars and the sisters, had a task assigned especially to them. Clare's task was embroidery, making the altar cloths used at Mass along with garments for Francis, the friars, and sisters and, eventually, the special bandages for Francis' stigmata wounds.

As abbess Clare defied all attempts to impose a "watered-down" rule on her sisters. She had designed her own rule for the ladies, central to which, was a radical poverty. It was not until two days before her death that Pope Innocent IV confirmed this rule and granted Clare's ultimate desire, that she, and each of the sisters, own nothing.

Throughout their lives Francis and Clare remained close friends. Francis was Clare's "spiritual father," and the two relied on each other for advice, encouragement, and prayers. Clare's intercession was greatly valued by Francis and numerous others. When Francis was discerning whether to live out the remainder of his life as a hermit or continue with his preaching it was Clare to whom he turned for advice and prayers. In his final illness, he came to San Damiano where Clare nursed him until his death and after his funeral at the Portiuncula the friars brought his body to San Damiano for a short time so that Clare and her sisters could pay their last respects.

Many miracles are attributed to St. Clare, two of which are particularly impressive. At one time, while Clare was ill, the Saracens attacked Assisi and were upon the walls of San Damiano. The sisters rushed to Clare's bedside in terror. The abbess calmly rose, took the monstrance, containing the Blessed Sacrament, from the chapel, emerged from the convent, and held out the monstrance over the enemy. The Saracens, for no apparent reason, fell into a panic and rushed in terror from Assisi.

During her final illness, Clare was bedridden and, therefore, unable to attend the first Mass in the newly built Basilica of St. Francis. While praying in her cell an image of the Mass appeared on the wall of her cell so that she was able to witness the entire celebration.

Clare died of natural causes on August 11, 1253. Just two years later, on September 26, 1255, Clare was canonized by Pope Alexander IV. The "Poor Ladies" then changed their name to the Poor Clares, by which title they are still known today. St. Clare is the patroness: against eye disease; of Assisi, Italy; of embroiderers; of eyes; for good weather; of gilders; of gold workers; of goldsmiths; of laundry workers; of needle workers; of Santa Clara Indian Pueblo; of telegraphs; of telephones; of television; of television writers; of this blog; and of me!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Lawrence

St. Lawrence was born at Huesca, Spain around 225 A.D. Little is known about his early life.

He held the post of Roman archdeacon under Pope St. Sixtus II. Emperor Valerian ruled the Roman Empire during Sixtus' pontificate, and executed a harsh persecution of Christians.

Pope St. Sixtus II was arrested on the orders of Valerian while he was celebrating Mass in the Cemetery of Praetextatus. When St. Lawrence became aware of this, he immediately rushed to the Pope's side crying, "Where are you going, father, without your son? Where are you going, O priest, without your deacon?" The Pope replied, "My son, you I am not abandoning. Greater strife awaits you. Stop weeping; you will follow me in three days."

Following the execution of the Pope and six other deacons Lawrence was left as the ranking Church official. One of his roles as Roman archdeacon was "keeper of the treasures of the Church." Lawrence used his last three days to disperse what material wealth the Church had amongst the poor of Rome. On August 10 Lawrence was commanded to appear before the Prefect of Rome and bring with him the wealth of the Church. St. Lawrence brought to the Prefect all the beggars he could find on the Roman streets, presenting them as the Church's treasure.

For his insolence, Lawrence was sentenced to be slowly and painfully roasted to death. He was lain on a large, scorching grill where he was to be left until dead. After a period of time St. Lawrence requested that the executioner turn him over, for he was quite well done on that side.

St. Lawrence passed away on August 10, 258. He is buried in the cemetery of Saint Cyriaca in Italy and the grill on which he was killed is kept in San Lorenzo in Lucina. He is the patron saint: against fire; against lumbago; of archives; of armories; of armorers; of brewers; of butchers; of chefs; of comedians; of comics; of confectioners; of cooks; of cutlers; of deacons; of glaziers; of laundry workers; of librarians; of libraries; of paupers; of poor people; of restauranteurs; of schoolchildren; of seminarians; of stained glass workers; of students; of tanners; of vine growers; of vintners; of wine makers; and of multiple towns and dioceses.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Edith Stein/Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Edith Stein was born on October 12, 1891 at Breslaw, Dolnoslaskie, Germany. She was the youngest of seven children in a Jewish family.

At the age of 13, after finishing grammar school, Edith proclaimed that she no longer believed in God and "consciously stopped praying." By 1907 she had begun "a serious search for truth."

In 1911, Edith completed high school and began studies at the University of Breslau where she was a brilliant student and philosopher. It was during this time that she had her first encounter with the Gospel. However, in the summer of 1912, she began to suffer from severe depression stemming from an inability to discern any meaning in life.

In 1913, Edith went to the University of Gottingen to continue her studies. At this time she began to entertain religious questions and obtained the first relief for her depression upon witnessing a presentation of "A Mighty Fortress is Our God." Between her first encounter with Catholicism in 1914 and the year of 1918, Edith's atheism began to fall away, until, in her own words, "my unbelief collapsed." During these years, Edith had served as a Red Cross nurse in World War I and received her PhD in philosophy summa cum laude. It was not until 1921 that Edith began to entertain the idea of Catholicism. Her study of the life of St. Teresa of Avila led her to purchase a missal and catechism and begin "reading herself into" Catholicism before finally working up the courage to approach the parish priest in order to request baptism.

On January 1, 1922, Edith Stein was baptized into the Catholic faith. She began that very day to request permission to enter Carmel, the religious order which her spiritual mother, St. Teresa of Avila, had reformed. On February 2 that same year, Edith was confirmed in the faith. She spent the next ten years teaching and writing, especially about women and the Church. On June 19, 1933, about six months after Hitler's ascension to power, Edith was finally accepted into Carmel. Beginning on July 16 she spent one month as an extern at Carmel before making a final visit to her mother. She officially entered Carmel on October 14, 1933, taking the name Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and received the habit on April 15, 1934. During her novitiate, the Carmelite provincial requested that Edith continue to compose her autobiography, which she had begun writing the year before. Edith made her first profession of vows as a Carmelite on Easter 1935, her Final Profession of vows on April 21, 1938, and received the Black Veil in Public Ceremony on May 1, 1938.

Seven months later, on November 8, Germany was rent by the horror of Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, in which Nazis throughout the country went on a rampage against Jewish citizens. Edith, being of Jewish heritage, was in great danger. Negotiations immediately began to transfer her to Echt Carmel in Holland. On the night of December 31 she was smuggled across the border.

On March 26, 1939, Edith asked permission of her superiors to offer herself to the Lord in prayer as a "victim for real peace."
In 1940 Edith's sister, Rosa, who had also converted to Catholicism and entered Carmel, joined her sister in Holland. However, the two were not long safe. In 1941 an edict was passed demanding the deportation of all non-Aryan Germans residing in Holland by December 15 of that year. Negotiations again began for Edith and Rosa to be transferred to the Carmel of Le Paquier in Switzerland. On September 1 the government ordered that all Jews, including those of Jewish heritage, wear the Star of David on their clothing. In response to these oppressive edicts the Dutch Bishops issued their Pastoral on Racism and Antisemitism.
The Nazis swiftly retaliated with a move for the deportation of all Catholics of Jewish heritage by the end of the week. At five p.m. on August 2, Edith and Rosa were arrested by the SS while they were at meditation in the Carmel and brought to Amersfoort Prison Camp. On August 5 they were transferred to Westerbork Concentration Camp and on August 7 they began the journey to Auschwitz.

On August 9, 1942 Edith and Rosa Stein were led to their deaths in the gas chamber at Auschwitz. Edith offered this final sacrifice "for real peace."

Edith Stein, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was canonized on October 11, 1998 by Pope John Paul II. She is the patron saint: against the death of parents; of Europe; and of martyrs.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Saint of the Day - St. Dominic

Dominic de Guzman was the son of Blessed Joan of Aza and her husband. The couple had long been childless when Blessed Joan prayed to St. Dominic of Silos, a patron of this problem. She soon became pregnant and decided to name the child Dominic in honor the saint.

While pregnant with her son, Blessed Joan had a dream of her child as a dog "who would set the world on fire with a torch" he carried in his mouth. St. Dominic came to be known as the "watchdog of the Lord," and a dog with a torch in its mouth became a symbol of the Dominican religious order.

Dominic was born in the year 1170 at Calaruega, Burgos, Old Castille. At his baptism his mother had a vision of a star shining from her son's chest. This star became another symbol of the Dominican order and led to St. Dominic's patronage of astronomy.

St. Dominic studied at the University of Palencia, was ordained to the priesthood, and became a canon of St. Augustine. In 1203, Dominic passed through southern France while on a journey with his bishop. In this place, Dominic witnessed firsthand the horrors wrought by the Albigensian heresy. It was then that Dominic discovered his vocation to work amongst heretics. In order to fulfill this calling, the young canon founded the Order of Friars Preachers, now known as Dominicans.

Dominic offered constant penance for the heretics, fasting, holding all-night prayer vigils, and walking barefoot. He is known to have performed many miracles including healing the sick, raising the dead, and multiplying food.

Once, while discouraged in his ministry, Dominic received a vision of Our Lady presenting him with a wreath of roses which represented the rosary. She exhorted him to pray the rosary daily and teach it to all he met. If he did this, she said, true faith would win out. He is believed to have received other visions of Our Lady and Christ as well.

Dominic journeyed to Rome where he received the confirmation of his order from Pope Honorius III, who also bestowed on him two convents, that of St. Sixtus for the Dominican sisters and of Santa Sabina for the friars.

According to legend, St. Dominic dreamt of a beggarman who would also do great things for the faith. The next day Dominic met the beggar, embraced him, and exclaimed "You are my companion and must walk with me. If we hold together, no earthly power can withstand us." The beggar was St. Francis of Assisi. The two men shared a lifelong friendship.

St. Dominic passed away of sheer exhaustion at the age of fifty-one. In his last moments he instructed his distraught friars, "Do not weep, my children, I shall be more useful to you where I am going than I have ever been in this life." He died at noon on August 6, 1221 at Bologna, Italy. St. Dominic was canonized by Pope Gregory IX on July 13, 1234. He is the patron saint: of astronomers; of astronomy; of the prelature of Batanes-Babuyanes, Philippines; of the diocese of Bayombong, Philippines; of the Dominican Republic; of falsely accused people; of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; of Santo Domingo Indian Pueblo; of scientists; and of Valletta, Malta.