Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Catholic Homeschool Carnival is Here

Go over to my friends at O Night Divine and visit the Catholic Homeschool Carnival with an Advent and Christmas theme.

Feast of St. Andrew

Today is the Feast of the brother of Simon Peter, St. Andrew, who introduced his brother to Our Lord St. Andrew was the brother of St. Peter and the first disciple called by Christ. St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel, and tradition has it that he was crucified on a cross in the form of an 'X'.
The relic of St. Andrew's head was donated to Pius II (1460). Paul VI (1966) presented the relic as a gift to the Church of St. Andrew in Patras as a sign of friendship with the Greek Orthodox Church.

Today is also the day we begin the St. Andrew Nativity Novena, to be said fifteen times daily until Christmas Eve.

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires. (Mention your intentions here) Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)
+MICHAEL AUGUSTINE, Archbishop of New York
New York, February 6, 1897

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Pray for Pope Benedict as He Travels to Turkey

Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history. In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam. May the prayers and events of these historic days greatly contribute both to greater accord among those who worship you, the living and true God, and also to peace in our world so often torn apart by war and sectarian violence.
We also ask, O Heavenly Father, that you watch over and protect Pope Benedict and entrust him to the loving care of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, a title cherished both by Catholics and Muslims. Through her prayers and maternal love, may Pope Benedict be kept safe from all harm as he prays, bears witness to the Gospel, and invites all peoples to a dialogue of faith, reason, and love. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer composed by Bishop William E. Lori, supreme chaplain, for the Spiritual Pilgrimage with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on his Nov. 28-Dec. 1 pastoral visit to Turkey.

Stores who "Just Say Merry Christmas"

Over at the Cafeteria is Closed, they are compiling a list of retailers with varying levels of hostility towards mentioning Christmas. Make sure you keep this in mind while shopping, as the dollar seems to be the dominant force in this culture.

Great pro-life news article from

Dear Friend,

You should read this pro-life news article from

Best Wishes,

To receive free daily/weekly pro-life news from, email

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Latin Mass would restore mystery

By Steve GusheePalm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 17, 2006
The Mass in the vernacular was a noble experiment that didn't quite work. The Latin Mass might soon be back, and that could be a good thing for the Roman Catholic Church.Pope Benedict XVI plans to make it much easier for churches to use the 16th-century Latin Mass. That could help deepen faith and unite an American church whose members speak a veritable babel of languages.
The Catholic faith is, at its heart, a mystery. The Christian religion is best known in community. The Latin Mass enhanced mystery and created community for more than a thousand years and might again. The Mass in English has done neither.The Roman Catholic Church only began to use English in worship in the mid-1960s following the Second Vatican Council.English might have helped the English-speaking faithful understand what worship was about, but explaining a mystery in any language is an oxymoron. The use of English in the church's central act of worship turned a profoundly moving and, yes, mysterious experience into a dull, pedestrian meeting with little power to stir the spirit or motivate the faithful.St. Paul argued that the people should be taught in a language they understood. Sermons, instructions and teaching should be in such a language, but worship is another matter. The faithful offer worship to God who is not bound by any language. The soaring majesty of the Latin Mass served the church well long after few if any of the faithful understood the words. They knew the liturgy, the rhythm and the power of the service.Latin words accompanied the action of worship but were essentially unnecessary. Everyone knew what was happening. With English, however, the words demand attention. The faithful attend the language rather than the mystery of redemption unfolding before them. Latin creates and preserves mystery. English dilutes it.

Viva Cristo Rey!

The final Sunday of the Liturgical Year is the Feast of Christ the King, when the Church 'looks forward with joyful hope to the coming of our Saviour, Christ the Lord'.
This is the hope of every Catholic who is suffering religious persecution in Communist China's prisons, those who fear for their lives and are martyred in Muslim nations, and we who suffer disdain from family and friends for our 'fanaticism'as we try to live our Faith authentically in a hostile culture.

An example of this courageous faith is the martyrdom of priests in the Mexican persecution of the Church in the late 1920's.
Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, SJ, was ministering secretly to the common man, the truck drivers, the miners, and families. He gave Communion to hundreds everyday, in secret, and never lost his sense of humor when in danger. Eventually, he, and his brothers Humberto and Roberto were arrested, and they witnessed his martyrdom.
When Miguel was led to the firing squad, he knelt, said his Act of Contrition, spread out his arms tin the form of a cross, and said, "Que Viva Cristo Rey!" (Long live Christ the King!)
Human Life International has a minisite devoted to Miguel Pro.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The First Thanksgiving was Catholic

In 1565, Pedro Menedez de Aviles planted a wooden cross in the soil of Florida and founded the Mision de Nombre de Dios (Mission of the Name of God) in what is now St. Augustine. The mass of thanksgiving offered at that site was truly the FIRST Thanksgiving on American soil.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I have just split my blog in two!

I have decided to split my personal reflections on mothering and homeschooling from my political reflections. so, if you want the personal side, please try my new blog
which is merely the same blog title, in English.

If you're afraid that speaking up for life will be rejected, think again

This is a Prayer given in Kansas at the opening
session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people. When
Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, Everyone was expecting the usual generalities,
But this is what they heard:

"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask
your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your
Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what
we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and
called it building self esteem.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it
freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our
forefathers and called it enlightenment.

Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today;
cleanse us from Every sin and set us free.

The response was immediate.
A number of legislators walked out during the prayer
in protest. In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where
Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving
international requests for copies of this prayer from India,
Africa and Korea.

Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his
radio program, "The Rest of the Story," and received a larger response
to this program than any other he has ever aired.

With the Lord's help! , may this prayer sweep over our nation and whole heartedly become our desire so that we again can be called "one nation Under God." If possible, please pass this prayer on to your
friends. "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for everything."

Do you know your patron saints? Take this quiz and find out

Fr John Trigilio of "Web of Faith" Tackles the Problem of Fidelity to Church Teaching

Friday, November 17, 2006

Why I Homeschool

(see the link above for Phylis Schafly's article on how public schools shape American Culture)
I was born in 1962, and in 1967, when I attended Kindergarten, my Catholic parents purposely sent me to public rather than Catholic schools because of some negative experiences our cousins had there.
When I was attending Jr high, Values Clarification hit the public schools. My father used to get involved in heated discussions with my teachers on open school night, on the topic, "exactly whose values are we clarifying?" The next morning, he'd warn me which of my teachers would be trying to find out 'whose father was that lawyer who argued with me last night?'
A sex ed program that included discussion (positive of course) of abortion and homosexuality was to be implemented in the high school. Dad and Mom unsuccessfully tried to get our pastor in the battle, and found themselves working with valiant Baptists instead. Most of our Catholic friends assumed that our moral values would be taught, and refused to get involved. With the support of a handful of parents, my parents managed to get an alternative sex ed program, one that required a parental signature.This program did not contain objectionable content, but the teachers mocked the students who wanted to sign up for this program. I was prepared by my parents for a fight, so when signing up for 'sex ed B' as it was called, the teacher at the table said, "what's the matter, honey, your parents don't want you to learn about sex?""No," I replied, "they just want to teach me their way!"
I tired of defending my faith against anti-Catholic bigotry in high school, whose teachers' ideas of European history was a study in how Catholics oppressed the people via the Inquisition, etc, until the Reformation and Enlightenment freed mankind from religious fanaticism. The course ended, naturally, with the fable of how Pope Pius and the Jesuits were in league with the Nazis. I learned a lot, having to do independent research to defend the Church against these lies, but I had no friends.When I was pummeled mercilessly in a senior boys indoor soccer class, as a sophomore (was this retaliation for Title IX?) I quit public school for good.
I chose to go to the Catholic all girls high school my mother attended to get as far away from the public school world as possible, and in many ways I did.
I was taught how to write, something I still enjoy immensely, I found like- minded friends and was rewarded with good grades and appreciation for academic achievement. I regained my self-esteem, and even learned to be a public speaker, something discouraged by the public school's hostile environment.
The Kinsey Report, however, had slithered into the minds of the nuns, and I was taught essentially the same sex-ed in Catholic High School that my parents fought against in public school. Only this time it was more insidious, as it had the stamp of moral authority, "sister says go out and get a diaphragm, don't listen to that old man in Rome, he ignored his advisors when he wrote "Humanae Vitae", and he doesn't understand women anyway.""Oh, and don't show your mothers your notebook they wouldn't understand"sister concluded.
I should have known better, but I swallowed it hook, line, and sinker! It led me to years of suffering until God in His infinite mercy, gave me a wonderful Hispanic Catholic husband who was raised in a nation with some traditional values in the schools, to set me straight. I became a teacher, and now teach part-time at a local Community College which is even worse that either of my high schools.
In the Literary Magazine, a young woman proudly wrote an essay about her abortion, and a young man wrote a 'comical' essay about killing some of his siblings to get more money from his grandparents! These are the best and the brightest students this school has to offer?! I shudder for the future of this nation!
Is it any wonder that I homeschool my three beloved daughters!!

Make Sure Your Christmas Cards Have Madonna and Child with Bird stamps

The perfect finishing touch for your cards this year is also a ministry of evangelization.It's entitled, "Maddonna and Child with Bird" from a Peruvian artist. Stock up for the whole year, if you can.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A New Home by Isabella, age 9

Once upon a time, there lived a family of squirrels; a mom, a dad, and two baby squirrels. They lived in a big tree in a grove, and they were very happy there. One day, when they were gathering nuts for winter, the wind started to get stronger and stronger. They gathered nuts as fast as they could and then they ran up the tree. As the wind started to get even stronger, the tree started to shake and shake, the nuts went flying out, and the tree split in three, and crashed down onto the ground, in three different directions.
Later, the wind began to calm. The squirrels came out of the nest.They were shocked to see that they were on the ground! Mom squirrel said, " Oh no! Our tree has fallen down, and all our nuts have been crushed by the tree, what are we going to do? "" Its OK," Dad squirrel said, " we ’ ll just gather more, and look for a new home, we still have plenty of time before winter". So after they gathered the nuts again, they started to look for another tree.

First, they came across a big, tall tree with fewer nuts. " This looks a lot like our old tree " , said Mom, " yes but it ’s not right " Dad said, so they kept looking.

The two baby squirrels thought, " Why does he turn down such a nice tree? " Then they saw a medium-sized tree with lots of branches and a large hollow inside. " This looks like a nice one, " Mom said, but Dad replied, " it’s still not right", so they went on looking.

Then they saw a small tree with fewer branches and it wasn’t very hollow inside. " Perfect! That’s the one! " Dad said. " This one? ” replied Mom and the babies, looking confused, "But it ’ s so small and it already lost all of its leaves. " "Yes " he said, " but it ’ s not very hollow or tall, that way, when another storm comes, it will not be harmed much, and it has lots of nuts so we can have even more food till spring. It is a small and lonely tree and we will be happy here because it looks like it needs some animals to live there to keep it company ". Mom and the babies were still were not sure, but they agreed.

So after they moved in, they were very happy in their tree, and when hibernation time came, they were all snug and warm in the lonely little tree. But the lonely little tree wasn’t so lonely anymore, thanks to them. And they all lived happily ever after.


Profiles inCatholic Courage: Ana and Andy Argueta

I like series, so I'll be doing a number of series here at "cause of our joy". The first is "Profiles in Catholic Courage". These are my friends, neighbors, and any stories I come accross of people who live the Gospel of Life heroically, and humbly, doing what they do only for love of the Lord, and their family.They will probably never be canonized, but we can applaud their efforts, and be inspired to imitate them as they reflect Jesus.'

My first hero is a mother-son family. Ana Argueta, age 38, is a single mom, and a Salvadorean immigrant, who enrolled her 6 year old son, Andy, in my bi-lingual First Holy Communion Class. She warned me that her son had delicate health and shouldn't wrestle with the reambunctious boys, but I didn't know the half of it.

Andy had a brain tumor, and when it was removed, they found spinal cancer, which is nearly incurable. He is undergoing chemotherapy but, unless a miracle happens, he will die shortly. Andy's Godmother, Carmen, advised me of this, I called the Spanish priest, and we made a plan: Andy would immediately receive his First Holy Communion and Sacrament of the Sick.

The mothers of the class planned for coffee and cake after Mass, as Ana didn't have time to set up a party, running to the hospital every week for Andy's therapy.

The evening of his First Holy Communion, Andy wore a white suit, which only emphasized his yellow complexion. I winced at the sight of his bald, scarred head, but soon was distracted by something greater; his beaming smile. Andy smiled the entire Mass, sometimes looking back at the congregation to see if we were smiling as well. We certainly were, through many tears!

Later, over two slices of cake, Andy ran around the church basement with the other kids, saying elatedly, "Mommy, they all love me so much, look at this!"

Ana graciously thanked everyone, and seemed just as pleased. No self pity, that if Andy died, she would be alone in the world. No jealousy at all our healthy children. Just plain gratitude.

I forgot my camera in the rush, but I'll try to post a photo of Andy and Ana's beaming faces, so much gratitude for such a simple act of love on our part.

I don't think I will every see a little boy as happy as Andy on his First Holy Communion Day. He and Ana are Catholic Heroes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Christina's Therapy Sessions are Improving!

For the first three years, Christina received Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy, as well as Special Ed services in our home. Last year, I reluctantly tried sending her to a local special needs pre-school because she was growing impatient with her therapists, and sent them packing. She gave me no resistance, had a lovely teacher,and had school for only 2 1/2 hours a day, but, as all moms know, putting a child, especially a non-verbal child, on the bus was terribly difficult.

I decided to homeschool Christina for this last year of pre-school, and again felt peace of heart. The same types of therapists come, and at first she ran away from them, and my heart sank. I spoke with them, giving them clues to capturing her interest, and they listened. Now, she dives into their bags, works hard the entire session, and is upset when they leave. She even came up with a new sentence today, "I want to color".
Thank you, Lord.

Senator Brownback Sums Up the Election of 2006

The Windowon November 14, 2006A Catholic Look at Society, Culture and Politics
Deal W. Hudson
In This Issue:What the Election Means for Religious Conservatives
In a national conference call with religious conservatives, Sen. Sam Brownback said that President Bush squandered the mandate of the 2004 election by pursuing social security reform when he could have taken action on an important social issue, such as the federal marriage issue.
He also rejected the idea that the election represented a repudiation of social conservatism because the Democrats who were recruited to beat incumbent Republicans were precisely that, social conservatives! Six of the Democrat freshmen are pro-life -- the biggest group since the eighties.
Pro-abortion Republicans, Brownback pointed out, were the biggest losers. A dozen of them are not coming back and that represents about half their total. Congressional Democrats, as a result of who won, are slightly more conservative than before, while Republicans are significantly more conservative.
Patrick Hynes, author of In Defense of the Religious Right, asked Sen. Brownback what religious conservatives can learn from their five losses on ballot questions: Arizona's same-sex marriage amendment, California's parental notification initiative; Oregon's parental notification initiative; Missouri's embryonic stem cell and human cloning initiative; and South Dakota's abortion ban.
Sen. Brownback stated that in Missouri, social conservatives were out-spent 20-to-1 and every major Republican state office holder, including the governor, supported the measure. Nevertheless, the measure only passed with 50.3 percent of the vote.
Regarding South Dakota, Sen. Brownback suggested that going for the full ban with no exceptions for rape and incest may have been a mistake. Nevertheless, he applauded the initiative as a courageous effort to launch an important national debate.
Sen. Brownback agreed that the failure to pass the same-sex marriage amendment in Arizona is of great concern. Arizona, he said, became the first state in the country to reject such a ban by democratic means. Sen. Brownback echoed a previously expressed sentiment that religious conservatives need to work especially hard in the interior west Sunbelt region to counter a vibrant libertarian sentiment.
There was a significant, but not a huge change, in the religiously active vote. Here are the overall numbers for the 2006 mid-term election:
Among voters who attend church at least once a week (45% of the electorate), 53% voted Republican and 43% voted Democrat. (Down 5 points for the GOP from 2004 and up 4 points for the Democrats.)
Among those who attend church "occasionally" (38% of the electorate), 59% voted Democrat and 39% voted Republican. (Up 5 points for the Democrats from 2004.)
Among those who say they never attend church (15% of the electorate), 67% voted Democrat and 30% voted Republican. (Up 5 points for the Democrats from 2004.)
Also on the conference call was Michael Schwartz, chief of staff to Sen. Tom Coburn, who stressed that the "election was not Democrats vs. Republicans but Republican promises vs. Republican performance, and corruption and the failure to deal with critical issues -- immigration, Iraq, energy -- led voters to lose confidence in the Republican Party."
Drew Ryun, coalition's director for the American Center for Law and Justice, reported that the Republican National Committee attributed this drop in support to the fact that Republicans did much less to reach out to religious conservatives than in 2004. "You cannot make the promises the Republican Party made in 2004 to conservatives then take no real action on them and expect conservatives to continue to vote you back into office," he said. Ryun, whose father, Congressman Jim Ryun (KS), lost his election, thinks this election proves that without the full support of religiously active voters, the GOP becomes a minority party.
"The silver lining to this election," Ryun said, "is that conservatism did not lose, but a Republican Party that forgot its base did." For Ryun, and everyone else who spoke on the call, the 2006 election should be a wake up call to Republican leaders who take the Evangelical and conservative Catholic vote for granted.
Martin Gillespie, director of Catholic Outreach at the RNC, read a list of pro-life legislators who lost their seats, including Sen. Rick Santorum (PA), Sen. Mike DeWine (OH), Cong. Ann Northrup (KY), Cong. Melissa Hart (PA), and Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick (PA). They lost, in part, because the "Catholic vote" moved strongly towards the Democratic Party in key states: 20 points in Ohio, 11 in Pennsylvania, and 9 in Michigan.
These are numbers of self-identified Catholics and not only Mass-attending Catholics, who consistently manifest more support for candidates representing a pro-life, pro-family position. The all-important breakdown between self-identified Catholic voters and religiously active voters is not yet known.
Gillespie noted that the issue of moral values, which was the number one concern of voters in 2004, moved to number five in importance, below Iraq, terrorism, corruption, the economy, and immigration.
Gillespie, who lead the RNC Catholic Outreach in 2000 and 2004, echoed Ryun in noting that fewer GOP resources were put behind courting the religiously active voter.
The good news is that Republicans are well positioned to take back the House in 2008. Several seats were gifts to the Democrats (DeLay, Foley, and Sherwood), and it will be exceedingly difficult for Democrats to get re-elected to these seats in two years. If new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faces a dilemma such as letting the Democrats go wild, they will alienate the general public; if she holds them in check, they have a problem with their base. As one commentator put it, "She will retain the majority only if she is smart and the Republicans are stupid."
Finally, it should be said that religious conservatives will be haunted by the loss in South Dakota's abortion referendum for the next twenty years. This loss will be cited in 2008 as a reason for softening the pro-life plank in the Republican platform. For the first time in 34 years, voters were asked to decide whether killing people is right or wrong. This was in reputedly one of the two or three most pro-life states in the nation, and they chose death.
On a side note it is sad, but instructive, that on the first day of the annual Conference of U. S. Bishops meeting in Baltimore, president Bishop William S. Skylstad (Spokane), issued a four-page letter condemning the war in Iraq but uttered not a word about the voting results on the gay marriage ban in Arizona, the fetal stem cell referendum in Missouri, or the abortion referendum in South Dakota.
Religious conservatives have supported the GOP steadily since Ronald Reagan was first elected in 1980. But neither Evangelical nor conservative Catholics have ever become anything like a reliable voting block comparable to African-American support for the Democratic Party. The reason is obvious: The religiously active voter has to be won over with each election, by each candidate and each party platform. From a religious perspective, that is as it should be, since a person's faith should dictate political choices rather than vice versa.
The addition of religious conservatives to the GOP since the Goldwater era is what has given Republicans the electoral edge over the past thirty years. The pressure is on Republican leadership to blame the "Religious Right" for the 2006 election losses. It is doubtful, however, they will succumb to the temptation to ignore what Sen. Brownback and so many others see in the election results: A clear and decisive commitment to the social issues of religious conservatives appeals to the majority of American voters.
The Window is published by the Morley Institute for Church & Culture.
For the latest Catholic news, the Window recommends the Catholic News Agency.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Shepherds Take Control!

Some States are Making it Easier to Homeschool

I have never had legal problems while homeschooling, because I live in a small school district.Often, I am the only homeschooling mom in the district. One year, they never responded to my letter of intent to homeschool and apologized at year's end.
The neighboring district, however is much bigger and bureaucratic, they unjustly returned all the mothers' Individual Home Instruction Plans, and Home School Legal Defense had to be called in.
Laws vary from state to state. Click on the icon above to see if things are getting better in your state.

Misplaced Compassion

Two women in my diocese have chained themselves to the door of the Chancery to protest a deer hunt on the grounds of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. The deer have multiplied and are a traffic hazard and a threat to human life in that area. A marksman will shoot them and the meat will be given to a food pantry.

I love deer, and see them frequently here in my back yard. Sometimes I even feed them (my pumpkins were just left out for them). I could never participate in a deer hunt, HOWEVER, they are morally acceptable.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in His own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing.One can love animals; one should not direct to to them the affection due only to persons" CCC2417-2418.
These women mean well, but their priorities are disordered. One woman is a student at Hunter College, no doubt she has heard lectures against animal testing and on the morality of a vegan diet. Are these women aware that 2,500 babies will die a painful death in this nation today? They probably passed several abortion mills on their way to the Diocesan Offices to protest the legitimate and humane depopulation of deer. Are they aware of this?
Probably not, as discussions of abortion are subjected to the severest form of censorship in this country. One has to take the initiative to be informed on life issues, even if one attends church regularly. These women probably aren't aware of the Church's teaching on this topic, and are only relying on their tender hearts.

Think of the children who will be killed and protest that.
God bless them. I'll pray for them.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Christians are Actively Recruiting to Homeschool

This article gives a rationale for homeschooling. It is similar to the idea I heard at a Seton Conference in Connecticut by the late Dr. William Marra.He said the way to save our children from this pernicious culture was threefold:
1. Remove children from the toxic school environment, and eliminate all vestiges of modern culture (ie media) from the home. He reccommended stuffing a towel under the front door if it kept seeping back in!
2. Create a haven of Catholic Culture in your home replete with lovely visuals, music, prayer, and liturgical year observances. (this is where my fellow Catholic bloggers have helped me tremendously)
3. After you have accomplished all this, teach school subjects. Remember on bad days, when all attempts at homeschooling fall flat, you HAVE accomplished the first two steps. Just get a deck of playing cards, and have fun with you children!
This advice has helped me weather some homeschooling storms!

My New Blogger Friend, Long Island Catholic

In an email I was alerted that Fr. John McCartney, (remember that name, he'll be a saint someday) was being given a pastorate at a young age, and it was Generation X Revert, now Long Island Catholic who first broke the story.

AdoroTeDevote: "You have to Suffer for What You Love"

AdoroTeDevote: "You have to Suffer for What You Love"
This is a uniquely Catholic theme, and one that makes me SOO glad I'm a Catholic.
One day, Fulton Sheen was walking past a hospital and remarked, "What a shame. So much wasted suffering." Catholics know how to "make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ". What could be lacking in the sufferings of Christ? Our offerings of the daily barbs, and lifelong deprivation, the suffering of illness, and the ache of loneliness. Don't waste them. Offer them up for the salvation of all those relatives who are going to call you a religious fanatic this Thanksgiving!

Ten Things I am Thankful for This Week

1. I am thankful for anti-biotics. For all their bad press, after all is said and done, they are a miracle drug. Nothing else can take a miserable, feverish pre-schooler and make her bounce back to health in 48 hours.
2. I am thankful to live on the East End of Long Island, near the beach. I get to drive by such beautiful scenery every day, and the traffic's not so bad, now that the tourist season is over.
3. I am thankful that my parents are well, enjoying retirement, and live near enough for weekly visits to enrich the lives of my girls.
4. I am thankful that we own our home, and that I have been able to re-decorate it according to my own sense of style. I truly enjoyed the creative effort it took (and live through the slow renovations!)
5. I am thankful that, so far, our country has been spared a terrorist attack since 9/11. Let us continue to pray for this nation's security.
6. I am thankful for my gorgeous church, St. John the Evangelist, Center Moriches, brand new, but so traditional with all the 100 year old windows, statues, altar, altar rail, etc. from the old church beautifully re-furbished. The Adoration Chapel, adorned with ornately carved walnut paneling is my favorite spot to pray. I feel like a nun in a Rennaisance monastery when I go to adoration there.
7. I am thankful for a husband who asked me to homeschool while we were still on our honeymoon, and hasn't yet taken it back!!
8. My daughter Isabella is thankful for her family that takes care of her.
9. Isabella is thankful for living in a safe home where there are no hurricanes, tornadoes, or earthquakes.
10. Best of all, Isabella is thankful for her Catholic faith which gives her the hope of Heaven.

Feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

St Frances Cabrini (1850-1917)the first canonized American citizen, and I have many connections.

First of all, were paesanas (both from Italian heritage). Then there's the vocational connection. She wanted to be a missionary to China, but Pope Leo XIII asked her to go to New York instead to work with Italian Immigrants. I lived in Europe for 8 months and was making plans to remain there, and I felt God calling to come home to New York (you can tell it's God calling when it's something you don't want to do!)
I got my Master's in Education and now I teach English as a Second Language at Suffolk Community College. I have taught beginning English to simple Latino farmers for 16 years. Occasionally I get restless when I teach for the hundredth time, "My name is . . ." But their gratitude and respect for me, whom they call, "profe", always rewards me.

Mother Cabrini founded orphanages, schools, and hospitals across North and South America. My dream is to found a truly Catholic school which my daughters could attend. Of course, I haven't yet met with success like Mother Cabrini, but she faced discourageement, and persevered. When she first arrived in New York, the bishop said he hadn't anything ready for her, and urged her to return to Italy. She pressed on, nonetheless. So must I.

Now here comes the personal part. In 2001, I went with a homeschooling group to her shrine (see link above) in upper Manhattan. I had two children, and wanted more, so I lit a candle, and within 2 weeks, I was expecting Christina Maria. This summer, we visited again to say, "grazie". Her body lies under the altar in this picture, encased in a wax.

I think I heard her say, "prego".

St Frances Cabrini, patroness of immigrants, pray for us.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's Not the First Time I've Been Called a Nerd!

The "National Catholic Register", in it's Arts and Culture Section, ran an article this week entitled, "For Love of the Written Word:Bloggers and Their Books". Reading it, I realized that blogging is a bookworm nerd's dream come true. A journal that people actually read and interact with!

I have only been blogging since the Feast of the Little Flower, Oct 1st of this year, and already it has done so much for me.

I get to keep my writing skills honed,
get rid of excess thoughts before trying to sleep,
spread the Gospel of Life as best I can,
and I have made many new online friends.

I will be telling you about each of them in later entries.

Do You Remember Corky?

God is at work on us our entire lives to prepare us for the challenges and trials we will face. When I was single, I used to watch a Christian cable TV network which had EWTN programming, and discovered this great family oriented sitcom, "Life Goes On". I now know that this show helped to prepare me to be Christina's mother.
Far from mocking Dad and glorifying smart-mouthed teenagers, this series was about a loving family who just happened to have a son with Down Syndrome. This character was played by now famous Long Island native, Chris Burke, who has DS. I recommend it to all viewers who like seeing healthy families on TV.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Re-Consecration of the USA to the Immaculate Conception

Today in the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at 12 noon, ET, the USA will be re-consecrated to the Immaculate Conception, our patroness. The first consecration was done in 1792, and this week has taught me how badly we need an infusion of grace into our nation.
Pray with me, "Oh, Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

Terri Schiavo's Parents Remind Me of Myself
For the last two weeks, Fr. Frank Pavone's Show "Defending Life" on EWTN featured the parents of Terri Schiavo, Bob and Mary Schindler. They are just ordinary salt-of-the-earth folk, who have been thrust into the national spotlight in their desperate but unsuccessful efforts to save their daughter's life. I felt a chill run down my spine during those awful weeks when I thought that one day this could be me, trying to save my Christina.

I have read their book,"A Life that Matters: The Legacy of Terri Schiavo-A Lesson for Us All" and highly reccommend it to anyone who wants to understand how a nation which calls itself civilized can stoop to dehydrating someone. I thought we disavowed that sort of thing at the Nuremburg trials. That is how St. Maximilian Kolbe died in a Nazi concentration camp.We don't need camps anymore, we have hospices. And abortion 'clinics'.
This brings to mind the quote, "those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it".

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More Thoughts on the Supreme Court

My favorite political/Catholic blog, "The Cafeteria is Closed" has some of today's goings on in the Supreme Court as they considered the ban on Partial Birth Abortion(click on church icon above). It seems they are trotting out the same old canard about the woman's health, when the AMA had said that this procedure is NEVER medically necessary.

I raised this issue with my newly re-elected Congressman Tim Bishop in a meeting two years ago in Westhampton, only to have him deny the truth to my face.
One of his wealthy constituents yelled at me, "Shut up and sit down!"
Emboldened by the Spirit, I held up my little Christina, and challenged, "90% of these babies are killed by abortion, many by the very procedure we are discussing, do you think she should have been killed?"
He grumbled, "you Catholics want these babies to be born, are ya gonna support them then?" (I had never identified myself as a Catholic, but I'm glad it showed!)
I replied, "Well, my husband and I support many of his family members in El Salvador, so I think I'm doing my part".
The disgruntled old man was momentarily non-plussed, so I got in my parting shot,"I know you're worried about the future of Social Security, but if 1/3 of our US population for the past 33 years had not been murdered by abortion, think of all those young workers who could've been paying into the system!"

Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Pray for America

Today is the day when the Supreme Court will consider whether the ban on Partial Birth Abortion is constitutional.

Fr. Pavone asks all of us to pray and fast with him, as he demonstrates on the steps of the Supreme Court. On the day after voters failed to uphold the dignity of human life in South Dakota, Oregon and Missouri, this decision is especially significant.

On Saturday, Papal Nuncio Sambi will re-consecrate the US to the Immaculate Conception (click on Icon of church to see link above). The first consecration of this nation occurred in 1792 and such consecrations have been known to work miracles of conversion and healing in Europe. When John Paul the great consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Solviet Communism fell precipitously.

This is where our hope lies for a true spiritual renewal in America.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Christen Gilbert died at the abortion mill of Dr. George Tiller

As a teenager, Christen Gilbert, a young woman with Down Syndrome was friends with half of her high school, often seen at sporting events, and was well known for her hugs. Then, after an act of rape, she was pregnant, a fact not discovered by her parents until she was 7 months along. They took her to Planned Parenthood to abort their grandchild, and were that only Dr. George Tiller's facility in Witchita, KS would abort her third trimester baby.
Three days after entering Dr. Tiller's abortion mill, Christen's lifeless body was brought to the hospital 'without lights or sirens' at the request of a mill worker. Christen died a slow, painful death of blood poisoning in a hotel, without medical care, until she collapsed, was brought to the facility, and the staff attempted to revive her. But it was too late. Two innocent young lives were lost forever.

Dr. Tiller was not indicted by a grand jury, for lack of evidence, most of which he and his staff withheld from the Kansas Attorney General, Phil Kline.

George, the baby killer, Tiller is still operating his abortion mill in Witchita, while the brave Attorney General who tried to bring Tiller to justice is involved in both a tough re-election battle.
Phil Kline is threatened with a lawsuit for his appearance in "The O'Reilly Factor"(click on church icon to see the interview). You see, somebody told Bill O'Reilly about the underage girls who have abortions at Tiller's facility which failed to give their assailants' names to law enforcement, a felony. His late term abortions are illegal because they are NOT to save the life of the mother, just for her mental health. The reason Dr. Tiller kills babies up until they are born is usually listed as 'depression' of the mother. All have been healthy mothers of healthy babies, with NO physical reason for killing their unborn child.

Tiller will never be brought to justice unless good pro-life voters get out tomorrow and vote for people like Attorney General Phil Kline. He kept investigating and requesting documents for months to get to the bottom of Killer Tiller's criminal activities. Don't just sit back and say, "how can something this horrific happen in America?" Be part of the solution.
Get to know who are the pro-life candidates. And VOTE. Do it for Christen.

Edmund Burke once said, "All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing".

Have you made up your mind to vote yet?

Ten Things my Family Learned from Latin Mass

1.Sacrifice- we learned that the Mass is the unbloody re-presentation of Calvary
2.Meditation- we had some quiet time to talk to Jesus one on one, and enjoy the bliss of receiving His Body and Blood
3.Self-Control-some things are worth the effort of getting dressed up, kneeling, and staying quiet
4. Reverence-God is awe-inspiring, we get a taste of God's omnipotence, and it awes us into silence
5. Musical History-these ancient chants and hymns date back to St. Gregory the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas
6.Tradition- this Mass has been celebrated unchanged for centuries
7.Artistic beauty- the church artwork tells the stories of salvation and the saints without words to the youngest children, and inspires a sense of awe in the presence of God, and an idea that we are entering another world
8. Modesty- women dress beautifully in the mantilla to hide some of their beauty to share with their families alone,
9.Priesthood means leading the people in offering sacrifice to God in atonement for our sins against God
10.Other-worldliness- the Mass is lifting the veil of Heaven so that we become aware of the Communion of Saints, the Church Triumphant, looking down upon us, and the myriads of angels adoring Christ with us.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Sister is Special

Gaby wrote this essay for last year's Diocesan Respect Life Essay Contest, and won first prize in the junior high division. THIS made years of homeschooling worthwhile!

My Sister is Special

I have a three year old sister named Christina with Down's syndrome. It can be a challenge having a sister with a disability. When she was born, I cried because I knew people would make fun of the way she looked and spoke .Sometimes people give her wierd looks as they pass by, but it doesn't bother me anymore. Those people don't know her like I do. Christina is slow at learning to speak, and I don't always understand her, but that does not stop her from communicating. She says ''let's go'' and takes me by the hand to show me what she wants like something to eat or her favorite Elmo DVD, and she always says," thank you'' after you give it to her. Christina didn't learn to walk until she was two and a half, but now you can't stop her! Sometimes,she climbs up on the kitchen island, knocks everything down,and yells for me to come and see her standing up there, with a big smile on her face.She loves running away from me when she is in trouble.

People with Down Syndrome really love,and once in a while they teach us how to live our faith better. Christina always seems to have a smile on her face,and really cares for others. One time my Mom took Christina to Eucharistic Adoration. As they went into the chapel, she enthusiastically waved and said, ''Hi Jesus!'' as if He were standing right in front of her. Everyone in the chapel turned and smiled at her saying, "she knows He is here''.

Christina is like any other kid, just slower at learning things and she should not be treated differently. Most people don't know that 95% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted. The people who do this don't know what they are missing! Every year,my family and I go to Washington D.C. for the March for Life and try to stop this discrimination aganist unborn babies. Just because they don't have a voice, does not mean their lives should be ended .We have to be their voice. I think nobody should be rejected because of the way they look or speak. We are all God's children and he loves all of us.

Gabriela Velasquez

Feast of Venerable Solanus Casey

Fr. Solanus Casey and I have a secret in common, when no one is the the church, we like to perform solo for Our Lord. I sing, he played violin. We play alone perhaps, because no one appreciates our talents except the One who gave them to us.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel has a memory of his early days as a Franciscan, getting up for adoration in the night hours, and catching Fr. Solanus Casey adoring Christ by playing his violin. Forbidden from playing his violin in the daytime, as it hurt his brothers' musical sensiblities, Fr. Solanus played for Our Saviour alone, and his favorite song to play was,
"Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life".
Fr. Groeschel says it was written by Irving Berlin, a Jew, for his Catholic wife, and is all about the Eucharist.
Look at the lyrics:

Ah Sweet Mystery of Life, at last I've found thee,
Ah! I know at last the secret of it all,
All the longing, seeking, striving, waiting, yearning,
The burning hopes, the joy and idle tears that fall,

For, 'tis Love and Love alone the world is seeking,
And, 'tis Love and Love alone that can repay!
"Tis the answer, 'tis the end and all of living,
For it is Love alone that rules for aye!"

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Hispanics More Interested in Life Issues Than Other Voters

This news is exciting since by the year 2030, Hispanics will comprise 50% of the American Catholic Church. We must be sure to welcome them, and their family centered culture into our parishes.

by Steven EditorNovember 3, 2006

Washington, DC ( -- A new poll shows that pro-life candidates who want to increase their level of support should appeal more to Hispanic voters. The survey shows Hispanic voters are more interested in abortion issues than non-Hispanics.
Conducted by Miami-based Encuesta Inc., an independent market research and opinion polling firm, the poll asked both Hispanic and non-Hispanic voters to consider which political issues were important in deciding their vote.
Some 64 percent of Hispanics said abortion was very important while 40 percent of non-Hispanic voters said abortion was important, a difference of 24 percent.
That's important because the poll also showed 20 percent of Hispanic voters are still undecided on key Congressional races compared to just 13 percent of white voters.
Raimundo Rojas, the Hispanic outreach coordinator for the National Right to Life Committee, told that the poll validates what pro-life advocates have been saying for years about reaching out to Hispanic voters.
"Pro-life organizations and political organizations that have a pro-life message need to really work in the Hispanic community," he explained.
"As is evidenced by these polls, if Latinos are aware of the life issues they will, for the most part, vote on the side of life," Rojas told "Building the culture of life is not just a catch-phrase for Hispanics, it already is a way of life for us, but it needs to be nurtured in our communities."
Both Latino voters and non-Latino voters said the important of stem cell research was about the same -- at 48 and 45 percent respectively.
The importance of Hispanic voters on the abortion issue, because of their traditional Catholic faith and pro-life views, is seen clearly in California, which has a larger portion of Hispanic voters than most states.
A poll released yesterday shows Proposition 85, the statewide parental notification measure, ahead by a 46 to 43 percent margin. That lead is because of the very strong support for the initiative from the Latino community.
Looking at racial subgroups in the poll, white voters are narrowly opposed to the measure while Hispanics and other ethnic voters favor it. White voters oppose it 44-46, but Hispanics back the measure 58-36.
Reaching out to Latino voters can be a key to victory for pro-life candidates.
A post-election poll conducted by the University of Akron, showed that the abortion issue helped President Bush make considerable gains in the 2004 elections among Catholics and Hispanics. According to the survey, some 63 percent of Hispanic Protestants supported Bush in 2004 compared with just 32 percent in 2000. Meanwhile, Latino Catholics gave Bush a 53 to 47 percent advantage over the Massachusetts senator, also an increase over Bush's 2000 numbers.
Despite their position as traditional Democrat voting blocs, both Hispanic groups voted for the president in part because of social issues like abortion, the poll showed.
"[S]ocial issue priorities were most important to Bush's religious constituencies," the researchers wrote. "A majority of the top four Bush constituencies regarded social issues as very important to their vote."
Rojas told he agreed.
"As the Latino population continues to grow at record pace, pro-life outreach into those communities can both help save lives and elect pro-life candidates," he concluded.
Encuesta, Inc. conducted the poll by telephone between October 11-30, 2006, among a representative national sample of 300 non-Hispanic and 300 Hispanic adults, in their language of choice. The margin of error is +/- 4.5%.

Why am I a Catholic? Just Click Here

This awesome video montage is the work of Katerina and Michael, here.

Christina's Evaluation Came Today

As you know, my little four year old, Christina Maria has Down Syndrome. As you will read in my upcoming article in "Faith and Family" magazine, it has been a blessing to have a special child.

Yet there are challenges, and having the Health Department and School District professionals involved with her life since birth is certainly one of the challenges of special mothering. I have had Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Special Education Teachers, Social Workers, and Suffolk County bureaucrats in my home countless times. It has to be clean when they come, and my homeschooled older girls have to look busy, lest one of these women feel compelled to make a report of educational neglect.

Most of the therapists have warmed to the idea of homeschooling, if not for them, at least they admit it works well for us. I think the fact that I am a certified K-12 English as a Second Language teacher helps their acceptance. They see how the girls care for one another, and how comfortable they are in social interaction with adults. Homeschooling with a special needs child has the added benefit of big sisters seeing the therapist's lessons with Christina, and reinforcing them later. I have seen Gabriela eliciting speech from Christina, "what's this animal called?" and Bella singing the same songs with Christy used in her Special Ed sessions.

Getting to the Evaluation, it made me laugh, and it made me wince by turns. I laughed at the 'behavioral goals' section where it stated that one of her goals was to, "avoid eating everything in sight". I winced when they used percentiles and IQs to describe my precious daughter. I know they are useful, but seeing her at the first percentile, and borderline retarded in IQ cuts me to the quick nonetheless.

Sometimes I forget she's functioning at the level of an 18 month old toddler, she's just Christina, and I rejoice at each milestone, because they are so difficult to attain. We need the cold hard facts, but sometimes they are hard to face!

The Murphy Family is Extraordinary

I watched "Our 27 Kids" the other night on TLC. The Murphy Family had four biological children, and felt that God has called them to adopt another 23 children, the majority of whom have Down Syndrome, and fragile health. Jonathan, their bright blond-haired son with Down Syndrome, died young of leukemia, and broke their hearts, and they know that most of the children will not live to normal life expectancy.

What an incredible witness this couple are to the sactitiy of human life!

They are relentless givers, but practical: they homeschooled their special children to give them better self-help skills, so that they can reach maximum independence. The producers looked askance of a big sister with Down Syndrome quizzing a little brother with Down Syndrome on his sight words. I say, why not, if she knows them? Even if she's still learning, what better way to reinforce her knowlege?

Mother Murphy has her priorities straight, she said, "you could offer me the greatest fortune, but I wouldn't trade it for my kids". Don't we all feel that way, regardless of the sacrifice!

There is a movement afoot to build them a larger home, as theirs is too small and run-down. I say I never saw better candidates for a TLC "Extreme home makeover".

Thursday, November 02, 2006

All Souls Day Celebration in Mexico

Dia de los Muertos is observed in Mexico by spending the night in the family cemetary with candles, food, and marigolds, the flowers of the dead to pray for and remember the beloved dead. This is what American Catholics do on All Soul's Day, by visiting the graves of loved one, and offering a field Mass in the cemetary for the souls of the faithful departed.

Tracey's Idea about Rememering Our Dear Departed on All Soul's Day

Now is the time to gather all of those funeral-prayer-cards with the names of deceased family members and friends that may be in your dresser draw. Find a prayer for poor souls, like the prayer of Saint Gertrude which has a big indulgence attached to it for your loved ones. Maybe a holy picture of Our Lady bringing relief to the poor souls in purgatory, and a votive candle. On the night of All Souls my husband reads aloud every name from the funeral-prayer-cards, and then we pray the St. Gertrude prayer for them and light the votive candle. We keep all of this on our dinning room table like a little shrine for the whole month of November, since it is set aside by the church as the month of all souls. We do not read the names every night, but add "May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace" prayer to our table blessing.
I hope this post was helpful.
God bless,Tracey

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints Day Celebration

For All the Saints
For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!


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All Hallow's Eve Celebration Photos

Mrs. Bissex always focuses her children's lessons on the themes of All Saints and All Souls Days, producing lovely poetry, essays, and an All Saint's Day prayer written in Latin by her youngest daughter Theresa.
My three girls are dunking for apples. Isabella was St. Germaine, and Christina was St. Rose of Lima.

Brother Joshua was present to lead the Litany of the Saints in chant with his magnificent voice. He has taught many of us Gregorian Chant, and leads the St. Anthony High School Schola, often adding their music to Indult Latin Masses in the diocese.

Here you see my friend's children celebrating their favorite saints, Our Lady of Lourdes, with her rosary is saying, "I am the Immaculate Conception" ,with a little coaching from Mom Tracey(her post on All Soul's Day follows this)