Tuesday, October 31, 2006

All Hallow's Eve Celebration

This article (see link above) describes the Catholic origins of Halloween, All Hallow's Eve. The celebration we go to every year emphasizes this, and has a profound effect on the children. Not to mention, it's a lot of fun!
We have apple dunking,donut biting.pleading for 'soul cakes' where children go from door to door inside the home, knock on the door saying, "a soul cake, a soul cake, prayers for a soul cake". The door is opened, and they are asked to pray for the soul of the homeowner's dear departed. After finishing their prayer, they are rewarded with holy objects and candy.
Saint guessing game, children dressed as saints, memorize three clues to their saint's identity. Other children have to guess who they are dressed as.
Procession of the 'saints', singing the hymn "For All the Saints".
Lighting of the jack-0-lanterns.Children are told that the jack-0-lantern is a symbol of our earthly bodies, while the blessed candle within is a symbol of our immortal souls, "our bodies will die, but our souls will live forever".The room is dark, except for the glow of the jack-0-lanterns. The Litany of the Saints is read, and the children clearly understand that this evening has prepared them for an entire month of prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.

Please Pray for the Election

Click on the link above for Fr. Frank Pavone' Prayer Campaign for this year's elections.
Many of us conservatives have been discouraged with the lack of progress for the pro-life cause. The enemies of life are counting on this to keep us away from the polls, however many important pro-life issues are at stake in this election.
South Dakota is considering the first abortion ban in 33 years, parental notification for abortion is up for a vote in California, and the now infamous cloning/embryonic stem cell amendment in Missouri. Many Christians think that embryonic stem cell research will be banned if this constitutional amendment isn't approved, however,the problem is not that it won't be done, embryonic stem cell research has never been banned, it just plain doesn't work.

Jim Cavezel and Patricia Heaton explain some of the pitfalls of this amendment in this commercial.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2006/10/25/Jim-caviezel-Patricia-he_n_32479.html

In her book, "Godless, The Church of Liberalism", Ann Coulter lists the diseases which have been successfully treated by adult stem cells which do not involve the taking of human life:
Cirrhosis of the liver,
spinal cord injuries,
Type 1 diabetes,
Crohn's disease,
lupus,sickle-cell anemia,
heart attack damage,
restoring bone marrow in cancer patients,
bone fractures,
urinary incontinence,
and Severe Combined Immunodeficiency.

An impressive list, yet the public still doesn't understand that all these diseases can be cured without sacrificing the unborn child.Please inform yourself on this issue from a reliable source, like www.EWTN.com , www.PriestsforLife.org , www.AmericanLifeLeague.org , www.HumanLifeInternational.org , and spread the word.

And, don't forget to pray, the unborn are counting on us!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I Sent in My Article Today for "Faith and Family"

Mom came over for dinner today, and we edited my story about Christina's birth for the "Faith and Family" article. Actually, it's just a sidebar for the main article, but it's my first PAID published work.
I've written articles for the St. John's parish newspaper, "Eagle's Wings", many letters to the Editor for "The National Catholic Register", "Newsday", "The Long Island Catholic", and "Suffolk Life".
But I've never been paid for my work before,so now I'm finally a professional. My second (or is it third?) career is just beginning at 44.
This reminds me of a story in my favorite book, "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" where Maria is visiting an ancient church.The tour guide tells a story about a woman who becomes an author after she's 40. Maria rings the church's bell, playfully saying, "I want to be a writer too, after I'm forty!" The guide gives her a strange look, saying, "once, every hundred years, someone makes a wish while ringing this bell. It always comes true." Maria laughed, but did write the book after she turned 40, which was made into a German film "Die Trapp Familie". Broadway producers saw the movie, and "The Sound of Music" was born. The Trapp Family made very little from it, as they had already given up exclusive rights to the story to the original film.
The world, however, has been a more musical place since "The Sound of Music" was born, and it's the most positive portrayal of the Catholic Church ever to be done by Hollywood.

So, here's to lady authors over forty!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Afternoons Will Be Darker Now

Day is done,
gone the sun,
from the lake,
from the hills,
from the sky,
all is well,
safely rest,

God is nigh.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Shopping is Addictive

This summer, we were lucky.

We had very little money, and had to stay OUT of stores for non-necessities.

At first, I suffered from withdrawal, but, little by little, I was freed. . . from noticing the ragged kitchen towels, rugs, sofa, and sheets. We didn't mind the lack of socks (kids love going barefoot!) the mismatched outfits, no new videos, and no formal entertainment.
We re-discovered our local free beach and bike trails, learned to 'waste time' making toys out of leaves and sticks, we spent more time gardening, used our art supplies more, noticed the funny things our cats do, taught the dog some manners, got acquainted with our neighbors, and got 'handicapped child' signs installed on our busy street.
We prayed the rosary more often as a family, and learned to accept gifts from friends. We were so lucky, no, blessed, to have no money and plenty of time together this summer!
This first shopping trip was fun, but had a touch of sadness, as I pray that those precious lessons learned this summer will 'stick'.

Thank you Jesus, for temporary poverty!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

'Tis the Last Rose of Summer

Tis the last rose of summer
Left blooming alone;
All her lovely companions
Are faded and gone:
No flower of her kindred,
No rose-bud is nigh,
To reflect back her blushes,
Or give sigh for sigh.

I'll not leave thee, thou lone one!
To pine on the stem;
Thus kindly I scatter
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where thy mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead.

So soon may I follow,
When friendships decay,
And from Love's shining circle
The gems drop away.
When true hearts lie wither'd,
And fond ones are flown,
Oh! who would inhabit
This bleak world alone?

Thomas Moore

Monday, October 23, 2006

"Let's Dream Together/Sonaremos Juntos"

Last summer, my boss at Suffolk Community College reccommended a group called World Wide Voices, an organization dedicated to eradicating some of the anti-immigrant tensions within the Long Island Community.
I met with the founders, Howard and Linda Beckerman, and we clicked. Howard was an ESL teacher like me, but has an incredible musical talent, and played piano around New York City while he taught. Then, he put his two loves together, and wrote songs for Berlitz foreign language tapes. One he wrote is called, "Commuter Spanish" and is a tape of catchy songs to sing along to in the car, and learn Spanish phrases painlessly.
Now we are writing a musical about mutual multi-cultural understanding, specifically about how we all celebrate Christmas, and other holidays. He helped a group of us to collaborate on the song, "Let's Dream Together/Sonaremos Juntos", which we will be performing in November.
I came home singing this song last week, so the girls wanted to get involved, and here they are, on stage. Such natural charm!
Look out, Broadway!

"That's What I Love About Sundays"

I've recently discovered country music, no small feat in the suburbs of New York, where your nearest country station is Connecticut. I like the ballad style, the family stories, and the unabashed religious faith expressed in many of the songs. A recent favorite is "That's What I Like About Sundays" where the singer describes the simple pleasures of a well-observed Sunday, complete with Church, fellowship, Sunday papers, and a leisurely family dinner.
This Sunday we enjoyed a wonderful example of this; the day began with our friends, Tracey and Rick Bellucci and their four children coming to a Knights of Columbus Communion breakfast, with my favorite speaker, Monsignor McDonald, described the outstanding job he's doing as rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. Then we attended Mass at our parish, St. John's, followed by a long, chatty visit at my house over homemade macaroni sauce, chicken parmigiana, and good red wine. The kids had a great time playing and reading stories, and the adults got a chance to swap homeschooling stories, and family news. We ended a satisfying day with coffee, and Tracey's homemade 'chipwiches', and promised to see each other soon.
Now THAT'S what I love about Sundays!

Friday, October 20, 2006

The World's Shortest Camping Trip

The girls and I have been trying to get my husband out camping with us in our new pop-up trailer for over a year. Finally, we decided that Thursday was the day, packed up and headed into the great wilderness of Indian Island County Park not 20 minutes from home. We were somewhat adventurous, however, as there was no electric hook-up, and we arrived at the campsite in the dark. After an hour of "give ME the lantern!" we finally set up camp. The campfire was crackling, the burgers and beans sizzling, and we truly felt like a FAMILY alone in the woods (with a convenient ladies room across the path, we're no dopes!)
Later, out came marshmallows, and rosaries. At Catholic Familyland in Ohio, we had our first campouts and learned the rosary campfire tradition. After each decade, we sing a hymn, till the little ones fall asleep in our arms, and then the sharing begins.
But this night, raindrops sent us flying into the trailer, to fall asleep to the drumming of the rain on the canvas roof. We awoke in the morning to the same rainstorm, and gave up on the idea of a hot breakfast followed by a hike to the beach, and left for home.
It had been an 11 hour camping trip. Rather than get discouraged, Francisco kept saying, "Wow! That was FUN!!" I have a feeling this is only the beginning of our campout adventures.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Feast of the North American Martyrs

The Shrine of the North American Martyrs is a gorgeous place, set in the pristine green hills of the Mohawk River Valley, yet the stories of Sts. Isaac Jogues, and companions are chilling to the soul! I couldn't bear to read much of how the Iroquois tortured these men, but the movie, "Blackrobe" shows it quite vividly.
What the movie fails to show is the pure love St. Isaac Jogues bore for his torturer's souls, so that after escaping to France with missing fingers, he petitioned for permission to celebrate Mass again, so that he could return to North America to evangelize the same Indians who ruined his hands, and eventually killed him.
Do I pray and fast for the souls of the terrorists who kill our citizens on 9/11? Would I give my life for their conversion?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Feast of St. Gerard Majella

This patron saint of motherhood and I have a long history together.
During the course of our almost 15 year marriage, Francisco and I have had the honor of conceiving six children. We were blessed to bring three of them, Gabriela Maria, 13, Isabella Maria, 9, and little Christina Maria, 4, into this world. We named them for the first three Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary: Gabriela for the Annunciation, Isabella for the Visitation (Isabella is the Italian version of Elizabeth) and of course, Christina Maria for Christmas.
The other three of our children, whom I miscarried, are now in the merciful hands of Jesus. St. Gerard helped me let them go.
I read something very consoling in that wonderful book by Scott and Kimberly Hahn, "Rome Sweet Rome". Kimberly has lost children too, and was told that, in the Holy Mass, she is especially in the presence of the Communion of Saints, that "great cloud of witnesses"mentioned by St. Paul. So, as any good mother would, she talks to her children then. I always tell my three sons in Heaven, Simeon, Patrick and Theodore to pray for the salvation of their family, so we can at last meet.
And just wait till I give them a hug!!

Pumpkin Pickin' Time

Every October, we go out to Harbes Farm(owned by a homeschooling family of 9), on the North Fork, for what we consider the best pumpkin pickin' time on LI. They have 2 corn mazes to lose your sister in, a hayride complete with banjo player, and after the pickin' is over, you can cross Sound Avenue, and get some tasty harvest food; roasted corn, candied apples and cider are our favorites.Mmm good!
Christina did very well on the pony ride, she remembered her adaptive riding class last spring, and rode that pony like a pro. Too bad my camera batteries didn't last till then!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Feast of St. Margaret Mary

Today we celebrate the saint whose visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus gave us what was once centerpiece of a good Catholic home, devotion to the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The promises which Our Lord made to St. Margaret Mary for those who venerate the Sacred Heart are very powerful and include:
1.I will give them all the graces Necessary for their state in life. 2.I will console them in all their troubles. 3.Tepid souls shall become fervent. 4.Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection 5.Sinners shall find in My Heart the sours and infinite ocean of mercy. 6.I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.

This devotion is very powerful in my own life. I remember when I was expecting Isabella, and asked Jesus to send me a special image of His Sacred Heart for my family altar. My aunt was entering a nursing home, and I inherited a beautiful statue of the Sacred Heart, complete with feet worn down by the caresses of a prayerful Italian mother. I treasure this statue now enshrined on my family altar (see previous post).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima has always been a day I especially prayed for peace, now it seems that Our Lady's Immaculate Heart must be more troubled that ever at the offenses we continue to heap upon Our Lord.
Let's pray for the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart in our time.
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Images from the Procession of the Incorrupt Heart of St. John Marie Vianney

The Saints love everyone. . .Their hearts, inflamed with Divine Love, are dilated in proportion to the number of souls, that God puts in their way.

On the Joys of the Interior Life,
St. John Marie Vianney

Thursday, October 12, 2006

News Flash: The Universal Indult is Here!

The liberalization of the Old Mass or Traditional Mass, or Tridentine Mass is something my friends have been praying for for a long time. A dear lady named Mary offered up her sufferings to Jesus for this cause as she died from cancer.
Because those of us who have attended the Traditional Mass have been struck by it's quiet reverence, other worldliness, ample time for contemplation, and heavenly music.The aspect of the mass as a sacrifice, an unbloody representaion of Calvary, is more evident, and it focused more on God's transcendence, and less on the community. It's about our communing with God, not each other.

Fellowship we can enjoy after mass, over the coffee and doughnuts, but please let me receive the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in a reflective, not distracted, atmosphere.
Even my children are quieter, sensing the awesomeness of God.
And we LOVE the beautiful hymns! Tantum Ergo, Panis Angelicus, Ave Maria, Salve Regina, Adoro Te Devote, Adoremus Te Christe, O Salutaris Hostia, I could go on forever. My background playing the classical violin and singing great music in high school (Bach B minor mass, Mozart Requiem) has given me a love for this transcendent music.

How many of you were transported to mystical union with God via, "One Bread, One Body", or, "Let there be peace on Earth"?

Give your local Indult Latin Mass a try. You'll see what I mean!

My visit with the incorrupt heart of St. John Marie Vianney Part I

Yesterday was an incredible day, in the best sense, because after the talk of Dr. King, many of the Catholics in the audience headed straight down to view the heart of St. John Vianney in Merrick. We found a line down the block, and a barrage of news cameras.
I was interviewed by the Catholic media company, Grassroots films, based in Brooklyn.They produced my all-time favorite info-mercial on the priesthood, entitled "Fisher of Men", which the USCCB sends to those men who inquire about the priesthood.The young men asked my why I felt the heart of St. John was of special signifigance, and I said that it was because his heart was so given over to Jesus, and that I hoped this love would be contagious, and set fire to my own heart.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Housekeeping Tips by Christina Velasquez by Gabriela and Isabella her sisters who clean up after her!

1. All laundry must be pulled out of basket

2. Fruit basket on kitchen island must be pushed off (along with everything else)

3. Shoes must be thrown out of closet

4. All (Gabby's) earrings must be taken off holder

5. Crayons must be scattered all over floor

6. Dog food must be floating in water bowl

7. All beds must be unmade

Follow these helpful tips given by Christina and your house will be looking better than ever LOL

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dr. Alveda King spoke at Nassau Community College

Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King spoke today at Nassau Community College as a representative of Priests for Life "Silent No More" awareness campaign. She told of growing up in her activist family. Her father, Dr.King's brother was assassinated, and her home in Birmingham burned down when Dr. King's was. She was unfairly arrested as a teenager for advocating integrated housing.

She told of straying from her childhood faith and morality, and the traumatic effects that her two abortions, have had on her health and her family life. She was divorced twice, and is alone now, but still has had six children. She is healed now, has recovered her faith, and offers the same healing for women who have suffered abortions, to discuss the pain and come out of their isolation. It was a moving speech, and I taped it, hoping to share it here, as soon as I can learn to upload videos.

We introduced her to Christina, since she has a special place in her heart for disabled children, and said that many times, young mothers are pressured into unfairly ending their lives.

Monday, October 09, 2006


This link connects to my husband's business, Ameriplan, a health care provider discount plan (NOT health insurance) which offers a discount on medical and dental services.
Some of your families may not have any coverage, and this plan is quite reasonable.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Today, we took a Sunday drive on a golden Indian summer afternoon through the farms on the North Fork of Long Island. Roads were bumper to bumper, as there were crowds of city folks looking for a touch of country harvest, but we managed to find a perfect outdoor spot for a seafood supper, complete with a play 'RV' for Christina who wanted to play while we were still eating. Soon, she had two little friends traveling her, and we were able to eat a leisurely meal without trying to rein her in. Ah, the bliss!
What could possibly complete such a perfect afternoon? Evening Mass with one of my favorite priests, Monsignor McDondald, our former pastor, who frequently visits our parish as his duties as rector of the seminary permit. He is fondly remembered though he left 6 years ago, and gave a challenging homily about marriage, saying how couples who marry without expecting troubles are in for a suprise.That received hearty applause from the married parishioners!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Isabella is carrying on my tradition of bringing 'flowers of the fairest' to Our Lady at the family altar.

Well done, Isabella Maria!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Great news! Next to having a happy family, my greatest dream has been to be a Catholic author. This blog has been a step in that direction, as have the 9 letters to the editor I have had published this year, mostly in The National Catholic Register, my favorite newspaper. Now their sister publication, "Faith and Family" magazine has asked me to write an article on the birth of my special daughter, Christina Maria, who has Down Syndrome.Thank you, Lord Jesus, for this dream come true! Help me to bring souls to You by my writing, and always use my talent for Your greater glory! Deo gratias!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Review of "Arms of Love" by Gabriela Velasquez

I am thankful for this book which explained to my beautiful daughter how we want her to go about seeking a husband; courtship.
When my mom first handed me the book, " Arms of Love" , I said to my self, "oh no, here is another one of those tedious books that she makes me read, it's probably going to put me to sleep". When I started to read it, however, it began to grow on me, and the next thing I knew, I couldn't put it down. "Arms of Love" is one of the best books I have ever read! It totally changed my perspective on courtship. I had thought my parents still lived in the middle ages because they homeschool and don't allow dating until 18, but now I see why they have chosen that path for my sisters and I.

The story is about a 22 year old girl, Joanie Collins, that comes from a large homeschooling family in Saskatchewan,Canada. As she starts her new job for a local broadcasting station, there is this worldly guy, Brandon, who is attracted to her. Joanie invites him to choir practice at her church, and Brandon meets the Collins family. At first, he thinks of them as odd, but he eventually falls in love with them. He asks Joanies's father for permisson to date her. Her father says no, instead he may court her. This is totally new to Brandon, but he takes a chance, and he makes big changes in his life.

You can find out the rest on your own by reading this wonderful and inspiring book.

I spoke with the author, Carmen Marcoux by phone, and she's just as sweet as she seems in her photo here.

She said to look for the sequel, which she has just finished. We'll post information on it when it becomes avaiable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

St Francis of Asissi

Blessed Feast of St. Francis of Assisi

He is known for his love of nature,and poverty, but few know that he is only one of two men to be marked with the stigmata (Padre Pio was the other).

St Francis made at least three attempts to personally convert the Muslims, and did meet with Sultan Malek al-Kamil in Egypt. Unfortunately,he failed to convert the sultan, so Francis sent his friars to establish missions in Tunisia and Morocco.May we learn from St. Francis a zeal for praying for the conversion of the Muslims, which may be our only real chance for peace.

Happy Birthday to my daddy, you make me feel like a BIG girl!
Happy 40th Birthday to my husband Francisco. Here he is visiting his hometown in El Salvador last summer. He has been here in the USA for 20 years, and has become a college graduate, an internet technician, a homeschooling and fun-loving father of three adoring daughters. Next February we'll be married 15 years. We met in church, doing youth ministry in Spanish.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Feast of the Guardian Angels
Yesterday at Mass, Father spoke of 'Good Pope JohnXXIII' who spoke so much about our guardian angels, that a certain cardinal rebuked him, saying that there were many more tenets of the Faith to discuss."I'd rather insult a cardinal than my guardian angel", replied the pope.
He suggested that if we intend to make amends with someone, we send our guardian angel to that person's angel to begin negotiations. I like that idea! I wish some of our elected officials would do the same!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Beaver Brook Falls, the Great North Woods

"Why did you film the waterfall for five minutes?", my daughters asked. I read them "Frederick" by Leo Lionni, about the mouse who stored summer sunshine and colors for his family in winter. When my crazy schedule gets to me, and my senses are dulled by suburbia, I'll put on this tape, hear the ssshhh of the falls, and smell the Balsam Pines. A mini-retreat to re-focus myself on God. New Age? Hardly. Psalm 19 begins, "The heavens declare the glory of the Lord, and the firmament proclaims His handiwork".

Sunday as it once was
Today we attended an Indult Tridentine Mass, known affectionately as the Old Mass. The antique wooden church was full of reminiscent old timers, and reverent young families, dressed in their Sunday best, anxious to share this treasure with their children. It was serene except for the ocasional BOOM of kneelers dropped by inexpert little hands, and hushed sibling scuffles. Communion was calm and meditative as"Panis Angelicus" lifted hearts to God, and I felt the gaze of the Church Triumphant looking down in approval at our efforts to create an acceptable sacrifice to Him.
Why can't Mass be this beautiful every week?!

My very first post

causa nostrae laetitia
The feast of the Little Flower, St. Therese of Liseux, is an auspicious day for a mother to being blogging.
Aren't our lives just a collection of hidden opportunities to do 'little things with great love'? Diapers, dishes, math, sweep, drive, put away, pick up and 'praise God in the pots and pans'. . . I'm mixing up my Teresas! That was the other Doctor of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila. Two of my favorite women.
Teresa of Avila took no prisoners as she reformed her order, and Therese took no prisoners in reforming herself. That's what I need, a good interior housecleaning.
A dear homeschooling mother is bursting with pride today as her eldest daughter enters the Carmel. I kept thinking about her all day, wistfully. Do I wish it were me? Perhaps. I guess the penances are always seem sweeter over the cloister wall! I vowed at Mass to try harder to make my home a little Nazareth.
I begin this blog today, on the feast of the Little Flower,St. Therese of Lisieux, with a prayer for her powerful intercession, so that this little way of my venture into the blogosphere can add the tiniest 'widow's mite' to the glory of Almighty God. AMEN