Friday, February 05, 2016

Preparing for Lent

Believe it or not, Lent starts next Wednesday, February 10!  It seems like only this week we were celebrating Candlemas and the presentation of the infant Jesus in the temple - well that's because we were!! But the celebration of Easter is determined by the lunar calendar, and therefore so is the start of the Lenten season - which sometimes makes it very early and requires a big shift in mindset from the Christmas season we just finished, to the dark penitential season of Lent.

The penitential season of Lent is the period of forty week-days beginning on Ash Wednesday. It is a season of the Church year that commemorates the forty days Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness before He began His public ministry of preaching for repentance. Six Sundays are within the season; the last, Passion Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week. Holy Thursday begins the Triduum (three days) before Easter day, which includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
Lent for Everyone
John at Flickr, licensed creative commons

The Church has devoted a period of time to prayer and fasting as a preparation for the liturgical commemoration of the Passion of Christ and the celebrations of the feast of the Resurrection, Easter Day, since very early times. In 604 Pope Gregory I defined Lent as "The spiritual tithing of the year", a time of solemn spiritual and physical preparation for our own acceptance of salvation through Christ's sacrifice. (Ordinary tithing meant to give a tenth part ­ a tithe ­ of one's goods to God. Lent's forty days represents about a tenth of the year.)

The word "Lent" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "lencten", referring to the lengthening of days in the Spring. Lent, of course, is an English word. In Latin, still the official language of the the Catholic Church, the entire season is known as Quadrigesima, or "forty".

The season of Lent calls Christians to imitate the forty days of prayer and fasting of Jesus. The period of forty days is significant. When God punished the sinfulness of mankind by the Flood, the rain lasted forty days and forty nights. Moses led the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt, but they wandered forty years in the desert before reaching the promised land. Elijah fasted and sought God's will on Mount Horeb for forty days. Jonah prophesied the destruction of Nineveh in forty days.

The Code of Canon Law states that Fridays throughout the year and in the time of Lent are penitential days for the entire Church. Although fasting usually refers to any practice of restricting food, there is a distinction, in the Church, between fast (limiting food to one full meal a day, with two smaller meals allowed) and abstinence (abstaining from eating meat.) Abstinence from meat on Fridays as the universal form of penance on all Fridays is no longer mandatory. We may choose another way of observing the Church's requirement for acts of penance on Fridays, but we are not to neglect it, either.

Both fast and abstinence are required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. For the record, rules of the Church in the United States about fasting and abstinence in effect since 1966 state that:

"Catholics in the United States are obliged to abstain from the eating of meat on Ash Wednesday and on all Fridays during the season of Lent. They are also obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday. Self-imposed observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly recommended. Abstinence from flesh meat on all Fridays of the year [excluding solemnities like Christmas which may fall on Friday] is especially recommended to individuals and to the Catholic community as a whole." (ref. Canons 1249-1253, Code of Canon Law)

Fasting and abstinence, which foster self-discipline and self-denial and other beneficial spiritual exercises, are strongly encouraged as voluntary practices at any time of the year. But it will be the responsibility of families, as the "Domestic Church", to foster this spiritually energizing practice, not only during the required Lenten days, but at other times as well. To fast willingly, in reparation for our own sins and for others, can transform not only our own lives, but the life and vitality of the larger community.

As Pope Leo I stressed in the 5th century, the purpose of fasting is to foster pure, holy, and spiritual activity. It is an act of solidarity that joins us to Christ ­ an act of self-donation in imitation of His total self-sacrifice. Fasting can heighten our understanding of Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, and of our total dependence on His love and mercy.

Below is a list of Lenten resources I have collected over the years and I add links to them when I find them.  These are also linked in the Lent and Easter tab above. 

Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras
What is Shrove Tuesday
Shrove Tuesday

Lenten Prayers
Creighton University  New

Lenten Reading
40 Bags in 40 days  New!
40 Days to a More Organized Home
The Great Lent
Lent for Children 2013 supplement:
And Jesus Wept
Happy Catholic Reading List
Falling in Love with Lent Again
The Meat Police
Coffee and my Inner Jesuit
Loveliness of Lent
St. Paul Bible Study
Evangelicals observing Lent
Mother Angelica 
The Story of a Life
Can a Mother Observe Lent
The Domestic Monastery 
These 40 days Lent
Intentional Lent    New!
The Power of the Cross
Aggie Catholics FAQ Lent
Journey through Lent with Father Baron New
Lenten Reading List from the AnchoressNew

Lenten Recipes
Hula Pizza
Fasting Bread for Lent
Tasty Tuna Casserole  from the Simple Dollar Blog
What's for Dinner!!
Tuna Subs
Lenten food on a Budget
Egg and Spam casserole for St. Patrick's Day

Lenten Resources
The Anchoress -Lots of Links
Saving the Rest of Lent
Pick Me Ups for the Homeschooling Mom
40 Ways to Improve your Lent
40 Ways to Get More out of Lent
Holy Heroes!
More resources for Kids
Catholic Fire 2012
What is Lent
Observance of Lent
Spring Cleaning
Lenten activities
Lent for Little Ones
Aggie Catholics Mega Links!
Loyola Press
66 Things to Give up for Lent 
Liturgical Living at a Glance for Marc
Stations of the Cross Box for Kids
Don't Waste your Lent! 7-Ways to Have a Good Lent   New!
What to Give up For Lent according to  your personality type!  New!

Examination of Conscience
Mother's Examination of Conscience
Children's Examination of Conscience
Examination of Conscience for School Children
Father Hardon Examination of Conscience
Father Alberione Examination of Conscience
Examination of conscience
A Holy Thursday Reflection for Mothers New

Lenten Arts and Crafts
Crown of Thorns Recipe  and crown of thorns here
Good Deed Bracelet
The Last Supper
Catechist corner
Lenten Promise Cards

The Saints of Lent
St. Perpetua and St. Felicity
St. Polycarp
St. Patrick Cupcakes
St. Patrick - History
St. Patrick Doll
St. Patrick Film
St. Patrick's Day Craft from Karen'ts Adventures in Mommyland
St. Patrick's Day - Cottage Blessings. 
St. Patrick's Day Crafts
St. Patrick's Day Books and Crafts
St. Patricks crafts and lessons
Loveliness of St. Patrick's Day
Shower of Roses St. Patrick's Day
St. Patrick's Day Sacred Music
Unit Study- Saint Patrick Knowledge Quest
Virtual St. Joseph Altar Blog: 1st Annual St. Joseph Altar Blog Fest
The history of the St. Joseph Altar
Samples of St. Joseph Altars
The Virtual St. Joseph Altar
St. Joseph Altar
St. Joseph Novena for kids

Lent In My Domestic Church

Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross
Way of the Cross for Holy Souls in Purgatory
Cukierski Family Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross Reflections
St.Francis Stations of the Cross

Lautare Sunday
Medieval Mothering Day

The Triduum
Holy Thursday
The Learning Experience of Holy Week
Holy Thursday- Fish Eaters
Holy Thursday - Catholic Online
Maudy Thursday
Catholic Culture

When is Easter

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wordless Wednesday


St. Blaise

I have one funny story about this feast day.  About 18 years ago or so, I took my three little boys to mass on this feast day because I wanted them to experience this blessing that I myself had only a foggy memory of.  Remember, I was just reverting back to the faith myself around that time.

Anyway, my parish church was having mass at a local convent chapel that day so we traveled over there and I got my three unruly boys to be somewhat quiet and respectful.  The priest saying the mass that day was from Nigeria.  My family had sort of befriended him and he played soccer every Friday with my oldest son and I ended up typing his dissertation for his doctorate.

But that day, he was saying mass for the nuns and a few of us lay people.  When it came to the blessing, someone gave him the crossed candles and he proceeded to light them!  When one of the nuns, looking a little flustered said, "Oh no Father, don't light them!"   He looked relieved, and I'm sure the rest of us breathed easier as well!   This must not be a popular blessing to give in the Nigerian Dioceses!

via Medieval Saints yahoo Group:

St. Blaise has achieved perennial popularity in both the East of his origin (hewas bishop of Sebastea in Armenia) and in the West. However, like many anotherfavored saint, we know little about his life.
His (undependable) medieval legend gives the following biography.
Blaise was a boy of high intelligence, so his parents gave him a good Catholiceducation. He went on, then, to the priesthood. While still a young man, hewas chosen bishop of Sebastea, Armenia.
In 316, the Roman Emperor Licinius withdrew from his position of toleratingChristians, and started again to persecute them. Blaise, counseled by God, wentinto hiding in a woodland cave. There his only company was the wild animals;but the gentle bishop soon made friends with them, healed their wounds, andblessed them.
One day, however, some hunters invaded his wilderness in search of wild animalsthat could be used in the stadiums to fight gladiators and devour Christians. They were surprised to find the bishop, and, of course, him and brought him backfor trial. On the trip, says the legend, the party came upon a poor woman whosepig had been carried off by a wolf. Bishop Blaise commanded the robbing animalto return the pig, and so he did, safe and sound. On arrival at the court, thefuture martyr was imprisoned in a dark jail without food to eat or light to seeby. Out of gratitude, the woman whose pig he had restored managed to get himfood and provide him with candles. Another woman brought to the saint herlittle boy, who had caught a fishbone in his throat and was on the point ofstrangulation. Blaise miraculously got rid of the bone.
But Governor Agricolaus treated this merciful unmercifully. Before imprisoninghim, he had him scourged. In due time Emperor Licinius himself arrived, triedto "convert" the bishop to paganism by tearing his body with iron wool-combs,and finally sentencing him to beheading.
Blaise's subsequent popularity stemmed particularly from his repute as a miracleworker. Three classes of devotees arose: those associated with wild animals;professional wool-combers (with whose tools he had been tortured); and peoplewho wanted to heal or avoid a throat illness. In Germany, St. Blaise came to behonored as one of the cluster of "handy" saints called the "Fourteen HolyHelpers".

St. Blase has been extremely popular for centuries in both the Eastern and Western Churches and many cures were attributed to him, notably that of a child who was suffocating through a fish bone being caught in his throat. In 1222 the Council of Oxford prohibited servile labour in England on his feast. He is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. He is invoked for all throat afflictions, and on his feast two candles are blessed with a prayer that God will free from all such afflictions and every ill all those who receive this blessing. —The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

It is customary in many places to bless the throats of the faithful with two candles tied together with a red ribbon to form a cross. The rite of the blessing of throats may take place before or after Mass.

The priest or deacon places the candles around the throat of whoever seeks the blessing, using the formula: "Through the intercession of St. Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen." — Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year
St Blaise
St. Blaise by Father Lawrence Lew OP via Flickr, licensed cc
Patronage: against wild beasts, animals, builders, carvers,
construction workers, coughs, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, goiters, healthy
throats, stonecutters, throat diseases, veterinarians, whooping cough,
wool-combers, wool weavers; Guilds of Wool workers; 

Because Wednesdays are a heavy work day for me and a co-op day for the kids, we can't get to mass today for the blessing, but we can use the candles we had blessed yesterday at Candlemas to bless our own throats  - after all, they have lay people at church give the blessing, so why can't we bless each other?

The blogger at Not Strictly Spiritual has a picture of how to cross the candles and she also blogs:

So if you, like me, can’t find a priest to bless your throat, you just need two white candles, and if you’re able, a small red ribbon to tie them together. Form a cross with the candles, place them (unlit, of course) on the throat of your spouse or child or whoever else is willing to let you do this, and follow these instructions from the Book of Blessings:
1634 A lay minister touches the throat of each person with the crossed candles and, without making the sign of the cross, says the prayer of blessing.
Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Each person responds: Amen.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Celebrating Candlemas

Since reverting back to my Catholic Faith, this is one of my favorite feasts. I just love the look and feel of candlelight!

Candlemas is a feast of hope. It comes halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox to bring all of us hope that spring is just weeks a way!

With Candlemas we remember the Presentation of our Lord in the temple as the law prescribed. It is the 40th day after Christ's birth and the time for Mary, as a good Jewish mother, to be purified.

Chapter 12 of Leviticus is the law concerning purification of women:

And if her hand is not sufficiency, and she is not able to offer a lamb, she shall take two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, one for holocaust and another for sin; and the priest shall pray for her and so she shall be cleansed.

The ceremony cleansed ceremonial uncleanness, not sin. The prescribed period before the ceremony signified that the mother was leaving a period of weakness and recuperation and utter dependence on God (The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season). As anyone who has ever had a baby can attest, rest after childbirth is very important and I suppose one could argue even prescribed by God. Funny that our culture tends to honor the "drop that baby in the field and pick up the plow again" attitude instead of calm and rest.

All of the ceremonies before mass and during mass speak of light, because Jesus is the light of the world, People come to mass and candles are distributed and blessed.

I love the point Mary Reed Newland makes in her book, The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season that the old Mass of Purifiation is an "eloquent meditation for mothers and wives, occupied so constantly with washing, whether their laundry of their children, their dishes or their floors. These are purifications. Malachias has said that Christ will purify us the same way, refining us by the fire of our trials, purifying us of self-love by the washing of our wills. He would have us in the wedding garments, clean and bright."

 Catholic parents can recognize the bond they share through Jesus with Mary and Joseph as they proudly brought their child to the house of the Lord. It was at that occasion that Mary heard of the future sorrows that she would face. As the mother of three grown children and a stillborn child, I found this connection with Mary to be even more poignant. Every birth and new life is full of joys and sometimes sorrows and even our Blessed Mother experienced this.
Below are some things I have written in years past. As a re-vert to Catholicism there are many things that I have tried to learn or re-learn on my own and I continue to learn!

In the past, Candlemas was the day that the garlands from Christmas were taken down, because they are dry enough. I have an artificial garland that comes down today.  I do have one garland over the fireplace that has hearts on it for Valentines day this year.  It can stay up until then, but the rest comes down.


It's also Groundhog's Day. A great day to watch the Bill Murray movie on Groundhog Day. This is a movie about having chances, and changing your life, even if it means living the same day over for years and years. So if you haven't seen that movie, I recommend it! We watch it every year.

I found this fascinating article on today's feast of Candlemass!

In modern life many people may not be aware that on February 2 we celebrate an ancient feast, common to the Church of both East and West, which is mentioned clearly in Leviticus and Luke.

February 2 is "Candlemas" in many churches and is the day for observing the ritual purification of Mary forty days after the birth of Jesus as well as the presentation of Jesus in the Temple in Jerusalem (see Luke 2:21-40). The day has pagan roots and was a Christian adaptation of the older practices for this midwinter festivity from which we get our "Groundhog Day." Since the presentation was also the purification of Mary (40 days after childbirth), the church developed ritual practices known as the "Churching of Women" (see additional notes at bottom of page) or "Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth." The following is an explanation

Seven days after Christmas, January 1, is the feast of our Lord's circumcision

Thirty three days after that, February 2 is the feast of his being offered in the Temple, the purification of the Virgin Mary. So Candlemass is forty days after the birth of Jesus.

This day also used to have great significance in the rural calendar, because the date lies half way between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, so it marks the day upon which winter is half over! . It is a time of the year which naturally forms a transition period in winter - there is a sense in which thank God we are moving on into brighter and better days.

Like many Christians festivals, including Christmas itself, Candlemas has roots which lie deep in pagan roots and an understanding of nature.
Imbolc was an important day in the Celtic calendar. (pronounced 'im'olk' also known as Oimelc) comes from an Irish word that was originally thought to mean 'in the belly' although many people translate it as 'ewe's milk' (oi-melc). As winter stores of food were getting low Imbolc rituals were performed to harness divine energy that would ensure a steady supply of food until the harvest six months later.

Like many Celtic festivals, the Imbolc celebrations centred around the lighting of fires. Fire was perhaps more important for this festival than others as it was also the holy day of Brigid (also known as Bride, Brigit, Brid), the Goddess of fire, healing and fertility. The lighting of fires celebrated the increasing power of the Sun over the coming months. For the Christian calendar, this holiday was reformed and renamed 'Candlemas' when candles are lit to remember the purification of the Virgin Mary.

As Candlemas traditions evolved, many people embraced the legend that if the sun shone on the second day of February, an animal would see its shadow and there would be at least six more weeks of winter. Bears or badgers are watched in some European countries, but the German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania found an abundance of groundhogs and late in the 19th century a few residents in Punxsutawney began celebrating the groundhog as weather prophet. So we have Groundhog Day.

You may know the rhyme

If Candlemas day be sunny and bright,
Winter again will show its might.
If Candlemas day be cloudy and grey,
Winter soon will pass away. (Fox version)

If Candlemas day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again. (Traditional)

But this time of year should not be a pagan festival it is a Christian feast which we celebrate and it can be traced to at least 543. The Feast of Lighted candles is mentioned by Bede and St. Eligius, who was bishop of Noyon from 640 to 648. The feast quickly became popular, the day is set aside to commemorate the presentation of Jesus Christ in the Temple of Jerusalem. Jesus has been circumcised, marking him as a member of God's chosen people, through whom world salvation was to be achieved.

The background to the passage from Luke today is seen in the Book of Leviticus Chapter 12:1.

Other interesting links for the day.

All my Candlemas Links on Diigo!

On a personal note - today is my best friend's birthday.She is always there for me, always. No matter how long it goes between the times we talk, we always pick up right where we left off! Happy Birthday T!
twana 007
Copy of P1050566

Happy birthday to my BFF, Twana Young!

Simple Woman

Outside my window...
A barrier in Byer woods
Alpha Penguin via Flickr licensed cc

I am thinking...
about celebrating Candlemas this week  - probably my last time to do with Noah. I want to make sure we get to mass and have a nice dinner together, although there is youth group that night.

I am thankful...
That my niece is getting married this summer to her long-time love. It's nice that my sister and I are finally in our season of weddings!

In the kitchen...
Shepherd's pie for tomorrow night!  Maybe turkey wraps for Tuesday.

I am wearing...
Gray sweat pants, pink T shirt and two sweaters for warmth!

I am reading...

An old favorite, for getting ready for Lent

I am pondering...
our upcoming pre-cana speech.  When Mr. Pete and I started over 13 years ago, we had a burning passion for sharing our experiences and our faith with engaged couples. But in our particular talk, we share so much of ourselves and scenes from our marriage, that it's a bit like standing naked before a crowd open for criticism and critique. Sometimes, the couples really get a lot out of the talk and thank us for it. Other times, they hate it, or are indifferent to it - which is worse. At some point, I'm going to want to put my robe back on.

I am going...
From the Learning Rooms...
20 Years of Homeschooling!

Noah- Senior

Rosie 5th grade
Partnership Writing
Apologia Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology   -     By: Jeannie Fulbright
  • Choir- co-op
  • Art Class

Izzy had a real hands on learning experience last week.  She traveled with her father to help his business at the Ohio Music Educators Association yearly conference.   She helped set up the booth, put together marimbas and bells, and sold her own jewelry.  She came home with almost $200 in her pocket - a real nice lesson in entrepreneurism!

One of my favorite things...
January 2016 015

Rosie's Peg Saints- here are Timothy and Titus!

To prepare for Lent - and to really make this Lenten season change my life in some profound way!

A quote to share...
When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.

Phil Connors - from GroundHog's Day

A picture to share...

February 2010 002

Noah waiting for Candlemas Dinner in 2010. He would have been 12.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Try very hard, young men, to imitate Jesus in His obedience. He should be your only model in this."
- Don Bosco

When I talk to my kids about the saints, I try to put them into historical perspective. St. John Bosco lived from 1815 to 1888 in Italy. He was alive during the American Civil war and in fact lived 21 years after the death of President Lincoln. My grandfather was born fourteen years after St. John Bosco's death. John Bosco was canonized in 1934, a mere 46 years after his death. My mother, their grandmother, was only 5 years old at the time. We also have photographs of this saint so to my mind, as saints go, Saint John Bosco is practically contemporary!

What I love about Saint John Bosco is that he was able to find such balance in his life. He loved to learn and was a very good student, but he also made it a priority to have fun with his friends, go out of his way for other people, and to learn practical skills too! I love that he taught himself to walk a tight rope and to juggle! Those are two skills I can see my boys trying for themselves too (in fact Sam HAS taught himself to juggle and I have the bruised fruit to prove it)!
St. John Bosco
I also remember reading somewhere that John Bosco had the opportunity to learn how to make and mend shoes and he became quite good at it. It turned out to be a skill that was quite useful to him throughout his life of service to boys and young men, who undoubtedly were very hard on their footwear. Mr. Pete shares that philosophy and always takes the time to learn a new skill, which is why he now can do almost any household or auto repair he sets his mind to! One of the important lessons Saint John Bosco's life teaches us is that it never hurts to be open to learning something new or different - you never know when it could be useful.

There is lots of information about Saint John Bosco! My favorite resource, and the one that I read to my children today was once again from 57 saints.

On line resources include:
St. John Bosco - Catholic Online

CIN - The Secret of Saint John Bosco by Henri Gheon

Don Bosco quotes
St. John Bosco - Saint of the Day - American Catholic

Catholic Culture
St. Michael's Center
Don Bosco on Pinterest
The4reallearning board also had some good info on St. John Bosco:
Online writings
John Bosco and rebellious teens

See how other Catholic families are commemorating the day here
and here.

Since I am a mom of four boys I was particularly interested in St. John's mother, Venerable Margaret Bosco. Since she was so successful in raising a saint (and in becoming one herself) I think it is important to see how she did it. I thought this piece was illuminating.

Catholic Culture : Library : Don Bosco, Seeker of Souls: "When he consulted his mother, always his wise adviser, she demurred and said, 'The only thing I want of you is the salvation of your soul. Follow God's will.' After praying over the matter John resolved to enter the Franciscans. At this point he was advised to consult Don Cafasso, a saintly young priest who had the gift of guiding souls. His adviser did not hesitate: John should enter the secular priesthood. 'Go on studying,' he said, 'then to the seminary, and there hold yourself in readiness to follow the guidance of God's grace.' John made his final decision in response to this advice of a holy man who was to have a great part in the career of the young seminarian. Donning his cassock, he at once took up his studies. His biographer says that he was the most popular boy in the college, first in his class, athlete, musician, everybody's friend, always ready to do a good turn to anyone, a potent influence for good.

In parting, Margaret Bosco put her hands upon the shoulders of her boy as she said to him, 'To see you with the cassock fills my heart with joy. But remember that the habit is not what gives honor to the state, but the practice of virtue. If at any time you should come to doubt of your vocation, I beseech you to lay it aside at once; I would rather have a poor peasant for my son than a negligent priest. When you came into the world I consecrated you to our Lady; when you began to study, I bade you honor her and have recourse to her in all your difficulties; now I beg you to take her for your Queen." The two clung together, deeply moved. "Mother," said John after a long silence, "before I leave you to take up this new life, let me thank you for all you have done for me. Your teaching will live always in my soul, a treasure that has made me rich forever."

Perhaps as a parent, the most important advice I can take from Saint John on his Feast Day is this:

In his rules he wrote: "Frequent Confession, frequent Communion, daily Mass: these are the pillars which should sustain the whole edifice of education." Don Bosco was an indefatigable confessor, devoting days to the work among his children. He recognized that gentleness and persuasion alone were not enough to bring to the task of education. He thoroughly believed in play as a means of arousing childish curiosity -- more than this, he places it among his first recommendations, and for the rest he adopted St. Philip Neri's : "Do as you wish, I do not care so long as you do not sin."

St. John Bosco wood saint craft. Rosie made him all by herself.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Feast of Thomas Aquinas

Spoon Saints

From Medieval Saints on Yahoo and the Experience Project
Thomas, son of the count of Aquino, (b. 1225-d. 1274) was first trained at the Benedictine abbey of Montecassino, and here, even in childhood, his great mind was wrestling with theological questions, "Master, tell me--what is God?" In order to better to train the boy's mind, his father sent him at an early age to the University of Naples.  There he studied under Peter of Ireland and, undisturbed by the noise and wickedness of the great university city, proceeded rapidly on his quest for God.

Meeting the Dominicans, he was strongly attracted by their apostolic life and petitioned to be received as one of them. While recognizing the gifts of the young student, the friars refused him admittance to the Order until he was eighteen. Acting deliberately, without a backward glance at the power and wealth he was leaving, Thomas, at eighteen, joyfully put on the habit of the new Order.

Like many gifted young men, Thomas was bitterly opposed by his family when he attempted to become a religious. When both threats and persuasion failed, he was kidnapped by his brothers and locked in atower for more than a year. His sisters were sent to influence him, and he proceeded to convert them to his own way of thinking. A woman was sent to tempt him; but he drove her from the room with a burningbrand from the fire; afterwards, angels came to gird him with the cincture of perpetual chastity.

The Chastity of St Thomas
The chastity of St. Thomas by Father Lawrence  Lew, OP via Flickr  licensed by cc.
When captivity failed to break his determination, his brothers relaxed their guard, and Thomas, with the help of his sisters, escaped from the tower and hurried back to his convent.

Thomas was given the finest education available in his day. He studied first at Cologne and later at Paris. St Thomas was a very large man.  And a prodigy.  He kept his intelligence hidden and suffered in silence while his classmates made fun of him.  Stereotypes - they assumed he was stupid.  Only after he was a student under St Albert Magnus was his great gift discovered.

 This outstanding Dominican teacher and saint became his lifelong friend and loyal defender. They taught at Cologne and became a mutual influence for good in one of the most beautiful friendships in Dominican history.

For the rest of his life, Thomas was to teach and preach with scarcely a day of rest. What makes the amount of writing he did remarkable, was the great deal of traveling that he undertook. Death found him in a familiar place, on the road, where he was bound for the Council of Lyons in obedience to the pope's command. He died at the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova, in a borrowed bed, obscurity hardly fitting the intellectual light of the Order, but perfectly suited to the humble friar that Thomas had always been. 

Overheard in a colloquy with the Master he served so well with heart and mind and pen, Thomas was heard to ask as his reward from the Lord, "Thyself, 0 Lord, none but thyself!" 

St. Thomas Aquinas is a Doctor of the Church and is honored as the patron of Catholic Schools. He is celebrated in the Church Calendar on January 28th.

And from the Catholic Herold:
“He confessed his sins and he received his God; and we may be sure that the great philosopher had entirely forgotten philosophy. The confessor ran forth as if in fear, and whispered that his confession had been that of a child of five.”

St Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas Aquinas by Dr. Lawrence Lew  OP  via Flickr licensed by cc. 

St. Thomas's greatest work is the Summa Theologica - available on Kindle for 99 cents!

Two of my favorite stories about the saint!

1.  St. Thomas Aquinas was walking outside and two nuns rushed up to him with a great big bound tablet. They asked St. Thomas if he would be so kind, in his spare time, to write out all that was necessary for the nuns to do so that they could make it into heaven.

St. Thomas graciously agreed and took the volume from the sisters. They were very grateful and left with high hopes that perhaps he could finish this big task within a decade or so.

To their great surprise, St. Thomas showed up the next day, with the tablet, and told them that he had finished the work! The nuns were stunned, but they thanked the saint and took the volume, rushing back to the convent to see all of the words that he had written.

They opened the first page and this was all that was written:

How to Get to Heaven - Will It!!!

In other words (quite a few more "other words!") we all have the ability to make it to heaven, but we have to want to do so, and we have to will ourselves above and out of our own way to get there!

It took place in the monastery where certain persons enjoyed making fun of the saint's weight problem.  "Quick, Brother Thomas", they called from upstairs, "There's a pig flying around outside.  Come to the window and see.  Hurry!"

As the saint puffed and panted to the window snickers were barely stifled.

"Come, now, Thomas, surely you didn't really think there was a pig flying outside?" they teased.

The saint replied, "I would sooner believe that pigs can fly than that my own brothers in religion could be uncharitable."
Other words of wisdom from the saint:
"Nor has the Church failed before the assaults of demons: for she is like a tower of refuge to all who fight against the Devil."
"The things that we love tell us what we are."  
"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary.  To one without faith, no explanation is possible." 
“Most men seem to live according to sense rather than reason.” 
"There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship."
“Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine” 

  Thomas Aquinas

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