Why Talk of Such Sadness? The Feast of All Souls

This past year we attended quite a few funerals, more than I can ever remember. I suppose in part it is due to my “getting on in years” as I am now in my late 50’s, in part though, it was because some very dear ones died way too soon.

I am especially missing some very dear soul sisters in Christ who were real heroes with unshakeable courage and a deep love of our Lord. 

But why am I talking of such sadness?

Call me crazy but I think it is not sad talk. As a Catholic I have come to understand suffering and death in its proper perspective.


Remembering that I belong to a very huge family of God comforts, heals and has sanctified my life.  I pray every day for those souls and their families. I ask them to intercede for my family and I have hope that perhaps some day we may all be united in the Beatific Vision.

November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, where we are asked by Holy Mother Church to remember all those who have died. We are asked to remember those poor souls in prayer in hope that they will rejoice in the glory of God.  We rejoice with the saints who the Church tells us have arrived at His heavenly kingdom and bask in His Glory. In fact the month is ushered in with All Saints Day, which we just celebrated yesterday.


After watching the movie Love is a Choice, the story of St. Gianna Molla, with my family, we were all moved deeply by the testimony of her husband, Pietro, who told the story of their son, only five at the time, who had seen his father crying several days after his wife’s funeral. He asked his father why he was crying.  Pietro told his son that he missed his wife so very much.  His son’s answer to this was simple and beautiful, “But Papa she is in heaven now.”


A beloved pastor of ours had once told us in an All Souls Mass homily, that his mom would call him about this time every year. It was to remind him to add the names of family members who died over the past year onto “the list.”

You see he keeps a list of everyone (and I mean everyone) in his family who has ever died since he was born! He keeps this list as a reminder to pray for them and remember them. This practice is much like our ancestors practice of lighting  blessed candles on the Feast of All Souls, one for each family member who died that year.   

The candles and Father’s “list” are visible signs that there is hope, peace, an eternal reward and that we are called to remember and pray.


Several years ago, at the Mass for All Souls, Larry and I were asked to each hold a small wooden cross with the name of a parishioner who had died that year. They asked us because no family member was present at that Mass to remember them. As we carried each cross to the altar, taking our our turns as each name was called, we were most grateful and honored by this small gesture of remembrance. 

It really hit home that Larry and I are members of a much bigger family than those who reside in our own home. We are members of the family of God. We belong to Christ Jesus, who laid down his innocent life so that we can have the hope in an eternity with God.

That’s really something to rejoice in.

A blessed All Souls’s Day….there is family waiting for your prayers!

“If we knew what may be obtained from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.” –St. John Vianney

Praying for Departed Souls and Gaining Indulgences: Here’s how

Do you have a cemetery attached to your local parish or one close by?

Did you know you can gain indulgences during the first days of November?

Here’s how…pass it on…

Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls:
A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain aCemeteries-IMG_1975-620 plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed.

Here is Mozart’s beautiful version:

This is especially beautiful to play during this month of All Souls…and to recite the following prayer with our families at family rosary time or at grace each day this month.

In Latin: Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

In English: Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Here is the prayer added to the “Prayer before Meals”

Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, Which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 

You just might find this lovely addition to your family prayer life will be a blessing all year long….it is a constant reminder of our own goal…to get to heaven…to see God face to face…we cannot forget these poor souls who need our prayers…and once they get to heaven, they will undoubtedly remember us!

(source material:CatholicCulture.org)

Paola’s Book Bites: Catholic Bibles

Beginner Bibles

Great Adventure Kids Bible Series
By Emily Cavins and Sarah Christmyer
Publisher: Ascension Press

This dynamic learning system is designed to teach children the story of the Bible in an interactive manner by focusing on the narrative periods and stories of the Bible.

I especially love the coloring book and include it in my lesson plans for Kindergarten. Your child can color along as you read aloud the corresponding stories of the Bible. This system is based on the very successful Great Adventure line of adult Bible study materials, which have helped hundreds of thousands of people all over the world grow in love for Sacred Scripture and make reading it a part of their daily lives.

Through play, memorization, prayer, and interaction, these learning tools bring familiar Bible stories into a system where children can relate them to their own life while learning the story of Salvation History. (Gr. K-6)

Kit includes:
Bible Timeline – Chart color-coded accordion-style folding chart detailing the 12 periods of Bible history. with vibrant colors and kid-friendly illustrations. Great to use with your history curriculum.
Bible Card Game Set – Instructions for five games are included designed to teach players as young as three the “big picture” of salvation history.
10” x 13” Bible Story Coloring Book – 49 pages of illustrated Bible stories. with four coloring pages from each of the 12 periods of Bible history, ideal for younger children, but helpful for all readers to capture the overall story of the Bible in the context of the 12 periods of Bible history. Best used when reading the Bible to little ones.
• Color-coded bookmark – scaled-down version of The Great Adventure Bible Timeline Chart for easy reference.
Prayer Beads – Used in conjunction with the Bible Timeline Prayer (printed on the back panel of the Great Adventure Kids Bible Timeline Chart) Designed to emphasize the important lessons God wants us to learn from each period of Bible history and helps children learn God’s plan for their lives.

cover_bibleforchildrenThe Catholic Bible for Children
Publisher: Magnificat

This is an excellent choice to use with Kindergarten or 1st graders to help them become familiar with Scripture. This is the Bible I recommend in my Kindergarten Religion Lesson Plans. From the creation of the world to the infancy of the Church, the important stories from both the Old and New Testament are vividly retold and illustrated for young people. Also included are chapters on the prophets and the psalms. A Scripture verse is offered for most stories and can be used as memory work. In the back is a glossary of important people, places and objects, providing added information. (Pre-K, 238 pages, 6½” x 8½”, Softcover, $$)

 

New Catholic Picture Bible   New Catholic Picture Bible
By Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik, S.V.D. 
Publisher: Catholic Book Publishing

This is a natural second Bible to follow a beginner Bible. The stories are longer and more detailed, providing ample depth for Bible retellings. Fr. Lovasik is faithful to the original Scripture in his prose of these important Bible stories. This is the preferred book for my First Grade Religion Lesson Plans. Here are Catholic stories taken from the Holy Bible, intended for the whole family and easy to understand. The first part treats the Old Testament from Adam to Christ and contains the most important and memorable events in God’s dealings with man during that time. The second part contains sixty stories from the New Testament that narrate beautifully the life, teachings, and work of Our Lord and Savior. These simply written stories, praised by leading Catholic educators for their style, will delight your children time after time. (Gr. 1-3, 240 pages, 5¾” x 8¾”, HC, $)


The Golden Children’s Bible The Golden Children's Bible by Golden Books

Publisher: Penguin/Random House

Perfect for your next step after the New Catholic Picture Bible. This is a great keepsake Bible for your 3rd to 5th graders. Use it for Bible retellings (as I lay out in my 4th grade Lesson plans), or for reading alone, the language is sophisticated and provides much depth for a closer resemblance to Sacred Scripture. Main events of the Old Testament are retold chronologically. New Testament combines all four Gospels into one detailed account and gives accounts from Acts, the Epistles and even Revelation. Written in a clear, simple, yet beautiful style for children. Approved by an editorial board of Catholic, Protestant and Jewish scholars. Original copyright 1965. Realistic full-color illustrations on every page! (Gr. K-6, 510 pages, HC, $$)

Middle Grades – High School Bibles


The Ignatius Catholic Bible Ignatius Bible (RSV) 2nd Edition

Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is our go-to Bible for our 6th grade and up children. Our kids have all received a copy as their Confirmation gift and have taken these copies to college—as it was the preferred version at Christendom , Thomas Aquinas College, and Benedictine College where our children attended. The only contemporary Catholic Bible translation in standard English is even more beautiful in word and design! There are nine color reference maps of such historical places and events as The Exodus from Egypt, Jerusalem – From David to Christ, Palestine in Christ’s Time, and The Holy Land in Modern Times. Also, the Revised Standard Version, second Catholic edition is the only Bible translation that uses standard (non-feminist) English and is in conformity with the Church’s translation guidelines found in the Vatican document, Liturgiam Authenticam. Comes in a variety of formats, Paperback, Hardcover, Compact Leather, and Large Print and eBook. ($$)

Ignatius Study Bible Series          The Gospel According to John, Catholic Study Bible (2nd Ed.) eBook - 25% off

By Scott Hahn/Curtis Mitch
Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is a great help to you and your child’s lessons on particular books of the Bible for its rich annotations, references to other texts in the Bible and Catechism.  We also use the study questions for discussion prompts.  I often found that the material was rich in its content and touched their hearts in such a way that opened up discussions towards their relationship with God. Time is best spent once a week discussing the chapters.  How do you begin discussions of such weighty stuff?  We will use the Study Questions and Questions for Application that go with each chapter. We use the Catechism questions in the Study Guides written by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch to help the parent lead the discussion by providing detailed notes on passages and verses as well as study questions. Very accessible. I detail how to use these in my 6th and 7th grade Religion Lesson Plans. (Grade 6+, PB, or eBook, $$)

Here is a listing of the titles available: †Gospel of Matthew††Gospel of Mark††Gospel of Luke††Gospel of John††Acts of the Apostles††Letters of St. Paul††Genesis††Exodus††Job††… and many more!

The Bible Compass      

By Dr. Edward Sri
Publisher: Ascension Press

Excellent companion to Bible study in high school. The Bible is central to our faith as Catholics, but approaching such a large and complex collection of writings that span thousands of years is intimidating for most of us. The Bible Compass provides readers with the tools to study the Word of God with confidence and purpose within the living Tradition of the Catholic Church. As Catholics we are called to have an intimate knowledge of Jesus Christ and the Church as revealed in the Scriptures. Reading the Bible with the proper tools and in the appropriate context will help you grow in your love for the Faith and in your relationship with Jesus Christ himself, who is “the Word made Flesh,” (John 1:1) (Gr 8+, 149 pages, PB, $$)

Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible New Testament  
Produced by Raymond Arroyo
Publisher: FutureSoft, Inc

This awesome audio bible is “…not just reading,” explains producer Raymond Arroyo, “these actors are performing, sharing these stories in the same way they were originally communicated—passed from person to person as part of an oral tradition. The stories come alive. propelling us right into history, the way it might have happened.” “… Performed like this,” he says, “you are thrown into the middle of the action. The Bible is suddenly not only understandable, but arresting and compelling.”

Listening is important!!! When reading, we tend to skim and miss important points. Not only will this enhance your child’s Bible studies, it will improve listening skills and ultimately instill a more active participation at Mass. It is endorsed with an Imprimatur from the Vatican and includes a foreword by Pope Benedict XVI. Voiced by internationally-renowned actors. Go to their website truthandlifeapp.com to listen to clips from  The Gospel of Mark. (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition translation. The complete audio New Testament is 22 hours, on 18 CD’s, or now as a new app with the Ignatius Bible too, $$)

Please let me know what are your favorite Bibles too!

Cor Unum! One Heart & The Sacred Heart

The von Trapp family, of the Sound of Music fame, called their home in Vermont “Cor Unum” – Latin for: One Heart. They dedicated it to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in so doing, called their family to be of one heart for our Lord.

image from: www.stowetoday.com
image from: www.stowetoday.com

Theirs was a touching and beautiful gesture that we repeated when we purchased our building to run our family business Emmanuel Books in 2001.  We dedicated the building and had it blessed on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and even made a heart shaped cake to celebrate.
We continue to consecrate our works to the Sacred Heart.  It is with much gratitude and love that we offer to you our latest in the “Reclaim the Saints” series for Living the Liturgical Year, Sacred Heart of Jesus! In it you will make your very own Sacred Heart Shrines, Holy Cards, a 10-page Prayer book, learn the history of this devotion and so much more!
 FullSizeRender_1
Join us for the month of June and the devotion to the Sacred Heart!

Beauty surrounds the Feast of the Annunciation

Paolo_de_Matteis_-_The_AnnunciationThe Feast of the Annunciation is a beloved feast day for it is the day we rejoice in Mary’s YES!  It only stands to reason that we and the Church rejoice as it is the day that the “Word was made Flesh!”  There was a very dear priest in our diocese, one of those rare individuals who inspired countless people with his unwavering trust in Divine Providence…even in the most difficult and trying situations he reminded us to trust. He loved the Blessed Mother and like her was transformed by his YES to a life in service to God and in turn transformed all of us!  Everyone prayed that he would live to celebrate his 100th birthday, but he actually died just a few short hours of the day. However, nine months earlier he would cheerfully and enthusiastically remind all of us that indeed he was already 100 years old since he counted his age from the time of his conception in his mother’s womb. What a testimony to all of us as to the sanctity of life in the womb, the unborn! Today is no ordinary day but a great day to pause from our day to day routines and take time to celebrate this momentous event in all our lives!

“In families with young children, this feast would be a good time to begin teaching youngsters important lessons about the inestimable value God places on human life. 

Mary with baby JesusFirst, that He loved us so much that He chose to become one of us — to take on our humanity so completely that he “became flesh”, as utterly weak and dependent as any human infant is.   Second, God became “like us in all things except sin” at the moment of His conception in Mary’s womb, not at some later time.  The Feast of the Annunciation is a celebration of the actual Incarnation of Jesus Christ.

Children may, quite naturally, think that the birth of Jesus is the time when Our Savior first ‘became Man,’ especially since Christmas has become the Christian holiday in our culture.  We understand best what we can see, what is visible.  The invisible, the hidden is, no less real for our lack of seeing it.  (We think of the baby in its mother’s womb, known and felt, though unseen, only to her.)

Even very young children can know the truth about the growth of a baby inside its mother’s body, especially If the mother of the family (or an aunt, perhaps) happens to be pregnant on the holiday.  The exactly nine months’ wait from March 25th to December 25th for the Baby to be born would be interesting to most children.  (God made no special rules for His own bodily development!) What better way than reading the first chapter of Luke to gently begin teaching children about the beginning of each new human life?

Children should be told how important it is to every person that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1), and parents can find this feast a valuable teaching moment. 

teaching-youth-religious-values.jpg.crop_displayThe Catechism of the Catholic Church on Article 3 of the Creed, “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was born of the Virgin Mary” (#436-511), should be read by parents.  This will not only give adults a timely review of Catholic doctrine, but it can be a great help to us in transmitting important truths of the faith to our children.  The summary at the end can help formulate points we want to emphasize. Excerpts from the Catechism  could be read aloud to older children.” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/FAMILY/MARCH25.TXT)

In hope of inspiring you to pause from your regular curriculum may I suggest the following:

You can begin with the prayers associated with Mary and her Fiat, the Angelus, the Magnificat  and an Annunciation prayer too! (http://www.marypages.com/Annunciation.htm).  Over the centuries these same prayers inspired lovely Classical  pieces of music.  As I started to research them, I had no idea of the veritable wealth of music giving Glory to unborn Christ Child. Do plan on spending your quiet time today listening to this beautiful music and hear the joy!

William-Adolphe_Bouguereau_(1825-1905)_-_Song_of_the_Angels_(1881)_edit

The Magnificat, Canticle of Mary, Song of Mary, Latin Hymn, Daughters of Mary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9QtEb8XNr4

Bach – Magnificat in D major, BWV 243 : Harnoncourthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oL_qsKPeik

Antonio Vivaldi – Magnificat in G Minor RV  610:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDQREd7Ahys

MOZART Vesperae de Dominica, KV 321 – [6] Magnificat KOOPMAN:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuOT1LMFIQA

Franz Schubert – Magnificat in C major, D486:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itQNbtXXhzE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can also see that this momentous event also inspired much artwork. Three years ago Larry and I found a gorgeous rendition of the Annunciation by the artist Jan Van Eyck on our 25th Wedding Anniversary, or should I say it found us, as a reminder of our YES to each other and to God. It is currently at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, a trip we will have to make soon to see the original! Today you can explore the work here where you can take a closer look and explore its symbolism: http://www.nga.gov/content/ngaweb/Collection/art-object-page.46.html?opensection=overview

And that is not the only image of the Annunciation, visit these sites to gaze at all the beauty. The following sites have a multitude of beautiful Classical artwork to share with your family:

http://www.abcgallery.com/L/leonardo/leonardo36.html (Leonardo Da Vinci The Annunciation.  Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/B/botticelli/botticelli34.html (Sandro Boticelli Cestello Annunciation Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

http://www.abcgallery.com/virgin.html#Annunciation (many other masterpieces)

For your younger set I found several coloring pages that you can print whereby they grant copyright permission  to print and use any original material or ideas for individual or classroom use.

Crayones de cera

Coloring pages:

This site has about 10 different images to choose from different sources: http://printablecolouringpages.co.uk/?s=the+annunciation

This one comes to us compliments from the parish church in Front Royal Virginia St. John the Baptist Catholic Church where we just went last weekend! http://www.sjtb.org/images/Annunciation.pdf

Here is a simple outline coloring page for the littlest ones:http://www.sermons4kids.com/mary_angel_colorpg.htm

For a bit of fun here are pictures that the kids can color on-line, changing the colors and printing off the version they like best! : http://www.supercoloring.com/pages/annunciation

http://www.thecolor.com/Coloring/simone-martini-the-annunciation.aspx

Be certain to end the day with a delicious meal or special dessert.  My favorite cookbook, A Continual Feast has a Swedish Waffles recipe where the author explains that in Europe beginning around the twelfth century waffles were generally eaten on feast days and most certainly on the Feast of the Annunciation. You can use your own special recipe or this one:

Swedish Waffles (A Continual Feast by Evelyn Birge Vitz)

swedish waffles

1 3/4 cups heavy cream, well-chilled
1 1/3 cups flour
1-2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold water
3 tablespoons melted sweet butter

Whip the cream until stiff.  Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the water to make a smooth batter. Fold the whipped cream into the batter. Stir in the melted butter.

Heat the waffle iron. (If it is well seasoned, it will not need to be greased.) Fill the grid surface about two-thirds full of batter. Bake until golden brown.

Place on a rack to keep crisp while you make the rest of the waffles.

Yield: about 8 waffles

The Power of Prayer

st_therese_of_lisieux“For me, prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one’s eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or the trough of despair; it’s a vast, supernatural force which opens out my heart, and binds me close to Jesus.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

Lately I have been re-reading St. Therese’s autobiography The Story of a Soul and had just finished her beautiful chapter on prayer, where the above quote comes from. Since Lent is rapidly approaching I thought about concentrating and focusing on prayer as this year’s family Lenten devotion, for God calls us to prayer, it is a “vital and personal relationship with the living and true God” (CCC, no. 2558).

FullSizeRenderSo this week we began to make prayer journals. It is my hope that this becomes the springboard for our family to come to a deeper understanding of prayer and in so doing increase and deepen our individual prayer lives.  We began with a blank book and divided the pages into five sections for the five basic ways of praying: Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving and Praise.  Each section will be a personal journey this Lent, utilizing the five paths, adding formal prayers, Scripture verses, prayers and litanies of the saints, lists of the people we promise to pray for and their intentions, a place where we can write down and reflect upon our crests of joy and troughs of sorrow. After all,  “The Christian family is the first place of education in prayer. …..the family is the ‘domestic church’ where God’s children learn to pray ‘as in the Church’ and to persevere in prayer.” (CCC, no. 2558)

So far we have experienced, quite nicely, vocal prayer but we really haven’t explored the other MotherTeresatwo expressions of prayer, meditation and contemplation.  Perhaps giving time to our family for true reflection will help us to make it our own and discover our hearts moving towards the One who longs to hear from us.  But most importantly we will make time for true silence and time for Eucharistic Adoration, for God speaks to our souls “…In the silence of the heart God will speak.” ( Mother Teresa, The Power of Prayer)

Transformed by “The Hidden Power of Kindness”

Have courage and be kindLast Mother’s Day I received a lovely necklace from my children that had a hand stamped medal with the inscription “have courage and be kind,” the words and theme from the recent Cinderella movie.  The kids know how much kindness means in this world and in our families.  They know how I hold it to be preeminent in all their words and actions. Long ago I was introduced to the prolific writer, Fr. Lawrence Lovask. The same priest who wrote the dear little children’s booklets, St. Joseph Picture Books, that we all know and love, wrote with clarity and a mind to the practical for adults too!

kindness-1Transform yourself — and the world — through kindness! Kindness counts. If you have trouble acting with the consistent kindness our Lord expects, your relationships with God and those you love may be suffering. Probably you just can’t find the time — and can’t ever seem to develop the patience — that you need in order to be consistently kind amid the irritations that afflict you daily. That’s why this book is such a godsend. You’ll learn how to be kinder, even in difficult circumstances.

kindness-boys-on-path

There’s nothing complicated or magical about learning to be kinder; it just takes greater attention to the things that you do and how you do them. The Hidden Power of Kindness shows you how to become more aware of even your most offhand daily actions. You’ll find simple, step-by-step, and spiritually crucial directions for how to overcome the habitual unkindness that creeps — undetected — into the behavior of even the most careful souls. You will grow towards holiness with these beautiful and practical step-by-step instructions for overcoming all forms of unkindness and meanness.

You’ll learn:

Four ways you can become more considerate . . . immediately!

Sympathy: why it’s your spiritual responsibility to show it to others — and five ways you can start doing so.

Three things to do — and three things you must not do — in order to grow kinder quickly.

Four surprising reasons why it’s spiritually dangerous to criticize others.

Three sure-fire remedies to eliminate sinful anger from your life.

Seven ways you can turn to your own spiritual benefit the wrongs that others do to you.

Six ways you can find and root out the hidden envy that may be choking your spirit right now.

And much more to help you grow kinder — and holier!

Also includes a 67-question self-examination you can use to monitor your progress in growing kinder and holier! (.epub, 256 pages, high school+)


“This work cannot fail to influence for the good all who are indirectly or directly touched by it.” – Most Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, Bishop of Lincoln “This wonderful book increases our insights into the wonders of the message that speaks so powerfully to us: ‘Love is patient, love is kind . . .’ ” – Sr. Mary Rose McGeady, Covenant House

Speaks passionately about the nature of true kindness.” – Publishers Weekly

Fr. Lovasik’s book on kindness clearly shows that kindness is love put into practice, and traces how kindness must begin in our thoughts, be communicated in our words, and reach its fullest expression in our daily actions. This book is made to order for anyone seriously wanting to respond to the present movement of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth for Christ!” – Rev. Andrew Apostoli

Will the real Guy Fawkes please stand…

guy fawkes, james i
Nineteenth-century depiction of the Gunpowder Plot’s discovery.

Yesterday November 5th all England and the countries once under British rule celebrated Guy Fawkes day. This is the day marking the failed attempt in 1605 by a small group of conspirators whose plan was to blow up Parliament and King James I.  The failed attempt is known as the Gunpowder Plot. I have always been curious as to why this is  such an important day to commemorate and as a Catholic just a bit curious as to who was this Guy Fawkes.

All  one has to do is google his name and a wealth of material pops up stating, as fact, that indeed he was part of “A small group of angry Catholics, fed up with ongoing persecution at the hands of the Protestant monarchy, hatched an elaborate plot to blow King James I and his government to smithereens.”  He was a notorious traitor, a Catholic, who wanted to replace the throne with a Catholic monarchy.  This incredible act of treason for which most of the conspirators either died or were first heinously tortured and then executed is a day of fireworks and celebrations.  Wow!

In fact, even the government gets in the “fun” for since 1928 to this day, on the opening of the Houses of Parliament, the Yeomen of the Guard search by  lantern the Parliament cellars before the state opening.

Beefeaters carrying out the Ceremonial Search

The night of fireworks follows with the burning of straw dummies of Guy Fawkes (along with a few modern politicians).  To the world today Guy Fawkes represents “notorious treason.”

But is this the whole story? What part did Guy Fawkes play in the Gunpowder plot?

As I continued my search for details, much to my delight I found a connection of Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the Gunpowder Plot.  Shakespeare wrote each line of each play deliberately and pointedly, often adding references to events going on in is time.  “To commemorate the discovery of the heinous scheme, King James had a medal created picturing a snake hiding amongst flowers. Lo and behold, we find a nod to the medal right in the play when Lady Macbeth tells her husband to look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it. “

“Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator. (Macbeth Act3.2.9-12).”

In these lines we see the reference to Father Henry Garnet, a Jesuit priest who was hung for supposedly hiding his knowledge of the plot. “When Father Garnet finally confessed, he insisted that his previous perjury was not really perjury because he lied for God’s sake. For this bit of spin doctoring he became known as the great “equivocator” and was promptly hanged. Sure enough, in Act 2, when Macbeth’s Porter wonders what kind of people would enter the gates of hell,” he recites the lines above.

The Gunpowder Plot is still the subject of controversy and anti-Catholic feelings. To get the full view of this historic event, there is a fabulous read,  The Gunpowder Plot, written in the 50’s by Hugh Ross Williamson. This book explains in detail, with tons of primary source references, what happened almost 400 years ago in England.  The bibliography alone, at 13 full pages, is a treasure trove of well researched documents on the subject.  It is well worth the read and told in an engaging style.  There is no doubt that this is a fascinating true story, full of intrigue and suspense…involving heroic actions, cowardly politics and unwavering faith! You can meet the real Guy Fawkes literally, in person, though this amazing book.

The book now out of print is available here as a pdf:

http://www.strobertbellarmine.net/books/Williamson–GunpowderPlot.pdf

 

 

Choosing Beauty: A 30-Day Spiritual Makeover for Women

6555864By Gina Loehr

Gina Loehr does it again, I really enjoyed her insight into the lives of women saints in her book Real Women, Real Saints and learned much from their virtues….now Gina takes us on a real and practical retreat towards inner beauty…the kind that reflects the joy of our Faith. Mascara will help and eyeliner too, but the surest way to a beautiful you doesn’t require hours at the cosmetics counter. The best beauty routine starts within. Choosing Beauty guides you through a day-by-day inner makeover that will give you a glow that can only come through a life infused with the virtues. Learn how to step away from gossip, grow in courage, practice mercy and enter more fully into the qualities that will allow your inner light to shine. A great addition to Choosing Beauty is the inclusion of lively reflections on the virtues presented and questions for discussion. This is a good book to share with your teenage daughters, too!

 

Fathers’ Manual

2626-2A. Francis Coomes, S.J.

The natural companion book to the Mother’s Manual.   It begins with prayers for the needs of fatherhood and the married life, including a prayer for help to be a good father, prayers for faith, for fatherly guidance and many more.  The next section includes prayers for special needs and occasions such as for generosity, for the grace to give a good Christian example, the Litany of Saint Joseph.  There are also prayers for various organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, then comes the section on counsels and helps for husbands and fathers. Meditations on the experience of fatherhood and being a good husband. Prayers for strength of will and compassion, and reflections on the joys of being a father.