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At our house, breakfast is one of those events that happens every day with no fail, right after the kids wake up and stagger downstairs. Still clad in their pajamas, bed head and all, the kids mostly fend for themselves, rummaging through the kitchen for their usual. Sometimes I intervene and push a fruit or egg, or help someone with something high up, but mostly, everyone is doing their own thing with my voice in the background (“Please get a plate. Don’t leave the knife in the butter. Do you have a hair tie for your hair – the peanut butter is getting all over the ends…”). From start to finish, maybe fifteen minutes. Twenty if someone’s particularly distracted or determined to whip up something fancy.

One day, after consulting the iPad for the day’s weather (“Ok guys, today is a sweater, fall coat, runners kind of day.”), the idea of clicking over to EWTN for the day’s readings floated in my mind. I was already trying to see when in the busy day something like that could be squeezed in, but had so far come up with a blank. I looked across the table at the kids and wondered if now would be a good time… and I chickened out.

I’m not sure how many times I chickened out after the idea presented itself.

“Winter coat, guys.” And nope. I am not going to read today’s Mass readings.

“You’ll be fine with just a hoodie today, everyone.” Nope. Not reading them.

One day, I didn’t chicken out. What’s the worse that could happen if I read some readings as they were eating breakfast? They all run screaming? Unlikely. The don’t listen? Probably. But maybe they’ll catch something. Maybe.

So I did it. I told everyone to feel free to keep eating but to try and stay put for a bit and listen (as opposed to get up and microwave their milk right at that moment). It took about… thirty seconds? No one ran screaming. Bonus.

I’ll take it. We did it again the next day. And the next.

We’ve been trying this for a few months now, with gaps due to forgetting and laziness here and there. I have hope that it might stick. It seems to start discussions that we would otherwise not have. They are hearing pieces of the Gospel that they would otherwise not hear. Their minds wander to Jesus’ life for a few precious seconds in their busy day. Seems like a small step in the right direction.

“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” – Matthew 19:14


Trinity, Rublev

If you remember from yesterday’s post, the little kids and I are singing a fragment of the song Come, Holy Spirit as our little mini novena. It’s day 2 and we managed to remember again! Yay, us. Will we remember tomorrow? Hopefully.

We’ve also tried saying the first version with the bigger kids (who now have a Brand New Super Exciting Later Bedtime, perfect for things like saying short novenas with mama and daddy).

Day 2
(This version comes from the lovely people at Pray More Novenas.)


Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.

Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil. And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of Joy within us.

All of the Saints are marked with an uncompromisable Joy in times of trial, difficulty and pain. Give us, Oh Holy Spirit, the Joy that surpasses all understanding that we may live as a witness to Your love and fidelity!


Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord,


Ascension by Giotto

Did you know that there are ten days until Pentecost? Did you know that today marks the first day of the oldest novena, when Jesus, before ascending into heaven, commanded his disciples to pray in preparation for the descent of the Holy Spirit? Have you vaguely heard the world novena before but have never done one? Perfect! Join me!

So many options…

Last year, the kids and I sang this Holy Spirit song for nine days and we dubbed it our own:

Little Mini Starter Novena

Come Holy Spirit, we need you.
Come, Holy Spirit, we pray.
Come with your strength and your power.
Come in your own special way.

I think it is only a fragment of a song that my grandmother used to sing for us when helping us get ready for bed, but it’s all I remember by heart. It’s simple and the kids love singing it. My grandma used to sing it with her eyes closed and both hands raised slightly. I don’t… yet.

(Update: I found the tune! Here’s a Youtube video of a young man singing the song.)


So far, my inbox has two versions of the Pentecost Novena from two different people and I thought I would share them with you, along with their sources. There appear to be countless versions available online.

Pentecost Novena, Version 1

Novena to the Holy Spirit Day 1

Let us bow down in humility at the power and grandeur of the Holy Spirit. Let us worship the Holy Trinity and give glory today to the Paraclete, our Advocate.

Oh Holy Spirit, by Your power, Christ was raised from the dead to save us all. By Your grace, miracles are performed in Jesus’ name. By Your love, we are protected from evil. And so, we ask with humility and a beggar’s heart for Your gift of Charity within us.

The great charity of all the the host of Saints is only made possible by your power, Oh Divine Spirit. Increase in me, the virtue of charity that I may love as God loves with the selflessness of the Saints.


Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, through Christ Our Lord,


(Find the Original Here: )
Pentecost Novena, Version 2


Introductory Prayer [1]

Come, O Holy Spirit! Enlighten my understanding in order that I may know your commands; strengthen my heart against the snares of the enemy; enkindle my will. I have heard your voice and I do not want to harden my heart and resist, saying, “Later…tomorrow.” Nunc coepi! Right now! Lest there be no tomorrow for me.

O Spirit of truth and wisdom, Spirit of understanding and counsel, Spirit of joy and peace! I want what you want, because you want it, as you want it, when you want it.

Consideration [2]

Pentecost: the day when the Holy Spirit
Came down upon the Lord’s disciples

Having just read in the Acts of the Apostles about Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit came down on the Lord’s disciples, we are conscious of being present at the great display of God’s power with which the Church’s life began to spread among all nations. The victory Christ achieved through his obedience, his offering of himself on the cross and his resurrection — his triumph over death and sin — is revealed here in all its divine splendour.

The disciples, witnesses of the glory of the risen Christ, were filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit. Their minds and hearts were opened to a new light. They had followed Christ and accepted his teachings with faith, but they were not always able to fathom the full meaning of his words. The Spirit of truth, who was to teach them all things, had not yet come. They knew that Jesus alone could give them words of eternal life, and they were ready to follow him and to give their lives for him. But they were weak, and in the time of trial, they fled and left him alone.

On Pentecost all that is a thing of the past. The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of strength, has made them firm, strong, daring. The word of the Apostles resounds forcefully through the streets of Jerusalem.

The men and women who have come to the city from all parts of the world listen with amazement. “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, Jews as well as proselytes, Cretans and Arabs, we have heard them speaking in our own languages of the wonderful works of God.” These wonders, which take place before their own eyes, lead them to listen to the preaching of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit himself, who is acting through our Lord’s disciples, moves the hearts of their listeners and leads them to the faith.

St Luke tells us that after St Peter had spoken and proclaimed Christ’s resurrection, many of those present came up to him and asked: “Brethren, what shall we do?” The apostle answered: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” And on that day, the sacred text tells us, about three thousand were added to the Church.

The solemn coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost was not an isolated event. There is hardly a page in the Acts of the Apostles where we fail to read about him and the action by which he guides, directs and enlivens the life and work of the early christian community. It is he who inspires the preaching of St Peter, who strengthens the faith of the disciples, who confirms with his presence the calling of the gentiles, who sends Saul and Barnabas to the distant lands where they will open new paths for the teaching of Jesus. In a word, his presence and doctrine are everywhere.

Concluding Prayer

Holy and divine Spirit! Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, your spouse, bring the fullness of your gifts into our hearts. Comforted and strengthened by you, may we live according to your will and may we die praising your infinite mercy. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

[1] Cf. Postulation for the Cause of Beatification and Canonization of Msgr. Josemaria Escriva: Historical Registry of the Founder (of Opus Dei), 20172, p.145
[2] The homily: “The Great Unknown,” in Christ is Passing By, by St. Josemaria Escriva, is reprinted here and divided into ten “Considerations.”

The kids are particularly looking forward to collecting up all the leftover Easter chocolate for the annual Pentecost Fondue Extravaganza.

Come, Holy Spirit!

Super duper good news: it’s not even Advent yet! This little-known often-overlooked liturgical season which helps us prepare for Christmas only starts on November 30 and continues until December 24, the day before Christmas. So, for the perennially-late and forever-procrastinating sorts like me, we’ve got TIME. I usually get hit by the reality of the Advent a few days before it starts, if I’m lucky. My hint is usually that the rest of the world gets into full Christmas mode and I think Ha! The radio stations are playing Christmas music and the malls are shiny and decorated… it must be… Advent! But since the malls and the radio stations are getting started earlier and earlier, it means that I get a bit more time.

Time to do what?

Well, at Christmas we celebrate the birth of Christ. Advent is the period of waiting and preparing that happens beforehand. Sometimes called “little Lent,” it is a time that involves increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

For us, the prayer part of Advent has involved three very old yet simple traditions: lighting candles of an Advent wreath each night at dinner along with a little prayer, and hanging an ornament on a Jesse tree (usually at night before bedtime) along with a little Bible story, and setting out the Nativity scene (without Jesus, because… he’s not there yet.).

Basically, I need to buy/make a wreath and four candles, and find the Jesse tree ornaments and the nativity scene somewhere in storage. Seems so simple…

Advent wreath. Image by Andrea Schaufler.
This is what we’re going for.

This is usually what happens. No wreath. Candles don’t quite stay in candleholders. Fatter candles?

E for effort, I say. Also, I’ll need to hunt down the card that has the Advent prayers for when we’re lighting the candles of the wreath.

The ornaments of a Jesse Tree represent the descendants of Jesus form the Old and New Testaments. It’s such a great way to get familiar with the Bible characters and their stories.

We made these simple Internet-downloaded and kid-coloured ornaments a few years ago. I’m sure these are somewhere. Probably near the Nativity scenes. Behind the sleeping bags? Beside bathing suits and flip-flops?

OR you could make your own felt ornaments.

Or buy fancy ones from Etsy. At all price points. (from InspiredTraditions on Etsy)

Some kind people have put together the accompanying Bible readings to go along with each ornament here or here. Or sometimes we just use the Bible story books that we already have around. Or sometimes we just say, “This is Noah’s ark… ok, time for bed.”

It’s not yet Advent! There’s time!

The lovely folks over at SaintlySages have been doing a series of posts on kindness from Frederick William Faber’s Kindness. This often-tired sometimes-tending-to-grumpy mama appreciates the heads up as we head into the craziness of the school year, when there is a temptation to steam-roll over our kids as we Try To Get Things Done Just Put Your Shoes On Fer Cryin’ Out Loud. Got to remember to do things kindly. Even if we’re late. Even when we’ve made a big mess. Even if the baby is crying. Jesus, please, please help me be kind.

“Here is a grand material for sanctification. Nevertheless, such materials are hard to work up in practice. It is weary work cleaning old bricks to build a new house with. These are difficulties, but we have got to reach heaven, and must push on.”

Yes. Sigh. We must push on.

A quick search revealed that Father Faber’s book is available online (see right margin for links to various formats). I will add reading it to my list.

Screen shots from the “Daily Catholic” app for Android

After finding the Liturgy of the Hours online, I was very excited to find out how easy it is to access the prayers on my smartphone. My husband and I found Daily Catholic for our Android phone, but a quick search on your own flavour of smartphone will reveal many other apps designed to bring you “richest single prayer resource of the Christian Church” with a tap of your finger.

The Daily Catholic mobile app is described as “a daily companion for a Catholic faithful” and features a Saint of the Day, quotes from the saints, Universalis Liturgy of the Hours, daily Mass readings, as well as Vatican and FIDES News.

Now, when I find myself with a few minutes to spare, sitting somewhere close to my phone that is not lost, it’s like a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Pray without ceasing.

Just a short note to say that the Lenten Resources page is back up! Please let me know if you have any other resources that might help others in their Lenten journey. Praying that you and your family have a blessed Lent.

Look at that lovely, clean bathroom…

Since becoming Co-Master of My Own Domain (read: co-responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, among other things), I gained some transferable wisdom: faithfulness is a good thing. When I ignore the bathrooms until it’s time for Health Canada to shut our operation down, then cleaning them is a Big Deal. Gotta get the mask on, the strong cleaners, the rubber gloves, the elbow grease. I feel guilty and it’s generally a bad scene. But, when I stay on top of it (that is, when I make time for tending to the bathrooms weekly or sometimes daily, depending on the “adventures” that happen in there), then all that is needed is a quick and painless pass-through with a rag and some light cleaner. Not a big deal.

Clean bathrooms, clean soul
Faithfulness is a good thing. It’s much easier to stay on top of the battle to be better by frequently examining my conscience. The more often I do it, the more familiar I become with my weaknesses, with the sins that I struggle with the most, with the occasions during which I fall. Then, all that is needed is a quick and painless encounter with the merciful love of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and ta-dah: good to go, equipped with the Grace of God to start again.

If it’s been a while
It’s tough to clean anything that hasn’t been tended to in a while. I find that some good music and a glass of wine helps. Not that I’ve tried those while examining my conscience, but hey, I might start. It can be humbling. It can be painful. Jesus, I haven’t examined my conscience in a while. I’m not looking forward to it. Help me do a good job. Help me be thorough. Help me do it for love of you and those you’ve put in my care.

Helping children
Children follow our lead. When they see us taking advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation frequently, it can help them make it a normal part of their life, too. It also helps when we are humble and honest about our sins or mistakes. When we are merciful and gentle with them, they are able to imagine the mercy and love of God, who will always take them back, no matter what.

Online resources
The folks at Be An Amazing Catechist have shared a simple Examination of Conscience written for children. For adults, here is an old post that has two versions that are different from the usual format that is based on the Ten Commandments. A quick search with the terms “Examination of Conscience catholic” brings up a great deal of resources from online.

Images from the Stations of the Cross by Sister Marie Claire Naidu, Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bangalore, India

Going through each of the Stations in a simple way allows our kids to get familiar with the story of Jesus’ passion and death. This Lent, we’re trying to use this one from the Vatican website. Sitting together with the screen visible to everyone, we do this:

  • Someone who can read announces the station, e.g. “Ninth station, Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem”
  • My husband or I read the little Gospel passage near the beginning of each station. (It’s in italics.) We simplify, shorten or skip this part altogether depending on everyone’s attention span.
  • Someone gets a turn singing: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.(2X)
  • On to the next station…

While we’re going through it, there are many, many whys to answer. Our two-year old and three-year old wander in and out quietly, sometimes stopping to look at the pictures. Mostly everyone is quiet and thoughtful. The pictures are powerful and give everyone food for thought.

With younger kids, I imagine that one can simplify even further by just looking at and naming each station. Or with older kids, one could also join in at the parish every Friday at 7pm as they do the Stations of the Cross, followed by Confessions. Either way, bringing the little ones along on our Lenten journey helps the entire family prepare for the celebration of Easter together.

I’ve put together a page called “Lenten Resources”, which gathers a few of the pages online that have been useful to us during Lent in the past. It has a handy schedule for daily Mass and Confessions, a link to two Examinations of Conscience. Please let me know if there are other resources which could be added to it.

Update: I’ve just retired this page and will bring it back up next Lent. Happy Easter!

In sickness and in health, by Martin Rebello
In sickness and in health. Image by Martin Rebello.

The Archdiocese of Toronto celebrated Marriage Sunday last weekend, February 11-12, 2012. To mark the occassion, Archbishop Collins prepared a great letter [PDF document, 150 KB] addressed “to Married Couples throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto.” The folks at the Archdiocese also put together a nifty website as a resource for “couples looking to enrich this covenant.” Two links worth following for sure.

Wedding Vows

I take you to be my husband/wife.
I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health.
I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.

Keep all married couples in your prayers this week. Know that you are all in mine.

St. Clement Church all in red, during the recent Volunteer Appreciation Night. Photo by Azure Blue Photography

It’s already Wednesday! Here’s my pre-Advent to-do list:

1. Pray

This helps me remember that preparing for the birthday of our Lord does not consist (primarily) of running around like a chicken with its head cut off. A grumpy chicken with its head cut off. I need to fight for those minutes of peace and quiet when I can sit with just God, humbly asking Him to help keep me focused On What Matters. He can do greater things in those minutes than I can.

2. Find/buy an Advent wreath, three purple candles and pink candle

Having an Advent wreath is a simple yet powerful tradition that we find really creates a mood of peaceful expectation (as different from, say, a trip to Toys’R’Us). It’s a daily chance at a time when we’re all together (usually dinner works well) to stop and remember Who we’re waiting for. And something about candles mesmerizes little kids. I’ve posted the short prayer that we use as we light the appropriate candle(s) each night and Father Zimmer has shared a blessing for the wreath:

Family Blessing of an Advent Wreath
God of hope and love, we praise you for sending Jesus your Son,
to save us from our sins and to be light in our darkness.
Bless us as we gather in his name,
and bless this wreath as a sign of your unending love
and of Jesus’ presence among us.
Keep us watchful in prayer as we await his return in glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!

3. Find the toy Nativity set and hide baby Jesus

Here’s our great toy one. I can’t wait until our two-year old gets introduced to it this year (I’m sure he doesn’t remember last year). We’ll see how well it can withstand the current set of little hands. Baby Jesus makes His appearance on Christmas morning.

4. Situate the wise men and the three kings somewhere far away in the house (ready for their “journey”)

5. Read about Jesse trees

Jesse Tree stained glass window, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

Having a Jesse tree is an Advent tradition that we’ve never tried before. As far as I can tell, it involves a simple tree which slowly gets decorated with ornaments that represent characters or stories from the Old Testament. Here’s a nifty chart with all the ornaments descriptions.

“Making a Jesse Tree helps us understand that many people lived before Jesus was born. They waited for him, just as we wait for his birthday now. These people were good, holy people and have interesting stories! We will read a story and think of a symbol to make, something that will remind of the person. Then we will hang that symbol on the tree, and read another story.”
Our Sunday Visitor, About the Jesse Tree

The ornaments can be as simple as cut-out colour pages or as fancy as these ones. You could also get inspired by the beautiful stained glass one from the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (see above). I need to read more about it and see how we will make this tradition our own. I will keep you posted.

What are some of your family’s Advent traditions?

Usually one of the last Catholics to clue into things, I’m excited to announce that I know that there is a new translation of the Mass coming starting Advent 2011… and it’s not Advent 2011 yet!

Father Zimmer has been giving us resources through the bulletin and website. One resource is the Archdiocese of Toronto website, filled with links that might help one prepare for the implementation of the new translation. In particular, you’ll find the whole Order of the Mass, and a nifty chart with just the people’s parts, comparing the old translation with the new.

Of my four kids, I have one that is already reading. This means that, new Missal in hand, she can join us in the adventure of learning the new responses, maybe even some of the new music. I imagine that the change will be less dramatic for her (and subsequently, all her little siblings) than it will be for us old folks who have gotten used to the old translation. I think it will mean that I won’t take the words for granted as much as I help her navigate the Mass. They’ll be new to me, too. We’ll be learning them together.

New Greeting
The Priest greets the people, saying, The Lord be with you.
We reply, And with your spirit. (instead of And also with you.)

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which starts of the season of Lent. Today we had Reese Puffs cereal for breakfast and are likely going to have pancakes for dinner. And dessert?

Daughter: Are we having dessert today?
Me: I don’t know yet.
Daughter: God knows.

Does anyone remember Lent?
We’ve been ramping up the Lent-themed conversations during meals in the last few days. Our oldest daughter, who is six, reported that her teacher had reminded them all to “give up something for Lent”. I asked her why and she shrugged and said she wasn’t sure. Sigh. Then, our four-year old gushed, “Lent? I LOVE Lent!” and everyone turned to her perplexed. “‘Cause after Lent, it’s EASTER!” Easter: memorable, Lent: not so much. Which, in my mind says, chocolate: memorable, giving up chocolate: not so much.

We’re going to try and work on the Our Father with the little ones who can talk. The oldest can already say it, so we’ll focus on the meaning of the prayer bit by bit. The one-year old is learning to blow a kiss to Jesus (three skills: blowing, kissing, finding Jesus). Is forty days enough? Probably not, but we gotta start small.

We’ll also try to follow along with this online Stations of the Cross on Fridays. Last year, the version that we end up saying out loud was much simpler than the text on the site. We’ll see how it goes this year.

Prayer cards from loved ones who have passed away have somehow collected themselves on the side of our fridge. They serve as a reminder for our family to say a quick May they rest in peace or Jesus, please take care of them.

The family candy bag, source of all things wonderful, will vanish into thin air. Friday meals will become meatless and simple. My challenge will be to post meatless Friday recipes for you for each Friday of Lent. Suggestions and comments are most welcome.

Fortunately, everyone’s piggy bank has a big rubber stopper at the bottom. This means that we don’t have to sacrifice the family of pigs in order to give to the poor box. Meanwhile, my husband and I need to sit down and take a good, hard look at our “piggy banks” and pray about our ShareLife contribution.

Please feel free to share the Lenten practices that you do with your family.

You must know what you believe; you must know your faith with the same precision with which a specialist in information technology knows the working system of a computer; you must know it as a musician knows his piece; yes, you must be much more profoundly rooted in the faith of the generation of your parents, to be able to resist forcefully and with determination the challenges and temptations of this time. You have need of divine help, if you do not want your faith to dry up as a dewdrop in the sun, if you do not want to succumb to the temptations of consumerism, if you do not want your love to be drowned in pornography, if you do not want to betray the weak and the victims of abuse and violence. -Pope Benedict XVI

My kids are still pretty little, and presenting matters of the faith does not take a great deal of courage. I imagine that this will not always be the case. As they get older and life gets more challenging, as situations get less black-and-white and more gray, as they see and experience more of the world, it will take more guts on my part to continue to be a witness to the message of Jesus. Pope Benedict challenges the youth time and time again to keep their standards high. I hope, when the time comes, I will, too.

By the way, the quotation was taken from an article in Zenit, a news agency whose aim it is “to look at the modern world through the messages of the Pope and the Holy see, inform about the happenings of the Church in the world, and the topics, debates and events that are especially interesting to Christians worldwide.” I find it a great resource for following what the Holy Father is up to and saying.

I found a very cool examination of conscience online a couple of days ago and I’m excited to share it with you. It was in an essay written by Fr. John Hardon, S.J. entitled Examination of Conscience (scroll down about half way). The essay itself is old and seems to be all over the internet so I may be (again) the last Catholic to have come across it. I’m not sure if I can put my finger on what exactly is so cool about it. I’ve just never seen one that was organized by the Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope and Love) instead of by the Ten Commandments. I think they’ll go hand in hand quite well.


  1. Do I make an honest effort to grow in the virtue of faith by daily mental prayer on the mysteries of the faith as revealed in the life of Jesus Christ?
  2. Do I make at least a short act of faith every day?
  3. Do I pray daily for an increase of faith?
  4. Do I ever tempt God by relying on my own strength to cope with the trials in my life?
  5. Do I unnecessarily read or listen to those who oppose or belittle what I know are truths of my Catholic faith?
  6. What have I done today to externally profess my faith?
  7. Have I allowed human respect to keep me from giving expression to my faith?
  8. Do I make a serious effort to resolve difficulties that may arise about my faith?
  9. Do I ever defend my faith, prudently and charitably, when someone says something contrary to what I know is to be believed?
  10. Have I helped someone overcome a difficulty against the faith?


  1. Do I immediately say a short prayer when I find myself getting discouraged?
  2. Do I daily say a short act of hope?
  3. Do I dwell on my worries instead of dismissing them from my mind?
  4. Do I fail in the virtue of hope by my attachment to the things of this world?
  5. Do I try to see God’s providence in everything that “happens” in my life?
  6. Do I try to see everything from the viewpoint of eternity?
  7. Am I confident that, with God’s grace, I will be saved?
  8. Do I allow myself to worry about my past life and thus weaken my hope in God’s mercy?
  9. Do I try to combine every fully deliberate action with at least a momentary prayer for divine help?
  10. How often today have I complained, even internally?


  1. Have I told God today that I love Him?
  2. Do I tell Jesus that I love Him with my whole heart?
  3. Do I take the occasion to tell God that I love Him whenever I experience something I naturally dislike?
  4. Have I capitalized on the difficulties today to tell God that I love Him just because He sent me the trial or misunderstanding?
  5. Do I see God’s love for me in allowing me to prove my love for Him in the crosses He sent me today?
  6. Have I seen God’s grace to prove my love for Him in every person whom I met today?
  7. Have I failed in charity by speaking unkindly about others?
  8. Have I dwelt on what I considered someone’s unkindness toward me today?
  9. Is there someone that I consciously avoid because I dislike the person?
  10. Did I try to carry on a conversation today with someone who is difficult to talk to?
  11. Have I been stubborn in asserting my own will?
  12. How thoughtful have I been today in doing some small favor for someone?
  13. Have I allowed my mood to prevent me from being thoughtful of others today?
  14. Am I given to dwelling on other people’s weaknesses or faults?
  15. Have I been cheerful today in my dealings with others?
  16. Do I control my uncharitable thoughts as soon as they arise in my mind?
  17. Did I pray for others today?
  18. Have I written any letters today?
  19. Have I controlled my emotions when someone irritated me?
  20. Have I performed any sacrifice today for someone?


One of our readers just sent in this Examination of Conscience and I wanted to share it with you. I will update this with its author and origins as soon as I find out.

Examination of Conscience

R: Come, Lord Jesus!

For the times that I forget that I need a Savior, and arrogantly conceive of myself as sufficient to myself, R:

For the times that I do not believe Jesus and instead give in to the lie of perceiving God the Father as being indifferent or hostile to my well-being, R:

For the times that I trust my self-pitying accusations more than the Father’s love, R:

For the times that I desecrate the presence of Christ by making my own opinions, my own criteria, or my own likes and dislikes the measure for measuring circumstances of life and other people, R:

For the times I have shunned the presence of Christ, whether it be his sacramental presence or his presence through the people he puts in my life, R:

For the times I have blasphemed the presence of Christ through using other human beings as things that I can manipulate or use for my own selfish ends, R:

For the times I have disregarded the will of Christ through abuse of those things he has given to me for the building up of his kingdom, R:

For the times that I justify my sinfulness and thus treat God’s mercy with disdain, R:

I may be the last Catholic to stumble upon What a great website! About themselves, they say:

The Universalis Web site has been created, to give us all, wherever we are, at all times, the chance to participate in the Church’s universal prayer. One click – one bookmark – and we can pause for a moment in our busy lives and contemplate what really matters.

Basically, I can visit the site and it does all the complex figuring out of the breviary for me, making available psalms and readings for any point of the day, for any day. With one click, I can tap into “the richest single prayer resource of the Christian Church.” No more excuses! Very cool.

But what is the Liturgy of the Hours?

The Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office) is the richest single prayer resource of the Christian Church. It provides prayers, psalms and meditation for every hour of every day. It has existed from the earliest times, to fulfil the Lord’s command to pray without ceasing.

And why pray it?

Never monotonous, always new, it provides the means for the whole world, united, to pray together and sanctify every hour of every day of every year. All over the world, hundreds of thousands of priests and religious have vowed to pray the Liturgy daily, and all over the world they do, in public and in private, in tin shacks and cathedrals, in palaces and in prison camps.

If you’ve never prayed the Liturgy of the Hours before, give it a try. Choose the closest time of day from the left sidebar (morning, mid-morning, midday, afternoon, evening, night) and it’ll lead you to the right place. It may become a welcome part of your daily routine.

I’ve recently come across, another website that offers the Liturgy of the Hours.

The iBreviary is your portable breviary. You can use it to pray with the full texts of the Liturgy of the Hours in just five languages. Simply launch the application and all the texts of the day will appear before you.

I’ve tried it on my desktop, as well as on an iPad, an iPhone and Android, but only on browsers through the iBreviary web interface. I haven’t tried the various apps that seem to be available free for download for all flavours of smart devices.

The iBreviary web link above takes you to this screen (or a similar screen, if you’re on an iPad or a smart phone), where you choose a time of day from one of the links.

After picking a time of day, you’ll be presented with the full text of the prayers designated for that moment and you’re all set to pray!

I found a document online that seems too good to skip. Not that it’s an exciting page-turner or anything, but it’s the most comprehensive document I’ve found about what our Church has to offer regarding life and love. The document is particularly for young parents who are wondering how to go about the sexual education of their children. It’s called The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family and was prepared by the Pontifical Council for the Family (so, straight from the horse’s mouth).

In the introduction, it says, Boy, are YOU ever in for it. Ok, I’m paraphrasing. They actually say:

Among the many difficulties parents encounter today, despite different social contexts, one certainly stands out: giving children an adequate preparation for adult life, particularly with regard to education in the true meaning of sexuality. There are many reasons for this difficulty and not all of them are new.

No matter how “delicate and arduous” the task will be, they urge us to not be discouraged. We were made for the job:

On the other hand, having given and welcomed life in an atmosphere of love, parents are rich in an educative potential which no one else possesses. In a unique way they know their own children; they know them in their unrepeatable identity and by experience they possess the secrets and the resources of true love.

I’m pretty excited about diving into the rest of it in more detail and sharing the gems with you. We’ll do it in a series of bite-sized installments. Hopefully, we’ll get through it before my oldest goes to the prom.

Angelus by Jean-François Millet

Growing up, I went to a school where everyone stopped to pray the Angelus at noon. It’s been a very long time since I’ve habitually said this prayer, but I manage to remember every once in a while. Especially when I’ve just put a tired and angry toddler to nap and in the silence of the next few moments I happen to look at a clock that says very pointedly, “It’s noon, you know.”

One of my favourite things about scouring the Internet is finding little gems like I pray the Angelus. (Or for you native French-speakers, Je prie l’angelus.)It seems to be a blog with only one post: a simple explanation of the Angelus, along with the text of the prayer in English and in Latin.

If you have really little children like we do, you may have noticed that it gets difficult to pay attention to the readings. My husband and I compare notes in the car ride home and, sometimes, the details we piece together get rather sparse.

“Something about Moses. And a calf. That’s all I got.”
“How about the homily?”
“Something about… nope. Nothing. You?”
“Nope. Dirty diaper.”

My husband recently had the brilliant idea of reading the readings before the Mass. We concede that responsible Catholics have probably been doing this since the beginning of time, but boy, did it sound clever at the time.

EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) has calendar which features a link to the readings along with something inspirational from a saint for each day.

The Archdiocese of Toronto has a printable calendar in PDF format that provide information on daily celebrations and readings at Mass, which are taken from the liturgical calendar.

Do you have a favourite Catholic online resource? Please feel free to share.

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!