Some things never change

Last year, on the feast of St Martha, today, July 29, I posted this (below) on my blog.

My…. some things never change. Do they?
Just this week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I did my Cindy Crawford workouts. And today s tough Results lower body circuit.
Just this week, I thought of changing my phone’s ring tone from Lady GaGa to – that’s right, you guessed it, Blondie.
And , as always, as I remember St Martha I try to think and pray about getting that balance right, that balance between being and doing, between contemplation and busyness…And I remember ora et labora. And this post.

At Mass this morning, Mass for St Martha, Fr. mentioned something like ~ Some of us are called to be contemplatives. Some are called to action. Some to a balance of both. Whatever we are called to, we do it all for God.

Nice thought, as we remember St Martha.

O blessed St. Martha, your faith led Jesus to proclaim, “I am the resurrection and the life”; and faith let you see beyond his humanity when you cried out, “Lord I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” With firm hope you said, I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him, and Jesus called your brother Lazarus back from the dead. With pure love for Jesus you welcomed him into your home. Friend and servant of our Savior, I too am “troubled about many things.” (Pause for silent prayer.) Pray for me that I may grow in faith, hope and love, and that Jesus, who sat at your table, will hear me and grant me a place at the banquet of eternal life. Amen.

We are all fighting the sniffles and colds. Poor dh has had a terrible cough..getting better now! I am sure the soup I made and the chocolate and crisps I bought him have helped, have cheered him up! Just call me St Martha, even Martha Stewart, Queen of the Kitchen!

Saint Martha is called by the French la travailleuse de Dieuthe worker for God; this we know she was always and in more ways than one. The Italians know her asl’albergatrice de Cristothe hostess of Christ.

She is the patron of cookery and of housewives. We all know the familiar story of how, as she was busy with preparing the dinner, her sister Mary sat at the feet of their Guest and listened to His words of love and wisdom.

My workout today, my St Martha’s day workout? Cindy Crawford The Next Challenge. I adore this workout. Challenge it is – a fantastic workout, great scenery, cool music (Deborah Harry ~ Looking on The Outside) , lots of jumps and kicks and cardio sparks with three full sets of abs and a killer upper body and chest sequence. Guess who will be feeling it tomorrow?

This Martha..Wanting to work and pray like St Martha, to be a worker for God and to follow in her footsteps as a hostess, serving Christ…Wanting to look like Cindy Crawford in her workouts, fit and healthy…Wanting to dress like Deborah Harry and sing along with Blondie..

Hey, found this WikiHow article ~ How To Dress Like Deborah Harry.

Wear simple plain tops in bright colors with belts around the middle.
Put leggings under 3/4 lengths or mini skirts. Try animal prints; they were a big thing in the 80’s. Leggings are coming back into fashion for fall and winter 2006.
Wear dolly shoes, knee high boots or converse for shoes.
Wear bright red lipstick.
Wear your hair really messy or flipped out.
Mini dresses are your friend!


Kindred Spirits

July 26. Feast of St Anne and St Joachim, parents of Our Lady. My Christian name is Leonie-Ann…so, remembering St Anne, several of us went to seven am Mass at Tyburn Priory. With breakfast after. With a friend and her dh…a kindred spirit to quote that other Anne (Anne of Green Gables, that is).


Another Franciscan Saint…

“Let everyone who has the grace of intelligence fear that, because of it, he will be judged more heavily if he is negligent.”

St Brigid of Sweden. A Franciscan tertiary. St Brigid devoted herself to a contemplative life. And founded the order of the Holy Saviour ( the Bridgettines). St Bridget is a co-patroness saint of Europe.

St Bridget was married at 13 to her 18 yr old husband Ulf..

In 28 years of marriage she and Ulf had 8 children; four boys and four girls. The two younger boys died young and Karl, her oldest died of a fever just before it looked like he could get into serious trouble over Queen Joanna of Naples.

Three of the girls married -Cecilia, Merita and Catherine- while the youngest, Ingbord, became a Cistercian. Catherine’s husband died while she was with her mother in Rome. She spent the rest of her life with her mother eventually entering her religious Order . She is St Catherine of Sweden . St Catherine is patron of mothers who have miscarried.

O Lord, our God, who through Thine only-begotten Son didst reveal heavenly secrets to Blessed Bridget, grant that, through her loving intercession, we Thy servants may rejoice and be happy in the revelation of Thine eternal glory. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Swedish Meatballs for dinner! Found this recipe for Ikea Swedish meatballs


Lying awake at night…

Lying awake at night…I think of mistakes.


I read Julie Unplugged. and sigh . A sigh of recognition.

I was raised on kindness over anger, turning the other cheek, looking at yourself when criticized to see if there is a ring of truth in the accusation so you can grow and become a better person, or at least, so you can get along better with that pickier person. I might only look at myself with defensiveness and anxiety (what if I can’t change?). But I always looked. I have a self-examining scrupulosity that rivals a germaphobe’s anxiety for hygiene while trapped in a gas station bathroom.

So if you yell at me, tell me I’m doing something wrong? I might verbally kick the dirt, work up a counter-argument lawyer-style, scrunch my eyebrows and cry… but by morning, I’ll be doing the thing you expected. Because more than any other impulse in life, I want to get along.

Yep, I so want to get along, that I lie awake and feel bad about things-I-didn’t-mean-to-do. Like giving ladies a lift…but someone arrived late, missed my lift…..phoned me….and I spend the night in pangs of gulit. I should have waited longer, l tell myself.

And ,yet, as the other ladies point out, I did give them a lift,I did wait around. I didn’t know if the other was coming.

But I should’ve called and checked, I say.

You can’t be everything and do everything, they tell me. Who put you in charge of giving everyone a lift they say. How about others? And thank you for the lift.

So, I now lie awake and think of how-to-make-it-up-to-the-other-person. Perhaps flowers. Perhaps chocolate.

And, like Jule, I keep on aiming to get along.

A good or bad thing?

Be peace-loving. Peace is a precious treasure to be sought with great zeal. You are well aware that our sins arouse God’s anger. You must change your life, therefore, so that God in his mercy will pardon you. What we conceal from men is known to God. Be converted, then, with a sincere heart. Live your life that you may receive the blessing of the Lord. Then the peace of God our Father will be with you always.

Saint Francis of Paola


Re-kindling unschooling

In my last post, I mentioned how my workouts had become blah. And how new, tough, workouts had re-kindled my passion.

I find that the same thing happens with unschooling..which, in our house, is life. We can get in a rut, of doing what we do, without thought, without joy, without passion. We need something new. or we need a new attitude, a new outlook.
So, Julie’s Bravewriter post was an unschooling passion igniter for me.
Yes, we can do something different. Create. Go out. Do. Don’t do.
In other words, try to create different niches, in our home or in our routine , for something new.
To capture that love – of working out yesterday; of learning and of being together today.
St John Bosco was a strong believer in play, in enjoying time with kids. He said Love what they [the children] love; and they will come to love what you love [God, prayer, the Church, the Sacraments]. The Saint also said, to the boys and young men in his care and under his guidance, Enjoy yourself as much as you like – if only you keep from sin..
The things that struck a chord with me, from Julie’s list?

  • Take a walk
  • Swing
  • Climb a tree
  • Listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Read a magazine
  • Reorganize your bedroom (moving furniture around)
  • Learn a new recipe
  • Jump rope
  • Blow bubbles
  • Write a poem
  • Play a board game
  • Make a picnic under a tree
  • Do something for someone else (vacuum a room, empty the dishwasher, fold clean clothes)
  • Play jacks
  • Play a musical instrument
  • Collect wild flowers for a centerpiece at dinner
  • Memorize riddles, poems, rhymes…….Go on, re-kindle your passion for life, for learning, for being together!


Fun, Fun, Fun

“We’re gonna have fun, fun, fun..”

I’m having a lot of fun lately. I have been dying, panting, sweating, my family front of the DVD player…doing some new, tough workouts.

I workout regularly, it is who I am. I workout for health, for fitness, to keep my weight in check and for personal me-time, de-stress time, fun time.

I decided that it was time to get some new workouts . My workout time had become mundane. Blah even. I thought some new workout DVDs would rekindle my passion.

And they have! I have bought about six new workout DVDs; many of these have several workouts on the DVD. I am in fitness DVD heaven!

Today, I worked my way through Ten Days To A Better Body – high impact intervals; alternating one minute cardio and one minute strength for the whole workout. There are two workouts – an upper body and abs circut workout and a lower body and abs circuit workout. The upper body in particular is a killer. Puke-in-a-bucket workout for sure! ( You know, that feeling when you have pushed yourself almost too far…I’ve talked about it here before.).

Yep, puke-in-a-bucket workouts. That’s what my friends at the VF Video Fitness internet forum call hard workouts, workouts that may push you a little to the edge, that may make you want to puke. Barf. Vomit. Pass out.

Call me masochistic but I
love those sort of workouts. Yes, they may (sometimes) have a high dread factor for me but, I feel a great sense of accomplishment when the workout is over. I feel like an athlete, like it is so worth the pain. And I can’t wait to do the workout again!

It does sound masochistic, doesn’t it? But there is something liberating about rising to the challenge and seeing what one can achieve physically. Those endorphins last! (As does the muscle soreness..that delicious feeling of muscle soreness the next morning, when you climb out of bed, after the previous day’s tough workout).

This morning, my alarm went early. So I could get up and get ready for morning Mass. As I rolled out of bed in the dark, dark, cold, cold morning, I felt, really felt, my abs, my backside, my arms. Ouch!

The muscle soreness came from yesterday’s workout…Tracy Anderson, the trainer of Madonna and of Gwynneth Paltrow. The killer abs and lower body section from Perfect Design and the tough arms from her Mat Workout.

As Jane Fonda used to say, in those old Jane Fonda workouts ~ Feel the burn.


Remembering Br John Joseph OFM Conv…Laughter, conversation, Singstar, and, yes, serious discussions…

Eternal rest grant unto him,O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Réquiem ætérnam dona ei Dómine; et lux perpétua lúceat ei Requiéscat in pace. Amen.



“reading without repentance,
knowledge without devotion,
research without the impulse of wonder,
prudence without the ability to surrender to joy,
action divorced from religion,
learning sundered from love,
intelligence without humility,
study unsustained by divine grace,
thought without the wisdom inspired of God.”

St Bonaventure …writing of our inadequacies, of when we try to act, to study, on our own strength. We need, first, God’s Love, His Graces…and these, followed by use of our will and reason, help us…..and others. Ultimately, we can be transformed, change our habits and attitudes, only with divine assistance. Of course, we must help ourselves but we gain interior betterment only with divine assistance. We study, we research Truth ( it is important to know what the Church teaches; to know Sacred Scripture and Scared Tradition) but we study with Love..and this leads us to love more, leads us even more towards God, to contemplating Christ crucified.

“but in answer to the question as to whether theology was a practical or a theoretical science, St Bonaventure makes a triple distinction he therefore extends the alternative between the theoretical (the primacy of knowledge) and the practical (the primacy of practice), adding a third attitude which he calls “sapiential” and affirming that wisdom embraces both aspects.

And he continues: wisdom seeks contemplation (as the highest form of knowledge), and has as its intention “ut boni fiamus” that we become good, especially this: to become good .

He then adds: “faith is in the intellect, in such a way that it provokes affection. For example: the knowledge that Christ died “for us’ does not remain knowledge but necessarily becomes affection, love.

Saint Peter’s Square Wednesday, 17 March 2010 Saint Bonaventure


Role Models

As women, as mothers, as wives, we should choose our role models with care.

Why have a role model? I don’t know about you, but I grew up in a , well, different home..but through the books I read as a child ( think Little House on the Prairie, Pollyanna, Swallows and Amazons, Meet the Austins, Ballet Shoes…) , through these books I gained a vision of family life. Of what being a woman could mean.

I read An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden in Year Ten, at age fifteen and was drawn, as the child in the book is drawn, to the image of Our Lady. As a non Catholic, the role of Mary fascinated me. I saw Mary as a strong woman and I had already chosen the idea of being strong , a strong woman, as something to which I aspired.

Only later did I become a Catholic and also see Mary’s gentleness, her faith, her prayerfulness, her obedience, her love.

So, by the grace of God, I , almost by accident, chose my role model well.

Watching Dr Who last night ( the last episode in this series!) I realised that the companions of the Dr that I like are also strong women. Women who can be trusted to do their job, who won’t crumple or weep or play unfair, who are not perfect but who care, who are strong without being mean.

So, again, it must be no accident that my patron saint for this year was chosen for me, seemingly at random, when pulling a name out of a basket at our parish Women’s Group.

Bl. Zelie Martin, feast day, with her spouse, Bl Louis Martin, July 13. Tomorrow.

Some of the virtues of Bl Zelie? Some I need to emulate? ( Bl Zelie, pray for me, as a wife and mother..).

Bl Zelie had a great love for purity. She wanted to see her children pray, she did not spoil the children. They did not get away with bad behavior. She demonstrated personal holiness and prayerfulness.

And practiced obedience to her husband ( ouch!) .

Zelie would not excuse herself from the Church’s regulations regarding fasting even though she was ill. ( Ah, that strength!)

And was suspicious of being too happy in this life. She thought it was a bad sign when things went very well because this is a valley of tears.

Finally, Zelie abhorred detraction especially in mentioning the faults of priests. (Mmm, Leonie) And prayed intensely for her children to have vocations to the religious life but wouldn’t say the prayer out loud. She didn’t want to exert overt pressure.
Above all, Zelie demonstrated a love for the poor in tangible ways, the fruit of her prayerfulness being the virtue of charity.

What a role model!
religion, Unschooling

Are they all at home reading Tolstoy before these parties?

So asks David Gilmour, in his book The Film Club, a book I have discussed here.

Writing about his son and his son’s ex-girlfriend…They had spoken for only moments when she whispered “If you keep looking at me like that, I’m going to have to kiss you” (My God, where do they learn this stuff? Are they all at home reading Tolstoy before these parties?)

Are they? Do language, thoughts, vocabulary come from life and books and movies, and from experiences? In our case, from our family’s unschooling lifestyle ( no school! lots of books and talking!) and our life as Catholics in the Church.

A typcal unschooling day here involves prayer and the liturgical year and resources and experiences and discussion. It makes no difference whether it is a weekend or a weekday, in terms of educational outcomes and learning.

Non scholae, sed vitae discimus..We do not learn for the school, but for life…the Roman philosopher Seneca

Yesterday, waiting for a friend at Darling Harbour, I read a blog post about liturgy. I followed the link, to read more of “liturgical disobedience”.

In the encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia,” Pope John Paul II manifested his displeasure over the liturgical abuses that have often taken place, particularly in the celebration of Holy Mass, in as much as “the Eucharist is too great a gift to endure ambiguities and diminutions.”And he added: “Unfortunately, it is to be lamented that, above all beginning with the years of the post-conciliar liturgical reform, because of a misunderstood sense of creativity and adaptation, there has been no lack of abuses, which for many have been the cause of uneasiness. A certain reaction to ‘formalism’ has led some, especially in certain regions, to consider the ‘forms’ adopted by the great liturgical tradition of the Church and her magisterium as not obligatory and to introduce unauthorized innovations often all together unsuitable. “Hence, I feel it my duty to make an urgent call to attention so that liturgical norms are observed with great fidelity in the Eucharistic celebration. They are concrete expressions of the authentic ecclesiality of the Eucharist; this is its most profound meaning. The liturgy is never someone’s private property, either of the celebrant or of the community in which the mysteries are celebrated.OBSERVANCE OF LITURGICAL NORMS AND “ARS CELEBRANDI”
Having (sadly) experienced our fair share of the results of liturgical disobedience, it was natural for me to discuss the linked article with some of my sons, when we met up again , for a quick meal, before a Holy Hour of adoration.

We talked about how a seemingly novel and new and pleasing-to-some innovation to the liturgy, a Praise the Lord greeting at the beginning and close of Mass, at the beginning and close of the homily, with a resounding PTL expected to be said by the congregation, how this phrase soons becomes old. Banal. Meaningless. The greeting is now uttered out of force of habit; the response is called out mindlessly and without thought, as we might say “Hi, how are you” in passing, not a real enquiry but a social response. Not a real praising and adoration of Our Lord but a phrase we mutter because it is expected.

And so, as my sons as I discussed, we ending up talking about how adding to sacred liturgy, to the sacred language of the Mass, becomes nothingness, that grey, dull nothingness that creeps over the land in the book and movie The Never Ending Story, how we lose sight of God and of real worship when step away from the rituals and language set by the Church for the good of souls…and how someone must cry out against this, as Bastien cries out his mother’s name in The Never Ending story, to name the Princess and stop the nothingness.

We may not read Tolstoy today but all our experiences, of faith and liturgy, of books and movies, come together in our discussions. Students understand that language has an important effect on the ways in which they view themselves and the world in which they live…
Students understand that peoples’ actions and values are shaped by their understanding
and interpretation
of the past. (The Curriculum Framework).

A typical unschooling day involes this kind of learning, meeting educational outcomes via language and thought. A typical unschooling day takes our shared history of books and movies, of learning activities, of formal work, of classes this week in Old Norse at Macquarie University, and weaves it into an educational life. A typical unschooling day involves prayer and often mass, the public worship of the Church. And celebrating the liturgical year..Ordinary Time, Lent, Advent, Ember Days, the calendar of Saints.

And my reading can become fodder for discussion and for the reading of my sons.

Even our experiences of liturgical disobedience can become part of our educational process, as we explore and discuss exactly what it is that the Church teaches and why. And then we stand for what is right.
Or, in our case, we kneel. Kneel for Communuon, to receive Our Lord.

Last week, we heard in Mass, that the hand with which we reach out to others is the hand with which we receive the Eucharist. What an honour it is , the priest said, to receive Jesus in our hands.

We took this fallacious argument away and inadvertantly began a discussion on logic and fallacies. Another learning outcome approached…Students investigate to answer questions and with reflection and analysis prepare a plan; to collect, process and interpret data; tocommunicate conclusions; and to evaluate their plan, procedures and findings.

Yesterday, we read..
The mystery of the Eucharist is too great ‘for someone to allow himself to treat it with his own personal choice, which would not respect either its sacred character or its universal dimension.’ Arbitrary acts do not benefit true renewal, but harm the true right of the faithful to liturgical action, which is expression of the life of the Church, according to her tradition and discipline…Derived from these arbitrary acts are uncertainty in doctrine, doubt and scandal for the People of God and, almost inevitably, a violent repugnance that confuses and afflicts forcefully many faithful in our times, in which frequently Christian life suffers the very difficult environment of ‘secularization.’ (From the article cited above)
Cardinal Newman wrote of the need for an educated laity; he also warned that we not have an arrogant educated laity but an educated laity that is pious and thus humble. In our discussions, on books and movies, on our formal text work, on the Faith, we need also to question ourselves. To remember that awe, that fear of the Lord.

It is here again that the Church draws us close. As we celebrate the liturgical year, as we unschoolers today turn the page of the calendar of saints, to July 11, to St Benedict, I share St Benedict’s Eight Steps to Humilty and we read that The first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God always before his eyes (Ps 35 [36]:2) and never forgets it.

Our discussion has ranged from what is fear of the Lord , to the definition of a Father, to awe in liturgy, to that which is sacred..and how, we can be guilty of the sin of pride but the Sacraments, a reverent liturgy, celebrated according to the rubrics of the Church, bring us to our knees in adoration. Bring us to that fear of Lord, for without Him and His Love we are abandoned , we are secularized.

It is expressed thus, for example, by the Holy Father Benedict XVI: “The first way with which the participation of the People of God in the sacred rite is fostered is the proper celebration of the rite itself. The ‘ars celebrandi’ is the best premise for the ‘actuosa participatio.’ The ‘ars celebrandi’ stems from faithful obedience to the liturgical norms in their plenitude, as it is precisely this way of celebrating which has ensured for two thousand years the life of faith of all believers, who are called to live the celebration as People of God, royal priesthood, holy nation. (Ibid)