Saturday, September 26, 2015


I find myself busier than ever these days.

I had an order for an antependium from St. Birgitta's, and decided that perhaps I could deliver it in person and demonstrate the proper way to put it on the altar. I have a friend in that area, and could stay with her overnight; plus, she would be my chauffeur, as am, frankly, scared to death to drive in Portland!

So I made the arrangements with my friend and with the people at St. Birgitta's, and then asked for an appointment with the pastor of another parish in that area who had expressed some interest in an antependium for his altar. 

It was a fruitful trip in many ways - business-wise as well as spiritually. 

Business-wise, I received more orders; St. Birgitta's wants the full set of antependia and tabernacle veils in all of the liturgical colors, and they want a set of linens for the altar as well. St. Stephen's wants to start with an antependia for their high altar, and a veil for their very, very large tabernacle. I'm a little apprehensive about the high altar, as the mounting of the antependium will be very different from what I've done in the past, but I'm taking the challenge.

I was pleased with the St. Birgitta antependium. Here's the before-and-after:

I wish I had taken a photo with the altar set up for high Mass in the extraordinary form. My friend and I did attend the Sunday EF Mass there; it was at 9:30am - prime time!!! And the pastor told me that the traditional Latin Mass has continued to be said there for the last 45 years, uninterrupted by Vatican II shenanigans. The pastor himself sang the priest parts beautifully, and a male cantor sang the chants; it was all very beautiful! It was my friend's first time at an EF Mass, and I'm sure that will bear fruit as well.

The pastors at St. Stephen's also offer the EF Mass, but they have the typical high altar plus stand-alone altar set-up which you see in many older churches. I have a strong aversion to altars that look like dining room tables with floral arrangements in front of them!  

Although the interior of this church is really quite nice, with statues, and huge Stations of the Cross that are beautifully crafted, and some nice stained glass windows, I just find that the presence of that table in the center takes away from the awe and reverence one might experience otherwise. The pastors hinted that they would like to remove it, and that they are looking at some renovations for the sanctuary. Hurray!

Here's a close-up of the high altar:

There are a number of problems with the arrangement of a stand-alone altar set in front of a high altar. I think it's sad that many beautiful high altars are obscured from view by the stand-alone dining table. Even with a nice traditional antependium on the high altar, the effect will be minimized. One step at a time, I suppose. 

I really liked St. Birgitta's grounds. The church itself reminds me of our mission churches in my own diocese, with dark wood paneling that makes everything muted in the church itself. Well, some day perhaps there will be major renovations (or at least painting!) of these little churches. There was a large area next to the church with grass and a grove of trees. Vegetation is so different over on the West side! Here are two little shrines  they have set up there:

It was a different sort of weekend for me, since I was staying at my friend's house, and our schedule was so busy that my prayer times were minimal. But it was nice to visit with my friend and spend that time with her, and also have a chance to introduce her to the EF Mass. And it was nice to visit 3 different parishes all in one day! That's barely possible where I live, with the distances between parishes. 

I have my eye on one more parish over there - the one my friend and her family generally attend. They have a new parochial vicar who seems quite tradition-minded, so maybe he will be able to transform their altar. Sorry for the blurriness, but you see the altar - again, a dining room table with a floral arrangement in front. And no veil on the tabernacle! That always amazes me:

And hopefully, the Archbishop has already instructed them that the "resurrexifix" has to go. That cannot even be theologically correct!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Little Detours

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph of Cupertino; there’s a cute and stirring movie about him which I watched some years ago. And it turns out that St. Joseph of Cupertino is the patron of those with autism.

I requested a Mass to be said today for the little guy I’ve written about here, who I believe has autism.  And if you would be so kind as to pray a little prayer for him, too, I would be grateful. The various components of the situation of his life are making intervention difficult: his parents are recently divorced parents and live in towns 75 miles apart; and it is only since the divorce that they’ve acknowledged the problems their son has, which heretofore I think they tended to deny; plus, both towns are in rural areas where resources for autism are scarce.

The last time I wrote on this blog, I was heading off on retreat again. And it was a really wonderful retreat! A friend joined me this time, and that made for some special times.

But the part of the retreat I remember the most was when I was sitting on the little home-made deck that overlooks the irrigation canal and the broad meadow that serves as pasture for a herd of cattle. I had prayed the Rosary, and was going over in my mind the issues that had recently been causing me to feel stress. The little guy mentioned above came to mind—I’ll call him Joey, after the saint.

As you know, if you’ve been reading this blog for long, I’m trying to lead a life of prayer and penance. I keep to a monastic prayer schedule, pray the Divine Office, etc., and attempt to open myself to the wonders of contemplation. In a way, I have one foot in the secular world and one in the religious world.

When I became involved with Joey (and his older sister), I recognized that this was a distraction from the contemplative type of life for which I was striving. I’ve been researching and investigating treatment programs for autism, and spending time observing Joey and talking to his parents. It has disrupted my Divine Office schedule often enough over the last few months!  And yet, it seemed that God had placed this situation in my lap and was asking me to deal with it. Still, satan can appear in that capacity, too—making one think God is behind the distraction when it is really the devil.

Chipmunks enjoy the deck, too.
So I sat there, gazing out onto that peaceful meadow, thinking. I thought to myself that perhaps I was at a crossroads, but then another picture emerged in my mind. I am not at a crossroads, where I must choose to make a turn one way or the other. Instead, I am taking a mandated detour. My path is still toward the contemplative life, but God has redirected me for some reason. So many things fit together to confirm this evaluation, and my spiritual director agreed with this discernment.

I’ll continue on along the detour route then, and help Joey as best I can; I know that eventually, God will bring me back to the main path. Better to walk with Him along the detour than to forge ahead on a road that is temporarily closed! Besides, He still allows me plenty of time for prayer! 

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Interior Onslaught

I’m off on retreat again! I'll be seeing some of my little friends, I'm sure:

I leave you with this tidbit from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers:

[Amma Syncletica] also said, “We must arm ourselves in every way against the demons. For they attack us from outside, and they also stir us up from within; and the soul is then like a ship when great waves break over it, and at the same time it sinks because the hold is too full. We are just like that: we lose as much be the exterior faults we commit as by the thoughts inside us. So we must watch for the attacks of men that come from outside us, and also repel the interior onslaughts of our thoughts.”

That’s certainly true for me. It’s those uncharitable thoughts about others that sink my ship!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

10th Anniversary

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of my chapel! In some ways it seems like the blink of an eye; in others, it's been a lifetime. I adopted my Rule of Life one year before my husband created the chapel for me.

In the beginning, the chapel was just a couple of out-buildings.

It became a playroom for our daughter for a while, and then it doubled as a shelter for our kittens.

The kittens soon became cats who didn't really need their own room, and our daughter never did use the playhouse too much. One day as my husband and I were surveying our domain, I commented that it would make a nice chapel. 

My husband loves a good project, and in short order he had made the conversion.

The first chapel was in just one of the two buildings; it's actually a trailer of some sort. The other building remained a garden shed for another year. The garden shed was quite a bit larger than the trailer, and I thought it would be nice to expand. My husband, good sport that he is, jumped right in.

The shed had a dirt floor and unfinished walls and a broken window, along with lots of junk and trash...

 And old hornets' nests:

 But we just carted out all the stuff and swept up as best we could:

Ta da!

Then he finished the walls (I helped!), and we painted:

...and cut a doorway between the two buildings:


...and added some nice floor linoleum and molding:

And in the end, it was beautiful!

The interior has gone through several changes, and I documented in another post the re-painting project we undertook a couple of years ago, as well as the addition of a real tabernacle. 

We have done a lot of landscaping over the years, too. This is an early photo, before we planted trees around it.

In 2011, I mentioned to my husband that the chapel wasn't symmetrical, and could use an extension, which I could use as a little sacristy...well, by now you should know that my husband loves these projects! So:


And for years we had a problem with the roof leaking. We put a tarp over the whole thing, finally, and that worked for a while, except that the wind constantly tried to tear the tarp off (and sometimes succeeded), and the tarp eventually weathered and rotted to some extent. So we re-roofed, of course!


Here are some other views of changes in the landscaping:

Before trees and flowers.

The year I grew sunflowers! Here they were still small.
Those are the trees growing up on posts on the left.

About a year later, those trees were already doing their job.

In the winter...obviously...

...and in the summer!
It's been quite a journey, both physically and spiritually!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.