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Monday, June 27, 2016

Fr. Pendergraft. FSSP - TODAY'S CHAOS - IHM National Conference Notes

These are my bullet notes from Fr. Pendergraft 's  talk, Catholic Education: The Role of The Family And The Church, which happened to be on the feast of St. John the Baptist, the saint who gave his life for marriage.

 To hear it in its entirety, on and after August 1st  you can find  audio of it HERE, along with other talks from this 2-day Catholic homeschooling/parenting conference.

Fr. Gregory Pendergraft, FSSP - IHM National Conference - 2016

*  Before the fall, man had WILL, INTELLECT and PASSIONS rightly ordered. Our senses (passions) informed our intellect with knowledge and reason that was applied by our will. Then sin overcame our passions and rebelled against order.  After the fall it was all in disorder.

*  We see chaos in a modern world that has stopped thinking.

*  Without acknowledging that God is the Creator, who teaches authority, we can not have parents in authority to their children, nor pastors to flocks. With no God, authority loses its meaning.

*  For Cain, it was written in  his heart. He knew his killing of Abel was wrong. God has given us the tools to discern. But society is trying to erase Natural Law...marriage...gender... 

*  The devil seeks to strip us of our natural identity to then strip us of our morality.

*  A frog adjusts to warmer water until it is boiled and dies. We're getting into the pot and turning on the heat.

*  China bans porn for it knows that it corrupts and makes the addict useless. Our evils make us weak.

*  We engage our intellect more by reading but we'd rather see the movie than read the book.

*  What I give is commensurate with what I give out. The Traditional Latin Mass can be harder. But the difficult is good.

*  Church has dropped the ball on education . Pastors need to be well-formed. No one gives what they don't have. Pray and encourage your priest to teach the faith. Don't give them a way out. We have to give for others to receive.

*  Recognize truth.  Society says it's invented. What is truth, asks Pontius Pilate? There is ONE Truth. Truth excludes error. Speak up. Don't hide behind the excuse of charity. We'll lose the ability to express and practice our faith.

*  We have to want to be Catholic and want our faith because persecution is coming.  We shrink in a corner when we should meet head on and convert.

Fr. Gregory Pendergraft, FSSP, is the Executive Director of Development for the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter’s North American district. The Fraternity, frequently referred to by their Latin initials (FSSP) is an International Society of Priests founded in 1988 by Pope St. John Paul II who are dedicated to growing in holiness and meeting the pastoral needs of the faithful through the Traditional Latin Mass and sacraments.
Fr. Pendergraft travels extensively throughout North America in his duties. In the many places that he visits, he not only offers Mass and hears confessions, but provides spiritual reflections and meditations and frequently gives conferences and presentations on both the work of the Priestly Fraternity and the Traditional Latin Mass. He is also the Assistant Director of Vocations for Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, the Fraternity’s North American house of priestly formation in Nebraska. In this capacity he gives vocations talks and counsels individuals who are interested in the religious life.
Ordained in 2005, Father has since served as pastor and assistant pastor at FSSP parishes. As Fraternity parishes tend to have a very high concentration of homeschooling families among the attendees, Fr. Pendergraft has had extensive experience providing families with counsel on both the benefits and challenges of homeschooling, and how to make it an integral part of living a fully Catholic life on a daily basis.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Fr. Shannon Collins on The Weapon - IHM National Conference Notes

The Albigensian heresies are much like today's heresies...a culture of death.  They condemned the body and so promoted suicide, euthanasia, recreational sex and a contraceptive mentality in an effort to reduce the number of sinful bodies.  Today, we see these ends receiving constitutional protection.

In the time of the Albigensian heresy, St. Dominic received the rosary from Our Lady, to chain the enemy. Each bead represented a rain of heavenly dew. Our Lady affirmed that if conversions were wanted, pray her psalter. 

Pope St. Pius X  urged every Catholic to pray the rosary daily to defeat the Turks in the Battle of Lepanto.  Out numbered, out navied, out gunned, he had seen in a vision the battle won with the weapon of the rosary prayers.

Fr. Shannon Collins - IHM National Conference - 2016

And once again, Father had us riveted and these are my notes from his talk the Rosary.  On and after August 1st you can get a copy of this talk at the site.

*  We live in times that test us.  Moral relativism holds sway, Church membership and leadership seems lethargic. Heaven's consistent message for the last 20 years is that this is NOT a springtime!

*  At LaSallete, Our Lady spoke of punishment and penance.

*  At Fatima, she spoke of  whole nations annihilated and Russia spreading her errors. 

*  With threats of heaven-sent chastisement, things look dark.  The devil has his hour, as the Lord said he would. But, God will have his day!

*  Blessed Anna Maria Taigi, mystic and advisor to Pope Pius IV foretold of a time of trial and tribulation to come upon the world. Three days and nights of darkness, pestilence and foul air and, remaining in our home, our survival kits to be blessed candles and rosary prayers for mercy.

*  Lady of Akita said the devil would infiltrate the Church members and Cardinal would vs. Cardinal and Bishop would vs. Bishop and fire would reign down from heaven. 

*  The Immaculate Heart of Mary would triumph in the end  and Christ is King.

*  Each AVE is a seed that is planted in the garden of our souls. 

*  It's always darkest before the rising sun and Mary is the morning star. Restoration will come and we are the  great apostles of the last days.

*  Father suggested everyone read and own St. Louis de Montfort's True Devotion.

Fr. Shannon Michael Collins was born in 1964 and is a native of Cohasset, MA. After undergraduate and graduate work in history and education, he taught in Catholic schools for a number of years. Having completed his seminary training at St. Philip Neri Seminary in Toronto, Ontario, he was ordained to the priesthood on June 10, 2000.

Father has been a very strong proponent of Catholic homeschooling and, over the years, a very popular speaker at numerous Catholic homeschooling conferences across the United States. He has appeared on EWTN and had previously served as chaplain for the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama. Father is currently a traditional religious priest under Bishop Roger Foys of Covington, Kentucky.

Shak Hill On The Attack On Fatherhood - IHM Conference Notes

I wasn't expecting to need a hanky in the first talk of IHM 's National Conference, 2016.  Shak Hill's story is so moving and his compelling, polished presentation set an excellent tone for this year's Catholic Parenting Conference. He spoke so beautifully about Fatherhood and I hope he will return in future years.

Shak Hill - IHM National Conference - 2016

Here are my notes from his talk,  3 ½ Lessons I Have Learned Raising 46 Foster Children . Eventually, the audio CDs of the talk will be available HERE.

  • Many are running from parenthood
  • (On his wife's decision to go through with a pregnancy jeopardizing her life...) "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends."  John 15:13 She makes me a better man and father.  I wake up to a hero every morning.
  • #1 Spending time matters - while you might have an influence on a child for 18 years, as a foster parent it may just be 18 days. They need more dad time than money can buy.
  • Turn off electronics and have family dinners with conversations
  • Pray that husbands see the benefits to support wives in homeschooling, ask Blessed Mother for him to see its channel for grace.
  • #2 - Blood NOT thicker than water, example of St. Joseph
  • His story of 4 yr. old David marveling that, "He came home."  will last with me a long time.  Right now I am just sitting with it, filling up again with tears for those who go without happy, 2 parent homes.
  • #3 Fathers matter.  Culture today wants to redefine outdated parenthood, making dads bumbling idiots on TV.
  • There was a time when this country was materially and morally prosperous and most were virtuous, hard working, loyal to God, family and country.
  • 1950-53 overtly religious novels were best sellers and the movies of the time portrayed The Quiet Man and Shane and Ben Hur and the Sound of Music and Father of the Bride as male figures.
  • TV shows were Father Knows Best, Bonanza, My 3 Sons, Ozzie & Harriet and FATHER was the hero.
  • 80s - Shining with murderous Dad, Jack Nicholson and 1999's Academy Award winner was American Beauty, another monster dad and fatherhood is mocked and rejected.
  • Strong men are not fathers in today's movies. Action heroes are divorced, estranged or never's bonding vs. James Bond.
  • Started in the 30s with FDR's new deal. Government took over fatherhood and then Ted Kennedy created benefits to unwed mothers who could only receive them if father was not living with them.
  • 60s - sex and love questioned, the link broken and the sexual revolution has casualties.
  • In Roe v. Wade almost 15,000 words were written by Judge Blackmon and he mentions fatherhood twice. (Once to refer to ancient greeks and to note Hippocrates was "father" of medicine.) The rights of dads don't exist.
  • Almost 1/3 of children in America live apart from dad and fatherless homes see greater crime and suicide and poverty.
  • Today is the feast of John the Baptist who came to "turn the hearts of children to their fathers" and visa versa.
  • Lesson 3 and a half - a baby crying in the night shows us our sounds like any baby (black..white) needing to belong or be fed.
  • Homeschooling recommits family to God, the work of God...a testament to the centrality of Christ in the home.

Shak Hill spent 9 years as a pilot in the Air Force, upon graduating from the United States Air Force Academy, and flew combat missions during Desert Storm. During his time at the Academy, Shak and Robin met, fell in love, and were married right after his graduation. It was the beginning of a storybook romance. ... Robin and Shak became foster parents, and since 1997 have fostered 46 children and adopted a sibling group of four. Robin and Shak are also proud homeschoolers of their children.
Recognizing the need to bring integrity and morals back into our national governance, Shak ran for the Republican nomination for the U. S. Senate from Virginia in 2014. Though he was unable to garner enough votes to win the election, he ran a remarkable campaign that brought the importance of character and morality back into the public discourse. Shak is an inspirational speaker, author, business owner, Family of the Year Award Winner, combat pilot, MLS Soccer official, elected official, U. S. Senate Candidate, foster father, dad, and husband.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teaching Tuesday - Reading Aloud LITTLE WOMEN - Lessons Learned

I am revisiting a childhood favorite with my daughter.  This summer I am reading aloud to her LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott.  I've longed for this and it has been as sweet as I hoped!

We read a chapter or 2 a day and discuss it.  You just have to stop and savor it.  Besides the words and phrases to explain, there are virtues to discuss and I want to hear what she she would describe what she's heard.  Retelling.

[ Charlotte Mason Method of Narration ]

[ Narration - The Best Way to Learn ]

This was the cover of my book, growing up. And when we are done with the book, we'll watch a few of the film versions. 

This has reminded me how fun reading aloud to my children has been in our homeschooling.  I was reminiscing with the older boys our read-aloud of Tom Sawyer and how there were times they rolled off the couch laughing. 

[Read what Hemingway said about that Mark Twain classic. ]

It isn't too daunting of a commitment, to read aloud. A chapter a day doesn't take very long. But these are times and memories I cherish and I believe they will, too.

With "teacher-eyes" I wanted to be able to share more than just the story of Little Women with my 11-year-old daughter, so I google for resources. Here are 2 I'd like to recommend.

[1]  THIS is a great article on lessons to be learned from Little Women.  
13 Essential Lessons ‘Little Women’ Can Teach You About Living Well

[2]  If you wanted to turn it into a full-on curriculum of unit study, THIS is a wonderful link with "tons of resources."

Tell me, what have been some of your favorite read aloud classics?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Tribute to Dads & Priests on Father's Day

On this Father's Day...and always...I am thankful for our Priestly Fathers.  They bring us Jesus Christ in the Sacraments. I am in awe of their commitment and try to capture its beauty to draw others to the Catholic Mass and faith. God bless and protect our spiritual fathers.

With so much love, I wish my dear husband a Happy Father's Day.  He is the father I dreamt of for my children.  How lucky they are, how blessed.  His love for us is felt each and EVERY day.  I pray their lives are imprinted by his commitment to his faith and that it becomes theirs.

fathers day steve 2016 from AllisonGirone on Vimeo.

And for my own dear Father, thank you for a lifetime of memories of laughter and love!  You've taught me so much and I am grateful for all the ways I am like you. May God give us many more years to share together.

To all the good men - relatives and friends - who are fathers, I pray that St. Joseph intercede for you in prayer before the Face of God.  God gave so much importance to Fatherhood and may you receive all the graces you need to fulfill that role in love.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Motivational Books For Teens *UPDATE

For summer reading,  I like to put a formative, character building book in the hands of my children. What can YOU recommend?

They have read and enjoyed many classic fiction books and saint biographies and spiritual classics and I look for others in that motivational genre.

They've read:

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations

 The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

 The Art Of War

 How to Win Friends & Influence People

 Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions, Body Language, and Charisma

and others on social skills and manners.

On Amazon, I saw some that looked appealing for my daughter.  But I'd like to make sure....has anyone ever read these?

Speak Love by Annie Downs

 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know

 Express Yourself: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are
*UPDATE - A Mom wrote to me that this one promotes pre-marital sex and that parents know nothing.  OFF MY LIST!

PLEASE share your recommendations,
 I'd love to hear them!

Monday, May 23, 2016

When I Draw Near The Ciborium, All My Sighs Are Heard...

If I am despised by the world,
If it considers me as nothing,
A divine peace flood me.
For I have the Host as my support.
When I draw near the ciborium, All my sighs are heard...
To be nothing is my glory. I am the atom of Jesus...

“I am convinced that one should tell one's spiritual director if one has a great desire for Communion, for Our Lord does not come from Heaven every day to stay in a golden ciborium; He comes to find another heaven, the heaven of our soul in which He loves to dwell.” 

 ― Thérèse de Lisieux, The Story Of A Soul: The Autobiography Of St. Therese Of Lisieux

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Trinity Sunday - Psalm 139 & You Were There

"So haven't I learned that my ways
Aren't as high as Yours are
And You alone keep the universe
From crumbling into dust
You are God and though we would
Not have understood You...
 There You were"

Fr. Bartoloma, JCL quoted today from Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI and Psalm 139 on Blessed Trinity Sunday.

Behind and before you encircle me
and rest your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
far too lofty for me to reach.

Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence, where can I flee?

If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
if I lie down in Sheol, there you are.

If I take the wings of dawn
and dwell beyond the sea,

Even there your hand guides me,
your right hand holds me fast.

Psalm 139 is the basis of this song, that I am listening to today as I worship The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.  You were there...You were there. 

God Bless your Trinity Sunday.

Monday, May 16, 2016

FIRSTS - Pentecost High Mass & First Holy Communion

Pentecost Sunday marks the FIRST birthday of the Catholic Church.

It was also this young priest's FIRST High Mass.

For 2 young girls, It was their FIRST Holy Communions!

What was not a FIRST was my emotion.  As I approached the communion rail I glanced at one of the Communicants that had returned to pray in her pew.  

Her face.

O....her face.

She closed her eyes and smiled and in that expression was BLISS.

Bliss mixed with I've-been-lost-and-now-I-am-home, and my breath sucked in. I knelt and had to fight back tears.

So much to be grateful for today....for FIRSTs and for reminders of what we have in the Mass and Eucharist. It was easy to feel the Holy Spirit at work today.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Reflection & Prayer for Wisdom

By three methods we may learn wisdom
  • First, by reflection, which is noblest; 
  • Second, by imitation, which is easiest; 
  • and third by experience, which is the bitterest. - Confucius

Reflecting today on many things. Endings, like the school year, and beauty.

For Beauty, it is said to be in the eye of the beholder. We may each have our own vision of what is beautiful. 

And for Homeschooling, it is indeed beautiful to me. I'm committed to it. Beautiful things usually take effort and homeschooling, like other hard work, can bring worthwhile results.

Our beauty and our commitments (homeschooling) can be a "bitter experience" to others. 

In our world today, across many areas and topics, there are examples of one-way tolerance. "I can like what I like but if you like what YOU like...then you're hating on me."  


We fall into traps, imitating the wail of society that seeks to silence.

A friend shared with me that in sharing what was beautiful to her, others felt she wasn't being "real." Why is there distrust of beauty, seeking to silence it? Why is her beauty not real?  

"Real" is likely having something troubling you and being triggered by it's opposite. 

Experience reminds me and teaches me what beauties and committments to focus on.  If experience proves bitter, God will bring something good and beautiful out of it. 

I pray He shows me how to bridge the divide, the distance, in communicating what is beautiful to me in a world of triggers. Conflict is the opposite of beauty, to me, and I am in search of the wisdom to transcend it with others.

What wisdom can I find in reflection, imitation and experience?  To return to this daily prayer, written by John Henry Cardinal Newman, may I reflect/imitate/be-the-experience of True Beauty...Wisdom Himself!

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance 
everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
That my life may only be a radiance of Yours.

Shine through me, and be so in me
That every soul I come in contact with
May feel Your presence in my soul.
Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!

Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine,
So to shine as to be a light to others;
The light, O Jesus will be all from You; none of it will be mine;
It will be you, shining on others through me.

Let me thus praise You the way You love best, 
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching, 
not by words but by my example,
By the catching force of the sympathetic influence 
of what I do,
The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

MOTHERHOOD...What Is The World Without You?

MOTHERHOOD, I hold you in value...what is the world without you?  

Two ladies in Facebook groups have recently shared that having announced their pregnancies they were surprised by rude comments...from friends... to their husbands... instead of congratulations. I have heard similar stories from other friends of mine with large families.

My friends with large families have taught me so much about generosity and selflessness and trust. They show me so much about what is good in life... and meaningful. Their love, their beautiful families, are a witness... not a punchline.

When did LIFE become a joke?  

When did parenthood, life-giving LOVE and the noble service of Motherhood become devalued and mocked as something less than desirable?  Do people really flourish without it?  Isn't it more the case that they are damaged when motherhood isn't embraced and affirmed?

4 Generations 

I know women who mourn for want of children. Their empty arms and hearts ache...
Mocking pregnancy hurts them, too.

Our relationships with our children will be what we are thinking about at the end of this life.  Will we be thinking about success or thinking about the LOVE? LOVE is what we really want from life and our happiness is often measured by the love we feel.

When the comments say "get fixed" what is broken? I know it says more about the commenter than about the family. When the comments say, "are you done?" which child in a family should be "returned"?  

What happened to the word SHAME?  Aren't we ashamed that this is considered humor, to chide the miracle of life? The culture of death has changed us and made a mockery of parenthood.

MOTHERHOOD, I hold you in value...
what is the world without you?  

HAPPY MOTHER's DAY and a THANK YOU to my mother, who always showed us the dynamic importance of Motherhood and a mother's love.
I am grateful for the legacy and the love and friendships that surround me! For those who have no children but offer their spiritual motherhood in nurturing others, I am also grateful. May the Blessed Mother keep them both under her mantle.

God will use each life and bring love to it.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Two High

Two High Masses, that is.

We went to Pittsburgh for the High Mass at St. Boniface Sunday at 11am.

St. Boniface is on the Historic Registry
 The High Mass was very beautiful, with transcendent chant and the Priest had a beautiful voice as well!


Afterwards, we drove through beautiful Pittsburgh. I love the town and saw endless spots I want  to photograph. 

Can't wait to go back to Pittsburgh!

We had crepes at Pamela's Diner in the strip district and loved the retro theme and all the 1950's style family album-type photos lining all the walls. 

Later, at 4pm, the last High Mass of the school year was held at Franciscan University. So we went to our second High Mass that day.  

The choir was E X C E P T I O N A L ! (Wish I had been in a better spot to capture it in video.)

The room dimmed a bit as thunder and rain came over the chapel.

In God's goodness, the rain stopped as Mass finished and lovely drops of rain beset the tulips and flowering trees...

like an abundance of graces...