Monday, September 22, 2014

Retreat to Durward's Glen

Durward's Glen, a charming retreat center and natural haven in Baraboo, Wisconsin, has been one of my favorite family hiking spots to visit whenever we take our annual weekend camping trip to Devil's Lake, one of Wisconsin's finest State Parks.  I'm not so big on camping these days like I had been when the kids were small.  Too often we find our camping weekends to be freezing cold, or we get rained out like we did on our most recent trip, finding our tents and sleeping bags to be no defense against the thunderous downpours that bear down while we sleep causing us to awaken to a wet and muddy mess-inside our tents!  But I do enjoy hiking, and for the opportunity to make a mini-family hiking retreat to Durward's Glen each year, I will gladly put up with rain and cold and any other weather related mishap that comes with abandoning ourselves to God's great outdoors.

Someday I will go on an actual retreat at this lovely, hidden piece of heaven in the middle of Wisconsin, but until then, I'm so glad that I took lots of pictures on our recent visit so that I can reflect upon them, pray with them and forever remember the grace of quiet time with God and my family at Durward's Glen.  Although I didn't take pictures of the Stations of the Cross, it is noteworthy to mention that each station is built in ground that has been brought from the Holy Land and Medjugorje. For more information about Durward's Glen including its fascinating history and information on the retreats offered there, visit the website here.  For more of my pictures of Durward's Glen, visit my facebook page, and for my 2011 post about Durward's Glen and my family camping adventure from that year, visit this link.

the artist's cottage

Mary's Shrine

Cornerstone Hermitage

the spring
a close-up of the spring

a stairway to heaven?...

...well, practically, because it leads to the Holy Family!

the cemetery where many priests and religious are buried

St. Mary's Chapel of the Pines

some of my companions and I reflected in the window as if we were inside

an adorable statue of St. Francis of Assisi guards the door

"Jesus replied, "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." ~Matthew 8:20 

I pressed my phone up against that glass window to take this interior photo

These folded pieces of fabric tied with string to the boughs of a pine tree fascinated me!
Could they represent answered prayers?

an adorable planting

This oak tree is over 400 years old.

Don't you just want to wander down this path and lose yourself in prayer?

I love Durward's Glen!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Family Service

Paul and our four sons with Bishop Hying at Roses for Our Lady's 2012 Corpus Christi procession
(photo credit:  Mary Anne Urlakis)

Popular Catholic author and columnist  Marge Fenelon recently wrote a story for Our Sunday Visitor about families that volunteer together and included a piece about my family in the article.

“Volunteering as a family gives Paul and I a shared experience of planning and working together, supporting each other’s decisions and growing ever more deeply in love with God and each other through a joint gift of service,” -from Our Sunday Visitor column, Families Grow While Serving Together by Marge Fenelon.   

I hope that Marge's story inspires many families to look for ways that they can give back to the Lord as a united group and will find that the benefits they reap from their volunteer efforts are many.  You can read the entire story here.

My family preparing to celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Mother with Roses for Our Lady on September 8th, 2014 (photo credit:  Terry Boldin)

For more images of Roses for Our Lady's celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Mother, visit this link.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Leaves Shall Be For Healing-Tree of Life Sea Glass Mosaic Progress

"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him." ~Revelation 22:2

Christi Jentz and I spent another lovely afternoon gluing pieces of sea glass to our Tree of Life mosaic. Her pictures turned out so beautifully, really showing the progress we have made on this joint project, and I'm pleased to share them here.  Autumn, spring and summer are "leafing out" well and we chose my patterned white pieces for the winter ice.  The marbles as the fruit of the tree stand out nicely!  Christi wrote a post for 9/11 on her Lumen Christi art blog, recalling the passage from Revelelations that the "leaves shall be for healing." Visit it and offer your own prayer for our nation. (link).  

See previous links here and here.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Blessed Mother/And in Her Morning

Photo from Roses for Our Lady's Mass in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary, 2013

I'm so excited about the Blessed Mother's birthday this year!  Roses for Our Lady will be celebrating in a big way with a Mass and outdoor Eucharistic Rosary Procession by candlelight at Divine Mercy Parish in South Milwaukee.  Mass with Bishop Donald Hying, Fr. Bob Betz, Fr. Joseph Sebastian, Fr. Tim Kitzke and Fr. Luke Strand is at 7 pm.   The beautiful and talented Grace Urbanski, who works and writes for the Apostleship of Prayer, (listen to Grace sing the Ave Maria here), and the St. Stanislaus Schola, will provide the music.  Then we'll have a Eucharistic procession by candlelight while praying the rosary in the lovely Divine Mercy neighborhood.  The weather forecast looks perfect!  And we'll finish off the celebration with a birthday party complete with cake and punch.  For more details, visit this link.

One of my favorite poets, Jessica Powers, aka Sr. Miriam of the Holy Spirit, wrote a beautiful and moving poem about our Mother, and in honor of her September 8th birthday, as my own gift to her, I invite you to pray with it here.

And in Her Morning by Jessica Powers
from The Selected Poetry of Jessica Powers

The Virgin Mary cannot enter into
my soul for an indwelling.  God alone
has sealed this land as secretly as His own;
but being mother and implored, she comes
to stand along my eastern sky and be
a drift of sunrise over God and me.

God is a light and genitor of light.
Yet for our weakness and our punishment
He hides Himself in midnights that prevent
all save the least awareness of Him.
We strain with dimmed eyes inward and perceive
no stir of what we clamored to believe.
Yet I say:  God (if one may jest with God),
Your hiding has not reckoned with Our Lady
who holds my east horizon and whose glow
lights up my inner landscape, high and low.
All my soul's acres shine and shine with her!
You are discovered, God; awake, rise
out of the dark of Your Divine surprise!
Your own reflection has revealed Your place,
for she is utter light by Your own grace.
And in her light I find You hid within me,
and in her morning I can see Your Face.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sea Glass Tree of Life Mosaic-Update

"Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him." ~Revelation 22:2

Doesn't it look pretty with the light shining through?
When we are finished, the entire window will be covered with glass.

Last June my friend, Christi, and I began to plan out a sea glass mosaic project depicting the Tree of Life from the book of Revelation and I shared our beginnings here.  We recently spent six hours on a lovely late-summer day to seriously begin the work.  Since our first session in June, I diligently worked at sorting the many  jars of assorted colors of sea glass that I had accumulated over the last seven years.  I purchased an old window from our local rehab store thinking about how gorgeous the mosaic would look hanging in a window, and then I waited patiently until Christi and I could find a date that would work for  the two of us to gather at my kitchen table and begin the painstaking process of gluing the sea glass shards to the window glass.

When Christi arrived at my house, the first thing we did was to give my recycled window a critical look and decided that it was too shabby, too large, and in too much disrepair to use for our project.  So off we went to another store that sold windows that had known a former purpose.  The very first window we noticed when we walked into the store turned out to be the most perfect window for our project and we purchased it with some of the funds that I earned selling my poetry notecards at the Kansas City National Religious Art Show last July.  (For more on that story, visit this link.)

With the perfect window in hand, Christi offered a quick prayer offering our work for the glory of God and we began spreading the glass out on the table, and, using E6000 glue, set to work meticulously gluing brown glass for the tree trunk, and blue and white pieces for the river, onto the glass.

My collection of sea glass marbles is extremely small with only 12 pieces in all, and I had hoped to keep them in little plastic containers on my front porch window as a treasured prize forever, but Christi convinced me that the marbles would be put to better use as the seasonal fruits on the tree where they would really stand out.  Of course she was right. Her artistic eye instinctively knows what will look best.  Slowly, I am learning the spiritual discipline of detachment.

And so we carried on most pleasantly gluing the sea glass marbles and shards to the window when all too soon it was time for my children to arrive home from school and for Christi and I to clean up the project pieces and set them away for another day.  But this time we don't want to wait months before setting about the task once again and we set a date for the following week.  I can hardly wait to see how this will turn out when we are through and am anticipating a life-time of pleasure and prayer as I look at, and through, the glass recalling the bounty and goodness of God.

So much glass to choose from!
Can you pick out the subtle differences in shades of green and the faint difference between lavender and white?

A work in progress!

Setting the spring flowers in place using tiny mussel shells for the leaves and blue sea glass for forget-me-nots.

You can see that Christi had drawn a rough outline on the glass with blue marker.
We decided that it would have been better to have drawn it on the bottom of the glass so we could wash it off.  Can you see it through the blue water on the sides?

The large glass pieces along the bottom sides represent the 12 houses of Israel.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Shhh....It's a Library Post!

Photo Credit:   John Bender

I've always been a lover of libraries and was blessed to work as a "Page" at the Manitowoc Public Library during my high school years.  My favorite library, The Salzmann Library, on the campus of Saint Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee, has been the subject of many blog posts here, and I've enjoyed reading other's library posts, as well, such as a post on the world-famous Kansas City Library, One of the Most Unusual Libraries in the World, by Christi Jentz and Milwaukee's Sublime (Public) Library by Cream City Catholic.  (Please do take the time to visit both of those posts and the links they provide as well-you will love them!)

Recently my children and I had the great privilege of visiting a library that completely took my breath away.  I was astonished by it's beauty and saddened that my time there was far too short.  Much to my chagrin I was equally saddened that, although I took many photos of my favorite parts of the library, they were accidentally deleted from my camera.  Thankfully, my son, John, took a few photos which he generously shared with me, and I found lots of google images as well, so I have shared some of them here, but you can find so many more with a simple google search.  It may be a while before I find another opportunity to visit the Feehan Memorial Library and McEssy Theological Resource Center at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, Illinois, which is renown as one of only 250 of the world's greatest libraries, so I will try to put the missing pictures into words and share the beauty of that magical place of learning here and now without waiting for another trip to Illinois to capture more photos.

If you are ever afforded the opportunity to visit St. Mary of the Lake Seminary at Mundelein, after enjoying the beautiful grounds, lush with lakes and gardens and statues, and perhaps after bending your knees in prayer in the bright and spacious chapel, do pay a visit  to the Feehan Memorial Library, and, like a book that you just don't want to finish and return to the library, be renewed.

Photo Credit:  John Bender

Photo Credit:  John Bender

Photo Credit:  John Bender

Silenced by the Wonder

Open the door to hush and coolness and beauty, leave the natural and architectural feats behind, and bask in the wonder of books towering three floors high.

Stack after stack of knowledge is waiting to be imparted to those seeking the treasure of wisdom and learning that is available here.  I can't help but ponder whether the knowledge found in this library will be shared in future homilies.

For in a building not too far away, bishops and priests and seminarians still in training find that this source of knowledge is theirs for the taking.  And it's not only men of the cloth who can take advantage of this wonder, but anyone who thirsts after meaning and understanding in this world today and is eager to find that which they seek in the written word, in the wealth of timeless books written across the centuries. Who would not be overjoyed by this gift to be had for free?

Climb the metal spiral to the furthest hidden away corner on the third floor to find rows of Civil War history books wrapped and tied with cloth. Best to leave them wrapped and tied, I suppose.  Why loosen the wounds of war in a world already besieged with too many battles?

Just below another spiral stair, a quiet lounge awaits, immaculately clean and inviting, with relics and statues of Our Lovely Lady to enchant the visitor and accompany the student working quietly nearby.

Oh, blessed librarian, who quietly sits in waiting for those who come to explore the written words held within the hallowed walls of this magnificent library, may you long bring the joy of knowledge to those who enter your world of silent wonder!

google images
google images/Mundelein Seminary

google images

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Sisters of St. Rita Rosary Walk

The Sisters of St. Rita, Augustinian Sisters in Racine, Wisconsin, whose charism is to care for the elderly at St. Monica's Senior Living, have completed a gorgeous rosary walk behind St. Monica's. The garden walk, made with natural elements and breathtaking works of art by Aichim Klass from Ontario, Canada, is a perfect place to meditate.  Just behind the large crucifix there are two small, flowering bushes and a brand-new statue of the Blessed Mother with the infant Jesus, which was recently dedicated by Bishop Hying.  The bushes and the statue represent the beads upon which we pray for an increase in faith, hope and charity.  Behind the statue, visitors may walk the circular rosary path.  Each bush on the path represents one bead of the rosary.  The mysteries of the rosary are displayed on cement plaques that are also the work of Aichim Klass.  The entire rosary walk is beautiful and a great way to honor our Lady in prayer and to find some peace for your heart as well.  Visitors are always welcome, no need to call ahead.  Perhaps, until you can find an occasion to visit, you would enjoy praying with the pictures below which were all taken by my daughter, Mary.  Yet, as beautiful as the pictures are, they can't compare to praying with the images in person, so please do plan to pray at the Sisters of St. Rita Rosary Walk soon and often!  For more information about the Sisters of St. Rita Rosary Walk, visit their facebook page here.

Faith, Hope and Charity

the walk
A Hail Mary Bead
The First Mysteries

The Second Mysteries

The Third Mysteries

The Fourth Mysteries

The Fifth Mysteries