Knitting in Florida

Stockinette stitch (knitting)

Stockinette stitch (knitting) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Knitting simple projects and finishing one in time for Christmas gift-giving is giving me incredible stress. Mostly because I delay for one reason or another.

  1. It’s too hot to knit in Florida in [ December ] or any other calendar month, for that matter.
  2. It’s too hot to knit because I’m experiencing another hot flash.
  3. My iced tea glass will drip condensation on the yarn (because it’s too hot in Florida).
  4. Yardage was not calculated before beginning project. Ran out of a discontinued color. Oops! I was in a hurry to leave the yarn shop because it was hot that day!
  5. It’s been so long since I’ve knitted, I have to relearn my knitting technique.

A male friend recently commented “it would be cheaper to buy it already made” whereas I replied, “but handmade shows you care and were thinking of the recipient.” I win.


7 Quick Takes: How I became an “instigator” and brought Mary of Nazareth to Mims, Florida

— 1 —

Confessions Audiobook

Confessions Audiobook

My name is Monica. My patron saint is St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine. In the summer of 2012, I decided (for the 3rd time) to read Confessions, by Augustine of Hippo. Because reading the book had been a dismal failure twice before, I turned to and chose the Confessions audiobook as my FREE book for signing up. I highly recommend this version narrated by Richard Ferrone. His voice will forever be the voice of St Augustine to me! 

— 2 —

Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine

Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine

I volunteer in the office of my local Catholic church as editor of the bulletin, website, Facebook and Twitter. I receive and review information about a variety of things and sometimes nuggets of gold are discovered. When I was still basking in the after-effects of listening to Confessions, I came across the movie trailer for Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine.

Non-Christians would say it was fate, but I know it to be the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. (I’ve got some experience with Him, but that’s several posts for the future.) Because I had loaned my Audible account link for Confessions to my pastor, he too was excited to explore the opportunity to see the film. So last year I spearheaded a sponsored screening of Restless Heart, the first full-length epic motion picture about a great saint and doctor of the Church, Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. With help from friends, we secured donations to cover the site license and equipment rental ($1,350) to show it on parish grounds. Admission was only $5 because our pastor didn’t want price to keep people from coming to see the movie. He’s great that way!

Restless Heart came to our little town of Mims, Florida, for a glorious night on a 16’x20′ outdoor screen in November of 2012.  Over 150 people sat on blankets and chairs on a grassy slope in the cool night air. Everyone loved it!

— 3 —

Mary of Nazareth

Mary of Nazareth

This summer I received an announcement of a new movie to be released for sponsored screenings on October 1, 2013. The movie is “Mary of Nazareth.”

MARY OF NAZARETH is an epic new motion picture on the life of Mary, mother of Christ, from her childhood through the Resurrection of Jesus.

I watched the movie trailer several times. Each time, my eyes watered and I could feel my heart swell with joy. Once again, it was the stirring of the Holy Spirit in my heart. It was lovely, just lovely, and I knew I had to bring this movie to our little town of Mims, Florida.

— 4 —

Mary by the sea

Mary by the sea

At every opportunity, I played the Mary of Nazareth trailer for co-workers, friends, family. My pastor. My screensaver features wallpaper from the movie. Everyone expressed a delight in the promise of this movie, but it was months from a release date, and no screenings were expected in our area, much less the state of Florida. Money is tight, and the site license for this movie is $200 more than the license for Restless Heart. I needed to raise $1,150, so I wrote letters and called people asking for donations. I continue to show the movie trailer to anyone who hangs around my desk for more than a minute. Mission accomplished–$1,150 was raised in two weeks! Ticket prices started at $10, but the pastor lowered them to $6 so people can afford to come see the movie.  

— 5 —

MON.Mary_.Jesus_-150x150Ignatius Press has been unlocking 1-minute film clips each week, and so I devour these nuggets in anticipation of watching the 155-minute film. That’s right. Two hours and 35 minutes. My favorite clip is “Tunic” — I feel the power of the future event in each viewing.

— 6 —

MON.pieta_-150x150Alissa Jung (pronounced Young) portrays Mary, and she’s incredible. And she’s German. But if you’ve read this far, you’re obviously interested, so I recommend you listen/watch the interview with Alissa Jung by Anthony Ryan, Marketing Director at Ignatius Press. It takes about 20 seconds to begin–be patient. The actress is delightful! If you have time, Alissa recorded another interview for Discerning Hearts blog. The woman interviewing her isn’t identified, but I like her interview better than the one with Anthony Ryan.

— 7 —

MON.mary_.temple-150x150Endorsements.  You must read the endorsements and watch the clip from the audience at the first screening in San Francisco. The last person’s comment brought tears to my eyes. The scene of Mary making bread and giving it to the children and to the Apostles, as she gave us the True Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

“In light of the reality that the Virgin Mary is God’s created masterpiece and the pinnacle of the feminine mystery, there is no harder person to portray in a movie than her and, yet, Mary of Nazareth offers the best presentation of Our Lady I have ever seen. Mary of Nazareth is an absolute theological and Mariological masterpiece!  It will make you want to love her more than ever. Mary’s beauty is pure and ageless, her feminine mystery filled with wonder and virtue, and her divine motherhood is both tender and captivating.  Without a doubt, this is the most stunning portrayal of the Virgin Mary on film!”

Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC
 | Author, NO TURNING BACK: A Witness to Mercy

Movies like Restless Heart and Mary of Nazareth are not released to theaters. They’re not available to purchase on DVD through outlets like These incredible movies are only available for sponsored screenings. The preferred venue is in a theater with the capability of playing Blu-ray or IMAX. We need to support Christian films of this caliber.

Are you the person to come forward and decide to make it happen in YOUR community? I’m nobody special. I don’t have connections or special skills. What I do have is faith in the Lord and a willingness to help people know Him better. A desire to share the love of Jesus Christ with all people who are ready to listen.  Volunteer to raise money, find a venue, market the film, (posters and tickets are provided with the site license) and sell tickets. Contact Ignatius Press for more information, the same as I did several months ago. YOU can bring Mary of Nazareth to your community in 2014!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

When Holy Days Become Holidays, My Faith Suffers

I love holidays for the promise they hold within the folds of their tablecloths and traditions, but for the most part they do little to bolster or energize my spiritual nature. It’s all come down to a formula, the same frantic pace to “set the stage” for each holiday. There’s a playbook, and everyone has a copy.

Any errors are mine… I wrote this post when I should have been sleeping…

Although not a Holy Day, I think this was one of the “fire-starter” events that led to the secularization of Christmas. Take the traditional Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, stuffing/dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green-bean casserole, dinner rolls, candied yams, salad, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, whipped cream — and the assorted side dishes peculiar to your geographic location or culture. Overload. Make people think they have to do it all, and they will die trying to keep up with the neighbors (or those fanciful TV commercials).

Women, especially, feel the disconnect, as we’re the main providers of this fantastic meal. A meal that takes 20 minutes to eat, but 20 hours to prepare. (And a minimum of 2 hours to clean up if you wrangle some help.)  This doesn’t take into account the time needed to clean the house, decorate, and invite family/friends, then wait for the RSVP that folks don’t feel they need to provide a hostess any longer…. So we’ll say that generally as soon as Halloween is unplugged and the last bag of candy eaten, the holiday planning for Thanksgiving gets put in motion… with Christmas on its heels.

How many people know that most churches offer a “Thanksgiving Day” Mass or service? Do you give the excuse that you can’t attend because you’re cooking?  Perhaps this is what it sounds like to God…

Pastor: We hope you can join us in prayer Thanksgiving morning, to thank God for the blessings in our lives and home.

Us: Sorry, can’t make it this year. (As if next year will be better?) I’ve got to put the turkey in the oven and baste it every 30 minutes. There’s just too much to do to leave in the middle to go pray.

God: It would be good to see you relax in prayerful meditation. I don’t need to hear your appreciation for all the blessings I’ve bestowed on you, but it would be so good for YOU  to acknowledgement what you’ve received. I miss my  Children; it fills me with joy when they spend time with me!

ChristmasChristmas is a Holy Day. It is the day the Catholic Church established as a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Of course it’s not the exact day in space and time. That’s beside the point. Christ’s Mass — whether it’s the Shepherd’s Mass, Midnight Mass, Sunrise Mass, is to celebrate the coming of our Savior and to wait in joyful hope for His Second Coming. Advent is the four weeks PRECEDING Christmas.  We prepare our homes and ourselves, our spiritual selves, for the second coming of the Messiah. Or at least, we’re supposed to do that. I try and I plan to pray, but life seems to get in the way and the O Antiphon prayers go unsaid each night… the Advent Candles unlit.

Marketers, corporations and businesses have shrink-wrapped Advent and Christmas into one long gooey mess between Halloween and December 24. Because the Christmas craziness starts early, by the time December 25 actually rolls around, people are taking down their tree and turning off their outside lights. Then it’s off to the next prescribed holiday, New Year’s Eve.  Hah! That’s what’s incredible. The Holy day is actually New Year’s Day, and it is called Feast of the Holy Family. But liquor companies own the New Year’s Eve mystique, so folks feel as if they need to party and drink all night long. A lot of Catholics miss this Mass because they partied too hardy the night before.

Remember the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas?” It’s rich with symbolism. It may or may not have been used in the 1300’s, but it is still a valuable lesson. The Catholic Christmas is an OCTAVE.  That’s EIGHT days. Then there’s a few more days to Epiphany, the Feast of the Magi. This is the day to disassemble the Christmas props (lights, tree, stockings, ornaments, etc), but some folks are already preparing for the next pseudo-holiday, Valentine’s Day, which USED to be called Saint Valentine’s Day. It was a day for exchanging greeting cards with loved ones.  Candy and gifts are new requirements, and the jewelry stores are on a no-holds barred campaign to sell you expensive jewelry, so watch out!

ASH WEDNESDAY isn’t a Holy Day of Obligation, but the previous night’s Mardi Gras celebrations have eclipsed the first day of Lent and its’ meaning “Man, you were created from dust and to dust you shall return.”  “Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday” and got that name from over-indulging in activities which are considered sinful, such as overeating (Greed and Avarice). Folks wear a disguise on Mardi Gras to sin in secret, so as not to be recognized by Satan and the other evil spirits who wander the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Lent begins, and I try to take control of my prayer life and whip it into shape. Stations of the Cross were doable last year, and I hope to continue this wonderful prayer again this year.

MON.pieta_-150x150The 3 days of the Easter Triduum (also known as the Passion of the Christ) are the MOST HOLY DAYS OF THE ENTIRE YEAR FOR CATHOLICS, and yet there are Catholics who are not aware of this fact. More Catholics go to Mass on Ash Wednesday (NOT a holy day of obligation) and will find any reason not to attend Mass on Holy Thursday.  Good Friday is the ONLY day of the year the priest does not offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. The photo (above) is from the new movie, Mary of Nazareth.

People are basically good, but they also want to be noticed.  What better way to be noticed than by having black ashes drawn as a cross on your forehead for everyone to see? All day. All night. If ashes were distributed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, I bet attendance would pick up.

EasterWhen I was a young girl, Easter was magical. We became a new creation. My sister and I wore new dresses, and also wore white gloves, carried white patent-leather purses which matched our new white patent-leather shoes. Going to Easter morning Mass was special. The music, the liturgy, the priest, the people! Afterwards we’d enjoy a fun Easter Egg Hunt before being called in for a scrumptious dinner.

The more secularized the holy day, the greater the disconnect. People choose the televised football game over attending Mass. They choose dinner at home with family they won’t get along with over the Eucharist–Jesus Christ–who died on the Cross to free them from the slavery of sin.

file5811249333571This all is nothing new, but it needs to be said every few years. I’ve got an idea I want to implement next year. I want to throw a “New Year’s Party” on the Saturday night before the first Sunday of Advent, which is the first day of the liturgical year, so it makes sense to me.  Hopefully it will encourage Catholics to return to a true celebration of Advent (waiting) in order to put all the other holy days back into perspective. Also, this is one event I doubt the world will blindly embrace or try to hijack.