Blueberry Buckle for Our Lady

We were explaining to G (4) about how it was almost the Feast of the Assumption. Her eyes lit up and she asked me excitedly, “Are we going to make blueberry buckle?” I had not planned on it, but lately I have been keeping blueberries in the freezer for my current favorite breakfast of granola, homemade yoghurt, and blueberries. I said, “Sure, we can do that!” And mentally planned when we would have an hour to bake the dessert and be able to eat it before the girls’ bedtime.

I first had blueberry buckle when a friend made it for a ladies prayer group when we lived in Buffalo, NY. It was really delicious and I found a recipe for blueberry and peach buckle in one of my cookbooks. I adapted it to make with just blueberries. Then one year on the Queenship of Mary, I was thinking of a way to honor Our Lady. I thought of the blueberry buckle as a really neat way to honor her, especially since my friend made her’s in a pie dish, resembling a crown shape. It was perfect. Since then I have been making it on other Marian feast days, and now for the kids it has become a family tradition. We will continue to make blueberry buckle for Our Lady.

Blueberry Buckle (Adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a pie pan.

The Topping:
Blend until crumbly:
-1/3 cup sugar
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
-1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

The Buckle:
Have ready:
-2 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh, the frozen will take longer to cook)

Whisk together:
-1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine in another bowl and beat until slightly fluffy:
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
-1 cup sugar
-1 large egg
Gradually beat in:
-1/2 cup milk

Blue for Mary!

Add the dry ingredients and stir until they are just moistened and the batter is smooth. Carefully fold
in the blueberries. Put into the prepared pie dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes (or 60-65 if using frozen berries), until the top springs back when touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 20 minutes on a rack before serving.


I am joining a group of Catholic Bloggers doing monthly themed posts. This month is for Mary. Please check out the other blogs and posts!

Catholic Bloggers Collective

Easter Cooking

Like the women followers of Jesus prepared spices and ointments for the body of Christ as He was in the tomb on Holy Saturday, we all prepare for Easter celebrations. Today I made the traditional bread/cookie of M’s Greek ancestors (He is 1/8). The spelling I am finding online is Koulourakia; though all the recipes I have found are with vanilla flavor and his family recipe uses ginger. I am pretty happy with how braided nest turned out. I won’t share the recipe because it might be top secret for family only?

The twists are the traditional cookie shape.

The Joy of Good Friday

A Station in Czetochowa, Poland. Photo by M.

Holy Week is the time when we hear the Passion of Christ again and again and again. The whole week is centered on it. On Palm Sunday as I was listening to and praying with the Gospel, I started to think about how much I do not really like to hear about Jesus being betrayed, arrested, condemned to death, beaten, and crucified. It is not a pleasant thing to think about for many reasons: two of them being that He is God and our Creator and that He is doing this because of us.

Yesterday I was praying the Stations of the Cross (for the first time this Lent, which is too bad for me) and I got to the second station where Jesus takes up his cross. This was the meditation that stood out to me (from St. Josemaria Escriva’s meditation The Way of the Cross):

“Is it not true that as soon as you cease to be afraid of the Cross, of what people call the cross, when you set your will to accept the Will of God, then you find happiness, and all your worries, all your sufferings, physical or moral, pass away?

Truly the Cross of Jesus is gentle and lovable. There, sorrows cease to count; there is only the joy of knowing that we are co-redeemers with Him”

I remembered again that as Christians we can have a joy in our sufferings, and as St. Paul explains we participate in our salvation. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24).”

If we can rejoice in our own sufferings, then is there joy also in Christ’s suffering? He is God and has perfect suffering; and while it seems totally wrong for our God to suffer and die, this is what He chose in order to redeem us. What makes Good Friday good is the fact that His suffering brought about our redemption. The meditation on the Second Station from the St. Andrew Missal says, “A heavy cross is laid upon the bruised shoulders of Jesus. He receives it with meekness, nay, with a secret joy, for it is the instrument with which He is to redeem the world.” Imagine Jesus already so tired and hurt, bearing not just his physical ailments but also the sins of the world, having a Secret Joy in what He is doing.

On Good Friday Catholics practice fasting and abstinence to do penance for our sins, so that we can be united with the sufferings of Christ. But it is a joyful suffering and penance and one full of gratitude. Unlike the apostles, we know that Jesus has risen. The memory of his death should be solemn and sorrowful for our one sins and that God suffered, but I think that we can also share in the Secret Joy of Jesus in His carrying of The Cross.

Family Prayers for First Sunday of Lent

I mulled over these prayers for along time, but in my last post about Lenten Family Prayers with my awesome centerpiece I promised the first set of prayers for extinguishing the first candle. It is based on part of the Tenebrae service which begins with Holy Thursday Matins from the old Office. I used the translations of the Psalms from the Angelus Press 1962 Missal and the collect from the first Sunday of Lent from the Extraordinary form.


First Sunday of Lent “Tenebrae” Prayers
Begin with all six candles lit.
Leader: O God, come to my assistance.
All: O Lord, make haste to help me.
Leader: Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
All: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Leader: (Ant. 1) The Zeal of Thy house hath eaten Me up, and he reproaches of them that reproach Thee, fell upon Me.
Psalm 69 (68 old numbering)

1. Save me O God; for the waters are

come even unto my soul.
2. I stick fast in the mire of the deep:
 and there is no sure standing.
3. I am come into the depth of the sea:
and a tempest hath overwhelmed me.
4. I have labored with crying, my jaws are become hoarse:
mine eyes have failed, whilst I hope in my God.
5. They are multiplied above the hairs of my head:
that hate me without cause.
6. Mine enemies are grown strong, who have wrongfully persecuted me:
then did I pay that which I took not away.
7. O God, Thou knowest my foolishness:
and mine offenses are are not hid from Thee.
8. Let not them be ashamed for me,
who look for Thee, O Lord, the Lord of hosts.
9. Let them not be confounded on my account:
That seek Thee, O God of Israel.
10. Because for they sake I have borne reproach:
shame hath covered my face.
11. I am become a stranger to my brethren:
and an alien to the sons of my mother.
12. For the zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up:
and the reproaches of them that reproached Thee, are fallen upon me.
13. And I covered my soul in fasting:
and it was made a reproach to me.
14. And I made haircloth my garment:
and I became a by-word to them.
15. They that sat in the gate spoke against me:
and they that drank wine, made me their song.
16. But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O Lord:
for the time of Thy good pleasure, O God.
17. In the multitude of Thy mercy hear me:
in the truth of Thy salvation.
18. Draw me out of the mire that I may not stick fast:
deliver me from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
19. Let not the tempest of water drown me, nor the deep swallow me up:
and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
20. Hear me, O Lord, for They mercy is kind:
look upon me according to the multitude of Thy tender mercies.
21. And turn not away Thy face from Thy servant:
for I am in trouble, hear me speedily.
22. Attend to my soul, and deliver it:
save me because of mine enemies.
23. Thou knowest my reproach, and my confusion:
and my shame.
24. In Thy sight are all they that afflict me:
my heart hath expected reproach and misery.
25. And I looked for one that would grieve together with me, but there was none: and for one that would comfort me, and I found none.
26. And they gave me gall for my food:
and in my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.
27. Let their table become as a snare before them:
and a recompense, and a stumbling block.
28. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not:
and their back, bend Thou down always.

29. Pour our Thine indignation upon them

and let Thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
30. Let their habitation be made desolate:
and let there be none to dwell in their tabernacles.
31. Because they persecuted him whom Thou hast smitten:
and added to the grief of my wounds.
32. Add Thou iniquity upon their iniquity;
and let them not come into Thy justice.
33. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living:
and with the just let them not be written.
34. But I am poor and sorrowful:
Thy salvation, O God, hath set me up.
35. I will praise the name of God with a canticle:
and I will magnify Him with praise.
36. And it shall please God better than a young calf:
that bringeth forth horns and hoofs.
37. Let the poor see and rejoice:
seek ye God, and your soul shall live.
38. For the Lord hath heard the poor:
and hath not despised His prisoners.
39. Let the heavens and the earth praise Him:
the sea, and everything that creepeth therein.
40. For God will save Sion:
and the cities of Juda shall be built up.
41. And they shall dwell there:
and acquire it by inheritance
42. And the seed of His servants shall possess it:
and they that love His name shall dwell therein.

First Lesson: Lamentations 1: 1-5

1  How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the cities has become a vassal.
2  She weeps bitterly in the night, tears on her cheeks; among all her lovers she has none to comfort her; all her friends have dealt treacherously with her, they have become her enemies.
3  Judah has gone into exile because of affliction and hard servitude; she dwells now among the nations, but finds no resting place; her pursuers have all overtaken her in the midst of her distress.
4  The roads to Zion mourn, for none come to the appointed feasts; all her gates are desolate, her priests groan; her maidens have been dragged away, and she herself suffers bitterly.
5  Her foes have become the head, her enemies prosper, because the LORD has made her suffer for the multitude of her transgressions; her children have gone away, captives before the foe.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, be converted unto the Lord thy God.
Responsory:All: On the mount Olivet He prayed to His Father:
Father, if it be possible, let thus cup pass away from Me:
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Leader: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation,
The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
The first candle is extinguished.
All: Our Father…
Leader: O God, Who dost purify Thy Church
by the yearly observance of Lent:
grant to Thy household, that what we strive to
obtain from Thee by abstinence,
we may achieve by good works.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ,Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever. Amen.

Liturgical Year: Lenten Family Prayers

I got the wooden cross here and the base at the craft store.
A couple of years ago, I wanted to make a meaningful centerpiece surrounded by liturgical prayers to be used by our family during Lent, similar to that of the Advent wreath. While thinking and praying about what to do, I thought of the Tenebrae service I had been to in college. Franciscan University always does the Tenebrae service on Wednesday of Holy Week. The service itself is from the old Liturgy of the Hours (or Office) for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. The word Tenebrae means “darkness”, and in the Tenebrae service psalms are recited, readings or lessons are read, and the fifteen candles are extinguished one by one. I decided that for our Lenten centerpiece I would use six candles (one for each week) in the shape of a cross and then instead of lighting one more candle each week, we would extinguish one candle each week until Holy Week when no candles would be lit. For Easter we make our home Paschal Candle which we use all of the Easter Season.
Shower of Roses blog has how to make your own, I bought mine at Target.
This year I decided to take psalms and readings from the Tenebrae service along with the collect of the day, to have a prayer for each Sunday with the Lenten candle cross. The first set of prayers is for Ash Wednesday when all six candles are lit. On the first Sunday of Lent, the first candle is extinguished and only five are lit during the week. We always light ours during our family dinner. Then on the second Sunday of Lent we extinguish another so that we only have four lit that week. On Palm Sunday, we extinguish the last, and then on Holy Saturday, we make our family paschal candle. 
I have not had the time to put together the prayers yet, but I will try to get this Sunday’s posted before Sunday. I failed to have them done for Ash Wednesday, so instead M read me this:

Ash Wednesday by T.S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man’s gift and that man’s scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Read the rest HERE.

Seven Quicktakes Friday-Feb. 1

I am going to link up today, so make sure you go visit Jen for all the quicktakes.

1. The major thing that happened to me this week was the realization that I have been having mild postpartum depression. Some days I have been totally fine, but other days I have felt completely overwhelmed at the thought of taking care of the kids and the house. I was attributing it to the adjustment to everything new in my life, but it turns out it is probably a hormonal imbalance. I was shot up with some progesterone yesterday and I am already noticing a difference. Hooray! So please keep me and the family in your prayers. And also please pray for someone else I am close to who has been diagnosed with depression (the non-postpartum version).

2. And here is an advertisement for the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning and NaProtechnology. They only reason I went to the doctor about feeling not normal was because my charting (which I started dutifully at 56 days postpartum which is what they ask when one is totally breastfeeding) indicated that my hormones levels were not quite right. I had a follow-up with my practitioner and she told me to call my doctor which lead to me getting some more hormones which after 30 hours seem to be helping a lot. So, if you are thinking about charting; having a regular follow-up person and charting can help with a lot of things, not just for avoiding or achieving pregnancy. Such as helping you be a nice mom instead of a spastic yelling mom who can’t handle tantrums at all…

3. G gave this to me today and said: “This is to help you with your blog.” Here it is:

I think that is a “G”.

4. We went to the Mall of America on Saturday despite G’s pleas to go to the art museum. My kid is already geeky. We got some smelly soaps since I had a gift card from my birthday in June that I had not used. Now everytime G washes her hands she says, “Mmmm, this soap smells like flowers! Do you want to smell my hands mom?!”

5. Lent is coming up. I am going to adapt a Tenebrae service this week for a Lenten devotion for my family. Look for more on it at Truth and Charity this week. Also, don’t forget that tomorrow is Candlemas, the Presentation of our Lord, and the last day of the Christmas/Season after Epiphany. So, it is the last day for your nativity scene and tree.

6. Now that I am going to be feeling better, I am going to attempt to do potty training for real again soon. Typical potty training episode so far which is why I had given up:

L: “I have to go potty.”
Me: “Okay, let’s go!” I put her on the toliet.
Me: “Have you gone yet, L?” L grabs at the toliet paper and pulls off a piece.
Me: “If you go you can have a frozen blueberry!”
L: “Blueberry!”
Me: “Have you gone yet? I am going to count to ten and then you go. One, two, three, four, five…”
L: “A flag!” She waves the toliet paper in the air.
Me: “Are you going to go?”
L: “No. All done.” She drops in the toliet paper in the toliet and then flushes.

7. I have just started Sigrid Undset’s biography on Catherine of Sienna. What an incredible life. I will probably be blogging about sainthood in the future, but one thing I do know and I told M last week is that I am not living a life of heroic virtue. His response: “I could have told you that!” Thanks dear. 🙂

Wondering About Baby Jesus?

I first seriously thought about devotion to baby Jesus when I traveled to Prague with a group of friends during the semester I studied at my school’s campus in Austria. The Infant of Prague can be found on a side altar in a church somewhere in the city. I was not even planning on going to Prague that weekend, but decided to join a group of friends last minute when my other plans fell through. When I found myself praying before the Infant dressed up in a shiny green vestment-like dress I was not really sure what to say or pray or why this devotion had been popular for hundreds of years.

Two years later I was living in a house in Steubenville, Ohio near my college campus with four young women who shared a devotion to baby Jesus and were in the same household (the Steubenville alternative to a sorority created to pray together in community based on a common spirituality). Their simple enthusiasm for the child Jesus taught me how I should have prayed that day in Prague. It was similar to the universal adoration shown to a newborn baby, except that it was combined with their love of God. In fact, it seemed to enhance their love of God in a way that I had never thought about.

How did the Shepherds feel before the Infant they knew to be their Savior and God? The Wise Men knew there was something special about the Infant King they came to adore. And Our Lady, Mary, must have felt such an overwhelming love for her own Son who was also her Lord and her God.

God chose to become man as a little baby, and it is awesome that we can still pray to Him as that child. The Church gives us the opportunity every Christmas, but we are not restricted to the season in our devotion to Him. What does a devotion to baby Jesus do for us as worshipers of God? Praying to the child Jesus helps us follow His call to simplicity to be like a little child. When we come and adore the divine child we open ourselves to have Wonder and to be transformed by it. Wonder is what a child has when she sees the moon in the sky during the day instead of at night, and children wonder at the snow covering the ground. Children marvel at all aspects of God’s creation from the smallest bug to the largest mountain. When we start to wonder again, especially towards God himself, we learn to wonder at all of His creation. And our wondering at God is a way of worshiping Him and it causes us to grow in our love of Him.

This Sunday is Epiphany when the three wise men came to adore the child Jesus in Bethlehem. If we join them with our hearts in traveling to wonder at the Infant King, we can grow in love of God this Christmas Season. O come, let us adore Him!

Originally posted on Truth and Charity.

Secular Advent Music

When I think of Advent music the first song that comes into my head is O Come, o come, Emmanuel. There are other hymns that are suitable as well, like Come Thou Long Expected Jesus  and Wake, Awake, but these are not what you here on the radio. So, here I am going to give a few ideas for songs to listen to in the more secular line of Advent music:

1. Santa Claus is Coming to Town- Watch out, don’t cry, or else guys. That is the message of this song. 🙂

2. I’ll Be Home for Christmas– This is also an anticipatory song for Advent. It dreams of Christmas and all being together, which are very good values, especially wanting to be with loved ones.

A White Advent.

3. I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas– This is definitely for Advent, as once Christmas comes, you can’t really dream of a white Christmas coming.

4. Silver Bells– “Soon it will be Christmas Day.” It is all about shopping, because that is where you hear the silver bells.

Anymore good “secular” Advent songs?

While the secular ones are fun, they do not compare to the depths of the coming of our Savior:

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

What does Santa coming with presents have to compare with Jesus coming to bring us eternal life? Snow is a cool gift from God, and very beautiful, but it is not God Himself. Being together on Christmas with gifts for each other is nice, but it does not compare to being together in Heaven. I am struggling to find the value in the seemingly shallow secular celebrations of Christmas, but maybe I should see them as a precursor to the joy that will be eternal life together in Heaven.

The Jesse Tree

Our Jesse Tree

On that day, A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.-Isaiah 11:1

Every year growing up I looked forward to Advent. My parents worked to make it special, and looking back I imagine it was to combat the pre-Christmas consumer season. Every First Sunday of Advent before dinner my father would read the blessing of the Advent wreath and the tall brand-new tapers of purple and rose. Then my eldest sister lit the first purple candle (we took turns each day) and we sang together”O Come, o come Emmanuel.”

After dinner when the dishes were cleared and washed, my mother would sit with the four of us children by our home Jesse Tree and read the first reading from Scripture. The Jesse Tree is a devotion is done by lay people in their homes during Advent.

The devotion includes having a small tree in one’s home, such as a small evergreen or a small branch of a tree from one’s yard, reading a specific reading from Scripture each day, and then hanging a corresponding ornament on the tree. By the end of Advent the whole tree is full of ornaments. In our home, my mother eventually made a tree out of felt and all the ornaments were also made of felt. (We used this devotional book which gave a guideline of readings and came with paper ornaments which we used before my mother made our own.)

This devotion of the Jesse Tree stuck with me as an adult and my first year of college I read the readings on my own until I went home for Christmas break. My first Christmas married, shortly before the birth of our first child, my husband and I hand drew our own Jesse Tree ornaments on paper and did the readings together. I am now working on a counted cross-stitch version of our ornaments.

 We use a 20 inch artificial evergreen tree to hang the ornaments. Our little girls love to hear the stories every year, and as they get older I am eager for them to learn more fully the story of Salvation history each Advent.

A home Jesse Tree can be as simple as a branch from a tree hung with the ornaments cut out from the devotional book, and there are many ideas online found with a quick search. The idea is to prepare oneself for Christmas and observe the season of Advent by reading Scripture passages that point to the coming of Christ. Some sets of readings start with Creation and move through important events of the Old Testament while others focus solely on the New Testament.

The name of the Jesse Tree comes from the fact that Jesus’ genealogy is traced to the line of Jesse, the father of David. This is why I prefer to use readings from Scripture that start with the Old Testament.

The readings we use for each day start show the ancient line of Jesus beginning with Adam and Even in the story of Creation in Genesis, and then the necessity for Christ’s birth because of the Fall; then going through Scripture we read about others in the line Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and then the prophets who told about the coming of Christ. The last week focuses on the New Testament readings leading to the birth of Jesus.

In reading about those who prefigure Christ, the prophecies about his coming, and finally the events immediately before His birth, we prepare ourselves throughout all of Advent. As we observe the liturgical season with the Church it helps keep the focus of what Christmas is really about: God becoming man, as He promised again and again throughout Scripture, so that we can again be united with Him.

Originally posted on Truth and Charity.