Friday, June 26, 2015

Join Me in a Novena for Marriages to Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin

With the Feast of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin on July 12, I am going to host the novena to them for holy families and marriages. Some of you joined me last year, and I know personally  of several marriages that reaped great graces from the intercession of the Blessed Martins. As they are being canonized this year, we have even more reason to pray to them, and given current events in our country we have even more reason to strive for sanctification in marriage. Another grace filled fact is that the Vatican is supposed to announce their canonization date tomorrow!

I have been written previously about holy families and holy marriages, taking much of my inspiration from the example of Blessed Louis and Zélie Martin. You can read about their holy life together here. They lived out their marriage beautifully, centering the family around prayer, and both living lives of heroic virtue. As I wrote my articles, I realized that most marriages do not have an ideal situation for becoming holy. It takes the desire and devotion of both spouses to create a holy marriage, and a marriage that does not embrace all the graces of the Sacrament is missing out.

I am inviting you (and your spouse if he or she desires) to join me and my husband in a novena to Bl. Louis and Zélie Martin (from the site "
“Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin: The Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux” run by a very nice lady Maureen O'Riordan) leading up to their Feast day on July 12. The novena will begin in one week on Friday, July 3 and end on Saturday, July 11. On the 12th itself, we will pray a litany to the holy couple. The novena itself has an imprimatur, so it is even Church approved!
If you would like to follow along with me in the novena, I will be posting reminders on this blog, Living With Lady Philosophy. You can sign up to receive emails with the reminders by following my blog by email in the left hand column, or follow the blog in a RSS feed. I will post reminders to Facebook daily.

Here you may also leave your intentions for your marriage or for someone else’s in the comments or you may email me your intention to livingwithladyphilosophy at gmail dot com (skip the spaces and use the actual punctuation), and I will add you to my list. If you wish to remain anonymous just give your first initials (ex. M&S) or your last initial (Mr. &Mrs. S) or even make up initials.

I am so excited to share this powerful novena with you my readers and to have this opportunity to pray for your marriages!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Seven Quick Takes: One for Each Year of Marriage

I married a really amazing guy seven years ago this month (believe it or not I began writing this before our anniversary almost two weeks ago). It is really hard to believe that it has been seven whole years, but I am not sure we could have done everything we have in less than seven years. And none of these things we could have accomplished without Grace and the mutual help we provide each other.

Seven years later, we have 4 children, a PhD (his, not mine), a great job with great colleagues (again, his, not mine), 14 peer reviewed publications (his), an awesome blog (mine), a house perfect for us, friends all over the country, a great parish, and hopefully a life of increasing grace, holiness, and love. And since we have made it seven years, I will take a peek at what each year brought us.

1. Year One: Our first year of marriage began a month after we both earned our Masters of Arts (theology for me, philosophy for him). We had a great wedding with lots of family and friends. We were married in St. Louis, honeymooned in MI, and moved to Buffalo, NY by July.

Our first year was the first of our thriftiness. Together we worked to live on a very small budget. The first summer was hard in many ways as M worked in a factory for six weeks (6:30am-3pm), I battled morning sickness and looked for work, and we worked on establishing friendships. M did everything possible to make way for a four year PhD track, working with his adviser on his Topical even then, excelling in coursework, working to publish papers from his coursework.

Nine months in we had our first little girl, and she has been our worst newborn sleeper by far. But we persevered through the first months of parenting, M supporting me all the way, doing work at home, changing diapers, spending hours awake at night with the baby. Our first anniversary we celebrated while visiting my sister and her family in Illinois.
A week before our 1 year anniversary.
2. Year Two: Our second year we continued to live in our one bedroom apartment, and having a baby brought me into the world of playdates with other awesome Catholic moms. We spent hours together at least one morning a week, fed each other, supported each other. M continued to excel in his work, and I worked part-time with G tagging along in a Religious Education office. By the time of our second anniversary, I was three months pregnant with our second and we had moved down the street to our two bedroom apartment.
In the Boston Commons in August after a day of sight seeing.
3. Year Three: It always seems like it takes a good two years to feel established in a city for me. At that point, you call it home without thinking any more. This year, we got more comfortable in Buffalo as our friendships were strong, our family was growing here, and we knew it would be our home for a couple of more years. M spent the summer doing dissertation research, and then decided to write something like two pages of his dissertation a day during that school year.

L came the First Sunday of Advent, and it was my favorite Advent. For some reason it is easier to sit around and rest when the rest of the world is rushing to buy gifts in the daily Buffalo snowfall. We did not travel that Christmas, but family came to us, and by the time Christmas was over, I was ready to be up and about.

Going to a wedding in Buffalo.
 4. Year Four: Here begins the most stressful time of our marriage. That summer M finished his dissertation drafts, and got ready to apply for jobs. Everything was up in the air about where we were going to be after this year. It was a very bittersweet year as well, as we have awesome friends in Buffalo, and while we wanted him to get a job, we knew we would have to leave.

Thanksgiving trip to visit (great) grandparents in Georgia.
M applied to 80 job openings, some more relevant to his expertise than others. Right after Christmas he went to the APA conference for interviews, and then spent all of February flying out to various on-campus interviews. February 17, he got the job offer in St. Paul, and life seemed a lot brighter. But then we had to find housing, pack up, say goodbye, and move. We had a lovely vacation weekend with friends about a month before we moved.

5. Year Five: Our fourth anniversary was our last in Buffalo, we then embarked on a five week interim, leaving our stuff in Michigan in my in-laws garage and basement. I was second trimester pregnant with F that summer. It was stressful and relaxing at the same time. By August we were moved into a colleague's house in St. Paul (they had funding to do a year of research elsewhere).

During our five week tour of the midwest.
Once unpacked, I spent a lot of time getting ready for baby and trying to get oriented in our new city. It helped that the philosophy department is full of awesome Catholic families, and we got to know some people right away. But even so, nothing prepared me for having a newborn right at the beginning of my first Minnesota Winter.

That winter we decided to buy a house, I was treated for postpartum depression, I started writing for Truth and Charity, we house hunted, we bought a house, and we adjusted to having three kids. It was a lot. 

6. Year Six: Newly moved into our 1950s first ring suburban house, we thought things would finally settle down. We took an awesome vacation with our closest college friends and all the children resulting from marriages since college, only to come home to the great basement flood of 2013. Our finished basement was waterlogged. Fortunately, it was an interior leak, and insurance covered an entire renovation of our basement. I suppose it was worth the five months of waiting for insurance companies, contractors, and all of that home renovation hassle to have a brand-newly finished basement.
Summer of the flood.
Once the basement was complete, we tried to settle into normal life. But by March we learned we were expecting again and by early May we had buried our first child, JP (lost through miscarriage). I again faced PPD, and by our sixth anniversary we were ready to have a happy year. We had already been through so much. I believe that our little baby in Heaven blessed us in our marriage, and we have grown better and stronger since the.

7. Year Seven: This last year has been one of healing and peace for me (for the most part). We enjoyed our vegetable garden, canning, and house painting last summer. I finally got used to three little girls, and we learned about little T (born three weeks ago) in September. We have settled well into our house. M is still very happy in his work. And my hesitation about having another baby has been overcome.

We had a successful kindergarten homeschooling year, survived a not so bad winter which brought us up to over 20 degrees nearly once a week. M and I dabbled in movie reviewing (more still to come!). Things are going great! We have been so blessed in our marriage and in our life, and I would say something more profound but baby brain has gotten the best of me.

All the family that came out for T's baptism last weekend. Four generations worth including great grandparents, grandparents, us (parents), and our children, plus cousins and great-aunt and uncle! And this is about 5% of the whole immediate extended family that M and I have.
And since these are supposed to be quick takes, I am linking up super late with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Blessed is She: Sowing Bountifully

I wrote this back in May, anticipating where I would be at this point, and it really is a good reminder for me. Each week of postpartum recovery has me feeling better, but also struggling again with remembering the important parts of this vocation. Check out my devotion on today's daily Mass readings at Blessed is She:


I have been a mother for seven years now, which is from when my first child came into existence. It was something I felt called to do, something I wanted, and something that I am glad to be. But there are days when I wonder why I thought this would be fulfilling.

As I anticipated the birth of my fourth baby, I started to dread the sacrifices that a new baby requires of me. The middle of the night feedings, the discomfort of milk coming in, the post-partum recovery, and so on, which all made sense given the months of undiagnosed post-partum depression I went through after my third baby was born. But now that I know how to get help for that, I realized that I was being filled with a lot of irrational fears and even spiritual attacks on my vocation...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Learning to Enjoy the Waiting Time of Recovery

In anticipation of the birth of little T, I talked about how I really was not looking forward to the immediate post-partum recovery time. But I also have to make a confession, I am an impatient person. I confess impatience and my struggles in how I handle it every time I go to the Sacrament of Confession.

I have been trying to be okay with sitting around, sleeping, resting, bathing, waiting to feel better. I have been doing pretty well, but perhaps not as well as I should. The weather is so lovely, I look out the window and see people going for walks, the children playing in the yard, and all I feel up for is napping, reading, and cuddling the baby. I am impatient to feel better so that summer does not pass me by. I am impatient to go for walks. I am impatient to feel normal again. But when a shower is enough to make me tired for the rest of the morning, I know that I have to wait.

I complained about feeling impatient last night to M, and we sat down to do a little silent prayer time. I am back to reading Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales for like the fifth time since we had G six years ago. It is so full of reminders that I doubt that I will never stop going back to it. The last section I read, the night before T was born was on patience. I read it again, and, well God knew what I needed to hear:
As to the trials which you will encounter in devotion (and they are certain to arise), bear in mind our dear Lord’s words: “A woman, when she is in travail, hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a child is born into the world.”

You, too, have conceived in your soul the most gracious of children, even Jesus Christ, and before He can be brought forth you must inevitably travail with pain; but be of good cheer, for when these pangs are over, you will possess an abiding joy, having brought such a man into the world. And He will be really born for you, when He is perfected in your heart by love, and in your actions by imitating His life.

When you are sick, offer all your pains and weakness to our Dear Lord, and ask Him to unite them to the sufferings which He bore for you. Obey your physician, and take all medicines, remedies and nourishment, for the Love of God, remembering the vinegar and gall He tasted for love of us; desire your recovery that you may serve Him; do not shrink from languor and weakness out of obedience to Him, and be ready to die if He wills it, to His Glory, and that you may enter into His Presence.

Bear in mind that the bee while making its honey lives upon a bitter food: and in like manner we can never make acts of gentleness and patience, or gather the honey of the truest virtues, better than while eating the bread of bitterness, and enduring hardness. And just as the best honey is that made from thyme, a small and bitter herb, so that virtue which is practised amid bitterness and lowly sorrow is the best of all virtues.

Gaze often inwardly upon Jesus Christ crucified, naked, blasphemed, falsely accused, forsaken, overwhelmed with every possible grief and sorrow, and remember that none of your sufferings can ever be compared to His, either in kind or degree, and that you can never suffer anything for Him worthy to be weighed against what He has borne for you.

Consider the pains which martyrs have endured, and think how even now many people are bearing afflictions beyond all measure greater than yours, and say, “Of a truth my trouble is comfort, my torments are but roses as compared to those whose life is a continual death, without solace, or aid or consolation, borne down with a weight of grief tenfold greater than mine.”

-Introduction to the Devout Life
, St. Francis de Sales, Part 3, Chapter 3, "Patience"
So, even now, I pray for more patience and more joy in being with my newly born baby and in my newly post-partum achey, sore, tired, generally exhausted state. I am not supposed to be doing anything besides taking care of me and baby, and I will work to enjoy it patiently. And when that fails, I will look to the Cross, which carried me through labor and will carry me through now.

This little guy is much more comfort than trouble for sure.
And honestly, I am mostly enjoying it. It is just the sudden moments of impatience that show me I need to grow.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

It's a BOY!

In case you have not heard, the baby is here!

Labor began at 7am on Thursday morning, and our little T was born just before 4pm.

He weighed in at 10lbs 3oz, is 20 3/4 inches long, and has a rather large 15 inch head.  All my other babies came out easily after the head was through, T not so much. He has the biggest birthweight by almost 2 lbs!

We are doing great, just taking it easy, and sleeping as much as we are able. When I am more recovered, I will get to writing up the birth story. And while it may look like we barely made it to the hospital, since I am no wearing a gown, the truth is that we were there for nearly 3 hours before he came. I just can't stand those gowns. (If you want to know, I tied the gown into a skirt around my hips, and wore my own top.)

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