Friday, May 1, 2015

Seven or so Quick Takes: How do I pray?

I was tagged in a post by one of my favorite bloggers:  Maurisa at: She asked a simple do you pray?  Hmm...I will try to pull my thoughts together on this one and leap right in.

Who are you? 

 Well, I am a wife, married to Tony for almost twenty five years and mother of seven children ranging in age from 24 - 12.   Six of them are boys, two adopted, and one of them is a wonderful girl.  We have home schooled for about 17 years now and it has been quite a ride. Much of it was difficult and we had to do a lot of careening to stay the course. But I have to say I am very, very happy we did.  It has made us closer as a family and given my children the security and confidence to pursue all the lovely things they have.  There are admittedly times I long not to be so counter cultural, to be part of the school crowd, but it doesn't last for long.  Almost every time I have weakened and decided to "ship them off" so to speak, God sends me a very pointed and obvious reminder of how great home schooling is for us.  Tony has helped me in every way on this journey.  He makes dinners, he reads aloud (with all the voices), he makes me laugh (which is one very BIG reason I married him).  He is quirky and kind and very calm (another BIG reason I married him).  

What is your vocation? 

Being a wife and mother and teacher is my vocation.......but I also feel a great pull to the vocation of Theater.  It has been the vehicle for many graces in my life, the life of my kids, and the life of many young people I have directed over the years.  When you home school, things like theater grow rather organically from your own family life.  My whole family is very dramatic, as they say.  We acted out the books we read, we read poetry aloud, we like dressing up in costumes and making movies.  So, it spilled over into something bigger. I got into drama for my kids sake and I have stayed in drama because I feel the presence of God there with me.  It is hard to explain.  But I feel most myself and closer to God and my children when I am directing a play.

What is your prayer routine for an average day?  

Ideally, we read the Gospel each morning together and discuss it.  We try to say the rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet as well.  But we are victims of busy-ness, I must confess.  This is one thing I have decided to change for next year.  God will come before Co-ops and sports and play dates.  When we were a younger family we were blessed to live down the block from an amazing old German church called John the Baptist.  We ran up to 6:30 am Mass everyday.  My boys were taught to serve by an old gentleman named Fran.  He taught them well.  During those days of having babies and juggling all sorts of things I believe I felt the tangible effects of the graces received in those early morning Masses.  It was definitely the "Golden Age" of our home schooling experience and our life of faith.  We have since moved and live further from our Church.  We manage to make Wednesday morning Mass and my boys still serve.  But I have to say that the power of the Eucharist is what gets you through. And I have felt the hunger for it in the last few years.  We still begin and end the day with morning and evening prayer, Tony blesses the kids with Holy Water at night after prayer, and we try to make it to confession every two weeks.

Do you have a devotion that is particularly special to you? 

 I do!  Mary, Undoer of Knots.  I discovered this devotion quite by accident once and we prayed to Our Lady under this title when we faced some really tricky challenges in our extended family.  We were at a loss what to do and we prayed to her and it all worked out quite peacefully and seamlessly.  She is amazing.I also like to pray, or shall we say, cry out loud to St. Therese, the Little Flower when I have to deal with trying people or when I feel too sensitive to other people's cutting remarks.  I think she "gets" me and my passionate, too sensitive, French nature.  She knows that nature well!  I also pray to St. Philomena for an adopted son who has bipolar.  She helps very much in many many ways.

Do you have a place to pray? 

  We have a seasonal place to pray on our dining room buffet (nothing overtly fancy)  and I also have an oratory in my school room upstairs.  Candles are key to calming the spirits of children and making them realize that here we are doing something different.  Plus, they love blowing them out at the end.  I bought a Pascal Candle for Eastertide and it has been very beautiful to light it at night when we pray night prayers.

Do you use any tools or sacramentals when you pray? 

 Well, we use holy water at night, I have a Miraculous Medal that I wear.We also wear St. Benedict medal bracelets, and my husband and two of my sons wear scapulars. I am a lover of art, so there are lots of paintings and drawings around our house of Jesus, Mary, and the saints. I change the colors and symbols each season on the dining room table and in the schoolroom to show my kids that there is a rhythm to the Church's year.  I also have a collection of wonderful music.  Music (like Gregorian chant) fills a child with peace whether he admits it or not.

My relationship to the rosary is feeble at best .  Every time I say it, I do feel the power of peace and grace, but getting to the point of saying it?  I am woefully remiss, alas.  Poor Blessed Mother.  I am such a terrible Child.

Spiritual Books? 

My go to books are:  The Imitation of Christ (Thomas a Kempis), The Hidden Power of Kindness (Fr. Lovasik), Abandonment to Divine Providence (Fr. De Causade).  These make great sense to me, they are filled with practical examples, and they are comforting in the heat of spiritual warfare.

Favorite Saints?  

I like all the saints who had to endure, over long periods of time, social climbers and their manipulative ways, the ridicule and envious remarks of others, or misunderstandings.  Pope Benedict XVI (I think he is a saint), Jeanne Jugan, St. Zita, Pope Paul VI, St. Germaine are saints like this.  I also love saints who were patient to the point of miraculous and who found contentment in their difficult lives:  St. Rita, St. John Vianney,  St. Therese and her sister Leoni, and St. Julie Billiart are saints like this.

Any miraculous things that have happened in your life?  

That I met my husband and the birth of each of our children first of all.  And the adoption process was one great big miracle.  My two adopted sons were sent to us by God in His time and His way to the point of giving me goosebumps.  But mostly God deals with me in the everyday things.  I admittedly hate the small hidden crosses:  dishes, laundry, the daily routine.  I am passionate by nature and have a lot of creative flow and it takes a lot of prayer and grace to keep me tethered to the routine.  That God has been able to do that is quite a miracle.  I trust the daily routine now!  I understand the fruits in me that it is bringing forth, I actually love it now!  And the old glamour of "what if" has been sloooowly dying down inside me.   Miracles DO happen!

There you have it.  My prayer life.  It is very plain and simple.   Thanks,  Maurisa, for tagging me.  It gave me some insights when I had to write it down!!  God bless you one and all in your own prayer!


  1. Love it! Thanks for playing! Being newish to your blog it helped me learn a lot more about you! Pax!

  2. Beautiful Denise! Loved getting to know more about you. God bless+++