Friday, April 29, 2011


We had a tradition of celebrating the Sabath (Shabbat) during Friday evenings and changed it to Saturday evenings to align with the christian change of the day of worship in the early days of the Church.

I do like the Jewish singing of prayers and ritual over the meal as the day draws to a close, and we start at sundown the observance of the Sunday, to set it apart for the Lord. I like the words in Hebrew to remind me of the times when Jesus was living, when maybe Mary taught him this prayers, when he had been praising the Lord before the miracle of loaves and fishes, or when he was celebrating the first Mass in the last Supper.

The previous part of Saturday had been spent cooking and cleaning, to leave the home ready for a full day to dedicate to God. In my country of origin we called Saturdays: " fer dissabte"; "to do Saturday" meant to clean the house and work in the kitchen to prepare for the Sunday ahead.

We do reserve the dinning room table for such celebrations, and as we sit down the wife recites the Blessing over candles. It is customary to light the candles, draw's one hands over the flames three times, and then cover one's eyes while the blessing is said. The Shabbat melody is simple, there is an example in the songs page.

Candle lighting
ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להדליק נר של יום טוב.‏
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu l'hadlik ner shel yom tov.
Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to light the holiday candle[s]."
After that the husband does sing one blessing for the children, the song is the same one as Tevye's family sings in the movie The Fiddler on the Roof. He goes around the table and puts his hand in the forehead of each of the comensals, one at a time, while the song is sung, to bless them.

May the Lord protect and defend you.
May He always shield you from shame.
May you come to be In Israel a shining name.
May you be like Ruth and like Esther. May you be deserving of praise.
Strengthen them, Oh Lord, And keep them from the strangers' ways.
May God bless you and grant you long lives. (May the Lord fulfill our Sabbath prayer for you.)
May God make you good mothers and wives. (May He send you husbands who will care for you.)
May the Lord protect and defend you.
May the Lord preserve you from pain.
Favor them, Oh Lord, with happiness and peace. Oh, hear our Sabbath prayer. Amen.

In our family we skip the Shalom Aleychem, and go straight to the washing of hands, blessing of wine and bread.

N'tilat Yadayim (Ritual washing of hands)
ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על נטילת ידים.‏
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al n'tilat yadayim.
Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us concerning washing of hands."

Before drinking wine – Ha-Gafen
ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן.‏
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu Melekh ha‑olam, bo're p'ri ha‑gafen.
Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine."
Blessing over the bread 
                                                                                                         ברוך אתה ה' א‑לוהינו מלך העולם, המוציא לחם מן הארץ.‏
Transliteration: Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‑olam, ha‑motzi lehem min ha‑aretz.
Translation: "Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth."

Finally after the meal we sing the Berich Rachamana ( view the songs page for melodies), and recite the last blessing in Spanish.

Berich rachamana Malka de'Alma marey dehay pita (x2)
Translation: You are the source of life for all that is and your blessing flows through me.(x2)
Castilian (Spanish):
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Al Señor que nos crió,
Démosle agradecimiento
Por los bienes que nos dió.
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por su Ley primeramente,
Que liga a nuestra raza
Con el cielo continuamente,
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Senor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Bendigamos al Altísimo,
Por el pan segundamente,
Y también por los manjares
Que comimos juntamente.
Pues comimos y bebimos alegremente
Su merced nunca nos faltó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Bendita sea la casa esta,
El hogar de su presencia,
Donde guardamos su fiesta,
Con alegría y permanencia.
Alabado sea su Santo Nombre,
Porque siempre nos apiadó.
Load al Señor que es bueno,
Que para siempre su merced.
Let us bless
Let us bless the Most High
The Lord who raised us,
Let us give him thanks
For the good things which he has given us.
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Let us bless the Most High
First for his Law,
Which binds our race
With heaven continually,
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Let us bless the Most High,
Secondly for the bread
And also for the foods
Which we have eaten together.
For we have eaten and drunk happily
His mercy has never failed us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.
Blessed be this house,
The home of his presence,
Where we keep his feast,
With happiness and permanence.
Praised be his Holy Name,
Because he always took pity on us.
Praise the Lord, for he is good,
For his mercy is everlasting.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Guilds of Saint Mary

We had been looking for statues for over a year, and even though we visited the nearby shrine shop, and the nearest big city stores, we could not see what we wanted, a big enough selection to be able to select! We did not want to buy from the internet, and so we were just waiting.

Finally on this last road trip to see family in the Appleton area we find the perfect statue atelier. It is a house by the road, in the immediacy of Redgranite.

We stopped there on Monday and it seemed to be closed, so we decided to sit down and enjoy a watermelon snack. Suddenly a beautiful old lady came by and said that even though they were closed, we could look their selection of Mary's statues. The old lady was sweetest than honey, her eyes were the bluest eyes I can rememember, framed by a wrinkled and rounded face that poured out mercy. She went on confessing us that that day was her 60th wedding anniversary, and that her husband was having dementia, so they would not be able to have the workshop going on for much longer. She said her three sons could not follow up the family business, the one keen to it because of a recent heart attack, and that they were getting ready to sell the trade this next fall.

We were saddened to say goodbye, but we brought with us a statue of Saint Mary. We then talked about the possibility of spending some time this summer learning the trade, wouldn't it be lovely to have again statues made by the neighboring farm?

Our yard faces a concurred Waldorf school, so we interact with people that are pagans, buddhists, atheists, etc...and recently I found that in conversing with them I would slip on not defending my faith. so the statue of Mary by the front yard will help me to remember to be strong yet tender in witnessing the Catholic faith.

Another trade that I was thinking is that of bobbing lace. Both greatgrandmothers were expert in this art, and though I never got to see it done, I feel a longing to learn it.

Years ago, when it was time for me to learn how to knit, so I could teach my own daughters, I felt recourseless. there we were, living in an island, and no family around to teach me the basic steps. Sure I could look on the internet again, but is is not the same. None of my friends knew either how to knit, so one morning, guided by the Holy Spirit I am sure, I took my two children to the food market square, and started to ask the old ladies if any knew how to knit, and if they would show me right there how to start. I brought my needles and yarn out and, voila, I found one kind lady that would sit with us for some minutes and teach me the basics.

Five years later, I admit, I am not an experienced knitter, but I know the essentials to do jackets and bonnets, and to keep learning.

I would like to also be able to learn bobbing lace, in the same manner, not to be an expert, yet to be able to do some special garments, like mantillas or my children's veils for Holy Communion and weddings, and to share with the community another important job that our ancestors had the patience to do, a job that would bring Glory to God, by being such a special piece, done by the love of our hands.

All these different trades, could be gathered in a group of guilds, as I discussed earlier, were each family unit holds the position of farmer, yet specializing in some trade in particular, being from the homestead directly or from these other manual craftmanship jobs. With a name like The Guilds of Saint Mary, such a community could be joined together, with some basic rules of trades and merciful works. I hope some time we can be part of a community like this, and bring the first Commandment of God to the fullest, and to Know, Love and Serve God with our best.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I have praises to God. He has allowed the novel to get to the ending phase so smoothly and miraculously, it is now for my husband to revision and then out to Lulu, the internet publishing company. We are planning on some trips to cities in the summer, to sell the copies of the books at $10 each or so, and keep some extra copies for internet selling. It is all so exciting, and God has done it all!

Since the beginning, ten years ago,  there were obstacles so big for us to make this book, first of all, David had actually to write it and to finish it!

After that the typing part started, some 8 years ago. There were 60 pages typed when we moved and somehow lost the typed documents. I was bitter and resented the loss, as I have put so many hours of typing instead of caring for the house or the baby.

Three years later when David asked again, I decided to hire a typist. Well, to our misfortune,( though it was all good in God's plan), she typed some, but some got lost again by her, and some was typed without a saved electronic copy, so much for making editing easy!

Finally this year he asked again, and I was overwhelmed. I did not know where to start, the manuscript was very long, some parts were completely wrong and I did not have the strenght to even start a task like that.

I asked God for help and for people to pray for us, and with the Lent season, God started to do his work.

First he told me to take a specific diet, no sugars, no yeast, no cofees, no chocolates, no meat. He also reminded me of the dangers of the TV. Then he started removing obstacles, one by one. The editing software that we needed was finally in place, after many trips to the computer store, the software OCR was found and finally worked, the manuscript was read and organized in my mind, but still the task was overwhelming me, in volume and feelings.

Finally God did two things, he told me to start for the part that was most finished, and then move on to the next, until it was all piled up. He also removed my bias and turned a bunch of stories about a troubled soul into a beautiful rendition of a journey of one who is choosing God and Jesus as the only way.

I thank God with all my heart for allowing this to happen, and even if it would stop right here and never find the streets of man, I am honored to have been able to witness his workings again and having been totally submitted to his will.

Thank you God, to you we owe it all, you are our source and our ending, my sight is holding fast to you by day and night and I beg you to allow me to praise continuously your Glory, during the times that I remember and the times that I forget. Thanks, also, to all that prayed for us.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Extra curricular lessons

There is a plan to start a community meal program in town and we have been thinking about a picture that would go with it. The "Potato Eaters" of Van Gogh came to mind, as they were gathering around a warm meal, with dark around them but with light above them. They were very tired from working at the mines, and I am sure their bodies were aching, just as our souls are aching for the warmth of Jesus, the light of God. 
In this sketch, the lamp represents God, but it is not very lighted because we do not see him directly, on the other hand the figure on the right side has the light reflected on her, and she exemplifies the people that through the Holy Spirit reflect and share the light of God by serving others.

The novel project is going along, and though I am sore in my wrists and hands, it is a peaceful pain to be endured, I am calm about the outcome, and will joyfully do my duty until the end.

This is a big lesson for my children to see too, how sometimes we put aside the regular routine, and do other things, and this change brings an awareness of priorities and willingness to work hard; just like with an instrument, sometimes you have to practice undending days without any seemingly result, we do too, sometimes need to focus our efforts on something that God call us to do with all our might.

As we walk these last days of lent in this manner, the children also get a taste for more responsabilities, cooking simple meals, tending to the siblings, cleaning the home...and as I was observing the dynamics between them something else came back from my memories:

My mother was a working mother and she decided to hire a relative to take care of the children, Tia Carme was her name, she was the sister of my grandmother Esperanza. Because I was the first born, some responsabilities fell on me and I remember her telling many times -"You are either a light or smoke for your siblings, choose to be a light and give good example at all times"-.

Now I see how with my first daughter this takes also place, if she is willing to work, the others follow along, if she is rebellious and resistant to my words, the others also resist. It happens in the best clasrooms too, if you win to yourself the rebellious, dominant student, the class will be peaceful, if not you are in quite a fix.

The problem lies that many times the first born is the rebellious one too because there is a clash of personalities between them and the parent, and too many a time I had opted to let the conflict escape, like water between fingers. Now if I regain that child to my side, and win her respectful obedience, the other will follow like bees in a hive.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I have been posting continuously during this month, because of the editing of my husband novel:  the computer has taken precedence, thoughts beget thoughts and I feel like writing some of my own. Hopefully, this too shall pass and we can go back to a more natural space posting ( every two weeks!).

Anyway, besides joking, I wanted to share the turmoil I am in. To edit this novel is being a nightmare, I have strong dislike feelings to it that revolve my stomach and give me physical symptoms of sickness, put it in plain language, I hate it. My husband says that is after the style of John Kerouac and Neal Cassady, well style or not, I don't get it. At night I am reading the Confessions of Saint Augustine, and even though he speaks of his mischief and sinful life, there is peace through reading his writings. Alas, this is not true with my husband novel, first of all, the main character is actually in the midst of the struggle between good and evil, and he is not looking in hindsight from the embrace of God his previous sins as saint Augustine does, secondly and also very important, the main character portrays my husband soul struggle, not some saint from long ago, and this makes it also very personal.

Whenever I strongly dislike something, it is usually because it reflects something in my own life that I dislike and do not even attempt to see, so, there is a strong lesson in dwelling with these feelings, and overcoming them. In the novel the main character flows over with pride, sloth, lust and gluttony, well, maybe my own vices are  pride, envy, greed and wrath, but the point is that, because in a husband/wife relationship, we are made one, the situation gets more intense, and my husband sins are my sins, and viceversa. Ultimately, as some people have attained already, this part of the relationship extends to all the people, and the sins of my brother become my sins as well. In this there is a place where God can act through love and heal us.

The other thing to contemplate is that : it is in obeying what we do NOT like, that faithfulness shows, it is easy to show love when given love, even pagans do so.

There are 400 pages of the manuscript, and 100 are edited already, I am counting 100 or so more to finish it and then send to the printers; I think God has given this penance to do during the season, and though I cannot see the light through it yet, I trust that the feelings will be overcomed, joy will fill the task, that the novel will come to life if it is to serve God's glory, and will remain in the shadows of death if it is not.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Guilds

My grandfather Joseph was a carpenter, he was one of those workers that would do the job and forget about collecting the payment, while my grandmother needed to remind him, and the client, about the money that was owed...he was very tall,- "Alt com un Sant Pau" -( tall like a Saint named Paul) , goes the saying in catalan, and I have very nice memories of him telling us stories he would make up by himself,  like going fishing and bringing home a big cod-fish just that day early in the morning, etc...we adored him.

But what I wanted to talk about is the guilds (gremis),  that were still on place when my grandfather lived in Barcelona, there were different streets named after the particular guild and the craftsmen would gather in that area of town, my grandfather used to work in the immediacy of "Perot lo LLadre", a narrow street in the old part of town.

Thinking about all this I was considering that perhaps one way to start could be to emulate those settlements of workers, now identified perhaps by single family units, where each one  would produce their own gardens and live-stock but especialize in some trade to bring to the rest of the "village". This way for example, following too the way Amish have their business, one farm could be specializing in goat milk, another in maple syrup, another in wool, cheese producers, pigs, carpentry, etc...The children in the family, once coming of appropiate age, could also then go to the apprenticeship programs in the other farms of the "village", maintaining a structure of workmanship and skills through generations, and providing ample opportunities for community work and help between villagers.

 I found a blog that describes the way of the guilds in Barcelona, on medieval times, and  I translated some parts in the following paragraphs.

The medieval citizens gained their bread with craftmanship work. The work was able to be done in workshops or little spaces, at the entrance of the house or sometimes even in the street.

The ones that worked in the same trade started to join in the same areas of town, and it was such a characteristic of the street that eventually even the name of the street had become that particular trade. In the Ribera neighborhood you could find the Goldsmiths, Mirror makers, Wool Carders, Rope makers, Hat Makers, Wool eveners, amongst others. Around the Cathedral, which was the center of the medieval city, we could still found nowadays: Knive Makers, Book Makers, Pot Makers.  ("Argenters, Mirallers, Carders, Corders, Sombrerers o Abaixadors, Dagueria, Llibreteria o Ollers")

In medieval times the crafstmen were called ministeralis, and they would group into trades corporations that in S. XIV would transform into guilds. These organizations would take care of the education of the craftsmen and would defend their economical and political interests, as well as exercise control in the surplus of production and the labeling of prices.  

Gremi/ Guild namekind of work
AbaixadorsTo make even the wool hair with big scissors
ApotecarisPreparing and selling of medecines
Bastaixos de capçanaCarrying bulks on top of their heads
CalafatsCarpenters that built boats
CervellersMaking of iron helmets
DaguersMaking of knives and short swords
EstorersMaking of carpets and/or selling
FustaniersWeavers of cotton pillow cases
GarbelladorsWorking with cereals for others
HortolansWorking in the garden
Llogaters de mulaRenting donkeys or other carrying animals
ManescalsTaking care of the health of animals
PedrenyalersMaking short pistols
RosariersMaking and selling of rosaries
SellersMaking and mending of saddles and other horse riding elements
TapinersMaking sandals for women
VelersMaking and selling of veils
XocolatersMaking and selling of chocolate

Each corporation had its own confraternity, which was religious in character and with social and benefactorial functions, with a saint that would represent each one of the confraternities. They would help those ones in need, the widows and the orphans.

The master would work at home, with the help of wife and children, and if the business was prospering he may have had an outside worker, either payed or slave, and some apprentices.

The guilds were a work association, and they were then juridical persons with right to property and debt, each guild was different due to its own nature, structure, function and goals.

When a group of people that were working in the same trade would unite and form a guild, the Ordinances were elaborated, which would regulate the functioning rules, and the rights and duties of the confraternity members. The Ordinances were presented to a monarch for approval.

The Ordinances had a similar format: the firsts chapters were purely benefacto-religious in character, the commitment to be present at the feast of the patron day and not to work on that day. You were required to be present at the funeral of fellow members, and if you wanted to be exempt of it, you payed a fee which was then distributed among the poorer.

The Chapters also would state the amount of money that each one would have to pay to be members of the guild, children and women were also members, besides the regular collection of  fees done by the "llevadors".

Starting on SXV, the ordinances would include references to the quality of the products, control that was in the hands of the so-called "veedors" the seers or inspectors, masters in that particular craftsmanship.

On of the chapters was dedicated to the examination or "passantia" that the apprentice needed to obtain "oficialia", whithout that there was no permission to open a workshop. And you could not obtain the title of master unless you had a workshop and the distinctive sign or emblem that was given through heritage. There was always a commitment between the apprentice and the master, with the intervention of the father or tutor.

To enter the examination process you would have to be an apprentice for three or four years, depending on the guild, the apprentice was subjected to the regulations of the master, during work time, outside of the house time and  permission to go out of it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Around the hearth

Under this title there are hidden beautiful truths. The Hearth is where in the old times people would gather, for warmth of body and soul, for light of the mind and the spirit, and its connection with the heart is very direct.

The Picture is taken from the book Feels Like Home, by Cheryl Moch, and is filled with quotations and snap-shots of the lifes around the hearth. I wanted to post here some of the quotes which I find very inspiring as I walk my daily homemaker tasks, to be reminded of what it is the essential.

"To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labor tends..." Samuel Johnson

"Home in one form or another, is the great object of life." Josiah G. Holland

"Home,-the nursery of the infinite." William Ellery Channing

"Without hearts there is no home" Lord Byron

"Where shall a man find sweetness to surpass his own home and parents? In far lands he shall not, though he find a house of gold." Odissey by Homer

"Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, Iwill go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God." Book of Ruth

"In homesickness you must keep moving-it is the only disease that does not require rest." H. de Vere Stacpoole

"Dine on onions but have a home; reduce your food and add to your dwellings." The Talmud

"The beauty of a house is order, the blessing of a house is contentment, the glory of a house is hospitality." Anonymous

"Beauty commonly produces love, but cleanliness preserves it." Joseph Addison

"...Home is the place that you'll know...when you're there." Shelley Miller

Many of these would be useful for thought and ponder, but right now I wanted to mainly focus on two points.

The first one is to BE at home: I found that in staying more at home, I started cherishing more the spaces, taking more care of the home, and loving it better, if the home has to be a reflection of our hearts, and of our love for God, the more we refrain from being unnecessarily away, the better.

The second thing I wanted to say is about warmth, you could see probably people and homes warmer than others, and with this I do not mean that warmy fuzzy feeling that can be superficial, but a real strong warmth dettached from the material world.

I was blessed to have one grandmother, avia Esperanza, who showed me that kind of warmth, she would always have something in the stove prepared when you would come over, her nice homemade french fries were the best!, and she was willing to give you company in going to the doctor, or when leaving town by the train. She was there -and you could feel it- with her heart, it was not out of duty, not out of fulfilling works of mercy, she was there out of her love for you, and you could witness that same love for others too. Me on the contrary I am far away from attaining something like that, I can be harsh with my words, my culinary productions are disastrous, and sometimes seems I am like the Tin-man of the Wizard of Ozz, but I keep asking Mary, my intercessor, to ask Jesus to live in me, to give me graces, so I can truly love, have a genuine interest in all the people and starting from my home, impress every task and chore with the warmth of the Holy Spirit, change my cold heart into a warm heart shining His light.

Friday, April 8, 2011


There will be a meeting about homeschooling with catholic mothers, and I found this very important, every time I got to listen and share with fellow homemakers about this task, it has been refreshing and inspiring, so I wanted to post some comments about our own homeschooling beforehand.

As I mentioned previously, there is a balance to be acquired again and again between content and form. Let's say we have a vessel to be filled with water, and let' s say this vessel starts to loose its form, and starts being less solid, showing flexibility and porosity to such extremes that the whole content of water leaks out. Now let's imagine the other side of the picture, when the vessel starts to solidify even to the extent of the receptacle, thicker and thicker till there is no space for the water, which is then left out.

The same is also seen in the jewish mystics, when they were talking about the pillars of judgement and mercy, and how one should attain the middle space, a space that was more than just the half way between them, but a superposition of them, named Love or in our New Testament nomenclature, Christ.

Now the principle is found in many areas of our lifes, and it is very obvious in homeschooling in our home: When I was teaching out of my own doings, the form was lacking, and days would pass without schedule or real advance, we would become demotivated, and what is to become of a teacher without motivation? On the other hand, when I leaned too much on set curriculums, there was also the danger of becoming an authomat, just work for the sake of work, and the motivation would also disappear like a cloud in the winds, and boredom would set in.

What we found to work in our home is albeit a dance between these two ideas, enough form to keep up the content of motivation going on, but not too much that would suffocate it. We follow the curriculum of Our Lady Of  Victory, which is very good in having things planned for the day and with the contents of solid catholicism, and then we interwined with our own blocks or projects.

This is our schedule, with some notes on the side to explain whys:

7:00 wake up time, getting dressed and first breakfast with husband beffore he goes to work.
7:30 tiding up the rooms, making beds, etc...
8:00 Violin practice, piano,, etc.. ( we found that is better to do first things first, like with math!)
8:30 prayers and formal school ( Our Lady of Victory)
10:00 second breakfast or brunch
11:00 rest time with reading stories
12:00 outdoors time
13:30 snack
14:00 rehearsing plays, handworking projects, blocks, etc..
15:00 preparing the house for husband, picking up rooms, laundry, dinner preparations, etc...
15:30 husband comes from work and we have dinner ( it is so early! but we followed the advise of Nancy Campbell, to have a meal right away, to foster unity and homelyness)
16:00 - 18:00 variable time with the whole family, library, errand to grocery store, activities, etc...
18:00 rosary and reading time
19:00 last snack and bedtime for the younger ones, personal reading for the older ones
20:00 general bedtime

Sometimes we have switched the formal school time with the outdoor time, since our youngest prefer to have exercise first! But generally we found this general schedule to be working for now. It is very flexible, and depends on the day but it is nonetheless a form that carries us through.

 I also look ahead when the children are older, when probably it would be beneficial to have them enrolled in a program like Our Lady of Victory or others, where outside teachers keep track of the work.

As for prayers, I was looking into the Divine Office, but a first glance seemed to deter me from it, not so easy..., so I am waiting for the right time to implement it with the family. We just do the graces for meals and formal prayer before school, the rosary, and prayers before going to bed.

But mainly, what underlines the unfolding of our homeschooling is how much we educate ourselves, how much we are aspiring to be followers of Christ, how much nourishment and graces we obtain from the Sacraments, how much we love and obey our husbands, how much we strive to come closer to God and let him spill his Love to the world.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


This page of catechism about the seventh commandment details the two enciclicals Rerum Novarum and Quadragesimo Anno, which speak about the reconstruction of the Social Order.

Communities have been founded all over the world with various intentions and goals, so we have plenty of examples of that, since the beginning of the society itself.

Nowadays though the question that ponders in me is that the essence of such community must flow back to its structure and organization.

We know that many attempts to community fail in these days, people get together for various reasons, to have organic food, or share same spiritual beliefs, or even just to protect their land boundaries from unwanted neighbors. Many of them do not thrive in time, after two or three years, when differences arise, the communtiy dissolves. This is often seen in marriage too, and it is not surprising since community has actually a lot to do with this Sacrament.

In my personal quest for communities, I was also preparing our marriage, if I could not survive in a marriage, how can a community survive? When one marries, the vow done between spouses is also done to God, so there is this special third party to which the promise is made, and this brings the union to be strong in a supernatural sense. Wouldn't be the same in community if the families made a similar commitment to it? In my point of view the lack of commitment, brings failure to the communities, some people defend the freedom of families coming and going from the commmunity as needs arise, and the staying of a nuclear group of them to hold the group, but even the core people of the community may be susceptible of the attacks of the enemy.

On the other hand when we see the communities that endure time, like those of the anabaptists, there is a definite structure of leadership, I am reading now Better off, form Eric Brende, and in it he describes how the council of men gather for decisions, and in a way asking for the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth in any matter, but ultimately, after counsel of all those present it seems that the person in authority has the final say, and the decision ( part of the Ordnung) is enforced to all the community.

In the book Amish Life, a portrait of Plain Living, it says: One key to the enduring traditions and success of the Plain way of life is the scale on which is organized. Plain life is to a great extent built upon face-to face relationships established over time, often over generations. the scale of the Plain community is small and allows everyyone to know everyone, or someone else who does. The small scale creates an environment of mutual interest and aid that enhances both social control and social integration. The family is the key building block of Plain communities and families are typically large. Nearby families are joined together into church districts, when a number of families in a district becomes too large for the small Mennonite meeting house, or more than an Amish home can accommodate for church, the district divides. The small scale of life also means that individuals know who they are, and where they fit in their family, their community, and the world. There is little bureaucracy or organization above the face-to-face level in the Plain community. Among the Amish and Mennonites, leadership outside the family is provided by a minister, and above the minister is a bishop. Each bishop is responsible for two congregations, and the Bishops in a settlement meet together as a group from time to time.

Now in a Catholic community, it is different, we do not have the diversity of rules and interpretation of the scriptures as the protestant churches, and all the different plain people do, we have a clear unity in the teachings of the Church, with already the structure of the priesthood layed in place, and I am wondering how it could be to bring us, lay people, under a strong commitment for an initiative as such, with some of the same goals of marriage, e.g., the Glory of God, the sanctification of each other, the multiplication of the fruits of the Spirit, a witness to the world...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Planting season


We are getting ready for the planting season ahead, and if any of you is in the position I was three years ago, you may find useful to look at the next diagrams.

I did not know how to start a garden, and even though my grandmother Josephine had a garden and a lot of canning to do every season,  I was still clueless when it was my time to start one on my own. I would have liked someone experienced to come and work with us for a couple of mornings, in order to establish the main ideas, and also the details which are specific to every ecosystem or climate. Maybe in the future such service can exist.

Instead though I had some lessons from intensive gardening that had been used in areas with restricted amount of land, and I wanted to post them up here. We have adapted them to our particular place and size of our yard, and we hope to keep learning about gardening.

These firsts are drawings on how to do the design of the garden area and prepare the soil. They are self-explanatory:

The stepping stones are there for the gardener to walk comfortably between the rows of produce, to weed and care for the plants. Between the stones, usually there are medicinal, herbal or pest control herbs.
For the actual design of the planting they use a rotation system based on plant families:
And the rows of gardens can look something like these:

For our garden in America's soil, we decided to be more generous in the sizing, and not crowd the plants as much, also we changed the scheme by planting the rows one after the other and keeping the cucumbers and zuchinis somewhere else, since they tend to occupy so much space anyway.

Here is the plot for this year, we will start the seeds indoors in the next few weeks, during April, by our sunny baywindow, and hopefully plant them outdoors by May, when the frost is over.