Saint Joseph 2019

¨My apologies, but I resolved to write here during Lent and then my schedule promptly exploded, thanks to spring break and flu and the aftermath of these things.  But, still, this happened yesterday:


Melanie taught me to make stuffed shells last year, and Himself loved them, so now they’re traditional.. I have to make them every year.

(This is a self imposed must, not a husband imposed must, although he does love them.)

The whole effect might look impressive, but really it’s not very.  Those are two shoe boxes stacked on my sidebar and covered with an old table cloth.  The candles are pillaged from other little devotional areas in the house.  The Holy Family statue my parents brought me from Germany, and usually is on the oratory.  I keep meaning to buy a nice Saint Joseph, but never remember in time.  The matched vases are actually hurricane lamp-esque candle holders that someone gave me as a gift.

Everything else always lives on the sidebar.  The bowl of citrus and basket of onions, the jar of spoons and artificial sunflowers, the pitcher and miscellaneous bottles are all normally floating around there, underneath the piles of mail and not put away groceries and random toys and books.  I bought the flowers, the wine, and (out of desperation) the cream puffs.  I intended to make ricotta zeppole, but I didn’t have time after work.  It doesn’t take much to fill up a home altar.

For the interested, I use this recipe and shaping instructions from Saveur for my Saint Joseph’s bread.  The only modification to the recipe is that I add a tablespoon or so of honey to the egg wash at the end.  I did a refrigerator rise this year, which wasn’t entirely successful, probably because there’s a whole stick of butter in the dough.  I should have had David take it out when he got home from school.  But the bread was still delicious.

I have a hard time explaining why I love the Saint Joseph altar so much.  Jenny laughed at me and said I was a very good Italian (reader, I am not at all Italian).  It’s just… right.  Saint Joseph is so completely quiet that the elaborateness of the tradition is almost a response to that quietness.  And Himself doesn’t like me fussing over him, but this kind of celebration is just about his speed.  Tasty meal.  Fancy bread.  Bottle of wine.  Dessert maybe.  Hannibal Lector jokes.  As a tradition, it just seamlessly inserted itself into our domestic life, even from the first year.  While I don’t entirely understand the how and why, I’m also not going to ignore the significance of this.

These types of traditions aren’t the ends in themselves.  They are the nails, supports, in the walls of the devotional life of the home.  But… nails are crucial for hanging stuff up.  I’ve learned that you can’t just jump into living the liturgical year with your family, it has to be more than just crafts and kid activities that fade from importance as children age.  But it’s also not sustainable to fling myself into prayer and practice without the nails.  I need the physical support, I need years and years of just enjoying the ordinary tasks of celebration before I can start hanging devotions on it.

I will muse on this a little more as we get closer to Easter but for now, I need to go to work.

Also, in honor of Öma, who is a Josephine and turned 100 the day before yesterday:


Yes, I appear to be running out of toner.

Posted in Domestic Church | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

7 Quick Resurgo Takes

– 1 –

A couple weeks ago now, there was a discussion about the demise of the blogs, how it happened and why it happened and whether it was in any way reversible.

In short, blogs died because people tried to monetize them. And that fundamentally changed the original dynamic, from one where people read or thought or did and wrote about these things, to one where people wrote as a branded product to be consumed. And when that relationship has been monetized, you can’t have that easy flow of conversational communion which made the original blogs so compelling.

This isn’t a shot at people getting paid for their writing, and shouldn’t be taken as such. Talented writers ought to be paid for what they produce, as it is valued and valuable, just like any other man-made good. It’s just the observation that there is also room, really need, for writing that isn’t a salable commodity.

– 2 –

And into this void came Facebook. Easy to use. Easy to control who sees what. At a time when bloggers were focusing more on branding and less on being, it got less comfortable to write a blog that was just about being. And that made it easier to shift the being part over to Facebook, and leave branding to the blogs. And if you couldn’t wrap your head around the concept of branding and audience targeting and ramping up page views, you just gradually stopped writing and your blog withered.

Writing on the blog anyway. Lots and lots of words were being spilled on Facebook, where it was reasonably safe to just be.

– 3 –

Ironically, this entire discussion about how blogs died took place on Facebook. And the role Facebook played in the death of blogs can’t really be denied. I have had many valuable conversations there, and made many beloved friends. It’s just so easy to share and comment and discuss and connect there.

– 4 –

At least it was. These days, most of us struggle with the algorithm, desperately trying to convince it that yes we really are interested in these kinds of posts, and not at all interested in that MLM scam. It was bad enough last year when some women couldn’t convince Facebook to show them their own husband’s posts, yet their friends were constantly notified about every move friend’s husband made on the internet. You could be halfway through writing a comment on something fascinating and suddenly your phone would refresh and the post you were commenting on would be lost to the midst of time. It was maddening.

But now… The most recent changes to the algorithm have achieved nothing less than deliberately concealing those topics we are most interested in for days and days. When it finally deigns to show us the fascinating conversation that was going on behind Facebook’s malfunctioning ‘somebody else’s problem’ field, it’s almost in a spirit of spitefulness.

– 5 –

By this point, lots of us were pretty fed up with Facebook. Monetizing Facebook doesn’t work the same as monetizing blogs, its less about creating content on Facebook and more about acquiring the largest audience that can be sold to the highest bidder. But the net effect of all this noise on conversation is much the same. You can’t have a human conversation with a product, and you can’t hear a conversation if its so noisy you can’t even tell what’s happening.

This is the same reason why I hate most bars. In theory, bars seem great. Places that serve alcohol and you can sit and drink and talk to people. In practice, there is so much noise from the live band or the sportsing event on the TV or the radio that really you might as well be drinking alone.

– 6 –

Therefore, the idea is to resurrect blogging this Lent. This takes more than people writing about the things that interested them and the events that happen to them. It also takes people reading, and taking the trouble to comment about what they think in return. There’s no easy out of hitting ‘like’ and moving on.

Kate called it an oblates of blogging, and, well, she’s not wrong. I’m really interested in exploring that idea further, but I do still have the flu so it will probably need to wait for another day.

– 7 –

There’s no strict rule of how much to post and how much to comment. We will all write the posts and comments as they come to us, and as the demands of life permits. The chief rule is to put as much of the conversation onto the blogs themselves, instead of being in the Facebook comments of the shared blog posts. Lets move the conversations to a place where they will stay in one place and we can find them again when we have new thoughts to add.

Posted in 7 Quick Takes | Tagged , , , , | 11 Comments

Little Bear is 2

Little Bear is now two.


I don’t know where the time went.


Posted in Historical Record | 2 Comments