Author Archives: cmcswaim

Get Organized: The Liturgical Garden Calendar

p80700111Since it is now over a month since the commencement of the secular new year, it is safe to say that if you haven’t used that hopefully beautiful parish calendar you picked up with the bulletin late last year, you’re not going to…

That is, unless you utilize it for the amazing garden calender you’re going to make right after you read this.

See, a parish calendar is perfect for organizing all the information to make your garden a true victory this year, and not only because you’ll schedule when to sow and potentially harvest, but also because you’ll be able to line all those green thumb dates up with some important liturgical ones.

First, use the unseasonably warm weather we are currently experiencing in Cincinnati this week to go and scout around your yard for  your 2009 seed needs.  If possible, use graph paper to make a plan of your 2009 garden, especially if you are looking to expand it or experiment with some new fruits or vegetables.

Then, buy your 2009 seeds, as well as any materials you will need for starting seeds inside!  We got ours at a local hardware store here in Hartwell.

Then, schedule on the calendar when you will be:

  • starting your seeds inside
  • moving the prospective transplants to a sheltered area outside about a week before transplanting (in order to acclimatize them)
  • planting the seeds and the transplanted seedlings
  • expecting to harvest (this info is usually listed on the seed packet) the fruits and veggies of your labor
  • sowing some seedlings with more frequency, in order to extend the harvest

Some other important dates to note are:


St. Brigid of Ireland, I know your feast was last week, but this is too amazing for me to ignore…

Patroness of poultry raisers, pray for us!

I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven’s family drinking it through all eternity.
– Saint Brigid

Feast day: February 1

Dressing Liturgically As a Substitute for Rolling in Fire


A color scheme such as this would be inappropriate Lenten-ware.

A color scheme such as this would be inappropriate Lenten attire.



As a Catholic Clothes Horse, I occasionally find it necessary to temper my affinities for wearable textiles with readings of The Little Flowers of Saint Francis, but that usually ends with a (rather uncomfortable) metaphorical roll in briars or fire.  While I cannot counter that the remedy isn’t typically good for the soul,  I’ve been able to develop, of late, a desire to seek some measures that are a bit more preventative.  Enter my very own version of Dressing Liturgically, which, while in the same vein as black on Good Friday and red on Pentecost, is even more simple.  

See, the whole purpose of the fashion industry is to entrap women, and yes, I am aware that this isn’t even approaching ground-breaking, especially as my husband seems to bring it up every time he unwittingly enters into a situation when he finds himself crossing over the threshold of The Gap – Matt’s own personal whore of Babylon… oh wait, that’s her more pious cousin… I meant that two-headed wench Abercrombie and Fitch and her sister Hollister…  Those two stores are literally so dark on the inside that your teenager can’t even tell the wash of the jeans they’re trying on.  But, I digress.  

Women on the whole can probably not defeat the wiles of the fashion industry, who wishes to win over all their cash money, along with their heads.  However, I believe that there are enough clever, Catholic women out there who can make pledges to dress more liturgically, and thus more seasonally, and score some saavy buys along the way.  My case in point:  the span of time from the day after Christmas through to the middle or end of January is when the bulk of the  resort season wear (notably differing from spring fashion, which is debuting now) is out on the market.  That means, that when the tens of thousands of Cincinnatians are getting ready to head to Cabo mid-winter, J.Crew is ready for us, right?  Sort of.  

See, J.Crew, and even Target have their scores of bathing suits and flip flops on the shelves, along with all the tissue-thin t-shirts with mid-winter beach resort-type sayings, but, quite simply, there are NOT tens of thousands of Cincinnatians who are in, or are preparing to head to, Cabo are this moment, but simply many, many women who A., are seasonally depressed (I hear ya), B., are trying to pretend to their friends that they are preparing to head to Cabo, C., are trying on those swimsuits in-between shoveling the driveway and sessions on the couch in a Snuggie, or D., some mixture of the aforementioned activities.  Come on, who has time, anyway, when they’re planning their Victory Gardens?  While I can relate (I did indeed buy a pair of quite preppy, pink, English Bulldog flip flops at J. Crew last January, and I cannot pledge that I wouldn’t do it again if put in a similar situation), I am willing to enter into Liturgical Wardrobe Recovery.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t entail cinctures or albs, but it does encourage moderation in all things (this is maybe a bit more pagan in its philosophy- think Epicurus – than the Fioretti would like, but nonetheless Catholic, although I don’t see an encyclical on the theme coming out any time soon).  

Here are the rules:

  • Never wear anything promoting a holiday, especially one that is Christian in origin, that has not occurred yet.  This includes Christmas Sweaters, a staple of Western pop culture that has some overlap with the ubiquitous Cosby Sweater – go ahead and wear all the way until the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, but don’t go jumping the gun and wearing them during Advent, or, God forbid, the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Advent – Integrate purple and bring in the pink for Gaudete.  Lay off the green and red!
  • Christmas – Just when everyone else is drycleaning the Christmas Sweaters for next year, pull ’em out!  They may think you’re late, but you and a group of 1.13 billion of your closest friends worldwide will have the satisfaction of knowing you’re right on time (just try not to be snide about it…).
  • Ordinary Time I – Stay strong!  Keep wearing your warm, winter clothes!  Don’t succumb to resort season (unless you are indeed in Cabo, in which case, email me if  you could maybe swing another ticket and some room and board for your new best friend…), or invest in anything clothing that would be impractical without the added investment of a heat lamp.  This is the perfect time for those florescent-colored sweaters and leggings that are reminiscent of fun in the sun, when the sun is just not ready for you yet.  When in times of temptation, crack open the Fioretti or check the current weather in your zipcode!
  • Lent – Even though we are preparing for Easter, a time most notable for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (and peripherally known for floral dresses, big hats, and fuzzy bunnies bearing candy, by the media), remember that it is still February and we are in a season of contrition and atonement.  Don’t even think about that peeps pink or chick yellow, linen-cotton cardigan.  Go to the Stations and remember the prayer power in the Sorrowful Mysteries.  Don’t worry, you don’t have to aim for an Edward Scissorhands look, but probably not having been to Cabo this past winter, you have the complexion to give it a go.  Gray, black, and dark purple look great on you.
  • Easter – Easter day is a good time to, in recalling the Savior’s resurrection and  our salvation from sin, pull out the white (ignore the Memorial Day to Labor Day hogwash, the new rule on white is Easter, through the Sundays after Pentecost, to Advent!), and pull out your gold accessories.  This is the biggest feast of the year!  If you must, go peeps pink and chick yellow.
  • Ordinary Time II:  The time of year when the most wardrobe scandal is committed in Western churches and city streets alike, go slow and careful when choosing wardrobe items to wear during this season.  If a female, be sure to allow at least three full days of agony attempting to seek out a bathing suit, and, if you have a teenage girl, just say no – you might even want to direct them to some  of the great Pentecostal Women’s bathing suit options.
  • If you buy clothing when it is actually temperature-appropriate to wear them, they are on sale because they have already been in stores for months by that time!   There is never any reason to buy full-price clothing.

How the Economic Downturn Is Making Me a Better Human (And In Turn a Better Catholic)


1. Getting back to the ground level with a Victory Garden – even with the “snow bomb” of Tuesday afternoon still blanketing the earth here in Cincinnati, I can proudly say that there are 60 jalapeno plants germinating in my living room, just waiting to be transplanted, tended, and made into salsa.

2. Staying in – while we’re called to preach the Gospel out in the world, there is something homely, in the best possible sense of the word, about a good Agatha Christie or Dorothy L. Sayers book and a glass of wine on a Friday night, not to mention roasted root vegetables over ziti.

3. Staying in at the homes of other people – bars are over-rated, home-cooked meals almost always taste better, and dishes aren’t so painful when everyone chips in.

4. DIY home detailing – why did I not think to wallpaper my breakfast room in a 1950s era book on France before this?

5.  Considering the ramifications of my consumption –

6. Making tithing a bigger priority – because there are people with bigger issues than mine.

7.  Getting Snuggie.

8.  Getting serious about ways of forming authentic Christian community.

9.  Figuring out the city ordinances on keeping small, edible, animals

10. Listening to more of my husband’s (live) music, and buying less of the (however nicely) recorded stuff.


What have you been doing differently lately?  Do tell in the combox.

Pauline Challenge #1: Apostle to the Gentiles

As you’re probably already aware, the Year of St. Paul has been up and running since June 28th, and will continue until June 29, 2009.  With this in mind, I inaugurate a whole mess of posts on the theme of the Pauline Year, and, more specifically, how the year might be practically carried out to the benefit of Catholic Cincinnatians, as well as, and even more importantly, to the Glory of God.  

After all, who doesn’t like/need a little challenge every now and again?

Your challenge for today is to zip on over to the site for the Papal Basilica of St. Paul and start to re-familiarize yourself with Paul by reading Apostle to the Gentiles.

Colleen Swaim

The Catholic Near East Welfare Association

These days, it’s tough to find someone who does not have an opinion on the political situation in Iraq, as well as the United States’ involvement there, and this is rightly so.  

That being said, many people are not aware of the Catholic Church’s organized modern effort (since the 1920’s) to aid the East, including Iraq, via the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (The CNEWA), a papal agency for humanitarian and pastoral support.  The organization, founded by Pope Pius XI, works toward supporting Eastern churches, assisting the needy, aiding in interfaith efforts, and public awareness of the variety of peoples living in the East. 

Some of the remarkable aspects of the Association, are the giving options which they have made available. While sponsorship efforts are typically a giving trend more prevalent in Evangelical charities, this papal agency makes it simple to choose to sponsor a seminarian, novice sister, or child.  In addition, there are money market account options, as well as the opportunity to fund a particular project in a specific village/city and country.

The CNEWA is also a vital source of information on Eastern Churches and should be of especial interest to Cincinnati Catholics, owing to the fact that we have an Eastern Catholic church right here in our own city – Saint Anthony of Padua Maronite Church. 

From my view, this is one initiative that all Catholics, no matter their politics, should find encouraging.

Colleen Swaim (is not employed by the CNEWA, just really pumped to know they exist!)

Film Review: The Little Flowers of Saint Francis

  Easily the film adaption of The Little Flowers with the least flower power, Rossellini’s 1950 film based on the classic literary work features a rambunctious group of constantly running actors playing Franciscan monks who, if we read the credits, we find are real, live monks themselves.  

       One touch which really brings the content of the film back to The Little Flowers is Rossellini’s use of descriptive titles for each different scene.

    Surprisingly entertaining and engaging, this film is well worth a trip to the library or virtual queue, however, beware of the lovable and indomitable Brother Ginopro, who entirely steals the show from Francis himself.


Film version viewed: Criterion Collection


Rating: 5/5


Colleen Swaim