A Canonization Celebration


Oh, where to begin? How about 2005? When Jackie and I went on Engaged Encounter, our most productive communication that weekend was THE NAME LIST. We paired together some of our favorite saints to create first and middle names that sounded awesome. Jude Blase, Augustine Thomas, Xavier Rocco, and Zelie Jane. We joked about how with names like those, our kids could totally start their own garage rock band, with Zelie on guitar and lead vocals, of course.

Fast forward, to 2010. We received our beautiful daughter. And we started making the phone calls to parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters to share the news. My folks didn’t answer at first, so we left a cryptic message and kept going down the list. And again and again, when we said, “Her name is Zelie Jane” the response was, quite understandably: “Zelie?” Until my mom finally called us back. When we told her, she started crying and said, “I love it. I love it. Thank you. You’ve made her so happy.” Because my mom, who is named Therese, knew exactly who the namesake of her newest granddaughter was. Zelie Martin: wife, mother of nine children, including St. Therese, lacemaker, Catholic woman who lived the motto “God must be served first.” At the time, Zelie Martin and her husband Louis, whose causes for sainthood had been linked together, only had one confirmed miracle, so they were recognized as Blessed. We thought how wonderful it would be to someday celebrate her canonization as a Saint together as a family.

Which brings us to 2015, when Zelie and Louis’ second miracle was confirmed and it was announced that on Oct. 18, they would be lifted up as an example of marriage and family life for all the Catholic Church. So this is a once in a lifetime event! It is not every day that your namesake is canonized. This was a cause for a celebration. We invited the families from our House of Gold prayer group to come revel in the day alongside us. Most of us have been friends since our awkward high school days. Vocation came a knocking, and our families have grown parallel to one another. Both of Zelie’s godparents were with us that day as well.

zelie games

So we started off with a Rosary for the parents, and some Zelie-themed games for the kids, with varying degrees of success. Escargot, a French hopscotch game, was a pretty big hit, with minimal tears. Zelie and Louis had a hard time discerning their vocations, at first thinking they were called to be a priest and a sister, so we played Telephone, where the messages got quite bumbled if you weren’t listening well. And of course, no one was listening well. I wouldn’t recommend playing Telephone with 5 year olds. Or even 9 year olds, who thought it would be fun to spontaneously change the message they heard to “Ekky blekky bloo bah” half way around the circle. Yes, Telephone was a test of patience for me. Can Joel refrain from bringing out the angry eyebrows and kicking that kid out of the game just 5 minutes after joyfully teaching about the lives of two new saints? No. He can’t. Finally, a day on the Arnold farm is not complete for our friends’ city kids without a trip to the haybales. So I made up a game called Watchmaker/Lacemaker, which was basically just a timed race with…wait for it…because it’s really creative…a watch and some lace. This was the favorite game of the day.

zelie foodThe highlight of the day for me was the food though. Jackie had encouraged everyone to bring French food to celebrate these two new French saints. It was ridiculously good. A taste of heaven on earth. Beef Bourguignon, Gougeres, baguettes, the fanciest potatoes au gratin I’ve ever seen, lemon cream puffs, and a cheese so insanely good, I considered digging through the trash the next day to find the wrapper to assure I would be able to sample it again some day. I think it was a camembert. I must track it down. A new culinary quest has begun. As groups of friends go, we are so blest to feast together. We could not have done better in selecting lifelong friends if we had held interviews and asked to sample their best dishes.

Adding to this glimpse into eternity together was the amazing music of the Jack Korbel Confluence. If you are yet to listen to Jack’s songs, stop reading this, go to Spotify, and search for him-start with Earth and Stars Hymn. So, so good. He writes music that was meant to be played in a verdant green living room with rich dark woodwork and a brick fireplace, while listeners recline by bookshelves packed with encyclicals, Austen, Wendell Berry, and Sigrid Undset. (Sorry there, that previous sentence took on a life of it’s own. Jack’s lyrics will make you want to try and write like that.) Seeing my kids drawn towards the melodies in the living room and staring entranced by the strings of the guitar and the violin was a good, good moment. Perhaps that rock band may yet happen. I was able to snap a quick picture of Zelie snuggling up against our cousin Jamie. This little Zelie is blest to have such strong, beautiful women to look up to in her life. Her mother, her aunts and cousins. Her godmother and grandmothers. And her own Saint Zelie.

zelie music

St. Zelie, pray for us!



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In Her Heart

Tomorrow I hope to post about the county fair, but for this evening, I just wanted to share something that makes me smile every time I see it. We’ve been working on fair projects for the last 2 weeks, but one morning Gus came upstairs with a gift for me-this picture he just decided to draw on his own at bedtime. That’s our family he put in Mary’s Immaculate Heart. And that’s the only way we have made it through this month-resting in her heart, protected by her mantle.


We are blest.

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Top 10 Catholic Stuff You Should Know Podcasts

We have really got hooked on podcasts in the last year. Jackie listens to them while she’s cooking dinner. I learn from them while I’m doing monotonous janitorial work. They kept me awake at 3 in the morning while driving to and from Colorado. But when I’m trying out a new podcast, I don’t want to just randomly pick an episode. I want to know which ones are the best episodes to sample. This American Life has a Favorites shortlist that is very entertaining. But my favorite blog is Catholic Stuff You Should Know. It is not only enjoyable, it is also very edifying. That’s a good combo. But where do you start? Some of their episodes are just OK. I want you to get hooked on this podcast. So, for the last month, Jackie and I have been working together to pick our favorites from their almost 200 episodes. Here’s what we agreed on.


Here are the two main hosts, hailing from the Denver Archdiocese, studly Fr. John Nepil on the left, and comic relief Fr. Nathan Goebel on the right.

Start with these: light, fun, entertaining-or to go with our alliterative theme: bright, bold, boffo:
1. Beer
2. Batman
3. Bikinis!
Go a little deeper with these great saint stories, from the Deacon Joe days:
4. Woolos and Gladys Farlog
5. 40 Martyrs of Sebaste
Then a little higher to the heavens with:
6. Theology of Mountaineering
Next, really get to know the priests personally with:
7. What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been
8. Call Waiting
Now, you’re ready for some “big ideas.” Our favorites are:
9. What is Marriage? well worth it just to hear how some guy was so obnoxious, Fr. John wanted to “punch him in the junk”
10. Distributism, because the phrase “creative extension of oneself” is pretty cool.

Those are a great place to start.
Two live recordings that are definitely worth checking out,
Zombies! And the Thirst for Communion (which would high in the top 10 if this was just Joel’s list) and Being Consumed (Jackie’s choice for honorable mention)

Soon you will be laughing along with the banter of these good, genuine priests. We hope you enjoy Catholic Stuff You Should Know as much as we do.



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Top 10 Memories from 2015 Colorado Trip

fallsWe’ve been back from Colorado for almost a week now, but we had to hit the ground running-back to work, Adoration Under the Stars, preparing for hosting our 4th of July Family Reunion, our first Parent University class at St. Pats, and of course, catching up with classes and the garden. So tonight. let me finally share the great joy that was our return to Green Mountain Falls!

First off, our setting:
252410_2183086496008_2042442_nMy aunt’s grace-filled cabin, Hummingbird Hill, where we came as kids with our cousins. So many great memories there. We had been there 4 years ago, when Zelie was one and Xavey was snug and warm in utero. Jude and Gus loved it and have been clammoring to return. Here’s what 4 years looks like with Jude and Gus.
timeAs promised, here are my favorite memories.

10. Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center
Well, I liked the museum. We had a great tour guide and he shared tons of information with us. But the kids zoned out to varying degrees and will probably remember it mostly for the gift shop.

9. Podcasts and Music Appreciation
Our time in the car was actually pretty enjoyable. Jackie downloaded several great podcasts that made driving through the night easy (go listen to “The Super” on This American Life-stranger than fiction). I packed some Beatles and They Might Be Giants to introduce the kids to the finer things in life, and connect great music to the grandeur of the vacation. The kids all had favorites and it did my nostalgic dad heart good to hear them singing along to Yellow Submarine.

8. Mueller State Park
We were joined by my little sister, her husband, and their three wonderful boys. Cousin time is so important to our kids, so this just made the trip. On Monday, we went to Mueller State Park, which we definitely want to visit again on future visits. The kids kept finding treasures along the hike. Our trail had tons of quartz rock that caught their possessive eyes. Halfway through the hike, to relieve the kids of the extra pounds they were carrying, we persuaded them to use the rocks to build a house that animals could live in. Xavier called it Honey House.
mueller7. The Crags
Another trail we will definitely be returning to is The Crags/Devils Playground. Such a beautiful hike. If Xavier had his way, we would have taken about a dozen pictures of him and various stumps.

6. Catamount Trail and Thomas Trail
I was thoroughly impressed by what awesome hikers Zelie and my nephew Max were. Catamount and Thomas are two of of my favorite hikes and the trailhead for them is a quick walk up from the cabin where we stayed.

5. Garden of the Gods
I always underestimate this place. Both times we’ve gone it has been the favorite of the kids. Climbing around on the rocks really unleashes their inner adventurous spirit. Afterwards, we took them for ice cream, which was a pretty momentuous occasion, and we ended up at the same park that we went to with Mark and Mary Ellen 4 years ago. I can always count on my in-laws for a classic funny face.
park4. Visiting Colorado friends and family
We got to see our Marney friends, Jackie’s cousins, and my cousins and aunt and uncle. We were so blest by the hospitality of these wonderful souls.
3. Laughter on the porch. Each night after the kids were in bed, the adults would retreat to the porch with adult beverages and great conversation.

2. Mt. Dewey
Awesome to be able to take my son’s to the top of their first mountain. They are becoming little men. And I am proud. It was about a 3 mile hike, challenging at times for them, but such a great reward to stand at the top and look for miles in all directions. It was close to heaven.
mt dewey1. The quiet moments.
Gus drawing the mountains in his sketchbook. Ben and Jude playing King of Tokyo. Praying together each night thanking our Creator for the day’s memories. Snuggling on the porch as the sunlight began to pour across the mountains. Verso l’alto-always good for the soul.
small still momentsBl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us!


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I Received the Living God, and My Heart is Full of Joy

Here are some pictures from Jude’s First Communion today. It was a blessed day for us all! The only thing I missed getting a good picture of was Jude surrounded by his amazing grandparents.



My favorite part of the whole day was the huge, sweet grin on his face as he walked back to his seat after receiving Jesus.



Both of his godparents came, even though they both live over 3 hours away!


The cake was a huge hit, thanks to a good friend who is much more talented than I. And she made it gluten free!


Because his birthday is next week, he got to open some birthday gifts too, which Xavier was super excited to see.


And in true Arnold holiday fashion, there was a board game involved. Father Chad was on Xavier’s team, God bless him.


Proof that we really need professional help in getting a good family picture.

Happy First Communion, Jude Blase!




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