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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Favorite Places: The Altar

I grew up in a family that prayed together before we went to bed. Mom or Dad would tell us to head to “the altar”, and we would kneel together beside a table with a statue of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This is probably a whole different story, but my Dad was annoyed by Jesus and Joseph’s effeminate eyebrows and blondish hair, so one night he took a paintbrush and properly Jewed them up. I digress. I didn’t particularly treasure these prayer times as a kid. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to receive this example from my parents.

When I moved back into my childhood home, it was only natural that the same hallway would become the place for our family prayer time. And while I realize that the term “altar” sounds really, really holy, calling it anything different just seems disingenuous. That’s what I grew up calling it. We don’t always pray by this altar- in October when we try to pray a decade of the Rosary every night, so we do prayer time on the couches in our family room. But I’ve found that though the couches are good for a break and to mix things up, that after a few weeks, the kids distraction level starts shooting up, and it is time to head back to the hallway for a more focused space.

My parents left behind a picture of the Holy Family, and for seven years we used this picture as our focal point. It had some sentimental value, as it was a gift from a cherished pastor, Fr. John Reinkemeyer, but the picture always felt like a placeholder, that something better was to come.  This fall, Jackie let me know that she “had plans” for our family prayer space. She told me about it, and I really didn’t think it was going to work. At all. But I wisely decided that if she could let me do my creative thing and have free reign of the boys’ Castle Room, I should just step out of the way and not complain about her vision for the altar.

When the vision became tangible, it was a wonderful Christmas gift for our family. Jackie has already explained the significance of many of the art pieces in this post. So if you want to see a photo not bathed in angelic light, you can click there. But you’ll miss the two freshly-scrubbed cherubs in fleece jammies. At prayer time, my soul unwinds, but now my eyes are nourished by multifaceted beauty. I gaze at the art until my eyes come to rest on a detail that pulls me in. I stand beside my bride who assembled this holy space and my love for this woman resounds. She is a creator woman, she creates art, and creates feasts, and she created within her these little souls that surround me as I kneel. These little souls that we were so blest to be able to give such awesome saint names to ignite them and inspire them to reach great heights. So many wonderful details to meditate on. I love that Isaac Jogues is teaching in his picture. I love the way Gerard is safely sheltered between Mom and Dad’s confirmation saints. Rose petals from Jackie’s wedding bouquet beside St. Therese. Our roughly hewed cross from Mexico. It seems strange to say, but when we pray, I remember a line from one of my favorite books: “all of Heaven bends low.” For those moments, with the promise of evening respite so near, the eternal feels closer.

prayer time

I like to try and record touching or amusing prayer time stories. Here is an old blog reflection from 2013.  And here’s a status update from November 2012:
Zelie is quite talented at disrupting prayer time. She says something adorable, and we all try to hold in the laughter, and she says something even cuter, and we all bust up. Then she grins and laughs at her victory. Tonight, the breaking point was when she prayed for “all the baby Christmas trees” and then paused and looked directly at me with the big serious puppy dog eyes.

Xavier has had the same petition every night for about a month now. I don’t know where this came from, but it is of the greatest importance to him, and he has been unswerving in his devotion to this important issue:
“For all the bushes, and the trees, and the berries you can eat, and for the berries that you can’t eat.”

This Lent, my prayer for you is that you will continue to discover the beauty, the consolation, and the joy of time spent speaking and listening to God as a family. When my parents passed on this legacy of prayer to me, they weren’t just setting a good example. They made me a rich, rich man.


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