Sunday, November 30, 2008

Feast of Saint Andrew

Today is the feast of Saint Andrew. He was the first of the apostles of Jesus. Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist, he recognized Jesus as the Messiah. He brought his brother, Simon (Peter), to Jesus. They fished and lived together. They went with Jesus. "As [Jesus] was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is now called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him" (Matthew 4:18-20). As Jesus, they too, were crucified. Jesus on some sort of T, Peter on an upside down T, and Andrew on an X, hence the shape of his flag. The date of his martyrdom was 30 November 60, in Patrae, Achaia, Greece.

Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, so we made today a Scottish heritage day. It just so happens that my aunt and uncle from Scotland visit us in America every November, so they were here to celebrate today with us. My aunt (pictured here pressing shortbread dough into the pan) helped us create a menu of traditional Scottish foods. She taught me how to make them and we had a lot of good conversation about how they cook and what foods they eat. We had a dinner of steak pie, mashed potatoes, carrots and peas and two desserts a trifle and shortbread. We tried to show Pumpkin what we were doing but he mostly just enjoyed spending time with his family. As is the continuing theme for our various family traditions and liturgical year celebrations, this is a practice year because Pumpkin is still too young to understand a lot of things. So today was mostly for me. We ended the day by finding Scotland on the world map and we didn't get a chance to color the Scottish flag.
Today also marked the beginning of the season of Advent so we put up all of our indoor Christmas decorations and the Advent wreath (it was pouring outside so we'll do outdoor lights later and we haven't gotten our tree yet). We will start our Jesse tree readings and ornament hanging tomorrow.
Another way to celebrate Saint Andrew's feast day and Advent is to say the Saint Andrew Christmas Novena. It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
You can make chaplets out of 15 beads and a St. Andrew medal to help you count your prayers each day. This will be a craft for another year. Maybe when Julia is a little older she would like to do this with me.
Advent is a busy time so I hope I am not overwhelming myself with all of these activities and they God will give me the patience and the foresight to know that I ma laying the groundwork this year and to not expect too much from my two year old in grasping all of this.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank you Lord

Today was really a wonderful day. Most moms know that holidays can often be more stressful than relaxing. But today flowed really smoothly for us as we balanced spending time with both families. I really was able to savor the day and enjoy my family. Now at the end of the day, I am so thankful to God in this crazy world that I am surrounded by so much love, comfort and happiness. Hope all your Thanksgivings were just as joyful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanksgiving Crafts

Here are some great Thanksgiving crafts. Most of these except for the Coffe FilterTurkeys will have to be put in my saved folder to use next year or later on because I think they may be too young for Reese, but some of you with older young children would love these. Holiday Gratitude Can Paper Bag Turkey (we could possibly do this one on a god day) Coffee Filter Turkeys Turkey Table Favors Counting Down to turkey Time (We may do this one but on Thanksgiving Day write on each feather what we are thakful for. I'll call it Thankful turkey Feathers. i'll try to do it and post a picture.) I am sure there are so many others out there but these are just a few I found. Have fun. Gobble, Gobble.

A Note of Thanks

I was forwarded emails by a few friends about this article about one of President Bush's last acts in a persistent battle to protect the lives of unborn children. The emails also gave a wonderful suggestion of writing to him to thank him for all he has done for these babies. It is hard to find anyone who agrees with all his policy decisions myself included, but it is undeniable the commitment he has shown to the pro-life movement during his two presidential terms. For all the criticism he gets in the media it would probably be a welcome gift to be told "Thank you." You or even better your children also can write to President Bush at President George W. Bush, The White House, Washington, D.C., 20500.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jesse Tree...starting "anew" tradition this Advent

Advent is right around the corner and in our house we are starting some new traditions this year. One of these is a Jesse Tree. My project this weekend is going to be to find a great stick to use for our Jesse Tree. Here's some background of what a Jesse Tree is and then I'll tell you the rest of our plans.

"Jesse trees are an old tradition that is being rediscovered all over the United States. It is based on Isaiah 11:1 - "A shoot will spring forth from the stump of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots" and is a way of teaching the Old Testament background for the Messiah, and showing how all of God's promises have been fulfilled. The Advent season is a wonderful time to reaffirm God's faithfulness, and the lessons of the Jesse tree help do so. A Jesse tree can be a small tree, a banner, a tree branch, a mobile, or any other thing used to hang ornaments. A special ornament is hung each day of the Advent season, and a corresponding short reading teaches the story and meaning for each ornament."
This description above is from a great website with many ideas for how to do this activity with your kids. They sell ornaments you can use or you can make them with your children.
Our plan is going to be to get our big stick and spray paint it white and then while it is still wet from the spray paint cover it with white and silver glitter. Then I'll put it in a pot with some gravel. Each Sunday during Advent, we will read the below scripture passages for the upcoming week and create some homemade drawing of the symbol. On the back of the ornament drawing, we will write one or two short verses that give the main idea. We'll string some ribbon through the ornaments and each day hang one on our tree. I imagine it definitely won't look as fancy as other Jesse Trees but I think it is important for children to relate to it and it be their own.
Here is a link to coloring pages with symbols and scripture passages that we may use off to start until we get the hang of it. Here is a link to colored images that you would just print and cut to hang up. This is a link to a daily calendar with activities and recommended seasonal books for each day to celebrate Advent.
JESSE TREE SCRIPTURES (The symbols are only suggestions) December 1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 Symbols: sun, moon, stars, animals, earth December 2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 Symbols: tree, man, woman December 3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 Symbols: tree, serpent, apple with bite December 4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 Symbols: ark, animals, dove, rainbow December 5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 Symbols: torch, sword, mountain December 6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 Symbols: bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush December 7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 Symbols: kettle, ladder December 8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 Symbols: bucket, well, silver coins, tunic December 9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 Symbols: baby in basket, river and rushes December 10 Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:1-18 Symbols: lamp, temple December 11 Jesse: 1 Sam. 16:1-13 Symbols: crimson robe, shepherd's staff December 12 David: 1 Sam. 17:12-51 Symbols: slingshot, 6-pointed star December 13 Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14, 16-28 Symbols: scales of justice, temple, two babies and sword December 14 Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 Symbols: hammer, saw, chisel, angle December 15 Mary: Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 Symbols: lily, crown of stars, pierced heart December 16 John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8 Symbols: shell with water, river On December 17, the Church begins to intensify the preparation for Christmas with the use of the "O" Antiphons during the Liturgy of the Hours. The symbols for the Jesse Tree from December 17 to 23 are based on the "O" Antiphons. December 17 Jesus is Wisdom: Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus in old Bibles) 24:2; Wisdom 8:1 Symbols: oil lamp, open book December 18 Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 Symbols: burning bush, stone tablets December 19 Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 Symbols: flower, plant with flower December 20 Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22 Symbols: key, broken chains December 21 Jesus is the Radiant Dawn: Psalm 19:6-7 (in older Bibles this will be Psalm 18) Symbols: sun rising or high in sky December 22 Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 Symbols: crown, scepter December 23 Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 33:22 Symbols: tablets of stone, chalice and host December 24 Jesus is Light of the World: John 1:1-14 Symbols: candle, flame, sun
I think the daily scripture readings and hanging of the ornaments is a great beginners tool for getting yourself and your family used to daily devotions and prayer apart from grace and nightly prayer. I hope to post pictures of our progress as we go.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blessing for the Unborn

I was so excited to read this article about the U.S. bishops approving a liturgical service for blessing children in the womb. What a wonderful way for parents and members of a parish to recognize the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception. I also love the idea of being able to say this blessing when at an abortion clinic to bless the unborn babies about to be aborted as the mother's walk in the clinic. But it maded me think if it is possible to baptise a baby in the womb, say in a case where a mother has been told the fetus wouldn't survive to birth or be born alive and would never consider abortion and fears her baby won't survive to be baptised alive. I'm not sure what the answer is to that. It seems to make sense to me but I am not sure what the Church believes. Here is the concluding rite for the blessing: May almighty God, who has created new life, now bless the child in your womb. The Lord has brought you the joy of motherhood: May he bless you with a safe and healthy pregnancy. You thank the Lord today for the gift of your child: May he bring you and your child one day to share in the unending joys of heaven.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

All Saints Day Celebration...better late than never

I am a little late at posting about our celebration for All Saints Day. Reese is too young to do so many of the things I want to do to celebrate our holy days and feast days throughout the year, so I have to keep reminding myself that this is the year or me to "research," and that in the coming years we can bring them to life. This was the first Halloween that he understood the concept of dressing up and even that was a stretch until the final moment, so I didn't want to confuse the child by having him dress up as a saint also. Not to mention our church's All Saints dress up party was too late on Halloween night. So until he is a little older, the most I could come up with to do for this day was to read the book "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God." We have been reading it every night since. I have been trying to teach him the concept of what a saint is and that ordinary people can be saints too. I tell him he can be a saint if he makes Jesus very happy. He likes this book because he likes to search for the crosses and the swords. He likes the end with the All Saints dress up party with cake. I'm guessing if we do a saints dress up party next year, he'll need to have a sword.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt...

Today Reese and I enjoyed a beuatiful crisp fall day playing in the back yard. We've been reading the book "We're going on a Bear Hunt," so we ran through the yard on different adventures singing, "We're going on a bear hunt, we're going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day..." He was so excited. He was running with his sticks in his hand and he was on a great adventure. I was a little jealous I couldn't see the moment from his eyes again, just for a moment.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Child's Farewell

I have been writing this in my head for the last few months as I have been praying for the future of the unborn during this election season. I had hoped to post this before the election, but I could never finish it, so I can only imagine that God has a purpose for this little poem other than swaying a vote. I hope that even just one person will read this (maybe someday even president Obama) and realize that life really does begin at conception. I wish I had great literary talents but writing simple little poems is a happy past time for me. My poems can't ever be compared to Dickinson or Poe but that isn't my goal. I just want to touch a heart or open a mind. I'm always nervous to share things like this so please be kind in you judgement and take it for what it is. A Child's Farewell Your soft and steady heartbeat is all I know, the sonata to which in this womb I grow. Before you knew of me, I looked upon you from heaven, but I'm already forgetting so I can befriend you again. I am growing and awaiting the day we will meet when you'll hold me and realize your life is complete. Now your pulse is wild, your heart is beating so fast, Sweet mother don't be frightened, this worry will not last. I promise with time you will be happy I am here that my life will give you life, never a regretful tear. But something is happening, I see my angel of light, She tells me not to fear the dawn of the night. It's suddenly so cold and the scalpel is coming near We were two now we're one, Goodbye mother dear I never saw your face but your beauty I know and His forgiveness will rediscover it underneath your sorrow If you think of me someday know I will love you forever, for regardless of your Choice, you are evermore my mother.

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