While my husband labors today at his trade of sharing the love of wisdom, I have been doing my normal work of home schooling the kids and doing some writing. Well this morning, on this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, I was flipping through this sweet little book, We Sing and Listen (affliate link alert…thanks for using it!) from Seton Books that I picked up in our home school co-op’s book sale last week. It has sweet pious little songs about the liturgical year, and I found this gem to sing with the kids for today:
Dear St. Joseph, kind and true, I have lessons I must do. They are for your Foster Son. Help me till the work is done.
You who taught our Lord a trade, Showed Him how a chair is made, Do not fail to answer me, Dearest saint, my helper be.
Ever since I went on my silent retreat during Lent, I have been trying to be intentional about fostering a deeper love in myself and in the children for God and the saints, and it occurred to me that these pious simple songs, sung well are so helpful in doing that.
I want the children to know how to love God and to know how to help themselves love God. Charity (God’s own love), while an infused theological virtue that He gives us for others, also requires effort on our part. We must want to love Him, and ask Him to help us love others. And here on this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we can ask just that of St. Joseph.
My stock Advent wreath photo.. this is a few years old…but looks the same this year!
1. One of the goals I have in setting family traditions is for them seamlessly be apart of our days, weeks, and years. I think that our Advent ones are pretty well established. We have not changed anything from last year or the year before. It took me about 20 minutes to set up our Advent in the home: wreath, Jesse tree, wreath on door. We fit the Jesse Tree into our night time prayer time. We sing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel with the lights out a dinner. We pray for Jesus to help us prepare to receive Him in our hearts at Christmas.
2. I was just talking to some other moms at our home school co-op this morning about how easy the internet has made Christmas shopping. You can do it in a few hours plus you get the excitement of packages almost every day!
3. The main laborious part of Advent for us is Christmas cards. We still write them all by hand, even the addresses. We purchase our cards from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests, and the recipients of each card is enrolled in their novena of Christmas Masses, which I think is so cool. It is worth the card writing tradition to give this gift to all our family and friends. We like to spread out the card writing. The professor and I each do ten a night until we are finished.
4. The weekend before Thanksgiving I took the advice of a few Facebook friends and let my garden Brussel Sprouts brave a cold front. I harvested them on Tuesday in my last harvest of the Spencer Garden 2016 season. They were nearly frozen when I brought them in, so we blanched and froze them immediately for use on the Immaculate Conception. I am going to try them again next year, but plant them earlier and actually space them out so they get more sun. We had a small forest of plants, that only yielded 1.3 lbs of marble sized sprouts.
5. Yesterday, for the Solemnity, I made the Professor’s favorite pie, steak, stout, and mushroom, accompanied by the garden brussel sprouts braised in cream and served with bacon from our “happy” half hog. The “happy” beef is from the Professor’s aunt and uncle’s hobby farm; G even got to pick which of the beeves she wanted for our freezer. It was all delicious. My dear toddler son has yet to discover that Good Food is worth eating, so we had a leftover pie to freeze and eat at a later date. Maybe on the octave?
A little blurry, but perhaps that captures the mischievous glee he takes in all he does…
6. Speaking of toddler sons, I am pretty sure that God made toddler boys for the purpose of having cute haircuts. The hair cutting process itself it not cute: fussing on his part and my fear of cutting my own fingers off as he flops about. But the result is adorable. I am a little obsessed with his hair and eyes these days. But also so thankful that he naps and has an early bedtime as his favorite things to do are drag chairs around, turn lights on and off, and try to get at everything on the kitchen counters.
7. I had heard that there will be a new Rite of Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church soon, but I did not realize that it was so simple. According to my girls to get married a bride has to walk down the aisle to the singing of “Alleluia” and then “Kiss Lips” with the intended groom. When one daughter announced that she had married her balloon I informed her that she had the wrong matter to have the Sacrament of Matrimony and probably the wrong form as well…
I love that I was assigned to write about St. John the Baptist today. I have a special connection to him my whole life having been born two weeks past my due date on his Nativity in June. Today is the day in which we remember his martyrdom at the hands of King Herod. And as always happens when I write devotions, what I drew from the readings is so relevant to me today. I pray that I can be more like St. John the Baptist and allow Christ to use me despite my littleness.
Here is my devotion: ——-
Two things stand out to me in today’s readings for the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, the first being how King Herod felt about John:
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
King Herod knew that Saint John was a righteous man, and that he was speaking truth. But the truth put King Herod into a funny position. If he listened to Saint John, he would have to completely change his life. He would have to admit that he was wrong, and give up the women that he had taken as a wife from his own brother. He was stuck, and he was very attached to the life that he had, and because of this he was forced to kill a man who he knew to be holy and righteous.
On a recent road-tripping holiday with my family, we immersed ourselves in Howard Pyle’s land of fancy in the Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. In the stories we caught a glimpse of a merry medieval England, but another thing we got a sense of was a continual reference to the intercession of the saints. There were favorite saints of the time, like St. Dunstan and St. Aelfrida and it made my husband and I want focus even more on saints and their feast in our family lives.
I want my children to grow up knowing about things like St. Swithin’s day, which is July 15, and on that day you say this rhyme:
St. Swithin’s day if thou dost rain For forty days it will remain St. Swithin’s day if thou be fair For forty days ’twill rain nae mair.
Perhaps in Wales it often happened that St. Swithen’s day was a predictor of weather for the rest of the summer…
Today, in the Traditional Roman Catholic calendar, is the octave day of the Nativity of John the Baptist and the Feast of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. The professor recently came across this website which has the Divine Office dating back to the pre-Tridentine church. This morning, since the Feast of the Most Precious Blood is not in the New calendar, the professor suggested we pray from the old breviary. And in the old office was this beautiful hymn to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. The professor wrote his own thoughts about the feast and the hymn on his blog.
This hymn speaks to one’s soul about the mercy of God, the out-pouring of the Blood of His Son for us. The part that particularly struck me, but all of it is so, so, beautiful, is the stanza towards the end:
In full atonement of our guilt, Careless of self, the Saviour trod— E’en till his heart’s best blood was spilt— The wine-press of the wrath of God. The stanza evokes an image of the crushed Body of Christ, His Blood gushing forth, and for what, for us. And then there is the image of bathing in that precious Blood which is gushing forth, and receiving healing and mercy.
Come, bathe you in the healing flood, All ye who mourn, by sin opprest; Your only hope is Jesus’ blood, His sacred heart your only rest.
What more can I say, my only hope is Jesus’ blood.
We made it to the 7:30 am TLM/EF Low Mass at St. Agnes for the first time since the fourth Sunday of Lent. We wimped out and opted for the 8:30am the day of the time change. I was out of town on Palm Sunday and went with my mom. And Easter Sunday we did the 8:30am again since the EF was the 10am orchestral Mass (which is beautiful, but way too long with four small children). So, on Divine Mercy Sunday we were back at our normal Mass time (and so were all of our favorite after Mass donut eating friends)!
The lectionary for the OF and the EF are different from each other on most Sundays, and as I heard both between the Blessed is She devotion and going to the EF Mass, I just had to share the first reading from the EF. It was so Divine Mercy appropriate, and so appropriate coming the day before the transferred Feast of the Annunciation:
4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.7 And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. 8 There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has borne witness to his Son. 10 He who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son.
-1 John 4-10
The water and blood imagery bring to mind the Divine Mercy image, and then when you add the Spirit as a witness, it brings to mind the Annunciation.
We are getting some flurries here, and I hear it is snowing east of Minnesota, in places like Michigan and Buffalo, NY. (places where we have lived–my five week stay between NY and MN in MI count right?)
Here is some snowy (or rainy) Annunciation Scripture for you:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my [W]ord be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” -Isaiah 55:10-11
So, take hope in that the snow is coming this cold spring day in order to bring forth seed and bread, and that Christ came and has and will accomplish His purpose.
The Divine Mercy weekend is especially meaningful for me in several ways. 11 years ago, just hours before Pope St. John Paul II passed away, on April 2, my grandmother passed away after a her second battle with cancer. And two years ago on Divine Mercy Sunday, I began to miscarry the baby that we named after Pope St. John Paul II.
But today I have some happy news to share. My father, whom I asked you to pray for, met with his doctor about his artery which was supposed to have been enlarged. Here is the background. A CT scan of this specific artery from after Dad’s surgery measured it to be a safe size. He had an ultrasound of it in March which measured it to be bigger than it should be, thus risking rupture. However, he had another CT scan last week (Easter Monday after we had all been praying for him) which showed the artery to not have enlarged at, all meaning that there is no concern about his artery. The doctor’s explanation was that the ultrasound was inaccurate, but we think that it is possible that there was a miracle.
Either way we are thankful and praise God for Dad’s health. Thank you for your prayers for Dad.
Candlemas day is one of my favorites, especially this year. I am really glad I live in a part of the world (Northern Hemisphere) where Christmas and Lent happen in the winter. Winter would be really strange without the special seasons of the liturgical year to carry us through it.
Our Lady of Lourdes found the infant Jesus.
The main way we mark Candlemas is to enjoy our last day of Christmas things, like the few decorations we still have up (the tree came down on Sunday) and all of our favorite Christmas songs.
I love our cute little red crabapples.
Mother nature decided to celebrate in Minnesota this year with a blizzard, which makes me feel all Laura Ingalls Wilder-y. I mean I can’t experience a snowfall in the Northern Midwest without thinking about all the winters I read about in her books. So, it even looks like Christmas outside.
We did the traditional food thing with pancakes, and I decided that from now on chocolate chips in pancakes is a part of the Catholic St. Paul, Minnesota tradition. So, if you live here, make chocolate chip pancakes. We could make it a nationwide thing even. Everyone make chocolate chip pancakes for Candlemas next year. It will be awesome.
The girls and I spent lunch eating pancakes and singing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” as loud as we could. It was fun. I am not normally like that at lunch lest you think that I am some sort of cool mom. Candlemas just made me a little giddy.
And to top it all off, this guy turns eight months in two days. How did we get 2/3 to one year already?!?!?!?!?!
I’m linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum a few days late for Seven Quick Takes. 1. We have been home for two weeks now, after three weeks on the road. The trip was great we clocked 2200 miles going from Minnesota to Indiana to Michigan to Ohio to Missouri and back home to Minnesota. The girls were great in the car as usual, and T was awesome for his first long trip.
2. The only time he was inconsolable by his favorite music, Dave Brubeck was during the last 4 hours of our trip from the middle of Iowa to home.
M got sick of listening to it, but it was a lot better than other music a baby could be obsessed with. Ask anyone who road in the back seat with the kids. It literally would put a tired T to sleep within five minutes of the music starting. 3. We saw people of all four sides of our extended families, and we loved every daytime minute of it. The girls had lots of fun with cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. The nights were not so great. I discovered that T needs a pitch black room to sleep well. So we went back to bad sleep for the trip. It was made up for by good visiting time with our relatives, many of whom we had not seen since last Christmas. Though by the end we decided that we are done with three week road trips. They will be shorter in the future.
4. It is amazing how three weeks on the road makes daily life at home so much better. I am loving things like sitting in bed reading while the baby sleeps peacefully in his own room. I am loving my quiet afternoons to read, write, waste time online. I even managed to do five school days plus all the housework last week. Not too shabby.
5. We are still celebrating the Christmas season here, the Season after Epiphany to be exact, until Candlemas (Feb. 2). But Sunday was really liturgically strange, because it was Septuagesima sunday, still the season after Epiphany, and at St. Agnes we celebrated the Feast of St. Agnes which was actually last Thursday. Isn’t being Catholic fun?
6. Because no blog post is complete without a picture, and I have not really been taking pictures lately, I am sharing this one from Instagram.
This guy has rolled to his belly, turned, and belly scooted about 5 feet across the floor since I started writing this post. I am realizing that my life is about to be a bit crazier with a mobile little boy. Linking up 7. In case you don’t follow my blog on Facebook, I wanted to share here my newest article for ChurchPOP: 12 Things St. Zelie Martin Taught Me About Sainthood as a Mother
After being sick for all of Advent, (week one: a cold, week two: I had strep throat, week three: 24 hour stomach bug made the rounds), we began our tour of the Midwest to see extended family.
Christmas was so busy we barely remembered to get a picture of the children. We went to Christmas Eve Mass, so we completely forgot to do a dressed up family shot. Oh well. Here is our Christmas card photo taken in November. It has been a nice healthy trip for us and we have really enjoyed visiting with our families. The children have been great in the car, and I am working on new writing projects in my head.
I plan to be back in regular posting next week. Have a blessed season after Epiphany!
And by the baby, I mean the Newborn King, the Little Lord Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity who became Mary’s little Child.
I always thought that my perfect Advent was the year my second was born on the First Sunday of Advent. My Christmas preparing was all finished, and I just sat with my baby watching everyone else in the daily snow falls we had that December in Buffalo, NY.
I think I was wrong. It was an amazing Advent; relaxed and prayerful, but I wonder if maybe Advent can still be great if it looks a lot more like the weeks leading up to the birth of a baby.
My baby preparations involve several extremely long to do lists: odd jobs around the house, odd jobs in the yard, and BABY prep. And of course there are always the last minute things that you just did not quite get to. Besides that I am supposed to be doing the prelabor exercises: squating, kegels, and relaxation practice for those hard contractions.
I actually do way more to get ready for a baby then I do to get ready for Christmas. The baby list takes months, and for Christmas we do it all in 4 weeks.
Christmas is: cookies, cards, gifts, decorations, some cleaning, and prayer.
Baby is: baby clothes, all the baby gear, hospital planning, hospital packing, relaxation practice,
The year we had our second we stayed at home for Christmas instead of the usual three week tour of the Midwest relatives. People came to us. People took care of us. It made sense for that year and it was perfect for that year.
This year we are traveling for the first time since the birth of our fourth six months ago, and I can’t help but think that maybe this is a more Marian Advent.
Our Lady spent her time waiting for Christ firstly visiting her cousin. Then she went home, got married, and was ready to have her baby in Nazareth, when Caesar decides to have a census.
There she is almost ready to give birth to the Son of God and she has to travel on a donkey 90 miles in cold weather on dangerous trails. When I am 9 months pregnant I can’t handle the pot holes in the road, let alone riding on a donkey.
Do you think Mary said to God, “This is not how things were supposed to go? My Advent needs to be restful so I can pray better!” I imagine not. She being the perfect woman, took it all in stride. Her acceptance of the journey, was part of her continual acceptance of God’s will.
This Advent is already not what I expected. We were going to finish the semester strong with school since we will be taking a three week Christmas break. Instead we had one full school week after Thanksgiving, and then last week I was sick with strep throat, so minimal school. This week the 24 hour stomach bug is making the rounds (so far only the kids).
But we have all been okay. Advent has been manageable because I have been forced to take it easy on myself, M, and on the kids. And we still have been doing our traditions of the Jesse Tree, lights up on St. Lucy’s day (since Lucy means “light”), and the tree up on Gaudete Sunday. We have been having some really beautiful family time through it all.
When we head out on our travels, I hope that we do so united with the Holy Family who were far from home that first Christmas day. (Though I suppose we could say that Bethlehem was their real home, just as our family is traveling back to where we came from.) And if my baby has trouble sleeping on the road, I can just think of baby Jesus waking to the cattle in the stable.
And maybe that is what Advent really should be like, being like Mary and learning to continually accept God’s will whether we are so busy we barely have time to pray or are nursing a newborn on the couch all December. It is accepting God’s will that matters most, and preparing our hearts to receive with joy the Infant King.
I hope that the rest of your Advent is blessed and full of grace!