Christmas Past by Theresa Dickens (I mean, Byrne)

Theresa

It looks like Rosie is about a year old here so this picture is 19 years ago. Time passes quickly, indeed it does!

A lovely excerpt from our second born, Theresa Rose (middle back row), for this Throwback Thursday….

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Childhood memories of Christmases Past brought back the thoughts of simplicity….which played a huge part in our family’s Christmas joy!

Thinking back to when I was young Advent always started with the appearance of the Advent wreath and the making of our stable. There was a joyous preparation, not hurried, rushed or bought.

We would lay straws in the manger for each sacrifice we made throughout the days leading up to Christmas.

Growing up there was not extra money, especially at Christmas, since Dad’s construction work could be quite seasonal, so my parents often did not buy Christmas gifts. We didn’t see Dad and Mom stressed over having to buy gifts they couldn’t afford.

We were normal kids and presents were just as exciting to us as to other kids. Grandma and Auntie Janice (on my mom’s side) would bring over beautiful parcels, enough for all!

This in itself became a tradition…. Oooing and Ahhhing over each beautifully wrapped present….and we were very grateful for everything we received!

We looked forward with anticipation to St. Nicholas Day, where Dad and Mom would do a puppet show of St. Nicholas and Black Pete. We would receive stocking plump with snacks and treats!

As the years passed, we were able to buy gifts, but the emphasis was never on the getting, but the giving.

Some years we would cringe when Dad would make an announcement that we should pick a favorite gift that we had received to give it to another child who had less. We were not made to do this, but we were encouraged. And we did.

Every Advent we would put together a basket or cut wood for a family in need. This instilled in us children how truly blessed we were. There were others suffering and cold, while we were warm, safe and happy.

We would start the St. Andrew Novena on November 30th and down to the littlest fellow that could talk, we would wait for our turn to repeat the beautiful “Hail and Blessed” Prayer.

Some of my favorite memories are when we would all pile into our old Volvo and head to Rossville to view the lights. What a thrill…the color, the magic, the beauty!

Our first snowfall we would take bowls outside and pack them hard with snow. Mom would pour honey and cinnamon on our snow and we would have homemade candy!

One Christmas especially stands out in my mind….we knew Dad was doing something special and secretive in the evenings leading up to Christmas. After Midnight Mass that year we came home to beautiful, homemade stockings, filled with gifts and treats that had been made with love and care by Dad!

Another year, when we were teenagers, Dad made us each our own ornament. He cut out three pictures of each child and created an ornament with glitter and glue. On the bottom of each ornament Dad had written something. Mine said, “Our Blooming Rose!” We were so proud of each of our ornaments!

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As the weeks of Advent passed, Mom would spend one of the afternoons with us making cookies. Our “Cherry Flip” recipe was a favorite and came from an aunt that Mom loved. It was a shortbread cookie make into a ball, stuffed with a cherry, baked, iced with cherry icing and dipped in coconut! Yum! We made other kinds, too, and we then froze little parcels of the cookies for family and friends, which we handed out after Midnight Mass.

Dad was kind of a Scrooge about the Christmas tree. Many years he would go out back and cut us a rather ugly, Charlie Brown cedar tree. This is the part of Christmas that Grandma was often the hero, and mysteriously a lovely tree would show up! Since then Dad has mellowed and if Mom asks, he will pick up a tree on his way home from work.

Just a few days before Christmas, often Christmas Eve, we would decorate the house and the tree.

Time was spent stringing popcorn and cranberries. We made ornaments with last year’s Christmas cards and sometimes dried orange rings to add to the tree…

Midnight Mass was where Christmas began for us. Dressed in our finest, we headed out into the darkness to finally celebrate His Birth!

Arriving home, the baby Jesus, so beautiful, would be laying in the little manger, where He had miraculously appeared while we were gone!

Out came the cookies! On came the Christmas music! Joyous and fun, our Christmas had just begun!

In the morning, after Dad finished reading from the Bible about the birth of Christ, we opened gifts, turned on music, ate good food (and more cookies) and started the turkey for Christmas dinner!

In a one-bedroom home, seven kids, not a lot of money, all of these traditions happened….

Where lack could have been felt, joy was added. We did things together preparing, getting ready and finally celebrating!

In the end, Our Savior was born and we always had a very Merry Christmas!

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“We must be a maker of Christmas for others or we cannot make a real Christmas for ourselves. We need the sharing of our joy in order to partake of its real possession. If we try to keep our Christmas all to ourselves, we will miss half its sweetness.” J.R. MIller

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Coloring pages for your children (click on them to get full size)….

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St. Zelie Rosary Christmas Giveaway!/Quotes to Live By

Today, I’d like to offer you a Christmas Giveaway!!

The winner will receive this lovely and durable, handcrafted St. Zelie wire-wrapped Rosary, along with the black, lacy chapel veil/scarf!

Just leave a comment here, and your name will be added! It is always great to hear from you. 🙂

I will announce the winner next Tuesday, December 19th!

Inspiring Quotes for your day…

It is not the solitude of the Himalayas that makes prayer. The essence of prayer is the company of Our Lord.
A person may be exceedingly busy, yet there may be still that quietness of the spirit necessary to prayer.
You need not give up the most troublesome and onerous line of life, but if you desire to set your heart on God, there must be quietness from the noise of the world. So will you be with God and God with you. -Fr. Daniel Considine, S.J., 1950’s

“It is a high honor for a woman to be chosen from among all womankind, to be the wife of a godly and true man. She is lifted up to be a crowned queen. Her husband’s manly love laid at her feet, exalts her to the throne of his life. Great power is placed in her hands. Sacred destinies are reposed in her keeping. Will she wear her crown beneficently? Will she fill her realm with beauty and with blessing? Or will she fail in her holy trust? Only her married life can be the answer.” -J.R. Miller

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His grace does not operate on our imaginings, ideals, or dreams. It works on reality, the specific, concrete elements of our lives. Even if the fabric of our everyday lives doesn’t look very glorious to us, we can be touched by God’s grace. -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom https://amzn.to/2QL5a5D (afflink)

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“God made us to be happy in this world and eternally happy in the next. Doing His will – as expressed in the commandments and by the voice of His Church – is the surest way to attain our destiny.” – Fr. Lovasik

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“Parents are often to blame for the rebellious spirit of their children, because they give little of themselves – of their time, interest, and practical love – and then complain that their children do not obey. Let your good example be a sufficient motive for your children’s obedience, even when you are obliged to ask them to do things that few other parents ask.” – Fr. Lovasik

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Is it true, is it kind, is it necessary? Be careful of those sins of the tongue! Great sermon! http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20140323-Seven-Ways-to-Sin-By-Detraction.html12654483_482895255245823_948923267965117768_n

♥♥♥ “How often do the father and mother of a large family remain young at heart because of the love they give to, and draw from, their children and grandchildren? In fact, many say that old age is their happiest time of life because they can enjoy to the fullest the love of the children!” – Rev. George A. Kelly, Catholic Family Handbook

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“Never be ashamed of your home or family because it is humble. People who look down on those whose home is humble and who lack social prominence are not worthy of the friendship of decent families. The most important things in life are character, honest work, humility, loyalty, friendliness, and love.” -Fr. Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook

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“God has so constituted us, that in loving and caring for our own children—the richest and best things in our natures are drawn out. Many of the deepest and most valuable lessons ever learned, are read from the pages of a child’s unfolding life. There is no influence more potent than that which touches us when our children are laid in our arms. Their helplessness appeals to every principle of nobleness in our hearts. Their innocence exerts over us a purifying power. The thought of our responsibility for them, exalts every faculty of our souls. In the very care which they exact, they bring blessing to us.” J.R. Miller

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“Whenever and however the vocation is received, to be among the chosen few of the Lord is of itself a great privilege, a high distinction and an enviable honor.” -Rev. Fulgence Meyer O.F.M., 1928

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Don’t insist on perfection. Expecting perfection from yourself and others is a setup for disappointment. Things won’t go as planned and you won’t be perfectly organized. Let it go. This, too, shall pass. -Charlotte Siems

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🌸🌸Everyone is drawn to a smile. Who and what you are is reflected in your face. Does your husband see you as a happy, grateful woman? Love is like a flower: you can’t expect it to grow without sunshine. Has your husband seen your sunshine lately?

 

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A picture of the incredible Beauty of God….

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“Look at the birds of the sky. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they are? But which of you can add any time to your life by worrying?”

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The great St. Bernard wrote in his rule that whenever the monastic bell rang, the monks were to drop what they were doing and go to whatever they were being called to.

In our homes, our monastic bell is all the many things beckoning at us throughout the day…the diapers to be changed, the dishes that need doing, the laundry that needs to be done, etc.

We respond to these things right away, even though we many not want to, remembering that these duties are the very things that will make us holy.
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Prague At Christmas… Dear Infant of Prague, O Little Jesus, have mercy on us!

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One man found the secret of true happiness. His name was St. John Bosco. He was a man who experienced many trials, but who also lived a life full of gladness and joy. St. John Bosco was so happy that he could hardly contain it. “Dear friend,” he wrote to an associate, “I am a man who loves joy and who therefore wishes to see you and everybody happy. If you do as I say, you will be joyful and glad in heart.” Read more here at The Catholic Gentleman.

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True Christmas Spirit

This is a lovely excerpt about Christmas by J.R. Miller written in the early 1900’s…

We should not forget the word “peace,” in our lesson. “Peace on earth.” We should seek for the things which make for peace.

It is easy to misunderstand others, even our dearest friends. One may hold a penny before his eye—so that it will shut out all the beautiful sky, all the blue and all the stars.

It is easy, too, to make little offences grow large—as we brood over them, until, held up before our face—they hide whole fields of beauty and good in the lives of our friends!

An unpleasant word is spoken thoughtlessly by someone, and we fret and vex ourselves over it, lying awake all night thinking of it, and by tomorrow it has grown into what seems an unpardonable wrong that our friend has committed against us!

But Christ’s way is different—he turns the other cheek. He forgives, he forgets, he blots out the record—and goes on loving just as before—as if nothing had happened!

The Christmas spirit teaches us to deal in the same way with those who injure us. Life is too short to mind such hurts, which ofttimes are as much woundings of our own pride or self-esteem—as real injuries to us. In any case, heavenly love ignores them.

One says, “The hurts of friendship, of social life, of household familiarity—must be ignored, gotten over, forgotten—as are the hurts, the wounds, the bruises, the scratches of briers or thorns on our bodies!”

If we would make it really Christmas in our own hearts—we must learn to forget ourselves, and to think of others. We must stop keeping account of what we have done for other people—and begin to put down in place, what other people have done for us.

We must cease thinking what others owe to us—and remember what we owe to them; and that we own Christ and the world, the best we have to give to life and love. We must give up chafing about our rights—and begin to rejoice in giving up our rights and doing our duties.

Someone says that the best thing about rights is that they are our own—and we can give them up. We must no longer sit on little thrones and expect people to show us honor, attention, and deference, and to bow down to us and serve us—but, instead, must get down into the lowly places of love and begin to serve others, even the lowliest, in the lowliest ways. That is the way our Master did.

We must make Christmas first in our own heart—before we can make it for any other. A grumpy person, a selfish person, a tyrannous and despotic person, an uncharitable, unforgiving person—cannot enter into the spirit of Christmas himself, and cannot add to the blessing of Christmas for his friends or neighbors. The day must begin within—in one’s own heart.

But it will not end there. We must be a maker of Christmas for others—or we cannot make a real Christmas for ourselves. We need the sharing of our joy—in order to gain its real possession. If we try to keep our Christmas all to ourselves, we will miss half its sweetness.

There would seem not to be any need at the Christmastide to say a word to urge people—to be kind to others and to do things for them. Everybody we meet at this season, carries an armful of mysterious bundles.

For weeks before the happy day, the stores are thronged with people buying all sorts of gifts. To the homes of the poor—baskets by hundreds are sent, with their toys for the children. The spirit of giving is in the very air. Even the churl and the miser are generous and liberal, for the time. Everybody catches the spirit of giving, for once in the year.

But this is not the only way to do good, to help others. In a story, a good man says, “It’s very hard to know how to help people when you can’t send them blankets, or coal, or Christmas dinners.”

With many people, this is very true. They know of no way of helping others, except by giving them material things. Yet there are better ways of doing good—than by sending food or clothing. One may have no money to spend—and yet may be a liberal benefactor. We may help others by sympathy, by cheer, by encouragement.

A good woman when asked at Thanksgiving time for what she was most grateful, said that that which, above all other things, she was thankful for at the end of the year—was courage. She had been left with a family of children to care for—and the burden had been very heavy.

Again and again she had been on the point of giving up in the despair of defeat. But through the cheer and encouragement received from a friend—she had been kept brave and strong through all the trying experience. Her courage had saved her.

It is a great thing to be such an encourager—there is no other way in which we can help most people—better than by giving them courage. Without such inspiration, many people sink down in their struggles and fail.

Too many people—to far more than we think, life is very hard, and it is easy for them to faint along the way. What they need, however, is not to have the load lifted off, or to be taken out of the hard fight—but to be strengthened to go on victoriously. The help they need is not in temporal things—but in sympathy and heartening.

So far as we are told—Jesus never sent people blankets to keep them warm, or fuel for their fires, or Christmas dinners, or toys for the children. Yet there never was such a helper of others—as he was!

He had the marvelous power of putting himself under people’s loads—by putting himself into people’s lives. There is a tremendous power of helpfulness in true sympathy, and Jesus sympathized with all sorrow and all hardness of condition.

Jesus loved people—that was the great secret of his helpfulness. He felt men’s sufferings. In all their afflictions, he was afflicted. One said, “If I were God, my heart would break with the sorrows of the world.” He was blaming God for permitting such sufferings, such calamities, such troubles, as daily history records. He said God was cruel to look on in silence—and not put a stop to these terrible things. “If I were God, my heart would break over such anguish and pain as are in the world.”

He did not understand that that was just what the heart of Christ did—it broke with compassion, with love, with sorrow, over the world’s woes! Thus he was enabled to become the world’s Redeemer.

He was a marvelous helper of others—not by giving material things—but by imparting spiritual help. It is right to give gifts at Christmas—they do good, if they are carefully and wisely chosen and are given with the desire to do good. But let us seek to be helpers also in higher ways.

We can help greatly by being happiness makers. Someone says, “Blessed are the happiness makers. Blessed are those who remove friction, who make the courses of life smooth, and the fellowship of men gentle.”

There is far more need of this sort of help—than most of us imagine. We think most people are quite happy. We have no conception of the number of people about us who are lonely, and find their loneliness almost unbearable at such times as the Christmastide.

Perhaps nearly every one of us knows at least one person who will have no home on next Christmas Day, but a dreary room in itself, it may be—but made more dreary by the absence of home’s loved ones. You do not know what a blessing you may be to this homeless one—if you will in some way put a taste of home into his experience even for one hour on Christmas.

Jesus has told us how near these lonely ones are to him. He knew what it was to have no place to go at the close of the day—when the people scattered off, everyone to his own house leaving him alone, with no invitation to anyone’s hospitality and no place but the mountains to go for the night.

Then he tells us, that if we open our door to a stranger and take him in—it is the same as if we had opened the door and taken in Jesus himself. He is pleased, therefore, when, in any loving way, we make Christmas a little less lonely for some homesick one.

A word may be said, too, to those who will be alone on Christmas, who are away from their homes, or have no longer any home. There is a way in which they can do much to make the day brighter for themselves. Though no taste or touch of human fellowship and friendship be their that day—they need not grow disheartened. George Macdonald says, “To be able to have the things we want—that is riches; but to be able to do without them—that is power.” This is then the lesson of loneliness—to gain the victory over it.

One of the problems of life is to live independently of circumstances and conditions. Paul said he had learned in whatever state he was, therein to be content. The secret was in himself. He carried in his own mind and heart—the resources he needed. No matter how bare his life was of comforts, or how full of trials and sufferings—the peace and joy within were not disturbed.

 It may not be easy for the lonely ones, lacking the companionship and fellowship of home and its happiness, to go through a Christmastide, as if nothing were lacking. Yet there is a way to overcome in great measure, the lack of fellowship.

 Much can be done by thinking of others who are lonely, and doing what we can to carry cheer to them. In doing this—we will forget our own lonely condition. Then we can turn our heart-hunger toward Christ—who is always willing to give us his joy. Here is a little prayer for lonely people, which some may find fitting for the Christmastide.

“True, heroic virtue is rare and where it does exist, it makes so little noise!” -Christ in the Home, Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

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Christmas Traditions – Old and New

Traditions become so much a part of what our children will remember as “home”. They will carry these customs with them as they strike out on their own. It will fill their own lives with a depth and richness that only family, home and traditions can bring.

That is what I love about our wonderful Faith – filled with beauty and traditions….

Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas

MICHAELANN MARTIN

Issue: How can families better live the spirit of Advent and Christmas in their homes?

Response

The Catholic Church has designated the four weeks preceding Christmas as Advent, a time to “prepare the way of the Lord” for His coming as our King and Savior. In addition, the Church teaches that:

[w]hen the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. By celebrating [John the Baptist’s] birth and martyrdom, the Church unites herself to his desire: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Catechism, no. 524; original emphasis).

By participating in various time-honored traditions, such as making Jesse trees or putting on a Christmas play at home, Catholic families can engage more fruitfully in the seasons of Advent and Christmas.

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Discussion:

“Either we live the liturgical year with its varying seasons of joy and sorrow, work and rest, or we follow the pattern of the world,” writes Helen McLoughlin in Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home, commenting on the challenge Catholics have of being “in the world but not of the world” throughout the year. She wrote these profound words in the 1950s, but they are even more important today because of the general decline in Catholic family life during the last 40 years. With two parents working in many households, there is less time to devote to the spiritual life of the family. As Catholic parents, we must readjust our priorities and teach our children by living our faith, both inside and outside the home.

It seems fitting that Advent is the beginning of the liturgical calendar, for it is a season of spiritual preparation marked by an eager longing for the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ. There are age-old Advent practices, some of which are mentioned in this FAITH FACT, which will help our children and families live closer to Christ. The practices are time-tested and proven. They teach the doctrine of redemption and develop a sense of generosity toward God (cf. Catechism, nos. 2222-26). A family’s strong and living faith will become their heritage and a mode to reinforce the religious practices centered in the liturgy.

“Children love to anticipate,” writes McLoughlin. “When there are empty mangers to fill with straw for small sacrifices, when the Mary candle is a daily reminder on the dinner table, when Advent hymns are sung in the candlelight of a graceful Advent wreath, children are not anxious to celebrate Christmas before time. That would offend their sense of honor. Older children who make Nativity sets, cut Old Testament symbols to decorate a Jesse tree, or prepare costumes for a Christmas play will find Advent all too short a time to prepare for the coming of Christ the King.”

These are hopeful thoughts as we prepare to incorporate some of these liturgical activities into our home life during Advent to enable us to truly celebrate Christmas. It is a shame that many do not fast during Advent, because without a fast there can really be no feast at Christmas. Fasting and other forms of penance, such as prayer and almsgiving, help to purify our hearts and prepare us for the celebration of Christmas (cf. Catechism, no. 1434). The Church especially encourages participation at weekday Masses during Advent, because in the Eucharist we find the source and goal of our Advent preparation: Christ Himself, whose sacrifice reconciles us with God (cf. Catechism, no. 1436; Sacred Congregation of Rites, Eucharisticum Mysterium, no. 29).

The Church primarily celebrates Christmas from Christmas Day until the Solemnity of the Epiphany, which commemorates the manifestation of Christ as the Savior of the whole world (cf. Mt. 2:1-12). The Church has also traditionally celebrated Christmas for 40 days, culminating on the Feast of the Presentation (Feb. 2). During this time, the birth of Christ is celebrated as one continuous festival. It is just as important to celebrate during the Christmas season as it is to prepare for Christ during Advent.

The following activities are provided so that you and your family can live Advent and Christmas to the fullest.

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Advent wreath
:  The Advent wreath, which has German origins, is probably the most recognized Advent custom. It is a wreath made of evergreens that is bound to a circle of wire. It symbolizes the many years from Adam to Christ in which the world awaited its Redeemer; it also represents the years that we have awaited His second and final coming. The wreath holds four equally spaced candles, the three purple ones lit on the “penitential” Sundays and a pink one for Gaudete, the joyful third Sunday in Advent. There are many available prayers and hymns found in the reading list that can accompany your personal Advent wreath ceremony.

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The empty manger:  Each child may have his own individual manger, or there may be one manger for the whole family. The idea is that when acts of service, sacrifice, or kindness are done in honor of Baby Jesus as a birthday present, the child receives a piece of straw to put into the manger. Then, on Christmas morning, “Baby Jesus” is placed in the manger. Encourage your children to make Jesus’ bed as “comfortable” as possible through their good deeds. In the process, explain Christ’s incomparable self-gift at Christmas and Easter that enables us to be part of God’s family.

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The Jesse tree:  The Jesse tree tells about Christ’s ancestry through symbols and relates Scripture to salvation history, progressing from creation to the birth of Christ. The tree can be made on a poster board with the symbols glued on, or on an actual tree. For further information read, Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home.

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St. Nicholas Day:  The feast of St. Nicholas is on Dec. 6th. It is a highlight of the Advent season. Each child puts out a shoe the night before St. Nicholas Day in the hope that the kind bishop — with his miter, staff, and bag of gifts — will pay a visit. The current “Santa Claus” is modeled after St. Nicholas, but commercialism has tarnished the true story. Many families give gifts on both Dec. 6 and Christmas. Read about St. Nicholas in your favorite saints book.

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The Christ candle:  Any large white candle can be used for the Christ candle. The idea is to decorate it with symbols for Christ. Use old Christmas cards, sequins, holly, etc. The candle can be lit on Christmas Eve to show that the Light of the World has arrived. Then continue to light the Christ candle throughout the year at Sunday dinner to remind your family of our waiting for Christ, as well as celebrating His birth and Resurrection.ihmll

The Mary candle:  Some families have the custom of decorating the Christ candle with a blue veil on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this great feast, others place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.” It can also serve as a reminder to each family member to keep their own light of grace burning as a preparation for Christ’s coming.

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St. Lucy cakes: The feast of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, is on December 13th. This marks the opening of the Christmas season in Sweden. Her life story can be found in most saints books, as can the recipe for the traditional cakes. The symbolism is rich and her life story worthwhile reading.

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The Nativity scene:  This is the event in which the entire family shares — setting up the Christmas manger. Mary and Joseph should be far off traveling and their approach to Bethlehem can be adjusted daily. Older children can make life-size Nativity models, carve them, cut them out from cardboard, or set up pre-made figurines. The creative ideas are without limit. Make sure to place the Nativity scene where many can admire the children’s efforts to give God glory.

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Christmas baking:  There are many recipe books available to find great traditional Christmas baking ideas.  The baking usually starts around December 20th. As Christmas approaches, the house will smell of baking and fresh wreaths. The glory of Christmas is at hand! Move the manger to a focal point, add lights to the Nativity to be lighted on Christmas Eve, and anticipate together.

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Blessing of the tree:  More and more frequently families are blessing their Christmas trees. It is good to remind children that “the tree” relates to many aspects of our faith. For example, we are reminded that our first parents were not allowed to eat from one tree, and that Christ paid the great price for our redemption by hanging on a tree (cf. Acts 5:29-32).

There are many different stories which attempt to explain why we use a tree at Christmas. For instance, St. Boniface in the eighth century gave the balsam fir tree to the Druids in place of the oak tree, the symbol of their idol. He said, “The fir tree is the wood of peace, the sign of an endless life with its evergreen branches. It points to heaven. It will never shelter deeds of blood, but rather be filled with loving gifts and rites of kindness.”

There are more stories and blessings included in McLoughlin’s Advent and Christmas in a Catholic Home. A family can also participate in Advent through daily Mass, the Liturgy of the Hours, or at least by following the weekday Mass readings at home, as the Church anticipates her Savior’s coming, and then His early life following Christmas. A family that participates together in Mass and other activities during the Advent and Christmas seasons will grow closer in Christ — “The Reason for the Season” — and give a great witness to friends and relatives.

The Jesse tree reminds us of Jesus’ Davidic ancestry (cf. Mt. 1:1). For a greater understanding of the relationship between the house of David, Jesus, and the Catholic Church’s divine origin, see CUF’s FAITH FACT: “Rock Solid: The Salvation History of the Catholic Church.”

Father, all-powerful God, your eternal Word took flesh on our earth when the Virgin Mary placed her life at the service of your plan. Lift our minds in watchful hope to hear the voice which announces His glory and open our minds to receive the Spirit who prepares us for His coming.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Christmas time can be such a time of lovely customs, also. Maybe Emilie Barnes will spark a new one today.

Christmas Is Coming: Our Family Holiday Organizer

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A rich heritage can be passed on from generation to generation with the special traditions that are part of your Christmas celebration, and it’s not too late to start now. It makes no difference whether you’re a family or an individual – you can still create wonderful memories and establish special traditions. “Let this Christmas be one of happiness, and the New Year be radiant with hope and filled with the impulse of doing something for somebody every day. “

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Cookie Exchange – This is a great idea! Who invented it? We’re not really sure, but it was truly a stroke of genius! Instead of making a variety of cookies for the holiday, you can make a large batch of your favorites and swap them for many different kinds.

I received an invitation that instructed me to bring seven dozen cookies plus my recipe written on a recipe card that would be displayed by my cookie plate.

We drank hot Christmas tea and wrote down other recipes on pretty cards from our hostess. Each guest received paper tote bag (a box or tray could also be used) to take our wonderful collection of goodies home.

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Christmas Memory Book – An album dedicated to remembering Christmases is a great idea. All this tradition requires is a photo album. With each year a photo could be added, with the Christmas card sent for the year, and a  journal detailing Christmas festivities and traditions. Children may add little mementos if they wish as well.

Family Movies, Video, Slides – It’s so much fun to see those old family movies, slides, photos or videos. Set aside an evening to do just that. It’s interesting to see how everyone has changed.

Take a family Christmas photo every year too. We take ours at Thanksgiving. It’s the one time we all seem to be together. Coordinating your clothing is also fun. Be creative and do your own thing. Include the pets,teddy bears, and favorite dolls or toys as well. Some of the photos we have of past Christmases delight our grandchildren because their parents are hugging dolls and teddy bears!.

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Enjoy Christmas Cards – Ours begin to arrive early in December. We store them in a basket as the days draw closer to Christmas. Then, beginning January 1, we take our card-filled basket to our meal table, and before or after our meal, each member of the family draws out a card. We read the card and who it is from and then offer a prayer for that person or family. This tradition can last well into the new year.

Give Toys – Many local and civic organizations provide an opportunity for individuals and families to donate toys for distribution to needy families on Christmas Eve. What a great way to teach your children the Joy of Giving.

Adopt a Family – There are many opportunities where your family can adopt a family in need. Help them with holiday food and gifts – it’s a great bridge-builder. This can be done anonymously if it would be easier.

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Put up a “JOY” Stocking – During the month of December, each family member puts thoughts, love notes and prayers in the “joy” stocking. Then on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day,the notes are pulled out and read.

Some of my own thoughts on Traditions:

The Spiritual Christmas Crib – This is a wonderful devotion and fun activity for the whole family starting at the beginning of Advent. It can be found here.

The Twelve Days of Christmas – Lovely practice that keeps the Spirit of Christmas alive following Our Lord’s Birthday on Christmas. It can be found here.

The Manger – Besides our Nativity Scene, we make a rather large manger out of twigs or Popsicle sticks and a glue gun. We then cut up pieces of yellow construction paper into small strips for straw. Each time one of the children make a sacrifice they put their name on one of the pieces of straw and put it in the manger. On Christmas morning Jesus will have a soft bed to lay on….we hope!

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Christmas Traditions Don’t Have to Be Expensive (Emilie Barnes)

1. Go caroling around the neighborhood or at a convalescent home to spread cheer. Bring a thermos of hot cocoa to keep everyone warm.

2. Attend a Christmas pageant and take lots of pictures.

3. Enjoy the holiday lights in your hometown on a nighttime walk. It’s fun to see your neighbor’s decorations.

4. Go to a recital at a local church. Many choirs sing The Messiah and other seasonal music.

5. Have a special hot chocolate time, use Christmas mugs. Sprinkle the tops with little marshmallows, whipped cream, and colored sprinkles. Use a candy cane to stir. Yum!

6. Throughout the year, save the remnants of candles from special occasion (birthday, anniversaries, special dinners,etc.). Melt the remnants from one large Christmas candle.

7. Look at garage sales, flea markets and antique spots for pretty inexpensive teacups to place homemade tea cookies,candies or tea bags in. Give them with gifts along with a message:

“When this cup is empty and the goodies are all gone,

Fill it again for another friend, so you can pass it on.”

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Every day that God gives us is a reason to rejoice! Our Lord loves a thankful heart!

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“I’ve long been wanting a book on various virtues to help my children become better Catholics. But most books focused on the virtues make being bad seem funny or attractive in order to teach the child a lesson. I’ve always found them to be detrimental to the younger ones who’s logic hasn’t formed. This book does an awesome job in showing a GOOD example in each of the children with all the various struggles children commonly struggle with (lying, hiding things, being grumpy, you name it.) But this book isn’t JUST virtue training… it’s also just sweet little chats about our love for God, God’s greatness, etc…
And the best thing of all? They are SHORT! I have lots of books that are wonderful, but to be honest I rarely pick them up because I just don’t have the time to read a huge, long story. These are super short, just one page, and very to the point. The second page has a poem, picture, a short prayer and a few questions for the kids to get them thinking. It works really, really well right before our bedtime prayers and only takes a few minutes at most.
If you like “Leading the Little ones to Mary” then you will like these… they are a little more focused on ALL age groups, not just little ones… so are perfect for a family activity even through the teenage years, down to your toddler.”

Available here.

Visit my Meadows of Grace Shoppe for my books and many lovely hand-crafted items for Christmas!

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Sanctity and My Duties – Divine Intimacy

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From Divine Intimacy, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen

MEDITATION

Jesus has said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments…. If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love; as I also have kept My Father’s commandments, and do abide in His love” (John 14:15 – 15:10).

 The perfection of charity consists in the perfect conformity of our wills with the divine will; this divine will is expressed, first of all, in the commandments of God and the precepts of the Church. Moreover, it is expressed in a more concrete and detailed way in the duties of my state and the various circumstances of life.

 how I must act in daily life, so as to be always in conformity with the divine will: if I am a religious, these duties are set forth in my Rule, the customs of my Institute, the commands of my superiors, and the tasks imposed by obedience.

 If I am a priest, my duty is the care of souls; if I am a lay person, my duties are those required by my family life, my profession or occupation, my social activities and by good citizenship.

God’s will is also marked out for me by the circumstances of my life, whether important or not, down to the smallest detail, health or sickness, poverty or wealth, aridity or interior consolation, success or failure, misfortunes, losses, and struggles.

From time to time, God asks me to fulfill special tasks of charity, patience, activity, or renouncement, detachment,submission, generosity, sacrifice. But everything is permitted by God, all is ordered by Him for my sanctification, “To them that love God, all things work together unto good” (Romans 8:28); “everything is a grace!” (Thérèse of the Child Jesus Novissima Verba).

Sanctity properly consists only in conformity to God’s will, expressed in a constant and exact fulfillment of the duties of our state in life” (Benedict XV). This statement confirms my knowledge that sanctity does not consist in doing extraordinary things, but is essentially reduced to the fulfillment of duty; therefore, it is possible for me.

For this reason I must be punctual and persevering in the fulfillment of my duties: punctual, that is, diligent, being careful to please God in all my actions, in order to do His holy, sanctifying will.

Hence, I must accustom myself to see the expression of God’s will in every on of my duties, for then everything I do will be an opportunity to submerge myself in God’s love and to unite myself to Him; persevering, that is fulfilling my duties faithfully,  not only when I feel great fervor, but also when I am sad, tired or in aridity; constancy calls for generosity.

“It takes uncommon virtue to fulfill with exactitude, that is, without carelessness, negligence, or indolence….but with attention, piety, and spiritual fervor, the whole combination of ordinary duties which make up our daily life!” (Pius XI)

This untiring, generous fidelity will not always be easy; however, I must not become discouraged by my failures, but begin again every day, fully confident that someday, God will make my poor efforts fruitful.

COLLOQUY

O my God, in spite of my unworthiness, I have a fervent longing to become a saint. I desire this not for my own satisfaction, nor to obtain the esteem and praise of others, but solely because You desire it; for You have said: “Be ye holy, because I am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).

My one aim is to conform entirely to Your will and Your desire, to please You, to give You glory, to correspond to Your infinite love, to give You all the love You expect of me and of which I am capable.

You teach me more and more clearly that sanctity does not demand of me great exterior works, but only a strong,generous love which will lead me to fulfill Your holy will perfectly.

O my God, when I consider that You, the Creator and Lord of the universe, have deigned to make known Your will to me,who in comparison with You, am less than a little worm, I am filled with confusion.

A King so great and so powerful speaks to the least of His servants with the goodness with which He would speak to a beloved son! Yes, O my God, You speak to me thus, and manifest Your will by Your commandments, the duties of my state, and all the circumstances of my life.

 Everything that surrounds me—every incident,event, sorrow and joy—all express Your will and tell me at every moment what You desire of me.

O my God, how I wish I had that profound spirit of faith to help me recognize each circumstance of my life as a messenger of Your divine will!

Yes, even at difficult moments and in painful experiences, it is You who come to me and ask a special act of charity,patience, sweetness, humility, or self-sacrifice. O my God, how this changes my point of view!

Creatures, circumstances, causes, and human motives, all disappear, and I see only You and Your holy will, which always envelops me and urges me to greater generosity. Seen in this light, even the duties that are hardest and most repugnant to human nature, the “terrible daily duties,” become sweet and lovable, everything seems easy and agreeable.

All I have to do at every moment and under all circumstances is to say a generous “Yes” to Your sweet, lovable will.

I beseech You, O Lord, give me the fidelity I need to persevere with humility and constancy in this path of continual adherence to Your will. With Your help, I will make this practice the center of my interior life.

O my God, shall I ever fall again? Yes, for I am frailty itself; but I know that You will be even more eager to help me rise again than I shall be prone to fall.

My firm resolution and my perseverance will be to “begin again” every day, every instant, humbling myself profoundly for my weakness, but having utter confidence in Your will to sanctify my soul.


“All of us know so deeply, from our everyday experience, the sweetness and the strength, the beauty, tenderness, and power of our holy religion, and the cheer and guidance that it gives us on our way toward Heaven, that we should be dull clods indeed not to desire to share these amazing and neglected treasures with our fellowmen.” -The Everyday Apostle, Fr. Edward Garesche, 1950’s
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The Reason For Christmas Presents and the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8th

Taken from The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season1456504_1397901070449694_1884715127_n533729_1397989240440877_1764956278_n1450134_1397989257107542_268039189_n

Why are we making gifts for each other two, three, four weeks ahead of time? Working as hard as we can to make something beautiful? To wrap it beautifully? To tie it beautifully? To think of something full of love to write on the card that goes with it? Because we know that Christmas is coming.

That Jesus should become man and save us from our sins is more than good reason to prepare, to anticipate. We want everything to be perfect for Jesus and for our beloveds when Christmas comes.

Just so, God the Father prepared for the coming of Jesus. He prepared for His divine Son a perfect Mother through whom He could come into the world.

This is how He prepared: God the Father knew that when the time came, from our Lord’s death on the Cross would flow graces that would never end, that would make it possible for Godlike powers to be given to men.

For example, He knew that our Lord would institute a sacrament through which grace would come to wash away the Original Sin inherited from Adam and Eve, and to fill the soul with marvelous beauty where God Himself could dwell.

In creating a Mother for His Son, God used this grace ahead of time – not to wash away Original Sin but to make a Mother whose soul was untouched by Original Sin.

This is what we mean when we speak of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, the name she used for herself when at last she told St. Bernadette who she was.

God does not live in time. He invented time for us so that we could keep track of ourselves, but He has no need of it, and in the foreverness of Heaven, He used all the magnificent graces His divine Son poured forth from His death on the Cross in time to merit for our Lady a perfect soul from the instant He breathed it into being.

That is why, when Gabriel came to her in Nazareth, he could say, “Hail, full of grace….” That is why, when Mary went to visit Elizabeth, Elizabeth could cry out, “Blessed art thou among women….”

This does not mean that our Lady was conceived in a miraculous manner, as her divine Son was conceived.

She was born of the lawful union of Joachim and Anne, loving husband and wife. It does mean that at the moment the seed of life that was to become our Lady was united to her immortal soul, it was to a soul God had created perfect.

Our Lady was made immaculate so that when the time came for the plan of the Redemption to unfold, her pure and holy body would be a perfect resting place wherein the love of God – His Holy Spirit – would breathe and His divine Son would begin to live. This beautiful doctrine explained to the children on the vigil of her feast will help form the spirit in which the entire family will assist at the Mass in her honor and receive Holy Communion.

The great Advent mysteries in the life of our Lady relate in many ways to the knowledge we must give our children about their bodies.

Now we see again why we must have reverence and awe for our bodies. They are made for great and holy things.

All the little girls in the world who will grow up to discover that God’s will for them is to be wives and mothers will, as mothers, carry their babies the way our Lady carried her baby.

Every mother we see who is expecting a baby can remind us of our Lady. It is so good of God to have His Son come to us this way, and so sanctify the bearing of babies.

He could have come in thunder and lightning. He could have come like a wild storm riding the sun, driving the moon and the stars before Him.

But, loving us in our littleness and our struggles and our pains and worries, He chose to be like us in all things save sin, so that we would always know that God knows what it is like to be a man.

If we have children for whom it is time to learn something of the way babies are born, Advent is an especially appropriate time to continue with that part of sex instruction.

This carrying of babies within the mother’s body, is it not beautiful? This is how our Lady carried her Baby, close to her heart, protected and sheltered there by her own pure body. This delivering of babies, as we call it – the emergence of the baby from his mother’s body – is it not wonderful? It is God’s way.

He decided it was to be like this. If there were a finer way for it to be, He would have it be that way.

“Let us pray tonight and ask our Lady to help us have reverence for our bodies, and for the bodies of others, and never to do anything with them God does not want us to do.” These things and a host of others relating to the meaning and spirit of Advent make beautiful, rich, prayerful conversations that go with the making of gifts.

Some are for parent and child alone, some for the group; both ways, the treasury to explore is inexhaustible.

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Be attentive to the sacrifices your husband makes for the family. Each day he battles the world, the flesh and the devil out in the workforce for you. Don’t let that go unnoticed. Thank him often! Appreciate him.
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A sermon for you today:
Our Lady trusted in God & kept Him on her mind all the time. She is the greatest follower of Christ.

Coloring pages for your children….

 

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These Small Hours – Living Intentionally Through the Christmas Season

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This is a good reminder….people are more important things. Take time to smell the roses this season. Keep it simple.

by Charlotte Siems

www.charlottesiems.com

Warning: busy times are ahead. ‘Tis the season for extra baking, shopping, wrapping, decorating and entertaining. Starting with the Thanksgiving holiday and ending with New Year’s, the addition of extra activities on top of our regularly scheduled lives can be a mite stressful.

I’m definitely in favor of doing the extras. Holidays mark the passing of the year. Traditions create a sense of belonging and comfort. Children relish those things that “we always do,” and the once-a-year foods and décor call up a sense of wonder and excitement like nothing else.
But here’s a reminder: Don’t forget the small hours.

Don’t lose sight of the people that you live and work with during this busy season. Life happens in the moments. There’s a tendency to get impatient and frustrated with the moments when there’s so much to do.
Changing diapers, wiping noses, taking time to listen to a co-worker or child’s story–we’re in a hurry to give it a slap and a promise so we can get to the important stuff. The reality is that the small hours ARE the important stuff.

All the little moments of life add up to memories, relationships and atmosphere. Our attitude in dealing with the little things affects the entire holiday season (and life year-round).

A certain holiday season stands out in my mind. It was busy as always, running from one activity to the next. The usual gathering of family for Thanksgiving, then before we knew it, Christmas. That year was especially hectic, as several family members were preparing to leave the very next day for a mission trip to Mexico.

I remember a poignant moment, captured on video, when each family opened a certain gift in unison. It was a patchwork quilt, crafted from scraps of Grandma’s dresses. The family had gathered for her funeral a few months earlier. The grown grandchildren examined the quilts eagerly, pointing out dresses they remembered her wearing. (Who says what we wear isn’t noticed by children?)

What I now remember is not so much the quilt, but the fact that we didn’t know it would be my brother-in-law’s last holiday with us. He was killed in a car accident on the return trip from Mexico a few days later, and life changed forever for the family.
I remember having the feeling that I wished we could rewind, like an old VHS tape. But there are no rewinds, no do-overs, no going back and stopping the inevitable after it has begun.

This holiday season, which has already begun, stay aware of the small hours. Beware the tendency to skip reading aloud and tucking in bed. Live life at home intentionally, and keep things simple. Encourage and love by the caring actions of everyday life: cooking meals, brushing hair, doing laundry. Wherever you are, be there.

Childhood and life are fleeting moments, and our lives happen in these small hours.
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Let us continue to add the soft straws of sacrifice and love to the Manger of our Hearts as we prepare for the coming of our Savior. Let us be more attentive to those in our home…where charity begins. “Home is the place where a man should appear at his best.” -Fr. Lasance, The Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2kljYp3 (afflink)

 

Beautiful and Graceful Religious Necklaces

Wire-wrapped, vintage brass look, these necklaces are unique! Get the necklace blessed and wear it as a sacramental!

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Happy St. Nicholas Day! Stable, Advent Tree, Tids ‘n’ Bits….

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas! May your day be blessed!

A gallery for you. Click on the first picture to see full-screen…

I accidentally left this old post from last year tacked onto this post. I was going to erase it when I finally noticed it but decided not to if any of you are interested…..

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Today will be a special day in our household!

We offered to do a nice lasagna dinner for our married children and then Hannah and Gemma will be spending time with the grandchildren…playing games, eating (relatively healthy…we got them from the Health Food Store) goodies, coloring St. Nicholas pictures, watching the St. Nicholas CCC cartoon, etc.

It will be a busy evening, we will wrap it up early and head off for the third evening of our Parish Advent Mission.

In the past we have done a Puppet Show:

The St. Nicholas puppet is made! Now just for the Black Pete puppet!

Black Pete gives straw to bad boys and girls. St. Nicholas gives goodies.

A couch always makes for a good puppet theater!

Our audience!

We have also had a celebration at our Parish (a Puppet Show included):

Grandchildren Emma and Johnny….

The puppeteers!

The three daughters who needed a dowry…..

The show begins!

Below is two renditions of the St. Nicholas song courtesy of the St. Nicholas Center. I always liked the tune of Jolly Old St. Nicholas but the words are silly. So here is a chance to sing it with some good words!

Song 1:

Saint Nicholas Song
Song tells the story of Saint Nicholas

Thankful Bishop Nicholas,
friendly good and wise,
when he could he helped the poor,
always by surprise.
Rich folk came to Nicholas,
Bringing wealth to share,
so it could be sent to those living in despair.

Three maidens husbands could not find,
their father was so poor;
No dowry was available, to tempt a suitor’s lore.
Word came to youthful Nicholas,
who acted in good taste,
In darkness threw three bags of gold,
retreating in great haste.

Zealous Bishop Nicholas,
born in Pa-tar-a,
Was the Bishop of My-ra
in times of great trial.
Who suffered prison for his faith,
Through torture still held firm,
Released by Constantine the Great,
to My-ra he returned.

Holy Bishop Nicholas,
The sailors patron saint,
saved the storm-tossed mariners
from a salty fate.
Who at Nicea formed the creed—
but jail became his fate,
He punched a pastor in the jaw,
so heated the debate.

Patron Saint of children,
Saint Nicholas did become,
giving gifts at Christmas time,
a special act of love.
His style was different from his peers,
as they would often see,
“Give to the truley needy ones
with a-non-ym-i-tee.”

Gentle Bishop Nicholas,
friendly good and wise,
When he could he helped the poor,
always by surprise.
We too must always seek to share,
our means with those in need,
God help us imitate this saint,
on Advent winter eves.

Song 2:

The Song of St. Nicholas
To the tune of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”

Once upon a long ago
Very far away,
In the town of Bethlehem
Lying in some hay,
Jesus came for you and me
Bringing heaven’s love
As a gift for us to have
From the Lord above.

In the town of Myra once
Also long ago,
Lived good Bishop Nicholas
Hair as white as snow.
Nicholas loved Jesus who
Loved and helped us all.
“I will do the same,” said he
“Helping great and small.”

Thankful Bishop Nicholas
Friendly, good and wise;
When he could, helped the poor
Always by surprise.
Rich men came to Nicholas
Bringing wealth to share
So it could be sent to those
Living in despair.

We should be like Nicholas
Thankful, good and kind,
Loving those who need our help
All the ones we find.
Jesus and Saint Nicholas
Taught us how to give:
Share but never seek rewards,
That is how to live!

I posted these yesterday, but here they are for you again today….coloring pages for your children available here.

My two younger daughters and I all have an Advent Journal going! It has been helpful, very helpful! My mother has not been well and so I have been at the doctor quite a bit lately. The girls look at their own journals and know what needs to be checked off! It’s great!

(It’s not too late to jump in with this Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal! You can order the book here or you can download and print the e-book here! Come, join us on this wonderful walk through Advent!)

Today’s Journal Page with a reminder that, yes, today is St. Nicholas Day and to do something special!

 

Tids ‘n’ Bits!

Z’s (our daughter-in-law) mantle and Advent wreath….she is now about a week overdue with their 5th baby!

Gin’s Advent Wreath

Beautiful Kanzashi Flower made by Jeanette…

Devin (Theresa’s husband) made this extra big manger for the straws that the children will be getting through the Advent season as they perform their sacrifices or good deeds, extra prayers, etc. It will be comfy and soft by the time Christmas and the Baby Jesus comes!

Theresa’s family has new members! Puppies! The puppy’s eyes may not be open yet…but look at Adrian’s! 😀

Gin’s children have begun the Spiritual Christmas Crib!

Theresa’s little people are busy working on Advent/Christmas projects…

We love Dad! (Gin’s husband, Vinnie)

Theresa’s stable awaits the Baby Jesus.

Our Advent Parish Mission has been fantastic! Father’s first conference was on sin….whoa! Powerful! And last night was heaven….beautiful meditations! We have two more evenings of talks.

We have a lovely Christmas Tree Market this year in our little hometown. There was live music, lights, food, hayrides, etc. The weather has been so mild this year so we met some of the married couples and had a good time there….

This is Grammy Estelle (our son-in-law’s Grandma) who is 92 and playing Ring Around the Rosie with the little ones!

We got our stable up on Monday! The kids all pitched in and just got it done in spite of a very hectic day! We will add the Nativity figurines as Christmas Day approaches. It is always an exciting day when we get this accomplished!

A “before” picture.

Hehe… Hannah posed for this one. She was peeved that Rosie always gets in the picture….so that it looks as if they don’t help with it. So here she is patting the dirt….oh brother.

Here, Gemma takes all credit.

Me, after the today’s St. Nicholas party…..except I won’t be reading a Vogue magazine! 😀

Don’t you just love the logic?

Some things just don’t quite turn out the way we imagined they should!

For you busy mothers!

 

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Happy St. Nicholas Day!

Be attentive to the sacrifices your husband makes for the family. Each day he battles the world, the flesh and the devil out in the workforce for you. Don’t let that go unnoticed. Thank him often! Appreciate him. -Finer Femininity

These are gorgeous flowers and would make great gifts or stocking stuffers! The detail and care that is put into each one is evident when you see them in person!

Intricate and Classy Hand-Crafted Kanzashi Accessory Flowers for Your Hair, Scarf, Shirt etc….These fetching ribbon flowers are a perfect accent to any special outfit and provides a sweet final touch! I like to wear these flowers in my hair, but they can be worn many ways! Each petal takes undivided attention! First, it is cut and shaped, then burnt to ensure there will be no fraying. The petals are then folded and glued into a flower design and the finishing touches are then added.
The back of the flower has a clip that easily opens and holds firmly. Ribbon flowers are an excellent alternative to real flowers and will look fresh and beautiful forever! Available here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MeadowsofGrace?ref=l2-shopheader-name&section_id=20110799

St. Nicholas Day, Dec. 6th – St. Nicholas vs Santa Claus

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St. Nicholas Day has always been a special day around here. We often would have a puppet show, inviting the cousins or grandchildren over to join in the fun. But even if that wasn’t on the “menu” we made sure and had our stockings ready to be filled!

Here is the link to the Puppet Show.Saint20Nicholas

Jolly Santa with gifts TLG

The Year & Our Children: Catholic Family Celebrations for Every Season

On December 6 comes the feast of the Christmas saint, St. Nicholas, although most of our celebration of this feast comes on his vigil, December 5.

We find a puppet show a delightful way to tell his story, explain his relation to the Christ Child, and introduce the hanging of stockings for his feast day.

St. Nicholas was really a Turk born in Asia Minor. For a long time he was Bishop of Myra (near the southern coast of Turkey to the right of the Island of Rhodes – in case you look for it on a map).

An orphan, he grew in love of God, became a priest, and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land to venerate the places of our Lord’s life.

On the voyage, a terrible storm threatened to sink the ship, but by his prayers all were saved.

For this reason he is venerated as patron of boatmen, fishermen, dock workmen, and sailors.

Returning to his native land, he was made a bishop; his generosity and love for the poor and for children, as well as his many miracles, endeared him to Christian people all over the world.

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He is also venerated as the patron of scholars, coopers and brewers, travelers and pilgrims, those who have unjustly lost a lawsuit, and as patron and annual benefactor of schoolchildren (especially boys), and is invoked against robbers and (in Holland) for protection of seafaring men.

Many legends surround St. Nicholas, among them the one saint story I personally cannot abide: the tale of the three little boys murdered and salted down in a tub is too much.’ We never tell it.

The story we like best is the well-known tale of the three marriageable daughters who were nevertheless unmarriageable for want of dowries. Hearing of their plight, the saint went silently by their house one night and tossed a bag of gold through the window for the oldest, who not long after found a husband for herself with no trouble at all.

Then he crept by a second time and tossed a bag of gold through the window for the second daughter, who likewise was suddenly at no loss for suitors.

As he was about to toss the gold through the window for the third daughter, the father of the girls caught sight of him.

Throwing himself at his feet, he thanked him, confessed his sins, begged his blessing. Plainly it is from this story that the tradition has grown wherein St. Nicholas is said to leave gifts, candies, and sweets on windowsills, in shoes, and even in the stockings of good little children.images

It is the Dutch diminutive Sinter Klaas (“Sant Nikolaas”) that became, by way of the New Amsterdam Dutch, the familiar American Santa Claus.

It is among the Dutch also that we find the appearance of Black Peter, his page, who follows him, distributing switches, coal, straw – whatever – to the naughty children as St. Nicholas gives treats to the good. Black Peter appeared in the Dutch festival after the invasion of Holland by the Spaniards, who brought black servants with them.

“Telling the truth about Santa Claus” need not rob children of their Christmas magic. It adds to it with another feast to celebrate, another saint to know and love, another emphasis gently persuading them to meditate on the coming of the divine Child.

And if we really fear to take away that part of it which is surprise, that marvelous moment Christmas morning when the presents are at last mysteriously there, be assured the little ones continue to pretend.

Our littlest ones, knowing the truth, continue to pretend that it is all assembled in the most mysterious and magical fashion.

“But – then – who gives us the presents?” children will ask. “Who loves you most in all the world gives you the presents.”

“Who is that?”

“You guess.”

They screw up their faces, think hard. Then suddenly all brighten: “You – and Daddy, and Grandma and Granny!”

It is like the circle that never ends. God loves mothers and fathers and gives them children they will love, and they teach the children about God, and the children love God, and since God wants them all with Him in Heaven, He sends His Son who loves them so much that He gives up His life for them, and that is so much love that it pays for their sins and buys back Heaven for them….

At Christmas everyone is so happy about all this that we all give each other presents. Shouldn’t that be the reason we give and receive presents?

It would be a little embarrassing to be asked, “Don’t you think the Christ Child is an adequate substitute for Santa Claus?” and feel you must answer no.

He really is and He must become the all of Christmas for families who are going to try to live lives of deep faith.

It is not really worth it to toss in this “little white lie” when we are trying so hard to teach children impeccable truthfulness.

Probably not all children who discover there is no Santa, when they have been told by their parents that there is, will consider their parents dyed-in-the-wool liars, but there is the danger that they will discount some of every other truth they are taught.

This is an age when accuracy and unadorned truthfulness are not particularly in vogue.

Yet a concern to speak the utter truth in everything will teach a child better than anything else how to be utterly truthful himself, how to be honest with his own conscience – which is the same thing as being honest with God.

Santa Claus is not a serious lie, but St. Nicholas in his rightful place, gazing with us at the Christ Child, is a much lovelier truth.

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One thing, however, it is not cricket to do: go about the neighborhood telling all the children who do believe in Santa Claus that “there is none.”

This kind of revelation is guaranteed to leave nothing but heartache behind. Without proper explanation or background, it is really cheating a child of something he dearly loves.

Most children can learn to keep their own counsel about this; where there is disparity on the subject in the neighborhood, with love and tact the mothers can explain and help prevent unpleasant exchanges.

One of the traps into which most parents of goodwill eventually fall before Christmas has arrived is to shout in the heat of some shortness of tempers: “How do you expect to get presents on Christmas if you aren’t good now?”

No sooner are the words out of your mouth than you could bite off your tongue. But it has been said. The ugly implication is there: you might not get presents for Christmas.

St. Nicholas’s feast is an ideal time for straightening out this problem of being good and not being good before Christmas.

It is true that the issue should have something to do with the end result, but when we threaten this way, we forget that the reason God the Father sent the Christ Child wasn’t because everyone had been good, but because they hadn’t been good.

To transfer the burden of the “be good or else” problem to St. Nicholas is infinitely more comfortable.

Here the threat involves no more than a stockingful of cookies, but it is a prospect sufficiently dreadful to give them pause.

It also involves a happy solution to the naughtiness. No good behavior – no cookies. It usually works (I speak from experience).

The shock of seeing that you meant what you said, of hearing St. Nicholas warn you the night before and discovering he meant what he said, is most salutary.

Most enfants terribles will stand dolefully watching the more virtuous munching their cookies and make a superb effort to mend their ways, and yet the event is not of such magnitude that it leaves any permanent scars.

People always ask how we handle the delicate business of sharing should this occasion produce one or two malcontents without cookies.

We are all, of course, very sad to see they have no cookies, but if it is a warning and a punishment, then it is a warning and a punishment.

Character training is involved, and also your own authority. No cookies – shared or otherwise.

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“Where is the busy mother who cannot find time enough to spend thus a few moments every night with each child before it falls asleep, in sweet, loving talk; and tender, earnest prayer? Far down into the years, the memory of such sacred moments will go, proving thousands of times a light in darkness, an inspiration in discouragement, a secret of victory in hard struggle, a hand to restrain from sin in time of fierce temptation.” -J.R. Miller

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St. Nicholas Coloring Pages available here.

Beautiful Vintaj Brass Wire Rosaries! Lovely, Durable…

Available here.

These rosaries are one-of-a-kind and should last a life time…..many Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s!
It would make a beautiful gift for that special someone!

Wire wrapping is one of the oldest techniques for making jewelry or rosaries by hand.

Frequently, in this approach, a wire is bent into a loop or other decorative shape and then the wire is wrapped around itself to finish the wire component making that loop or decorative shape permanent.

Because of this technique for wrapping wire around itself this craft is called wire wrapping.

Not only is it quite beautiful but it makes the rosaries sturdy and durable.

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Give Your Loved Ones the Gift of Courtesy this Christmas

This is such a beautiful excerpt that gives us an opportunity to meditate on something that should never grow old…that old-fashioned virtue, Courtesy.  Yes, it is very “in” to be courteous, especially to those within our four walls.

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by J.R. Miller

A secret of happiness in married life is courtesy. By what law of nature or of life is it, that after the peals of the wedding bells have died away, and they have established themselves in their own home, so many husbands and wives drop the charming little amenities and refinements of manner toward each other, that so invariably and delightfully characterized their interaction before marriage?

Is there no necessity for these civilities any longer ? Are they so sure now of each other’s love, that they do not need to give expression to it, either in affectionate word or act? Is wedded love such a strong, vigorous and self-sufficing plant that it never needs sunshine, rain or dew?

Is politeness merely a manner that is necessary in interaction with the outside world, and not required when we are alone with those we love the best? Are home hearts so peculiarly constituted, that they are not pained or offended by things that would never be pardoned in us, if done in ordinary society?

Are we under no obligations to be respectful and to pay homage to our dearest friends— while even to the rudest clown, or the greatest stranger, which we meet outside our own doors— we feel ourselves bound to show the most perfect civility?

On the contrary, there is no place in the world where the amenities of courtesy should be so carefully maintained, as in the home. There are no hearts which hunger so, for expressions of affection, as the hearts of which we are most sure. There is no love which so needs its daily bread—as the love that is strongest and holiest.

There is no place where rudeness or incivility is so unpardonable, as inside our own doors and toward our best beloved! The tenderer the love and the truer— the more it craves the thousand little attentions and kindnesses which so satisfy the heart!

It is not costly presents at Christmas and on birthdays and anniversaries, that are needed ; these are only mockeries— if the days between are empty of affectionate expressions.

Jewelry and silks will never atone for the lack of warmth and tenderness. Between husband and wife there should be maintained , without break or pause— the most perfect courtesy, the gentlest attention, the most unselfish amiability, the utmost affectionateness!

Coleridge says, “The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions, the little soon-forgotten charities of a kiss or a smile, a kind look, a heartfelt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable thought and genial feeling .”

These may seem trifles, and the omission of them may be deemed unworthy of thought; but they are the daily bread of love, and hearts go hungry when they are omitted.

It may be only carelessness at first in a busy husband or a weary wife— which fails in these small, sweet courtesies, and it may seem a little matter— but in the end the result may be a growing far apart of two lives which might have been forever very happy in each other— had their early love but been cherished and nourished.

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“Do the things you don’t want to do. Do them cheerfully and well. E.Schaeffer wrote, ‘Somebody has to get up early, stay up late, do more than the others, if the human garden is to be a thing of beauty.’ At first glance it doesn’t seem fair, but there are hidden and precious rewards for dying to self and serving. Stomping and self-pity cancel the reward points.” 😊 -Charlotte Siems

Inspire Your Children!

Review: Catholic Mother Goose, Volume Two, is a ‘one of a kind’ treasure for young and old alike! Little minds will be captivated by the beautifully colored and illustrated pages. Throughout the nursery rhymes, children will learn the lessons of kindness, unselfishness, the efficacy of suffering and the value of prayer! They will become more familiar with the lives of the Saints, St. Therese, St. Francis, etc. and their great love for Jesus and Mary. These beautifully written poems will plant the seed for good literature and a love for reading for years to come. This is how we make our Catholic faith and culture come alive for our children! This book is a must!
Available here.

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