A Podcast for Your Children and Summer Saints!

Here is a video for your children where I talk to them about the virtue of obedience….

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Summer Saints….and Some are Not

I was poking around Mary Reed Newland’s book, The Year and Our Children, to explore ways of celebrating our Catholic Saints and Feasts this summer and ran across the following ideas. I couldn’t keep it to myself so I am sharing it with you.

Make the liturgy come alive in your home! Don’t forget to use your holy water, wear your scapulars and say the rosary. Maybe say a part of the Divine Office with them each day. Read to them. Don’t get bogged down, but DO SOMETHING positive each day with your children in light of our Catholic Faith. It is a daily fight to keep ourselves and our children climbing UP the ladder! It is easy to slide down…..

Teach them to love the Faith, with all its solemnities, all its beauty!

End of rant (meant for myself, too). 🙂

Here is a “sweet” and simple way to celebrate the feasts of the saints coming up this summer….

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Apostle Cookies

Any good gingerbread cookie dough will do, and any good gingerbread-boy cookie cutter will make a gingerbread Apostle (or you may cut them freehand with a knife). The twist is in the decoration.

We decorated each one with his own symbols, tied a ribbon through a hole pierced (before baking) in the top of each cookie, served them on a tray, covered, with only the ribbons showing; you got your dessert by choosing a ribbon, finding the cookie, and identifying it.

This is an excellent way to learn all the Apostles. The combination of head and stomach is hard to beat. The frosting is a confectioner’s sugar recipe tinted with vegetable colors.

The symbols may be made with stiff frosting squirted through a decorator tube, if you have one, or may be cut from foil, paper, or made of any materials that suggest themselves.

Here is how we decorated the cookies.

St. Peter (June 29). Red frosting because he was a martyr.

Symbols: two keys, a cock crowing, an upside-down cross, a fish, a sword.

The keys remind us that Jesus gave him the keys of the Kingdom; the cock recalls his denial of our Lord; the cross tells that he is supposed to have been martyred head down; the fish – he was a fisher of men; the sword tells of his temper on the night he cut off Malchus’s ear.

Our Peter cut a silver-foil fish for this cookie and stuck it in the frosting. You could do the keys and sword of foil also, with the cross of melted chocolate. The cock can be drawn or cut from a picture and stuck on.
St. James the Great (July 25)

He is called great because he was the tall James. He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of St. John the Evangelist. Our Lord called these two the Sons of Thunder: partly, we are told, for their vehement defense of Christ and His teaching, and partly because cause they wanted Him to burn up the Samaritans inside their houses with fire from Heaven, like the three little pigs, because they wouldn’t welcome them into their village.

Our Lord rebuked them for it. He said that He came to give life, not destroy it – which teaches a good lesson in resisting the temptation to “get even.” This was certainly the opposite of the meekness He said would “inherit the earth.”
This James was the first Apostle to die for Christ, beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa. His symbols – the pilgrim’s cloak, staff, hat, purse, and scallop shell (always the symbol of pilgrims) – signify that he went on long missionary journeys. A tiny shell stuck to the frosting on this cookie was the clue we used.
St. Bartholomew (August 24)

The mystery man. His name, Bar-Tolmai, indicates that he is the son of Tolmai.

He is an old friend of St. Philip and is often mentioned with him. It is supposed that he is the Nathanael to whom Philip made his announcement under the fig tree. Nathanael was skeptical that this Man was really the Messiah, and our Lord commended his skepticism because Israel was often thick with self-appointed messiahs.

“Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile,” said our Lord, as Nathanael came toward Him down the road.

Then to Nathanael: “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee!” Then didn’t Nathaniel believe! He lost his heart that moment. “Rabbi thou art the Son of God! Thou art King of Israel!”

St. Bartholomew’s symbols are about as grisly as you’ll find: flaying knives, a cross, an axe, and such, because his was a wild and bloody death; and then there is our pet symbol for him – a branch of the fig tree. Make this with melted chocolate and green candy leaves meant for cake-decorating.

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Check out my Spring Maglet (magazine/booklet) at Meadows of Grace. Tidbits  and bunches of inspiration and encouragement!

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You can get all three volumes of the Maglets here

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A Spiritual Christmas Crib – New! Printables!

Yes, it’s that time of year again when I remind you (and me) to take this season of Advent (starting this Sunday!) to make it special for your family! The magic and charm of Christmas comes from our Catholic Heritage! Let’s monopolize on that!

This is a beautiful devotion that can be made simple! Especially now that I have some printables for you to make it easier!

It’s nice to follow this devotion from a book so consider getting the Finer Femininity Advent/Christmas Maglet.

OR The Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal which has the devotion on each day of Advent!

This is a custom we have kept throughout the years. It is a beautiful little devotion preparing our hearts for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.

You can do the special activities indicated each day in this devotion in your own manger scene, using your imagination. When my older ones were young we made a 3D stable out of heavy cardboard and added the different themes each day…whether it was drawing in the cobwebs or making paper doll figurines for the nativity scene.

Or you can do what we have done the last few years. We put up 4 big white posterboard papers on an empty wall to make a big blank paper just waiting for the crayons and sharpies to make their mark! (You can make it as big or small as you like, using just one or two posterboards.) Each morning we draw the part of the manger scene that is applicable to that day.

I usually do the drawing in pencil then the child whose day it is traces it with colored markers and colors it in.

OR, (and I wish to thank my friend, Mary Ann for for this!!), you can use these Stable printables, get your children to color them on the day they go into the stable, and voila! you can add them to your Nativity scene!

We also print out (or write out) the special prayer for the day and put the assigned one up so we can say it throughout the day.

We sometimes forget a couple days and have to back track. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a wonderful family devotion that helps to make Advent and Christmas meaningful!Nativity WallpaperPhoto 7Photo 2-002Christmas Dance 2013 (101)

Here’s the devotion:

Start on December 1.

Read the thought indicated
about Christ’s first crib.
Practice it during the day. Do this daily during
December and make your heart a worthy crib for
Christ on Christmas Day.

DEC.1 – THE STABLE
Frequently during the day offer your heart to the
little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home. –

Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and
pure.

DEC.2 – THE ROOF
See that the roof of the stable is in good
condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected
from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully
avoiding every uncharitable remark. —Jesus,
teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

DEC.3 – CREVICES
Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the
stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter
there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard
especially your ears against sinful
conversations.–Jesus, help me to keep
temptations out of my heart.

DEC.4 – COBWEBS
Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.
Diligently remove from your heart every
inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this
intention at least three times today. —My Jesus,
I want to please You in all I do today.

DEC.5 – FENCE
Build a fence about the crib of your heart by
keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially
at prayer. —Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

DEC.6 – MANGER
Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart
for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by
abstaining from what you like most in the line of
comfort and amusement. —Mary, use these
sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in
Holy Communion.

DEC.7 – HAY
Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by
overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.
Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest
sins.

DEC.8 – SOFT STRAW
Provide your manger with soft straw by
performing little acts of mortification; for
instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit
and stand erect. —Dear Jesus, Who suffered so
much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

DEC.9 – SWADDLING CLOTHES
Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding
your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and
thoughtfully. —Jesus let me love you more and
more.

DEC.10 – BLANKETS
Provide the manger with soft warm
blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and
gentle to all. —Jesus, help me to be meek and
humble like You.

DEC.11 – FUEL
Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own
will; obey your superiors cheerfully and
promptly. —Jesus, let me do Your will in all
things

DEC.12-WATER
Bring fresh clean water to the crib. Avoid every
untruthful word and every deceitful act.
Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for
my sins.

DEC.13 – PROVISIONS
Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive
yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a
treat. —Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.

DEC.14 – LIGHT
See that the crib has sufficient light. Be
neat and orderly about your person; keep
everything in its place in your room. —Jesus, be
the life and light of my soul.

DEC.15 – FIRE
Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed
by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He
has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful
respect towards your parents and relatives. —
Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show
my gratitude to You?

DEC.16 – THE OX
Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without
making excuses and without asking “why.” —I will
obey for love of You, Jesus.

DEC.17 – THE DONKEY
Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine
Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service
of others. —Jesus, accept my service of love;
I offer it for those who do not love You.

DEC.18 – GIFTS
Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and
His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say
an extra decade of the rosary. —Come, Jesus, to
accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

DEC.19 – LAMBS
Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and
and patient. Do not murmur or complain.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make

my heart like Yours.

DEC.20 – SHEPHERDS
Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn
King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your
speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is
important because Jesus will be born again in
you.
Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.

DEC.21 – THE KEY
Provide the stable with a key to keep out
thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful
thought, every rash judgment —Dear Jesus, close
my heart to all that hurts you.

DEC.22 – ANGELS
Invite the angels to adore God with you.
Cheerfully obey the inspirations of
your guardian angel and of your conscience. —
Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that You
are with me always.

DEC.23 – ST. JOSEPH
Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn
from him silently and patiently to bear refusals
and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg
Him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy
Christmas Communion.

DEC.24 – THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the
manger of your heart and beg her to lay the
Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and
telephone conversations and spend more time today
thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You.

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As Advent approaches, and if you are using my Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal (if you are not, this tidbit is still a good reminder), you will want to peek at the following page. It will help you to get the things together you will need to do the Advent Traditions in the book. If there are some activities you are not doing then check or cross them off this list. We do them all but that is optional. Pick and choose as you see fit…

Advent Calendars (we have used the pop-up ones in the past….sweet, if you have a place to set it) need to be purchased now. Advent starts this Sunday!!) The Advent candles can be bought online, too!

Check out my Finer Femininity Maglet here

No MagazineSave when you buy all three Maglets here.

 

A Special Feast Day – All Saints’ Day!

A reminder that All Saints’ Day is just around the corner! I hope you all have something special planned! 🙂

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ALL SAINTS’ DAY

by Mary Reed Newland, The Year and Our Children available at Sophia Institute Press

The feast of All Saints is one of the greatest of all the feasts because it celebrates what could have been impossible. The Cross is a tree that bears fruit.

This is the feast of its harvest. The celebrations of the mysteries in the life of our Lord are glorious, and there is no detracting from them. But He was God.

This day we celebrate the perfecting of human nature, by grace pouring from the side of Christ on the Cross, through His Church and His sacraments, remaking men after their despoiling in the Garden.

Aside from all the lofty things to be said about the saints and to the saints on this day, we want our children to understand in the marrow of their bones what the principal idea is: “We are so glad for you. Now pray, so we’ll be there too!” And they must add to this and to every feast an endless “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making it possible.”

Why We Should Know the Saints

The Gospel of John tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”128

Each succeeding feast gives us a new understanding of this. We have been “born of God.” We must know the saints because we can learn from them how to receive His will, to love it, to act on it, to use the power He has given us to become the sons of God.

Here, we are His adopted sons separated from Heaven by life in the flesh. That part of us that He made in His own image and likeness is detained a while, in the body. It is being tried.

The saints went through the trials too, and with the help of His grace, they overcame them. They are in glory now, sons united at last with their Father. This is the greatest of His mercies.

He loved us before the creation of the world and planned for us to be in eternity with Him. When sin spoiled the plan, He perfected it – if one can say that – with the Incarnation. He became a man and spent Himself to devise the means for our perfection. The saints used it. We must too.

The antiphon from Vespers for this feast says what we want to say:

O ye Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, Virtues of Heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, ye Patriarchs and Prophets, holy Doctors of the Law, Apostles, all Martyrs of Christ, holy Confessors, Virgins of the Lord, Hermits and all Saints:

Intercede for us.

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“It is always springtime in the heart that loves God.” – St. John Vianney

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Finer Femininity is a small publication compiled to inspire Catholic women in their vocations. It consists of uplifting articles from authors with traditional values, with many of them from priests, written over 50 years ago. These anecdotes are timeless but, with the fast-paced “progress “of today’s world, the pearls within the articles are rarely meditated upon. This little magazine offers Catholic womankind support and inspiration as they travel that oftentimes lonely trail….the narrow road to heaven. The thoughts within the pages will enlighten us to regard the frequently monotonous path of our “daily duties” as the beautiful road to sanctity. Feminine souls need this kind of information to continue to “fight the good fight” in a world that has opposing values and seldom offers any kind of support to these courageous women. Inside the pages you will find inspiration for your roles as single women, as wives and as mothers. In between the thought-provoking articles, the pages are sprinkled with pictures, quotes and maybe even a recipe or two…

Available here.

 

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Great St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Host, Pray for Us!

Sept. 29th is the Feast of St. Michael, the Archangel! How much we need his assistance in combating the devil in these days….in all the big things that trouble this world, but also in the little every day ways that he tries to get his licks in. St. Michael, the Archangel, pray for us!

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From All About the Angels by Fr. Paul O’Sullivan

The first fact we learn concerning this great Prince is that in the mighty combat which took place in Heaven, when the bad Angels fell away from their allegiance to God, Michael sounded his war cry: “Who is like to God,” and immediately, joined by the good Angels, he drove Satan and his legions from Heaven and plunged them into the depths of Hell.

Next, we hear his praises from no less an authority than his brother Angel, St. Gabriel, who speaking to the Prophet Daniel, says, “Michael, who is your Prince,” “Michael, who is a great Prince created for the children of your people,” and again, “Michael, who is one of the first among Princes.”

St. Thomas says of him, “Michael is the breath of the Redeemer’s spirit who will, at the end of the world, combat and destroy Antichrist, as he did Lucifer in the beginning.”

St. Michael was the protector and defender of God’s chosen people. He came with the Israelites from Egypt and accompanied them through the desert. He it was who gave them, from God, the Ten Commandments, and during the thousands of years that elapsed before the coming of Christ, he was their champion and defender.

Though express mention of him is made only a few times, yet owing to his office as their appointed friend and defender, we know that he never abandoned God’s people but took an important part in all that concerned them.

He is now the defender of the Catholic Church and of all the faithful, whom he defends against the constant assaults of the devil.

He is invoked in sickness and most especially at the hour of death, when his “all— powerful” help is so much needed, for then it is that Satan makes his last and fiercest attack on the Christian soul, seeking with craft and cunning, with fears and despair lo drag it down to Hell.

In the prayers said by the priest and people after Mass, there is a special and beautiful prayer to St. Michael imploring his help for the Church. It runs as follows: Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan and with him all the wicked spirits, who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

We should make it a sacred duty to join fervently in this important prayer.

In our morning and evening prayers we invoke St. Michael when saying the Confiteor, but we should try to do so with more devotion and confidence. Many do not even think of what they are saying.

St. Michael has been honored from the earliest times in many countries.

The Emperor Constantine, grateful for the victories gained over his enemies, which he attributed to the protection of St. Michael, built a magnificent church near Constantinople in honor of the Archangel which he called Michaelion.

It became a place of pilgrimage, and many sick and infirm were cured in it by the intercession of the Archangel.

Constantine’s successors erected no less than fifteen churches in Constantinople itself to St. Michael.

In Rome, churches were also built and dedicated to St. Michael as far back as 494 A.D. The Archangel appeared to the Bishop of Siponto, on Monte Gargano, in the Kingdom of Naples, where a beautiful church was dedicated lo him. This became a place of great devotion and attracted many pilgrims.

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Mont St. Michel, France

In France, he appeared on Mont St. Michel, where there still exists a famous sanctuary consecrated to the Archangel.

In Egypt, the Christians dedicated their food-giving river, the Nile, to St. Michael, and on the 12th of every month they held a special celebration in his honor, and this celebration was kept with marked solemnity in the month of June, when the river begins to rise.

When Germany was converted, the cult to the pagan god Woden was replaced by devotion to St. Michael, and as a result there are to be seen numerous chapels dedicated to the Archangel in the mountain districts of that country.

In England, the feast of Michaelmas used to be celebrated with great rejoicing, the favorite dish of the day being the roast goose. Now it is mainly known as a legal term, the day marking what is called in law, the Michaelmas term.

St. Michael has appeared at different times to those who needed his help and invoked his aid. A most notable example was when he assisted St. Joan of Arc in the extraordinary mission given her by God of aiding the French King to restore peace and prosperity to his kingdom and expel his enemies from its shores.

ST. MICHAEL AT THE HOUR OF DEATH

We read in The Book of Similitudes of St. Anselm that a religious of this monastery, on the point of death, was dreadfully assaulted by the devil, who reproached him at first because of the sins he had committed previous to his Baptism, for the monk had received this Sacrament when already advanced in years.

The poor man knew not how to reply and was very much troubled until St. Michael, who had come to his assistance, answered that all the sins he had committed before Baptism were remitted in that Sacrament.

The evil spirit then urged several sins of his committed after Baptism.

The Archangel replied that these had been washed away in the general confession he made before his religious profession, and that the dying man should trust in the divine mercy.

Satan at last opposed to him the many offenses and negligences in his life subsequent to religious profession.

As the good monk said nothing in defense, St. Michael declared that all his sins were forgiven him, because he had confessed them and satisfied for them by good works, especially by obedience, and that if anything remained it was expiated by his patience under the sufferings of a sickbed.

At these words the devil departed in confusion, and the good religious, with confident hope, meekly gave up his soul to God.

We all must die, and we all must be prepared for the fierce attacks of the devil at this dreadful hour. Hence every Christian should make sure of having St. Michael’s help at the hour of death. This we can do by being devoted to the great Archangel during our lives.

CHILDREN RAISED TO LIFE BY ST. MICHAEL

The King of Dacia, Mulhoares, was gravely ill and suffered all the more because he had no heir to his throne. His children had all died.

He was counseled to have recourse to St. Michael.

The King followed this sage advice, and some time after twins were born to his wife. Alas, a new trial awaited him. These children also died!

Full of lively faith, the King ordered the bodies of the children to be taken to the church and placed before the altar of St. Michael, and he and his people besought the great Archangel to come to their aid.

Lo, St. Michael appeared and spoke lo the King: “I am Michael, whom you and your people have invoked, and I have presented your petition to God who is pleased to restore life to your children. Behold them alive, and I and the other Angels will watch over them. God wishes, too, to cure you, but you must thank the Angel who is Prince of your kingdom. That you may love him, I will now show him to you.”

A most beautiful Angel then appeared, clothed in royal robes, with a crown of gold on his head. He blessed the King, who was instantly restored to health.

HOW TO HONOR ST. MICHAEL?

1st. By frequently repeating this short prayer: “Glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Court, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”

2nd. By invoking his aid in sickness.

3rd. If we find it hard to conquer a temptation, or correct some fault, let us pray to St. Michael, who will assuredly help us to overcome the most violent temptation —and the most inveterate.

4th. By having a little picture of St. Michael in our prayer— book, saying each time we see it, “Glorious St. Michael, I love you.”

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fall finer fem quote for the day
 
“If you want your husband to trust you with his heart as he once did, it’s important to practice self-control, hold your tongue, and replace criticism with kindness. Listen when he talks and make an effort to show him respect.” -Darlene Schacht
“The truth is, the less you communicate your complaints, negative thoughts, and criticisms to your husband, the better your intimacy will be, and the stronger your marriage.” – Laura Doyle
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This Advent journal is for busy moms who need a little help making this season special within the home. It will help you stay on track and be consistent with the customs you have decided to incorporate within your four walls.I have broken it down into bite-sized tidbits that, when laid out for you, will be easy to accomplish. As you check each item off you will get a sense of fulfillment knowing you are getting done what is truly important in this expectant season! The other things will get done….but first things first! Available here.
Advent package available here.

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Summer Saints….and Some Are Not – Mary Reed Newland

I was poking around Mary Reed Newland’s book, The Year and Our Children, to explore ways of celebrating our Catholic Saints and Feasts this summer and ran across the following ideas. I couldn’t keep it to myself so I am sharing it with you.

Make the liturgy come alive in your home! Don’t forget to use your holy water, wear your scapulars and say the rosary. Maybe say a part of the Divine Office with them each day. Read to them. Don’t get bogged down, but DO SOMETHING positive each day with your children in light of our Catholic Faith. It is a daily fight to keep ourselves and our children climbing UP the ladder! It is easy to slide down…..

Teach them to love the Faith, with all its solemnities, all its beauty!

End of rant (meant for myself, too). 🙂

Here is a “sweet” and simple way to celebrate the feasts of the saints coming up this summer….

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Apostle Cookies

Any good gingerbread cookie dough will do, and any good gingerbread-boy cookie cutter will make a gingerbread Apostle (or you may cut them freehand with a knife). The twist is in the decoration.

We decorated each one with his own symbols, tied a ribbon through a hole pierced (before baking) in the top of each cookie, served them on a tray, covered, with only the ribbons showing; you got your dessert by choosing a ribbon, finding the cookie, and identifying it.

This is an excellent way to learn all the Apostles. The combination of head and stomach is hard to beat. The frosting is a confectioner’s sugar recipe tinted with vegetable colors.

The symbols may be made with stiff frosting squirted through a decorator tube, if you have one, or may be cut from foil, paper, or made of any materials that suggest themselves.

Here is how we decorated the cookies.

St. Peter (June 29). Red frosting because he was a martyr.

Symbols: two keys, a cock crowing, an upside-down cross, a fish, a sword.

The keys remind us that Jesus gave him the keys of the Kingdom; the cock recalls his denial of our Lord; the cross tells that he is supposed to have been martyred head down; the fish – he was a fisher of men; the sword tells of his temper on the night he cut off Malchus’s ear.

Our Peter cut a silver-foil fish for this cookie and stuck it in the frosting. You could do the keys and sword of foil also, with the cross of melted chocolate. The cock can be drawn or cut from a picture and stuck on.
St. James the Great (July 25)

He is called great because he was the tall James. He was the son of Zebedee and the brother of St. John the Evangelist. Our Lord called these two the Sons of Thunder: partly, we are told, for their vehement defense of Christ and His teaching, and partly because cause they wanted Him to burn up the Samaritans inside their houses with fire from Heaven, like the three little pigs, because they wouldn’t welcome them into their village.

Our Lord rebuked them for it. He said that He came to give life, not destroy it – which teaches a good lesson in resisting the temptation to “get even.” This was certainly the opposite of the meekness He said would “inherit the earth.”
This James was the first Apostle to die for Christ, beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa. His symbols – the pilgrim’s cloak, staff, hat, purse, and scallop shell (always the symbol of pilgrims) – signify that he went on long missionary journeys. A tiny shell stuck to the frosting on this cookie was the clue we used.
St. Bartholomew (August 24)

The mystery man. His name, Bar-Tolmai, indicates that he is the son of Tolmai.

He is an old friend of St. Philip and is often mentioned with him. It is supposed that he is the Nathanael to whom Philip made his announcement under the fig tree. Nathanael was skeptical that this Man was really the Messiah, and our Lord commended his skepticism because Israel was often thick with self-appointed messiahs.

“Behold a true Israelite, in whom there is no guile,” said our Lord, as Nathanael came toward Him down the road.

Then to Nathanael: “Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee!” Then didn’t Nathaniel believe! He lost his heart that moment. “Rabbi thou art the Son of God! Thou art King of Israel!”

St. Bartholomew’s symbols are about as grisly as you’ll find: flaying knives, a cross, an axe, and such, because his was a wild and bloody death; and then there is our pet symbol for him – a branch of the fig tree. Make this with melted chocolate and green candy leaves meant for cake-decorating.

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Book Review:

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Achieving Peace of Heart
This is a wonderful book and one we have read more than once….written by a Catholic Jesuit Priest and psychologist (in the days when those credentials could be trusted). It is one of our favorites. Here is an excellent review:

Attain spiritual and emotional calm amid suffering, anxiety, or daily trials.

Celebrated Jesuit provides a detailed plan for every kind of challenge to internal peace. Fr. Narciso Irala, SJ, summarized the keys to a productive spiritual life:

1. Understand how to cope with, and then conquer, your own imperfections;

2. See that difficulties posed by life— sometimes by family and friends— can cause flawed responses (often that no one except you can identify);

3. These can generally be overcome by “re-training” your mind, your feelings, and your will.

The great, late Jesuit devotes entire chapters to learning:

  • How to rest
  • How to think freely, without fear and anxiety
  • How to put your will to use when “corners” of it have not been active enough
  • How to fully control feelings
  • How to be happy
  • How to “choose an ideal”
  • How to train the sexual instinctFr. Irala, whose book appeared in several languages 50 years ago and was a staple for Catholic pastors of souls and counselors, provides hundreds of specific guidelines for countless commonplace personal issues encountered, at one stage of life or another, by most of us. Examples:
  • Four causes of persistent distraction
  • Moving from imperfect mastery of flaws to real control
  • Ascertaining your maximum concentration period (essential for planning to conquer other internal troubles, if any)
  • How to banish little obsessions
  • Aids to insomnia (if caused by anxiety)
  • How to identify, then diminish the intensity of a foolish idea or emotion
  • How to keep from any possible episodes of letting the mind wander fruitlessly
  • Truly “resting while asleep”
  • The best use of memory
  • Common mistakes of those seeking fuller internal control
  • “Eliminating the annoyance of noise”
  • False “feelings of fatigue”
  • “Mental wandering” and its role in harming prayer life
  • On the other hand, why it takes “practice” to pray well
  • Why genuine and useful self-criticism can be brief
  • Practical exercises of the mind that strengthen the ability to focus
  • Combating scruples: a detailed plan
  • Measuring “the intensity” of your ideas
  • Practicing “singleness of thought”
  • Why and how to combat pessimism
  • The importance of “fostering joy”
  • The art of affective prayer (and the satisfying benefits)
  • The long arm of the inferiority complex and how to vanquish it
  • All about social discomfort and its cure
  • Eight positive, practical rules of life

A masterful guide, to give us support and comfort:

“In the first place, this book is for those who are fatigued from excessive work, worries or sufferings. Possibly they may have lost control of their thoughts and so will not know how to rest or sleep peacefully; or they may be unable to control their fears or sadness. The first part of the book is intended especially for this group. Secondly, we are writing for those who are healthy of mind but wish greater efficiency in studies or business, greater energy and constancy in carrying out plans, greater control of feelings or instincts, more joy, satisfaction and interior happiness. These will find useful and practical advice…. Further, it is for educators and directors of souls who meet up with problem cases regarding study or virtue.”
“If something makes too much of an impression on us we can be sure that we give it a greater importance than it has. This will depend on our bodily weakness, previous education, or lack of rational reaction against the feeling or instinct. But if we go to the very bottom of an emotional disturbance we shall find in it a departure from reality. This can happen in three ways….”
“Do away with useless confidences which are born of emotionalism or impulse. Never recount to any person you meet…what you suffer or fear, desire or plan. This might give you some momentary consolation but the sad ideas will impress you more in the telling and make you more their slave. If you tell them to your friends you make them sad, if to your enemies you make them glad.“

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Check out my Spring Maglet (magazine/booklet) at Meadows of Grace. Tidbits  and bunches of inspiration and encouragement!

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Advent Smidgens and the Blessing of a Christmas Tree

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First, a little gallery of our doings and then a repost……

On the holy day, Dec. 8th, we went to the Kansas City Plaza to see the lights. If we had gone on a weekend, there would have been a horse-drawn carriage for one to ride and carolers to hear as they gather on street corners…..

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This was a mini vacation for us (something we never do) and we started the day off, after Mass, with breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

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We happened to meet this large and very sweet family at the restaurant. 🙂 They were on their way to get their Christmas photo done!

 

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Dare I say It was cold?? I got reprimanded from a Canadian friend when I said it was cold here in Kansas, while they were suffering minus forty degrees! Needless to say, for Kansas, it was COLD!

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We were early for the lights and went to have a snack at Panera Bread. We also sat and played dice that Vincent had bought at one of the Toy Stores. We tried to keep the noise to a low roar. The workers at Panera probably hadn’t quite experienced a group like ours….

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We said hello to Benjamin Franklin. He was rather quiet. I think he was cold, too. 🙂

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Rosie and Margy did the St. Nicholas stockings. They love to go and shop for the goodies. The last few years, if money was tight, they also pitched in. So don’t fret, Mamas, if you feel like you just can’t do it all. When the kids get bigger, they will help! Keep it simple….

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It’s the eve of Dec. 6th and the stockings are ready! We went to Mass on St. Nicholas Day and then dug in!

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An early Christmas gift from a friend of the family, this maze game is pretty a”maze”ing. The paths are very intricate, with levers and baskets urging the little ball to go forward. There are 3 levels and Angelo (our 11 year old) has conquered all 3! What a great idea for a gift!

 

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A horticulturist at heart, Vincent got a purple orchid (for Advent) and a red amaryllis (for Christmas) to grace each side of our stable scene. So pretty!

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Rosie puts a purple bow on our “Advent Tree” with Nini (Sienna)….

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Adding my two cents….

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Our Spiritual Christmas Crib has been hard to keep up with this year. But we play “catch-up” if we have neglected it a couple of days. The spirit of it is much better if it is kept up but life is not perfect, right?

 

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Rosie helps at Virginia’s with her Stable and Advent Wreath.

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Jeanette’s Advent Tree. It is so wonderful to see my married children carry on some of these beautiful customs that will, in turn, be passed down to our grandchildren. It is quite a legacy we leave behind when we make the effort to do these things!

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The empty manger and the animals await the arrival of the Holy Family!

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A Repost:

I love the season of Advent and there are so many lovely Advent traditions out there!

We don’t have to try to be super-woman and get in every one of these customs. I am in a different phase of life and have more time for these things. We have just picked up the puppet show again after many years of being too busy.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with busy-ness by adding too many pressures to measure up and be Advent Queen but DO spend your time on making Advent special and meaningful. Pick a few choice traditions and try to stick to them consistently each year.

Here are a couple of pictures of our St. Nicholas Puppet Show this year. The kids (and adults) loved it…there were more adults present than children. 🙂

IMG_6366IMG_6355-001IMG_6344The pictures below show  what happens when we ask the guys to make the Advent wreaths. Aren’t they unique?!

The first one is made up of round pieces of a tree trunk nailed together to make ‘steps” the candles can rest on. Little holes are drilled so the greens can be popped in and out easily. The second one is a rectangular block of wood with the holes drilled in it for the candles. The greens from the Christmas tree are then just laid on it. Purple ribbon is used for accent and….voila! You have a lovely advent “wreath”!IMG_6308 IMG_6309

The following is a blessing of the Christmas tree led by the father of the house which was written in the 1950’s. I thought it was very beautiful and we have incorporated the custom this year! We also put up our Christmas tree WAY earlier than usual and made it into an Advent tree until we decorate it closer to Christmas.

 

IMG_6268IMG_6426The Blessing of a Christmas Tree:

by Helen McLoughlin

Sometime in the evening the tree is blessed by the father of the family, and afterwards the festive lights are lit for the first time. The following form may be used for the blessing.

FATHER: O God, come to my assistance.

ALL: O Lord, make haste to help me. Glory be to the Father
and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the
beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

FATHER: Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the
Lord, for He comes.

ALL: Sing to the Lord a new song; * sing to the Lord, all you
lands.

FATHER: Sing to the Lord; bless his name; * announce his
salvation day after day.

ALL: Tell his glory among the nations; * among all peoples,
his wondrous deeds.

FATHER: For great is the Lord and highly to be praised; *
awesome is he, beyond all gods.

ALL: Splendor and majesty go before him; * praise and
grandeur are in his sanctuary.

FATHER: Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the
Lord glory and praise; * give to the Lord the glory due
his name!

ALL: Bring gifts, and enter His courts; * worship the Lord in
holy attire.

FATHER: Tremble before him, all the earth; * say among the
nations: the Lord is king.

ALL: Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the
sea and what fills it resound; * let the plains be joyful
and all that is in them!

FATHER: Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the
Lord, for he comes; * for he comes to rule the earth.

ALL: He shall rule the world with justice * and the peoples
with his constancy.

FATHER: Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy
Spirit.

ALL: As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, *
world without end. Amen.

FATHER: Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the
Lord, for He comes.

MOTHER: Lesson from Isaias the Prophet. Thus saith the Lord: The land that was desolate and impassable shall be glad, and the wilderness shall rejoice and shall flourish like the lily. It shall bud forth and blossom, and shall rejoice with joy and praise: the glory of Libanus is given to it: the beauty of Carmel, and Saron, they shall see the glory of the Lord and the beauty of our God.

ALL: Thanks be to God.

FATHER: And there shall come forth a rod out of the root of
Jesse

ALL: And a flower shall rise up out of his root.

FATHER: O Lord, hear my prayer.

ALL: And let my cry come to You.

FATHER: Let us pray. O God, who hast made this most holy night to shine forth with the brightness of the True Light, deign to bless this tree (sprinkles it with holy water) which we adorn with lights in honor of Him who has come to enlighten us who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death. And grant that we upon whom is poured the new light of Thy Word made flesh may show forth in our actions that which by faith shines in our minds. Through Christ our Lord.

ALL: Amen.

Besides the historical explanation given above, there are of course many beautiful legends and much symbolism behind the Christmas tree.

The Christmas tree is a sign of the great Tree of the Cross; it is noble because it is by a tree that the whole world has been redeemed.

The splendor of the Christmas tree reminds us of the redemption of even the material creation by Christ–and recalls the lovely legend that all the trees on earth blossomed forth on Christmas night. And the evergreen is traditional for the Christmas tree, for it reminds us of the everlasting life that Christ won through His Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection.

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untitledThe Christmas season is a season of good will. If we really have in our hearts good-will to men, we shall not only wish every one well, but we shall seek every opportunity to do good to every one, beginning with those at home. It will make us good wives, good mothers, good neighbors, kind, obliging, ready always to lend a hand, to do another a good turn.

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A Spiritual Christmas Crib

A beautiful devotion….Every year I repost as a reminder for you to get prepared for this precious custom.

It’s nice to follow this devotion from a book so consider getting the Finer Femininity Advent/Christmas Maglet.

Or….you can order this lovely set from the Sisters Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary here.

“Build your Spiritual Christmas Crib in your heart by these short day-by-day meditations and practices for December 1–24. Its a perfect activity to practice with your family!

Made by the Sisters, this little spiritual gift will be a treasure for every Advent season!”

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This is a custom we have kept throughout the years. It is a beautiful little devotion preparing our hearts for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.

You can do the special activities indicated each day in this devotion in your own manger scene. When my older ones were young we made a 3D stable out of heavy cardboard and added the different themes each day…whether it was drawing in the cobwebs or making paper doll figurines for the nativity scene.

Or you can do what we have done the last few years. We put up 4 big white posterboard papers on an empty wall to make a big blank paper just waiting for the crayons and sharpies to make their mark! (You can make it as big or small as you like, using just one or two posterboards.) Each morning we draw the part of the manger scene that is applicable to that day.

One of my older daughters or I usually do the drawing in pencil then the child whose day it is traces it with colored markers and colors it in.

We also print out (or write out) the special prayer for the day and put the assigned one up so we can say it throughout the day. (This is where the Sister’s cards could come in).

We sometimes forget a couple days and have to back track. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a wonderful family devotion that helps to make Advent and Christmas meaningful!Nativity WallpaperPhoto 7Photo 2-002Christmas Dance 2013 (101)

2014:

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Virginia’s Devotion-in-Progress

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Here’s the devotion:

Start on December 1.

Read the thought indicated
about Christ’s first crib.
Practice it during the day. Do this daily during
December and make your heart a worthy crib for
Christ on Christmas Day.

DEC.1 – THE STABLE
Frequently during the day offer your heart to the
little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home. –

Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and
pure.

DEC.2 – THE ROOF
See that the roof of the stable is in good
condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected
from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully
avoiding every uncharitable remark. —Jesus,
teach me to love my neighbor as myself.

DEC.3 – CREVICES
Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the
stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter
there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard
especially your ears against sinful
conversations.–Jesus, help me to keep
temptations out of my heart.

DEC.4 – COBWEBS
Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.
Diligently remove from your heart every
inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this
intention at least three times today. —My Jesus,
I want to please You in all I do today.

DEC.5 – FENCE
Build a fence about the crib of your heart by
keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially
at prayer. —Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.

DEC.6 – MANGER
Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart
for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by
abstaining from what you like most in the line of
comfort and amusement. —Mary, use these
sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in
Holy Communion.

DEC.7 – HAY
Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by
overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy.
Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest
sins.

DEC.8 – SOFT STRAW
Provide your manger with soft straw by
performing little acts of mortification; for
instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit
and stand erect. —Dear Jesus, Who suffered so
much for me, let me suffer for love of You.

DEC.9 – SWADDLING CLOTHES
Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding
your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and
thoughtfully. —Jesus let me love you more and
more.

DEC.10 – BLANKETS
Provide the manger with soft warm
blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and
gentle to all. —Jesus, help me to be meek and
humble like You.

DEC.11 – FUEL
Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own
will; obey your superiors cheerfully and
promptly. —Jesus, let me do Your will in all
things

DEC.12-WATER
Bring fresh clean water to the crib. Avoid every
untruthful word and every deceitful act.
Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for
my sins.

DEC.13 – PROVISIONS
Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive
yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a
treat. —Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.

DEC.14 – LIGHT
See that the crib has sufficient light. Be
neat and orderly about your person; keep
everything in its place in your room. —Jesus, be
the life and light of my soul.

DEC.15 – FIRE
Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed
by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He
has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful
respect towards your parents and relatives. —
Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show
my gratitude to You?

DEC.16 – THE OX
Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without
making excuses and without asking “why.” —I will
obey for love of You, Jesus.

DEC.17 – THE DONKEY
Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine
Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service
of others. —Jesus, accept my service of love;
I offer it for those who do not love You.

DEC.18 – GIFTS
Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and
His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say
an extra decade of the rosary. —Come, Jesus, to
accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.

DEC.19 – LAMBS
Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and
and patient. Do not murmur or complain.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make

my heart like Yours.

DEC.20 – SHEPHERDS
Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn
King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your
speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is
important because Jesus will be born again in
you.
Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.

DEC.21 – THE KEY
Provide the stable with a key to keep out
thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful
thought, every rash judgment —Dear Jesus, close
my heart to all that hurts you.

DEC.22 – ANGELS
Invite the angels to adore God with you.
Cheerfully obey the inspirations of
your guardian angel and of your conscience. —
Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that You
are with me always.

DEC.23 – ST. JOSEPH
Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn
from him silently and patiently to bear refusals
and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg
Him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy
Christmas Communion.

DEC.24 – THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the
manger of your heart and beg her to lay the
Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and
telephone conversations and spend more time today
thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You.

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Visit my Meadows of Grace Shoppe to browse through these truly lovely Kanzashi Ribbon Flowers made by my daughter, Virginia! What great Christmas gifts for that special someone!

Intricate and Classy Hand-Crafted Kanzashi Accessory Flower.. Hair, Scarf, Collar, etc…. This fetching ribbon flower is a perfect accent to any special outfit and provides a sweet final touch!
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!

A Special Feast Day – All Saints’ Day!

Throwback Thursday! A reminder that All Saints’ Day is just around the corner! I hope you all have something special planned! 🙂

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ALL SAINTS’ DAY

by Mary Reed Newland, The Year and Our Children available at Sophia Institute Press

The feast of All Saints is one of the greatest of all the feasts because it celebrates what could have been impossible. The Cross is a tree that bears fruit.

This is the feast of its harvest. The celebrations of the mysteries in the life of our Lord are glorious, and there is no detracting from them. But He was God.

This day we celebrate the perfecting of human nature, by grace pouring from the side of Christ on the Cross, through His Church and His sacraments, remaking men after their despoiling in the Garden.

Aside from all the lofty things to be said about the saints and to the saints on this day, we want our children to understand in the marrow of their bones what the principal idea is: “We are so glad for you. Now pray, so we’ll be there too!” And they must add to this and to every feast an endless “Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making it possible.”

Why We Should Know the Saints

The Gospel of John tells us, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”128

Each succeeding feast gives us a new understanding of this. We have been “born of God.” We must know the saints because we can learn from them how to receive His will, to love it, to act on it, to use the power He has given us to become the sons of God.

Here, we are His adopted sons separated from Heaven by life in the flesh. That part of us that He made in His own image and likeness is detained a while, in the body. It is being tried.

The saints went through the trials too, and with the help of His grace, they overcame them. They are in glory now, sons united at last with their Father. This is the greatest of His mercies.

He loved us before the creation of the world and planned for us to be in eternity with Him. When sin spoiled the plan, He perfected it – if one can say that – with the Incarnation. He became a man and spent Himself to devise the means for our perfection. The saints used it. We must too.

The antiphon from Vespers for this feast says what we want to say:

O ye Angels and Archangels, Thrones and Dominions, Principalities and Powers, Virtues of Heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, ye Patriarchs and Prophets, holy Doctors of the Law, Apostles, all Martyrs of Christ, holy Confessors, Virgins of the Lord, Hermits and all Saints:

Intercede for us.

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“It is always springtime in the heart that loves God.” – St. John Vianney

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