Epiphany: “Where is He That Was Born King of the Jews?”

A beautiful meditation on Epiphany….

Illustration of traditional Christian Christmas Nativity scene with the three wise men going to meet baby Jesus in the manger.

by Father Daniel A. Lord

“Where is He that was born King of the Jews?”

The question, repeated a thousand times along their tedious way through the desert and sprawling villages and nomadic tribes and smug, white-roofed cities, was answered with shrugged shoulders and cynically turned backs, with significant touching of foreheads and frankly contemptuous laughter.

Undismayed, the Magi were drawn forward on their quest by the vague hope of finding a Child.

More than likely they dreamed of palace gates swinging wide to welcome them as grooms swept forward to catch their camels by their tinkling bridles and pages helped them to dismount.

Surely the child of a king would rest upon the softest down, under coverlets of purple damask. Hushed attendants might permit them a glimpse of newborn royalty between the crossed lances of sleepless sentinels. Yet even this glimpse would be reward enough, they felt, for their weary desert road, the tireless swaying of their camels and the night-long journeys in pursuit of a forward moving star.

For here was a Child tall enough to light a blaze in the heavens. In the ancient papyri written for a mighty Cyrus by a Jew named Daniel, they were assured that this was no ordinary child who was born under a flaming star.

Were they at first, even for an instant, bitterly taken aback? Did they almost turn away in disappointment from the dark mouth of this unguarded stable? Probably they caught up their silken gowns as they stepped through cattle pens and sheepfolds to the dark hill cave, unlighted except for the now motionless star.

But when they saw the Child, all of Christmas welled up in their souls. What did it matter that He lay, not on orient silk, but on crackling straw; that an exquisite maid and a dignified carpenter (strange contradiction, to their aristocratic minds, a carpenter with such poise and dignity) were His only courtiers; that the bleak walls of the stable, rough-hewn from the black earth of the hill, were bare of heraldic standards or banners of scarlet and gold; that no sentries flashed repelling swords to hold back intruders?

Faith swept them forward in its high tide. A Child they had come to seek. Yet in all the world there was no Child like this.

He wore His swaddling clothes as if they were Tyrian purple. He lay in a manger that seemed like a conquered world. He opened His tiny arms, and their circle was vast enough to embrace all humanity. He smiled, and the light of a new era dawned.

They had come to find a Child King who was to conquer and save the world. Naturally they had dreamed of a kingship proved by files of palace guards and fluttering choirs of nurses, by carved ebony and beaten gold upon his crib, and breathless statesmen adding his name to the line of royal ancestors — he the heir of their greatness and their petty crimes, their occasional acts of kingliness and their frequent baseness and stupid cruelty and criminal lust. They knew no other kings nor sons of kings than these.

They had not dared dream of a Child whose evident kingship made a palace out of a stable and a throne out of straw heaped for oxen. They had not wildly imagined a sovereign who could conquer because he was without weapons and who won His followers, not by the cold aloofness of power, but by the warm approachableness of His weakness and His love.

Before this Child of the poor these rich men eagerly poured the tribute of their gifts. Before this Infant who contained all that the world needed to save it, these wise men bent submissive knees.

Although the shepherds in their simple ignorance and the Magi in their deep wisdom were unaware of it, around the Child, from the very beginning, vortexed the complete drama of humanity’s best and basest emotions.

He had been welcomed, as every great benefactor of humanity is welcomed, with cruel indifference and rudely slammed doors. Yet, if the doors of earth were barred in His face, the gates of heaven broken open to welcome Him!

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“There is nothing insignificant in the life which we live within our own doors. There is nothing which is without influence in the building up of character. Let no one think that the history of any day in the life of a home, is not recorded imperishably on the sensitive lives of the children.” -J.R. MIller
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Coloring pages for your children….
Feast of the Epiphany. A little story of the three wise men, now saints, & their faith that led them to the Christ child….

Looking for some good reading suggestions? Visit these Book Lists…

My Book List

Catholic Men’s Book List

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The Epiphany and Some Blessings

The following is some inspiration to make your Epiphany special. There are many ways to do this; Mary Reed Newland tells of her family’s customs. Also included are some blessings that the father of the house or anyone who takes the role of “Leader” can do. These types of traditions not only make the day special with a certain solemnity but they bestow grace on the family.

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by Mary Reed Newland, The Year and the Family

January 6 is the feast of the Epiphany, the celebration of the Three Kings’ journey to Bethlehem with their gifts; the day the children of the household journey to Bethlehem to take Him the gifts they have made during Advent, and the day the tiny kings join the rest of the Nativity figures in the creche.

They have been slowly inching their way across the mantel with their camel train, nearer each day. We bake a delicious Crown cake for the evening. Crown cake, King’s cake, Epiphany cake – any name you wish to give it – is baked in a tube pan so that it looks like a crown.

We have borrowed Mrs. Berger’s icing from Cooking for Christ, fluffy white and decorated with gumdrop jewels.

From the French we borrow the custom of baking a bean and a pea in the cake, as well as assorted objects of our own inspiration that have symbolisms, entirely invented. The bean and pea were supposed to fall to the king and queen for the night, but we have the bean portend a trip to Boston and the pea tells that you are a princess (secretly, of course).

A button means you will be a bachelor; a thimble, a seamstress. A penny means that you are going to be poor, and a dime, rich.

A ring? You’ll be married for sure. A raisin – I hate to tell you – you’ll be wrinkled. A chocolate bit? You’re sweet. You got nothing? That is to remind you that God loves you. Remember what our Lord said, “Blessed are those who believe and yet do not see.”

These things have only one purpose – fun. One caution: chew carefully.

Next the crowns are cut from aluminum foil or leftover Christmas wrappings. Where there are more than three children, the limited number would seem to pose a problem; but happily there is a possibility that there were more than three kings!

Some say it was assumed that the kings were three because the gifts were three; and some say it is because in Psalm 71, used in the Epiphany Mass, it is stated, “The kings of Tharsis and the Islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts.”

They were probably not kings as we think of kings, for “Magi were Persian pseudo-scientists devoted especially to astrology and medicine.”

The Jews of the Dispersion who had been captured in wars or had migrated to foreign ports to trade had kept their faith, and it was undoubtedly from these that the Magi knew of the expected Messiah.

In the Middle Ages, the kings were given the familiar names Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The Fathers of the Church interpreted their gifts mystically as symbols of Christ’s kingship (gold), His divinity (frankincense, because it was used for worship in the temple), and His mortal humanity (myrrh, because it was used in the burial of the dead).

As for the attempts of modern astronomers to identify the star as a juncture of comets or as Halley’s or another comet, they have entirely ignored the miraculous nature of the Star of Bethlehem, its appearance, movement, and disappearance.

This may seem to complicate the celebration of the feast of the three kings – who were not kings, nor three. But if not kings by rank, they were kings by faith and noble bearing and persevering determination.

So we arrange crowns for the heads of as many kings as we must crown (visiting kings as well).

Epiphany means “manifestation”: this is the feast of God’s showing His Son to the world. One week after Epiphany we will celebrate another manifestation: when our Lord was baptized by St. John the Baptist, and God the Father spoke from Heaven, identifying Him.

And the second Sunday after Epiphany we celebrate the third great manifestation, heralding the beginning of His public life: the miracle at the wedding feast at Cana, where our Lord showed openly His divine power.

Many blessings are given traditionally on the Epiphany: the Blessing of Chalk; the Blessing of Gold and Frankincense; the Blessing of Bread, of Eggs, and of Salt; and the Blessing of Homes.

There is a difference between blessings given by a priest and the same blessings read by the father or some older member of the family when it is not possible to have the priest present.

But it is a mistake to consider them without efficacy when the layman reads them. By our Baptism we have a share in Christ’s Priesthood. If we are part of Christ in His Mystical Body, and He is High Priest, we share this with Him.

Ours is not the same as the power of the consecrated priest, but it is our right and privilege to ask God’s blessing on the things we use in daily life, and we should exercise this privilege often.

The Blessing of Chalk is usually given by a priest at church. The chalk is then distributed to the people, who take it home to use after the Blessing of the Home.

(Keep in mind that these prayers are originally for the priest, so it would not be appropriate for the leader to make the sign of the cross over anything.)

BLESSING OF CHALK

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
Leader: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.
Bless, 0 Lord God, this creature chalk to render it helpful to men. Grant that they who use it in faith and with it inscribe scribe upon the entrance of their homes the names of thy saints, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, may, through their merits and intercession, enjoy health of body and protection of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Sprinkle chalk with holy water.) If this blessing is not ordinarily given at church, perhaps it could be if enough parishioners requested it; at any rate, it may be read by the father or one of the grown-ups at home.

In some parishes, it is a custom for the pastor to bless the homes of the parish from the church doorway, the people reading the words of the blessing at the same hour in their homes, and going in procession from room to room, sprinkling the house with holy water.

At the end of this procession, the father or another grown-up writes over the front door with the blessed chalk the year and the initials of the three kings, separated by crosses; for instance, 19 + C + B + M + 56.

BLESSING OF HOMES ON EPIPHANY

Leader: Peace be to this house.

All: And to all that dwell herein.

All: From the East, the Magi came to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures, they offered costly gifts: gold to the great King, incense to the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. Alleluia.

Now follows the reading of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).

The home is sprinkled with holy water, and following the Magnificat the antiphon is repeated: From the East …

Then the Our Father, silently.

Leader: And lead us not into temptation.

All: But deliver us from evil.

Leader: Many shall come from Saba.

All: Bearing gold and incense.

Leader: 0 Lord, hear my prayer.

All: And let my cry come unto thee.

Leader: The Lord be with you.

All: And with thy spirit.

Let us pray. 0 God, who, by the guidance of a star, didst this day reveal Thy sole-begotten Son to the Gentiles, grant that we who now know Thee by faith may be brought to the contemplation of Thy heavenly majesty. Through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.

All: Be enlightened and shine forth, 0 Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and upon thee is risen the glory of the Lord, Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary.

Leader: Nations shall walk in Thy light, and kings in the splendor of Thy birth. All: And the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.

Let us pray. Bless, 0 Lord, almighty God, this home that it be the shelter of health, chastity, self-conquest, humility, goodness, mildness, obedience to the commandments, and thanksgiving to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. May blessing remain for all time upon this dwelling and them that live herein. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Blessing of Any Victual may be used for the salt:

BLESSING OF ANY VICTUAL

Let us pray. Bless, 0 Lord, this creature salt, so that it be a saving help to humankind; and grant that, by calling on Thy holy name, all who eat of it may experience health of body and protection of soul. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Sprinkle salt with holy water.)

Last, there is the: BLESSING OF THE EGGS

Let us pray. Let Thy blessing, Lord, come upon these eggs, that they be salutary food for the faithful who eat them in thanksgiving for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee forever and ever. Amen. (Sprinkle eggs with holy water.)

We have neither gold nor frankincense to bless this day, alas, unless we include our “Magi’s Gold” when we bless the food.

This is nothing more than candied orange peel made with the rinds of the Christmas oranges (navel oranges are best, but watch out that the children don’t peel them in little scraps and throw the peel away). Packed in small tin boxes with gilt paper and gilt bows, they are lovely gifts for friends.

All cookbooks have recipes for candied orange peel. Be sure to sprinkle the peel with granulated sugar (not all include this) because it gives it a beautiful jeweled look. Save the sugar that falls off for the tops of cookies.

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Happy Eleventh Day of Christmas! “Reality has a way of wearing the shine off of a once gleaming romance, but don’t let it get in the way of your love for a second! If you haven’t already, you can start by giving up on the question, “What’s in it for me?” and replace the question with, “What can I offer?” Every time that you work through any obstacles with patience, humility, and kindness you are building and strengthening your bond of love.” – Darlene Schacht, The Good Wife’s Guide

Coloring pages for your children….

Catholic Hearth Stories are tales filled with traditional, old-fashioned values. They are about everyday situations in the life of a Catholic family…Tales about home, friends, fun, sacrifice, prayer, etc. These are full-color books sure to capture the heart of your children.

All 4 available here.

TWO TEA PARTIES AND A SACRIFICE

Meet Agnes, a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl, who is challenged to make a sacrifice. Will she cheerfully accept what she knows is God’s will in this situation?

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JOSEPH AND THE BOW SHOOT

Meet Joseph, a Catholic boy who wants to enter the Parish Bow Shoot but doesn’t have a bow. How does he overcome this obstacle and what lessons does he learn along the way?

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Brendan, The Seafarer

It’s Brendan’s birthday and he is fighting pirates, steering ships and wielding swords! He learns of St. Brendan, the Navigator and the pious Christopher Columbus. Life is a nautical adventure for him! Will his daydreaming cause him trouble? What lessons does he learn?

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Celine’s Advent

Take a walk through Advent as Celine and her family prepare for the coming of the Baby Jesus at Christmas! You will enjoy celebrating the beauty of the season with Celine as she helps her mom with the special traditions and activities that make the liturgy come alive in their home! Her “peanut gallery” consists of a mouse named Percy and some charming and delightful Christmas Angels!

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De-Cluttering and Simple Secrets by Emilie Barnes

A Chance to Change

It’s time to stop rationalizing why we keep all of the junk in our homes. In order to say “I don’t need that anymore,” you have to get organized from the inside out.

Maybe you like stuff around you because you had chaos around you as a child. Or maybe the clutter on the outside reflects how jumbled up you feel in your heart and mind.

Give yourself the very wonderful gift of change. Even if this scares you a little bit…keep moving forward. You’ll see great results.

As you work toward making your home a refuge and a sanctuary, you’ll notice how much more calm you feel inside. It works the other way too. If you take time to pray, be silent, and become peaceful in your heart, you’ll want your surroundings to match.

Do You Really Need It?

Our old habits of buying unneeded stuff must be conquered. Advertisements, stores, and even friends and neighbors tell you that you need this and you need that! But those who want to simplify and live life in rich ways have to stand up and be counted—you really don’t need that.

De-cluttering is simply stating “I don’t need that” as you go from room to room. When this becomes your fight song, it makes it so much easier to cut back on all the excess that causes clutter.

Try it in a room today. Look at that collection of baskets you have that gathers more dust than compliments. Sort through them as you repeat your new song of simplicity. Yes, keep a couple, but be sure you keep ones that are truly useful and get rid of the umpteen ones that are not.

Go to your clothes closet. Ask yourself, “What haven’t I worn in months?” Why hang on to something that needs to be hung up in an already full closet?

Sell? Donate? Toss Out?

Uncluttering your home doesn’t mean that you throw everything in the trash. In fact there are several other good alternatives.

Here are a few:

-have a garage sale

-donate items to a worthy organization that helps the needy

-donate to your church’s needs

-give to needy friends you know

-package items up and send useful ones to a missionary supported by your church

-advertise on eBay

The items you don’t need could be the items others are hoping to have and use. The best form of recycling turns a waste of space into an opportunity,

Breaking Down the Big Ones

Don’t look at the whole mess, but break the big tasks down into smaller tasks. That way you aren’t overwhelmed with what you see. Psychologically, a small part is easier to assimilate than the whole.

For example, start with one room at a time. Then focus on one corner at a time. Look at small projects within that area. The most blatant projects are often the “procrastination piles”—the items, papers, or projects that accumulate in corners and on dressers, chairs, or any surface area for that matter!

You intend to get to these eventually so you leave them out in the open, but soon they are not visual reminders—only eye sores.

Tackle these. Decide which projects should still happen, which could be tossed, which are outdated, and which could be delegated. Small steps will transform your home in big ways.

Simple Secrets

*Make the inside of your refrigerator a feast for the eye. Use see-through through containers for fruit. A bouquet of parsley in a small glass adds a fresh touch. Even a small bowl of flowers can bless the eye of anyone looking for a snack.

*After baking an apple pie, set it on the counter to cool-and perfume fume the house. Try piling some fresh apples next to it for a delightful “before and after” look.

*Serve your butter in a white pottery crock. Whip it with an equal amount of olive oil to reduce calories and stretch the butter. It will fluff up beautifully.

*Freeze grapes and roll them in granulated sugar. Store in a glass bowl or on a pretty plate and toss in a salad or use as a garnish.

*For a creative surprise, serve breakfast for dinner. Our family loves waffles with toppings of fruit, nuts, coconut, raisins, jam, maple syrup, and yogurt.

*Store foods in ways that allow them to be decorative as well as useful. Display fruit in a basket or special bowl on the kitchen table or drain board. Stack potatoes and onions in a basket and use it to enliven an out-of-the way corner of your counter or floor.

*Break the iceberg lettuce habit when it comes to salad. Combine spinach, leaf lettuce, romaine, or red-tip lettuce together with bean sprouts, mushrooms, red onion rings, and your favorite dressing for a fresher, healthier salad. Or try adding red cabbage and a sprinkle of goat cheese or freshly grated Parmesan.

*Garlic adds great flavor to many dishes and is very healthful. Add it to soups, chicken, roasts, and Crock-Pot meals. Try hanging fresh garlic on a rope in your kitchen-and use it.

*Popovers and other quick breads let you put fresh bread on the table in a hurry. Or stir up a batch of blueberry or cranberry muffins for a sweet and colorful bread treat.

*Next time you make buttered toast, sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar. An old idea, but when was the last time you did it?

*Put your olive oil and wine vinegar in pretty decanters by your stove. I like to make a seasoned olive oil by combining two dried red peppers (the long, thin kind), the seeds from two more red peppers, one tablespoon each of rosemary and thyme, and four cloves of garlic in a quart jar and covering with olive oil. Or just put a few cloves of garlic in a glass bottle and fill with oil.

*Add one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves to your coffee grounds next time you brew. Drink out of your favorite cup and saucer and enjoy the fresh flavor and smell.

*Use a pepper mill and grind your own pepper fresh at the table.

*On a slow afternoon, put on soft music and browse through your favorite recipe book for ideas and inspiration.

*Set aside a Saturday morning to learn how to use one of those appliances stored away in a low cabinet. Are you secretly afraid of your pressure cooker? Have you never cooked anything but frozen dinners in your microwave? Has your food processor gathered dust since you bought it? Take the time to find out what these helpers can do-and then decide whether you really require their services. You may be surprised by what goes and what stays.

*Hang a basket or two-or thirty!-from the ceiling beam or over a wall in the kitchen or breakfast room.

*”Dejunk” your kitchen 15 minutes at a time. The room will look more spacious, and you’ll be more inspired to spend time there.

*Help a child plant some seeds in a small container and place it in your kitchen window to sprout.

*Buy a meat thermometer. You’ll use it often.

*Instead of buying regular applesauce, buy apples. A bowl of homemade made applesauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon is a healthful, easy-to-make to-make snack or dessert.

*Instead of putting the catsup bottle on the table, serve catsup in a little crock with a spoon. And don’t forget to recycle the bottle.

*Take time today to smell the roses-and the soup!

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas! “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” – Pope Pius XI

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Building a Happy Home

I remember my dear aunt (God rest her soul) say to my mom, “It’s very hard, Beulah, to be a good Catholic.”

I’ve given that a few thoughts through the years and my own thoughts are, “It’s very hard NOT being a good Catholic!”

All mothers struggle. But I can’t imagine being a mom without the Faith.

There are many of these moms who are juggling careers and motherhood and spinning their wheels.

They feel they are wasting their degrees if they are staying home and just changing diapers, and at the same time they feel inadequate as a mom, not knowing where to turn.

It’s a confusing and empty life without our Faith to guide us.

We, as Catholic mothers, struggle. But we have all the helps, all the guidelines, the Sacramental grace at our fingertips. We must count ourselves very fortunate.

That being said, it is a good thing to listen to the commonsense advice of veteran moms.

Charlotte Siems is a mother of twelve and has learned some lessons along the way! Thank you to her for this lovely post that should give you some inspiration in your own journey!

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Before having children, many women worry about what kind of mother they will be. Nothing unusual about that, but a difficult childhood instilled in me a fear that I wouldn’t know how to have a normal family home life. I worried about how I would handle discipline or how I would treat possible future children. On the other hand, that same childhood experience made me determined to create a marriage and home that was stable, warm and peaceful.

Early in my mothering career I attended a parenting conference and heard Dr. Herbert Ratner make the following statement: “The 20 years between 20 and 40 (years of age) are just as long as the 20 years between 40 and 60. What you do in the first 20 years determines how happy you will be in the second 20 years.” That idea stuck with me. I determined to live life with the end in mind.

Not knowing how to have a happy home, I set out to learn how. Here are a few things I figured out:

Books don’t magically solve problems. Sometimes we deceive ourselves into thinking we’re doing something because we read about it and agree with it. Close the book and do what it says.

Surround yourself with what is true and lovely. Protect yourself from ugly input. Don’t live in a bleak, cluttered environment. Bring beauty, warmth, and neatness to all of your life. Be very careful what you allow to enter your mind and eyes. Constant exposure to beautiful ideas and noble goals will transform your thought life.

We all know that thoughts determine actions, don’t we?

Do the things you don’t want to do. Do them cheerfully and well. Edith 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.

Choose your hard things. Do your laundry and put it away. That’s hard. Get ready to go somewhere and realize no one has clean clothes to wear. That’s hard. You pick.

Take the time. Yes, I know you’re busy. Throw a meal on the table and get on to the next thing. No time for a tablecloth and candles and flowers. You’ll do that when you have time. But before you know it, the weeks, the months and the years pass, and the children leave home and you never had time.

Lest you think I’ve sailed through life with clean laundry and beautiful meal tables, I assure you these lessons were hard earned. Many times I felt inadequate to the task. It was like trying to pour water from a dry bucket. Giving your children what you didn’t have as a child is not easy. Creating a happy home life from scratch will take everything you’ve got and even that won’t be enough…

That’s why I’m so glad for the strength Jesus gives me. His favor and loving-kindness supply what I don’t have. He will gladly do that for you, too, for He knows all about love and building beautiful homes…

It turns out that giving your family what you didn’t receive, gives it back to you.

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This is the time of year that you should be able to get some Epiphany Water in your home! It is very powerful (and who doesn’t need some good power going on in their homes)! The blessing of Epiphany water has special exorcism prayers that no other holy water has. Use it often….teach your children the value of it and get them used to blessing themselves with it.

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A Prayer for the Seventh Day of Christmas

“On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming…”

Symbolism:  The seven swans a swimming stand for both the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Seven Sacraments.

A Prayer for the Seventh Day of Christmas, based on the prayer “His Priorities” in The Power of a Praying Wife:

Dear Blessed Mother, you are my example and my inspiration. Please help me to seek Our Lord first in everything I do. Please help me, as this New Year sets in, to set my priorities in perfect order.

Please help me to love my husband and put him before the other people and things in my life….before my children, my work, family, friends, activities and hobbies.

Please help me to strengthen the bond with him and let him know that he is a priority in my life. Please heal the the times I have caused my husband to doubt this.

Please show me how to prioritize everything so that whatever steals life away, or has no lasting purpose, I will have the grace to eradicate from my life.

I pray for my husband – that his priorities will be in perfect order, also. May he make you the King of his heart more each day. May he simplify his life so he will be able to place You first.

Please help him, also, to place me and our children in greater importance than his career, his friends and his activities.

May we both seek you FIRST and submit our all to You. When we do this, Lord, I know that the other pieces of our lives will fit together perfectly.

Amen.

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 “He became what we are that He might make us what He is.” -St.Athanasius
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Know someone who stubbornly holds to their opinion? Someone who is sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but NEVER in doubt….

 
 
❤️🌹Our first line of defense is the bond we must have with our husband. Besides our spiritual life, which gives us the grace to do so, we must put our relationship with our husband first. It is something we work on each day.
 
How do we do this? Many times it is just by a tweaking of the attitude, seeing things from a different perspective. It is by practicing the virtues….self-sacrifice, submission, thankfulness, kindness, graciousness, etc.
 
The articles in this maglet will help you with these things. They are written by authors that are solid Catholics, as well as authors with old-fashioned values….
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Pkg Deal on Catholic Wife’s Maglet and Catholic Young Lady’s Maglet.
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Christmas Begins and Ends With a Child

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By Rev DANIEL A. LORD S.J.

Beyond all else Christmas means children.

And beyond all children Christmas means especially one Child.

Even the sad pagans of a modern day, who have rudely excluded that Divine Child from Christmas, have, because of Him, kept the day sacred to children.

Where the Christ Child is loved for Himself and is seen in the little children, who are beautifully like Him, Christmas is the day, beyond all other days, when love moves over the earth with lighted tapers, and the virtues of childhood make young once more a weary, aging humanity.

Even where the Christ Child is forgotten or ignored, His little ones for a single day waken in human hearts a new tenderness and unselfish affection. And the innocence of childhood, its unquenchable faith in the goodness of others, curve into smiles even the cynical lips that have drunk deep of sin and grown bitter in sneers.

For Christmas begins and ends with a Child. About the Infant in the manger prophecies are fulfilled, and angels sing, and the poor kneel giftless save for the unpurchasable gift of patient affection, and the rich come gilt-laden, but with a strange humility bringing low their heads, and all mankind is reborn to a new era of grace and hope and God’s revelation of love and graciousness.

“A Child is born to us and a Son is given to us,” cried Isaiah in ecstatic prophecy. In a vision he saw this Child, born of a Virgin, in God’s beautiful promise and sign, and his heart burst forth in the first glad Christmas greeting, “A child is born to us and a son is given to us.” And from that joyful prophecy flowed all the joy and peace and Christmas spirit that coursed hopefully through the Old Law unto glorious fulfillment in the New.

Over the heads of the patiently watchful shepherds the glory of a star ripped the satin curtains of night. Then angel hands thrust back the torn shreds of gold and purple sky, and the uncontrollable joy of heaven itself leaped forth to sing of a Child.

“Glory to God in the highest,” because of that Child. “And on earth peace to men of good will,” who from that moment would find themselves kneeling in complete happiness beside that Golden Babe.

Startled, the shepherds looked up at the splendor flung unexpectedly into their drab lives. True peasants, they noted with instinctive relief that their lambs upon the hillside grazed unafraid either of the star, the angel messengers, or the swelling chorus. How could these lambs of the poor (later the favorite subject of the Savior’s parables) be flung into confusion by news that the Lamb of God had come to shepherd all His sheep?

“Today is born to you a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Their slow minds were not too dull to realize that tonight their beloved Scriptures were fulfilled. This was the expected King of whom the angels sang. Startling as were the signs by which they were to recognize Him, swaddling clothes and a manger, they broke into headlong flight down the hill and flung themselves in adoration before the Child held up to them by the sweetest mother in all human history.

The childlike faith and hope of simple peasants found fulfillment in a Child. Christmas came rushing into their eventless lives on the wings of an infant’s smile, and the low-voiced gratitude of a mother welcoming these first Christmas guests who, in a beautiful single gesture, adored her Son and filled her day with the sweet fragrance of their Christmas greeting.

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Happy 5th Day of Christmas!The childlike faith and hope of simple peasants found fulfillment in a Child. Christmas came rushing into their uneventful lives on the wings of an infant’s smile, and the low-voiced gratitude of a mother welcoming these first Christmas guests who, in a beautiful single gesture, adored her Son and filled her day with the sweet fragrance of their Christmas greeting. -Fr. Daniel A. Lord

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From Christmas to New Year’s – Maria Von Trapp

Every ounce of energy spent making our Catholic Faith come alive in our homes will be rewarded! This article from Maria von Trapp just pulses with the love of family, of the making of “home”.  Mrs. Von Trapp’s quotation pretty much sums it up, “The family who plays together and prays together usually stays together.”

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Around the Year With the Trapp Family

When we lived in Austria, the three greatest feasts of the year were distinguished by two church holidays – Easter Sunday and Easter

Monday, Pentecost Sunday and Pentecost Monday, and St. Stephen’s Day after Christmas Day.

We know that the war did away with these second Church holidays, but they still exist in our memory and we always keep them in our house. In Austria the peasants used to celebrate St. Stephen’s Day in a special way, because St. Stephen is the patron saint for horses, watching over their health.

After the Solemn High Mass the pastor would come in surplice and stole and wait in front of the church door with holy water and sprinkler. The horses of the village, beautifully decorated with ribbons in their manes and tails, would now parade before him in solemn procession and he would bless every single one of them.

He would also bless oats and hay, which each farmer had brought along for that purpose; the horses would be fed with the blessed feed, to protect them against sickness and accidents.

According to tradition, St. John the Apostle was once presented by his enemies with a cup of poisoned wine intended to kill him. When the

Apostle made the sign of the cross over the wine, however, the cup split in half and the poisoned wine was-spilled.

In memory of this, the Church has a special blessing, the “Benedictio Sancti Johannes.” On the 27th, the feast of St. John, the people bring wine along to church and before Holy Mass the priest blesses it.

At the main meal at home the wine is poured into as many glasses as there are people. Just before the meal begins, everybody stands up, holding his glass, while the father and mother begin the St. John’s Day ceremony.

The father touches the mother’s glass with his glass, looks her in the eyes and says, “I drink to you the love of St. John.” The mother answers, “I thank you for the love of St. John,” and they both take a sip.

Then the mother turns to the oldest child and repeats, “I drink to you the love of St. John,” and the child answers, “I thank you for the love of St. John.” Again they take a sip and the child turns to the next oldest, and so it goes around the table until the last one turns to the father and the family circle is closed.

Some of the blessed wine is kept for days of sickness or of great celebration. If someone in the family is about to take a journey, a few drops of the blessed wine are added to each wine glass and the whole family again drinks “the love of St. John.” Immediately after the wedding ceremony, the newly-wed couple also drinks to each other “the love of St. John.”

The day following St. John’s Day is a great day for the children. This goes back to a medieval custom in monastery schools: On December 28th, the day dedicated to the Holy Innocents, the boys used to elect one from their midst as bishop–“the Episcopus Puerorum.”

This boy-bishop would take over the direction of the abbey for this one day. Dressed in pontifical vestments, surrounded by his schoolmates, he would sit in the place of the abbot and the others in the choir stalls of the monks, whereas abbot and monks moved over to the places of the pupils.

This custom is still alive in many convents and monasteries, where the young ones in the novitiate have the ruling of the house for this particular day.

It also is preserved in many families, where the little ones take the seats of the father and mother and try to play a few little tricks on the grownups as long as they are in authority.

December 31st, the last day of the old year, or New Year’s Eve, finds the whole family in the Christmas Room again.

In the morning there was a Thanksgiving Mass, solemnly starting the day. Looking back over the past three hundred and sixty-five days with their bright and their dark hours, we gave thanks for both the bright and the dark to Him Who knows what is best for us.

In some parts of the old country the people observe a strict fast and abstinence during this day (which in earlier times was observed solemnly throughout Christendom) as a token of its serious, thought-provoking character.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

In our day, however, New Year’s Eve is dedicated to fun and merrymaking.

“Let’s play the handkerchief game!” someone will suggest.

There we all sit in a large circle on the floor. A clean handkerchief is tied up in knots so that it takes the shape of a ball and can be thrown easily through the air.

Hedwig volunteers to go out. Now we start throwing the handkerchief across the circle. We have to keep it going until Hedwig comes in.

At the moment of her entrance, the one who has just caught it will have to hide it, and Hedwig will have to guess where the handkerchief is. She gives three warning knocks at the door, but as we know that immediately after the third she will burst through the door, we are getting increasingly nervous between the second and third warnings. Sometimes it leads to hilarious situations.

The moment Hedwig steps into the room, everyone’s features relax into complete, harmless innocence.

Everyone’s face spells: “Handkerchief? I don’t know what you are talking about, Hedwig!”

Hedwig has three guesses. If she hasn’t found out after the third one, she has to go out again. But this rarely happens. Some people blush helpfully, others look like bad conscience personified, wiggling nervously on the handkerchief they are trying to hide by sitting on it. Everyone–guests, grownups, and children–has to be in on the game. And of course, the one who has been discovered hiding the handkerchief has to go out next.

From long years of experience I know that one should stop every game when it is at its height. Never let it wear thin.

So I suggest “Jump at Quotations” and I’m always met with eager consent.

Last New Year’s Eve the children took three quotations from my little speeches on the stage:

“Are you a tenor or a bass?” “And I am the mother!” “The family who plays together and prays together usually stays together.”

The teams are placed at opposite sides of the room. Each team gets the same quotation. One word of the quotation gets pinned to the back of each player.

At “Go” one may read the word on the back of every other member of one’s team, but not that on one’s own back.

Rule: No oral communication! The winning team is the one that first gets itself lined up in correct order. (Have the words in large-size printing so the “audience” can enjoy the fun too!)

And then there is the treasure hunt. Everyone gets a list of objects that have been placed in plain sight in the Christmas Room. After it has been explained to the guests that the object of the game is to locate all of the “treasures” as quickly as possible and note them down on one’s own list, and after the rule has been stressed that nothing can be touched, the signal to “Go” is given.

This was last year’s list, which by chance I kept:

a cherry (on top of lampshade)

an olive (on a branch of the Christmas tree)

dry noodles (woven into wicker chair)

soap (on piano key)

an egg (in a light socket, instead of a bulb)

lump of sugar (on ceiling light)

toothbrush (over picture frame)

clothes pin (on lampshade)

picture of “Mother Trapp” (pasted on book jacket)

2-cent stamp (on pink book jacket, in bookshelf)

onion (on window sill)

“Cheerios” (in carving of chest)

In the margin of my list I had scribbled, “Funny, how blind people are!”

The time given to find the treasures was twenty minutes. And out of fifty-four participants, only three found every item!

The next game has to be tried in order to be appreciated. It is called a “Smiling Contest.” There are two teams, two judges, two tape measures.

Each judge has a tape measure, pencil, and paper. One person from each team comes forward. A judge then measures the width of his smile and records it (one judge per team).

The next pair come forward and are measured in turn, until every smile has been measured. The judges then add up the total yards of smiles for each team. The higher total wins, and it is interesting to see who has the biggest smile, too. The funny effect is in the two simultaneous smiles, each trying to outdo the other!

Then voices are heard “Let’s sing some more carols!” Invariably Father

Wasner’s voice will interrupt right here “First we are going to sing the New Year’s song!” And there we go “From heaven through the clouds on high.”

The very character of the evening lends itself to gay Christmas songs.

There are many in Austrian dialect dealing with the astonished shepherds who cannot believe their eyes during Holy Night.

As eleven o’clock nears, someone will suggest, “Let’s sing a few lullabies.” They always seem to be the very heart of our carol-singing.

Several are in Tyrolean dialect. Here we give some of our favorites.

Close to eleven o’clock, Agathe and Maria will disappear into the kitchen, soon to return with trays of “Sylvester Punch.” (In Austria the last day of the year is dedicated to the Holy Pope, St. Sylvester, who baptized Constantine the Great, thereby bringing about the dawning not only of the New Year but of a new era; for this reason, the night before the New Year is called “Sylvester abend” (Eve of St. Sylvester).

Sylvester Punch

Red burgundy (count one bottle for six people)

Equal amount of hot tea

12 cloves

Rind of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. sugar to each bottle of wine

2 cinnamon sticks to each bottle of wine

Pour the liquid into an enamel pot; add the cloves, the thinly pared rind of 1 lemon, the sugar, and the cinnamon. Heat over a low flame but do not allow to boil. At the last moment add the tea. Serve hot.

If there are many children and very young people, it is good to know different fruit punch combinations. Here is a basic recipe, with variations:

1/2 cup lemon juice           grated rind of 1 lemon

1 cup orange juice            1 qt. water

Grated rind of 1/2 orange     1 cup sugar

Cook sugar and water for five minutes. Cool. Add juices and the grated rind and any of the following combinations:

(1) 1 cup grated pineapple, 1 qt. ginger ale.

(2) 1 qt. strained, sweetened strawberry juice, 1 qt. raspberry juice, 2 qts. ginger ale.

(3) 1 glass currant jelly dissolved in 1 cup hot water. Cook, chill, and add 1/4 cup mint, finely minced.

(4) 1 qt. cider, 1 qt. grape juice, 1 qt. soda water.

It is great fun to try out new variations every year. One starts with lemonade or orangeade and soon the children will go on to pineapple-ade, raspberry-ade….In our family we have something called “Hedwig-ade” because it is Hedwig’s own secret.

After the punch is brought in, we form a circle and everybody raises his glass. Then we say, in a chorus, “Happy New Year.” From there we go up to the chapel, because for the last half hour of the old year and the first of the New Year everyone wants to stand alone with his God. There is much to think back on, much to be sorry for, and how we wish we could relive parts of the old year, because we would do it differently now….

But this has to be commended to the mercy of God with a heartfelt act of contrition. On the other hand, there is so much to be grateful for in the spiritual and the physical order of our life.

This Holy Hour around midnight, starting at half past eleven and lasting to twelve-thirty, is so timed that Father Wasner lifts the monstrance in Benediction at the moment the clock strikes twelve.

Before we had a chapel, we held the same Holy Hour right there at the

Christmas crib, and when the clock struck twelve we got up from our knees and sang “Holy God We Praise Thy Name,” remaining a little while afterwards, each one according to his need.

The last moments of the old year and the first moments of the new year are sanctified by Our Lord’s blessing.

From this Holy Hour everyone goes quietly to bed.

NEW YEAR’S DAY

Although the night was rather short, nobody wants to stay in bed long on New Year’s Day because there is an old belief that everything you do on the first of January is an indication of how you will behave throughout the next year. If you are late on New Year’s morning, that’s bad. You will be late most of the days to come. So every child tries to be his most charming best….

In the liturgy the beginning of the New Year is not commemorated. The Mass texts of New Year’s Day are a combination of three different thoughts: the circumcision of the Infant Jesus, the octave of Christmas, and some texts taken from the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Thus there is a great likelihood that the priest once said three Masses on this day.

New Year’s dinner is a big occasion. This is the day of the suckling pig, the little pig being one of the good luck symbols. The family table is decorated with little pigs made of marzipan, chocolate, maple sugar, fudge, or cookie dough. Besides the pig, there is also the four-leaf clover, and, in Austria, the chimney sweep. As the recipe for the roast suckling pig might not be generally known, here it is:

Roast Suckling Pig

Clean the pig carefully. Insert a piece of wood into its mouth to keep it open while roasting.

You may use sage and onion dressing, which would taste more American, but we always use the old Austrian apple stuffing. (We have heard of people there who used to stuff their pigs with sausages, but that is awfully rich.)

Now stuff the pig, truss and skewer it. Make four parallel incisions about four inches long on each side of the backbone. Place it on a rack, sprinkle it with salt and some pepper, brush thoroughly with melted butter, and dust with flour.

Roast for 15 minutes at 480 degrees. Then reduce to 350. Continue roasting, allowing 30 minutes to the pound. If you wish to have the skin soft, baste every 15 minutes with hot stock.

If you want it crisp (we think it is much better that way), baste with melted butter. When the roast is ready, remove to a hot serving platter. Now remove the piece of wood from the mouth, replace with a bright red apple, and insert cranberries for eyes.

Finally crown with a wreath of bay leaves. Be careful to wrap the ears and the tail during the roasting in buttered paper, which you remove only the last half hour. Otherwise they easily burn.

The dessert, after the roast pig, is green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a four-leaf clover.

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Happy Fourth Day of Christmas! “O Divine Word, who became a Child for love of me, teach me to become a child for love of You.”” -Divine Intimacy

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On the Twelve Days of Christmas, My True Love Sent to Me…..

Happy Third Day of Christmas! A few thoughts reminding us to celebrate Christmas in the days that follow this wonderful Feast!

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– by Mary Reed Newland in The Year and Our Children.

On the twelve days of Christmas my True Love sent to me the feast of St. Stephen and the story of King Wenceslaus, the feasts of St. John the Evangelist and the Holy Innocents, the feasts of the Circumcision and the Holy Name of Jesus, and the feast of the Epiphany. And on through the feast of the Holy Family and the commemoration of the Baptism of Christ.

If you are loath to bid farewell to Christmas even then, you may continue it without interruption until Candlemas Day, February 2.

However you keep it, long or short, it is a far longer season for the Catholic child than the world understands.

For him festivity is not officially over with the last wrapping torn off the last gift, or the last nut retrieved from the last toe in the last stocking.

The Church would have us enjoy this season now that it is here, and celebrate the feasts that follow.

In order to indulge exhausted parents already drained of their grandest efforts for Christmas, try keeping Christmas-week feast days simply, using Christmas treats for desserts, and storytelling, reading aloud, and charades for entertainments.

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Does your Christmas apron have beautiful stories to tell? Stories of baking and smiling children, setting up nativity scenes, leading the little ones in their Christmas novenas, lending an ear in spite of a busy household, hospitality mixed with steaming hot chocolate…. Our Christmas apron is the symbol of service in this special time of year…. ‘Tis the Season to be Christlike.

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The Catholic Church is a Church of Martyrs: Homily on the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Fr speaks about the Christmas song “the 12 days of Christmas” & the meaning behind the carol. For more please go to http://www.reginaprophetarum.org & please say 3 Hail Marys for the priest.

 

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Quotes to Sprinkle a Christmas Sparkle on Your Day

Happy 2nd Day of Christmas! Below are some inspirational quotes to lend a Christmas sparkle to your day. Don’t stop celebrating and listening to those Christmas songs!

“For Christmas begins and ends with a Child. About the Infant in the manger prophecies are fulfilled, and angels sing, and the poor kneel giftless save for the unpurchasable gift of patient affection, and the rich come gilt-laden, but with a strange humility bringing low their heads, and all mankind is reborn to a new era of grace and hope and God’s revelation of love and graciousness.” -Fr. Daniel A. Lord, Painting by Nellie Edwards, https://www.paintedfaith.net/

We ought to live lives exuding with joy – as though we actually believe that Divinity has come to us in the Flesh as a new-born Babe! We need to spread that Christmas joy to the people around us. -Finer Femininity 10455113_333211490214201_51661942320924809_n

Love and friendship are the remnants of the earthly paradise. In this vale of tears, when we encounter so many difficulties, to have people you can call friends is such a joy, such a comfort, such a gift. -Dietrich von Hildebrand11203692_469624546572894_6494006414072822580_n

Being a homemaker is one of the best gifts that we can bring to our family. Your joyful presence in the home is greater than any present you’ll find under the tree. – Darlene Schacht

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“Be a kind wife. Kind words can have such a powerful impact on your marriage. Speak gentle, thoughtful things to this man you love.” -Lisa Jacobson

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This Christmas, let us pray for peace….in our own hearts, in our country and in our world. Let us contemplate the Babe in Bethlehem, may He reign in our hearts so we may receive that peace which he promised to “men of goodwill.”12345547_468112753390740_8177255304138166513_n

“It is easy to understand how enraptured children can become at the contemplation of a tiny Babe in a manger.
To have God reduce Himself to their own status, to become a child like them, to need a mother, what more could they desire! They feel on a footing with Him. The Almighty is of their stature!” – Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., Christ in the Home12347595_467898653412150_5616434293250009511_n

The 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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To Mothers: “Instead of setting yourself up as a model of wisdom, it is much wiser for you to act the role of guide and confidante. This gives your child a much better feeling of security and fulfills your destiny of mother as well, because your children then find you a real individual in your own right. Personal success and happiness in life come only in the knowledge of our usefulness to others; as a mother, you have this opportunity in your own home at all times. You need not look elsewhere where for it.” – Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook

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Reality has a way of wearing the shine off of a once gleaming romance, but don’t let it get in the way of your love for a second! If you haven’t already, you can start by giving up on the question, “What’s in it for me?” and replace the question with, “What can I offer?” Every time that you work through any obstacles with patience, humility, and kindness you are building and strengthening your bond of love.      – Darlene Schacht, The Good Wife’s Guide

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“There is nothing insignificant in the life which we live within our own doors. There is nothing which is without influence in the building up of character. Let no one think that the history of any day in the life of a home, is not recorded imperishably on the sensitive lives of the children.” -J.R. MIller

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“A man feels ‘successful’ when he knows his woman is behind him – no matter what his other accomplishments may be. He needs to know that she believes in him…That she thinks he’s a terrific husband (not perfect – just terrific). A first-rate guy. And, if there are children, that he’s a fine dad too….That she thinks the world of him, even though he might mess up or make mistakes.” – Lisa Jacobson

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Our Lady is an attractive example for every wife and mother. Not only was she perfectly devoted to Joseph, her husband, but she was always an inspiration to him. -Fr. Lovasik

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“For the families who begin to suspect that they have let their lives get too complicated with worldly cares, too much involved in secular values, too materialistic, living through the year with the Church is the stabilizer, the way to keep to first things first.
And for the families who conceal behind their front doors some hardship or cross, whether a suffering shared or inflicted or borne, the tempo of life in Christ as He leads the Church at prayer through the year is calming, enriching; it brings wisdom, sheds light, gives courage.” -Mary Reed Newland

Mike and Little Agnes are preparing their own little stable scene.

Each one should seek to make Christmas first in his own heart and life. Christmas is Christlike-ness. The life of heaven came down to earth in Jesus and began in the lowly place where he was born. Is there any measure of that same sweet, gentle, pure, quiet, lowly life in us? It ought to be a very practical matter. Some people get the sentiment of love; but the love fails in its working out in their disposition, conduct, and character. The kind of Christmas a Catholic wants is something that will show itself in deeds.

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A Christmas Prayer
By Robert Louis Stevenson

Loving Father,
help us remember the birth of Jesus,
that we may share in the song of the angels,
the gladness of the shepherds,
and worship of the wise men.

Close the door of hate
and open the door of love all over the world.
Let kindness come with every gift
and good desires with every greeting.
Deliver us from evil by the blessing
which Christ brings,
and teach us to be merry with clear hearts.

May the Christmas morning
make us happy to be thy children,
and Christmas evening bring us to our beds
with grateful thoughts,
forgiving and forgiven,
for Jesus’ sake.
Amen.

The laughter of children never grows old!  “For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a Child Himself.”
~Charles Dickens

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Merry Christmas!

Well, here we are, it is Christmas Eve. The Advent season has quickly passed, we have struggled this year and had to leave some things aside, but we have done the priorities…one being the St. Andrew Christmas Novena.

The younger girls, Hannah and Gemma, have risen to the occasion. Gemma has been working on the Spiritual Christmas Crib by herself and made cookies for the neighbors. Hannah has been picking up the pieces over here and helping some of the married girls in their own homes.

Two of our married daughters made dinner for us a couple of nights. Some friends did, too.

Theresa came over, with her four children and spear-headed and helped with Christmas decorating! It was wonderful….they did a lovely job! 🙂

Margy is on the mend after her surgery. It is nice to see her smiling face around the kitchen again. She is moving slow but happy to be back at it!

Rosie’s last 3 days have been more stable. I am very grateful. She can quickly spiral downwards but here’s to hoping this is a trend….

I hope to post photos sometime Christmas week.

May you all have a Blessed Christmas! You are in my prayers, thank you so much for the prayers you have sent our way! <3

 

Mike and Jeanette’s family

Dominic and Sarah’s family (another baby on the way)

Colin and Z’s family

Devin and Theresa’s family

Vincent and Virginia’s family

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All of us…