Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Angel Days

~Feast of the Archangels~
St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael

I read somewhere recently that the days from the Feast of the Archangels to the Feast of our Guardian Angels are called "Angel Days."  I'm too tired to figure out where I read that at the moment...Has anyone else heard of that? 

 If I remember where I read it, I'll come back Ok, I'm back after a good night's rest and I found where I read this!  One of my favorite liturgical books is the Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions and this where I read about Angel Days.
~I just love this idea since I love the angels~

I also wanted to share this yummy Angel Chicken Pasta recipe that I used last year.
We didn't have time to make it today since we went on a field trip but I think we still have time in the next few "angel days"...
Check it out!

We did enjoy these angel jell-o jigglers (pictured above) that we pre-made to have when we got home from our field trip.  We just followed the recipe on the jell-o box for jigglers and cut the shapes out with our angel and star cookie cutters.  They were refreshing on this hot 100 degree day.  (Sadly, Autumn weather is not yet in effect here in our corner of the world)

I still want to make this neat Archangel Tri-fold Craft that comes from Xhonane at Familia Catolica.
~God Bless your Angel Days and may your Guardian Angels hold you close~

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Cup Of Grace from Above

Dove Cloud Flying
Over our Parish Shrine to
Our Lady of Fatima
Feast of St. Padre Pio

What a cup of grace I received on my morning walk last week!  As I approached our Parish Shrine I was struck by the glory of this cloud that was flying above Our Lady of Fatima.
Can you see the dove?
I kept snapping photos with my phone, just praying I'd have some good pictures to keep and share!
I just loved this one with the sunlight reflecting...
This breath-taking dove cloud seemed to hover over the shrine for quite some time, not breaking up very quickly.  I was nearly frozen as I gazed upon this wondrous image in the clouds....Holy Spirit came to mind.
Thirty minutes later, I read this scripture before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: 
"But, as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love Him, God has revealed to us through the spirit.  For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God."
~1 Corinthians 2:9-10~
Then I read this:
In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux:
(See Resource below)
"When...trials come my way...I shall remember what my eyes have seen today.  This thought will encourage me and I shall easily forget my own little interests, recalling the grandeur and power of God, this God whom I want to love alone."
Followed by this Prayer:
"So many times I have seen spectacular views and was amazed at Your goodness.  Thank You, Father, for this gift You have given to me.  Help me to stop more often in the middle of my busy schedule and appreciate all of nature's beauty around me.  Your creation is a treasure to hold.  Amen"
What can I say, I have no words... Just a heart filled with thanksgiving for this cup of grace from above!
~Excerpts taken from "Praying In The Presence of Our Lord with St. Therese of Lisieux"~

{All photos shown here were taken by the author of this blog}
*Please do not reproduce without permission*

Thursday, September 23, 2010

God's Little Flower

St. Therese of Lisieux was God's Little Flower...
~Her Feast Day is coming up next week on October 1st~
St. Therese and her "little way" is the way of "holy childhood" for us to model.
As we seek to find our own way, we are blessed to have St. Therese as our guide since she is always quick to point us directly to God.

"Oh Jesus, of what use will my flowers be to You?  Ah!  I know very well that this fragrant shower, these fragile, worthless petals, these songs of love from the littlest hearts will charm You.  Yes, these nothings will please you."
~St. Therese~

I wanted to post a few little flower craft ideas in case you may want to use them over the course of the upcoming week.
Like St. Therese, we are all "little flowers", warmed by God's love, giving us life to help us grow.
I have no doubt that God could use an Army of Little Flowers~His Little Helpers to carry out His work upon the earth, until we reach our heavenly goal.

The first craft is a Little Flower Handprint Craft (As pictured above)
We traced handprints from chosen colored construction paper, followed by cutting out stems, leaves, and a round center for each flower.
We glued handprints, stem, leaf, and center to another piece of construction paper (as background).  ~The fingers of the handprints can be rolled or curled to appear more like petals~
The final step is to add a photo in the center of the Little Flower!
You can print a prayer or message to glue on the back.  We used both of these:
"Each time I see a flower, Lord, I will think of the love St. Therese had for You.  Please give us the wisdom to know You and to love You more and more each day." Amen.
~May these Little Flower Handprints remind us that we as "little flowers" and "little souls" can share the message of God's love with our hands and with our hearts, to everyone around us.~

This is another idea that I found in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, using cupcake baking cups!
~And a final craft idea is to make "Little Flower" Pens~
You can get all of the supplies at the Dollar Tree:
Floral Tape
Silk Flowers
Curly Ribbon
We did not make this particular pen but just tied a St. Therese quote with curly ribbon...
The quote reads:
"Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God.
Do all that you do with love."
~St. Therese of Lisieux~
I thought these would make a great craft for Little Flowers Girls Club or for party favors!

~I see the mission of St. Therese continue all around us and enjoy the countless stories shared among all of the "little" blogging souls out there.  I remain inspired in marvelous ways.  May we all continue to discover and better live our "little ways", modeling that holiness is accessible to all~

Be sure to visit JOYfilled family for a complete list of resources for St. Therese and Catholic Icing for great ways to enhance your feast day!

And some final thoughts...
"Let us keep very small and follow The Little Flower's way of trust, love, and joy."
~Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in a letter to her sisters, written on the day of her death~

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Feast of St. Padre Pio

St. Padre Pio
September 24, 2010

On September 20, 1918, Padre Pio was kneeling in front of a large crucifix when he received the visible marks of the crucifixion, making him the first stigmatized priest in the history of Church. The doctor who examined Padre Pio could not find any natural cause for the wounds. Upon his death in 1968, the wounds were no longer visible. In fact, there was no scaring and the skin was completely renewed. He had predicted 50 yearsprior that upon his death the wounds would heal. The wounds of the stigmata were not the only mystical phenomenon experienced by Padre Pio.

To read more about St. Padre Pio, see the EWTN site for his biography and more!

When my children first heard about St. Padre Pio about six years agao, they were enthralled with the miracle of his stigmata. Ok, and so was I. Though I was a cradle Catholic, I had never heard this term, nor did I know what it meant! This hero of our faith continues to be a family favorite at our house and the amazement never ceases each time we review his story.
I wrote a previous post back in May at the time of St. Padre Pio's birthday. We had a special occasion that inspired these crazy Stigmata Krispy Treats. But hey, my kids loved them! Another door of discovery opens when we introduce more visual crafts and treats to enhance our liturgical celebrations!
The kids are so excited to make these treats again for his feast day, today.
As for me, Padre Pio brought great insight into suffering. I feel that God sent him my way to guide me forward during my journey back to the church. I was initially introduced to his writings in this simple book about 12 years ago. It came at just the right time, God's time, to serve as His salve for my own wounds. After great lost and suffering, St. Padre Pio was instrumental in gently leading me home. Here are a few of my favorite inspirations from the book:
"Your tears were collected by the angels and were placed in a gold chalice, and you will find them when you present yourself before God." (p. 42)
"The soul that is destined to reign with Jesus Christ in eternal glory must be remodeled by the blows of the hammer and chisel. But what are these blows of hammer and chisel by which the divine Artist prepares the stone, that is to say, the chosen soul? Dear sister, these strokes of the chisel are the shadows, fears, temptations, spiritual torments and agitation, with a dash of desolation and even of physical pain.

Thank the infinite mercy of the eternal Father, then, for treating your soul in this way, for it is destined to be saved." (p. 42)
The cross will never oppress you; its weight might cause you to stagger, but its strength will sustain you. (p. 41)
I am grateful that St. Padre Pio has touched my soul, a long with countless other Saints who make up the heroes of our faith....
For Celebrating this feast, See Catholic Icing for some fun ideas!
*I also love these Faith Folders over at My Little Flower*
I keep this little prayer card in my purse...
Prayer for the Intercession of Saint Pio
Dear God, You generously blessed Your servant, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, with the gifts of the Spirit. You marked his body with the five wounds of Christ Crucified, as a powerful witness to the saving Passion and Death of Your Son. Endowed with the gift of discernment, St. Pio labored endlessly in the confessional for the salvation of souls. With the reverence and intense devotion in the celebration of the Mass, he invited countless men and women to a greater union with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Through the intercession of St. Pio of Pietrelcina, I confidently beseech You to grant me the grace of (mention your request). Amen.
Glory be to the Father (three times).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Amazing Grace

Grace Marie
September 8, 2009
~Her precious feet at 20 weeks~

This post is dedicated to our friends Dan and Kim...
And their 3 sweet sons
~On the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows~
Honoring the life of their daughter, Grace Marie.
And to all parents who grieve the loss of a child,
We pray that Our Mother Mary hold you close under the peaceful protection of her mantle until you are reunited with your precious little ones.

This is my dear friend Kim, pregnant with Amazing Grace.  
*I love you sweet sister Kim!*
I asked Kim if I could share a glimpse of  her story as a tribute to baby Grace and the miracle of life itself.  As a witness of Kim's journey, I can testify that Baby Grace is proof that no life is created in vain. 
Let me tell you, this little Godly gift named Grace wrung hearts out to dry after many tears soaked the spirits of her family and friends. Yet at the same time her soul created a tidal wave of love.  I watched love bring light to Dan and Kim in their darkness.  Love did not fail.  I don't know why I am amazed that love pours forth in the midst of sorrow.  We know this is true, so why are we surprised?  Maybe it's not really surprise but relief.  I was relieved and thankful that God's gift of grace was certainly evident in the brief life of this child, hence her fitting name of Grace.  She was God's gift of love, magnified through the lens of grief.
Baby Grace lived a brief life in her Mother's womb...20 weeks.
She was the daughter that her Mommy and Daddy prayed for.
She was the sister that her 3 brothers waited for.
And then there was silence, no heart beating.
Mother Mary mopped up buckets of tears on her own birthday, September 8th, 2009.
Grace Marie was given a middle name in honor of our Heavenly Mother, there to greet her with open arms.
The Fifth Sorrow of Mary comes to mind~The Death of Our Lord
"O Lord, give us the strength, like Mary who stood at the foot of the cross, to trust in your own divine plan for us."
The physical body of Grace Marie still clung to her Mommy's womb...
And Mama Kim held on to her baby Grace for as long as possible, not wanting to let her go.
One week later Kim was induced~
It was the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.
Kim and Dan clung to each other as husband and wife and united their sufferings with Jesus on the cross as Kim gave birth to a perfectly formed baby at 20 weeks, cause of death unknown.
Kim actually delivered baby Grace on the 
Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows~ 2009.
Dan and Kim held their lifeless daughter on this feast, knowing that Mary also suffered the loss of her child,Jesus, and held Him in her arms after death.  This did not diminish Dan and Kim's tears but it illuminated their darkness.
The vision that comes to me is that of two mothers and their witness to earthly life and the hope of eternal life to come.
The Sixth Sorrow of Mary also comes to mind~The Embrace 
Mary held the lifeless body of her son.
"Lord, mold and fashion our hearts so that we may be a people who cherish life at all times, and who strive to protect the great dignity of human life each and every day."

The hospital room was the first of many farewells...
Dan and Kim said goodbye to their precious daughter and went home without her for the first time since she was conceived.
Dan and Kim prepared a celebration of life.
~This was the angel urn that carried the remains of Grace Marie~
A Mass was said in the name of life and love...
At the foot of the cross.
With broken hearts and unwavering love, grace rained down~ another farewell.
Mom, Dad, and brothers were not ready to part with their precious angel in the urn quite yet...
One year later, a final farewell is prepared...
September 8, 2010
Our Lady's Birthday,
Once again.
A Sorrowful Mother prepares a perfect place for her daughter...
She clings to another Sorrowful Mother.
The Seventh Sorrow of Mary comes to mind~The Burial of Jesus
Silently, perhaps somewhat stunned and disbelieving, Mary and the others walk away into the darkness of this black afternoon.
"Lord, like Mary, we too must often walk away from that which we cannot comprehend, yet continue to carry within our hearts a spirit of trust and confident faith.  Perhaps never is our faith so tested as when we are confronted by total loss and seeming defeat.  However, it is in just such moments that we know we must surrender and continue to walk in faith.  Help us, Lord, to embrace even those moments of solitude and abandonment so that we might be prepared even more for the mystery of new life and continued participation in your divine plan for us all."
Brothers Bid Farewell
~Roses tied with blue ribbon in honor of Our Lady's Birthday~
~Showers of Roses for Grace Marie~
~Youngest brother makes sure all is good~
A Final Farewell...Until they meet again.
~And that is the story of Amazing Grace and her courageous family, a witness to the world~

"For it is through the living witness of others that we are drawn to God at all.  It is because of His creatures, and His work in them, that we come to praise Him."
~St. Teresa of Avila~

I found this prayer quite appropriate today, remembering Kim and all sorrowful mothers who have had children preceding them in death.
My heart goes out to you with all my love.

My afflicted Mother, I will not leave thee alone to weep; no, I will accompany thee with my tears. This grace I now ask of thee: obtain that I may always bear in mind and always have a tender devotion towards the Passion of Jesus and thy sorrows, that the remainder of my days may thus be spent in weeping over thy sufferings, my own sweet Mother, and those of my Redeemer. These sorrows, I trust, will give me the confidence and strength which I shall require at the hour of death, that I may not despair at the sight of the many sins by which I have offended my Lord. They must obtain me pardon, perseverance, and heaven, where I hope to rejoice with thee, and to sing the infinite mercies of my God for all eternity. Thus do I hope; thus may it be. Amen.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feast of The Holy Cross

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

I just sat down and this poem flowed from my heart.  I think that means I should share it here:

Love complete...
is the symbol of horror that became the symbol of hope...
With the death of Our Lord on the cross, came the dawn of eternal life.
The instrument of our salvation is forever a sacred symbol that we cling to...
In our sufferings and sorrows, we are never alone.
We visit, we kneel, we lay prostrate, we sit quietly,
gazing at the One who gave it all.
Complete surrender at the foot of His cross brings peace,
filling our cups with grace,
quenching our desire for heaven,
Until we are in His arms,
Love Complete.

I didn't have much planned today so the things you see here were all spontaneous ideas from the kids!

Six-year-old Superboy came up with the idea of making crosses with our pretzel and popcorn snack!

"Let the crucifix be not only in my eyes and on my breast, but in my heart."
~St. Bernadette~

Triumph of the Cross Brownies for Evening Dessert!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Remembering 9-11

Remembering 9-11 on this Patriot's Day...
Melanie at Homestead and Bread has posted a beautiful prayer from Pope Benedict XVI.
"Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."
Praise the Lord.
~Psalm 117:1-2~

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Mother Mary!

~Singing Praises To Our Lady as we celebrate her Blessed Birth~
 We had fun making birthday cupcakes in honor of Our Lady!
~It was the perfect time to have our first afternoon tea for the year~
Angel Baby is named after Our Lady but she is not looking so "lady"-like here...
Got 2-year olds???
She was so proud of her Mary-blue tongue!
I also posted some photos over at Catholic Cuisine since The Most Holy Name of the Blessed Virgin Mary is coming up on September 12th.  Does it seem like every day is a cupcake over here????
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting...[she]cried out in a loud voice..."Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb."~Luke 1,42.~

Monday, September 6, 2010

Eight is Great!

It's birthday week around here!
~What a blessing that Princess gets to share her birthday week with Our Lady~
**Princess is 9/6 and Our Lady is 9/8**

Princess chose a Nature and Owl theme for her birthday this year...
In our family, we ask the children to chose whether they would like a special birthday gift(s) from Mom and Dad or a birthday party(at a chosen location) with friends.  For example, if they would like to have a bowling birthday party, they opt out of gifts from Mom and Dad since these types of party locations are usually quite expensive.  We started this tradition long ago to keep costs down and still make birthdays special.  It has also helped the children learn to make choices, knowing they can't have it all.  
Another tradition we have is that the birthday person gets to pick all of their favorite meals for the day, including a family dinner.  Princess chose Tortellini Alfredo, garlic bread, and salad.  Regardless of the choice, the birthday person is treated with extra special care to celebrate the glorious day of their birth!
Princess began her birthday with morning Mass and receiving birthday blessings...
Then off to pick out donuts for a treat.

This year, Princess really wanted a new bed covering so she opted out of a birthday party with friends.  She picked out an owl bed covering (JC Penney's is having an amazing sale on bedding right now) and Dad offered to re-paint the girls room to match! (Princess and Angel Baby share a room)
Praise God for Dazzling Daddy's laboring away on "Labor Day!"
Princess loves lavender!
At the time that Princess picked out her bedding, she was sleeping in a twin bed with Angel Baby (recently out of her crib) beside her  on a mattress.  We hadn't gotten a 2nd bed since Angel Baby still tosses about quite a bit.  With just the mattress on the floor, we knew that Angel Baby wouldn't be too traumatized if she rolled off. 
The day after Princess picked out her bedding, our VERY generous neighbors (unaware that we needed another bed) offered to give us a bunk bed and dressers to match!
~Praise God for this huge blessing~
And "what-do-you-now", the furniture all has lavender trim!
It was a perfect birthday gift from God for Princess. 
So according to Princess,  8 is great!
~I will post an update with a final bedroom photo as we finish up painting this week~

I looked up the Christian Symbolism for owls and butterflies, the predominant design on the bedding.  I love this reference site.  And we definitely prefer the 2nd meaning for owls!

Owl: the owl has a double meaning: 1) the perfidious Jews who, preferring darkness to light, reject Jesus, and 2) (from the Aberdeen Bestiary), "In a mystic sense, the night-owl signifies Christ. Christ loves the darkness of night because he does not want sinners - who are represented by darkness - to die but to be converted and live... The night-owl lives in the cracks in walls, as Christ wished to be born one of the Jewish people, saying: 'I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel'. But Christ is crushed in the cracks of the walls, because he is killed by the Jews. Christ shuns the light in the sense that he detests and hates vainglory... The night-owl flies at night in search of food, as Christ converts sinners into the body of the Church by preaching. In a moral sense, moreover, the night-owl signifies to us not just any righteous man, but rather one who lives among other men yet hides from their view as much as possible. He flees from the light, in the sense that he does not look for the glory of human praise."

Butterfly: The beautiful butterfly, with the power of flight, emerging from the apparently lifeless cocoon: what could be a more perfect symbol of the Resurrection?

This week we will be working on some nature crafts, inspired by Princess and her nature theme.  I just love this paper plate owl from Crafts by Amanda.  And some great butterfly crafts over at DLTK.  The birthday celebrations will continue!

God Bless you, dear "Eight is Great!"
May you always turn to Our Lady who will never fail in leading you closer to her Son.
The birthday bedroom is finished!  Final photos attached...
This is the adorable bunkbed, so generously given by our neighbors.
This is a view of the purple wall and purple curtains!
Here is a close-up of Princess' Birthday Bedding on the top bunk!
Angel Baby is on the bottom bunk, using Princess' old bedding.
Whew, color coordination worked out!
Happy 8th Birthday, dear daughter.
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