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

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jesus... Breakfast Of Champions

I just love the Olympics!  I know I'm not alone in my eager anticipation of the summer games in less than a week.  I am always amazed at the stories of courage and perseverance that get featured about the athletes; I really enjoy those.  There are some true champions that emerge to inspire all ages.  On the flip side, I have also read about some disturbing activities that go on in the Olympic Village among the athletes.  It leaves me disappointed and wondering about what it really takes to make a balanced champion in this day, taking into account both body and soul.  Ultimately, we must take care of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, 
(1 Corinthians 6:19) also keeping in mind what it takes to nourish our souls.  As the old saying goes...You are what you eat.  
I can't help but be grateful for our Catholic Christian faith that teaches us the truth about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  In the spirit of thanksgiving, we must not forget our beloved priests who, in Persona Christi, bring us the Eucharist.  Without them, there would be no Eucharist, no Church.  God bless their hands that bring us the bread of life, fuel for our body and soul.  In the gift of the Mass, they stand with Jesus all around the world, 365 days a year. Each and every day, with no exceptions, He, the Savior of the world, waits on the altar to give us fuel for our bodies and souls.  
Each day, He invites us to the greatest love story ever told.
Each day, He is there for us and there is no greater joy than to receive Him...The perfect and selfless gift.  As His body and blood permeates our own bodies as vessels of His love, He sustains us like no other food can or ever will.  He is the ultimate "super food," designed to help us gain heaven.  Using the Olympics as an analogy, our gold medal lies waiting for us in the victory of heaven.  As we train our bodies and souls for this ultimate goal, we have the perfect fuel to get us there... Jesus...Breakfast of champions. 
This was one of those Holy Spirit moments that came to me on a recent morning prayer walk.  I had been suffering from an overload of whining from the children for having to get up "early" during summer vacation for daily Mass a few days a week.  (7 AM is our only daily Mass) I started questioning myself for being the "mean parent" who makes their kids go to church while other neighbor kids get to sleep in.  Well, question no more, this epiphany was an answer to prayer.  As a parent who desires that my children be champions of the Lord, I've just found our new motto for daily Mass...Jesus, breakfast of champions.  Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there can be nothing better than breakfast with Jesus.  Now that's a physical regimen sure to produce better results than the Olympic games...Off to convince my sleepy heads that we are a Team in Training!

"LIVE on Him that you may live for Him."
+St. John Vianney+

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Honor Thy Father And Mother

I just love this photo of my favorite Fire Fighter...Doesn't it speak volumes? 
There he is, honoring his Father...One last (earthly) time.  Dear husband is such a wonderful example of someone who has always practiced the Fifth Commandment better than anyone I know.  I have always admired this quality in him.  My deepest respect continues as he lives a final promise, to his dying Dad, that he would take good care of Mom.
He is adopted and living proof that love is not just biological. God bless this amazing man who continues to grace our family by his loving example.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Little Fun With St. Benedict

Today was one of those days when the saints were on our side!  Don't you just love this type of day to boost your spirit when you've been feeling out of touch? I've missed talking more about the lives of our church heroes in the midst of lax and/or busy summer schedules.  Well, things just lined up perfectly to have a little summer fun with St. Benedict on his feast day, today.
Monica from Arma Dei posted this neat craft idea last night that started my wheels turning.  I just love all the meaning behind the Benedictine Cross so we planned for morning Mass and some fun St. Benedict learning, crafting and lunch! Be sure to check out her site for easy instructions and a free printable.
We wrapped our foil around a sheet of foam as Lacy suggested in her Miraculous Medal craft.  We want to try that one next:)  Thank you Monica and Lacy for these easy and fun ways to celebrate our faith!

The 3 youngers really enjoyed making the crafty medals and learning about the meaning of this powerful Sacramental to ward off Satan and the spirits of darkness.
St. Benedict had a profound veneration for the Holy Cross and for our Savior Crucified.  His story was inspirational to our whole family.
My favorite part of the medal is the vertical beam of the Cross...
Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux
(May the holy Cross be for me a light)
and the horizontal beam...
Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux
(Let not the dragon be my guide)
Did I mention St. Benedict was from Italy?  Hence the idea for lunch...A little "Pizza Italy!"
We just designed a Benedictine Cross out of olives on a Take-and-Bake cheese pizza.  So easy and the kids loved it! I shared more about this over at Catholic Cuisine.  Be sure to pop over there for a visit:)
Reflecting on this quote from St. Benedict...
"Listen and attend with the ear of your heart."
St. Benedict, please pray for us!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Saying Farewell With Mary

College Send-off Party~University of Dallas "Crusader Cake Plops"

As a mother trying to prepare for my first child and oldest son to leave home for college in 6 short weeks, I wonder how in the world Mary said farewell to Jesus that first time?  Notice I didn't say goodbye?  I dislike that word as it implies such finality. I try to picture the whole scene in my mind to draw comfort...For heaven sakes, did Mary cry? 
As the Mother of God she was free of sin but it certainly isn't a sin to cry.  As Jesus left home to start His public ministry, I can imagine that Mary must have cried... tears undoubtedly flowed from the blessed eyes of Our Lady as she watched her Son walk away from home for the first time.  Don't you think she felt the pang of this moment in time, a youthful innocence now part of her past?  The life of the Holy Family was different now...Was she prepared? At the same time, I picture her as a model of heroic faith, full of grace, compassion, and love.  She must have felt so grateful for the time she had with her Son.  For the umpteenth time, She must have been honored to be His mother.
In many ways we can identify with Mary as we raise our children, knowing they are not our own.  God has a plan for each of them, despite our efforts to take control of those plans.  He inevitably takes them back as His own, one way or another, and yet we are never fully prepared for this day. For that matter, it's never easy to bid farewell to anyone we love.  Our hearts hurt when people we care about must leave us.  Whether its through death or just a physical distance, we are sad when that person is no longer with us.  Sometimes, these separations just stink.  
But when I really think about it, I know this is surely God's plan for us so that we might draw closer to Him. Not just on our own but through His own, dear, mother.  As we turn away with sunken hearts and swollen eyes, there she is to grab us and hold us close; she lifts us up to the Lord.  In her intimate knowledge of the resurrection, she understands what's best for us.  As painful as it is, we are stronger with each parting.  I am thankful for this but in my humanity I still groan...OH, if only I could gain an ounce of Mary's maternal strength...Sometimes just an ounce seems impossible when farewells are daunting.
I almost feel guilty for being sad as this is truly an exciting time in our son's life.  As one chapter of his life comes to a close, a newer and exciting chapter waits to unfold.

He has been showered with blessings and a promising college future {and beyond} so we share in these blessings as parents.
I'm doing my best to concentrate on the many gifts that have come through my son's life and being thankful.
The number in our daily household might change but the number of children in our hearts remains constant.  I struggle to keep this truth in my prayers as our family unit undergoes this separation.
Nope, I'm certainly not any closer to being like Mary and that's just the point.  Being like Mary is pointless, a lost cause in my case.  I could never be the Mother of God.  But the Mother of God can be a mother to me...And she is just that for all of us.  When I find myself gearing up for a farewell and putting up walls of defense, I picture Mary, a gentle mother.  I can relax my spirit knowing I am not alone when our son leaves home for a faraway college or another dear friend moves away.  Mary takes our hand and in her motherly wisdom, she models her strength gained from Jesus' departure. Providing us with an intimate glimpse into the resurrection, Mary also reminds us to rejoice in a future that is everlasting, a life that never ends.  For people of faith, separation from one another is only a temporary condition.  Change is inevitable but there is much joy to look forward to.  
Saying Farewell with Mary always means there's more to come...
Saying Farewell with Mary always speaks Hello to Hope.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Easy Patriotic Flag Food

Our Flag Fruit Kabobs

I hope you all enjoyed a fun 4th of July!  I'm posting a couple of flag food photos that I snapped from some of things we made this year.  
{I'm not on Pinterest so these are also recipes for my records} 
The flag fruit kabobs were so cute and easy!  
(I think the kids liked the marshmallows the best:)
Marshmallows (Or bananas)

~The fruit platter(below) is made with blueberries, watermelon and marshmallows~

This is a Patriotic Taco Salad recipe we used.  I think you could also use your favorite 7 layer dip recipe and decorate the top just like our photo!

Patriotic Taco Salad
(Courtesy of Taste of Home)
1 lb ground beef
1 med. onion, chopped
1 1/2 C water
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 envelope taco seasoning
Tortilla or corn chips to layer bottom of pan
2-4 C shredded lettuce 
10-15 pitted large olives
2 C shredded cheddar cheese
2 C cherry tomatoes, halved
Guacamole (optional)

  • In a large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the water, tomato paste and taco seasoning.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  • Place chips in an ungreased 13X9-in. dish. Spread beef mixture evenly over the top.  (Add layer of guacamole next, if used) Cover with shredded lettuce.  Use olives to shape stars in upper left corner.  To form stripes, add cheese and tomatoes in alternating rows.  Serve immediately. Yield: 8 servings.
  • If you wish to prepare this salad in advance, omit the layer of chips and serve them with the salad.

Patriotic Jell-O Pie
I followed this recipe from the Kraft foods website last year.

Patriotic Jello-O Jars
Last but not least, these are on our summer bucket list! {Idea courtesy of Southern Plate.}  Can't wait to try these:)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God Bless America!

We have a new flag waving over our house this year in honor of Freedom.
On this last day of the Fortnight for Religious Freedom we bow our heads and lift up our hearts in prayer for the future of our country.

Mother Mary, Patroness of our Country, please pray for us.
I'm sharing {and trying} this quick and easy idea for our 4th of July celebration, courtesy of Party City.  May your holiday be fun and blessed!
A few more ideas from my blog archives:)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fortnight For Freedom Ride

Sometimes it's hard not to feel helpless when the tempest rages all around us in the world today.  The Fortnight For Freedom has been a great (and positive) force to help conquer that feeling of helplessness.  Like a good family, Catholics around the world have rallied around Mother Church to pray, fast, educate ourselves, and stand up for Religious Freedom in our country.

Some of the families from our parish Youth Group decided to take a little extra step to show our support...A bike ride for freedom! 
T-shirts were quickly made...
front and back.  One of our priests suggested we put something on the back to be sure that bystanders would see it while we were riding:)  Great idea!
We met for morning Mass and gathered in prayer...
 Mother Mary, please pray for us!
We were set to go on our ride around the city...Approximately 6.8 miles.  (Even blessed to be joined by one of our priests) For some of us it was a small mortification and for others it was just something...A small action step towards something bigger than ourselves...A sign of our faith.
As for me, I'm not the most coordinated bike rider...Even Father said it was a good thing I was wearing a helmet! As for dear husband, he was riding just 4 weeks after a minor knee operation so he offered up his struggle.
It turned out to be a glorious morning to be out and about in the community.  Though we did lose a couple of riders due to bike malfunctions, the rest of the riders gave it their best "umph."  After all, "The difference between try and triumph is a little upmh!"
Drafting might be a cycling trick where riders go in single file to block the wind for the other people behind them, taking turns being the one in front.  Yet we can also use this analogy in our life of faith.  Yes, the battle wages on like a powerful headwind, but we are encouraged by a community that we can take turns drafting behind.  As in our Freedom Ride, there is always drafting support and hope to be found in the body of Christ, despite the struggles we face.  

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