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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

He Must Have Known...Calvary Hill

It's that time of year again...My Calvary beckons.
For those who have lost dear ones, they know that grief changes but it never goes away...
Like a vast ocean that ebbs and tides over a span of a lifetime, it's always there, a cross to bear.  And yet the load shifts, if we allow it, moving to new places in the undiscovered crevices of our soul.  

Just over the hill from the cemetery lies the ocean that carries the waves of my story.  He, Lord of heaven and earth, must have known I'd need the sea...
 New ways to bear this load, in strengthened faith and resolve, keep me in forward motion.  Memories of a life once had are just over my shoulder, begging a backward glance...a life that could have been, a life not meant to be. Though deep and happy, my spirit is strained.
 The struggle never ceases but at the same time, neither do the consolations...
(I came across this quote yesterday)
"Bear the cross but do not make the cross bear you."
~Philip Neri~
Last weekend, I made my annual trek to the resting place of my dear, late husband, Chris.  He has been buried at the top of the hill, under that beautiful evergreen tree at Calvary Cemetery, for many years now. Still, it never ceases to amaze me that we buried him on top of Calvary Hill after his tragic death on Good Friday.  
It wasn't my plan. 
Without a doubt, God had this all in mind.
He must have known.
He must have known that I'd find comfort in uniting my cross to those 3 crosses at the top of the hill with each passing year...
He must have known I'd bring my memories, my sadness, my loss, one foot in front of the other, uniting one Good Friday with another.
He must have known that I'd find beauty in the fields of gold...Peace in the whisper of the hilltop winds.
He must have known that the seeds of forgiveness would brightly bloom, beginning right here.
He must have known where there was hatred, there would be love...
Where there was darkness, there would be light,
Where there was doubt, there would be faith.
He must have known that climbing the hill to Calvary would heal the brokenhearted.
(Isaiah 61:1-2)

He must have known that the foot of the cross would become an altar of grace.
He must have known that one Good Friday after another, sorrow and love would mingle in a flow of life saving remedy.
Here lies a slain soldier, who heroically shed his blood...laid down his own life to save the life of his family.
As always, the parallels this time of year are uncanny on my Calvary Hill...They have helped me survive over the years, contributing to my armoury of hope...He must have known.

The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.  To Him be dominion forever.
1 Peter 5:10-11

Monday, March 25, 2013

St. Patrick Fun

St. Patrick's day is always extra fun for us since we always have a birthday boy that day...This year he turned 14! (Can you guess what his middle name is)?
Thought I'd share this healthy St. Patrick Shamrock Fruit Platter that we made for our Youth group potluck.  It turned out really cute with kiwi and green grapes:) I just love how St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach the people of Ireland about the Trinity.

This year we also bought fun t-shirts to share the spirit of St. Patrick...The real guy from whom this festive holiday originated.  A portion of St. Patrick's beautiful Breastplate Prayer is inscribed on the t-shirts.  It's one of my favorite prayers!  {It is called the breastplate prayer for those parts of it that seek God's protection.}
Didn't manage to catch the birthday boy in his shirt...He was busy with Confirmation class.  That's ok, he's at the age where he doesn't like having his picture taken much anymore:(
The little ones will bear with my photography for a bit longer, I hope!
Birthday boy's wish was a tour of the San Francisco Fireboat unit...His dream is to be a firefighter someday.  He got his wish and he was one happy camper!

This is the view of the Bay Bridge from the Fireboat Unit's back porch!
Big thanks to my youngest sister (Auntie L.A.) for helping to make it all happen since she lives in the City!

Happy and thankful to have Grandma and Grandpa join us (My parents:)
Here we are, shortly after the St. Patrick's Day Firefighter Parade, that started our fun day in the City.
It was a beautiful weekend of celebrating many blessings, most importantly the birthday boy!
+St. Patrick, please pray for us+

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Humble, However Chosen

Viva il Papa!  Long live the Pope!
I think we are falling for this Holy Father.  The humility of Pope Francis is inoculating us with love!  The motto on the Papal Crest, "Humble, however chosen," just about says it all.     This is a brief and informative video about the new Pope Francis coat of arms.
Today, being the Papal inauguration was the perfect time to get to know him a little better.  Connie from Contemplative Homeschool had all the resources we needed to do it!  She provides a great bio for kids and linked up to some great worksheets and coloring:) Be sure to stop over and check it out.
Each of the kids wrote a letter to Pope Francis to welcome him!  (Great practice in letter writing:)  Everyone is wondering if we will hear back!??

It always so sweet to hear what they have to say!

Everyone wanted to include a photo of themselves...

Neat coloring page found at Paper Dali.

We closed out our study with some Italian Crescent Pizza Roll-ups for lunch!
I found this super easy and yummy recipe on Pinterest.  It was a HUGE hit!  Only 3 ingredients...
Crescent rolls
Mozzerella cheese sticks
We printed out these cute Papal Coat of Arms over at Catholic Cuisine.  One of the children commented that "we didn't even know Pope Francis a few days ago when he was elected...And now we feel close to him." 
It was a special day, indeed.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5 Ways To Celebrate The Meaning of Easter

For this post, I'm teaming up with a couple of lovely ladies... Jen from Forever For Always No Matter What and Laurie from Keeping It Simple and Catholic Baby Steps.  We are all sharing ways that we celebrate Easter in our homes. The links to their Easter posts are listed at the bottom.
For our family, we decided many years ago, when our oldest children were small, that we would try to make Easter a solidly faith-filled celebration.  Taking out the secular emptiness, we have done our best to fill it up with the sacred.  Drawing closer to Christ through His Passion during Lent, we rejoice in new life, on Easter. With the glory of Christ's Resurrection, the hope of eternal life is the true reason to celebrate!

Here are 5 ways to embrace the real reason for Easter...
1.  Don't put up "Easter" decorations until after Easter Sunday...
We decorate with the violet penitential colors of Lent until Easter. Then the colors of white come out!  The color white represents light, joy, and triumph. 

There are 50 days from Easter to Pentecost so plenty of time to enjoy!  For more ideas, see Liturgical Decorating~Easter White.

The beauty of being Catholic is that the children will see the same thing going on at church.  Bringing this into the home carries our beautiful faith into the world, filling the family with the life of the church, aka Domestic Church:)  

2. Stick with a holy Easter theme for Easter baskets.  These are a few photos from our years past....
This year, I'm so excited to add a very special addition...Pope Francis Holy Cards:)!!!

I like to use the symbols of Easter as much of possible, when planning for Easter baskets.  Charlotte from Waltzing Mathilda graciously compiled them (for free printing)in this beautiful Easter Symbols Booklet.  Each year, we spend time talking about the different symbols and their meanings.  This year, I'm thinking of putting together a family Easter symbol basket.  I love this idea from Jessica at Shower of Roses.  There is also a pretty (and free) Easter symbol printable over at Sanctus Simplicitus.

I have found that faith-based t-shirts are a fun Easter basket stuffer for all genders and ages...I'm doing it again this year!  I guess I'm kind of a Catholic nerd because I just love having the matching family tees:)  Got Mary was my pick last year! I have another idea brewing this year from Totally CatholicThis is my Pinterest board with other Easter basket ideas and links.  

3.  Continue the use of Easter symbols to plan your Easter food menu.  ie) Eggs for "new life" and the lamb for Christ's paschal sacrifice.  One of our family traditions is an Empty Tomb Cake...Alleluia, He is Risen! (I shared the recipe over at Catholic Cuisine:)

There are so many great ways to tie in the meaning of Easter to your meals.  Our family always seems to be traveling to the home of a grandparent or close relative.  In the past, we have made simple things that are easily transportable, like the Empty Tomb Cake or Alleluia Eggs:)
These colorful toppers are created and generously gifted to all of us by Jennifer over at Catholic Inspired.

I am always inspired by so many other amazing ideas over at Catholic Cuisine!

4.  Keep the meaning of Easter by planning a meaningful project or 2, during the 50 days of Easter.  Include some Easter reading in your plans.  
5.  Choose a special feast day that you haven't celebrated and make it a new tradition! There are many meaningful feasts to celebrate during the liturgical season of Easter.   I've linked ideas (to each of these) that have become our family traditions. 
 Divine Mercy Sunday
Good Shepherd Sunday
The Ascension of The Lor

My hope and prayer is that this helps with some meaningful "Easter planning" out there!  Until then, Holy Week is up next.  Looking for ideas?  This post shares some fond Holy Week blessings.

Be sure to visit Jen and Laurie to check out their Easter posts!
(Jen) Forever For Always No Matter What
(Laurie)  Catholic Baby Steps
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