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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy All Saint's Day~2011

We had our Little Flowers and Blue Knights All Saint's Day party last Friday.  
It's always a wonderful opportunity for the children and adults to learn about new Saints and celebrate the men and women who've gone before us...The true heroes and heroines of our faith!  Their real human lives and sufferings are examples of perseverance and courage for us all.  They inspire me to keep putting one foot in front of the other towards the goal of heaven:)

It has been a tradition in this group to kick off the party with a Saint Guessing Game.
Each child stands up and provides a few clues as to who they might be...The other children raise their hands and try to guess who they are!?

Here is this year's saintly line up (from our house) and their clues...
-She was born in Italy, the 10th of 13 children
-She was a Dr. for children
-She gave her life for her youngest daughter from complications of child birth.  This daughter is still living and speaks about her Mother's life and courage...
Who is she?
St. Gianna Molla

-He was a soldier in the Roman Army about the year 283
-He was a Captain of the guards and a secret Christian who encouraged many converts.
-When he was discovered, he was shot with many arrows and lived through it.
(He was later beaten to death)
-He is the Patron Saint of Athletes and Soldiers for his tough warrior spirit.
Who is he?
St. Sebastian

-She was born in England and her Dad was a King, who later became a Saint.
- Her 2 brothers also became Saints.
-After she died, a clear liquid leaked from her bones and many people were healed through her intercession.
-There is an Abbey named after her, located in Northern Colorado.
Who is she?
St. Walburga

-He compiled the 1st Latin bible called the Vulgate, hence the Bible Man cape:)
-His symbol is the lion (on the shield)
-He is a Dr. of the Church
Who is he?
St. Jerome

Did you know that St. Walburga was also a scootering nun?
Well, this one was!  Look at her GO:)

It's always a simple celebration but the costumed saints have a great time.

Although, we really missed a couple of our big families who were out of town this year:(  We played St. Cecelia's Musical Chairs and some fun outdoor Saintly Halo games with hula hoops.

I adopted Allison's Saint Cake for dessert!
Wishing everyone a very happy and holy All Saint's Day!
“We should not only want to be with the saints; we should also hope to possess their happiness.” 
~St. Bernard~

Happy All Hallows' Eve!

Pumpkins are carved and we are ready for a fun Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, the Eve of All Saint's:) Don't you just love its Christian roots?  
A brisk morning Mass set the stage for the Holy Day that we celebrate tomorrow.  Tonight, we look forward to dressing up in fun costumes and trick-or-treating around our neighborhood and visiting the elderly, including our Grandmas and Grandpas who love to see the children all dressed up!  
This youthful interaction seems to be something that older folks look forward to each year.
There are a lot of differing opinions about how to celebrate Halloween and I've read some really good articles.  This is my favorite...I guess because it echoes our family sentiments and keeps things real, especially when it comes to Christian charity. Thought I'd share it here in my personal bloggy space:)

Top Ten Ways To Have A Catholic Halloween
This time of year introduces several debates. Among conservative Protestants it’s “Halloween or no Halloween?” which sometimes becomes “Halloween vs. Reformation Day,” the latter being the celebration of the Martin Luther’s posting of the 95 Theses on Oct 31. Even some Catholics have become concerned with how Hallowe’en has become “so evil.” No doubt, the devils have tried to highjack the hallowed day and its eve.
I don’t think that we Christians should retreat. Let’s take it back!
Well, here are ten ways to keep good ol’ Hallowe’en fun and sacred.
10. Don’t call it “Satan’s Holiday”!
There are many Christians who have written off Halloween as some sort of diabolical black mass. It’s the vigil of a Christian holy day: All Hallows’ Eve or All Saints Eve. Has it been corrupted by our culture and consumer market? You bet. However, Christmas has also been derailed by the culture. Does that mean that we’re going hand over Christmas? No way! Same goes for Halloween. The Church does not surrender what rightfully belongs to her – she wins it back!
9. Don’t feel that you have to opt for an “Halloween alternative”.
Many churches (particularly Protestant ones) are now how hosting “Fall Festivals” (or worse, “Reformation Day”). I’ve been to several and they are particularly good if you have toddlers who otherwise wouldn’t enjoying walking around the neighborhood “trick or treating”. Unless you have seriously hesitations about your neighborhood, why not join your neighbors? It could be a great opportunity to get to know them and spark up some relationships. I’ve gotten to know some neighborhood dads as we stand out on the curb and watch our kids go up and the ring the door bells of every house on the street.
8. Be safe.
Check all the candy. Have the kids wear glow sticks. Dress warm. Stick together.
7. Be hospitable – Why not host the neighborhood party?
Christians are supposed to be hospitable, right? Why not host an after party at your house with hot chocolate and coffee for the adults. Open up your house or back yard for games. Remember bobbing for apples?
6. Don’t be turned off by the ghoulish-ness of Halloween.
Every great Catholic cathedral has gargoyles carved into its stone work. Illuminated manuscripts are also full of ghouls in the margins. Catholics are into this kind of stuff. Why? Because Christ has conquered death and the devil. After Christ, death has lost its sting. Also, All Saints day is followed by All Souls day so it’s okay to be a little macabre. (By the way the word “macabre” comes from Maccabees – those two books in the Catholic Bible that Protestants threw out.) And if you live in an Hispanic area like I do, you’ve got the whole Dia de Muertos to play up.
5. Have fun, don’t force converts.
Look, nobody likes to get a religious tract in their candy sack. Don’t pass out religious literature. Give out big handfuls of candy and the extra large candy bars, if you can. In the long run, you will make more converts with your charity. After all, you’ll be known as “the house that always gives out good candy”.
4. Have a bonfire!
We Catholics, once upon a time, used to specialize in bonfires. If you have the land and it’s legal, stoke up a blaze. If you’re kids are older why not set out a bunch of glowing jack-o-lanterns and roast marshmallows over a blazing-hot fire? If someone can play the fiddle, all the better.
3. Carve some fine looking Jack-O-Lanterns.
This is a no-brainer. Download some fancy cutting patterns from the web. Spend time as a family carving out some pumpkins. Put some candles in them and let them burn outside your house for a week or so before Halloween. My kids always like to see who has jack-o-lanterns in front of their houses. Do you want to make friends in the neighborhood? Have a carving party and give a prize to the best jack-o-lantern.
2. Visit the graves of your loved ones
This applies more to All Souls Day (Nov 2) than it does to All Saints Day (Nov 1). Still the point is to remember our loved ones and to pray for those who have died marked with the sign of faith. Death is not the last word. Christ has overcome death by His own sorrowful passion and death through the resurrection. That is is the source of our hope and strength of all the saints.
1. Be “hallowed.”
If you persevere in the love and grace of God, you too shall be a saint. The whole point of “All Hallows” is to remind us to be “hallowed” or “sanctified”. Most of us won’t have our own particular feast day and so All Saints Day will be our feast day (if God willing, we go to Heaven). It is the feast day for most of the Church’s saints, those who lived peaceably, followed Christ, loved their families, accomplished their duties in life and passed on to the next life. May their prayers be with us.
Have other Halloween ideas? Share them in the comment box.
Oh, and don’t forget All Hallows (Nov 1) is a Holy Day of Obligation. It’s a mortal sin not to attend Holy Mass on this day (unless it is lawfully transferred by the bishops).
End of Article___________________________________________________________________
The Halloween debate is certainly one that will remain unresolved among Christians.  However, what is important is that we respect other family's decisions.  
In the words of St. Augustine: "In needful things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity."
As I also read somewhere else, the needful thing for Catholics is that we honor God in our celebrations this week.  This means particularly the observance of All Saints Day, tomorrow, and the prayers for the dead during the octave of All Souls.
~Have a blessed and holy week!~

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All Saint's Day...Years Past

For my record keeping, I thought it would be fun to post our old photos from All Saint's Day celebrations over the past few years.  With All Saint's Day right around the corner, I thought this post might also provide a few visual aids for people looking for ways to put together costumes for their celebrations:)  Be sure to visit Lacy over at Catholic Icing for a litany of many other Saintly ways to dress up too!
Pope John Paul II
St. Peter Claver
St. Rose of Lima

St. Therese of Lisieux
St. Patrick
St. Francis Xavier

We skipped 2008.  As I recall, we had sick ones:(

St. Padre Pio
St. Clare of Assisi
St. Luke
St. Padre Pio
St. Clare of Assisi
St. Luke

St. Joan of Arc
St. Florian
St. Pope Damasus I
St. Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Joan of Arc

Oh, and don't forget the sword!
St. Florian
St. Pope Damasus
Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha
Happy All Saint's Day preparation!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles

Tis the pumpkin season!
We had fun making these waffles and they were very yummy.
Note:  I doubled this recipe for my family of 7...We had a few leftovers to warm up the next day:)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Waffles:

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/2  Cups milk
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 Cup canned pumpkin
1/4 Cup mini chocolate chips

1.  Preheat waffle iron and coat with cooking spray.
2.  Stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter and pumpkin.  Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture and stir just until combined.  Add the chocolate chips last and stir in gently.
3.  Pour the waffle batter onto the center of each section of iron.
4.  Cook waffles according to your waffle iron, approximately 4-5 minutes.
5.  After cooling, cut into desired pumpkin shapes and serve with maple syrup:)
I had some good help!
These are waffles prior to "carving."
This was our first basic face...
Everyone liked our Christian pumpkin faces the best, with the Cross shaped nose:)
Enjoy and have a blessed weekend!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Funny Friday

There is never a dull moment with a toddler in the house!
I was invited to this beautiful tea party yesterday...Quite a lovely spread, I thought:)  Oh how I love the budding imagination and creativity that comes with this age of 3.  Sometimes she spins our world but she also has a way of stopping the world from spinning, even for a few minutes.  Yesterday, she got me to stop what I was doing, sit down and play, halting that spinning Earth for a moment in time. Oh yes, I was thankful.

And let me tell ya, this little angel baby has a way of keeping us real and providing those great big belly laughs.  Today was no exception so I thought I'd share our morning.

Scene I: Daily Mass
(almost over)
Angel Baby (whispering loudly):  "Mommy, church is almost over, the priest is cleaning the dishes!"
Mommy (smiling):  Nods her head yes.
Angel Baby (still whispering loudly): "Mommy, how does he clean the dishes very good without a sink?"

Scene II: Church is now over and we are leaving.
Angel Baby (Yelling loudly to others as she blesses herself, departing the church):
"If you don't use holy water, you can't get out!"

So there you go, Funny Friday at our house:)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

Is it just me or does it feel like the Earth is spinning at a faster rate than ever before?
I just can't seem to keep up with "everything" that I used to...
There is so much to do in the home, so much to do at church, so much to do outside the home, so much to do to prepare our souls for eternity, so much to do, period.
Lately, it's been getting the best of me and those overwhelming clouds of gloom set in...Darkness ensues.

How quickly I forget the simple cure...An Attitude of Gratitude...A light begins to flicker.

One of the evening prayers from last week (Magnificat) reminded me that the central core of our Christian spirituality consists of an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude that we owe for God's faithful love.  The central core part really struck home.  I have always known the importance of thankfulness but I can't say that I have thought about it exactly in that way...the central core of my faith.  I may be revealing my ignorance but I do so at the expense of my own self pride...Not a bad thing to expose and weed out:) And so I ask myself how do I "do" this two-sided coin as the central core of my life?  (1.Turning to God in Thanksgiving and 2. Doing for others what has been done for us)? 

I was reflecting on all of this as we took the opportunity to go on a field trip this week.
I love field trips!
~Mission San Juan Bautista~
15th California Mission
This mission was named after St. John the Baptist since it was founded on his feast day.  It was built in less than 6 months, which was record-breaking speed.  This shed new light on my whining about "so much to do."  I began to imagine the hard physical labor that went into these adobe structures and suddenly my own work seemed dull in comparison.  I just love how God provides us a new perspective, just when we need it most!  Field trips and a little sunshine have a neat way of providing fresh perspectives too:)
It was a glorious day for a little time out.  Did I tell you I just love field trips?  One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the freedom to "go see it" after reading or studying about something.   I think it's especially fun, when studying your State's history.  It's always a bonus when we have the whole place to ourselves on a Tuesday...We gave thanks for the beautiful sunshine, a cool breeze, and peaceful setting.
I am particularly fascinated by the history of the California Missions so I think our family has actually seen most of them...Out of the 21 Missions, I think we are only lacking visits to 2-3!
~I love this Mission garden...
Each arbor contained a Station of the Cross~
We were joined by the local mission chickens and cats, who both live peacefully together, by the way.
Isn't this a beautiful walk for an outdoor Stations of the Cross?
Most of the time we try to take field trips as a family. Due to other circumstances this time, I just took the 2 elementary kids.  It was different with just the 3 of us but it ended up being great quality time!  We all really enjoyed it:)
I loved this rustic Cross...The best reminder to be thankful.
I thank you, Lord, with all my heart,
you have heard the words of my mouth.
In the presence of the angels I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple.
I thank you for your faithfulness and love
which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul.
This Mission has one of the largest churches with 3 aisles, instead of 1 and is still an active Parish.  It was a bonus and joy to pray before the tabernacle on very old and hallowed grounds.  We should always be reminded that "Eucharist" is the Greek word for "Thanksgiving."
We enjoyed finding the animal prints on the church floor tiles.  As the clay tiles baked in the sun before they were laid in the church, a few friendly animals made their "mark."
This cross marked the spot of the last Native American to pass on from the local tribe.
Thankful for all those who have gone before us, marked by the Christian faith.
The views of the farm land were glorious from this perch.
Now thank we all our God,
with heart and hands and voices, 
Who wondrous things has done,
in whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mother's arms
has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.
O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in his grace,
and guide us in distress;
And free us from all sin,
till heaven we possess.
The field trip for the kids turned out to be a field trip for my spirit.
I shall continue to work on thankfulness as the central core of my spirituality...
Especially on days that I collapse into bed at night, worn out and exhausted from the dealings of the day;
Even when I can barely make it through the Apostles Creed of my nightly Rosary;
Despite the Earth that spins faster than I can keep up,
an attitude of gratitude keeps the fire burning in my soul,
saving me from the snares of myself,
keeping my eyes fixed on the light... the porch light of heaven.
"Be THANKFUL. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."
Colossians 3:15

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