Sunday, December 23, 2007
Come to save us, O Lord our God.O Emmanuel (Isa 7: 14; 8: 8), our King and Lawgiver (Gen 49:10; cf. Ezek 21: 32), the Expected of the nations and their Savior (Isa 33: 22): Come, and save us, O Lord our God.
The manger reminds us of the simplicity and poverty surrounding the birth of Jesus and is representative of His life of humility.
Recommended Readings: Isaiah 9:2-7
*from Catholic Culture*
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Symbols: Crown and Scepter
Come, and deliver man, whom You formed out of the dust of the earth.O King of the Gentiles (Hag 2: 8), Desired of all, you are the cornerstone that binds two into one (Eph 2: 20). Come, and save poor man whom you fashion out of clay (Gen 2: 7).
The crown and scepter signify Christ's universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.
Recommended Readings: Revelation 15:1-4
*from Catholic Culture*
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I hope your Advent has been a joyful one. Nolan has one day of school left and both he and Nathan are very eager for Christmas. I have a little Christmas tradition every year when I wrap the presents. I love the movie It's a Wonderful Life and always put it on while I'm wrapping all the gifts. Mike doesn't like to wrap gifts so I usually reserve this event for an evening when he won't be home. Tonight is the night.
Symbols: Sun with Rays
Come, and shine on those seated in darkness, and in the shadow of death.O Rising Dawn (Zac 6: 12), Radiance of the Light eternal (Hab 3: 4) and Sun of Justice (Mal 3: 20); Come, enlighten those who sit in darkness & the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10; Lk 1: 78).
Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon whom its rays fall, so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness and brings eternal life and light.
Recommended Readings: Malachias 4:2-6
*From Catholic Culture*
Come, and bring forth the captive from his prison.O Key of David (Apoc 3: 7) Scepter of the house of Israel, you open and no man closes; you close and no man opens (Isa 22: 22). Come, and deliver him from the chains of prison who sits in darkness and in the shadow of death (Ps 107: 10).
The key is the emblem of authority and power. Christ is the Key of the House of David who opens to us the full meaning of the scriptural prophecies, and reopens for all mankind the gate of Heaven.
Recommended Readings: Isaias 22:22-25
*From Catholic Culture*
Symbols: Plant with Flower
Come to deliver us, and tarry not.O Root of Jesse, you stand for the ensign of all mankind (Isa 11: 10); before you kings shall keep silence and to you all nations shall have recourse (Isa 52: 15). Come, save us, and do not delay (Hab 2: 3).
The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.
Recommended Readings: Isaias 11:1-12
*from Catholic Culture*
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Symbols: The Tablets
Come and redeem us with outstretched arm.
O Adonai or O Lord and Ruler (Exod 6: 13) and Ruler of the house of Israel (Matt 2: 6), you appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush (Exod 3: 2), and on Mount Sinai gave him your Law (Exod 20). Come, and with outstretched arm redeem us (Jer 32: 21).
The tablets of stone are a picture of the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They may be used to represent the whole of God's law, the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, the Torah), or the entire Old Testament.
Recommended Readings: Micheas 5:1-9
*from Catholic Culture*
Monday, December 17, 2007
Symbols: All-Seeing Eye and the Lamp
Come, and teach us the way of prudence.O Wisdom (Eccl 24: 5), you came forth from the mouth of the Most High (Sir 24: 30), and reaching from beginning to end, you ordered all things mightily and sweetly (Wis 8: 1). Come, and teach us the way of prudence (Isa 40: 14).
The "all-seeing eye" represents the all-knowing and ever-present God. During the late Renaissance, the eye was pictured in a triangle with rays of light to represent the infinite holiness of the Trinity. The lamp is a symbol of wisdom taken from the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25.
Recommended Readings: Proverbs 8:1-12*from Catholic Culture*
Friday, December 14, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
In the above picture you can see my pie crust table (which never got the blue star cloth I wanted to make...oh, well). I have St. Nicholas and Our Lady of Guadalupe sitting with the Santa Lucia dolls. Nice little reminders. Below is the current Nativity set up. Nolan changes it almost every day depending on which piece he opened. Today were the benches so he has Mary and Joseph taking a rest. He is pondering what kind of food they would have been cooking and wants to add some to the pot.Below is another shot of the Nativity so you can see the shepherd with his sheep (and cow and goat which makes him a cowherd and a goatherd).And here is our Angel from on high with two very pretty kitties watching over the whole scene.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Footprints on the Fridge hosted the Beauty of Toymaking Fair (one of several that have happened over the last few months). There are lots of links and ideas here for making some handmade gifts and toys this Christmas. One I wish I had time to create was a personalized board game for your family. Check it out. Maybe the creative juices will be going in your house.
Allsorts has some really nice posts with fun printables and an online Gingerbread house to decorate. She also listed some really amazing Advent Calendars. I can't look too long or I start to think we need a redo on our calendar which is just plain white boxes with numbers printed on them. Look through her blog for some really great ideas and crafts and just plain eye candy!
Sew, Momma, Sew has lots of different crafty ideas posted each day of December. I've not had time to check them out but maybe you do: Click here!
Life has thrown us some changes this year and we are finally feeling a bit more settled. Mike started a new job in October and continues to give music lessons and play the organ at church. Nolan started school in November and just began to take the bus this week. This was probably the biggest transition but it has been a good one. Last night he told Nathan all about how great his school is and why he shouldn't be nervous about going next year (which will be the biggest transition of all). Nolan started with a new piano teacher yesterday and Nathan begins Horseback riding lessons this afternoon. So, Advent is bringing us a bit of a settled feeling.
As our Nativity grows I think about the life that led up to Jesus' birth. I wonder about what the shepherds talked about as they watched their sheep. I think about the awe that Mary must have felt when the angel appeared to her. The fear she must have felt as she told Joseph the story. The sorrow when he didn't believe her, the relief when he did. I wonder how difficult the journey was.
I love to see how Nolan displays each piece of the Nativity. The joy of childhood is embodied in this simple arrangement. For instance, Nolan has the shepherd with all his animals surrounding him. The lambs are facing the mother sheep. When he opened the cats, he has them placed beside the angel which is on the little ledge above the mantle. Yesterday, he opened Joseph. He placed Joseph facing the fire with his arms outstretched so he could warm his hands. I love how he has grown with the Nativity and makes each character his own. Nathan is coloring an advent wreath. He doesn't like to color each day because he thinks it makes Christmas seem too far away. I told him that children think it is still a long time till Christmas but adults think it is coming very fast. He made me explain this and has been pondering it ever since. The JOYS that our children bring!
I pray that you take time to enjoy the peace of the season. Take time to enjoy the simple things: the leaves falling, the decorations surrounding you, the excitement of children.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In the computer room the mother was helping Nathan do some writing. They took a pencil and some paper. Nathan said the words and his mother wrote them down. Nathan thought the computer room was chilly because it was windy outside and there was no sun. There were three big windows on the southern wall. A mismatched couch sat in front of the windows. A map hung on the western wall. It showed all the flags of the countries. Nathan liked that map very much. Some guitars were hanging above the map. A dirty fish tank stood in the corner. There weren't any fish. A computer sat in the other corner of the room. There were books on a huge bookshelf with a globe on the top. The room was kind of messy but very comfortable.
"Yes. It is," said Mr. Beaver. "A great deal too heavy. And you don't think you'll be able to use it while we're on the run, I suppose?"
"I can't abide the thought of that Witch fiddling with it," said Mrs. Beaver, "and breaking or stealing it, as likely as not."
-C.S. Lewis from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Illustration by Pauline Baynes
Saturday, December 8, 2007
So today, on this Holy Day of Obligation, I don't have anything special to say. Mary was, and continues to be, the most Holy woman and mother. We can look to her when our sorrows overwhelm us for she knew the sorrow of motherhood. We can look to her when we just don't want to say 'yes' to what God is asking of us. She said 'yes' when it made no sense to do so. Let us this day think of Mary and try to have the faith that she did. Let us say "yes" to whatever Christ is asking of us, even when we don't understand it.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
The top picture is a craft Nathan made a few years ago at church. I found the pattern on the St. Nicholas Center web site. This is an amazing web site if you haven't seen it before. I have St. Nicholas sitting on our pie crust table in the hall beside the mantle where we have our advent decorations and are building our nativity. The children put out their shoes last night and St. Nicholas left them each a dollar and some gold coins. I am going to try to bake some cookies with Nathan today if we have the time. There are some traditional recipes on the St. Nick web site above.Finally, if you don't have any books on St. Nicholas, there are lots of stories right here to read to your little ones. My little ones aren't so little any more but they still love a good story. The Saint Nicholas Web site has a section just for kids. Click here to check it out. Here is another web page with the story of St. Nicholas and some activities. Here is a simple coloring page. St. Nicholas was bishop of what is now the country of Turkey. If your kids like geography, see if they can locate Turkey on the map. For Christmas traditions around the globe click here.
Finally, do something for someone else today. St. Nicholas had plenty and he gave to those in need out of his own blessings. Today, give to someone out of your own blessings. Give a kind word or smile to everyone you meet. Bake cookies and surprise the neighbors. Visit your grandparents. You get the idea. Just take the time to do something simple and kind for someone else and you will share Christ's love just as St. Nicholas did so many years ago.
***After publishing this post I found lots of other links to good ideas on the blog O Night Divine. Check it out!****
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Remember our hole in the ceiling? Well we've finally gotten it fixed. It is of course right in our hallway above the mantle where I planned to display our advent decorations. I spent a few hours priming and painting yesterday. I will do so again today. Why is it when one very small part of the house is being remodeled the rest of the house seems to become a disaster zone?
I moved the Jesse tree to the children's room and I think I will keep it there. We read the story at bedtime and it just makes more sense to have the tree and the decorations there. I am going to try to add to my side bar so you can see which story we read each night and which ornament was hung. Here is what we have so far:
- Creation: Sun and Moon
- Adam and Eve fall: The forbidden fruit
- God sends a flood: Noah's ark with a rainbow attached
Monday, December 3, 2007
I have learned one very important lesson in the past few years. In order to teach you need to know about the topic! So my little goal for today is to learn more about St. Francis Xavier. I think what we will do today is get some Naan (Indian bread since St. FX went to India) for an after school snack and read about this saint from The Book of Saints and Heroes. We can say a little prayer for missionaries and learn a little about the child we will be sponsoring through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging.
I thought today I would share with you two resources to help you teach your children about the saints. The first is Saint Fun Fact Cards. These are free cards you can print yourself. I used them on occasion when teaching Religious Ed. and the kids always liked them. Here's one for you to check out (click on it to zoom):
Another site that has some information on the Saints, the church year and activities is Sadlier We Believe. It was the book our Parish used last year for Religious Education. I'm not one to use a book to teach but this web site has some good ideas in it. Click here to see the saints listed. Unfortunately they don't seem to focus on the saint closest to his/her feast day but by how it fits into their curriculum. I'm thankful for the resource and hope you can use it in your own way. What I do is to find as much information as I can and then figure out what will work for the children I am teaching. Yes, this is time consuming but I enjoy it.
Today I am volunteering in the Learning Support room at Nolan's school. I am very excited about this. Nathan will come along and I have given him work to complete on his own while we are there. I think I will dedicate this little service to St. Francis Xavier and pray that he will help me help others today just as he helped others in his missionary travels.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
You can see our Jesse tree with its first two ornaments along with the book we are beginning to read. Our Advent boxes sit along side my advent letters. The boys open one box each day until Christmas and build their nativity in that way.
I don't have the pie crust table in the hall because we are having our ceiling fixed and I will actually have to take down all the decorations tomorrow so they don't get filthy with drywall dust. I wanted to have them up today because it was the first day of Advent and it was also my baby's TENTH birthday. I can't believe both my children are in the double digits. Here are a few pictures of him with the present his Aunt MaryAlice gave him:Yes, this book has a reversible dust jacket. The actual book itself says Physics. Nolan spent a good part of the afternoon laying in my bed reading this book. He is getting an immense amount of pleasure from it. Way to go Aunt MaryAlice!
I hope you all had a marvelous 1st day of Advent. It is very cold here and we are having some freezing rain. I hope the forecast is better tomorrow.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Here are some saints days of Advent:
December 3: Francis Xavier
December 4: Barbara
December 6: Nicholas of Myra
December 7: Ambrose
December 8: The Immaculate Conception
December 12: Our Lady of Guadalupe
December 13: Lucy
December 14: John of the Cross
I think it is a great idea to have a little area devoted to the liturgical year. For Advent I'm focusing on our mantle and a pie crust table (round with two tiers) for the colors and saints of Advent. I intend to make a dark blue cloth to cover the table and add some stars to symbolize the dark time of year as we wait for the Messiah's coming. You've seen some of my mantle decorations which include the colors of advent: purple and pink. Our advent calendar boxes will sit on the mantle to be opened each day. Inside is a Nativity that will be built throughout the season until the Christ Child arrives on Christmas Day.
Another tradition (which we started last year) is to create a Jesse Tree. Each day I will read a chapter from the book The Jesse Tree and the boys will hang the ornaments they made last year. Click here for a good explanation of the Jesse Tree and instructions on making your own. The Catholic Culture website has a great explanation of the O Antiphons. I keep trying to brainstorm a way to use the symbols for a wreath on my front door. I'll keep you posted on that.
Here are some ideas for two of the feast days in Advent. For St. Nicholas Day have the children put out a shoe before they go to bed. In the morning they may find some gold coin candy (reminding us of the coins St. Nicholas threw in the window for the poor family) or some little trinkets. Make some traditional cookies and give them to the neighbors. Clean out your toys and clothes and donate them to the poor or better yet donate some new items to Toys for Tots. The St. Nicholas Center has lots of great stories and ideas on how to celebrate this day.
Here is a really cute craft idea I discovered from the Posie Gets Cozy blog. It may be a little complicated for kids (well, my kids anyway) but it looks fun for me and I think the boys will enjoy looking at them and remembering St. Lucy. Apparently boys wear star hats on Santa Lucia day so we may make some simple ones out of construction paper and stickers. In Sweden they serve a special breakfast for Santa Lucia day and so you can make your own special breakfast for that day. Nathan loves to make muffins so I think we'll find a new recipe to try.
For myself (although I have to admit all of this is really exciting for me too) I will be following the reading of the Church by using The Word Among Us devotional book each morning. We will all go to adoration each Tuesday at a local chapel. This holy hour was set up with children in mind which is so wonderful.
Well, I have so many more ideas but I think I'll close for now. I hope this was helpful to you. My next project is to make a calendar to hang on our school room wall. If you would like me to send you a copy, just leave me a comment with your email or a way for me to find your email address. Don't type your email in directly to avoid spam. For ex: adventseason(at)nospamdotcom or some other form that will keep the spammers at bay.
Have a great New Year's Eve.