Posts filed under Liturgical Year

How We Easter {Alleluia!}

Full disclosure about our Easter: If you're looking for perfection in liturgical living inspiration, there are far better resources out there. If you're looking for a blogger you probably exceed in that department but who is trying her hardest to keep up... well, maybe you've found the right blog!

I love to share my successes but my failures are copious. And that is what is so marvelous about Easter...

It's all about Him. He is risen as He said. And His grace covers all. Alleluia! 

Come Easter Monday, regardless of how well I have managed to pull together the celebratory details of our earthly Easter, He is always victorious. Thanks be to God! 

For your enjoyment or curiosity (and for my own pleasure), here's a little bit of our Easter....

EGGS

Last year was the first year of my mothering life that we didn't color eggs. It was my fault... I just didn't have an ounce of energy left in me. So this year I was bound and determined to get it done. Chess nerds, artists, and toddlers represented. The pretty egg wrappers are one of my favorite easy ways to decorate and can be found on Amazon. (affiliate link) 

GIVING

I have a crafting habit that I just can't seem to shake and like to augment the Easter table with pretty little gifts for each attendee. Some years that means elaborate, time-consuming items and other years it means candy in cellophane. This year, we managed to put together some faith-oriented items including St. Benedict tenner cord rosaries (pictured above) and Miraculous Medal bookmarks (thank you, Andrea Singarella!) packaged with little rice krispee nests.

Examples from past years:

  • Individual baskets made out of chocolate cookie dough and filled with treats
  • Fabric covered gratitude booklets filled with personalized notes from all the children
  • Blown eggs painted and personalized for each attendee... and stuffed with a Scripture quote chosen for each
  • Large decorated sugar cookies with guest names
  • Dyed cord rosaries
  • Blown eggs sanitized, painted, and filled with M & M's

LITURGY...

Barring major illness, you can always find us at the Easter Vigil Mass. It is not an easy endeavor but always worth it. From the Paschal Fire to the new Catholics and party afterward, we manage to not only survive but to ignite. For the kids, it is always one of the big highlights of the year. There is nothing like the feeling of falling exhausted into bed with an Alleluia on the lips and the smell of incense in your hair!

CLOTHING...

Because of the Vigil Mass and certain limitations of large family life, you won't find us super put-together-matchy-matchy like we sometimes pulled off when the kids were younger. For the most part, we are just trying to get to church on time! We generally drive separately to provide for schola members, altar servers, and toddler needs. And I can't recall the last time we were able to get a family picture of all of the living, dynamic, joyful beauty of the night that soon becomes morning. But those memories are emblazoned in our minds and hearts. It is sufficient.

I didn't get any church pics this year but I snapped the one above of the party afterward in the church basement and my oldest dressed to the nines in his tux. Why the tails? Because it's Easter! He can't think of a better reason. :)

When the kids were younger, I enjoyed sewing dresses for the girls or ordering special matching outfits. (My last Easter sewing project was in 2011.) I would certainly enjoy doing those things again but am forced to be more frugal with time and resources. In the end, I have found that I miss certain sensual aspects of creating and coordinating, but that no joy is lost when the heart is properly oriented.

EASTER MORNING...

Sleeping in. (Super late)

Easter music. (Always including the Easter Song... Original by Keith Green and beautiful cover by Glad... plus all the alleluia music we couldn't listen to during Lent)

Slow and happy breakfast. (Sometimes elaborate, sometimes simple, always orange juice)

Divine Office. (Led by Dad)

Baskets. (These vary greatly in size and content according to means each year)

The full truth about Easter morning this year is that everyone was tired and no one wanted a photo taken. So I snuck this one behind the flowers (above). Four of my people are represented... pretty much only recognizable to me. 

Okay... well almost no one wanted their picture taken...

FOOD...

Dietary needs are a stinker on feast days. Can't go around it... gotta go through it! We are very blessed to have family members who are considerate of the needs of adults and children. The day before Easter this year, my toddler had a significant flare-up of painful symptoms that are greatly compounded by sugar. The Chief and I knew that we had to find a way to keep her away from one of the sources of childhood Easter delight... Easter candy.

It was tough... especially when the age of awareness does not correspond to the age of reason! But again, we are blessed to have a strong support system and people who love her enough to help us soften the hard things. 

For the rest of us, it's business as usual. Sticking to the basics but also splurging and regretting it. ;)

SPIRITUAL RENEWAL... 

There are so many little "New Years" within the context of Catholic life, New Year's Day being the least of them. The most significant for me is Easter Sunday, when the opportunity for new life and regeneration seems optimal and the soil of the soul so fertile.

Today (Easter Tuesday), I will begin a renewal of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary. I have done it before and it was life-changing. This one will be timed to end on May 1st, the Feast of the Queen of Heaven and the beginning of my due date week. I cannot think of a more fitting way to prepare for the birth of my son. 

If you are interested in doing a Consecration, I recommend the book Totus Tuus: A Contemplative Approach to Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary by Fr. Nathan Cromley. It can be purchased on the Eagle Eye Ministries website where you can also find supplemental materials and video. 

To all of my readers.... A very blessed and happy Easter to you! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Alleluia!

q0s1c2t5

Posted on March 29, 2016 and filed under Family Life, Liturgical Year, Easter.

All Saints Links and Musings...

Today is a good day. To put it simply... I'm able to sit up and type. I am reminded of when I was a kid and had "good" sick days... the ones where I was sick enough to be relieved of responsibilities but healthy enough to play and read all day. Then there were those "bad" sick days when I just cried in bed wished with all my heart to fall into a state of blissful, ignorant sleep. This week has been mostly like the latter. So I'm calling it all gift and moving on. 

Deep thoughts elude me. I'm going with an All Saints' dump...

COSTUME TRAGEDY

I don't consider myself a particularly sentimental person when it comes to stuff... but the loss of 15 years worth of handmade All Saints' costumes was a crushing blow to the delicate balance of my pregnant emotions. I'm over it now (mostly) but am intentionally avoiding thoughts about the countless hours of labor (and cash) that went into all of it. It is a year when I needed to fall back on the huge selection of generic tunics in different sizes and uniquely lovely items that I was ready to be put back into circulation. But alas... 

Gone. Like Elvis and his mom.

And that's not a knock on Elvis. It's a reference to the obscure Switchfoot song, Gone, that plays like clockwork every time I am reminded of the impermanence of stuff and life itself. Because my brain... "like Al Pichino's cash, nothing lasts in this life." If I live a long life and my mind fails me at the end, I imagine that I'll still retain a mighty cache of odd music with which to torment my caregivers.

IRONIC BLESSING

The children who initially frustrated me by failing to obediently return their last years' costumes to the appropriate storage box... are now finding my full favor upon them as we discover that we haven't lost everything. Thank you, Jesus.

COSTUME SOLUTION

So after a brief (sort of) pity party, I picked myself up by the bootstraps, returned to my couch of nauseas misery, and immediately began looking to eBay to solve my problems. Because, you guys, I no longer even have a basic white tunic or a piece of fabric that can do duty as a veil. I had carefully packed them up... so that we could accidentally donate them

We then trekked to Goodwill where we found one lonely item. After which I returned to my couch. 

WHY THE FUSS?

So I tried to rebuke that prideful part of me that wants a souped up All Saints' costume showing. Doesn't your fixation on the material aspects of the holy day just fly in the face of the whole purpose of the day? Hmmmm?? Yes. But...

It's a holy day. I'm lousy at making cool things happen on holy days. I am not at all that kind of blogger. This is one of my only claims to success in the whole liturgical year. Detachment? Sure. I just involuntarily detached from 15 years worth of loving costume labors! But I suppose you could say that I'm clinging to the hope that we can still pull off something cool. The kids love it. It's our Halloween replacement. Bring it.

HALLOWEEN

I do promise to share the fruits of this year's mad dash to costume glory in the midst of pregnancy misery... after the fact. I already know now that I will not have anything together in time for a significant sneak peak. What I can offer is stuff I've already done, primarily in the way of explaining our approach to the beautiful pairing of two of the most excellent holy days of the year: All Saints' and All Souls' Day. And also why Halloween doesn't make the cut. There are multiple reasons...

1) Practical... Two amazing holy days in a row is pretty much all this mama can handle. Since Halloween isn't a holy day, it gets the boot without much thought.

2) Theological... Not claiming that the Church specifically teaches one thing or the other about a secular celebration of Halloween (she does not), but applying our understanding of our Catholic faith to the practical decisions we make regarding participation in culture.

3) Spiritual... I've only got so much energy to bring to the table. I'm going to invest where I see the greatest dividends.

I've written a few times on these topics but was finally able to capture last year what was really at root of my emotional and intellectual response. It's not an argument about the historical roots of Halloween, but rather the more important question of: How does Halloween impact the way we encounter Christ in our culture?

I'd love it if you'd take a read. This really isn't about fighting over family preferences, but about how can we all better serve the Lord in our unique ways. My response won't look exactly like yours. But the conversation is worth having...

ALL SAINTS' DAY

Here's the real power behind the costumes and cupcakes... the great feast of All Saints! I regret that it has so often been reduced to the-holy-day-that-we-celebrate-during-the-day-at-our-Catholic-school and (maybe naively) hope for a revival of what could be a day full of great joy and powerful graces for the entire Catholic community. I've written far less than I've wanted to over the years about this blessing of a holy day... certainly in no small part due to exhaustion from pulling all nighters making handmade costumes... but here is a summary of last year. I love the memory because it shows the how the dynamic energy and love and talent of youth - toddlers to teenagers - can positively impact culture.

ALL SOULS' DAY

Ah... the great overlooked beautiful holy day! Let's bring it back, shall we? I've been seeing a revival in recent years but it is TOUGH to find the energy right after All Saints' (and often Halloween) festivities. Not many moms have that kind of energy. That's one of the reasons we give Halloween the boot and we still often find ourselves tacking on All Souls' as an afterthought. My ideal All Souls' Day activity? The cemetery... hands down. Hoping we can make it this year.

RESOURCES

There are many, many great resources out there for this one-two punch of holy day excellence. However, when I am running short on time (and I always am), my one-stop shopping for feast day resources is Shower of Roses. Jessica's site isn't just a collection of fluffy craftsy stuff... but activities and resources that truly reflect the depth of beauty of our liturgical year. Definitely look up her All Saints' and All Souls' posts! HERE


Posted on October 23, 2015 and filed under All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, Liturgical Year.

How to Rock Confirmation Celebrations {in 7 Quick Takes}

The Holy Spirit has been busy around here lately. Thankfully, we managed to celebrate sacramentally and materially without much stress. (Just a little. Not more than usual. Perhaps a little less. Mostly.) I'm calling it a victory and giving thanks to God for a weekend of tremendous blessing. The photos are not wonderful quality... and anyone who wants to donate a DSLR for the enhancement of this blog would be most welcome to do so. For the greater good of humanity! (Okay, not. But it would make me awfully happy in a materialistic, worldly kind of way.)

1. DOUBLE THE GRACES

We managed to get the timing just right and get two kids Confirmed at one time. It was so fun, so lovely, so fruitful, and so... so efficient that we'd love to have the rest of the kids sealed with the Spirit in pairs. 

Forgive me for getting frugal here for a moment but I'm a mom. We picked up the jacket for the 13-year old at Goodwill for $6. Cookie's lovely dress was 40% off at Lands End. Finding modest, contemporary, high quality lovely dresses for 15-year old girls is not easy. This was a true win on all counts.

2. FOLLOW THE RULES

Hey, when the DRE says that they really prefer that you not take pictures, what she probably means to say is "It's okay to take grainy pics of the back of people's heads standing in the aisle with your smart phone as long as you don't disturb the Bishop." So... we're good.

3. BE FLEXIBLE

Cakes implode. It happens. Especially when it's a gluten free recipe that you haven't tried before. (Gluten is a phenomenal binding agent, by the way.) When it happens, beg Facebook to fix it for you and all of your friends will come to your aid within minutes. My deepest gratitude to Charlotte, Ellen, Katie, Jana, Mary, Meredith, Lena, and Kendra for the cake rescue help. (Good cake clearly takes a village.)

Cookie and I took the inspiration and ended up with cakes in cups that looked Pinteresty (more or less) and tasted pretty darn good. Buttercream, yellow cake, whipping cream/cream cheese topping, a little edible gold spray (not visible in my low quality pic but pretty in person), gold and pearl sprinkles... done. And remarkably easy to serve. 

The kids really wanted to reproduce these cookie successes from our previous celebration but I had to choose between cookie making and cleaning the house. If anyone has a firm gluten free sugar cookie recipe that would hold up for this purpose (and taste good), I'd love the recommendation.

4. ORDER GOOD WEATHER

It makes all the difference. When the toddler has to leave church because you planned poorly and didn't feed her? No problem. 

5. HAVE CHOCOLATE. REALLY GOOD CHOCOLATE.

From the word go, I was fully committed to the idea of some kind of decadent chocolate dessert. I found a wonderful recipe and made several batches of Raspberry and Chocolate Cheesecake Trifles. Wow. Recommended. Instead of fresh raspberries, I drizzled some raspberry syrup on the top and it was perfect. I modified the recipe to make it gluten free by replacing the chocolate cookie bottom with crumbled gluten free brownie. I replaced the Dove chocolates with chocolate chips to save on expense. There's a typo in their recipe. Do not add 8 more ounces of chocolate after the first 4... it's 8 ounces of cream cheese.

We also made up little favors with Dove chocolate and Swedish Fish. Get it? Dove? And the fish as a symbol of our profession of faith. 

6. BE PREPARED

We are a homeschooling Catholic family with a lot of faith-based resources on hand for sacramental preparation. There's everything from the Baltimore Catechism to Lighthouse audios lining our shelves so there's plenty to choose from. In spite of that, we added an additional Confirmation resource this year called Decision Point, a program designed by Matthew Kelly. I'd like to write a full review in the future but I'll just say this for now:

It isn't the Summa Theologica. It isn't a complete presentation of the entire deposit of faith. It isn't sufficient on it's own without a richer context. But... it's a pretty rock solid program that inspired my entire family to love more and dig deeper into our faith. Kelly presents the Truth with so much real joy that it's difficult not to respond from the heart.

The material is not difficult but neither is it fluff. I've seen the program trashed by some who call it vanilla garbage. I don't agree. I think it's simple, but not simplistic. And I think that, especially in a broader parish context, it is the right combination of meat and refreshment to draw in some hardened hearts. I wouldn't rely on it alone but I'm very glad we added it to our homeschool program. 

7. ALWAYS DIY

More terrible pictures of lovely things. I made this banner for Professor's Confirmation and was so excited that I didn't have to make anything like it again this time around. It was an easy project the first time and a finished project the second time. A great relief. Here's a link to our last party in which I give very basic directions. Pentacost, Confirmation, and Cookies.

From our last party... VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS!!!

*BONUS TAKE*

I couldn't post this without telling you briefly about the greatest blessing of the party preparation. It came at the price of humiliation and a wounded heart (not mine) but if that's what it takes to bring me to my knees, so be it...

I did pretty well overall about staying even tempered while trying to get a pretty messy home ready for a lot of company. It's always a funny contradiction; a stressful household preparing for a sacramental celebration! I wasn't too uptight but I was rather tired. And in spite of my general success, I lost my cool with one of my littles.

I repented immediately, scooped the child up, and ran to the nearest cuddling couch. I told her that it wasn't her. I told her that she meant more to me than any party. I told her that I would rather have our guests come to a messy, stinky home than to burden her heart with my sharp words again. She cried and I cried and we sat there for a long time, leaving all the urgent things undone. 

My whole day changed in that moment. I didn't forget my priorities again (at least not that day). She's more important to me than any party. She's just as treasured as our most honored guest. It's not worth it. The pride-based stress isn't worth the bruised hearts of my children. And I went into the rest of the preparation with a sad, humbled, and rejoicing heart. He allowed me to see my priorities and set them straight and I would not dismiss the gift. Thanks be to God.

Related Post:
Pentacost, Confirmation, and Cookies

Linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes Friday

Posted on June 11, 2015 and filed under Family Life, Liturgical Year, sacraments.