faith formation

It’s O Antiphon time!!

I love traditions!

Growing up as number 4 I had the blessing of a family life well established with traditions.

Traditions for birthdays, Lent, Easter, Saint namesake feasts, Advent, Christmas…. each year marked out by treasured memories!

Creating traditions is therefore one of my most favorite aspects of parenthood! And discovering NEW old traditions, especially when it comes to our Catholic Faith…. well I’m like a child in a candy store!!!

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This year is the first year we will be adding the O Antiphons into our Advent traditions! (squeal!! 🙂 )

In the evening prayer of the Church called Vespers, the beautiful prayer “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55) is preceded by an antiphon. In the 7 days leading up to Christmas, these antiphons all start with “O”. These beautiful antiphons find their origin in the Monastery’s of the 6th/7th centuries. They reflect the words of Isaiah anticipating the coming of the Messiah, crying out from the wilderness through time and into our hearts and homes. They are also the verses we commonly know from the Advent hymn “O Come O Come Emmanuel”.….. Ah Ha! I hear you say 🙂

Each of the O Antiphons highlights a different title for the Messiah:

O Sapientia (O Wisdom),

O Adonai (O Lord),

O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse),

O Clavis David (O Key of David),

O Oriens (O Rising Sun),

O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations),

and O Emmanuel!

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There are so many ways to add these beautiful prayers into our Advent celebrations and so many great resources online! As we are only beginning this year, I’m trying to not be too ambitious! 🙂

DECEMBER 17th – DAY ONE – “O WISDOM”

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O Wisdom…. how we all need the Wisdom of God!

King Solomon knew that Wisdom was greater than any treasure he could ask for.

“Come and teach us the way of prudence”

Prayer: I have downloaded and printed out this great prayer companion from Family, Feast and Feria which we will pray tonight at dinner time. We will also listen to these beautiful audio tracks of the antiphons being sung…. not to mention listen to “O Come O Come Emmanuel”…. here is one of my favorite versions… LISTEN HERE

Decoration: Red Poinsetta table cloth, Advent wreath, colouring in sheet (from Michele Quigley)

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Gift: Catholic Prayer book – I have some pretty amazing ladies who I know through online groups and they enjoy making prayer card images which they share with us all. I was able to take these beautiful prayers and put them together in a Diamond Photo 6 x 4 photo book. Each of the children received one this morning as their “O Wisdom” gift.  photo (12)

Fuzz and his prayer book!

Fuzz and his prayer book!

Food: I’ve heard sheep’s brains have been served as an option for today…. firstly I don’t think I could handle cooking them and secondly I think only Curly Sue would be brave enough to try them, seeing that she is my Lambs kidney fan!

So I’ve gone for a safer option and have made a version of my Date & Almond cocoa balls. I figured dates are rich in Selenium which is good for your brain and the almonds are a good source of protein :). Wisdom balls they are!

Recipe for “Wisdom Balls”

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– 1 packet of pitted dates chopped (I use scissors)

– 1/2 cup of water

– 1 tsp vanilla extract

– 1/4 cup cocoa powder

– 3 tbsps honey

– ground almonds ( I free pour this so it will make sense soon!)

1. Put chopped dates, water and vanilla into a saucepan and heat slowly until the mixture becomes completely mushy

2. Take off heat and add cocoa powder and honey. Stir until completely combined.

3. Now add ground almonds until you have a stiff enough dough to make into little balls.

4. Wet your hands (this helps them not get too sticky) and roll into balls.

5. Roll in ground almond or leave as is.

5. Refrigerate until firm.

Have a blessed day!!!!

Ruth

Weapons for the Battle

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I am one of five, 4 girls and 1 boy.

My husband is one of five, 4 girls and 1 boy.

The genetic “math” then to us seemed as if we were likely to produce girls.

When we had our 20 week scan with OUR number five and for the first time we asked to be told

the sex, I think we were both rather shocked to learn that we were now the proud (slightly stunned)

parents of THREE boys and two girls.

THREE boys! Having only had a younger brother and my husband the only boy,

we felt like we were treading uncharted water.

When I watch my Mr 7 constructing intricately designed robots out of legos with a myriad of

weapons, dodge my Mr 3 as he catapults himself through the house with vehicles in hand or gaze

at the big blue wondering eyes of Mr 4 months, I am in awe of the task God has given us.

How are we to raise strong, virtuous, faithful men in a world that will do everything to pull them down?

So we are on a journey to discover what weapons we need to give our boys to fight the good fight.

This post I’m going to pick up HUMILITY.

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“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6)

Well St James really hands it to us.

God will resist the proud.

If my boys are to grow in a relationship with God, then they must learn true humility.

Ouch. Humility hurts.

Humility is something we all rebel against and in a world that encourages us to strive daily to

achieve more, be more successful, earn more, own more… to be bigger and better in every way, it

is not surprising that it strikes us hard.

“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all

how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it.”

­­Saint Vincent de Paul

The weapon of humility therefore is something our sons MUST know how to wield. So how do we

go about teaching them true humility?

Firstly, we teach them about God.

NOT the vague, white bearded “God is watching us from a distance”, warm fuzzy character..

BUT the Alpha and Omega, omnipotent, GREAT I AM!!!

Small children have the incredible gift of grappling with and understanding the profound mysteries

of faith, because in their innocence they can believe without questioning and trust without fear.

They will listen to the story of Creation with wide eyed wonder and questioning minds!

They will marvel at the powerful God who strikes terror into the heart of Egypt to free His people!

They will cheer as the boy David slays the giant Goliath not by his might but by the power of God!

They will sit one eye covered, one eye open through the passion and death of Jesus, growing in deep respect

for a God who would suffer so much for them!

And through coming to understand the Awesomeness of God their Father,

they will come to understand their smallness, their weakness…

and that is the beginning of humilty.

They must then learn how to grow in humility not despair.

This part is a life long journey, but it can and needs to be taught to our boys from very young.

Put God first.

FIRST!

Not as an after thought, but as their first thought in all that they do.

“Ad maiorem Dei gloriam” (For the Greater Glory of God)

No matter what they are doing, or who they are doing it with, EVERYTHING is done for the

Glory of God. All good, all praise is due to Him and they are merely his hands and feet in this

world. Their mission (my boys like missions) is to give God glory whether it be in their actions

towards others, their school work, sport, altar serving etc.

If that is their focus then the seed of

Humility has a chance to grow.

If they do something well and are acclaimed for it, they can rejoice and point to their Father in

Heaven saying “God is merciful and good. Let us give thanks!”.

If they work hard at their school and receive praise or awards, we can teach them to accept

gratiously, thank God, place their future once again in His hands, asking Him to guide them. If

they do well at sport, we can teach them to serve others and help the less skilled. We can teach

them to put the person first before the game outcome. We can teach them to play hard and well and

if there is success, be always curteous to the opposition and not boastful.

And at the end of each day, we can teach them how to examine their consciences and humble their

wee hearts in prayer, asking God for forgiveness.

Here is a great examination of conscience for children...

http://catholicparents.org/oxcart/examinationchild.html

Little step by little step we can equip our sons with the weapon of humilty, and let us not forget

that we too must be humble… mind you…. children have quite the knack of teaching us, their

parents, humility in quite orginal ways!!

“It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes

men as angels.”

–Saint Augustine

Next weapon: Self Control

Blessings!

Ruth

A little is enough when done with great love!

The prospect of going from our winter into a mid-west American winter and missing most of our summer, is certainly not the most pleasant of thoughts…. BUT… on winter days like today when the temperature is a “balmy” 12 degrees, my french doors are open to the deck, washing is outside (what a thought!)  and I can relax about Fuzz and mud… I say THANK YOU GOD!!! 🙂

Sunshine the bookworm… can’t put the book down even to eat her afternoon tea!

Fuzz eyeing up Master Luke’s fruit kebab 🙂

After a few weeks of VERY wet weather, the sunshine is delectable! I’m so sure my exhausted and at times ratty children were due to lack of Vitamin D and the general “pick me up” that is fresh air!

I have heard it mentioned often amongst bloggers, facebookers and general social media gurus, that being a mum is especially hard today as their is SO much advice being given and so many mums out there who seem to be doing a better job than yourself. I too am prone to this comparison game, particularly in the area of home making and the faith formation of my children. At the beginning of the year at a Catholic family camp, a wonderful friend of mine and I were giving a talk on motherhood and we brought this topic up. A friend of ours said to me something along the lines of… “But who says you should be these things? Why do YOU feel like you should compare?”.

I felt humbled… as indeed in the grand scheme of things, why should I compare myself? Why should any of us feel as if there is a certain list of achievements or comestic attributes we should tick off before we can hold our chins up as parents and home makers… as women?

I can only answer this question for myself…

It is because I know perfection in Jesus Christ and I know perfection in motherhood through Our Lady…

Do I measure up?

NO

I am like a sieve, ugly and full of holes next to a perfectly carved wooden bowl, glossy and radiant…

This is what I see, but what God sees is so different. I am a growing tree, it’s branches spread, bearing beautiful fruit and weathering many storms. One day, He will fashion from me a vessel, truly worthy of Himself… but for now I must not compare but do what I can, when I can and ALL IN LOVE! 🙂

So to celebrate the Queenship of Mary (22nd August) I pinned heaps of ideas on Pinterest, dreamed up a whole week of activities and devotions, got all sure of my ability to give my children the best foundation of faith…. and then watched as my plans crumbled. Busy days, swimming lessons, teething toddlers, bad sleeps, driving over 250km around town, dishes, washing and more washing… ate away at my time and energy. Tuesday night came along and I knew that once again I was going to “fail” at providing an enriched experience of Catholic tradition for my children…

… then God intervened…

11:30pm I am struck with the simple, wonderful thought…

“Do the children see what you haven’t done or do they see what you have?”

I jumped out of bed, ran to the school room…. looked for gold paper…. none…. sparkly purple foam? that’ll do Ruth, that’ll do! Blue material… blue material… where can I find blue material? Blue paper! I’ll use paper…. grab the rosary beads, our beautiful Mary statue, family prayer candle…. BALLOONS! I have blue balloons left over from Curly Sue’s birthday!

I soon had our breakfast table decorated with a simple centre piece, Mary crowned in sparkly purple foam surrounded by rosary beads. Each chair had a blue balloon and the best part was the peace which I felt :). I had done SOMETHING…. maybe not what I would have liked… but something 🙂

I was greeted in the morning by genuine, pure delight from Curly Sue and Master Luke!

“Mary’s crown is so beautiful mummy!” – Master Luke

“Boo balloons mum just like Mary’s boo!” – Curly Sue

 Happy, babbling noises from Xavier as he gave Mary cuddles and took her crown on and off!

I have certainly learnt a valuable lesson this week!

To sign of this post I want to leave you with three images of the crowning of Mary that my kids chose themselves 🙂

Master Luke chose this one because “It just jumped out at me and said YES!”

Sunshine chose this one because “I like the way she is drawn rising up to heaven”

(more the assumption…but that was last week so it still counts! :))

Curly Sue chose this one because “she has a really big cape!”

Mary Queen of Heaven… pray for us!

Blessings!

Ruth

 

Ascension Craft!

Yay! We have arrived at the feast of The Ascension! Jesus goes home to the Father 🙂

Here is a little activity I did with the kids this week…

ASCENDING JESUS

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What you will need:

1 sheet of A4 in each of the following colours: Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, White

A side plate, Glue stick, Scissors, Colouring in pencils, a Jesus figure (DOWNLOAD HERE)

STEP ONE:

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Place the side plate on the bottom of your green piece of paper so that half of it is on the paper. Trace around to get a nice semi circle shape and cut out.

STEP TWO:

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 Take your white piece of paper and draw three fluffy white clouds. Then cut them out 🙂

STEP THREE:

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Take your orange and yellow pieces of paper and trace around your spread out fingers. You will end up with one orange hand and one yellow. Cut them 🙂

STEP FOUR:

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You can download this simple Jesus outline HERE or use any picture of Jesus you like.

Colour Him in and then… cut him out 🙂

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STEP FIVE:

Stick the clouds, hands, and hill onto your piece of blue paper like this…

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STEP SIX:

Cut a strip the width of an A4 piece of paper about 2cm wide. Fold the end over about 1cm and glue it on to itself, then repeat once more. Stick this end 2/3 way up the back of Jesus.

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STEP SEVEN:

Glue one of the fluffy white clouds onto the bottom of Jesus, so that he is standing on a cloud.

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STEP EIGHT:

This is the slightly tricky part. Take your piece of blue paper with the other bits stuck on and fold carefully in half width ways. Using big scissors cut a slit that runs up the middle of the piece of paper from half way up the hill to half way up the sky.

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(Curly Sue likes to add her own details to projects :))

STEP NINE:

Put the strip of paper that is attached to Jesus through the slit. Fold the part sticking through over on itself several times and glue together. This will provide you with a thicker tag for moving Jesus.

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STEP TEN:

Have fun watching as Our Lord ascends into heaven!! 🙂

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Blessings!

Ruth (and my team of makers! :))