faith

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

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“Stand fast in the faith” – St Perpetua

Today is the traditional feast ((tomorrow the new) of Sts Perpetua and Felicity,

early martyrs of the Church in Carthage.

perpetuafelThese two heroic young women, both mothers,  were put to death in the arena for their belief in Christ and refusal to pay homage to the Emperor. Perpetua,a Roman noble and Felicity her slave, are two of my most favorite martyrs. Curly Sue has Felicity has a middle name, so today I decided would be a special day to remember their courageous display of faith, and in the spirit of Lent, discuss suffering and sacrifice.

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Almost 3 years ago, I came across a preview for an animated film on their matyrdom, released by Catholic Heroes of the Faith. In the few seconds of the preview I was brought to tears…. sobs actually! The animation is simple, but the intense story of faith, suffering and triumph coupled with a powerful soundtrack spurred me on to buy it then and there. However, when hubby and I watched the DVD ourselves, we were so greatly moved that it was put to one side until the children were a little older (6, 4, 2 at that stage).

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So today was the day that the long awaited DVD was brought out 🙂

What is brilliant about this production from Catholic Heroes of the Faith, is that it contains on the DVD an entire series of well planned out lessons and activities to go along with the movie.

This morning we read about Jesus telling His disciples to go out and spread the good news to all nations. This was illustrated by a big ball of plain, uncoloured playdough symbolising the earth. A hole for Jesus was poked in the ball and 4 big drops of red food colouring were added. We discussed how only a few people knew about the good news at the time of Jesus’ ressurection. I gently squeezed the “earth” and the food colouring started to spread. The instant reaction from the kids showed they understood the point of the exercise! We placed the playdough “earth” inside a clear snaplock bag (to keep their fingers clean from red colouring!) and they all had a turn “spreading the good news”. We then had a discussion about the red food colouring. Why red? I loved how they immediately talked about the blood of Jesus and it lead beautifully into a discussion about martyrdom and the power of the blood of the martyrs (we followed this by reading the account of Stephen’s martyrdom in the book of Acts).

The next exercise from the DVD was a series of sheets teaching them about the early christians and their need for secrecy. They were introduced to IXTHUS, the sign of the fish and the word “Catechumen”.

The much anticipated DVD had us ALL in tears and the mood afterwards was quite sombre. I gave them all cuddles and reiterated that the ending was actually happy, as they had achieved sainthood and eternal life in Heaven. Some sunshine and fresh air was needed and then they quietly chose one of the 4 colouring sheets provided on the DVD (the girls chose the saints rising to heaven with the angels, while Master Luke chose the martyrdom scene!). This quiet time with peaceful music playing helped them process a little more and Sunshine afterwards came to me and said “Mum. I don’t feel discouraged by that story…. in fact I feel really inspired to be more like them and to be brave and to be a Saint!!!”. I think it will take a lot more gentle discussions and time to let it all sink in, but WOW what a way to celebrate their feast! 🙂

Here is the link to the Catholic Heroes of the Faith site. There is a preview for the movie on there and I thoroughly recommend checking it out!

Hope your Lent has started with a whoosh and a roar :)….. now to ask God for the grace to continue!!!!

Blessings

Ruth xxx

 

 

“And Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:19

It is 10:28pm.

One Master Luke is asleep after vomiting for the second time.

The house is again quiet, the street outside hums with traffic and for the meantime I am alone to ponder in the silence.

“And Mary treasured all these things in her heart”

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As I travel along this path of motherhood, I too find myself storing, pondering, treasuring a wonderous assortment of things. Some pass fleetingly through the central business district of my mind as clouds on a windy day, while others stamp their permanent mark with dramatic force or quietly dig themselves a burrow to be rediscovered in God’s timing.

To ponder is part of motherhood.

Our precious Mother Mary, from infancy, had a heart prepared for the great joys, trials and sufferings she would bear through her Son Jesus. No woman, no mother has ever had the fortitude, humility and grace that Our Lady did to ponder such extraordinary events and to continue on with her daily life trusting in the will of God. From Simeon’s prophecy ( “a sword shall pierce your heart” Luke 2:35) to the finding of the child Jesus at the temple (““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49), Mary must have pondered often as she cooked and cleaned and went about her chores. She must have gazed at Jesus crawling on the floor, observed him as he climbed a tree and sighed as she saw him learn from St Joseph the tools of carpentry. Those words, those events would have weighed heavily on my heart, but for her they were treasures, rare gifts of knowledge and preparation for the path of suffering she would walk one day with her beloved Son.

As we begin this new year, I have much to ponder and much to give thanks for.

I have four beautiful children who are growing so quickly physically, mentally and spiritually. I have one precious yet unknown child growing within me and are once again struck by the incredible mystery of the womb, the crafting place of Almighty God. I have a husband who after 10 years of marriage is still able to astound me with his passion and wisdom and inspire me with his conviction. I have a vocation that is overflowing with life and I have no choice but to let it take me where it runs.

God has given mother’s the gift of pondering… treasuring…. because when your life is overflowing, those words, those moments in which God is present and speaking, can be missed. By storing both little and small moments, God is able to work in a mother’s heart in the still silence of her inner being and when the time is right, He sheds His glorious light upon His work and we have one of those startling “Ah HA!” moments while washing the dishes.

So often have I been struck with an “Ah Ha” that leaves me speechless and feeling unworthily blessed.

The weekend before last was one of those moments. It was my 31st birthday and the 3rd anniversary of the big earthquake that significantly damaged my home city and resulted in the loss of 185 lives. I knew it was going to be a joyful and painful time celebrating and remembering. However, we were invited to come along to a Latin Mass at the Carmelite monastery on Saturday morning. It was to be said by Fr Antony of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and as it has been in discussion for a while, our Master Luke (6) was asked to serve for the first time. This was the cause of great excitement for our children. To top this off, Fr Antony asked if we would like to be enrolled in the Co-fraternity of the Brown Scapular. Here is where the “Ah Ha” moment occurred!

Through out my childhood and youth, I had a great desire to be a nun. From wearing a “mother Teresa” style tea towel on my head while drying dishes, to spending lots of time reading about the Saints, I felt passionately about giving my life completely to Jesus. At the age of 19, in the year following the tragic death of my brother David, I went to daily Mass at the Carmelite monastery. In those precious morning Masses I felt the presence of God’s peace so strongly. Like a healing balm on my wounded soul, I felt the call of Carmel, the call to separation from the world and full union with Jesus. I once again desired greatly to shed the world and to be clothed in the habit of religious life. But as I corresponded with the beautiful sisters, they encouraged me to continue praying and discerning outside of their walls and consider coming to stay with them after I turned 21. Well God had other plans (which is another story) and by the time I was 21, I was married to Matthew and was pregnant with my first baby, Sunshine. That call, those moments of grace were stored deep within me, put away to ponder, put away as treasures.

Saturday morning was VERY warm and miraculously all six of us were at the monastery by 8am. As I walked into the chapel, I was overcome with the very same peace and sense of home that I had felt all those years ago. But as I prayed during the Mass and watched my son serve with such reverence and dignity; as I listened to the voices of the sisters behind their grill and heard the words of Father’s sermon on the Brown Scapular, God shed his glorious light upon those treasures from long ago and I heard His voice anew.

His call to Carmel had been authentic. His call on my life had not been a figment of my grieving heart. His call was not just for me, it was for my family. It was for Matthew, Sunshine, Master Luke, Curly Sue, Fuzz and the little one within me. As we all knelt on the sanctuary following Mass, Fr Antony prayed the prayers of enrollment and placed a Brown Scapular over each of our heads. I knelt and pondered. I knelt and gave thanks. I lifted up my heart and declared the glory of a Heavenly Father who in His time brings all things to Himself.

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Master Luke is in the front

We MUST ponder and we MUST treasure those moments in our hearts as Mary did. God has made us the hearts of our homes and it is our duty and privilege to be the safe keepers of His Divine plans. I look forward with such joy for the “Ah Ha” times ahead. Some may bring great suffering and some may bring great joy, but all will be part of God’s marvelous plan for our lives and the lives of our families. Let us give thanks for He is good and his love is everlasting!

Blessings

Ruth

 

 

 

 

Finding treasures in my draft folder :)

Good morning 🙂

I’m not a strong stroke swimmer (can you tell we have been learning about alliteration :)) when it comes to daily life. I am more of a doggy paddler, gulping water and getting cramp. But there are times when I have a glimmer of the Olympic medalist within me and that usually has something to do with my thankfulness.

“The joy of the Lord is my strength” – Nehemiah 8:10

Stock standard scripture memory verse.

AND… WONDERFULLY, MERCIFULLY TRUE!

No matter how deep or wide or long the current “pool” of my life is, the JOY of the Lord is my sustaining, life giving strength. All it takes, to quote St Therese, is  ” A SIMPLE GLANCE DIRECTED TO HEAVEN” and the simple cry of THANK YOU.

This morning as I was tidying up some bloggish stuff, I stumbled across this post that I never published. It is simple, straight to the point and reminded me to spend today being thankful for everything I have…even a 4 year old who has multiple changes of underwear a day!

May your heart be lifted today in thanksgiving!

Blessings

Ruth xxx

Below is the old post I found 🙂

I’m thankful for ugly concrete that can become the canvas for beauty!

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I’m thankful for a sink full of soapy water and a sticker earring clad happy boy!

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I’m thankful for a new dining room that is flooded with evening sunshine and provides a space for Master Luke’s creativity!

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I’m thankful for the brainwave to turn an old set of drawers into a bureau for table wear and to also become our new family altar!Image

I’m thankful for an unsettled, grumpy, Curly Sue who in the midst of a stormy morning can draw Jesus on the cross and leave it on the family altar…Image

I’m thankful for a new Pope, who has a heart like Christ for the poor!

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I’m thankful today!

What are you thankful for?

Blessings!

Ruth

Liturgical feasts at home… the simple way! :)

It is SO easy to be overwhelmed by others awesomeness!!!

Especially now that there is a whole world of awesome individuals blogging about their awesomeness! Not that these people consider themselves awesome, infact most would be too humble to read this affirmation…. but I often feel somewhat lacking when I read about the multitude of crafts and activities that some mum’s come up with on a daily basis to teach their kids about their faith.

Last year I aimed TOO high and I learnt a valuable lesson.

My children don’t see the long list of things I want to do with them, but they do see WHAT I do with them.

This year instead of trying to celebrate everything, I went through the Church’s calender and selected major feast days and some saints who we have special devotion to or would like to learn about.

Phew!!! Already I felt a load off my shoulders!! 🙂

Secondly, I have started to put together a liturgical supplies box… a WHAT you say?

It’s not anything fancy, just a box with purple material, green material, white material, gold material, candles, prayer cards etc. Stuff I can whip out easily the night before, or the morning of a feast day and create a focus point! You could be elaborate and sometimes it’s fun to go all out, but I’ve noticed that my kids appreciate even the simplest of arrangements and that’s what counts! 🙂

Thirdly I have invested in some GREAT saints colouring in books and story books. I have tried to make a list of all the saints that these cover so I can plan ahead… but that is still in the making :). One vital tool in my homeschooling is my multi-function printer… I like to photocopy my precious colouring books so they can be used again and again! 🙂

Check out “Communion of Saints – colouring book” by Holy Imitation series. This colouring book is fat, the illustrations are beautiful and there is a GREAT range of saints!!

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And lastly I’m trying to make one meal for each feast we celebrate a themed one! There are SO many websites out there with great special food ideas! Catholic Cuisine, Keeping the Feast and Catholic Culture are just a few. If you don’t have time to do anything fancy, which let’s face it, is most of the time, then cookies or cupcakes with the right liturgical coloured icing make any feast a FEAST! 🙂

So here after all that babble is our celebration for the Feast of St Joseph…. told in the words of Master Luke and Sunshine.

OUR FEAST OF SAINT JOSEPH

Sunshine: To celebrate St Joseph’s Feast day, we made our very own St Joseph altar.

Master Luke: The altar had tools on it, pictures of St Joseph and candles. There were buns and other food.

Sunshine: There were three levels, symbolising the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On the day we went to Mass at my Gran and Granddad’s work (which is a Catholic run charity called The JPII Centre for Life).

Master Luke: We made breadcrumb “sawdust” and put it on our dinner.

The kids are having an exhausted day!!! All this moving and shifting has taken it’s toll this week. You would think yesterday was a year ago asking them to remember 🙂 Te he he!

So yes, we transformed our family altar into a St Joseph altar using two different sized boxes and a white sheet. I used the beautiful picture of the Holy Family that lives above Fuzz’s bed as the main focus and then we surrounded it with food, a bottle of wine, candles, books with pictures and prayers to St Joseph, some tools etc. I put this together in the morning before the kids were up quite quickly, thanks to my box :). For more info on St Joseph altars look here.

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The kids were enthralled with it when they emerged and it set the tone for the day :).

Mass was beautiful in the small chapel at my parent’s work and we were blessed to have our Emeritus Bishop say mass! As mass is at 12pm, it was a gift that my four plus my 21 month old nephew (whom I look after on Tuesdays) were VERY well behaved! Thanks St Joseph 🙂

For dinner I made a very simple pasta bake.

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– 1kg mince

– 2 grated courgettes & 1 grated carrot

– garlic

– 2 x tins of Savory diced tomatoes

– salt & pepper

– 1 packet of gluten free spiral pasta

– grated cheese

– SAWDUST…. breadcrumbs!

This last ingredient, from what I can gather, is a fairly traditional element of dishes celebrating St Joseph. The kids loved they idea of having “sawdust” on their dinner 🙂

For pudding we made Zepolle di San Giuseppe… because they looked SO good! 🙂

This is the link for the recipe which we followed roughly and therefore ended up with something a little different (Gluten Free does that too!) but they were still good 🙂

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Overall, we had a lovely day! We kept it simple, we kept the focus and I think the kids will remember it… hopefully :). The test will be if they keep me to doing the same things next year!

What counts is that we did SOMETHING! I feel so passionately about sharing our RICH faith and traditions with my munchkins… there is a reason God gave us the Church and it’s feasts so let’s share these treasure with what ever means we have 🙂

Blessings!

Ruth

The Rhythm of Life

So here we are, one year after I started this blog and the rhythm of life continues to shift and change, ebb and flow through my busy life as wife and homeschooling mum 🙂

Life has been so transient for us in the last two years, shifting house three times and spending 2 months in America over this past Christmas. Once again I’m surrounded by things to unpack  and trying to sort through screeds of odd puzzles pieces, “precious” drawings, odd socks and miscellaneous metal objects that somehow always end up together in the bottomless box of “bits”.

But my four troopers have found their rhythm in all this upheaval.

Week One: Everyone is unsettled, grumpy, stubborn and generally behaving in a way that causes an already overwhelmed mummy to consider packing them in the empty boxes and shipping them off 🙂

Week Two (which we are in now!): Smiles are more frequent, toys and precious objects can be found more readily, sleep is less interrupted, the garden has become a new territory to explore, the bookcase is unpacked so Sunshine can be found curled up on the couch and mummy is feeling her roots starting to take hold!

My hat is off to my kiddos! Change is something that most children struggle with. Throw in a couple of Highly Sensitive kids, a 3 year old and a mischievous 21 month old monkey and we could have a recipe for disaster, but save for a few understandable melt downs,  they have shown me they know how to ride the changing tides of our life like the pro’s! No matter where we are or what we have been through they pick up where they left off eventually and away they go…

We start our mornings off slowly as I have been reluctant to rise early this week, sensing the exhaustion my body is experiencing after travel, shifting, cleaning and unpacking. I’m greeted in bed with cuddles from my two babies and hear the sound of pencil to paper as Master Luke draws furiously at the dining room table. Sunshine is my late riser, but once up, gets herself breakfast, dressed and ready (there is a fair chunk of time needed here! :)) and eventually meanders through to the dining room, school work in hand and sets herself up :). The next few hours pass “quietly” with all four munchkins usually busy at the table, drawing, writing, creating…. learning :). On days when I am up early, and feeling full of energy, the pace is usually more intense and I find Sunshine & Master Luke completing any book work that is set by 9am!! I would love to say this is all to do with my organisation, but I must give credit where it is due, and the credit lies with Master Luke. At 5 1/2 he has a drive for learning and is eager to practice his writing, maths, reading etc. first thing in the morning. His enthusiasm and pace therefore drive our daydreaming Sunshine to accelerate a fraction more 🙂

What this then leaves me with is a day free to follow any whim, question or discovery that comes our way!

Today that was a mixture of things….

…. chalk blending on the concrete outside…. how orange peels are a part of Great Granddad Jacks childhood…. a beetle rescuing mission…. a centipede that joined us for lunch…. making a house out of the orange peel for the centipede….. discovering the centipedes old skin (I didn’t know they molted!!)…. digging in the dirt down the side of the house…. reading science books about biology & astronomy…. drawing, drawing and more drawing…. reading, reading and more reading…. discussions about Church and the Pope….. watching a documentary on insects….

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So that seems to be our current rhythm, and it works… but it also makes me think…

No matter what the rhythm of life is, whether it be crazy frantic or slow and monotonous, the key to riding it successfully is a solid foundation. A foundation not on physical location such as a house or material objects, but a foundation based on Faith, Hope and Love!

Faith, that God knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm.

Hope, that what ever trial we may face in the moment, we will see good if we persevere.

And LOVE… a love that is not based on feeling and emotion, but a choice to give all that we have to those God has placed in our lives! A love that helps us to embrace daily sacrifices for the good of others. A Love that lifts us up on It’s wings and helps us to see glimpses of the Divine in the smallest jobs of our day. A Love that unifies Husband and Wife, so that our children have a solid foundation to grow on.

This foundation doesn’t have an address, but a face 🙂

Blessings

Ruth xxx

 

 

“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”

baptism of Jesus

Imagine being there that day beside the river Jordan.

I like to imagine the heat, the dusty air, the smell of people & animals, the smell of spices and herbs lingering on the clothes of those who had just had their midday meal.

The river must have been such an oasis.

Standing in the water, a man, wild in appearance but with eyes on fire.

I imagine that John the Baptist was not an easy man to get on with.

His whole life purpose was as a light to the nations.

A mission to call people to repentance. A lonely, hard road that few choose to walk.

Crying out to those by the side of river, baptising those who had the humility to come….

He looks up and sees Him who was to come and is now asking to be baptised by him… John.

There are a lot of movie adaptions of this scene, but these are my two favorite 🙂

– The Miracle Maker (this is the baptism scene with a child’s voice over reading the scripture)

– Gospel of Matthew (the baptism is right at the end of this clip)

I love the intimacy of Christ’s baptism. Father, Son & Holy Spirit present in one moment of love and unity. What consolation Christ must have received in the touch of the Spirit and in the words of His Father.

In our parish church back home in New Zealand, the baptismal font stands in front of a depiction of Our Lord’s Baptism.

St Annes Church baptism font

When we stood in front of this image holding our precious 4 week old Curly Sue all clothed in white, I marveled at the grace of Baptism. Here was this beautiful gift that God had given us and through the Sacrament that was about to take place, she would become a member of His body, a child of the King of Heaven. There was no dove that descended or voice from heaven that day, but a great and wonderful peace… this was her first step…

Today Sunshine, Master Luke, Curly Sue and I read the account in the Gospel of Mark, and since my supplies are rather limited here in our apartment (can’t wait to be back home for schooling!), we made Q-tip paintings, using homemade stencils and Master Luke splashed out on his own! 🙂

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I thank God for the gift my parents gave me in my Baptism. I pray that my children may come to truly understand the grace of theirs and as we celebrate this wonderful feast, may we too bask in the love of our Heavenly Father as Jesus did that day in the River Jordan.

What does your Baptism mean to you?

Blessings!

Ruth

Links:

A Catholic Culture explanation of the feast

Colouring page for the kids

Links to several children’s activities about the Baptism of Christ

Catholic Toolbox activities & links for children