jesus

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

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Into the desert

Lent is almost here again.

I can still feel the pancakes from our EARLY Shrove Tuesday breakfast digesting in my stomach :). Curly sue and Fuzz are finishing theirs off for morning tea while watching an episode of Mister Maker. The elder two  wish they had not eaten theirs in one sitting :).

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The rain is pouring outside, the wind roaring and whistling down the chimney. It is a bleak day. Autumn is here doing its best to remind us that winter is just around the corner.

And as I take a moment to gather my thoughts, I am struck by the stark beauty of the season upon us.

Lent strips everything back like the stormy wind outside.
It exposes our weaknesses and failings.
It makes us vulnerable and in need of protection.
We find our hearts seeking shelter, seeking the warmth of Gods merciful embrace.

Lent opens our eyes again to the brutal, humbling reality of the Cross

Allowing us to pick up our own with renewed vigor as we walk beside Christ.

Lent is not pretty or comfortable.
It is inconvenient and long.

Through the season of Lent we are painfully, beautifully moulded into a better likeness of Christ.

I have come to LOVE Lent!

As today is the last day before it all begins, I have been making preparations. Below is a list of what our wee family will be doing. Feel free to use any ideas as most of mine are inspired by others 🙂

Lent in our Home

Hubby, Myself, Sunshine (9), Master Luke (6), Curly Sue (4) & Fuzz (2)

– Family prayer table covered with a purple sheet and simplified. Room made for Lenten prayer focuses. Crucifix left uncovered.

– Lenten chain – a paper chain made up of a purple link for each day (a different colour for Sundays) before Holy Week. Each link has something written on it to do. Each day you break open the link for the day and action what it says. I got this idea from a range of pins on Pinterest :), but below is the list I have created for our family 🙂

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  • Ash Wed: Bury Hallelujah (make a sign with the word Hallelujah on it), seal it in a plastic bag and bury it 🙂 You get the symbolism
  • Thurs 6th – Trad feast of St Perpetua & Felicity (watch DVD from Catholic Heroes) and talk about sacrifice and love
  • Frid 7th – Stations of the cross (great colouring in ones online)
  • Sat 8th – Temptation cookies (bake cookies and place them somewhere prominent to cool. Kids can’t eat them until Sunday. Discuss temptation 🙂
  • Sun 9th – Confession and Mass (feast of St Dominic Savio)
  • Mon 10th – Make a tomb scene (pinterest has HEAPS of ideas!… not sure which one we will use yet :))
  • Tues 11th – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet (these happen to fall onto the same day for us with our outings!)
  • Wed 12th – Memorise the Act of Faith
  • Thurs 13th -Fill a bag of toys/clothes to donate to SVDP
  • Frid 14th – Stations of the Cross
  • Sat 15th – Acts of service around home
  • Sun 16th – Confession and Mass
  • Mon 17th – St Patrick’s Day
  • Tues 18th – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Wed 19th – St Joseph
  • Thurs 20th – Make a get well parcel for Great Grandma
  • Frid 21st – Decide on and make a meatless meal for the family
  • Sat 22nd – Family Sabbath meal (as a child my family used to have a very simple Sabbath meal each Saturday night to welcome in the Sunday. I’ll post about this closer to the time :))
  • Sun 23rd – Confession & Mass
  • Mon 24th – Trad feast of St Gabriel
  • Tues 25th – Feast of the ANNUNCIATION  (other activities as well as bring flowers for Mary statue and visit Jesus in Adoration)
  • Wed 26th – Make a salt dough crown of thorns and nails
  • Thurs 27th – Make up a food parcel for SVDP (St Vincent de Paul Society)
  • Frid 28th – Stations of the Cross
  • Sat 29th – Acts of service at Grandparents home
  • Sun 30th – Confession & Mass
  • Mon 31st – Make stick puppets for Holy Week (stay tuned!)
  • Tues 1st April – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Wed 2nd – Write thank you letters to Priests
  • Thurs 3rd – Visit the local Zoo – talk about the significance of Jesus the Lamb of God and see the donkey’s (weather permitting!!!!) … otherwise we will use toys and books at home 🙂
  • Frid 4th – Stations of the Cross
  • Sat 5th – Sabbath Meal with friends
  • Sun 6th – Trad PASSION SUNDAY – Confession & Mass (religious pictures/statues put away or covered with purple tissue paper)
  • Mon 7th – Finish making puppets
  • Tues 8th – Mass, Adoration & Divine Mercy Chaplet
  • Wed 9th – Watch an Easter Movie (this is a fave… “the Miracle Maker”… need to find a DVD copy as we don’t have a VCR anymore! :))
  • Thurs 10th – Make prayer cards to give out as gifts on Palm Sunday
  • Frid 11th – Make an Easter parcel for an old lady the children now
  • Sat 12th – Feast of St Gemma Galgani
  • Sun 13th – PALM SUNDAY

– Fasting from meat and only simple meals on Fridays

– Listening to Lent in Ephesus , a BEAUTIFUL CD of music for Lent 🙂 ( I got mine off Itunes)

For me personally I am doing the following:

– No Facebook 🙂
– Skirt/dress a day…. Aghhhh! This one I’ve been unsure about but it would be VERY challenging for pants loving me… So therefore probably very beneficial 🙂
– reading some of St Alphonsus Liguori’s work and A Thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp
– rising before 6am to pray

I pray that this wonderful, graced season will bear much fruit in your life and in the life of your family.

Remember all is naught if there is no charity in our hearts! 🙂

“Do everything in Love!” – 1 Corinthians 16:14

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

 

 

 

 

“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

Empathy… to understand even the itchy tag!

em·pa·thy

1. Identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.
2. The attribution of one’s own feelings to an object.
This is my battle against self today.
How to empathise with my Sunshine.
“Mummy I don’t like tights that go over my feet”
“Mummy my fringe hurts”
“Mummy one shoe is slightly bulgy at the side and feels different”
“My hood makes my hair feel funny”
“Arrghhhh!! It just feels strange and I don’t like it”
“I want to sit by you”
“I just want one more cuddle goodbye!!!!”
“I don’t want to go! I don’t want to leave you! I DON’T WANT TO GO!!!!”
I feel the rage inside me that wants to break out and say “STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!”
BUT… she can’t…
Not yet…
That is why the rage must not be and why instead there should be empathy… (not a bad rhyme!)
In his book The Challenging Child, Stanley I. Greenspan talks about the four basic elements of a parenting atmosphere required for Highly Sensitive children. They are: empathy, structure and limits, encouragement of initiative and self observation.
As this is just the beginning of our journey of discovery, I am very much still digesting the concept of empathy.
How does one empathise with a child who seems entirely unreasonable to a calm adult brain?
How do I validate feelings and experiences which at times can seem utterly ridiculous?
The answer I feel as I embark…. is CHOICE.
I have to choose to empathise because as Stanley Greenspan says “such a child is feeling overloaded, ruled by sensations constantly assaulting her. She feels her emotions more intensely than other children and is more disturbed by them. She needs parents who can react compassionately to her plight, just as they would to an adult friend who was having a difficult time.” (The Challenging Child, 1995)
To tell you the truth, as I sit here this afternoon in the quiet of a house with no one but me and a sleeping baby, I feel exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally.
I have heard many people speak of the grieving process parents must journey through when their child doesn’t fit the “norm”. I too need to grieve, but it is not a grief about Sunshine. It is a grief over things not being simple, easy and under control. In other words… I have to let go of what I expect my life as a parent to be and make room for an ever changing, often creative, challenging, unpredictable life, one which will help Sunshine to shine how she was made to shine.
This is going to require my hubby and I to be a unified force, an impenetrable fortress of empathy and compassion, firm in our boundaries but unlimited in our love!
I thank Jesus today that He ascended!!  I thank Him for going to the Father and sending His spirit to dwell in my heart. If Our Lord was just a prophet, I would be on my own with ancient words and traditions, beautiful but stale. Instead Our Lord has risen! He is ALIVE! And He lives in me 🙂
Through the Traditions, the Scriptures, the Divine Sacraments, I am fed and watered and enflamed with a living Spirit and I have the strength to journey on…
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! :))

my prayer this new morning…

Jesus,

motherhood is full of little sacrifices, pinpricks of often the most uncomfortable kind.

Each day it requires a little more dying to self and a little more making room for You!

I see now why Our Lady, most precious, treasure for all mothers, had to be Immaculate…

How could one even attempt to guide, to console, to teach You, if one was not most Pure?

Oh Jesus, 

please transform this very earthen vessel more and more into purest crystal,

so that Your light and Your love may illuminate every corner of my life.

Shine so out of me that my family may ONLY experience the light, the warmth,

the illumination of Your LOVE through me!

Today I offer you every pinprick, every bump and bruise…

May my response be Joy and my actions… LOVE!

Jesus I trust in You!

Jesus I trust in You!

Jesus I trust in You!

Jesus I love You!

Amen

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