Sunday, October 18, 2009

Celebrating Halloween, All Saints and All Souls Day feasts







Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day by Florence Berger
www.catholicculture.org


Halloween

The year of Christ has made its round like a great symphony played by humanity. Sometimes the pulse of the tempo has risen to high intensity and sometimes slowed to a lazy languor. The theme melody has appeared again and again, and always it sang praise to the Lord. Now one movement has followed another until at last we have reached the finale when drums and brasses and strings are poised for a mighty climax. That climax is in the feast of All Saints.

The doctrine of the mystical body unites all Christians to their Master, and one with the other in God's kingdom here on earth. As the branches have their source in the vine, so with Christ we have been bound together for growth and fruition. But project that unity out of time, out of life, out of the universe and we have a doctrine of more tremendous inclusiveness.

How many millions of the servants of Christ have gone on to a closer unity with Him? All those men and women whose story we have written and those whose names have never been acknowledged, all those who celebrated lavishly both "festival and solemn times" and those who have eaten only poverty, all are our brothers in Christ whether they be living or dead. "We are not strangers nor pilgrims, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God, since we who were once faraway have been brought near by the blood of Christ." Some may be enjoying the festive banquet for eternity. Some may not yet have made perfect their wedding garment. But all are one in the Communion of Saints.

We speak of world fellowship and forget that the best common denominator of any unity is our life in Christ. Catholics are world citizens of Christ's kingdom, and this very universality marks our church as true. But we are more than that. We are members of an "other-world" fellowship which is eternal, and of this kingdom there shall be no end. The saints in heaven, too, are our brothers.

"Thou hast redeemed us O Lord God, in Thy blood; out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation and hast made us a kingdom unto our God."

We hear the call of the first vespers:

"Bless the Lord all ye His elect, keep a day of gladness and give thanks unto Him."

The day that we keep holy is the Feast of All Saints.

A few years ago we invited several families of the neighborhood to help us celebrate All Saints Day. It was to be a family party for little and big. When we counted all the children, we had quite a house full. The invitation bade them come for the vigil and feast of All Saints. We wanted to bring Halloween back to its proper place as a "build-up" for the festival of All Saints, rather than an end point after which we were too tired to even attend well at Mass. Our guests were warned not to expect much in the line of food on the eve of the feast because this was one of our days of fast.

We had planned a great bonfire out-of-doors around which we could cook our simple supper, but a steady drizzle on Halloween morning made us pull our party under roof. I had a suspicion that the menfolks prayed for rain so they wouldn't have to chop so much firewood. This was an old pagan bonfire day, Samhain, which marked the end of summer and the beginning of the winter solstice. Since at this time of the year the powers of growth are weakest, it became known as the day of the dead. We had to be satisfied to make our pancakes at the fireplace.

"Pancakes again?" you will say. Yes, pancakes and Kail Brose and Callcannon and Bannock Salainn. The Boxty Pancakes were made by the Irish for this fast day, but you know the recipe by this time. We substituted buttermilk and soda for sweet milk and baking powder. The Kail Brose, a mixture of cabbage, stock and oatmeal, was not a great success with the children. I suppose it was too much like their everlasting oatmeal for breakfast. But we all agreed that the Callcannon was delicious. This is a combination of potatoes and turnips in a two to one ratio. The vegetables are cubed and cooked in salted water. When tender they are mashed and served with a large chunk of butter in the center. Soon after the portions were dished out, Mary was biting on a golden ring. Ann found a wheel which gave her promise of a journey. Every one ate all the scraps of the Callcannon in hope of having his fortune told. There were silver pieces and thimbles and a tiny doll. Callcannon was an Irish dish, and we all enjoyed eating the luck of the Irish.

The biggest laugh, however, came when one of the mothers tasted the Hallowmas or Sallain Bannock. You would have thought she was poisoned. Such sputtering you have never seen. Sallain Bannock was a cake made by Scotch lassies especially for Halloween. They stir about six teaspoons of salt into the dough so it is scarcely edible, eat it, and then, without a word or drink of water, they climb into bed to dream of their future husbands. We, who have good husbands and a lot of little olive plants besides, decided we didn't need any salty cake to make us dream.

Since Halloween was often called Nutcrack Night, we chose nuts and apples for dessert and served plenty of cider to lubricate the singing which always goes with a fireplace party. Our family had promised our guests a play so at 7:30 sharp the curtains opened on our home-made production. We had decided to act out three Halloween customs. Strangely enough each one had to do with food. We had read over the story of the customs several times, but there were no written lines. There was one rehearsal the night before in which most of the old clothes of the attic trunk were dragged out. Feed sacks were our background, our scenery and our draperies.

The first scene showed how the Bretons passed their Halloween vigil. Since the morrow was to be the banquet of all saints, both living and dead, it was natural to think of those who had gone before them. Some of their kin were in heaven, and they would come to the feast to give hints on heavenly celebrating. Others were in purgatory, and they would have a long way to come. They would bring warnings so that all might avoid their state. Still other souls might even be released from hell to come to the feast, but they would bring nothing but remorse and resentment.

This was the deep and sincere Christian thought behind the superstitious practices of Halloween. Souls, both good and bad, were coming back. We should be ready with our welcome. The Bretons spent the day in prayer. After black vespers they took trays of hot pancakes, curds and cider into the cemeteries to wait for the returning souls. Our scene was laid in front of the charnel house, and the vigil was held among tombstones, skulls and bones.

The food was left on the mounded graves. One by one the watchers disappeared as the hour approached midnight. Only one appointed to the task remained in the charnel house to keep vigil. That was our daddy with his knees a-quaking. It is strange how hungry one gets when praying alone. There is a terrible void in the stomach when one is afraid. Nobody would ever know who ate the cakes and cheese. Better the living should eat than the dead.

On the following morning, the crowds returned. They saw that the food was gone. They were glad that the trays were empty. The poor souls had surely been there. Then everyone, church triumphant, militant and suffering would go to High Mass together.

The second scene was laid somewhere along the border between England and Wales. The charnel house had now become a rich man's house. The rich man objected to having his rest broken by boys and girls who came "a-souling." They would chant at each door until it was opened:

A soul cake, a soul cake,
Have mercy on all Christian souls;
For a soul cake.

This practice, too, was originally a religious one, following along the same thought. If the dead were returning tonight, some of them would need prayers. A rich man doesn't have too much time to pray and, since we all belong to the great Communion of Saints, perhaps some other Christians who were less occupied would pray for the dead of his family for a small consideration. The consideration in this case was a Soul Cake. Perhaps, too, the cake may have been given in charity in the hope that it would cover a multitude of sins. At any rate, the custom which began in religion has been secularized until today our children no longer know why they beg on Halloween.

The Soul Cake was originally a small round bun. We made enough to pass around the audience between scenes. They are best served warm from the oven with plenty of berry preserve.



SOUL CAKES

1 cake yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 cups scalded milk

6 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 beaten egg

Dissolve yeast in water with one tablespoon sugar. Cover and allow to rise until light. Cream butter and remaining sugar. Add scalded milk. When mixture is lukewarm, add yeast and sifted dry ingredients. Knead into a soft dough. Let rise until double in bulk. Shape into small round or oval buns. Brush tops with egg. Bake on greased cookie sheets in a hot oven (400 degrees) for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake the cakes until golden brown.

It seems, however, that in one rich man's house there was a cook who had imagination. She had made Soul Cakes at Hallowmas for years. She noticed how the children were becoming secularized. Instead of singing plain chant, they were whining doggerel. Instead of thinking of the meaning of their acts, they were thinking only of their stomachs as they yelled in her window:

Soul! Soul! for a soul cake!
I pray good misses, a soul cake!
An apple or pear, a plum or a cherry
Any good thing to make us merry.
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all
Up with the kettle and down with the pan,
Give us good alms and we'll be gone.

She also had a grave suspicion that once those children left the door they thought no more of the poor souls for whom they were to pray. They stuffed her good sweet buns in their hungry mouths, and never so much as an Ave ascended to heaven for the dead.

One year she decided to fix them so that with every bite they would remember why they had been given the cake. Instead of making plain round buns, she made a circular bun with a hole in the middle. In those days the never ending circle was common parlance for everlasting life and our passage to it. The result of her cleverness was a doughnut, a reminder of prayer. Requiescat in pace.



DOUGHNUTS

2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons melted shortening
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cinnamon
Sugar

Beat the eggs, milk and shortening. Stir in sifted dry ingredients. Roll the dough on a well-floured board until one-fourth inch thick. Cut with doughnut cutter. Fry the doughnuts in deep fat at 370 degrees until brown. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon while still warm.

The third and last scene of our show took place in a little Irish kitchen where boys and girls were playing Halloween games and telling fortunes. They had gathered red berries to keep away witches, and had ducked for apples until the floor was dripping. It was time for bed. Before they went to sleep, however, the children had to prepare for the coming of the dead. They spread a table with a clean white cloth and placed an uncut loaf on it. Water was set there, too, in case a poor soul were parched and thirsty. Pat allowed that Uncle Tim would prefer a bit of something stronger than water, but water it was or nothing. Chairs were placed in a semi-circle. Then Pat had to poke up the fire and add a log or two because dead souls are such cold ones. When everything was in readiness, the little Irish family retired.

The curtains closed and that was a signal for the rest of us to think of the night. Curfew was to ring at nine o'clock, and we had to find beds for all the children and the grownups. By nine o'clock, the little ones were covered up. Out-of-doors the curfew began to toll slowly. As the last stroke sounded, a group began to sing the Dies Irae and then the De Profundis. This gave the tone to the adult discussion which began with death and ended with much talk of the morrow's feast.

All Saints Day [TOP]

The next morning, All Saints Day, the entire party set off for 8:30 Mass to "offer Thee, O Lord, the gifts of our devotion; may they be pleasing to Thee in honor of all Thy saints and of Thy mercy let them avail for our salvation." This is the day the Gospel teaches the Beatitudes. It is good for children to hear them read out while their parents sit at their sides. It is as though the child says, "I see that in you my father and mother"; and the parent replies, "I expect that of you my child."

Back home we came for a real feast-day brunch with roast chicken and ham baked in red wine and all sorts of trimmings. At the table there were songs for the harvest and stories of our name saints. We sang many Negro spirituals because they reflect so well the close communion of saint and sinner. If heaven is to be a great banquet, we felt we would not be embarrassed strangers because we, too, had had our feasting. I have always had grave doubts about my ability to play a golden harp, but perhaps the Lord will let me help serve at the "welcome table." That is much more in my line. We spent the afternoon in harvest dances and had a bag-puppet show given by and for the children. Strange to say no one missed their dinner even though it was past dinner time when they went home.

For the feast we used our finest recipes, all-American choice and family favorites. What they were I will not tell you now. Use your best dishes and make your own All Saints' tradition. So in a mighty climax the symphony of the church year rose in crescendo. It was a finale we would not forget.

All Souls Day [TOP]

Now all that was left was to add a coda to round the whole and let the music find its peace. That coda was a prayerful watch with the dead of All-Souls Day, November 2. We had knocked at Heaven's gate to invite all the saints to a feast day. We had peeked between the lattice so we could imitate the Heavenly etiquette. We had made merry with our friends, because, as Christians, we who were dead have come to life again and, as prodigal sons of God, we who were lost are found.

But our charity and love go out to those who, though dead, still stand and watch at Heaven's gate before they can taste of the Lord's feast. We turn from our gaiety to the sombre thought that we, too, may one day be waiting at the closed lattice because we are not yet perfect. We leave our friends to visit the loneliest spot on earth--the cemeteries of the dead.

If we had lived in France, we would have carried wreaths of artificial flowers to brighten the darksome graves. If our home were Belgium, we would have made All-Souls Cakes and eaten one for each of our dead. If we had been born among the hills of Lithuania, we would have taken large hampers of feast day food to the cemeteries and had a picnic with the departed members of our family. Had our home been Hungary, we might have decorated the family graves with strands of electric lights much like our Christmas tree trimmings. There seems to be a universal desire to brighten and lighten the home of the dead. In Mexico we would have made holiday with death in song, in poetry and joking. Our children would have played with little confections made in the shape of skulls or hearses or coffins. The grisly shapes, however, would not he enough to prevent them from eating the goodies after the game. But, as American Catholics, we visit our dead with empty hands and empty hearts. Our hands are clasped in a plea for mercy and our hearts have poured out their love before God on behalf of the suffering souls in purgatory.

Other Recipes [TOP] [BACK]



FASTNACHT DOUGHNUTS

3 potatoes
2 cups flour
1 cake yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
2 cups flour

2 cups lukewarm milk
4 beaten eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup melted butter

Boil potatoes in water to cover. When done, mash potatoes. Use potato water to scald two cups of flour. Dissolve yeast in one-fourth cup lukewarm water. Combine potatoes, flour sponge and yeast. At bedtime add two cups flour to lukewarm milk. Add to potato mixture. Let the dough rise overnight. In the morning of fetter Dienstag, mix in eggs, sugar and butter. Knead dough and let rise until double in bulk. Roll dough one-half inch thick. Cut with doughnut cutter. Fry in hot deep fat (370 degrees).



CAR CAKES (PANCAKES)

2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat eggs and sugar. Add milk and sifted dry ingredients alternately. Stir in butter and vanilla. Fry in large iron skillet.

This makes a sweet pancake, good served with fruit or jam. Omit the sugar and vanilla for a plainer dish; use four eggs, one cup milk and three tablespoons sugar for a dessert.



FINNISH PANCAKES

2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups milk
1-1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tablespoon melted butter

Beat salt and sugar with eggs. Add milk and flour alternately. Stir in butter. Fry on hot griddle.

Served with ripe red raspberries, fresh from the garden, Finnish Pancakes are sure to make your bonfire party a success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Mother's Prayer

Father in Heaven,
grant me the grace to appreciate the dignity
which you have conferred on me.
Let me realize that not even the Angels
have been blessed with such a privilege -
to share in your creative miracle
and bring new Saints to heaven.
Make me a good mother to all my children
after the example of Mary, the Mother of your Son.
Through the intercession of Jesus and Mary
I ask your continued blessings on my family.
Let us all be dedicated to your service on earth
and attain the eternal happiness of your kingdom in Heaven.
Amen.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Homily (14th Sunday in Ordinary Time) July 5, 2009

Homily given by Deacon Sam Mullen, Holy Spirit Catholic Church:

Featured in our readings today are three prophets; Ezekiel,
St. Paul & Jesus. Each rejected and scorned by the very people they were sent to deliver their prophetic message too.

The prophet Ezekiel in today’s 1st reading is among his own Israelite exiles, who’ve been taken off by the Babylonians into captivity.

These exiles needed to reconnect with their God who brought them out of slavery in Egypt and who was once again offering them freedom.

But they weren't open to a rebirth in that relationship. So God complains to Ezekiel that the people are just as rebellious as their ancestors. He calls them, "Hard of face and obstinate of heart…a rebellious house." Still, God takes the initiative and calls Ezekiel to be the prophet to them, because God doesn't give up on his people.

It seems the Israelites had settled in and become comfortable in a foreign land. When a chance to return to their native home was finally given them, the Israelites chose not to go back. They now fit in and even adopted the gods of the Babylonians, who looked stronger and more successful than Israel's God, especially in military battles.These exiled Israelites weren't so very different from us. When offered a chance to change, make some sacrifices; turn to a more faith-filled way of living, praying or serving, do we? Or like the exiles, have we settled in and accepted different values from those we profess?

I wonder what Ezekiel was doing that God had to "set him on his feet." Some say maybe he was prostrate in mourning for a nation gone astray.

As we celebrate America’s Day of Independence this weekend, we pray that God will not give up on us as a nation, but instead, keep sending the "Ezekiel’s" of our generation to help us through these trying times.

In our 2nd reading, Paul is defending himself, and his ministry, against those who doubt his authenticity; he describes the situation as "A thorn in the flesh was given to me." But he goes on to say, "I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecution and constraints, for the sake of Christ." This bold statement of St. Paul is one each of us should echo, are we content with weakness, insults, hardships for the sake of Christ?

And in today’s gospel, Jesus’ own town people explain how well they know him and how ordinary he seemed to them. He was a carpenter, Mary’s son; they were neighbors to his relatives for goodness sake. So they say, "Where did this man get all this?"
As was the case with all the prophets, Jesus’ ministry required him to speak the truth, and some truths are hard for people to hear.

Keep in mind however in this passage, Jesus’ neighbors weren’t denying his wisdom and mighty deeds; they just couldn’t accept that his message was from their God, the Holy of Holies, how could he be speaking through such an ordinary person, one of their own no less?
We could ask the same thing about ourselves. Is it possible that our God, the Most High, the Holy of Holies could be using ordinary people like you and me to reach out to our exiled brothers and sisters?

You might ask how are we in exile living here in beautiful East Texas. Well, how about when we experience an illness or infirmity that makes us feel like a stranger in our own body, or when we feel out of sync with the cultural values of the times, or beaten down by continual reports of terrorism, war and new diseases that can threaten our very existence.

Oh, we’re in exile alright. If for no other reason than none of us has arrived at the place we’ll ultimately call "home," that place where our Heavenly Father will set "all things" right.
What all this means is we, the "ordinary" people of Holy Spirit are called to be prophets. Each of us, through baptism has been entrusted with the Spirit of Truth and directed to carry the Good News of salvation, to all we encounter.

In light of the theme of today’s Scripture readings, I’ve often heard people say it’s harder to be a practicing Christian in their own homes, than it is in the workplace or with friends. "My kids won't listen to me." "My brothers and sisters think I am a religious nut." "My husband refuses to come to church with me," and so on. Just remember, "a prophet is not without honor except in his native place, and among his own kin and in his own house."

But also remember, the God who sends us to witness among our own, will be there to instruct, bolster and feed us, just as he did the prophets of old.

He accomplishes this during our liturgical celebrations, when he invites us to the Table of His Word to listen attentively to these Scripture passages and then put them into action.

And also by welcoming us to the Table of the Eucharist to partake in the life giving food that nourishes us and helps us stay focused and strong as we "ordinary people," the prophets of today, continue our faith journeys.

Let me leave you with this thought, you know God must have loved ordinary people, because he made so many of us. But every day, ordinary people do extraordinary things.

Praise God.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Memorizing Scripture, or anything else for that matter.

I was reading a homeschooling blog, and she mentioned this website: http://simplycharlottemason.com/timesavers/memorysys/ . She is using this method not only to memorize scripture, but basically anything else that needs memorization. Such as Catechism, poetry, prayers, etc. This is such a great idea. And it appears fairly easy to implement for ourselves or our children. Here is the system:


Scripture Memory System


Recitation


The instructions below outline an easy-to-use system to help your family members develop the habit of memorizing and remembering Scripture. By spending just five or ten minutes a day, you and your children can learn and retain hundreds of verses.


First, a word about memorizing, or recitation. The Charlotte Mason method of Recitation is not cumbersome, yet works amazingly well. The method is simply this: once or twice each day read aloud the verse or passage you are memorizing. As the words become familiar, the family members should join in saying the parts they know. Continue the one or two readings a day until all family members can recite the Scripture together with confidence.


It doesn’t matter how long the passage is. In fact, your family should memorize longer passages regularly. Simply once or twice each day read the entire passage through until everyone can recite it together. Don’t worry about how many days it takes for everyone to memorize the selected Scripture. Hiding God’s Word in your heart is not a race; it’s a lifelong habit.


The System


Step One: Get an index card box and forty-one tabbed dividers that fit inside it. It doesn’t matter if the dividers have letters on them; you can flip them over and use the other side for labeling.


Step Two: Label the dividers as follows and place them in the box in this order:
1 divider — Daily
1 divider — Odd
1 divider — Even
7 dividers — Days of the Week (Sunday, Monday, etc.)
31 dividers — Numbered 1-31


Step Three: Copy onto index cards (or slips of paper) any verses your family already knows. Record both the reference and the text of the passage. If you don’t know any yet, don’t worry — you will very soon. Place the verses you already know behind the numbered dividers, distributing them evenly.


Next write cards or papers for verses you want to memorize. Put one verse card or paper behind the Daily divider; this will be the passage you’ll work on memorizing first. Then stack the rest of the verses to be learned in front of the Daily divider to learn at a later time. At the beginning, you won’t have any verses in the Odd and Even or Days of the Week slots. Don’t worry, they’ll fill in; see the next two steps.


Step Four: Each day you will say together the verses behind four dividers:
Daily
Odd or Even
Day of the Week
Date of the Month


So if today is Tuesday, the 3rd, you will say the verses behind Daily, Odd (because 3 is an odd number), Tuesday, and 3. The next day (Wednesday, the 4th), you will say the verses behind Daily, Even, Wednesday, and 4. Keep in mind that only the verse behind Daily is a new one that you are memorizing; all the others are just review.


Step Five: As you master the verses behind the Daily divider, advance that card and move the replaced verses farther back in the box. So when you have memorized a Daily, move it behind either the Odd or Even divider. Move the verse that was in that Odd or Even slot back to a Day of the Week slot. And move the verse it replaces in the Day of the Week slot back behind a numbered divider. You can then put a new verse or passage to memorize behind the Daily divider and you’re ready to go again.


In this way, you will review a new verse every day, then graduate to every other day, once a week, and finally, once a month. Use the system every day of the month and you will review all the verses you know every month of the year! Of course, not all months have thirty-one days; the verses behind 31 will be reviewed seven months out of the year. We recommend putting verses that you know quite well behind that number since it gets reviewed less frequently.
When you have advanced enough verse cards that you have one placed behind each numbered divider, start at 1 again and add another card to each. Soon you’ll have several cards behind each numbered divider. And eventually, you’ll have memorized so many verses that you’ll have enough cards to expand to two boxes! What a wonderful milestone that will be!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Seder Meal

Have you ever had a Seder Meal in your home? We started the tradition of having a Seder Meal on Holy Thursday a few years ago. This is such a wonderful tradition that I wanted to encourage you all to try it. There is a lot of preparation and cooking that goes into a Seder Meal. You may want to get together with another family to lighten the cooking load. And if you have experience with Seder Meals, invite another family over that has never done one before. I'm sure they would appreciate it!

Here are a few websites that explain the Seder Meal and give some recipes:
http://www.wf-f.org/Seder.html
http://www.domestic-church.com/CONTENT.DCC/19990301/FRIDGE/seder.htm
http://www.cresourcei.org/haggadah.html
http://allrecipes.com/Recipes/Holidays-and-Events/Passover/Seder/Main.aspx

Here are a few pointers that I have learned over the years:

1. Start your preparations and cooking early in the day.
2. Traditionally, the house is supposed to be completely clean to assure that there is no trace of leaven in the house. Don't stress it if your house is not up to par because, believe me, after your Seder Meal your kitchen will be a disaster.
3. Begin your meal early enough to allow time to go through the entire ritual without being rushed (especially if you plan on going to church that evening). I'm aiming for starting at 4pm this year.
4. Make notes of what recipes you liked or disliked. It might be handy to have a Seder Meal file containing your ritual and recipes.
5. Color code your ritual to make it easier to follow along.
6. For kids old enough to drink out of a regular cup, but too young to drink wine, purchase some plastic wine glasses and fill with grape juice. This will make the Seder meal even more special for them.
7. Enjoy this time with your family as you prepare for Easter.

Shalom!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Ideas for celebrating Holy Week




Taken from CatholicMom.com

Create a family centerpiece for the week using Sunday's palms from mass as the focal point. Have a special family dinner together on Holy Thursday and think of ways to, as a family, "wash the feet" of people in need in your parish or community. As a family, take the day off on Good Friday and attend services at your parish. Accompany your children to church and participate in the Stations of the Cross at a level they can understand - as a family unit you can "do" your own stations - spend a few moments contemplating each station and discussing quietly and reverently with your child the true meaning of each station. Say a quiet prayer at the end of each Station.

Have you taken advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to fully prepare yourself for Easter this year? If your parish offers a penance service, take your children and explain to them the Sacrament. Even young children who have not as yet received the Sacrament will benefit from attending the prayer service and having an examination of conscience described to them in terms they can understand. While you go to confession, ask your child to pray for you...we need all of the prayers we can get!

On Holy Saturday, make a tradition of coloring Easter eggs as a family reflecting on the beauty of new life. Tie this tradition to the Church's joy at the Resurrection of Jesus and our treasuring of the sanctity of all new life. Pray as a family for the countless people who will enter our Church at the Easter Vigil mass through the RCIA program. You may even want to contact your parish and "adopt" a candidate for whom your family will pray during Holy Week. Light a candle each evening and pray for this person and all who are being baptized and coming into full Communion with the Church. As a family, make attending Mass on Easter Sunday the highlight of your celebration. Rejoice at the Resurrection of our Lord! Read the gospel as a family as a highlight at your Easter meal.

How does your family participate in the joy of the Resurrection of our Savior?

Please feel welcomed to comment and share your ideas with us!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Easter Story Cookies




To be made the evening before Easter.

Ingredients:

1 c. whole pecans
1 tsp. vinegar
3 egg whites
Pinch salt
1 c. sugar
Zipper baggy
Wooden spoon
Tape
Bible

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F Place pecans in zipper baggy and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1-tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1-c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read ISA.1: 18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt. 27:65-66.

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matt. 28:1-9.

HE HAS RISEN!

(taken from www.catholicmom.com)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Come and Join Us!

Our next official meeting will be Monday, April 6th at 9:30a - 11:00am! Also, Father will be hearing confessions in the chapel from 10:00am-11:00am. Babysitting will be provided! More details to come! We are looking forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Excellent Online Resources for Ash Wednesday and Lenten Activities

http://www.holyheroes.com/
“Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure will help you and the children you love learn more about our faith beginning with Ash Wednesday (Feb 25) through the 40 days of Lent, into Holy Week and Easter Week, and concluding with Divine Mercy Sunday.
Join your family with Holy Heroes to learn more about:
Family traditions from around the globe that you can make part of your family's Lent and Easter, The Stations of the Cross, The Seven Last Words of Christ from the Cross, How to live a fruitful Lent of prayer, penance, an alms-giving, The Rosary and other prayers and devotions that bring the faith to life in our homes. Like to sing? Sing along while you learn the Divine Mercy Chaplet, the Regina Caeli, and the Stabat Mater - in English and Latin, And much more!”

http://www.catecheticalresources.com/
http://www.catecheticalresources.com/attachment.cfm?Attachment=ACF2600.pdf
Here you will find Station of the Cross coloring sheets.

http://www.catholicmom.com/
http://new.catholicmom.com/2009/02/13/ash-wednesday-and-lent-activities/

http://www.sfaparish.com/lent_activities.htm

http://marysaggies.blogspot.com/
Get all your questions answered about Lent. Excellent resources for parents with older chilidren.

Enjoy Your Planning!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bunco Tournament Fundraiser 2009

Just a few photos before the event kicked off! Look at these beauties. What a great group we have! Can't say enough thank yous to all the women (and men) who donated their time, talents and treasures to make this night happen! And a special thanks to St. Mary's Catholic Center for hosting us!





Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy St. Valentine's Nursing Home Visit


Thanks to all who came out! We had a great time today!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Q & A: Potty Training

Q: Abby (will be 3 in March) is potty training. So far, she has done perfect with going #1. It's the #2 we are having issues with. She wants to put a diaper/pull-up on when she needs to have a BM. I've done just about everything I can think of to get her to go #2. Has this happened to any of you? What do I do?

A: That's exactly what Caleb did. He did it for three months. He would go when I put a diaper on at night or he would go in his swim diaper at the pool. Sometimes he couldn't hold it and he just went in his pants. I can hardly remember that time because Ann Marie was a newborn and Kyle was 2. Anyway, I think I finally told him that if he tried to hold his poop in he could get sick, and that made him concerned enough to go in the potty. He was also starting preschool and I told him they would put him in a baby class if he pooped in his pants. But it was three months after we started with the process. Yikes. I remember someone telling me, he will probably be your hardest potty trainer. In fact I think 2 people told me that. I am still laughing about that comment after potty training Kyle.

Kyle went through a period recently where he started going number 2 in his pants again. I tried everything and finally told him I wouldn't take him back to Barnes and Noble if he went in his pants. He had to have clean pants for two whole weeks before I would take him back. This is a HUGE deal for him because he likes to play with the trains and read books and he begs to go every day.

Good luck, Janet. And don't feel bad about throwing away underwear if you have to. It gets pretty gross after a while. :)

A: We had this same issue with our most recently potty-trained child. Shedid this for months. Finally, as her birthday drew nearer, we startedtalking to her about not using a diaper anymore once she turned three.She picked up on it and started telling us that she would go poo-poo inthe potty when she turned 3. For some reason, this actually worked. Onher birthday (or maybe the day after), she wanted to put a diaper on,and we reminded her of what she had told us. It was a struggle for afew days, maybe a week, but we did not give in. She had told us shewould go in the potty, and we held her to that. The deadline was niceb/c we didn't argue about it until then. I had something to lookforward to and was content to wait until then. She knew she had freedomto do it her way for awhile, so she was content in the present as well.
Also, then and anytime she had a setback, I would start the stickerchart again. I would only do that for a few days, until she forgotabout it. It would help get her back on track, though.

A: Try having her sit on the toilet with a step-stool or chair tall enough for her to place her feet on. Sometimes kids need the extra stabilization and it is hard for them to have a BM without it. Recommendation courtesy of my OT friend from my ECI days…

A: finally "gave up" for a little while because I was tired of cleaning up dirty underwear. Clare could control #1 even throughout the night, but she refused to go #2 on the toilet. This was when I was pregnant with Mary. I tried again when Mary was about a month or two old. That would make Clare almost 3 1/2! I had three in diapers and was fed up! Clare went all day and all night and then all of the next day without an accident (also no #2). That second evening, I realized I hadn't seen her in a while and then I heard, "Mommy, I went... (my thoughts: Oh no, she went #2 in her pants) potty in the toilet!" I ran screaming to the bathroom I was so excited. I think it just clicked for her. So, don't sweat it. When she's ready, she will do it. I know it's frustrating when things don't go as WE plan them to. But just remember she can't go #2 in a pull-up forever. :) Good luck!


Please add your comment if you have any other helpful suggestions!

GREAT potty training blog entry‏

Hey moms,
I just wanted to share this in case anyone has potty training struggles/insecurities. I know we all have our battles, and this is definitely one of ours. Both boys have given us a total run with the potty training. I won't go into details, but I found this extremely comforting to read. It is all inclusive on advice and encouragement:http://rocksinmydryer.typepad.com/shannon/2008/09/every-single-st.html
Elizabeth

Her points on potty trainig (visit blog for more in depth info):

1. Don't do it until they're ready.
2. Don't do it until YOU'RE ready.
3. Treat them like big kids.
4. The specifics are up to you.
5. Keep it positive.
6. Don't sweat the nighttime potty training.
7. What about regressions? Or really stubborn kids?
8. Don't compare yourself--or your kid--to others.
9. Limit the use of disposable training pants.
10. (And I almost forgot this one, but many thanks to Stretch Mark Mama for reminding me) I'm not a fan of the potty chair.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year 2009 and January announcements

Happy New Year Joyful Hearts!

We pray your year is beginning with many blessings.

We wanted to let you know that we will not be having our January 19th meeting, as it is Martin Luther King day, and families may wish to spend that day together. We are also waiting for our sitters to come back for the Spring semester and let us know their availability, so that information will also influence our meeting schedule. We will update the blog to let you know!

We are hoping to hold another playdate this month, the time and location is up for grabs! If you have ideas or suggestions, please let us know, we're all ears!

We are looking forward to resuming our Grace Filled Moments study with you all, and we will be keeping you and your families in our prayers as the New Year begins for us all. Many blessings to you!