Saturday, December 19, 2009

To the Point

"We are called to live the love of God, not to feel the love of God. We live this love through prayer and action. Our work is the fruit of our prayer, so that if our work is not going well, we must examine our prayer life. If we neglect our work or are harsh, proud, moody, and angry, then we should examine our prayer life. We will see that something has gone wrong there." ~ Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (emphasis mine)

Anybody else find themselves avoiding mopping or yelling a lot? When I take the time to pray, the mopping does not seem so horrible, and the children are much more tolerable. I was so glad to discover this quote and remember that my work (of which she speaks) is fulfilling the obligations to my vocation as a wife and mother. What a perfect, simple reminder to all of us of the direct correlation between our daily work and our daily prayer!

Letter to the Christ Child

Have your children written to Santa? Whether they have or have not, why not have them try this old custom this last week of Advent as Christmas approaches? Traditionally, these letters have been written at the beginning of Advent, but I see this as a perfect opportunity to refocus our anticipation, especially that of gift-giddy children, on Christ. Here are some explanations:

Christkindl Brief or Letter to the Christ Child

Letter to the Christ Child

Letter to the Christ Child

December 19 --- O Root of Jesse

O Root of Jesse, which standest for an ensign of the people, at Whom the kings shall shut their mouths, Whom the Gentiles shall seek, come to deliver us, do not tarry.

Forgive your doubts...

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Friendly Beasts illustrated by Tomie dePaola

This week was Tomie de Paola week in our homeschool. His books are absolute favorites, and his illustrations are simply gorgeous! He has delightful Christmas and Advent stories. My favorite is The Clown of God, probably because I've had it since a child and it's autographed by him!

While this particular title is new to us (found at the library), I was so excited to find the song on YouTube with de Paola's illustrations, so we could learn how to sing a new Christmas song! Enjoy!

The Friendly Beasts: An Old Christmas Carol

Wrapping Up

I am wrapping up my Christmas preparations by Sunday. I had planned this all along, to be done with the shopping and the wrapping and the cards, but a friend inspired me the other day. She told me her family has decided that next week will be a week of silence and peace in their home, no TV, minimal outside activities, just quiet and meditation. I am longing to try it, too.

Further inspiration has come from two other dear friends. Last Sunday, we attended a Tridentine Low Mass while visiting friends out of town. While the Mass was difficult for me to follow, since I had only been to a High Mass in that form, what struck me was the silence. Our Novus Ordo Mass is so packed with noise, and it was incredibly spiritual to commune with God in that quiet. Plus, yesterday morning, my very best friend emailed me an article on silence that was confirmation I needed to write this post and make this commitment.

My Advent started out with great intentions. I have mostly kept my focus on the religious nature of the holiday and not spent much time worrying about gifts and such. I have been flexible with planning, being sensitive to my family's needs. In my heart, I feel I kept things simple, but I know I did not allow myself to go deeply into the mystery of Advent. I want that. I feel like I have lost precious time.

But, now, I have new motivation. Next week, we will still bake a batch of cookies each day (mostly because I see cooking with my children as a sacrifice for me, a gift to them). My husband and I will still snuggle on the couch for one or two favorite shows. I will still spend each afternoon cleaning the house, but I will be doing it with a prayerful attitude. My pledge is to reduce excess noise.

These are my hopes. Christmas is coming. Christ is coming. I need to open this mother's heart to His joy, His peace, and His mercy. As Mother Teresa said, "In the silence of the heart, God speaks." Will you join me?

December 18 --- O Adonai

O Adonai, and Ruler of the house of Israel, Who didst appear unto Moses in the burning bush, and gavest him the law in Sinai, come to redeem us with an outstretched arm!

Stand up for your convictions...

Third Friday of Advent

Seek reconciliation...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

O Antiphons

There are many ideas out there for praying the O Antiphons that begin today, including the novena I just posted. I have very simple plans for us this year.

We will pray the Antiphons with our Advent Wreath in the evenings as they are prayed in the Divine Office. We say the Antiphon, pray the Magnificat, and repeat the Antiphon. Before or after dinner, depending on timing, I'll have the children color the images here to hang as decorations. That's it.

If you want more wonderful, creative ideas, these sites are amazing!

Detailed Explanation of Antiphons -

Jessica's Fun Plans -

Charlotte's Fun Adaptations -

Jessica's Amazing Antiphon House -

Mary Ellen's Links to More Amazing Ideas -

Christmas Novena

I am a day late posting this nine-day prayer, but perhaps your family would like to start this today and finish on Christmas Day instead of Christmas Eve. I find these prayers are too intricate for my little ones to keep up with, but older children may be able to help make this a beautiful, peaceful, prayer time, incorporating the O Antiphons. The words are simply breathtaking, in my humble opinion.

The Christmas Novena

December 17 --- O Wisdom

O Wisdom that comest out of the mouth of the Most High, that reachest from one end to another, and orderest all things mightily and sweetly, come to teach us the way of prudence!

Learn your history...

Third Thursday of Advent

Comfort the sorrowful...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Keeping Your Focus?

I overheard a conversation between two fathers this weekend that both saddened me and inspired me to keep my focus on what is really important, especially as the children become more giddy with excitement as Christmas rapidly approaches. It reminded me that most parents in our culture are teaching our children a set of priorities that are clearly inconsistent with the Gospel, and I want to do things differently.

I have made up names for clarity, as I do not know the fathers, but it appeared they each had two children. Their exchange went something like this...

Bob - So, are you two going to have any more children?

Sam - She wants more, but no way. Once you have the third one, you have to start cutting corners and giving things up. I want to be sure I can give them everything possible. With three, you just can't do that. You have to drop the lessons or the sports or the schooling or the gifts. After all, that's what it is to be a Dad, right? Providing it all for your children.

Bob - Oh, yes, I know what you mean. Absolutely. I want my children to have everything, just like my parents gave me everything I ever wanted or needed.

(I wanted to cry, but I said a prayer instead as I walked away.)

Third Tuesday of Advent

Contemplate joy...