Monday, November 24, 2014

Song of Old: An Advent Calendar for the Spirit

Miriam Scott has written a wonderfully imaginative and inspiring Advent meditation, Song of Old: An Advent Calendar of the Spirit.  This meditation, or better yet contemplation, consists of 24 short stories taken from the lives of those who anticipated and participated in the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Like the book, The Bronze Bow, whose author, Elizabeth George Speare transports readers to the time of Jesus’ public ministry through the life and adventures of a young Jewish boy. Scott transports us to the days leading up to the eve of Jesus’ birth through characters: real and imagined.  Her writing is very rich and well researched. The words jump off the page and paint a picture before your very eyes. This story is a little jewel, finely chiseled. The images are rich, beautiful and deeply satisfying. It is an incarnational work; it combines the spirit and the flesh of literary language to draw fine, detailed pictures of stories that touch the human mind and heart and make you sit back and contemplate those mysterious days leading up to the birth of the Christ child.
 I know that The Song of Old: An Advent Calendar of the Spirit will accompany me through Advent 2014, feeding both imagination and spirit. Its descriptions are rich enough for adults and imaginative for children. It would make a wonderful read-a-loud for the family. The stories/meditations/descriptions each day are easily read in five minutes. They may be savored by adults for a lengthier period of time. They will arouse wonder and curiosity. I can picture many children asking numerous questions after hearing these stories. I suspect many readers and those being read to will complain bitterly when the end is reached because such a satisfying little work has come to its end: a glorious end, but the end. Thank you Miriam for writing and sharing this beautiful Advent calendar for the spirit. I look forward to the start of Advent and pondering its pages.
Available on in softback or Kindle version. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

October the Month of the Holy Rosary

October of 2013, my husband and I traveled to Italy to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. This statue of Our Lady of the Rosary with the Christ Child is in Santa Sophia Minerva, Rome, a church replete with famous statues, paintings and the tombs of Fra Angelico and St. Catherine of Siena. 

The rosary is a simple and beautiful prayer. I think of it as the Blessed Mother's photo album. The rosary is made up of 20 photos, snapshots, divided into four chapters called mysteries of the life of Our Lord and his Blessed Mother. It begins with the Joyful Mysteries, the Annunciation, God's invitation to Mary to be the mother of the Savior of the world and her humble acceptance. You can page through the joyful mysteries picturing the Visitation, Nativity, Presentation, and Finding in the Temple while you say the Our Father, Ten Hail Marys, and Glory Be. The second chapter of Mary's photo album are the Luminous Mysteries, added by Pope St. John Paul in 2005. In it we see the Baptism of the Lord, the Wedding Feast at Cana,
 the Proclamation of the Good News, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist as we say the accompanying prayers. The third chapter is the Sorrowful Mysteries. Again as you turn the page, you view  the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion while praying the Our Father, Hail Marys and Glory Be. And finally victory with the five Glorious Mysteries: the Resurrection, Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven, the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, the Assumption of Mary, and the grand finale, Mary is Crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. We finish the rosary with the beautiful prayer, the Hail Holy Queen. An amazing, instructive, and wonderful photo album of our Mother who loves to sit with her children and page through as she teaches us about the life of her Son, Our Lord Jesus and her life with Him as He lived and walked this earth, offering His life for us so that we might have eternal life.

Below is a fun cupcake rosary you can make with your family or a class of students. Pray the rosary together in honor of Mary, for your special intentions, and then enjoy a luscious cupcake. Children are wonderfully creative when decorating these tasty treats.

 Students decorating a cupcake rosary. Look at the 
different styles that have been made.

This cupcake rosary was decorated by an adult. You can see the difference between it and the students' rosary. Both are beautiful, but the students are more creative.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Archangels

 September 29 is the feast of the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Our youngest son is named Michael. I attended St. Michael Elementary and High School. Last spring a wonderful exhibit of Byzantine art in Washington, D.C. featured this amazing icon of St. Michael. The word angel means "messenger of God." The name Michael  means "Who is like God?" St. Michael is a powerful intercessor and protector of mankind. For me and many others there are strong and familial ties to this archangel who battled Lucifer and his minions.
My grandchildren and I had fun making St. Michael's Marbles. A tasty and healthy treat made from oatmeal, peanut butter, honey and raisins. It is a no-bake St. Michael "energy ball" as my grandchildren like to call them. Below are some pictures of the children making the tasty treat. The simple recipe follows and then we end with the St. Michael Prayer.

St. Michael's Marbles


2 cups of oatmeal
1/2 cup of peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
6 ounces of raisins

Mix well and shape into "marbles". Yum.  This recipe is adapted from Catholic Traditions in Cooking by Ann Ball.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, 
defend us in battle. 
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. 
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, 
and do thou, 
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, 
by the power of God, 
thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits, 
who prowl about the world 
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Stained Glass Star Cookies

Stained Glass Star Cookies, p. 160


Balthazars, p. 158, sliced and ready to eat or give

King's Cake

King's Cake, p. 156

Maple Syrup Muffins

Maple Syrup Muffins with cranberry blueberry preserves

Maple Sugar Candy

Maple Sugar Candy, p.150

Indian Pudding

Indian Bread Pudding, p. 143

Indian Bread Pudding cut out in the shape of a heart

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding, p. 141
This would be good with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

St. Basil's Crumb Cake

 St. Basil's Crumb Cake, p. 135

Cake Pops for Mary

Cake Pops for Mary, p. 129

Coventry God-Cakes

  Coventry God-Cakes, p. 128

Minus the Chocolate!

Lollipop Cookies

 Lollipop Cookies, p. 124

Stollen (German Christmas Bread)

Stollen (German Christmas Bread), p. 120 with the folds showing

Stollen with the folds to the side

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat Pie, p. 118

Kourambiedes (Butter Cookies)

Kourambiedes (Butter Cookies) p. 115 with Confectioners' sugar

 Kourambiedes, plain with the clove spike

Round and crescent-shaped Kourambiedes

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Christmas Sugar Cookies, p. 114

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Mexican Wedding Cookies, p. 112

Happy Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus

Happy Birthday Cake for Baby Jesus, p. 108

Bread Dough Christmas Ornaments

 Bread Dough Christmas Ornaments, p. 102, painted by five and six year old children and sprayed with clear acrylic spray

Unpainted Bread Dough Ornaments, except center Christmas Candle painted by an adult - no acrylic spray has been applied

Candy Cane Bread Dough Ornament painted by a child with clear acrylic spray applied

Chocolate Creche

Chocolate Creche (White), p. 100

Bread Dough Christmas Creche

Bread Dough Christmas Creche, p. 96

Paradise Cookie Tree

Paradise Cookie Tree, p. 93