Tuesday, December 12, 2017

St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe

St. Juan Diego, Feast day December 9, icon from Monastery Icons

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Feast day, December 12, this image hangs in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of life and the patron of the Americas

Here are two books that you and your family may enjoy reading to learn more about St. Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe's apparitions to him in 1531. The booklet on the left is for adults and the book on the right is for children. Below is a DVD that your children will love. These are only three of the many excellent resources to learn about the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What Does It Mean to Celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas?

December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas, the patron saint of children! Did you know that St. Nicholas is the original gift bringer to children? Many think it is Santa Claus, but they are mistaken. It is St. Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra.

What does it mean to celebrate? To celebrate means to honor a person or an event. On December 6th, we honor St. Nicholas for his holy life and the virtues he exemplifies, especially generosity toward the poor and love of children. Those are great reasons to celebrate! We celebrate the many actions he took on behalf of those in need, and we celebrate his love for children, who depend on adults to love and care for them. St. Nicholas loved and protected children. He delighted in bringing gifts to them. A wonderful website, www.stnicholascenter.org has much to offer in explaining the history of St. Nicholas and providing many free resources and also items to purchase. I encourage you to explore this website, if you aren't familiar with it.
Recipe can be found in Celebrating Advent and Christmas with
, page 21

The feast of St. Nicholas is a wonderful day to share treats with friends. Here are some St. Nicholas cookies we made and decorated with St. Nicholas papers. Below are more ideas for St. Nicholas day treats, and at the end is my very favorite St. Nicholas day prayer.

Besides sharing treats with your friends, you might imitate St. Nicholas by collecting items from your school friends, home school community or parish for those in need.Things like mittens, scarves, gloves and hygiene items can make a big difference for a person who is on a very limited budget.
Recipe can be found in Celebrating Advent and Christmas
with Children,
page 32
Recipe can be found in Celebrating Advent and Christmas
with Children,
page 30

Heavenly Father, as Christmas draws near we commemorate the feast day of your beloved Bishop and Saint, Nicholas. We love and honor his memory because of his tender concern for children and the poor. We thank you for the merriment that his feast has brought down all the centuries. We ask you from the bottom of our hearts to  help us to remember on this, his feast day, that we should try to retain the innocence of childhood and a sincere faith in you all our lives. Show us, too, how to share the good things that we have with others, and to imitate St. Nicholas in generosity and goodwill. We ask him to pray for us from his place in heaven. 

Friday, December 1, 2017

Advent is here

 It is time to prepare. Advent is here! Advent begins Saturday, December 2 at the vigil Mass. Here are a few ideas to help  engage your children and grandchildren in this beautiful season of preparation.

The Advent Wreath can be bought or one can be made. Light it once a week on Sunday evening or every evening at dinner time. Bless the wreath first with Holy Water, then light one purple candle on the First Sunday of Advent. Say a short prayer. The link for the Advent prayers is included here. On the Second Sunday of Advent light two purple candles and say the prayers. On the Third Sunday of Advent light the two purple candles and the one rose candle and pray. On the Fourth Sunday of Advent light all the candles and say the prayers. Christmas is almost here and all the lights are blazing! On Christmas Day, you can change the candles to red or green and add a white candle in the center to represent the Christ Child. https://www.loyolapress.com/our-catholic-faith/liturgical-year/advent/prayers/prayer-for-lighting-the-advent-wreath-candles

The Advent Calendar is a wonderful way to keep children engaged, young and not so young, as they await the birth of Jesus. There are a variety of calendars to choose among, from the simple to the classical. They begin on December 1st and end on December 25th with the birth of Jesus. Each day the child opens one of the windows on the calendar. Some calendars have pictures, others have Scriptural verses inside the windows. Don't worry if you haven't bought one yet. I have never met a child who minded "catching up"opening extra windows!

Books are a favorite in our household. There are wonderful books on the saints of Advent: St. Nicholas, the Immaculate Conception, St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Lucy and more. Not to mention the stories of wonderful Advent customs from around the Catholic world, and fictional stories that entertain and offer a lesson.
The Jesse Tree can be bought or made. Like the Advent Calendar it begins on December 1, and it ends on December 24. It offers the family who follows its daily Scriptural reading, a journey recalling Old Testament salvation history and the promise by God to send a Savior to restore mankind after the fall of Adam and Eve. It is a true preparation for the fulfillment of God's promise in the celebration of the birth of Christ on Christmas Day. Here is a link to the symbols of the Jesse Tree with a free download to color. http://www.holyheroes.com/Jesse-Tree-s/82.htm?Click=35875&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4Njt7J7q1wIVXVcNCh0zHgKWEAEYAiAAEgKL1_D_BwE
For the Scriptural verses and a history of the Jesse Tree go to, https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/activities/view.cfm?id=545

Wishing you and your family a blessed Advent.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

St. Andrew, The First Called, Nov. 30

November 30th is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. The name Andrew is Greek and it means manly or virtuous. It was a common name among the Greeks and those regions under Greek influence. Andrew’s brother's name is Aramaic, Simon. Andrew and Simon were Jews, although Andrew’s name was Greek.
Andrew is called by the Greek Catholic and Orthodox Churches, “First Called.” (Protokletos) We know Andrew after meeting Jesus for the first time went to get his brother, Simon. Andrew introduced Simon to Jesus.

The following are a few highlights from the life of the one who is named “First Called."

Andrew is a great intercessory saint for many reasons, but I would like to show you two occasions in Scripture that point to his gift of connecting people to Jesus.

Andrew was among those present when Jesus was teaching the 5,000. Late in the afternoon after teaching,  Jesus asked Philip how they should feed the crowd. Philip responded not even 200 days wages would feed the multitude. Andrew, however,  observing a young boy commented, "There is a lad with 5 fish and 2 loaves of bread, but asked“What good is that? John 6:1-15.

We know that Jesus took the young boy’s fish and bread that Andrew had brought to Our Lord’s attention and multiplied them into enough to feed 5,000 and more!

On another occasion,  Philip who was from Bethsaida, like Andrew and Simon Peter, and a friend of theirs  was asked by Greek visitors in Jerusalem during the Passover to introduce them to Jesus. Philip, perhaps remembering Andrew’s success with the young lad with the fish and bread, went to Andrew first and together, Philip and Andrew brought the Greek visitors to Jesus.
Just as Andrew introduced Simon Peter to Jesus and another time introduced the young boy with the loaves and fish to Jesus, here  he introduces Greek visitors to the Lord. 

Don't hesitate to ask him to help you go deeper in your Advent preparations for the birth of Jesus.
After Our Lord's Death, Resurrection and the Descent of the Holy Spirit, Andrew witnessed to the teachings of Jesus throughout the Middle East, some think as far as Russia. 
“According to Tradition, … In 60 AD, during the reign of Nero, he was working in Patras, where he baptised the wife and brother of the Governor, Aegeus. The Governor was so incensed by this, he ordered the death of the Apostle. Andrew was crucified on a cross in the shape of an X on November 30th.”
The above quotation is found in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland.
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Cathedral
St. Andrew  was originally buried in Patras, but his bones were eventually moved to Constantinople in the fourth century and later in the twelfth century to Amalfi, Italy.
 Legend has it that St. Regulus, a Greek monk brought a few relics of St. Andrew to Scotland. A chapel was dedicated to St. Andrew and a town named after him. In the 8th century the leader of the Pics and Scots, Oengus, fearing the loss of a battle to the Angles promised St. Andrew he would dedicated Scotland to his patronage if he won. He did win and the country was dedicated to St. Andrew. In 1158 a beautiful cathedral was built, which became the center of Medieval Catholic Church in Scotland. During the Protestant Reformation the cathedral and its relics were burned. Only the ruins of the cathedral remain today in the city of St. Andrews. November 30 is the patronal feast of Scotland and a national holiday. Traditional customs and foods are associated with the holiday. See picture and link to a recipe below. The national flag is the saltire cross flag.
Remains of ruined cathedral
St. Andrew's Christmas Novena Prayer - begin this prayer on November 30, recite it 15 times each day and conclude on Christmas

Hail and Blessed be the hour and the moment when the Son of God was born of the most holy Virgin Mary at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. In that hour, I beseech thee O God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires (here mention your intentions) through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ and His Most Blessed Mother. Amen                                                                                                           

Saltire Flag

Petticoat Tails Shortbread

Our baker is not Scottish but her shortbread is the traditional Petticoat Tails !


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Once I Was Blind But Now I See - Book Review

Charles Piccirelli grew up in an Italian Catholic family in Baltimore, Maryland. Like many, he lost his faith in his early teens. But although he lost his faith, he did not lose a thirst for the deeper meaning in life. He did for a while, however, search for it in all the wrong places. While he searched in the wrong places, he also engaged in behaviors which reflected the places he was in – the occult, the entertainment industry and a local gang.

God has a way of changing our game plan, often not overnight, but eventually. While enjoying a singing and dancing career with his older brother, Bud, Bud broke his leg and that put an end to the dancing. Regrouping they became a singing duo and enjoyed success regionally, eventually taking their act to Hollywood. After a few months, the brothers were back in Baltimore disillusioned with Tinsel town.

Meanwhile, Charles was living at home and somewhat at loose ends. His mother urged him to invite Mary, a family friend, out to a big Italian celebration. Reluctant to do so, affection for his mother wins out, and Mary is invited. What a surprise Charles has while he and Mary are riding over to the Italian banquet. He hears the voice of God telling him that he is going to marry Mary. Confused and yet ecstatic that the God he has been searching for has spoken to him, he begins a lifelong relationship with the Lord that reflects both the ordinary means and some extraordinary charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Once I Was Blind But Now I See is one man’s witness to the Lord’s presence in his interior life and the call to follow the Holy Spirit in the nitty gritty of his daily life and in the lives of all that the Lord brings to him. The book is divided into two parts: Once I Was Blind which is nine chapters and Now I See which is twenty-one chapters. In the early part of the book the Lord is drawing Charles out of himself and into the life of the Holy Spirit, from a life of sin and selfishness to a life of grace and the struggle to be faithful to the Lord’s work in his life.

Many chapters in the book reveal ordinary situations that many of us have found ourselves in. But in the case with Charles, the Lord often interrupts Charles’ thoughts to give him direct answers to the prayers he prays and the guidance he seeks. In these interruptions, as Charles describes them, God speaks to Charles and directs him to take certain actions for himself or for others. Charles also has visions which have affected his faith life dramatically and that of his family and friends.

There are many miracles and beautiful lessons in this book testifying to Charles’ journey as he becomes a fuller disciple of the Lord. Those lessons are not just for Charles. They are for all of us! I remember thinking as I was reading a chapter that God worked a miracle for him while he was still in sin.  “Does God work miracles for sinners? I don’t think so!” I thought. Then it struck me. “Of course, he does.” God works miracles for sinners, you and me all the time! So often we don't recognize them.

One thing becomes clear as you read the book and follow Charles’ relationship with the Lord. Each one of us must learn to listen to the Lord more closely, to pray to recognize the “still small voice” in our lives and to “cast out into the deep” when we are directed to do so.  We may not experience the same gifts as Charles, but the Lord has many things to tell each one of us and gifts to give. Read this book, be inspired, and thank the Lord for the many miracles he has performed and continues to perform through Charles.  Pray, and ask the Lord to help you learn how to listen more closely to him as he speaks to you. You cannot read this book without coming away with lessons and guidance for your own journey with Christ and with his Holy Spirit. Thank you, Charles for sharing the Lord’s work in your life with us and Kim for assisting him with the book. To purchase the book go to, https://thelionofdesign.com/

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Moving this Summer?

Are you moving this summer? You may find this book helpful. 
Adventures of Faith, Hope and Charity - Finding Patience is a sweet children's story which is sure to appeal to children who have recently been uprooted.
Three sisters find themselves in a new town. Their Dad has taken another job, and Mom is busy unpacking and helping everyone settle in, except Faith. Faith is the oldest and she is anxious about the new environment: the neighborhood, school and friends. Hers is a wise Mom and Dad who provide just the right amount of guidance, love and understanding to enable Faith to wait for a good friend.
 This story offers the child who has just moved a comforting ending and for other young children a lesson in prayer and patience. It's one of those stories that you cozy up on the couch with a throw and snuggle together while reading it to younger family members or as an enrichment story in your classroom. Children will love the vivid colors of the illustrations and will want to page through them many times over.

This book can be found on Amazon.com

Friday, June 30, 2017

St. Junipero Serra, O.F.M, July 1

The feast day of St. Junipero Serra is sure to bring back memories of his canonization on September 23, 2015, at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Serra was the first saint to be canonized on U.S. soil. Born on the island of Majorca in 1713, he was educated by the Franciscans from an early age. Entering the order when he was fifteen, the date of his ordination is uncertain but December of  1738 is given. He studied for and received a doctorate in theology in 1742 and later in 1749 was assigned to America as a missionary to the Indians. He is best known for founding nine of the twenty-one California Missions. For more information on St. Junipero Serra, http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/papal-visit-2015/junipero-serra-biography.cfm

Washington, D.C. and its surroundings were alive with excitement over the visit by Pope Francis on the occasion of the canonization and subsequent visit to the United States Congress. 

Our diocesan priests rode the metro to the Brookland/CUA station where we all disembarked, waiting to get a glimpse of the crowds and the set-up for the event that was just out of sight from our metro view.

It was a long wait to get beyond security and the ticket checkers. We found some old friends and met a few new ones while we waited. Fr. Peter from TN is with Rosemary and her friend's daughters from CA. We were not the only ones, waiting and praying patiently for our turn to go through security.

Finally the wait was over. At least the first leg of it. We rounded the corner and saw the staged altar with the large monitors to the right and to the left, which would allow many to watch the canonization Mass from a distance. That was us!

And finally, Pope Francis came out and Mass began. The excited crowd quieted and an experience of a lifetime began for all those present: the canonization of Blessed Junipero Serra on American soil. What a grace for the United States.
When all had ended, we stopped and looked back at the basilica with its carillon
 tower left of the dome and the large banner of St. Juniper Serra barely visible to the top right of Rosemary's hat. It was a day and experience that we would never forget. St. Junipero Serra, pray for us and for the United States.

Closer view of the banner hanging on the front side of the basilica.

If you are inspired to make and bake an edible treat from St. Serra's birthplace of Majorca, here is a link below to the recipe I posted in 2016. Enjoy and happy feast day!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Divine Mercy Sunday - Divine Mercy Sundaes

Sunday, April 23, 2017, is Divine Mercy Sunday. Our Lord appeared to a Polish nun, Sister Faustina, in 1935 and instructed her in a prayer called the Divine Mercy Chaplet. The prayer is said on rosary beads and consists of an Our Father, Hail Mary, Apostles Creed and two other prayers directed to God. One offers the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in atonement for personal sins and for the whole world. The other for the sake of the Passion of Jesus asks for mercy on the one praying and on the whole world. This is a very powerful prayer given by Our Lord himself.
 Here is a link on how to say the chaplet,
For a fuller understanding of the Divine Mercy message, 

The Catholic Women of the Chapel at Fort Lee, VA, have come up with a creative way to celebrate this day with their young families. Called Divine Mercy Sunday/Divine Mercy Sundaes they will pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3pm with their families and conclude the afternoon by making dessert sundaes. Perhaps some of you might like to try this with your young families? Sister Faustina was canonized in 2000 by Pope John Paull II. St. Faustina pray for us!

Friday, March 3, 2017

Family Lenten Activities with Grandparents, 2017

Every year the Church gives us the season of Lent. A season of penance and renewal.  Penance is the turning away from sin and the opening of our hearts to more fully receive God’s gifts. The renewal is a reminder of our baptism when through water and the words of the priest or deacon, the Holy Spirit of God first entered our souls, removing original sin and flooding us with grace. As Catholic grandparents, how can we help our grandchildren to make room for Jesus and experience more of his life and grace this Lent? The following are a few suggestions.

Praying Arms - Pretzel
If you live near your grandchildren, invite them over to make pretzels! Pretzels were traditionally Lenten fare. Made originally of flour, water and salt, their shape is in the form of arms folded in prayer. Serve the pretzel and use it as a springboard to explain prayer as a conversation with Jesus. Burying the Alleluia is a fun and instructive activity. Catholics do not say the Alleluia at Mass during Lent, the Church’s penitential season. Alleluia means “praise Yahweh.” The Alleluia returns at the Easter Vigil Mass, the Church’s season of rejoicing. For instructions for burying the alleluia or making palm crosses, go to www.catholicicing.com

The Stations of the Cross are prayed in many parishes. When you go, invite your grandchildren to join you.  For younger grandchildren, outdoor Stations of the Cross are a better option, or The Stations of the Cross coloring book from Pauline Books & Media. Children’s Station of the Cross booklets are available from www.autom.com.

Lenten Calendar from www.catholicicing.com
Children need concrete activities. There are printable Lenten maps which take the child day by day on a journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. You and your grandchild determine the activities.  I like the linked paper chain activity made from purple construction paper. Every good deed adds a link to the chain. The challenge is to see how many good deeds can be made before Easter arrives! There are more children’s activities at https://www.pinterest.com/colleenmarie51/lenten-activities-for-kids/  

Bread Dough Crown of Thorns

For your crafter/artist a bread dough crown of thorns or crucifix will draw them into the deeper meaning of Lent. 

Scones for the Annunciation

Hot cross buns, scones for the Annunciation and ceam puffs for the solemnity of St. Joseph will keep baking hands busy, https://foodsandfestivitiesofthechristianyear.blogspot.com, archive 2015.

Lent is a time for fasting. We associate fasting with food but it is also a time to fast from TV, electronics and technology. We can help our grandchildren fill their time with good books. Suggest reading  a saint whose feast day falls during Lent to fill their technology fast!  The Lent-Easter Book by Joan Marie Arbogast is full of activities, stories and printables suitable for grades K – 3 and 4- 8. More books for children can be found on https://www.pinterest.com/colleenmarie51/lent-and-easter-books-for-children 
Singh family benefits from Operation Rice Bowl with new farming techniques

Operation Rice Bowl or a similar charity is a way to share money saved from sacrificed treats.  Show your grandchildren pictures of how the money will be used, so they can see how their sacrifices help others.

Our love for Christ and the Church is the greatest gift we can share with our children and grandchildren.  Immerse yourself in the season, and be assured of the many graces and blessings the Lord will bestow on you and your family.