Monday, December 29, 2008

What I'm meditating on today:

The Gospels were written by men who were among the first to have the faith and wanted to share it with others. Having known in faith who Jesus is, they could see and make others see the traces of his mystery in all his earthly life. From the swaddling clothes of his birth to the vinegar of his Passion and the shroud of his Resurrection, everything in Jesus' life was a sign of his mystery. His deeds, miracles and words all revealed that "in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily." His humanity appeared as "sacrament", that is, the sign and instrument, of his divinity and of the salvation he brings: what was visible in his earthly life leads to the invisible mystery of his divine sonship and redemptive mission.


here is something I am pondering as I plan for the new school year:
CS Lewis:
“I think this wise; the greatest service we can do to education is to teach fewer subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects we destroy his standards, perhaps for life”

Please feel free to comment

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jesus Christ the Apple tree

I love this hymn and was thrilled to find it at this blogI posted the words here

and for good Christmas humour you have to check out my friend Louise's post of Belloc's carol.

Christmas Day

Some moments of our Christmas Day celebrations!
Our gingerbread houses...a miniature delight from Hannah

Andrew shared a coffee with us in the morning

Mel gave these to me, don't I look "cool"

 A couple of "snaps" of our Christmas Day picnic in the park.
Who said you can't use a light saber with a broken arm?!

No its not a prayer meeting! Don't they look "good" playing a round of "mafia"

Friday, December 26, 2008

At midnight on Christmas morn!

The Christmas wheat planted on the feast of St Lucy has grown green and strong pointing to Jesus in the manger, the bread of life.All hail Emmanuel our King!

The Jesse tree is completed with the nativity of Christ

....forgetting not that the birth of the babe in the manger has no meaning without looking towards the cross our redemption

Monday, December 22, 2008

Decorating the tree!

We decorated our tree this evening.First picture=the bare canvas!

applying tinsel

just tinsel


am I happy!

a few more added

is it just right

Mel got involved

this one goes here...

just clowning around!

and finally here it is completed

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Tree

Every year, for several years now we have purchased/chosen a live Christmas tree. The smell of pine needles has become one of those tangible memories for the children of this time of the year. we like to choose our tree as close to Christmas as possible to be able to enjoy it for as long as possible. This year we thought we might not manage it. One place told us that due to the drought they had completely sold out of their very limited supply. We checked out petrol stations, fruit and veg. shops but we couldn't find one just right. Then a place in the hills said they had some .They also mentioned the drought affecting their trees particularly the taller ones and we were pretty worried we might not find "our tree" when we saw these ones!

And below is the tree we chose! pretty neat eh!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Three minute retreat

Here is part of  the three-minute retreat at Loyola Press yesterday. Sometimes it only takes a few words to speak so deeply to our hearts

We need not always look beyond,  but in the depths of our own hearts. For it is there we can hear the voice of God guiding is.
O God my divine guide. I forget that you are right here now. I forget that you have graced me with your holy insight if I but open myself to its possibility and say yes.


A recent conversation with another homeschooling mother made me wonder. She was telling me how well some home school children had done with public exams “See,” she said, “our home school kids are achieving academic excellence.”

Now I don’t want to sound like I’m putting down these outstanding results, indeed I congratulate each child for what they have achieved, it is well merited!

But at this time of year, it got me thinking. The Son of God was born of a small, conquered race, in a little town to an insignificant (by worldly standards) young woman. He grew up to be known as   “the carpenter’s son” (much as we would describe someone as being the local builders child today) Before “his time came” he achieved nothing outstanding, received no special awards.

My thoughts went on to those homeschooled children who will never achieve public accolades…should we continue to home school them; should we boast about them also. Are we in fact in danger of allowing the world’s standards to redefine ours?

I have an aunt who had had to work in a menial job of poor remuneration most of her life. Shortly after she married, she had to nurse her mother-in-law until she died. After this her husband became ill and also needed constant nursing until he left her a widow with four small children to care for. She went to work cheerfully and did the best she could for her kids. At various times she has suffered at the hands of those in authority as they have taken more than their due, especially where the children were concerned. But throughout all this her sense of humour, her never-give-in spirit and her unstoppable faith in her beloved Lord has been unquenchable. She is in her late eighties now and I know that on her entry into her closer time with God He will say ”Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into my kingdom a place has been prepared for you. I think this would be the testimony I would want for my children.

Our St Lucy celebration

Hannah had set out the supper and all, the candles were waiting in the living room...

There is always an air of expectation on the feast of St Lucy, something still and silent waits there like St Lucy herself the little light who leads us to the great light Christ Himself! This year as we all came together Master L held a tall white pillar candle, the only thing lit in a house full of darkness!
Then we all processed through the house singing those wonderful Advent hymns"O Come Emmanuel"."On Jordan's Bank""Now He comes". We stopped in each room while dh prayed a blessing there and sprinkled the room with holy water. As we left the room someone would put on all the lights in that room and open the blinds/curtains(just as Christ lives in the Baptised Christian, so are we comissioned to share the Christ light/love with others)Finally we arrive at the last but one room to bless and someone(one of the older two) secretly slips back to the living room! Then we all move back inside(yes even the yard is blessed!)and enter a wonder-lit room.

We feast and rejoice!

Then I gaze to the empty crib lit with candles...not long still my soul, your Savior is coming!

What's a cardboard box for!

Recently there was an advertisement on TV that ran something like "If you buy an LCD blah blah blah you can get a free cardboard box for the kids..." Well here's what has been keeping two(three?)boys happy for the last few days! Its still going strong and providing hours of fun. So good advertising campaign whoever it was, only forget about whatever was in the box, we'll take it empty thanks!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe

We celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a special mexican meal.
Happy Catholic posts an excellent explanation of the symbolism in this Marion image.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, mystical rose, intercede for the Church, protect the Holy Father, help all who invoke you in their necessities. Since you are the ever Virgin Mary and Mother of the true God, obtain for us from your most holy Son the Grace of a firm faith and sure hope amid the bitterness of life, as well as an ardent love and the precious gift of final perseverance. Amen.

Collect for Today:
O God of power and mercy, You blessed the Americas at Tepeyac with the presence of the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe. May her prayers help all men and women to accept each other as brothers and sisters. Through Your justice present in our hearts, may Your peace reign in the world. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. +Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A special day with friends!

We spent a beautiful day with our friends doing some baking for the Feast of St Lucy. It is always such a happy experience when we get to spend time together but today I felt privileged as Anna shared her special recipe for St Lucy’s eyes. Sorry but I haven’t yet typed it up but here are some of the results of our baking!

Also while we visited Anna shared her wonderful Advent calendar and felted nativity.

She had also felted a St Nicholas and a gorgeous St Lucy.

Anna shared about how they celebrate the feast of St Lucy:The Italians express devotion to this saint in many forms not just in prayer.
"On the Feast of Saint Lucy these biscuits, formed in the shape of eyes, is a tradition in honour of this revered saint, the protector of eyesight.
The children especially young girls dressed as St. Lucy, (in Italy she is dressed in white but on her head she wears a crown of thorns with real candles dressed with holly as the red fruit resemble the blood of her martyrdom.)
Her arms hold a red scarf and is filled with the fried biscuits to go and feed the poor. (the village people) She knocks at each door and sings the hymn that reninds of Christ Light of THe World who is about to come.
She then distributes the biscuits and and kiss to the children of the home to remind them of the poor.
In the evening the villagers are not allowed any light to be on. The village in darkness begins the festival of light by "st. Lucy" coming to them singing (or chanting) Christ Has Come Into The World. The villagers respond with Christ Has Come Into The Wold Alleluia. and the Festival Of Light begins!
As she walks throughout the village street (we only had one street) she prays and chants the hymn, we respond and when she reaches the village church, the main prayer is said and the story od St. Lucy is told by one of the mothers, usually the mother of the girl who is St. Lucy that year. (after eacxh pray and response you will see candles bein lit & lights come on, so by the end of the evening prayer the whole villasge is bathed in beautiful LIGHT!
After the story there is time for reflection & Fr. usually will give examples via asking questions fior further reflection.
A final prayer is said, and as the villagers sign the hymns set out, everyone process after Fr. & St. Lucy to bless each home with New Light & Water!
The feasting begins when the last house is blest, with a great Alleluia - Amen the laughter & chatter take over and traditional food is then shared & of course commented upon!
In our home here we celebrate the Feast of Light eacxh year. We replecate the Feast in small scale. I gather all the candles I can and begin to prepare the lounge in the afternoon, sometimes we exceed 80 candles!!!!!!!! (we use small votive candles) Dinner is eaten at an early hour and the rest of time is for waiting for the evening to approach. We sometimes go the Blessed Sacrament to do this or, just quietly pray within our own rooms or our Jesus Garden etc.... When darkness hits, we gather in our lounge which is still in darkness and wait till st. Lucy comes to begin our Festival with prayer.
After the prayer we all process after Mark & St. Lucy to bless every room in our home.........then the celebrations begin!!
The "Occhi di Santa Lucia " (Eyes of Saint Lucy biscuits) and other traditional delicacies are served with the "martyrdom basket" secretly filled with St. Lucy lollies (eye shaped etc..) are passed around to the children each finding a sweet which will give them idication of what virtue St. Lucy wants them to practice:

Jelly Snake = Honesty
Licorice eyes = Prayer & acceptance
Gold Chocolate Coins = Humility
Red Lolly = Cheerful Obedience
and so on.
The evening ends with us singing Santa Lucia, in our now beautifully candle lit room Laughing & chattering about who will be St. Lucy next year! (I think Ben said he was hoping he could be!)"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Chriskindl surprise !

And then comes another exciting moment. Once more the mother appears with the bowl, which she passes around. This time the pieces of paper contain the names of the members of the family and are neatly rolled up, because the drawing has to be done in great secrecy. The person whose name one has drawn is now in one’s special care. From this day until Christmas, one has to do as many little favors for him or her as one can. One has to provide at least one surprise every single day — but without ever being found out. This creates a wonderful atmosphere of joyful suspense, kindness, and thoughtfulness. Perhaps you will find that somebody has made your bed or shined your shoes or has informed you, in a disguised handwriting on a holy card, that “a rosary has been said for you today” or a number of sacrifices have been offered up. This new relationship is called “Christkindl” (Christ Child) in the old country, where children believe that the Christmas tree and the gifts under it are brought down by the Christ Child himself.
The beautiful thing about this particular custom is that the relationship is a reciprocal one. The person whose name I have drawn and who is under my care becomes for me the helpless little Christ Child in the manger; and as I am performing these many little acts of love and consideration for someone in the family I am really doing them for the Infant of Bethlehem, according to the word, “And he that shall receive one such little child in my name, receiveth me.” That is why this particular person turns into “my Christkindl.” At the same time I am the “Christkindl” also for the one I am caring for because I want to imitate the Holy Child and render all those little services in the same spirit as He did in that small house of Nazareth, when as a child He served His Mother and His foster father with a similar love and devotion.
Many times throughout these weeks can be heard such exclamations as, “I have a wonderful Christkindl this year!” or, “Goodness, I forgot to do something for my Christkindl and it is already suppertime!” It is a delightful custom, which creates much of the true Christmas spirit and ought to be spread far and wide
This little nativity was discovered by someone beside their bed put there by whom?

Monday, December 08, 2008

We read The Donkey’s Dream this morning. I love this picture book. Each time we read it we learn something new. Today we read again where the symbols in the book are drawn from. In case you haven’t read it the story is a nativity story told through the eyes of the donkey that carries Mary to Bethlehem. Each page depicts a dream the donkey has a long the way. And in that dream is revealed one of the images of Mary; the ship, a spiritual vessel, a well of living water, the mystic rose and Queen of heaven. Today we remembered how the author who had decorated each page with forget-me-nots had not known until the book was finished that these flowers are known in French as les yeux de Marie, Mary’s eyes.

Here is a quote and a picture from the book

He dreamed he was carrying a lady full of heaven.

Mary's purpose is to show us her Son. She always points the way to Him. "I have never known her to fail me whenever I have asked her to show me Jesus" says the writer of a blog I visited today. 
Our Priest told a similar story today. He was at a Parish in India for five years that on every Wednesday people would attend to express their love of Mary as their mother. There would be people of many different faiths, Christians,Moslems,Hindus,Sikhs and many of no particular faith at all. But every Wednesday they would all come to this church to express their great love of Mary. He went on to say that during that time he witnessed many prayers answered, miracles done due to the intercession of Mary. He told of a young woman who came into the church one day with a tiny baby in her arms and tears streaming down her face. The child she said was a miracle from God through Mary's intercession.
In my own life too I can testify that when I have invoked Mary's help during a particularly difficult time, help came.
Mary constantly showers down graces and favours on the faithful, and so has won the perogative all-powerful intercessor. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Christians know that they can reach God through his Mother. She is our shortcut -- the most direct path to God for us. Our love for her is shown in our continually coming up with new ways of expressing affection for her..

St. Alphonsus Liguori affirms that Mary is the Gate of Heaven, since in the way all befits a king confers first to pass through his palace gate, no grace comes down from heaven without first passing through the hands of Mary. Even during her earthly life we see how Our Lady was the dispenser of Divine grace. Precisely through her the unborn Jesus blesses the Precursor from his Mother's womb on the occasion when Mary has gone in haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Jesus performs his first miracle by changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee -- at Mary's insistence. The disciples begin to put their faith wholly in Jesus from this very moment. The Church in history and in the nations of the world began on that day of Pentecost -- in the presence of Mary.

Here is an excerpt from the Little Office of the Immaculate Conception:
Holy Mary, Mother of God, I firmly believe in thy Immaculate Conception. I bless God for having granted thee this glorious privilege. I thank Him a thousand times for having taught it to me by the infallible voice of the Church. Receive my heart, O Immaculate Virgin; I give it to thee without reserve; purify it; guard it; never give it back to me, preserve it in thy love and in the love of Jesus during time and eternity. AMEN.

The Immaculate Conception

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Thanksgiving Daybook

Thanksgiving Daybook


Outside My Window ...

I am grateful to know that the loquat tree that oldest son grew from a loquat stone is still living despite the drought. I am greatful for washing machine water that has resulted in a green lawn(at least for a time!) ***

I am listening to...

Baby collared doves. Their parents are nesting in a hanging plant basket just outside dd’s bedroom. Youngest son loves to jump high on the trampoline to see their tiny faces peeping out!***

Towards rhythm and beauty ...

I am grateful for the rhythm of the liturgical year. Today is the second Sunday in Advent and tonight we will light our second candle on our Advent wreath. Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary and I am looking forward to going to Mass then with the children.


I am thankful for ...

A peaceful moment where the only sounds that interrupt my thoughts are those of God’s wonderful creation. I find that a few minutes of silence restores my spirit and energises me in a way nothing else can.***

From the kitchen ...

I am grateful for a family that are happy to have pot-luck Sunday evening dinners.


To live the liturgy...

In a few minutes dd and I will drive to the Cathedral for Mass.I hunger for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. At this time in the year Mother Church rouses me and bids me to begin anew. She calls me to look East, to make my house fair. She promises me that Love, the Guest is on His way.


Bringing beauty to my home ...

I am grateful that three boys are busy creating special sectrets this season. I love the way the oldest nurtures the other two in this Advent tradition***


I am hoping ...

that I never forget how grateful I am for the lessons learned this year.



A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

We have quite a busy week coming up with excursions on several days and friends visiting on two more. I am grateful for these friends. They are great listeners.


                        Here is a picture thought I am sharing:

St Nicholas

Here are some pictures of our St Nicholas celebrations! It was a bit quieter than last year with the 6th falling on a Saturday(we attend the Vigil Mass). Both boys were thrilled with what they 
found in their shoes the following morning!