The Feast of the Visitation

Our parish just added a new mosaic portraying the Visitation. You can see pictures and a video at our diocesan paper. It’s exciting to have a visual for the feast we celebrate tomorrow.

I wrote some thoughts regarding this feast at Catholic Culture:

The Church closes the month dedicated to Our Lady with the Feast of the Visitation falling on the last day of May. This feast celebrates the events described in Luke 1:39-56, with the Blessed Virgin Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth after the Annunciation. The feast arose from medieval times, with St. Bonaventure introducing the feast to the Franciscan order in 1263 and it being extended to the universal Church and added to the General Roman Calendar in 1389. Originally the feast was celebrated on July 2, but with the 1969 Calendar Reform the feast was moved between the feasts of the Annunciation (March 25) and the Birth of John the Baptist (June 24).

While the Visitation has great spiritual depths and truths, there is the human and familial element that easily identified by all, especially children. This is not a feast that has many traditions or customs attached, rather it inspires prayer and contemplation on the spiritual and prayer elements, the pro-life and familial aspects, and the role of charity in our lives. Go to Catholic Culture to read the rest….

May, the Month of Mary

MirafloresAltarpieceI must confess that even though I have been a practicing Catholic all my life, devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary has never come easily to me. Growing up our family always practiced devotion to Mary in various ways. We would daily pray five decades of the rosary, wear the Brown Scapular, pray three Hail Marys when we saw an ambulance and when we saw something indecent, we would avert our eyes and pray “Virgin most pure, pray for us.” We read and talked about Our Lady as a family member in our midst, and turned to her as our mother. The younger children would recognize images of her and blow kisses to “Mama Mary.” May, of course, was a special month with crownings of Mary both at home and at school and singing special Marian hymns. I continue these acts of piety with my own children.

Even with all those daily practices, my devotion to Mary doesn’t come instinctively. I read the lives of saints such as John Paul II and Louis de Montfort and Maximilian Kolbe and see how I fall short in my love for Our Lady. My thoughts do not spontaneously turn to Mary like these saints. I am usually at a loss with loving thoughts and words. I tend to be more pragmatic and deliberate in focusing my thoughts and requests to her. Read more at Catholic Culture…..

Advent 2013 Resources

This is an update for Advent 2013 re-post of all the Advent Resources on my site or written by me:

Advent begins later this year, December 1, so it’s a shorter Advent this year. I have updated the files for Advent 2013, such as the Advent Cards and calendar.

I have a lot of preparation to do before my heart surgery, so I didn’t have time to update my Advent Alphabet as I had hoped, but my friend Lindsay created some Alphabet Cards that could be printed double-sided so her child could do the work on his own. She combined some letters so that every year it could begin on December 1st, like most Advent calendars do. See below under “Reading” for her file. I was hoping to update the list and make something more printable and easier to follow, but maybe next year when I will have a first-grader and I should have more energy!

All my posts on Advent can be found if you choose the category “Advent” in the sidebar. Also in the top menu there is “Living the Liturgical Year”, and the sub-page is Advent and Christmas which contains many printable pages I have on this website.

This looks daunting: but don’t be overwhelmed! This is a collection of our family’s traditions over the years. Just be aware of two things: 1) our traditions have developed over time, and more have been added over the years and 2) no year ever looks the same, and not everything is celebrated the same way. Sometimes feasts are not celebrated at all!

For the Christmas season and all related posts, see Christmas is Not Just One Day, But a Season: Resources Page. The Christmas page is less full, so all recipe and cookbook related links will be on that page.

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Preparing for the Month of the Rosary

Five years ago I scanned and uploaded some beautiful mysteries of the rosary coloring pages. These images were a bit flawed, but still usable. I had hoped to get back and edit the images to make them cleaner, but since my oldest wasn’t interested in coloring them, I shelved that project. Fast forward to my youngest son, who is 5 1/2 and loves coloring, I decided it was time for revision.

And so, just in time for October, the month of the Holy Rosary, you can print the updated version of the Rosary Coloring Pages. This will keep our Proclick Binder busy!

On the same page are different ideas for visual aids to help children pray the rosary. But don’t think we have everything all figured out here and there are no wiggles or funny stuff going on during our family rosary. It’s always a work in progress. And considering how as an adult *I* still get distracted, I have to be patient and carry on the work!

One thing that we have done that has really helped the children focus is a form of discursive meditation. The Rosary meditations by St. Josemaria are perfect examples of this type of meditation, and easily readable for all ages.

When I have extra time (particularly in the car), we talk about the scene of the mystery, and place oneself into the scene. Sometimes it will just be an introduction before the mystery, other times I’ll just give one sentence before each Hail Mary. My youngest particularly loves praying like this, and his familiarity with the mysteries is wonderful.

I tend to get distracted easily while praying, so my favorite book of meditations was this out of print Ten Series of Meditations of the Mysteries of the Rosary. I need to have different thoughts for each Hail Mary to keep my mind from wandering!

Random thoughts on the Rosary for our family. Enjoy the coloring pictures.

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Annunciation Coloring Pages

The Solemnity of the Annunciation USUALLY is celebrated on March 25, but this year because it fell during Holy Week and no feast supersedes Holy Week nor the Easter Octave, the Solemnity will be Monday, April 8.

Annunciation Coloring Page
From Crusade, No. 12, 1955 by the Maryknoll Sisters

Annunciation Coloring Page2
From The Hail Mary by Society of Saint Paul, 1952

Annunciation Coloring Page
From We Love God: Ordered Activities in Religion by Sister Mary Francine, S.S.C., Illustrated by Jeanne Dekan.

Annunciation Coloring Page3
From The Rosary Color Book, drawings by Ettore Fattori, Copyright 1949 by Catechetical Guild.

Gifts

When my friends lost their 11 day old infant, little Mary Rose, I felt very strongly to support them in little ways. Her mother was very focused on the Rose in her name. When Mary Rose was born her little hands were shaped like a little rosebud, and their younger son said they looked like roses. Hence the middle name. Little did they know that this Little Rose would soon be flowering in Heaven.

Because of the emphasis with the roses, and phone discussions about the family trying to pray the rosary together and having some difficulty with their young sons, I immediately thought of the crocheted roses and baskets idea from Kimberlee. I found some nice baskets from Michael’s with velvet linings, so the roses wouldn’t snag on the basket. I used I Love This Cotton yarn from Hobby Lobby because I don’t like how acrylic feels. I wanted this to be a totally tactile experience, with the roses being soft.
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Mary The Dawn — Music for the Assumption

This is revised post, originally published in 2006.

This morning as I was listening to the podcast of Morning Prayer for the Solemnity of the Assumption from DivineOffice.org (the site is not loading for me this morning, so I can’t link directly to the podcast.) The hymn today is Mary the Dawn sung by Kathleen Lundquist and it reminded me of my original post. I just love this hymn with its haunting melody in a minor key. The text is so rich. Today we contemplate the great mystery of Mary’s purity and her body and soul ascending to heaven. Her Faith, her Love, her humility, and the high honor of being the Mother of God, and the very closeness of Christ — these and so much more are the reasons for the Assumption. This hymn fits so wonderfully in contemplating the intimate relationship between Mary and her Son.

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I pulled out my hymnals to play and sing Marian hymns during this month dedicated to Our Lady. I wanted my son to hear them and let them become second nature to him. As I was paging through my Pius X Hymnal, I was just wowed by this hymn. The words and music were so haunting.

Mary the Dawn

Medieval English text, Gregorian Tone 4, setting by Justin Mulcahy, C.F. (pen name Paul Cross)
Copyright 1949 by McLaughlin and Reilly Co. First appeared in 1953 The Pius X Hymnal:

Mary the Dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the Gate, Christ the Heav’nly Way!
Mary the Root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the Grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the Wheat-sheaf, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the Rose-Tree, Christ the Rose Blood-red!

Mary the Font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the Chalice, Christ the Saving Blood!

Mary the Temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!

Mary the Beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the Mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!

Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son.
Both ever blest while endless ages run.

To Jesus, through Mary. The text is just beautiful. The words remind me of this time of year, both liturgical and seasonally: May for Mary, Mother’s Day, Springtime, gardening, Easter and New Life, Holy Thursday, First Communions, the upcoming Feast of Corpus Christi.

In searching the Web, I find that this piece is even considered one of The Top Ten Catholic Hymns!

Besides the Pius X Hymnal, this hymn is also in The Adoremus Hymnal which is in print. Women for Faith and Family has shared this sheet music for this hymn.

As an added bonus, I found this gorgeous arrangement of Mary the Dawn arranged for SSA and Chorus by Leo Nestor. This .pdf file also has a sound file, so you can listen while you preview the music. I listened to it all day yesterday…the melody is so haunting.

Solemnity of the Assumption, Revisited

Something happened, so this is a re-post of my re-post.

This is a repost from 2008. This has been one of my favorite memories for a feast day. The sachets we created are still so fragrant! Our lavender plants and new sewing machine are beckoning me to do this again, now with both boys. Perhaps this time I’ll take better pictures of a tutorial for our actual sachets.
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The Assumption of the Virgin, El Greco, 1577

The Assumption of the Virgin, El Greco, 1577

Tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady. This is a dogma of our faith that Mary was asssumed into heaven, body and soul.

Ds and I are having a wonderful time discussing this feast together. I’ve been pointing out how pure Mary was. It helps to think of sin as putrid, rotting, garbage to the soul. Mary was so clean and white, fragrant like a flower, emitting wonderful scents like perfume. Her body was so pure it shouldn’t stay on earth, so Jesus took her to heaven. My son is a thinker and has lots of questions, so we’ve had quite an interesting conversation.

I also shared the story about Mary falling asleep, the Dormition. The Apostles thought she was dead, so they placed her in the tomb. St. Thomas was late, and so when the other Apostles took him to see the body, they found no body, just a tomb filled with fragrant flowers. Jesus had taken Mary up to heaven, body and soul.

Herbs and Flowers for the Assumption

Herbs and Flowers for the Assumption

And with that story, we made the connection of the Blessing of Fruits and Herbs (assumption-blessing-of-fruits-and-herbs.pdf). Florence Berger in her Cooking for Christ has always inspired me, especially for Marian Feasts. I always enjoy reading her description of their gathering herbs for the Assumption. And her recipe for Moravian Spice Cookies on the Immaculate Conception is a perfect tie-in. She cites the passage in the Book of Sirach (formerly Ecclesiasticus), 24:20-21 that describes Mary:

I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon and aromatical balm; I yielded a sweet odor like the best myrrh; and I perfumed my dwelling as store, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odor is as the purest balm.

Our focus this year is on herbs and fruits and flowers for this feast. I posted some food ideas at Catholic Cuisine. Our big emphasis is lavender, and we did a small craft incorporating the lavender.

My main idea was to especially use lavender to incorporate all the senses. The craft would allow him to engage his senses, and he could pick the herbs, remove the flowers and stuff the sachets. I thought I might give him a small area to hand stitch if he wanted to try, and then the finished product could be a gift for his grandmother, who celebrates her 80th birthday this weekend.

I used scrap material, some vintage silk and linen. (My son loves the feel of silk, so I thought it would be another reason to entice him for this project.) I cut out rectangles that were on average about 7 1/2 by 4 1/2, turned under 1/2 inch on the long side. I folded the sachet up like a pillowcase, except I left about 1 1/2 inches overhang on one side. That would create a flap. I stitched the sides together (topstitch on the outside), then folded under and stitched the top edge flap. (Another prettier option was to stitch the sides with the inside out and turn out, but I chose to do it this way.)

We filled up the sachets, closed the flap, and then chose a pretty color embroidery floss to top stitch the “envelope” together. I used all 6 strands, a tapestry needle and used knots and left the thread hang as decoration. I tried to make it simple for my son to try the stitching, but the design is a little rough, and it was hard for him to pull through (with a big needle) the thickness of fabric, but a smaller needle is harder for him to handle. So not sure what to do there. But if you have an older child, there wouldn’t be much problem.

The picture isn’t a good one, my apologies. The fragrance while working on this project was so wonderful — a tangible reminder of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

May you have a blessed feast day. Our Lady assumed into Heaven, pray for us!

Presentation in the Temple

Tuesday afternoon my 8 year old son has atrium with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. This has been a favorite and special time for him for over 4 years.

He received the presentation on the Presentation in the Temple with Simeon and Anna. Later his catechist shared with me his reflections. She didn’t remember his exact words, but he said Simeon knew that this child was special, and after holding Jesus he had so much joy he would be ready to die.

My son also said Mary recognized that Jesus wasn’t a baby like other babies, and she knew that her heart would hurt as He grew up.

He was excited to read the Canticle Nunc Dimittis, recognizing it because it’s on the back cover of the Magnificat. He wanted to do the Canticle in calligraphy right away.

I talked with him before bedtime on the Presentation and wondered if he had any thoughts. He was explaining how the figures in the atrium have a little hole in Mary and Simeon, so that both can hold the baby Jesus. Then he was thinking about how Mary was holding the baby Jesus, he said:

“Mary was holding Jesus in her arms like this at the Presentation, with Jesus only 8 days old. She held him the same way 33 years later at the foot of the Cross.”

Powerful food for meditation.

 

Flower Arranging

One of my favorite “Practical Life” works in the atrium of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is flower arranging. The children love the combination of working with the beautiful flowers of nature, choosing vases, working with water, and beautifying the environment.

This past week I was working at our parish festival, which has both White Elephant and Used Book sales. I scored in finding lots of pretty little vases to use for the atrium, and for our home use.

I love that the season of May is brimming over with flowers — just perfect for presenting to Mary every day of the month. My youngest had found the store of vases in the china cabinet and decided to fill many of them with our wonderful flowers. I have bachelor buttons and 3 kinds of roses all blooming. (Pay no attention to the water spills. Water dries. Also my computer cord. I’m no photographer.)

He was so pleased with his work, that he continued on filling vases.

I did demonstrate clipping the roses, but I didn’t get too formal about all the steps of arranging. This was a moment to enjoy, and a beautiful gift to Mary and our family.