St. Joseph’s Novena Starts Today

josephToday (March 10) begins the novena to St. Joseph, whose Solemnity we celebrate on March 19.

There are a variety of choices of novenas to pray, but my favorite is this Traditional Prayer:

Oh Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh Saint Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son, all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of fathers.

Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.

Saint Joseph, Patron of the departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

I don’t think I’m up to doing a St. Joseph Altar this year, as I’m still on the road of recovery from my open heart surgery. My past posts on St. Joseph are here.

Do visit the FABULOUS Virtual St. Joseph Altar by Evann.

Celebrating the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Today, February 22, is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. We like to celebrate the namedays of both first and middle names in our family. For both our boys, their middle name saints have two feast days in the Liturgical Calendar, so it evens out the celebrations. Today is our youngest son’s nameday, and he has looked forward to it for 2 weeks!

Today was particularly busy, so I didn’t have a chance to post this sooner.

The first thing this morning was a piano festival for son #1. We know did very well, but official scores have not been posted yet.Gregory Festival 2-22 This is his first year of playing, and he is progressing nicely and really enjoying it. It’s a joy for me to see and hear.

The rest of the day we spent doing some family shopping and a few treats for younger son. He’s the one who takes random pictures of himself on my iPhone when I’m not looking:

random photo

I enjoy capturing him just enjoying life. This was from one of our walks this week, as we watched the snow melt.

Nicholas WalkBoth sons have such a happy disposition, enjoying life at all times.

But back to the feast day. This feast brings so many memories. Remember last year? February 11 Pope Benedict announced his resignation, and February 28 was his official last day as pope. Last year so soon after this feast day the chair of St. Peter was empty — sede vacante. Pope Francis was not elected until March 13.

We learned so much about the papacy during this transition last year. We cried, we prayed, we watched the smoke from the chimney with great anticipation with the rest of the Church. In the meantime we learned about the history of the papacy, the multitude of pope saints, the richness of the traditions.

I was hoping for a good picture book for the papacy, not just on one pope and came up short last year. And now there is the perfect book. I read Jeff Mirus’s review, Children’s Guide to the Papacy and knew this was the book for this feast.

Ourholyfatherthepope

Our Holy Father, the Pope: The Papacy from Saint Peter to the Present by Don R. Caffery, illustrated by Emmanuel Beaudesson is a beautiful book printed by Magnificat and Ignatius Press. My husband was able to purchase a copy before the feast at the CIC in DC, so I was thrilled to be “on time” for a feast day!

I can’t share snapshots of the pages right now (I might add them or do a separate post), because my nameday son is snuggling up with it tonight. Suffice to say the book covers all the aspects of the papacy, beginning with St. Peter and his life, with various illustrations of Pope Benedict, Pope Francis, and Pope John Paul II, which keeps the book in touch with current events.

The book is oversized, and while it is not text-heavy, the fact that there are so many pages the reading could be divided into several days. The section on St. Peter could be reread on his feast he shares with St. Paul on June 29. I also will pull this book out on days of remembrance with our popes, such as March 13, for Pope Francis’ election anniversary.

Two thumbs up and highly recommended — I’m really excited to have a new book to add to our Liturgical Year picture books.

Epiphany 2014

We are celebrating Epiphany on Sunday, January 5th, this year. The traditional feast falls on the sixth, which is also my husband’s birthday, so we’re fond of having separate celebrations.

I have posted about our Epiphany celebrations, including our special books for preparation of the feast. All stories about the wise men, the journey, the camels, La Befana and Baboushka, the star — all these are slated for the Christmas season, building up to Epiphany. Our two favorite Epiphany books:

The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park and illustrated Bagram Ibatoulline I already mentioned in this post. My youngest has referred to the “the tears” all Advent and Christmas. It is so helpful to understand the origin of myrrh.

Our favorite The Story of the Three Wise Kings by Tomie dePaola, has been reprinted in Joy to the World: Tomie’s Christmas Stories is a collection of 3 Christmas stories by Tomie dePaola, The Night of Las Posadas, The Story of the Three Wise Kings, and The Legend of the Poinsettia, with a few illustrated Christmas carols. The Story of the Three Wise Kings has been out of print for a long time, so this is a great opportunity to get a copy of that and two other favorite dePaola “must-read” stories.

I’ve updated our Epiphany ceremony for 2014: epiphanyceremony2014.

I wrote a new post at Catholic Culture about Christmas and Epiphany.

Every year we enter more deeply and understand more about the feast and and its significance.

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Continuing the Christmas Season

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I share my printables for free and I hope you enjoy them. A small donation of a few dollars can help me continue to create and share my work for free. Thank you for your generosity!

Make a Donation Button
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I love that the Christmas seasons continues until the Baptism of our Lord! There is no rush to enjoy family time together.

But I have to admit it’s nice to retreat into my bedroom when the piles of Legos overcome me a bit.

I have a new post at Catholic Culture.

And I’ve also updated my Christmas Season Prayer Companion. I apologize for not having it ready for Christmas Eve. I decided to create the pages so that it wouldn’t need to be updated every year. The Christmas season dates do change, so there will be pages that aren’t used every year. The pages will also not have the exact date on top (which is harder for the children at times). But I wanted to save printer costs.

To find all my Christmas links, see Christmas is not One Day but a Season.

A blessed Christmas to you all!

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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Helping the Poor Souls — No Excuse!

Halloween is here! I think my boys are more excited and hyper about this day than even Christmas! We are very low key on Halloween, and yet they still just love it for the dressing up, the carving of pumpkins, and the “trick or treating”.

I don’t hate the American Halloween, I’m just so tired that it sometimes feels to be a burden. But to see the joy on my boys’ faces because of the innocent fun makes it worth it.

I agree with Charlotte that a Halloween that is not “baptized” with Catholic traditions is fine. “Catholic” means universal, and in wearing costumes and trick or treating we are being universal, at least American universal.

We celebrate the Triple Play or “Triduum”, with each part of the Communion of Saints having their own day. We avoid the scary and just enjoy the secular fun (just like 4th of July!) on Halloween — this is our day for the Church Militant. We celebrate with the Church Triumphant on November 1, All Saints Day, and then we all pray for the Church Suffering on All Souls Day.

I know some of the pagan origins of Halloween, but there is nothing pagan or satanic in wearing costumes and begging for candy or carving pumpkins. So we can enjoy a fun time without guilt! Pictures later of our knight and Jedi knight in training.

This year we’re not even dressing up as saints on All Saints Day — shocking, I know!

Tomorrow is the beginning of the month of November, the month dedicated to the Poor Souls in Purgatory. I like to annually remind myself to pray for the Poor Souls. I’ve written before about All Souls Day and the month of November. I have an article on Catholic Culture: Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences in November that especially highlights how we can receive plenary indulgences for the Poor Souls the first 8 days in November.

I don’t know where I’ve been for 13 years, but I just found out that conditions necessary for receiving that indulgence are lightened. Now there’s no excuse to be making those plenary indulgences daily! You can fufill your confession and communion in 20 days, not just 8 days! That makes it so much easier! I just found out this week, and then Father Z reinforced this!

When you perform the act or prayer with the intention of receiving the indulgence, traditionally you had to receive Communion on that day and confession within 8 days. But in the Year 2000 Jubilee Year the Apostolic Penitentiary relaxed the conditions for confession and communion. The precise details:

In order to obtain a plenary indulgence (only one per day), the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

— have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; — have sacramentally confessed their sins; — receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required); — pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff.

5. It is appropriate, but not necessary, that the sacramental Confession and especially Holy Communion and the prayer for the Pope’s intentions take place on the same day that the indulgenced work is performed; but it is sufficient that these sacred rites and prayers be carried out within several days (about 20) before or after the indulgenced act. Prayer for the Pope’s intentions is left to the choice of the faithful, but an “Our Father” and a “Hail Mary” are suggested. One sacramental Confession suffices for several plenary indulgences, but a separate Holy Communion and a separate prayer for the Holy Father’s intentions are required for each plenary indulgence.

Although this was given for the Jubilee Year, these “remain in effect, since it was contained under the “General remarks on indulgences,” and not under those specific to the Jubilee Indulgence.” See EWTN Indulgences — General Conditions for further explanation.

The only thing “impeding” is the attachment to sin. This post explains a little further that it isn’t that impossible. Further explanation is found again from the Apostolic Penitentiary 2004 Year of the Eucharist that “[…] as long as they are totally free from any desire to relapse into sin.”

Soooo, if I go to the cemetery to pray for the Dead, from November 1-8, get to Confession every 2 weeks, I have the groundwork set to receive plenary indulgences for those Poor Souls. I still need to get to communion for each indulgence, so that makes it a little more tricky, but the Confession part is so much easier.

I’m resolved to save as many as I can — how about you?

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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Birthdays and Benedict — Ora et labora

This space has been quiet due to much family fun. My father turns 70 today, and his 7 children and their families have been getting together and celebrating with much gusto. We are so blessed to have 5 of the siblings living close by to my parents. And the two “out-of-towners” came in for 2 weeks each with their children. I think by last count it’s 28 grandchildren, give or take a few. By and large we all get along and the cousins LOVE playing with each other. And how often can one say that we can discuss religion and politics and be almost always on the same page! Truly, truly blessed.

I have not been camera happy during these days. I am enjoying soaking in the moments together, visiting with my brothers and sisters, reminiscing, laughing, and sharing. I love watching how the cousins are getting along so well, enjoying every minute. My cup runneth over.

My husband has joked that this birthday celebration has been longer running than Cats. We have had many get togethers, and actually 6 “official” parties.

I must keep this short, because I’m off to more family fun, but a few thoughts on this day:

Today is Dad’s actual birthday, the Feast of St. Benedict. Because this is my father’s birthday and was our previous Holy Father’s name, I pay closer attention to this great saint.

I have been meditating a great deal on the dignity of Work. And of course, everyone has heard the summary of the Rule of St. Benedict is “Ora et Labora” — Pray and Work. Rich and meaty.

We are part of a culture that avoids work. Labor-saving devices are supposed to be a good thing. But work is part of man’s role on earth. It was a task given to us before the fall: Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” After the Fall it became laden with blood, sweat and tears, but still labor is a holy endeavor. I love the writings of St. Josemaria on work. In fact the readings for his feast day are related to this Work of God. I also recommend a small pamphlet by Ade Bethune entitled Work. And a newer book published by Scepter, The Work of Children, by Esther Joos Esteban. Those are the ones that come to mind at first glance.

The liturgical year during the summer months is so rich with feasts that point us to this holy task of labor. We are in the season of Ordinary Time. The Church has been filled with the Holy Spirit and sent out to work, to spread the Good News. We have to work in the Vineyard, put out into the deep (Duc in altum). The Saints of Summertime are continually bringing this message home. The lazy days of summer does  not mean no work or vacation from your prayer life, but in fact this is a time to intensify all efforts.

I also see why the back to the land movement or agrarian lifestyle, while it is hard manual work, can be conducive for growth of the soul. There is a closeness to the natural seasons and also God’s nature, all of which are echoed in the Daily Liturgy. And doing manual labor can free our minds for personal prayer — being in the presence of God, dedicating our work. So often mental work, like reading and writing, computer work, is more of a distraction, because our minds our filled. Both are good, I’m just seeing that we need a balance of actual manual labor and studies.

And to bring it to the practical, I am asking for St. Benedict’s intercession for help in revamping my family routine, both our prayer schedule and our family chores. The routine needs an overhaul for both summer and when we get back into the school schedule.

St. Benedict, pray for us!

Be My Valentine

Valentine's Day Goodies

We don’t do a lot on Valentine’s Day, but dh always gives little tokens of love. Yes, it’s a Hallmark holiday, but he doesn’t mind going a little extra step to show his love. We got a Lenten reprieve one day into Lent. I’ve got luscious chocolates that will tempt me. Thank God for Sundays!

After my 5 year old was questioning the whole Valentine’s Day traditions, I really felt compelled to pull out our Valentine’s books and catch enough breath to read a few new titles for Valentine’s Day, in addition to our usual ones.
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Coloring the Saints

Thank you so much for your kind comments and prayers. My recovery is coming slowly. I’m still out of breath and tired, but I’m making small progress every day.

I’m squeezing this review in between rests.

1 solemnity of marysmallFor my oldest son, coloring pages were a waste of time. He wasn’t interested. I have printed out so many over the years, bookmarked sites, bought coloring books, but I couldn’t seem to ignite any interest.

But my younger son, age 5, is a coloring phenomenon. He is just so happy and calmer if he has coloring in his day. So now it’s not a waste of time or money to spend on coloring pages. The other bonus is younger son’s coloring inspires his older brother!

I signed up for the Liturgical Year coloring Book by Mary MacArthur. The cost is $29, but she is drawing a coloring page for every feast day on the US General Roman Calendar, and also is adding a few Anglican saints.

The pictures are delightful. You can preview some of the pages on her website. Today we listened to the readings of the day from the podcast of USCCB during breakfast and colored St. Paul afterwards. For January there were 21 pages we had to color, all truly delightful.

Mary sends a .pdf file at the beginning of the month to print all the pages. To make things easier, she will only send subscriptions at the beginning of the month, so if you sign up in January, your first month will be February. See more details here.

I’m a fan of all the free coloring pages I can find and I like to add to the variety (and Charlotte’s are one of my favorites), but for ease of use and organization (of which I lack here) and pages for every feast, I’m so happy to have this resource!