Category Archives: Celebrations/Liturgical Events

Holy Thursday 2016: Lenten Tea

An old blog post about two of our favorite Holy Thursday Traditions!

Chasing time and Drinking wine

When I first started blogging, I was eager to share my ideas with other moms. I was eager to inspire other moms to get more involved and celebrate the liturgies of the Church in our homes. I love to celebrate holidays and liturgical events. With this in mind, I quickly found plenty of other blogger moms who had plenty of ideas to share with me as well. I have referenced Catholic All Year, Sole Searching Mama, and Sometimes Martha Always Mary, as three of these such bloggers.

Let me begin by saying that I love Holy Week. I try to set up my week by having Wednesday and Thursday be my cleaning and purging days. I wrap up all my schoolwork with the children on Wednesday. The children and I spend Holy Thursday cleaning our house and preparing for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday! I…

View original post 766 more words

Advertisements

First Confession/Penance…making it meaningful

Next week my fourth child, Mini Me,  will make her First Penance. Other than her First Communion, this is the second best part of 2018 for her. I will confess that this same child has already tried several times to receive her first communion..haha. Thankfully the Holy Spirit had prompted me to look up, both times, and gently shake my head to the priest, as I moved her over to receive myself.

mini me and I

As I was going through my notes of what I need to plan to make this day special, I thought this might be a great way to link up with Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 quick takes for this week.

Seven-Quick-Takes-300x300

Sit down and talk with your child about this big event.

Open communication is a great way to discover how your child is feeling about this big event. It’s a great time to answer any questions or displace any fears that you might not have known about. We recently sat down and had a little tea about my daughter’s first confession. We went through the ten commandments and did a little “examination of conscience”. I showed her how each commandment can apply to something in her life. She was able to see what sins she may be struggling with.

Place the Act of Contrition prayer in several places throughout the house to help them memorize it.

This weekend I will be taping a copy of the Act of Contrition in my daughter’s bathroom, in our downstairs bathroom, above her desk in our school room, and on the door of our refrigerator. As a young child, I would often work on memorizing a prayer that my mom had in our bathroom as I brushed my teeth or washed my hands. I didn’t even know that I was doing it. I figured the same concept would work for my little one.

My plan is to encourage her to read over the Act of Contrition prayer before bed, in the morning, and several times throughout the day.

You can find this photo below to print out here. 

first penance act of contrition

Spend time rehearsing the events of the day. 

On Sunday after Mass, I will be giving my daughter a tour of the confessional in our church. She is homeschooled so this is not something that we have done yet, although it is often covered in CCD, PREP classes, or Catholic school.

Children can often make an event scarier than it needs to be in their mind. Therefore, we will spend some time showing her how to go in and close the confessional door. I will explain to her how the priest will push the screen to hear her confession. I want her to feel comfortable with kneeling on the kneeler in the dark and being able to remember her sins.

We will then go through the motions of her finding a quiet place in the church to complete the penance that the priest gives her.

I think this is also a great time to share with your son/daughter that other members of the family (including yourself) will be taking part in this sacrament as well. It is important that we stress that we should take advantage of this sacrament when it is available to us. 

Allow your child to pick a special dinner spot.

My children pick their favorite dinner spot only several times a year…one being their  birthday, or a special occasion like this. It’s always nice to celebrate the uniqueness of each child in this special way and the other children look forward to the mystery of what dinner will be.

In the past, we have often gotten the child some vanilla ice cream for dessert to celebrate the purity of the Sacrament that he/she just received.

Take plenty of pictures to capture the day.

This picture is one of my favorites. It really shows how focused little Sweet Pea was on this special moment in her life.

first penance blog

This picture of the Fashionista just radiates her excitement of the wonder of being freed from sin. I remember her telling me “I can’t wait to now receive Jesus!”

penance kals

We make sure to get pictures of the child with their godparents, with our family, and often a picture of them holding their reconciliation certificate.

Try and select a small token gift that will have meaning for your child. 

first confession gift

This was a tradition that we started with our oldest, and has become a coveted tradition. We pick several symbolic gifts in a gift bag with this tag attached. The items change as does the symbols/virtues behind them so the children love to see what I have come up with. Additionally, we have also used white tic tacs to remind us that we are made pure as “white as snow”. You could also include a fun candy bar like “Mounds” of grace or “almond joy” of the sacrament.

Schedule confession on your family calendar, once a month, for the next 4-6 months so they can practice this Sacrament often. 

This is a huge goal of mine for this year. We have not done this in the past but have made a decision on a Sunday to attend our local shrine that has confessions right before Mass. However, this year I think it is important for the children to see it listed as an integral faith activity just like Sunday Mass.

Your child’s First Confession/First Penance is a beautiful day to cherish the graces of this sacrament.

I hope some of these suggestions will prove fruitful for you.

img_9960

Happy Feast of St. Francis De Sales!!!!

When I was traveling abroad as a college student, I went on a trip to Ars, France. As I learned about the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney, I was startled by a quote from this amazing priest.  It was once said to have been out walking when he saw a man walking his dog across the street.  It was said that he stated, “If only your soul was as pure as your dog’s.”

Ouch…haha.

Needless to say, he was known for hearing confessions for hours.

As I continued my study abroad, my knowledge of the saints grew as I saw countless relics, birth places, shrines, and cathedrals to some of these amazing saints. I walked the same villages where they lived. I sat in the churches where they preached. I saw the fruits of the lives they lived.

Countless quotes spoke to my heart, that semester,  as I continued on my own faith journey.

As a young mom, I would open my old journal and often read through some of those quotes and allow them to speak Truth into my life.

My favorite quotes from St. Theresa of Avila and my favorite scripture verses adorn my bathroom mirror while I wash my face each morning.

So when I recently started the daily scripture readings with my children as part of their homeschooling curriculum, I thought it would be great to include some quotes from these saints on their feast days.

I share some of my favorite quotes of Mother Theresa here.

This quote by St. Francis De Sales spoke into my heart today:

st francis de sales

Such a beautiful reminder of how we can look for little ways to give in service of others for love of God.

How we love God is shown by how we love those he has given us in our life.

We love God by loving others. 

I love how my husband loves our children. They really are everything to him.

So when my son wanted to stop during our hike, and take a look at the huge drop off beyond this rock, I wanted to lose my mind.

Every fear for his safety surfaces.

You can imagine my peace when my husband grabbed his arm and said, ” I got you buddy. I won’t let you fall.”

It’s the little ways, like this, that we protect those around us.

The reassurance of a dad’s hand.

A mom’s comforting words after a rough disagreement with friends.

God calls us to walk this earth with “open eyes” seeking those people who need our help.

Showering our love in little ways that add up.

 

stfrancisdesales

My beautiful sister-in-law purchased this book for me and I have been reading through multiple pages today.

It’s such a source of wisdom. You can find a copy here.

In the words of St. Francis De Sales:

” What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience.”

img_9960

Thanks…giving. Let’s be thankful…..

As I sit here on my couch smelling my turkey cooking, and watching the Macy’s Day parade in my pajamas, I have so much to be thankful for….

  • Thank you Lord for another day to love my husband, and share my time with my children. Thank you for my health…..
  • Thank you Lord for my husband’s tireless work ethic that keeps our family provided for and allows me to stay home and school my children. Thank you for his humor, his love, and his faithfulness to our marriage and our family.
  • Thank you Lord for my parents and the person they formed me to be. Thank you for their sacrificial love and the way they continue to love and support me.
  • Thank you Lord for my beautiful mother-in-law who is a true inspiration in her faithfulness and love. She has always made me feel like her daughter.
  • Thank you Lord for all my in-laws who are truly my best friends. I couldn’t have imagined the blessings they would hold for me.
  • Thank you Lord for the beautiful loveletters you sprinkle into my day to remind me how much you love me.
  • Thank you Lord for the amazing priests you have placed in my life to help me grow.
  • Thank you Lord for the faith-filled women in my Walking With Purpose bible study group and the way that they call me on to holiness.
  • Thank you Lord for the trials and blessings of this year which keep my family ever dependent on you.
  • Thank you Lord for my Franciscan University of Steubenville  family. Many of those friendships span 20 years, over multiple states and countries. I have prayed with many of you through tough medical crises, the loss of spouses and children, and financial hardships. You have been a constant reminder to me of the power of prayer and the strength of friendships centered in Christ. I will be forever grateful for how FUS changed me.
  • Finally, Thank you Lord for you……all of my faithful blog readers who read my thoughts, however inconsistent, and respond with such encouragement and love.

Praying that this Thanksgiving season will have your heart overflowing as you spend some time reflecting on God’s providence in your life. How truly great is our God!

img_9960

 

 

Feast of St. Teresa- quotes to live by…..

Tomorrow marks the feast day of a wonderful saint in our church….St. Teresa of Calcutta.

I will never forget the first time I saw this little woman on TV.

I remember the news reporter discussing how this little woman was treating the “sickest of the sick”.

The room full of white sheets and cots as this little woman dressed in white and blue moved from bed to bed.

She caressed those hard faces…..she lovingly held the dying…..and bandaged up those filthy wounds.

What the news reporter tried to pass off as “heroic virtue”, Mother Teresa reassured them it was simply “being Christ” to others.

Her faith was simple.

Her faith was strong.

mother teresa 2

I remember a few years later …she seemed so frail….too old to be doing all the work that she so tirelessly did.

However, I remember seeing a picture of her smiling and the joy that radiated from her eyes.

Her beauty shown forth from her soul.

She was a small woman who spoke with such conviction, and faith.

Tomorrow, I will spend the day writing some of these lesser known but beautiful quotes, from St. Teresa, on paper flowers throughout my home…..

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

I thank God for this spunky, little Indian woman who has blessed this Earth.

I pray that her example may be a catalyst to the fire in all of our hearts to want less things, judge less hearts, and give more love.

St. Teresa….pray for us!

img_9960

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I do…..a lesson about finding your strength.

“I do….to the struggles. I do…to living selflessly for each other. I want you to build a wall of love that nothing can tear down. This wall that will surround these five blessings and give them security, peace, and endless love”….

 

I do.

The day started off innocent enough…I  woke up one Sunday with the desire to see the kids hit confession. Our family happens to be blessed with a local Shrine that offers confession for the 15-20 minutes before their 2:30 Mass. It’s super convenient to watch my three oldest hit the confessional and come out beaming. This Sunday, which I speak of, I did an examination of conscience with the kiddos while the hubby drove. Nothing super enlightening….your basic review of the 10 commandments with gentle “nudges” as to the areas that I saw some of them struggling with…haha.

Confession.

That sacrament that often we forget about. A sacrament, all too often underutilized, in our struggle to be Christ-like in a fallen world.

Our family would love to say that Confession is a monthly commitment like our other activities but it often isn’t. It can be anywhere between a month and a half to three months before our family goes or realizes how long it’s been.

But this time around, this little Polish priest had this unsuspecting mom crying through the first 20 minutes of Mass…with two little words….

As Mass was about to start, I saw the kids to our pew, after their confessions, and ducked into the confessional myself.

Image result for images of confession

Alright….clear my brain…..

Frustration. Quick to anger with the kiddos. Laziness. Being Judgmental

These guys knew that they were the usual culprits…haha.

As I started to roll out these guys, the priest stopped me at quick to anger with the kiddos.

“Oh…so you are a mom. How many kids?”

Five….

“Five?! Wow….you are a blessed and busy momma. And what are their ages?”

12, 10, 9, 6, 4…..

“Oh my goodness. So you are also a hard working mom.”

(insert a few tears….that was nice to hear)

“Let me ask you….do you have a good husband?”

(wait….what’s going on here. I’m just trying to remember which sins to confess and you are distracting me. And why do I feel so emotionally overwhelmed right now?)

(choking back tears) Yes…he’s a really good man. Great husband…great father….

“Then you have everything that you need…you just forget. I want you to work on the greatest strength that you have in trying to be a mom. You need to work on the strong bond of your marriage. This will give you the grace to raise your kids.”

(tears really flowing now….totally blindsided by his tender words that are hitting me so hard) um…ok.

(wait…..this is really heavy stuff….but also so simple)

“I want you to remember your wedding vows. Remember that day? Remember when you said I do? I want you to wake up everyday and say that. I want you to talk to your husband and I want you to remind him, lovingly, of those same two words and I want him to wake up thinking about the same, I do. I do….to the struggles. I do…to living selflessly for each other. I want you to build a wall of love that nothing can tear down. This wall that will surround these five blessings and give them security, peace, and endless love. This is where you will find the grace to be the gentle, loving mother, like Our Lady. ”

(searching for tissues in my purse, as I’m just a mess of tears. He can hear me sobbing.)

The only words I could muster up were…“Thank you..”

I wiped those tears and they just kept coming as I found the pew with my little family. I looked down at those five faces who I’ve been entrusted with and felt the hub’s arm run along my back and around me for a tight squeeze.

God has given such wisdom to our priests.

Thank you to that little polish priest for reaching into my heart and reminding me of the graces that God has already given me.

Thank you Lord for showing us the importance of the marital bond and the blessings that it bestows on the children.

Thank you Lord for reminding me that you are truly present in the sacrament of Confession and that you know all my sins before I bring them before you.

You desire this little heart to seek you in the “little ways” like St. Therese of Lisieux.

I pray that you find yourself in Confession soon….and that the Lord speaks truth in your heart.

But for today….find the “I do” that the Lord is requiring of you.

img_9960

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who says birthdays have to be “self”-ish….let’s chat about A “Community Service” birthday party….

While planning the “Murder Mystery party” for Sweet Pea this past weekend (more on that subject later), I was reminded that I never blogged on Sweet Pea’s party last year. I have to say that it was the party that SHE and I were the most “proud” of.

The idea for the “selfless” party started when we were listening to Klove radio one morning. Sweet Pea, in her typical spirit of introspection, was listening to Matthew West’s “Do Something”. Here it is if you haven’t heard it before:

The song is really a “call to action” for us Christians. It’s a reminder that we need to “do something” about the poverty, injustice, and hurt in our world today. That God calls us to be that “someone” and to do what we can to help others.

As Sweet Pea listened to that song, and sung her heart out, she finished with, “Mom, I need to do more. Maybe this year, instead of my birthday, I will just donate my  birthday money to the poor.” To say that I’m proud of her selfless heart is an understatement. This child was also the one who tightly hugged my mom’s neck when she learned that one of her Christmas presents, two years ago, was a goat donated to a poor family in Haiti. I wish you could have seen her enthusiasm at knowing that that little goat was providing that family with milk for the year.

With this new found enthusiasm to help others, we worked together to devise a plan for her eleventh birthday party. After thinking of countless ways we could help others, we decided to combine several ideas and create a “Community Service birthday party”. A day in which we came together to thank God for the gift of her life and yet offer multiple opportunities to put others first. This party was about asking her friends to help her “do something” for those less fortunate around her. After discussing her party ideas with several people, Her friends were equally as excited about this gathering.

So here was the party:

Decorations: none. This had to be one of the simplest parties. No decorations. For the invitations, I sent free birthday evites.

Activities:

The girls started by making large casseroles for our parish church. The church has freezers where they store large casserole donations for a local men’s homeless shelter. Sweet Pea had taken two large casserole dishes from the church to fill up for the party. The girls were eager to help !

 

Next, the girls worked in a different room to create happy “birth” day cards for all the new babies on the labor/delivery wing of our local hospital. I called the hospital and spoke with guest services and they were thrilled to help us in getting these passed out to all the new moms.

 

We had another group of girls working on making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the local soup kitchen. We were able to make about four loaves of bread to donate and the call to the supervisor was met with such enthusiasm.

Food: A chickfilia tray was a “must” for a party like this…super simple and a great organization to be supporting. Cheese/crackers, fruit, pretzels and other chips rounded out the night. Everything was disposable and super simple to clean up since we were concentrating on making food for others rather than eating ourselves.

IMG_0152

Gifts: Sweet Pea had asked all her friends, instead of presents, to bring diapers, wipes, and baby items to be donated to the local pregnancy center or canned goods to be delivered to a local food pantry. I watched, with pride, as she delivered them to the pregnancy center….a huge smile on her face…and then to see the director offer her a huge hug for thinking of them. We even had the priviledge of delivering two check donations from the parents of two of her friends. What a sweet birthday present for Sweet Pea!

IMG_0246

This was such a great way to honor what’s important to Sweet Pea, helping others. As a homeschooling mom, I am so happy to see the beautiful girls that Sweet Pea has in her life……little ladies that are learning how important it is to reach out and be “a light” in this world that needs more love and joy.

In the words of Matthew West, “It’s not enough for us to do nothing, it’s time for us to do something!”

img_9960