Tag Archives: liturgical living

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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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!”

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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. 

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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.

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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:

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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.

 

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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.”

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Preparing for Lent…Let’s clean house…..

I need Lent….no…seriously….no laughing… I NEED lent….

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like a runner needs water….

like a tired momma needs her wine at the end of the day….

This momma gets worn out…

After the excitement of the holidays, I start to drag and evidentially end up in survival mode….

I go from “I should wake up early to workout” to “How long can I sit here until I NEED to make dinner?” I love my family but the daily grind of being a mom, housewife, and homeschooling mom can really wear on me during the cold winter days…..

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The Church, in her wisdom, knows that around February…this momma needs to work on her “inner house”.  At this point, it’s hardly liveable……It’s kinda like that junk drawer that you know you need to clear out, or the basement you think about as you just close the door behind you. The Church is like that dear friend that comes over to help you “clear out your closet”…..you complain and stress about her coming over, but then you feel so good as you tackle stuff together. It’s that love/hate relationship that we have with growth…..we procrastinate starting it…..cry and struggle through it….and at the end, we ask ourselves what took us so long to get started.

So….I’ve done the “procrastinating thing” all year or the “kicking and screaming thing” like the photo above with DDD. But…now momma’s ready to “clean house”. (Got my rag on it…let’s do this…haha)

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Very similar to the cleaning of my physical house, I gotta work on the same things. The dust, and crumbs are replaced by….yelling and procrastinating. Scrubbing toliets and mopping floors….with being quick to anger, and lacking in kindness….and just writing them makes me feel terrible. However, like I tell the kids, you have to “own” your mistakes, be truly sorry, and ask for forgiveness. I’m not the mom that I should be. I’m not the mom God has called me to be.  And…..let’s be honest, I can read a billion blogs that will tell me that “I work hard enough” and that “being a mom is tough”, or that I “shouldn’t be so hard on myself, because we all fall short”. And those words, and those “voices”, stunt my growth. They are lies, that our society feeds off of……so that none of us “feel bad”.

But this morning, I also sat learning from myself…..somebody that I knows “gets me”. haha. I re-read some of my old Lenten blogs….You can delve into them yourself here and here. It’s somewhat humbling to read the blogs that I wrote last year or two years ago and I am still struggling with the same stuff. However, isn’t that what sin is? Struggling with the same vices over the over? As much as I would love to just “fast” from chocolate or wine, I know that the Church is calling me to a greater “fast” that only I can pinpoint.

This Lent I’m not running from my vices…I’m owning them. I desire change. Now whether or not I completely conquer my vices is not important…it is the daily effort that will change me. I desire to be a walking example of the mom I want to be and the person that others, who love me, deem that I am. So my 40 days begins, and the evolution starts.

My” tomorrow” starts today.

And just as the walk to Calvary was long and painful, I know this Lent will be too. I will need to increase my prayer time, and “arm” myself for the various situations that will present themselves this Lent.

May your embrace your vices this Lent and seek real change. My prayers are with you!

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Ash Wednesday!!

Let’s talk Lent……

A time of penance…..

a time to reflect on your life and where your priorities are…..

As adults….it’s tough.

We are under the scrutiny of our children.

How we observe Lent in our lives….is how important they will see Lent.

Here are a few ways to enter Lent today on Ash Wednesday:

Begin your day with receiving ashes. The ashes remind us that “we are from dust. And to dust, we shall return.” It is to remind us that we are nothing without God. Make sure you teach your children to wear their ashes proudly…whether it be at home, at the grocery store, or at school.

Splash purple around your home. Purple is a sign of penance and forgiveness. Change out candles for purple ones. Add a purple tablecloth or place mats. Purple napkins tossed over your crucifixes is a great way to enter Lent as we observe this time without the crucified Christ.

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Lenten Coloring pages. I will be using a coloring page about Ash Wednesday from this book. It is full of great pages to use throughout lent. I like to photocopy a page and put it out on the breakfast table with some watercolors and a breakfast muffin. The kids love it! You can also color these yourself and laminate to hang around your home.

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Make a visit to a local pretzel factory. Pretzel factories are a staple here in the Philly area so we will be hitting one up after Mass. They have also come to be a symbol of Lent. Wikapedia states, ” There are numerous accounts on the origin of pretzels, as well as the origin of the name; most agree that they have Christian backgrounds and were invented by German monks. According to The History of Science and Technology, by Bryan Bunch and Alexander Hellemans, in 610 AD “…an Italian monk invents pretzels as a reward to children who learn their prayers. He calls the strips of baked dough, folded to resemble arms crossing the chest, ‘pretiola’ (“little rewards”)”.

Practice getting and giving ashes. I told my children that I would let them practice giving their baby dolls “ashes” using my eyeshadow. This is a great way to remind them of the focus of the ashes and to remind them of the significance of the day.

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Finish your planning. Decide what you are “giving up” or “taking on” for Lent. Make a list of things you want to accomplish and tackle your calendar to make it happen. Help your children to “count down” the days of lent with a lenten calendar. Lacey over at Catholic Icing has put together this great Lenten calendar that we use. Click on the picture for the link to Lacey’s web page to download.

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So I encourage you this Lent….to dig deeper.

My Uncle used to have this sign up in his home:

If you were on trial for being a Christian….would there be enough evidence to convict you??!!!”

Wow…..I know, right????!!!

Stew on that one for a while….I did…..EVERY TIME I visited…

This Lent……..dig deeper than you ever  have before…..

Don’t give up something like chocolate….give up something like complaining.

Don’t give up Facebook….give up complaining on FB…..and be a positive “light” to your friends and family.

Don’t give up bread….deliver several loaves of bread a week to a soup kitchen or make bread and deliver it to older “shut ins”.

Find that one person who is the biggest “stress” in your life…..and try to make them feel special.

Do you have a clothes budget for March?….blow it!!!!….. on clothes for a homeless shelter or buy diapers for a crisis pregnancy center. (this picture was from my daughter’s birthday party. In leu of gifts, her friends bought canned goods for our local food pantry and diapers for the women’s pregnancy center)

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Find out what is holding you back from being a true Christian,  and remove it from your life….. and if you are in your own way….move aside…

So that when Christ “moves” the stone ” aside” on Easter….you will truly experience Easter joy!!!

If you want to read some more of our Lenten traditions, you can read about them here. 

Dig deeper…..(I’m praying for you!)

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