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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Today we went with our homeschooling group to  the Blue Army Shrine in Washington, NJ for a May crowning. The day was absolutely gorgeous! We started out with noon Mass at the shrine and then took a small statue on a liter to the Holy House and crowned Our Lady followed by a procession through the rosary garden praying the Joyful Mysteries.

Here is what greeted us when we made the trek up the big hill when we were done:

As my friend Viv said:

“That has GOT to be a sign!”

Yes, Viv, it does!

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St. Nick  arrived dutifully on December 6th filling eagerly waiting shoes with goodies and placing this Miter (printed on cream-colored cardstock with each child’s name written on the back of it in gold paint pen..just leave off the treat cup base) in each shoe.  I am sure he found it easier to keep each child’s goodies from falling onto the hearth and I am sure he avoided any hurt feelings over whose chocolate was whose!  Of course he included a new toothbrush with those chocolate coins…he is very practical thinking!

funny thing…he left a scroll of parchment like cardstock hanging from the fireplace with this message:

Dearest Tappclan!  Blessed Feast to you all!!

I know you have all been very good boys and girls this year and I want to give you a very special surprise!  After your chores are dutifully done at day’s end, return to the feasting table for a scavenger hunt!  Your dear Mother and Father will instruct you what to do!  Enjoy this special day…all for the Glory of God!!

….and it was tied with a striped pipecleaner and shaped like a Crozier….how cool is that?!

After dinner Mom placed a pretty basket in the middle of the diningroom table and announced that aaallll of the dishes had to be done quickly and the table washed as the fun was to begin as soon as they were done.  She remarked at how incredibly quickly the work was done and reveled in the first non-complaining night of the season…lol

In the basket were 10 scrolls of parchment-type cardstock.  I numbered them and coded them with a word on the outside so I would know where I needed to hide that one.  Each scroll was rolled and tied with a red and white pipecleaner with the end shaped like a crozier…see a theme here?? 

After the kids finished their chores they all went down into the basement as Mom, Dad and baby hid each clue.  They were then called up and read the “offical words of the game”…

“”Share Ye All Thy Gifts With One Another! ”

Nicholas gave to others because that is what Jesus commanded us to do, but did so anonymously so people would think only that gifts came from God.  Look to God’s sky, under which we all live together and are to care for and help one another”

….They scurried to the boys’ and then the girls’ room where they found the next scroll hanging from the ceiling fan. (The ceiling is painted in both rooms to look like a blue sky with clouds.)  …get the idea??

I went to the Saint Nicholas Center and printed out this story and re-wrote it leaving each paragraph as a clue to lead you to a location for the next parchment.  I hid them in almost plain sight so that the house didn’t get too torn apart….gulp…that would be bad… 

As they found each clue they had to bring it back to the dining room and read it out loud at the table…always TAKING TURNS (we can’t have hurt feelings here) and making sure all of the younger ones “found” at least one clue on their own. 

10, as it turns out was just the perfect number.  It kept their attention just long enough.  The fun part is playing the final prize at the end:  

“Imitate Good St. Nick in his heroic virtues.  You are each called to be a SAINT!  Always be ready to give a good witness.  “Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.”

Begin this new church year preparing your hearts for the Christ Child!  Make a WARM place in your hearts to shelter Him from the COLD and let Him be the FOOD for your Soul!   Ready? SET! Go!

…and the final clue was found in the crisper drawer in the fridge…LOL!

It was also a good time to color in their new St. Nicholas Feast Day Folders that they found under their shoes in the morning.  They had a large assortment of coloring pages, (FWIW these images make great shrinky-dink images to hang on your Christmas tree!!) a word search and a crossword as well as a few paper crafts (already printed out on cardstock) and a story of St. Nick and a personal note from him on the inside….Each younger child had a different colored folder with an icon of St. Nicholas laminated (with clear packing tape) to the outside with the words printed with gold pen on the front as well as their baptisimal name… :

“My St. Nicholas Activity Book”

and on the back:

The Nicene Creed (laminated with packing tape)

Just don’t ask what time Good Ole St. Nick went to bed

…of course he didn’t get this ‘revelation‘ until the night before

…when all through the house, not a creature was stiring…and mom had enough quiet to start to dream…..(which of course my dh calls my “dangerous time”  LOL!!   

Meanwhile…. My 15yo twindds used a St. Nicholas cookie stamp (we got ours from Hillside Education) and made a huge batch of sugar cookies.  I got the idea to print out St. Nicholas wrapping paper which I copied into a word document and edited the properties of the image to make it a watermark…and then printed out the paper so that we could wrap a few cookies in it and place it into the shoes. 

 We may have been low-budget this year, but it was not short of fun on both sides…both from the makers and the receivers. 

Hey!  I held myself back!  I really really wanted to do this….but I will do that next year….into the liturgical year file it goes…..

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Many years ago, I prayed for my dh to find a good Catholic friend.  I wanted him to meet someone that could help him along in his faith…someone who understood where he was coming from…someone who would understand the sense of priority he has in his life due to his calling as a Catholic husband and father.

Little did I know then that God would use what we had on hand already.  God recycles ;o)

My dh had a best friend named Dan since he was 5yo in kindergarten.  They grew up around the block from each other.  He was a Brethren (similar to Lutheran) but he respected the Catholic Church and Jeff’s faith.  I often teased him that he was more Catholic than many people I knew.

Years later, this best friend of my husbands began to court my sister.  It was fun to watch them fall in love and a privilege to be in their wedding.   Now my children who always called him “Uncle Dan” could now do it officially.

Danny agreed that he would support my sister in her faith but had no intentions to convert…until…his little 2 year old daughter asked him a question that changed his life.  They were attending a Mass together and it was time for Communion.  She looked at her father and asked “Aren’t you going to receive Jesus too, Daddy?”  He knew then and there that God was calling him through his daughter’s voice.  He said it was similar to the story he had heard about St. Faustina when Jesus was calling her to be a nun.  He knew that God wanted to know how long He was supposed to wait for him.  Dan was floored.

He began to attend RCIA with many many questions.  After a long time waiting, discerning and a few funny stories later, God doesn’t have to wait much longer.  Now, after a year and a half he is entering the Church at the Easter Vigil Mass.  And on top of that, he is entertaining a vocation to the Deaconate.

Just try and tell me that this is not a direct answer to my many many prayers starting years ago for my husband.   He is my dh’s best friend and brother and more loyal to that relationship than anyone I have ever known.   He is praying the rosary and  doing the home enthronement prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Danny, you are definitely “IN”.

How sweet of God to answer my prayers on my birthday March 22nd….which just happens to be the Easter Vigil this year.

~~Don’t cha love it?! ;o)

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Homeschooling has its privileges. One of the perks of doing what we do is loving and living our faith in a very personal and rewarding way…living God-centered lives. Being the primary educator of my children, I take my job very seriously. Being the parent of two 14 year-olds has taught me so much of my faith and I am proud to say I love witnessing how my dds live theirs.

The real drawback of doing what we do happens when we have to interact on the parish level. Here I have two very serious young women who are excited and feel privileged to finally be of the age to receive Confirmation. They have studied long and hard…learning not only their catechism but also apologetics, church history and the lives of countless saints and blesseds. In many ways we feel our journey is just beginning…and rightly so. There are so many riches of the Catholic church that are just begging to be learned and learned at this new level of understanding. They are excited that the Holy Spirit will be welcomed into their hearts in a very special way at the end of April. And they know that He will make this new level of understanding of the faith even richer.

We were required to attend the parish retreat. It ran from 2-5:30…(which as it turned out, was an hour later than that before we actually departed which made for a very long afternoon). Because it was “required” I told the DRE that I was attending too. There were approximately 50 confirmandi there. There are those who don’t know their faith, don’t attend Mass, and don’t really want to be there. There are of course exceptions to this but those non-practicing confirmandi do seem to attract the most attention. So much is geared toward them. Then there are the homeschoolers. You know who they are. They are the ones answering the questions. One young man summed it up…”you MUST be homeschoolers…because homeschoolers really seem to know so much about the faith and I don’t even know where they are learning it from!” Oh, we aren’t perfect. There are some things we didn’t get a chance to cover or we can’t remember. But! Our hearts are in the right place.

There was a young college seminarian running the retreat. He spoke of the fact that there is pain in life. He talked about the fact that he was taking drugs, was running in the wrong crowd, was drinking and was with many women. He talked about how he was able to come out of this pain and had a new relationship with Jesus after he went to Confession. He then split the confirmandi into groups and they were encouraged to share the great pains in their lives that keep them away from loving and knowing Jesus. The content was a bit explicit, but it was something that I knew we could look past. Truth be told, I really wish it weren’t part of todays content. I could see that kind of thing being discussed amongst older teens as I knew that some of the kids were not ready for this kind of fare.

So here sat the homeschoolers. They were being coaxed into sharing their stories of pain and they just kept shrugging their shoulders and looking at each other. The truth finally came out that they had NO pain to share. They were happy. The seminarian then said…”So, you are telling me you are just full of God’s love right now?” and of course he got a few more shrugs…. and my dd looks down at her finger and made mention that if she cut her finger they could talk about that kind of pain…other than that…there was nothing to share. The team leader came over and wanted to know how they were doing and the answer was “these kids have no pain! They are just glowing with the happiness of God!”… hmmm

So instead of talking about our deep seeded “pain” that we were not sharing, I ended up engaging the young seminarian in conversations about vocations, their seminary and the chapel that was being renovated. I felt encouraged to learn that this chapel was being renovated by the same person that did Mother Angelica’s temple in Alabama…nice!

By the end of this retreat the confirmandi were told to write their pain on a piece of paper and then were told that it wasn’t a piece of paper…it was REAL. I found out that my dds and their young homeschooling friend had blank papers. They were later led outside to burn these papers and my dds and their friends burned blank papers. The DRE came up to me and asked me how I liked the retreat. I just shrugged my shoulders in a non committal way and I said, “Do you see those 3 young girls up there? They have nothing to write on their papers. ” I was then told that the children of large families are sheltered and they need to know how the world works…like just look at the Amish! So that is why they needed this. OH boy…So I told her that they were most definitely NOT “too sheltered” (The basic premise of the young seminarian running the retreat was that you have to make a choice of pain or Jesus in your life and you have to let go of the pain and realize God’s love) they interact with many people but they ALREADY freely choose to have Jesus be an intimate part of their lives.

I understand that the DRE sees all kinds of unfortunate things…but having this misguided fear of the unworldliness of homeschoolers and her having to do something about it is something based in ignorance. Sometimes I really feel like we don’t belong in situations like this one except maybe to be a good witness or educate others. We are waaay past where they are but don’t lord it over anyone. My friend Bridget summed it up so well when we were talking about such things on Magnum Opus…

“I know they need our prayers and good example, but it’s always the special Masses, sacraments and holidays, that are painful. The ones we long for the most spiritual peace and fulfillment. It’s another one of the crosses of our times I guess.”


					

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I have been away from the computer so very much since lent started.  I am glad in a way but I miss blogging so much.  I managed to finally get up a post about readying the heart and home for lent at the new Lenten blog These Forty Days.  Come on over and drop us a line!

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Good_shepherdPlease visit Elizabeth Foss at Real Learning for her beautiful post about Leading the Little Ones to the Good Shepherd.  This post gathers so much for the heart to ponder regarding the great work of Catechesis.  Pour a tall glass of iced tea, read, and savor every moment!  Thank you, Elizabeth!!

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Try this Patron Saints Quiz.

It gives you info on the saints after you get them right. Can you remember which saint is the patron for each cause?  Try to piece together what you remember from their lives to guess at the harder ones!  Good Luck!!

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