Thursday, March 26, 2015

How We Celebrated St. Patrick's Day 2015!

I know it's a week late but I thought I'd share how we celebrated our St. Patrick's Day 2015!

We started off with some green mustache family fun!
How cute are these boys?!!!!

Then we discussed the story of St. Patrick, who we was, what he did for Ireland and why he is associated with wearing green, what miracles have been attributed to him, etc.

Since we have just moved and I still haven't found all of my craft supplies, I decided we could draw our own St. Patrick using what we had...packaging paper and crayons!

I traced Pickle's body to make the body of St. Patrick, then decorated him with his bishop's hat and staff!  Pickle was in charge of coloring (which turned out that mom also had to help out with that as well b/c it was a LOT of coloring)!  But turned out pretty good if you ask me.

This was followed by a nap to which Pickle woke up to a gold coin trail beginning at his bedside and went throughout the house to the "treasure" which seemed to be left by our friendly Leprechaun.

Psst...the bag of gold coins and the mustaches were grabbed at the Dollar Tree a week before.  Other than than, all other items were found around our house...yes, including the Skittles! Hahahaha!

While I prepared dinner, delicious cornbeef and cabbage (a tradition) pictured below, Pickle and little Bean sat and watched CCC of America's Patrick: Brave Shepard of the Emerald Isle pictured below also.

This picture is courtesy of the CCC of America's website.

Have you checked out their Saints and Heroes DVD selection?  They have wonderful DVDs and several times a year some really great deals!  I bought my Saints and Heroes bundle at 60% off!!!!

So that is how we celebrated our St. Patrick's day!  Always some religious learning as well as some imagination and fun.  

How did you celebrate your St. Patrick's day 2015?

Blessings to you and yours,

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Catholic Tidbit: Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena

One of my favorite novenas to pray is the Divine Mercy Novena.  It holds a special place in my heart as it was a novena I was brought up praying and one that my husband and I prayed together the week before our wedding.  So it has always held a very dear place in my heart.  Have you heard of the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena?  Have you noticed that the Sunday after Easter is now celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday?  Or are you asking yourself "what's all this Divine Mercy business about"?

You can find a short historic review of it's origin here but very quickly, Sr. Faustina was visited by Jesus Himself who revealed that He wanted the world to pray the Chaplet of Mercy and celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday with adoration of a picture of the Divine Mercy (which is shown here).  He promised that anyone who prays the novena of the Divine Mercy,which begins on Good Friday and continues for 9 days until the Sunday after Easter, He will grant "every possible grace" to them.

In addition to the above promises for saying the Novena, the Divine Mercy Chaplet (which can be said at any time of year, even daily) has other promises as well:

  • It promises a peaceful death when said in the presence of the dying.
  • It is also retroactive in a sense as you can pray for persons already diseased who may be in purgatory and the Lord will shower His graces and mercy upon them. 
  • When praying the Divine Mercy Novena, along with confession and receiving the Eucharist on Divine Mercy Sunday (1st Sunday after Easter) you can receive a plenary indulgence (check out this link for a full explanation of the conditions required to receive the indulgence)!
What is a plenary indulgence you say?  Well very basically it's a way, given through the grace of God for you to receive a remission of the punishment of your sins.  You can find out more about temporary and plenary indulgences here.  

There are other promises as well that I cannot recall at this moment but I highly recommend you read Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul which will provide for you a beautiful account of Sr. Faustina's visions and how this novena came about.

Ok so this was just the basics and I hope you will join me this year, starting on Good Friday, in saying the Divine Mercy Novena for the spread of grace, mercy, and peace throughout the world!

Blessings to You and Yours,

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Parenthood: A Daily Choice to Dye to Oneself!

"Dying to self =killing your ego and living in the perfect imitation of Christ and Mary.......
-- When you are forgotten or neglected and you don't hurt with the insult, but your heart is happy -- that is dying to self
-- When your advice is disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, and take it all in patient, loving silence -- that is dying to self
-- When you lovingly and patiently bear disorder, irregularity, tardiness, and annoyance... and endure it as Jesus endured it -- that is dying to self
-- When you never care to refer to yourself in conversation or record your own good works, or itch for praise after an accomplishment, when you can truly love to be unknown... that is dying to self
-- When you can see your brother or sister prosper and can honestly rejoice with him, and feel no envy even though your needs are greater -- that is dying to self
-- When you are content with any food, any offering, any raiment, any climate, or any society -- that is dying to self
-- When you can take correction, when you can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, with no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart -- that is dying to self.”                                                                                                                     --Unknown 
How beautifully this poem above expresses parenthood!  In fact, I believe it could be one of the best descriptions of the vocation of marriage I've ever read.
I woke up this morning fatigued, completely depleted of all energy or motivation, and, if I'm being honest, a bit cranky.  NOTHING makes this mama more crabby than lack of sleep.  I always say, if I'm too tired I cannot be a good mother, because that for sure is my Achilles heel.  And boy does the devil seem to know how to play upon my weaknesses!  
The problem with feeling this way as soon as I open my eyes at 6:02 in the am on a freezing cold winter morning, is that my two boys, who are raring and ready to go, seem to be completely oblivious to my exhaustion.  How rude! Ha! But this is the truth of the matter, isn't it?  Motherhood does not get to take a time out or have a two hour delay so we can go back to bed and get a few more winks of sleep.  Nope, when my kids are up, well so am I.  
So waking up this morning, I simply prayed to the Lord and especially the Blessed Mother, because I know she's been here before, for the ability to choose to dye to myself today.  I prayed that they would help put in my heart the desire to want to give of myself when I'm feel completely empty, to burn within me yearning to show my children generosity and charity (in it's true sense) at a moment when I seem to have nothing to give even to myself.
What a difference this simple prayer made! It's as if the Holy Mother physically touched my heart and made it start "beating" again but this time, beating for the purpose to glorify my Lord.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still tired, my bones still feel old and my muscles stiff on this cold morning, but for some reason, I feel joy.  Joy when I prepared Pickle, my oldest, breakfast.  Joy when I was nursing Little Bean for the third time this morning before he finally gave into a glorious nap!  
Let's be real here.  I didn't get one shred of cleaning done (other than breakfast dishes clean up).  I didn't get anything else accomplished.  In fact, I'm quickly writing this in the few minutes I'm hoping to have before Little Bean wakes up and guess what? I'm still in my pj's!  I know, I know it's lunchtime and Pickle will be ready to eat as soon as he is finished with his craft and I'm STILL in my pj's.  But even this is something I need to decide to dye to some days.  I cannot measure my value and worth by what I have accomplished this day and THIS is VERY HARD FOR ME NOT TO DO.  But in dying to myself, I must become more Christ-like and change my idea of productivity.  No longer can I measure my self-worth by what I have done, but rather by what I have been for others!  And right now, I hear Little Bean crying so I must go and be mom for my boys!  Much love to you all.
Blessings to You and Yours,

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Stations of the Cross Easter Egg Set

I was inspired by Catholic Icing's brilliant idea to use plastic Easter eggs to introduce and pray the Stations of the Cross with little ones.  So I decided to make our own version of this set.

I'm a fan of bright colors so as you can see the eggs I used for my "stations" are quite colorful.  In each egg is a picture and label of the specific station.  The three blue eggs I left empty and represent the 3 days our Lord's body and soul were separated from each other (also known as "death").  With these eggs we discuss that Jesus "descended to the dead" (not hell) and preached to those already passed away and whomever chose to follow Him, then went to heaven and those who refused Him went...downtown so to speak. ;)

The golden egg...ahhh the golden egg!  Well you can imagine what that is!  That's our Resurrection Egg!  You can't talk about Jesus' way of the cross without adding the END of the story...His glorious resurrection!  In this egg, I have a picture of the risen Christ.  Sometimes I add the word "Alleluia" and we talk about how we cannot say "Alleluia" during Lent but on Easter Sunday we get to say it again!  Sometimes, I simply add a small piece of chocolate because there is nothing sweeter than the end of this beautiful story!  Is there?  So part of the fun of the stations is always discovering what Mom put the golden egg!

Tip: To stuff the stations eggs, I actually just did a google images search and found pictures of the stations that I liked, copied and pasted each station, one by one, into a powerpoint document, resized to make it small enough for the egg, printed, cut out and placed in the corresponding numbered egg. Below is an example of how I did this, however I do not have the permission to share these pictures for public reuse, so I can only show you how I did this for my own personal use.  Feel free to do your own google search and find pictures that fit your family's style and your goals!

I then made additional pictures, one for each station, that represents each station.  I used pictures from Microsoft's powerpoint clipart which is available to the general public therefore I can share them with you.  If you would like your own clean copy, you can grab it here!

What do all the pictures mean?  Here's a quick cheat sheet for you:
1.  Handcuffs represent when Jesus when bound up and condemned to death.
2.  Wooden cross represents when Jesus picked up His cross.
3. 7. 9. Each band aid represents the times Jesus fell. 
4.  A picture of the Immaculate Heart of Mary represents when Jesus met His mother along His way to Calvary.  We also discuss how her heart was breaking watching her son suffer so!
5.  HELP represents Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry His cross.
6.  Cloth represents the cloth Veronica with which she wiped Jesus' face.
8.  Tissues to represent the weeping women Jesus meets and comforts along the way.
10. Dice to represent how Jesus was stripped of His clothing and then His clothes were "won" by a dice game.
11.  Hammer and nails represent Jesus being nailed to the cross.
12.  Crucifixion picture to represent His death on the cross.
13.  Crown of thorns to represent Him being taken down from the cross, de-clothed and re-clothed, prepared for burial. (I know this isn't the best picture representation but I had a hard time thinking of something to represent taking Him down from the cross)
14. Tomb to represent how Jesus was placed in a tomb. 

Ok so...what do we do with these eggs? Well we have used them several different ways so far:
  1. Exploration/Discovery:  The first thing I did was show Pickle the pictures that correspond with each station.  We looked at each picture and wondered allowed what each picture has to do with each station and made an "educated guess" as to what each station would be.  Then we opened up the corresponding egg and read the station name and looked at each picture.  I answered all of Pickle's questions as we went along. Simply doing this to introduce the stations for the first time took well over a half hour.  So be prepared the first time around you may be spending more time on exploring and explaining each station than actually "praying" them.  However, if you ask me that's a prayer in and of itself! ;) 
  2. Hide-n-Seek:  This is a simple but fun game for young kiddos who need some movement when learning new information.  It does not make the stations any less reverent, so have fun and enjoy watching your kiddos learn about the Lord's way of the cross!  You can do this game one of two ways:
    1. Hide the egg; take the corresponding picture and try to match it to the correctly numbered egg. 
    2. Hide the corresponding picture; take the numbered egg and try to find the correct corresponding picture.  Either way you play this game, you can still spend as much time as you need discussing and explaining each station.
  3. Stations-on-the-Move:  Create a space in one room or all around your house (or even in your backyard, if you are lucky enough to not have SNOW still in it),  place your "stations eggs" in numerical order.  Have your family move from one station to the next stopping at each egg, reading the station and either discussing the station or praying the following traditional prayer (which you can follow with an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be if your kiddos are up for it):
  4. Coloring Stations Match-Up:  You can download a number of different FREE coloring sheets for the stations of the cross.  Here is one from St. John the Baptist Religious Education page and also one from Catholic Playground.  Discuss each station while being colored and after all are colored you can match up the corresponding egg to colored page.  Or, because we love moving and learning, place each colored sheet along the floor in a liner fashion.  Then have your children place the correct egg on each colored sheet.  When stopping at each station you can pray the traditional prayer or have your children come up with their own simple prayer. My Pickle came up with simply "Thank you Jesus for dying for us." and he said that at each station.
So that's it!  So far these are the ways we have been participating and praying the Stations of the Cross with my little guys (well really only my 4 year old b/c my now 5 month old, well he's just there to listen)!

Have other ideas?  PLEASE DO SHARE by commenting below!  I'd love some more clever ways to use this egg set!

Blessings to You and Yours,

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Catholic Tidbit: Remembering Forgotten Souls

Other than knowing this is "a state of purification", purgatory is something I feel I know or understand very little about.  However I did learn a few new tidbits about it recently that I'd like to share.

I was listening to a tv show one day about purgatory and two things said there stuck with me.  One, once there we cannot pray ourselves OUT of purgatory.  Meaning our time on earth is the only time we have to make choices and decisions, receive indulgences, and pray for ourselves and others that will directly affect our time in purgatory (for the better or worse). Two, there are so many souls in purgatory and many of which are forgotten or abandoned, as they are not prayed for because many do not believe in purgatory.  Then it hit me, “How LONG must it take to get out of purgatory once you are there if you have NO ONE praying for you?!”.  Did you also know that we receive special graces when we help pray for those in purgatory?  Although, souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves they can and will pray for us out of gratitude for our prayers for them.  If we pray for someone that is no longer in purgatory but has entered the kingdom of God we also receive a special grace!  AMAZING, right?!  For these reasons we, crazy Catholics, have an ENTIRE MONTH where we celebrate and remember those souls who have passed from this world.  November is the time to celebrate the saints and remember the souls.

I know, I know, you are saying...."But Maria, it's March so, what does this have to do with anything?".  Well I think, especially because it isn't November, the time when most Catholics are at least thinking of their dearly departed, it's a GREAT time to remember that we need to keep all souls in purgatory in our daily prayers.
So let us pray right now for all those souls who are forgotten or abandoned waiting in purgatory, whose souls are burning with the desire to see the face of the Lord.  Let us pray that ALL souls in purgatory, especially these forgotten and abandoned souls, be reunited with our Lord in heaven to sit among the angels and saints and to praise and glorify our Lord forever and ever. Let us say the prayer revealed to St. Gertrude the Great by the Lord who promised that 1000 souls would be released from purgatory every time the prayer below is said sincerely:

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

Thank you for praying with me.  If you haven't chosen something to do for Lent to prepare yourself for the Easter season, may I suggest adding this simple prayer to your list?  What a quick and easy way to save 1000 souls each time you pray!

Also if you have any specific prayer requests feel free to head on over to our Prayer Requests page at the top of this blog on add your request there.  Share as little or as much information as you'd like and we will add your intentions to our prayer lists!

Blessings to You and Yours,

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book Review: Contraception and Catholicism

This book I actually WON from an online contest from Pat Gohn's amazing blog, The Back Porch!  Contraception and Catholicism, is a very short book that shares the stance of the Catholic church on the use of contraception and why Mother Church takes this stance.  But this book does not stop there!  Written by the director of theology programs for the TINE (Techonological Institute for a New Evangelization) as St. John's Seminary in Boston, Dr. Angela Franks, gives the basic truths about effects of the use of contraception based on the most current scientific and sociological research.

The truth of the matter is there is nothing earth-shattering in this book when considering the teachings of the Catholic Church.  However, the way science and sociology is supporting the Church's beliefs, is something I had not read before.  It's a view that makes logical sense to the most practical minds and it a great book for parents of teenage children (both girls AND boys) to discuss with their children.  

Although, the science lover in myself, would have loved to have MORE information on the studies conducted and cited in this book I still must give this book...

4 "Chaotic" Stars!

Blessings to You and Yours,