Now to prepare a gift for each member of the family that will remind us all year to use the gifts so that we may bear the fruits.
We first heard of this idea through a friend of a friend of a group of Sisters. As Pentecost favors, they make bookmarks in the form of white doves cut from parchment and threaded with red satin ribbons for markers.
On one wing, or on one page of a tiny folder held in the dove’s beak, is lettered a gift of the Holy Spirit; on the other, a fruit. They are placed all together in a basket, and each Sister chooses one.
The gift written on her dove is the gift the Holy Spirit wishes her to work on for the year. Sometimes it is the same gift year after year. In such a case, one can hardly fail to get the point!
We varied this custom by cutting two-piece doves and stapling the wings on so that they are three-dimensional, then hanging them in a flock by red ribbons of varying length. Pentecost morning we each chose a dove, blindfolded. A gift and a fruit were lettered on the wings of each.
They were a brilliant display of “Holy Spirits,” and we let them hang there through the Octave. Lots of people who came into the house asked questions.
Red, or an orange-flame, is the color for table decorations on Pentecost, the color of divine love. Red cut-outs of candles, or red paper cut-outs of doves for place cards or Grace-before-Meals cards, are easy to make with construction paper.
Doves pasted to tongue depressors or lollipop sticks, or mounted on wire or drinking straws, can be anchored in individual clay bases or all together in a larger one to make a fine Pentecost centerpiece.
Little children can make place favors with red Lifesavers stuck with frosting on cookies and a tiny red birthday-cake candle. Lighted when Grace is said, they burn for a few minutes to remind us of the “tongues of fire.”
During the preparation for the feast, children can learn the gifts and fruits by making their own mobiles with wire clothes hangers. Tie a wire clothes hanger to a string, use it as is or bend it into an interesting shape, or suspend additional hangers from it.
Let the children cut doves, candles, flames, circles, or other shapes from heavy paper and letter on them the gifts and the fruits. Suspend them at varying heights with black threads, sometimes with small objects to weight them so they will swing slowly in space.
Jamie made a beautiful mobile of the Holy Spirit and His work in us. An odd piece of wire bent to an interesting shape had suspended from it an orange cut-out of a dove; the sheet of orange paper from which the dove was cut (thus giving also a space dove surrounded by paper); a piece of transparent plastic that changed the color of the dove when it swung in front of them; a shell – because He comes to us first in Baptism; a small candle to symbolize the light He brings us as well as the tongues of fire on the first Pentecost; and a silver button that the children thought looked like a strawberry recalled to them the fruit of the Holy Spirit effected in us if we bid Him welcome and use His light.
This took him only about an hour to dream up and assemble, and it is an eloquent meditation as well as a work of art.
We have also a mixture called, quite inelegantly, Gook. It is sometimes called Muck. This is not much of an improvement over Gook. If this is to be used in preparation for the feast, plan the work session with it a week ahead of time in order that the objects you make will have time to be thoroughly dry.
Most mothers will recall using it at one time or another in their childhood, at arts or crafts class, in the Girl Scouts or Campfire Girls.
It is a mixture of salt, cornstarch, and water cooked, which dries as hard as a rock – most of the time. We have concluded that the few times it didn’t were due to insufficient cooking.
If you are an adventurous family and like inexpensive media for creating, do try it. Work with it in a place where the mess can be easily cleaned up afterward.
1 cup table salt
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup boiling water
Mix salt and cornstarch in saucepan. Add boiling water, and stir until well mixed. Hold over burner, and stir rapidly until mixture is thick and of a consistency for modeling. Let cool a few minutes after removing from pan.
Avoid modeling anything too delicate, or rolling too thin for the cookie-cutting. Individual batches of it may be colored with vegetable coloring.
This mixture takes about five minutes to prepare. We have modeled doves, inserting a candle in each dove for the “tongue of fire.” We have cut doves out of it with a cookie cutter, affixing a candle.
We have used it as well to cut Christmas-tree ornaments with cookie cutters, for making beads, Indian “wampum,” for modeling simple little figures, for homemade beads for rosaries on which little children may “learn” by counting out the beads and stringing them properly in decades.
Round balls stuck full of toothpicks are porcupines. Round balls stuck half-full of toothpicks are turkeys.
We have used it for homemade jewelry, for little fruits to go in boutonnieres, and on rainy days for just plain old something-to-do. It takes poster paints admirably and, if necessary, shellac.
Pieces that are to become beads or ornaments must have the appropriate holders, holes, threads, or wires, punched in or affixed before they are dry. These may be decorated with glitter or gilt paint.
It will take more than one Pentecost celebration, even when we are well prepared, for us to learn what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
But even one observance will teach us what our Lord meant when He told His Apostles of the mission of the Holy Spirit: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name. He will teach you all things and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you.”
This Holy Spirit is His love. His love for His Father, returned to Him by His Father. It is their gaze of love, their delight in each other, out of which came their desire for us. Let us say together, often:
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful;
And kindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created,
And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
“Don’t allow sadness to dwell in your soul, for sadness prevents the Holy Spirit from acting freely. If we insist on being sad, then let it be a holy sadness at the sight of the evil that is spreading more and more in society nowadays.” – Padre Pio
Running a house, while schooling, making meals, etc. is no little task. So…we roll up our sleeves and dig in each day. THIS is what we are called to. Let us not get distracted thinking we should be doing great things, learning about great matters of the world. NO. St. Therese calls us the do the “little things” each day. And really, it is a great thing to accomplish all the “so-called” little tasks….
🌺🌺Surrender Novena Prayer Card and Wire Wrapped Chaplet🌺🌺
This chaplet is designed to be prayed with the Surrender Novena, which was given to Servant of God, Fr. Don Dolindo Ruotolo. Each link is handmade and wrapped around itself to ensure quality.
SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF GOD ~ “Jesus, You take over!”
Prayer by Father Dolindo Ruotolo 1882-1970 – Servant of God, Man Who Padre Pio Called a Saint!
Great prayer against worry, fear, anxiety, depression and stress!
Many miracles have been obtained through this novena.
Do you want to get closer to Jesus? To align your thoughts, will, and actions with Him?
There is no better way to Christ than through His Mother. That’s why St. Louis de Montfort’s Traditional Method of Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary is the time-honored, saint-tested way to grow to closer to Our Lord.
This is the traditional method devised by St. Louis de Montfort himself. And now, we’ve made it available in a single, deluxe vinyl volume, perfect for preparation for the Total Consecration and for yearly renewal.
Inside you will…
Gain a deeper understanding of what it means to Consecrate yourself to Jesus through Mary
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Discover the deep connection between Mary and Her Son, and how that bond can improve our own spiritual life and intercessory prayer
Have access to all the tools, prayers, and Scripture needed to consecrate your household to Jesus through Mary
Beautiful and durable, you’ll come back the wisdom of Saint Louis de Montfort again and again as you live out your consecration. This classic and revered devotional is an essential for every Catholic home.
Though nothing historical is known of her, she was declared a Saint in 1837, only 35 years after discovery of her relics. Here is the whole incredible story, plus many accounts of her tremendous favors and miracles. Another St. Jude to call on in our desperate needs.
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I wish I had learned long ago about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We did learn the names of them, that is true, but we never went further than that; and because, all strung out in a row, they merely sounded like the virtues of nice people, we took it for granted that they came automatically with being “good.”
Like patience, for example. Anyone could consider the quality of patience and see that there was a great gap between patience and being patient; but most of the time, we were convinced that those who were patient were born that way. We had no real conviction that you could get that way. It was all very vague.
After a while, even the names of them got mixed up with the names of other things. We couldn’t remember if they were fruits, or gifts, or virtues, or what. It was safe to say that they were nouns.
Now we discover that the whole struggle between the flesh and the spirit could be changed if we understood about the fruits of the Holy Spirit – and acted on that understanding.
It is the most encouraging thing yet to realize that the fruits are the effects of using the gifts, not just something you grit your teeth and vow to acquire or bust. It is hard to explain why we never put the same practical sense to work applying the Gospels as we did applying other things. Like seeing a sign that said “Turn right,” and we turned right.
Our Lord talked about the fruits enough, in the Gospels, but for some reason, we never took Him literally, the way we did the traffic signs – for all we believed it was important to get to Heaven, and these were apparently the directions for getting there.
Just as we never dreamed that what He said about abiding in us applied literally to His indwelling, so we also missed what He said about the trees and vines bearing or failing to bear fruit. We had ears to hear, but we did not hear.
We listened to His parables year after year from the altar and supposed He was saying over and over again that good Catholics go to Heaven and bad Catholics don’t – never realizing that, instead, He was giving the directions for being a good Catholic.
It would take too long and more space than we have here to discover why – but that isn’t necessary. What we can do at once is explain to our children that He means what He says literally, most of the time. (There are a few exceptions, such as cutting off your hand or plucking out your eye.)
He means literally that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are fruits that grow in the soul that strives to use the gifts, and – joy of joys – that the gifts are that, gifts, freely given when the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us at Baptism.
Living in Christ, reborn after Baptism, we could do great things with these gifts – if we would use them. Great things – such as being saints.
At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit comes down upon us in an abundance of grace. Could we not beg Him, in our preparation for His feast, to enable us to understand and use the gifts, that we may bear fruits?
We prepare first in prayer, imitating our Lady and the Apostles, who spend the nine days between Ascension and Pentecost in prayer.
A family novena to the Holy Spirit invites Him to prepare our souls to receive best the great graces to come. Novenas to the Holy Spirit are available in booklet form, or the family may prefer to put together favorite prayers to the Holy Spirit, Psalms, hymns, and readings, and use these for the nine days.
Then there must be the story of Pentecost found in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. It is full of excitement and intriguing details that children love, and is both good reading and good telling. Acquaintance with it ensures a thoughtful meditation each time the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary come around.
And then, after prayers and a retelling of the story, it is easy to direct conversation to the gifts and fruits of the Spirit, so that we may consider in a practical way how they apply to our lives and our duties.
Lastly, in order to extend this lesson through all the year, we prepare a gift for each member of the family and decorations for our feast day that will enable all of us to remember that we must use the gifts if we would bear the fruits.
First, the story.
There were Jews from all over that part of the world in the city at that time because it was the Jewish feast of Pentecost and they had come to celebrate the harvest. Pentecost is a Greek word meaning “fifty” – the fiftieth day.
On the seventh week following the Passover (and one of its ceremonies had been the waving of a sheaf of grain before the Lord as a communal offering), the Law said that male Jews were to reassemble in Jerusalem and present to the Lord at the Temple two loaves of bread made from the fine white flour of the newly harvested wheat.
This feast was also to commemorate the promulgation of the Law. As always, the time for the event that was about to take place in the Church seemed to have been chosen for the significance of the season, for it was to herald the coming of Love Himself to dwell, a living Law, within the new Church, and its outcome that very first day was to mark the beginning of the harvest of souls.
Some spiritual writers have called it the birthday of the Church. Others, like Leo XIII, describe it as an Epiphany: The Church, which, already conceived, came forth from the side of the second Adam in His sleep on the Cross, first showed herself before the eyes of men on the great day of Pentecost.
And always, our Lady was at the heart of it. If we are to prepare for and celebrate the feasts of our Redemption well, we must unite ourselves to her first, the chosen one of the Holy Spirit, His bride and His beloved. She was at the heart of all these comings forth, from the first one to the last. In her, the Word was uttered and became came Flesh.
She brought Him forth in Bethlehem. She held Him in her arms at the first Epiphany so that the Gentiles might see this Jewish God who would graft them to Himself.
At her word, He proceeded at Cana to His first act in creating a Church that He would build by teaching and miracles for three years, then leave in the hands of men.
To her He entrusted His Church from His travail on the Cross: “Behold thy Mother.” She alone understood His promise of birth in glory out of the tomb. And now there gathered about her the ones He had chosen to sanctify in the life-giving fire of the Holy Spirit, that they might go forth and preach to all men the need and the way to be born again.
There came the sound of a great wind, so loud that the Jews outside in the city were attracted to the scene; and the zeal kindled by the tongues of fire in the souls of those men was so great you might say they were exploded out of the Upper Room.
The gift of tongues, the quality of their enthusiasm, was so far beyond the comprehension of the crowds that the scoffers assured themselves they were drunk. But it was only nine o’clock in the morning!
St. Peter said to them that men do not get drunk so early in the day. This was not drunkenness, but the fulfillment of a prophecy from the prophet Joel: “. . . and I will pour out my spirit in those days, upon my servants and handmaids, so they will prophesy.”
He preached to the Jews about David, who prophesied that one of his sons would God set upon his throne, that he would not be left in death, but be resurrected, and His body would not see corruption.
They were the witnesses themselves. They had seen that God raised this Jesus from the dead; and He had this day poured out His Holy Spirit, “as you can see and hear for yourselves.”
Indeed they could, in their own tongues – Parthians, Medes, Elamites; those from Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocia, Pontus or Asia, Phrygia or Pamphylia, Egypt or the parts of Libya around Cyrene, some from Rome, some Cretans, Arabians…. “When they heard this, their consciences were stung; and they asked Peter and His fellow apostles, “What must we do?”
“Repent and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, to have your sins forgiven; then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
And there was a harvest that day of three thousand souls. Three thousand to whom the Holy Spirit came – and with Him His gifts.
It IS interesting, isn’t it, how, in the last decades, women are made to feel as if they are being “losers”, “nobodys” if they are dedicated to the home..They are not using their talents if they aren’t out working in the world.
Truly, I find that illogical. How many talents does it make to run a pleasant home, raise good children, have a healthy relationship with someone you rub shoulders with night and day? That, in itself, is a full-time job…not to mention if some are homeschooling, seeking out healthy alternatives, helping with their parish life, etc., etc.
No, it takes a brave, committed, responsible, hard-working adult to do what it takes to raise a Godly family in today’s society. -Finer Femininity
Painting by Alfred Rodriguez
Excellent and consoling sermon!
Woman’s Lovely Veil/ Chapel Veil/ Traditional Head Coverings
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Lovely book, worth the time and money! This book will inspire you with ways to live the Liturgy within your home!
In this joyful and charming book, Maria Von Trapp unveils for you the year-round Christian traditions she loved traditions that created for her large family a warm and inviting Catholic home and will do the same for yours….Mary Reed Newland wrote numerous beloved books for Catholic families, but The Year and Our Children is her undisputed masterpiece. Read it, cherish it, share it, put it into practice and give your kids the gift of a fully lived faith, every day and in every season….
Since the Gospel reports the fact of Christ’s circumcision on the eighth day after His birth (Matthew 2, 21), a feast of the liturgy in commemoration of that event might have suggested itself as soon as Christmas was established on December 25.
It took four centuries, however, until this feast was actually introduced into the Roman liturgy, and then it came from the outside, from the churches in France that had already celebrated it for two hundred years.
In the East, too, the Feast of the Circumcision is not mentioned in any calendar before the eighth century. This reluctance to introduce a feast the object and date of which were so clearly given in the Bible might have been due in some degree to the fact that circumcision had been replaced by the Sacrament of Baptism in the New Testament.
The main reason, however, doubtlessly was the secular New Year’s celebration that took place in the whole Roman Empire on January 1, and which contained so many objectionable elements that the Church authorities did not want to make that day an official feast and thereby encourage the holiday mood of the faithful.
This is indicated by the fact that in the early centuries January 1 was kept as a day of fasting and penance. “During these days, when they [the pagans] revel, we observe a fast in order to cry and pray for them,” said Saint Augustine in a sermon on New Year’s Day.
Not only in Rome, but also in Gaul, Spain, and Greece the calends of January presented great problems of religious discipline to the authorities of the Church.
During the sixth and seventh centuries various councils in France strictly forbade participation in those revels. Such prohibitions had to be repeated many times by the bishops in their respective dioceses.
The faithful were told to hold private penitential processions (litaniae) in penance and atonement for the excesses and sins committed by so many.
In Spain, the fourth Council of Toledo ( 633 ) prescribed a strict fast and abstinence for January 1, and the Alleluia was omitted from the liturgical texts in token of penance.
As late as the eighth century, the people in Rome spent New Year’s night reveling and dancing in the streets, thereby scandalizing the pious pilgrims from northern countries.
If so much public rejoicing happened at a time when Rome was completely Christian, it is no wonder that in earlier centuries the popes would not hold a solemn feast, with its customary Station processions, on January 1 when crowds of pagans, and some irresponsible Christians, roamed the city with frivolous dancing, wild carousing, and indecorous masquerades.
OCTAVE OF THE NATIVITY
While the popes and bishops in the Christian empire of Rome abstained from introducing a solemn feast on the calends of January, there was a strong inclination to distinguish the day not only by fasting but also by a prayerful and official celebration in church.
Since the people by tradition were in a festive mood, it seemed appropriate to gather them for a special service in the house of God to direct their hearts and minds to the Lord in a devout and quiet, but impressive, way.
Saint Augustine had already felt this when he beheld a large congregation gathered in church on January 1: “I see that you have come here as if we had a feast today.”
When the last remnants of paganism had disappeared, January 1 was made a ranking liturgical feast, shortly after the beginning of the seventh century, probably under Pope Boniface IV.
In imitation of the Easter, and Epiphany Octave it became the “Octave Day” of Christmas. This distinction, however, was applied in a lesser degree, since the eighth day as such, and not the whole week, as at Easter, received the liturgical character of the main feast.
Of the ancient liturgical books, the Sacramentarium Gelasianum (seventh century) contains the first entry of this feast under the simple title Octava Domini (Octave Day of the Lord).
FEAST OF MARY
Soon after the Octave of Christmas had been introduced, the celebration of January 1 assumed a Marian character. This was due to the Station of the papal service, which was the church of St. Mary beyond the Tiber, the oldest Roman church dedicated to the Mother of God.
Thus New Year’s Day became a special memorial of Mary. In the old Roman calendars it is called Natale Sanctae Mariae. ( The word natale here means simply “feast”.) In a certain sense this was the earliest feast of our Lady in the Latin Church.
Interesting is the emphasis placed on Mary’s maternity, that she is truly the Mother of Him Who was made flesh for our salvation. The character of January 1 as a feast of Mary is still preserved in the Station title; the Mass prayers, too, and the texts of the Divine Office reflect the Marian note of the feast up to this day.
The celebration of our Lord’s circumcision started in the Church of Gaul, where we find the earliest records of this feast about the middle of the sixth century.
From Gaul it spread to Spain and into the Frankish empire, and from there to Rome in the ninth century.
In the Greek Church it had already been introduced during the eighth century. Today all Eastern Rites celebrating the Nativity on December 25 also keep a Feast of the Circumcision on January 1.
The new celebration soon overshadowed the Octave of Christmas in the Roman liturgy, but did not entirely supplant it. Up to this day the official title (in the Latin Church) is a combination of both liturgical festivals: “The Circumcision of Our Lord and Octave of the Nativity.”
Because the Divine Child received the name Jesus at the circumcision, this day was also connected in the Middle Ages with special devotions in honor of the Holy Name.
Saint Bernard (1444), by both word and example, promoted the veneration of the sacred name of Jesus with great zeal. The famous hymn Jesu Dulcis Memoria (How sweet the thought of Jesus ), which he composed, is still used in the Divine Office.
In 1721 Pope Innocent III established a separate feast in honor of the Holy Name of Jesus. Pope Saint Pius X (1914) fixed its present date: on Sunday between January 1 and 6, or on January 2 if no Sunday occurs.
The Catholics of the Greek-Slavonic and Armenian Rites have kept January 1 as the Feast of the Holy Name in addition to the Circumcision.
The liturgical texts take no notice at all of January 1 as the beginning of a new civic year. This is probably due to the pagan and objectionable character of the ancient Roman New Year’s celebration, which prevented the authorities of the Church from even mentioning that aspect in the sacred service of divine worship.
In the Diocese of Toledo, Spain, however, January 1 bore the official title Caput Anni (Beginning of the Year) in the liturgical books of the seventh century.
FOLKLORE RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCE
The end of the old and the beginning of a new year was, and still is, marked by popular devotional exercises. Special services are held in many churches on the eve of New Year’s to thank God for all His favors in the past year and to implore His blessings for the new one.
In rural sections of central Europe many families spend the minutes around midnight saying the rosary or other prayers, and all the church bells peal “to ring out the old and ring in the new year.”
In France and French Canada a custom coming down from medieval times is the blessing of the family. The father makes the sign of the cross on the foreheads of his kneeling family, wife and children, in token of God’s blessing for the new year.
In other Catholic sections of Europe parents bless their children with the sign of the cross at midnight. This custom of parental blessing, which is practiced also on many other occasions during the year, was a universal tradition in all countries before the Reformation.
In the towns of the Alpine sections of Austria and Germany it is a widespread custom for a little brass band to play Christmas carols and other religious hymns from the tower of the local church, or for groups of carol singers to go from street to street and “sing in the new year.”
In some places these carol singers are mounted on horses, riding from farm to farm during New Year’s night.
The popular festival on New Year’s Eve is called “Sylvester” in many countries. The word is derived, of course, from the liturgical observance of December 31, the Feast of Saint Sylvester.
Besides the traditional and familiar reveling celebration in our modern cities, many ancient customs are still practiced in European countries.
In Spanish-speaking sections it is an old tradition to eat twelve grapes at midnight, one at each stroke of the tower bell.
In central Europe the new year is greeted with the cracking of whips, shooting of rifles and mortars, and with banging and clanging noises in the home. This is a relic of the pre-Christian ritual of “driving demons away”; its original significance, however, has been forgotten, and it is now practiced as a salute to the new year.
Sylvester Night is one of the great nights for all kinds of traditional oracle games to find out what the year will bring. Tea leaves are read in many places. In central Europe spoonfuls of molten lead are poured into water, and the fantastic shapes of the congealing metal are supposed to reveal or symbolize events of the coming year.
Girls especially are looking for apparitions and oracles disclosing the young man who will come to love and marry them. Superstitions claim that his likeness will show through the mirror in the darkened room at midnight, or that he will appear to them in a dream.
These oracles are usually connected with Saint Sylvester, thus giving them the character of a devotional practice rather than a mere superstition.
The saint is asked in traditional rhyme prayers to exercise his patronage and provide a husband. And it is from his kindly favor that girls expect to see the picture in their dreams or in the mirror.
The old Roman practice of giving presents at the beginning of a new year (strenae) has survived in all Latin countries, and so has the name (etrennes in France, estrenas in Spain ).
The date, however, is now January 6 in Italy and in Spanish-speaking countries; only in France has January 1 been retained as the day of giving presents to children.
A general custom in many countries is the giving of money or presents on, or after, New Year’s Day to persons who make regular deliveries to the home ( such as the milkman, letter carrier, and paper boy ) .
A recent practice, which started spontaneously some years ago and may be found in many cities of Europe, is the custom among motorists of leaving presents at the stands of traffic policemen. These packages are then taken to the police station and distributed among the families of all traffic policemen within the precinct.
Happy Eighth Day of Christmas! “A true wife makes a man’s life nobler, stronger, grander, by the omnipotence of her love, turning all the forces of manhood upward and heavenward. While she clings to him in holy confidence and loving dependence, she brings out in him whatever is noblest and richest in his being. She inspires him with courage and earnestness. She beautifies his life. She softens whatever is crude and harsh in his habits or his spirit. She clothes him with the gentler graces of refined and cultured manhood. While she yields to him and never disregards his lightest wish, she is really his queen, ruling his whole life and leading him onward and upward in every proper path.” – J.R. Miller
On feasting & the difference on how saints feasted vs how we do today….
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Perhaps you think I’ve made a mistake in spelling. Or you may decide I’m indulging in a play on words. But there is no mistake in spelling, and my play on words is based solely on a desire to play down the kind of Christmas frequently associated with the word merry and to play up the kind of Christmas inevitably associated with the name Mary. In other words, I wish you the kind of Christmas Mary, the mother of Christ, would wish you.
But first let me assure you that it is normal to be merry at Christmas, for Christmas is the happiest of all birthdays. It commemorates not only the birth of Christ, the beginning of His life on earth, but also the rebirth of every man in Christ.
Angels celebrated the occasion with celestial music which was for man the opening movement of a symphony of divine love, marking God’s fulfillment of His promise to send man a Savior. Little wonder, then, that the whole season surrounding Christmas has become synonymous with jubilation.
But too often the merriment in evidence at Christmas is far from being an excess of joy or an overflow of happiness. For the ruthless exploitation and the over-commercialism of Love’s anniversary have dulled the edge of the season’s happiness for millions of people.
True Christmas joy can be born only of hope, but the anxieties, the tensions, and the stresses involved in today’s preparations for the Feast more often resemble a flight from hope, a journey into frustration.
The tragedy of all this becomes evident when we consider that the soul of Christmas joy is the thrilling fact recorded in Sacred Scripture, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, who is Christ the Lord.” These are the divinely-inspired words which at Christmas quicken in the human heart an ecstasy unknown at any other time.
ANXIETIES AND TENSIONS
But when he is the victim of a hundred pressures, it is hard for modern man to be ecstatic. With his peace of mind assailed on every side, he finds it difficult to recall that true peace of soul, the promised peace of Christmas, can be possessed only by one who stands before God with a conscience free from serious sin.
Modern advertising has brain-washed him into forgetting that true joy does not result from the selection of an ideal gift for everyone on his shopping list; rather is it a quality of a heart in love with God. Yes, in our day the stresses and strains of the festive season have affected almost everyone to a greater or less degree.
They have even penetrated the family circle. And though Christmas is and always was the feast of home and family, and men go to great lengths to keep it so, the frenzy of the season makes the modern family despair of recapturing a measure of the rapture experienced by the Holy Family in Bethlehem. And their efforts to have a Merry Christmas are largely to blame.
One phase of this trend is seen in the over-emphasis on Christmas shopping. As December 25 approaches, greater and greater crowds throng the stores, struggling and shoving, examining goods, making purchases.
Harried clerks rush about waiting on customers, displaying and demonstrating merchandise, wrapping and tying packages, trying to maintain their composure against losing odds.
No doubt many people will be made merry by the gifts they receive. But what a travesty of Christmas if any gift is given from an empty heart. On the first Christmas God gave His only-begotten Son because “He so loved the world,” but this Christmas Helen will give Sally a gift because she hopes for one in return, and Jim will yield to social pressure and exchange gifts with a fellow-worker he hardly knows.
One man became so weary of the frustration of giving a shirt and getting a shirt, of giving cigars and getting cigars, that one Christmas he sent cards to his friends saying that he planned to give to charity in their name the amount he formerly spent on gifts for them. His friends liked the idea. They liked it so much, in fact, that they adopted it themselves. From that man’s gesture almost $1,500 is now given each Christmas to orphans, the sick, the hungry, and the needy.
Though this man was comfortable in his own home, he did not let his curtains drawn against the cold deaden the cry of suffering from the outside world. While enjoying the warmth of his fire on winter nights, he did not forget that many people were denied that comfort.
He had so hated the commercialism of the Christmas season, the terrific pressures and the insane methods of making it merry that he had grown to dislike the Feast itself. But when he stopped to think about it, he readily realized that what he really hated was the way it was celebrated by so many people.
They were, in fact, being manipulated like puppets on the strings of big business, social custom and human respect. This man cut the strings and set out to observe a Mary Christmas.
A MERRY CHRISTMAS?
But even when we have said all this, we have not said the worst about the modern concept of a Merry Christmas. In many so-called sophisticated circles there is the inevitable “office party” at which business executives and their staff celebrate the Feast. No reasonable person is opposed to parties, and employees especially appreciate an annual display of warmth and friendliness from their employers.
Didn’t the Infant Savior come to earth to save all men, and didn’t He welcome to Bethlehem both Kings and Shepherds? Nothing could be more fitting, therefore, than for the kings of modern business and the shepherds from their offices to come together and celebrate His birthday. But the ordinary Christmas office party is hardly reminiscent of Bethlehem, and the type of pagan entertainment provided at some such parties may do honor to Bacchus and Venus, but it is an insult to Christ, a blasphemy and a sacrilege.
Those who thus dishonor the sacred Christmas season have lost all concept of the meaning of the divine love that wrought Bethlehem’s miracle; indeed, for them celebrating Christmas is a mockery of that love.
Even apart from the wrong kind of office party, an increasing number of people associate a Merry Christmas with the exhilaration and intoxication that the excessive use of liquor produces. The only Christmas spirit they know is in bottles, and throughout the Holy Season they are likely to be to a greater or less extent under its influence.
On the first Christmas God came among men to elevate them to a share in His own divine life; and now on its anniversary many of them degrade themselves lower than the brutes. When a father or mother, a son or daughter spends Christmas in a drunken stupor and disrupts the peace and harmony of the home, the happiest day of the year is made one of the saddest for the other members of the family. Such arrogant selfishness and supreme self-indulgence defile and desecrate Christ’s birthday. A Merry Christmas? For whom?
THE BIRTHDAY WITH A DIFFERENCE
But we need not describe further the world’s distorted notion of a Merry Christmas. Rather, do I want to describe God’s notion of a Mary Christmas.
Let us not forget that Christmas is the anniversary of the day on which God came into the world as man, the day on which time and eternity met and heaven and earth joined hands.
Christmas is the birthday with a difference. When we celebrate a friend’s birthday, we rejoice with him because he has lived another year, because he has attained the age of forty-six or fifty-eight. We seldom think of the day on which he was born forty-six or fifty-eight years ago. We do not think of him as he was then, as a new-born babe. We think of him as he is here and now, as a man of forty-six or fifty-eight.
In this respect Christmas is very different, even unique. Christmas is the birthday of Christ, the anniversary of the day on which the Savior of the world was born. And now, almost 2,000 years after His birth, Christmas evokes an image not of a Young Man in the thirties who died on a cross, but of a newborn Infant lying in a manger.
It is thus that He is pictured in Christmas art and represented in Christmas song and story. In other words, in celebrating Christmas, we are concerned not with the anniversary of the day of Christ’s birth, but with the very day itself.
God’s love was so beautifully expressed by coming to earth as the Babe of Bethlehem that we want to retain that expression; at least we want to recapture it once each year.
And there is another point of difference between our observance of a friend’s birthday and our celebration of Christ’s. A person can have a birthday only because someone gave him birth, and nothing should be more natural at a birthday party than that reference be made to the mother of the guest of honor, the one who made it possible for him to have a birthday. But such reference is seldom made.
That is where Christmas differs again from other birthdays. An infant is normally associated with his mother, and we cannot separate the Infant Savior from Mary. In our representations of the Christmas story in art and in our retelling of it in words Mary is always present; she either holds the Infant Savior in her arms or kneels beside His manger-crib. The world would not have it otherwise.
The most beautiful and most perfect Christmas anyone ever celebrated was a Mary Christmas, the first Christmas in which Mary played so prominent a role, the first Christmas when Mary herself celebrated the day of days.
For a Mary Christmas is the kind of Christmas God Himself arranged, and He then inspired the Evangelists to tell the world about it in simple but sublime language.
I hope that during this Christmas season you will take down your family Bible and read the second chapter of St. Luke and the first two chapters of St. Matthew. You will notice that in both accounts of Christ’s infancy Mary is prominently mentioned. In other words, God’s own first Christmas on earth was a Mary Christmas.
GOD MADE THE CHOICE
There is another point that we are inclined to overlook. God was the only son in the history of the human race who had the privilege and the opportunity of choosing His own mother, and Mary was the object of His divine choice. That privilege was the prerogative of the Creator alone.
God’s plan for the redemption of the human race, a plan made from all eternity, involved His own coming into the world as man, and He needed a human mother to give Him birth. He would choose her, fashion and form her according to His own specifications, and then ask her to accept the sublime dignity.
As any of us would do, God gave her a soul that was spotless, a heart completely in tune with His, a will in perfect conformity to His own. In fact, He made her the embodiment of beauty, grace, understanding, perfection. God’s choice was made in eternity, and in the fullness of time it was announced to the one who had been chosen.
It is now almost 2,000 years since, in preparation for the first Mary Christmas, God sent His great Archangel Gabriel speeding to earth with His greeting and His message to Mary of Nazareth. “Hail, full of grace,” the Angel spoke in God’s words. “The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women.”
When Mary had somewhat recovered from her initial fear and astonishment, a brief dialogue followed in which Gabriel outlined the divine plan. The Messiah was to be the Son of God, and Mary had been chosen to be His mother. She would conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit and, though becoming a mother, she would remain a virgin.
Seeing the only obstacle removed and recognizing the Angel’s message as the manifest will of God, Mary humbly consented, “Behold the hand-maid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” The Incarnation took place, and the Son of God and His mother waited in anticipation of the first Mary Christmas.
Nine months later Mary gave birth to her Divine Son in the little town of Bethlehem. Though the world was unconcerned and indifferent to His coming, God sent a celestial choir to the nearby hillside to chant the most beautiful and melodious of all Christmas carols, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.”
A few Shepherds invited by the Angel and a few Wise Men directed by the star hastened to Bethlehem to greet and worship the Savior of the world. Certainly the Infant appreciated the sentiments of both Shepherds and Wise Men, but above all He delighted in the love of His own mother.
In heaven He had had the adoration of legions of angels, but now on earth He experienced a mother’s love for the first time. And no one loved this Child as His mother did. No one understood Him so completely.
Every other mother who caresses the young life that has been born to her looks up to heaven to thank God for His gift, but Mary looked down for she had heaven nestling in her arms—her Son and her God.
WHAT A MARY CHRISTMAS MEANS
St. Luke implies that on the night of Christ’s birth the Shepherds related the events to everyone they met. “All who heard marveled at the things told them by the shepherds.”
In contrast, the same sacred writer records that “Mary kept in mind all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
We will have a Mary Christmas if, like Mary, we ponder the meaning and the mystery of God made man. Such thoughts will stir in our hearts a greater response to God’s love. And we will more fully realize that it was the greatest possible gift that God gave us on the first Christmas. We will learn that the song of the angels was no mere cradle song, but a call to action to all men of good will.
For we will naturally express our love in action, in service of God and of our fellowmen. We will have a Mary Christmas if we radiate the warmth of charity. Christmas gift-giving is traditional, of course, for it dates back to the first Christmas when God the Father gave His Son to the world and the Magi gave their treasures to the newborn King.
But we too often give gifts to those who have everything, not often enough to those who have nothing.
I was delighted with the reply of a five-year-old son of fairly well-to-do parents when asked what he wanted for Christmas, “Don’t give me nothing. I got too much already.”
Most of us will visit our friends and make them welcome in our homes, but in memory of the helplessness of the Infant Savior we must include in our visits those who are helpless—the shut-ins, the sick and the aged.
It is frequently said by adults that Christmas is only for children. I repeat that sentiment here, and when I wish you a Mary Christmas I wish you the love and joy with which the season fills the hearts of children.
For we are all God’s children, and at Christmas in a special way we are all Mary’s children. You see, Mary, being the mother of Christ, is also the mother of Christmas.
THE MOST HOLY FAMILY
Representation of the first Tabernacle (The Blessed Virgin Mary) with the Most Blessed Sacrament (Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ). Protecting them both is the Tabernacle Veil (St Joseph).
Join me as I read to you the beautiful meditations of the Christmas Child written by Father Daniel Lord in the 1950’s…
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In With God in Russia, Ciszek reflects on his daily life as a prisoner, the labor he endured while working in the mines and on construction gangs, his unwavering faith in God, and his firm devotion to his vows and vocation. Enduring brutal conditions, Ciszek risked his life to offer spiritual guidance to fellow prisoners who could easily have exposed him for their own gains. He chronicles these experiences with grace, humility, and candor, from his secret work leading mass and hearing confessions within the prison grounds, to his participation in a major gulag uprising, to his own “resurrection”—his eventual release in a prisoner exchange in October 1963 which astonished all who had feared he was dead.
Powerful and inspirational, With God in Russia captures the heroic patience, endurance, and religious conviction of a man whose life embodied the Christian ideals that sustained him…..
Captured by a Russian army during World War II and convicted of being a “Vatican spy,” Jesuit Father Walter J. Ciszek spent 23 agonizing years in Soviet prisons and the labor camps of Siberia. Only through an utter reliance on God’s will did he manage to endure the extreme hardship. He tells of the courage he found in prayer–a courage that eased the loneliness, the pain, the frustration, the anguish, the fears, the despair. For, as Ciszek relates, the solace of spiritual contemplation gave him an inner serenity upon which he was able to draw amidst the “arrogance of evil” that surrounded him. Ciszek learns to accept the inhuman work in the infamous Siberian salt mines as a labor pleasing to God. And through that experience, he was able to turn the adverse forces of circumstance into a source of positive value and a means of drawing closer to the compassionate and never-forsaking Divine Spirit.
He Leadeth Me is a book to inspire all Christians to greater faith and trust in God–even in their darkest hour. As the author asks, “What can ultimately trouble the soul that accepts every moment of every day as a gift from the hands of God and strives always to do his will?” This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
My thoughts: I love my list booklet for this time of the year especially. I easily become unfocused. Our house is busy and I can find myself wandering around the hustle and bustle in a bit of a daze. When I get like that…..I go back to my list book in which I have previously entered what I need to get done. (My Advent Journal is very helpful, too!).
Another thought and I tell my kids this often….people are more important than things..and schedules….and how clean the house is. Let’s not forget it when we are rushing about!
We Catholics are fortunate. We intentionally try to make Advent simple…though it is always a struggle, that is for sure. Maybe this year really focus on Advent and the preparation of the coming of Jesus…and then celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas with gusto! You can use my new book to help with this and to be prepared….
It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts about what is coming up this holiday season. Let’s take a look at some ways to lessen the holiday stress and stay happy during the season.
Manage Stress with a Calendar
Plan ahead with a calendar. I’m not talking about filling out complicated forms and planning a rigid time for everything. I’m just advocating thinking about what’s coming up and writing down some concrete plans. Get a blank month calendar and write down the non-negotiables till the end of the year: appointments and commitments. Then use a week calendar/simple planner to take a look at what’s coming in the next few days. Finally, each morning look at the day’s schedule so you’re prepared for appointments and tasks.
Use your calendar to inform your preparations. If your kids have a choir dress rehearsal with uniforms or costumes, get that clothing ready in advance. Don’t forget to corral the socks, tights, shoes and hair bows, as those are the items that tend to get lost and cause a last-minute crisis. If you have a gift exchange coming up, pick up a gift a few days before while you’re grocery shopping.
Notify yourself ahead of time. Whether you use high-tech alarms on your phone, or low-tech sticky notes, remind yourself before deadlines. “Put chicken in crockpot” or “Pick up Susie’s gift” can save you some grief when you get busy and distracted.
Reverse-engineer your days. If you have an evening party, back up and figure out how much time you’ll need to prepare finger foods and get everyone ready, rather than waiting till an hour before and panicking.
Keep It Simple
Stock up on supplies for simple, easy meals. Match your schedule with your meal plan. If you have a day coming up with appointments out of the home, that’s a great day to plan a crockpot supper. Actually, a crockpot meal is good any day! The point is to bring some sanity to dinnertime by avoiding the drive-thru or the “What’s for Supper Blues.”
Don’t insist on perfection. Expecting perfection from yourself and others is a setup for disappointment. Things won’t go as planned and you won’t be perfectly organized during this season. Depending on your personality, going with the flow may be easy….or not so much. But having your own secret idea of how things should go and expecting everyone to conform is unfair. Let it go. This, too, shall pass.
Take time to make memories. The day after Christmas, it won’t matter if you created golden brown sugar cookies with icing stars. But when the holiday is over, it will matter what atmosphere you created in your home and how you made your loved ones feel. Don’t miss the opportunities to build memories in simple and sweet ways.
Don’t get stressed about the next month….today. You can only live right now. It’s all going to get done, and what doesn’t get done won’t kill you. Don’t borrow stress and anxiety about the next few weeks. Each day has enough trouble of its own, according to the Bible. You can do today. You can do the next fifteen minutes. Take your thoughts captive so they don’t create a mountain out of a molehill.
What is supposed to be a joyous, special time can turn into a stressed-out, overwhelming time if we’re not careful. Step back and take some time to evaluate and tweak your schedule and life. Take charge of your life—don’t let everything take charge of you this holiday season.
Thank God for those people in your life He has given you. Make time for them. Life passes quickly and we need to show our loved ones that they are our priority. -Finer Femininity
Happy Feast of St. Lucy!
Saint Lucia or Lucy was a 3rd C. Italian martyr who brought the light of faith, hope, and charity to the poor and Christians in the darkness of the catacombs. Tradition has it that during a terrible famine in Sweden a beautiful girl with a glow about her head, came to shore bringing food, saving the Swedes from starvation. On December 13th, St. Lucy’s Day, the eldest daughter wakes the household, bringing St. Lucia buns and coffee, wearing a lighted wreath on her head, a white gown, with a red sash, representing baptism and martyrdom.
Painting “Lucia Morning”
Carl Larsson (1853- 1919)
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Here is a marriage blueprint that every woman can follow. Happy marriages do not just happen, they are made. It takes three parties to make a good marriage; the husband, the wife, and the Lord. This book is concerned with helping the woman to become the wife desired and therefore loved that every man worth having wishes to find and keep.<P> This book sold over a quarter of a million copies shortly after its publication in 1951, and it was read by Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It is a practical manual. It should be read by every woman considering entering the matrimonial state and also by those women who are already married. It can also be read by men who may wish to see what a real challenge it is for a woman to live up to their expectations and how grateful they should be if they are blessed to find the woman of their desires…
Armed with Barbeau s wisdom, you’ll grow closer to your wife and to your children, while deepening your love for God. You’ll be able to lead your family to holiness amidst the troubles and temptations that threaten even the best of families today: infidelity, divorce, materialism, loneliness, and despair.
The Father of the Family makes good fathers and good fathers are the secret to happy homes….
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
Saint Nicholas has been for hundreds of years a popular saint in the East and in the West, greatly famed as a worker of miracles. There are many charming legends concerning him.
One tells of an occasion in heaven when all the saints came together to talk and to drink a little wine. Saint Basil filled the golden cups from the golden jug, and everyone was deep in conversation when it was noticed that Saint Nicholas was nodding. One of the blessed nudged him until he awoke, and asked why he was slumbering in such good company.
“Well, you see,” he told them, “the enemy has raised a fearful storm in the Aegean. My body was dozing perhaps, but my spirit was bringing the ships safe to shore.”
Saint Nicholas is the saint of mariners and also of bankers, pawnbrokers, scholars, and thieves! But he is especially the saint of children, and is known among them in various countries as Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Pelznickel.
There have even been invented servants to accompany him and to deal with the children who have been bad.
Saint Nicholas is considered too kind to give scoldings and punishments, so, in Austria Krampus, in Germany Knecht Rupprecht, and in Holland, Black Peter goes along with him, armed with a stout switch, while Saint Nicholas himself simply gives and gives.
Another very old legend tells us of the saint’s kindness to the three daughters of a poor nobleman. They were about to be sold into slavery, because they had no dowry, when Saint Nicholas stole to their home and on three nights in succession dropped a bag of gold down the chimney. This is said to explain why three balls are the pawnbrokers’ sign and why the saint drops gifts for children down the chimney.
Devotion to Saint Nicholas began in Asia Minor, where he was a bishop, and it was brought to Russia by an emperor who was witness to some of his miraculous works. It spread through Lapland and into Scandinavia, to other European countries, and finally to America.
Up to that time Saint Nicholas had been pictured as a lean and ascetic bishop. In America, he became fat and jolly, and his miter was turned into a winter cap, his vestments into a snow suit. But he has kept his reindeer from Lapland, his propensity for chimneys acquired in Asia Minor, and the generosity of his heart.
A French legend tells that long ago Our Lady gave Lorraine to Saint Nicholas as a reward for his kindness to the world. He is still the special patron of that province and on his eve children hang up their stocking, saying:
Saint Nicolas, mon bon patron Envoyez-moi quelqu’ chose de bon.
In Holland Saint Nicholas puts in an appearance on the eve of his feast. As the children sing, the door flies open and on the floor drop candies and nuts–right on a white sheet that has been spread out just in case.
And after he has gone, there is hot punch and chocolate and boiled chestnuts served with butter and sugar. And in the morning, children find in the shoes they have set before the fire toys and many other good things–candy hearts and spice cakes, “letterbankets,” which were candies or cakes in the form of the child’s initials, ginger cakes or “taai-taai” in patterns of birds and fish and the form of the saint himself. He also brings a hard cooky, called “Speculaus.”
1/2 cup butter 2-1/2 cups cake flour 1 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1 egg 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 lemon rind, grated 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream the butter and sugar, add the egg, and continue beating. Add the grated lemon rind and the flour sifted with the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Let the dough rest overnight in a cool place. Roll out as thinly as possible– about the thickness of the back of a knife blade. Cut into desired shape and bake at 350 degrees F. for fifteen to twenty minutes.
In Switzerland Saint Nicholas parades the streets, his arms full of red apples, cookies, and prunes for the children who crowd to him. In Austria and Germany he throws gilded nuts in at the door while Rupprecht and Krampus, the spoilsports, throw in a few birch twigs.
In Poland if there is a red sunset on Saint Nicholas’ Day, it is because the angels are busily baking the Saint’s Honey Cakes.
Ciastka Miodowe (Honey Cakes)
1/2 cup honey 1 teaspoon soda 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1 egg 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg 2 egg yolks 1/4 teaspoon cloves 4 cups flour 1/4 teaspoon ginger
Warm the honey slightly and combine with the sugar. Add eggs and beat well. Sift the flour with the soda and spices and stir into the honey batter thoroughly. Let the dough rest overnight. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness; cut out with a cooky cutter. Brush with the slightly beaten white of an egg, press half a blanched almond into each cooky and bake at 375 degrees F. for about fifteen minutes.
Below is two renditions of the St. Nicholas song courtesy of the St. Nicholas Center. I always liked the tune of Jolly Old St. Nicholas but the words are silly. So here is a chance to sing it with some good words!
Saint Nicholas Song
Song tells the story of Saint Nicholas
Thankful Bishop Nicholas,
friendly good and wise,
when he could he helped the poor,
always by surprise.
Rich folk came to Nicholas,
Bringing wealth to share,
so it could be sent to those living in despair.
Three maidens husbands could not find,
their father was so poor;
No dowry was available, to tempt a suitor’s lore.
Word came to youthful Nicholas,
who acted in good taste,
In darkness threw three bags of gold,
retreating in great haste.
Zealous Bishop Nicholas,
born in Pa-tar-a,
Was the Bishop of My-ra
in times of great trial.
Who suffered prison for his faith,
Through torture still held firm,
Released by Constantine the Great,
to My-ra he returned.
Holy Bishop Nicholas,
The sailors patron saint,
saved the storm-tossed mariners
from a salty fate.
Who at Nicea formed the creed—
but jail became his fate,
He punched a pastor in the jaw,
so heated the debate.
Patron Saint of children,
Saint Nicholas did become,
giving gifts at Christmas time,
a special act of love.
His style was different from his peers,
as they would often see,
“Give to the truley needy ones
Gentle Bishop Nicholas,
friendly good and wise,
When he could he helped the poor,
always by surprise.
We too must always seek to share,
our means with those in need,
God help us imitate this saint,
on Advent winter eves.
The Song of St. Nicholas
To the tune of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”
Once upon a long ago
Very far away,
In the town of Bethlehem
Lying in some hay,
Jesus came for you and me
Bringing heaven’s love
As a gift for us to have
From the Lord above.
In the town of Myra once
Also long ago,
Lived good Bishop Nicholas
Hair as white as snow.
Nicholas loved Jesus who
Loved and helped us all.
“I will do the same,” said he
“Helping great and small.”
Thankful Bishop Nicholas
Friendly, good and wise;
When he could, helped the poor
Always by surprise.
Rich men came to Nicholas
Bringing wealth to share
So it could be sent to those
Living in despair.
We should be like Nicholas
Thankful, good and kind,
Loving those who need our help
All the ones we find.
Jesus and Saint Nicholas
Taught us how to give:
Share but never seek rewards,
That is how to live!
A Puppet Show!
When my older children were young we had a lot of fun putting on a puppet show for the Feast of St. Nicholas. This was the day we gave our children stockings. We set them out on the evening of the 5th after the children were in bed. St. Nicholas Day was greeted with yelps of joy when they saw their goodies in the stockings. It was the one day they were allowed to munch throughout their lessons!
Mary Reed Newland’s book gives instructions on making simple sock puppets for both St. Nicholas and Black Pete.
The following is her suggestion for a play. We used hers and added to it our own touches.
One year we did it all in poem form and another year the puppet, St. Nicholas, threw the stockings out to each child, surprising one of them with a stocking full of straw! It was my brother (he was older) and he got a big kick out of it, but it made the other kid’s eyes open wide in shocked bewilderment! They were all relieved when they found out it was a joke and the recipient received his stocking after all.
This kind of thing will certainly make the Feast Days come alive for the children!
Everyone assembles after dinner on December 5, the vigil of the feast, and the puppet show begins.
First, St. Nicholas appears, bowing with dignity and murmuring, “Thank you, thank you,” to the shouts and clapping.
He has a Dutch accent (just for merriment), and if your accent isn’t all it might be, frequent interpolations of “Ja, ja” convince all present that it is superb.
“Good evening, little children,” he says. “I am St. Nicholas. Ja – a real saint I am, in Heaven now, and my feast is celebrated tomorrow. You are going to celebrate my feast? Ja? Good!
“I am not, you know, the reason for Christmas. Although I am sometimes called Santa Claus, I am not the reason for Christmas. Oh, no. Baby Jesus is the reason for Christmas. It is His birthday, Christmas, the day His Father in Heaven gave Him to all of us.
“I am waiting in Heaven, now, like you on earth, for His birthday on Christmas Day. And do you want to know something? That is why I gave gifts to little children when I was on earth! Because I was so grateful to God the Father for giving Jesus to me.
That is why we give each other presents on Christmas Day, because we are full of joy and gladness that Jesus came down to be one of us and to die to pay for our sins.
“Now, here is something you may do for my feast, and it pleases me very much. You hang your stockings tonight, and if you are very good children, you will get cookies in them!
But if you are bad…. Ahhh, if you are bad, you will get – not cookies – but straw!
Black Peter will put straw in your stockings.”
Up pops Black Peter, giggling and snickering and wagging his hands at the audience, which promptly rolls on the floor and shrieks.
The bishop is grave. “Peter! Peter! Behave yourself, or I will have to use a switch on you! Peter, you are going to put straw in some stockings? Jah?”
Peter looks coy, cocks his head, and makes odd noises that say neither aye nor nay.
“Ah, he will not tell. Peter, be fair now. No straw for the good children, you know. But be honest as well – straw for the naughty ones!”
Peter snickers again, wags at the children, then turns and throws himself on the bishop, arms around his neck, mewing noisily.
As the bishop nods his head paternally, Peter slyly turns to the children, waves a free arm and giggles.
Then he quickly buries his head in the bishop’s shoulder again.
After this you can have Peter sing a song or two, and the bishop can end the play with a hymn and lead the children in a little prayer or two, asking for the grace to be good and to love little Jesus with all their hearts. Then it is all over.
All go rushing about looking for stockings, full of high hopes for cookies – which, of course, they have spent the afternoon helping to make (or seen Mother buy).
The following morning tells the tale, and it is sometimes a mixture of fun and bittersweet. We have a little friend named Teddy who was unable to bear the suspense; so he bade his sister look in his stocking for him.
When she reported, “Cookies!” he was so amazed (what with the weight of his past sins pressing so hard upon him) that he gasped, “Are you sure?”
Another Puppet Show Idea with Audio…
This is a link for the audio to the Puppet Show below.
Below is the script for the Play.
St. Nicholas Puppet Show
3 sisters: Anastasia
St. Nicholas (appears in front of backdrop of village): Hello, girls and boys. Hello, my friends. How are you? Do you know who I am? Yes, that’s right. I am St. Nicholas, and sometimes people call me Santa Claus. I am the patron saint of children, because I love every one of you. I like to give gifts to the good children, too. I want to tell you a story of something that happened a long time ago when I lived in Myra where I was the bishop. Once I was walking down the street in a very poor part of the town. I heard singing coming from one of the huts. I went closer to hear better, and this is what I saw through the window.
(Curtain rises to show interior of peasant hut. Papa is in one corner, with his back to audience, and his head in his hands. Sometimes he takes a drink from a bottle. Matchmaker is in another corner, watching the 3 girls)
Anastasia, Cecilia, and Agnes (singing and dancing a little): Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch.
Anastasia: Oh, Matchmaker, have you spoken to the miller about his son, Basil? He is sooooo handsome.
Cecilia: Handsome? Goodness, Anastasia, the miller’s son always has a bit of white flour on the tip of his nose!
Matchmaker: A little flour improves the complexion, I always say. I will speak to the miller as soon as your father tells me how much dowry he can provide.
Agnes: Matchmaker, have I told you yet how much I like the butcher’s son, John?
Anastasia: Only about a thousand times!
Cecilia: But, Agnes, don’t you notice that the butcher’s son always smells like sausages?
Matchmaker: And it’s a very good smell. I will speak to the butcher as soon as your father tells me how much dowry he can give you.
Anastasia: And, what about you, Cecilia? Which young man do you have your eye upon?
Matchmaker: Simon, the blacksmith, is looking for a wife.
Cecilia: Oh, no. His hands are always black.
Anastasia: Then he won’t mind eating your cooking when the meat gets charred.
Cecilia: You are the one who chars the meat, dear Anastasia, whenever we get the chance to have some.
Agnes: We are much to poor to eat meat, so why argue about it? Matchmaker, what other men are available?
Matchmaker: Well, there is Matthew the sign painter.
Cecilia: Why, he is almost blind.
Anastasia: A perfect match: with your plain looks and his poor eyesight, you’ll surely be happy.
Cecilia: My plain looks! Why, you–
Agnes: Who else do you have, Matchmaker?
Matchmaker: Well, I could speak to Jude, the horse trader.
Cecilia: What? He is so old and deaf!
Matchmaker: He’s only 62, or is it 72?
Anastasia: A proper, mature bridegroom! And, just think, since he is deaf, he won’t be able to hear your bad singing!
Cecilia: No, no, no. None of them. I will whisper the name of the one I want to marry in your year, Matchmaker. (She whispers)
Matchmaker: Oh, what are you thinking? His father is the richest man in the city. How much of a dowry is your papa going to give you?
Papa: (groans) Nothing! I have no dowry at all to give them. And I can’t give you any money, either, Matchmaker. I have lost my job, and I spent my last shilling on this bottle of wine.
Agnes: (In great consternation) No money! No dowry!
Anastasia: What will we do?
Cecilia: How will we live?
Matchmaker: How will they find husbands?
Papa: I don’t know. I don’t know.
Slave Trader: (enters) Excuse me, good sir, but I heard a rumor that you are in trouble. You have no money. You can’t buy food, or pay your rent. You can’t get husbands for your daughters. But this is your lucky day. I can help you.
Anastasia: Oh, yes, please help us.
Agnes: We want to get married.
Slave Trader: (Laughs evilly) Ha, ha, ha. You girls won’t have to worry about getting a husband. You won’t need a dowry.
Matchmaker: What do you mean, you slimy snake?
Slave Trader: Me, a slimy snake? Why, I only want to help this unfortunate downtrodden man!
Papa: How can you help me?
Slave Trader: Send the dear girls away and I will tell you.
Papa: Go out, all of you.
Girls: Yes, Papa.
Slave Trader: You must go too, my darling Matchmaker.
Matchmaker: (To Papa) Watch out. He is up to no good!
Slave Trader: Oh, how you insult me. I have a very good plan to assist this poor miserable fellow.
Matchmaker: Hmmph. Your plan may be good for you, but not for him.
Slave Trader: Arrivaderci. Bye-bye. Out you go.
(Girls and Matchmaker exit.)
Slave Trader: Now, my friend. I know how you can get a lot of money, and very easily. You won’t have to lift a finger and all your troubles will be gone.
Papa: (eagerly) What is it? Tell me.
Slave Trader: I will buy your daughters.
Papa: Buy them!
Slave Trader: They are nice, strong young girls. I will pay one thousand shillings.
Papa: No! No! No!
Slave Trader: You don’t understand, my friend. I mean, one thousand shillings, each.
Papa: But, you will make them slaves!
Slave Trader: Yes, but you will have plenty of money.
Papa: But, they will be miserable.
Slave Trader: Yes, but they will be glad to help their poor papa.
Papa: One thousand shillings each!
Slave Trader: Yes. Do we have a deal? Make up your mind quickly.
Slave Trader: Act now. You won’t get this chance again.
Slave Trader: Here is a bonus: you won’t have to spend a cent on feeding or clothing them after they are gone.
Papa: Let me think about it. Come back tomorrow.
Slave Trader: (On his way out) Don’t forget, this offer is only good for a limited time.
Papa: (Pushing Slave Trader) Get out of here.
Slave Trader: It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Papa: (Gives him a shove) GET OUT!
(Slave Trader exits. Door slams. Papa paces back and forth. )
Papa: Oh, what should I do?
( Curtain closes. Scene changes to village street.)
St. Nicholas: Well, this was a terrible situation for those poor girls. Their papa had almost made up his mind to sell them for slaves. What could I do to help them? I remembered that I had some money saved up. I had thought about taking a trip to visit some holy places, but that money I saved for the trip was needed desperately right now. So that night, I quietly came back, with 3 small sacks of gold. I climbed up on the roof of that little hut. Yes, even at my age with my white beard, I managed to get up there. I silently dropped those sacks of gold down into the chimney. Now, watch what happened the next morning.
(St. Nicholas exits. Scene changes to inside of hut. Papa enters and paces back and forth, groaning)
Papa: Oh, morning is here and I still don’t know what to do. That wicked slave trader will be here soon to buy the girls. I must sell them. I can’t afford to keep them and feed them.
Girls: (enter happily, humming “Matchmaker”)
Anastasia: Good morning, dear Papa.
Agnes: Did you sleep well, Papa?
Cecilia: What did that man want yesterday? He said he would help you get rich. If you get rich, you can give all 3 of us dowries.
Papa: Never mind what he said. It’s cold. Make a fire. Use up the last of our sticks of wood. Hurry up. Get busy.
(3 Girls go to fireplace)
Anastasia: What is this in the fireplace?
Agnes: It looks like 3 bags.
Anastasia: What is in them?
Cecilia: Let me see. (She takes the bags and looks in them)
Agnes: Maybe the 3 bags are 3 gifts for the 3 of us girls.
Cecilia: Look! They are full of coins.
Anastasia: Where did they come from?
Cecilia: Maybe someone dropped them down the chimney.
Agnes: There is enough money here for us to have dowries.
Papa: What is this? Money?
Cecilia: Look, Papa! 3 bags of coins, one for each of us. We can get married now.
Papa: Is it a miracle?
Slave Trader: (enters) Good morning, my friends. You all look very cheerful today. You must have made up your mind to accept my generous offer.
Papa: You are wrong. We don’t need your dirty money, Slave Trader.
Slave Trader: But–
Papa: Heaven has helped us, and answered my daughters’ prayers.
Slave Trader: But–
Papa: Get out of my house.
Slave Trader: But–
Papa: And never come back! (He shoves Slave Trader out)
Matchmaker: (enters) I just saw that slimy snake, the Slave Trader running out your door. He looked very upset. What happened to him?
Papa: (chuckles) He missed out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Matchmaker: I am very glad to hear it.
Papa: And now, Matchmaker, you shall make some matches for my girls. Find them the very best men you can. Girls, show the matchmaker what you found in the fireplace this morning.
Cecilia: Look, we have dowries.
Matchmaker: 3 Bags of money! Praise be to God.
Papa: Let us all kneel down and thank the good God for his mercy to a poor sinner and his family.
(Curtain closes. Scene changes to street scene again)
St. Nicholas (enters): And so the 3 girls all got married, and were very happy. Papa was happy, too, and so was the Matchmaker, and so was I. Did you know that one of the best ways to find joy, is to give gifts to others? I hope that if you ever have the chance to be generous and to give a gift to someone who needs it, you will remember this story and how happy it makes everyone when you give a good gift. God bless you.
[Now how many of you are good children? I will give all of the good children a little coin to help you remember this story. But, if you have been naughty, I will give you a lump of coal. ] (Puppeteers come out for applause and to give out candy coins)
“Cultivate kindness of heart; think well of your fellow-men; look with charity upon the shortcomings in their lives; do a good turn for them, as opportunity offers; and, finally, don’t forget the kind word at the right time. How much such a word of kindness, encouragement, of appreciation means to others sometimes, and how little it costs us to give it!” -J.R. MIller
A great Christmas gift idea… The Catholic Boy’s and Girl’s Traditional 30-Day Journals! Let’s keep our youth engaged in the Faith! Let’s teach them how to be organized, how to prioritize, how to keep on top of, first, the Spiritual things in their lives, and then the other daily duties that God requires of them… Available here.
Drawn from Archbishop Sheen’s bestselling books, these 28 reflections will lead you day by day through the Advent season. Eloquent quotes are paired with beautiful Scriptures on the themes of the season―patience, waiting, gift, hope, humility, joy―and more. Spend a few quiet moments of each day with one of the 20th century’s greatest preachers, preparing your heart to receive the Savior of the world.
Prayers for use by the laity in waging spiritual warfare from the public domain and the Church’s treasury. The book has an imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Denver.
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when I remind you (and me) to take this season of Advent (starting on Sunday!) to make it special for your family! The magic and charm of Christmas comes from our Catholic Heritage!
This is a beautiful devotion that can be made simple! Especially now that I have some free printables for you to make it easier!
I also have the Spiritual Christmas Crib Flip cards here.
I now have an Advent Journal Printable if you are late in ordering! It is available here.
You don’tneedany of those though for this devotion because here are the instructions:
This is a custom we have kept throughout the years. It is a beautiful little devotion preparing our hearts for the coming of Our Lord at Christmas.
You can do the special activities indicated each day in this devotion in your own manger scene, using your imagination. When my older ones were young we made a 3D stable out of heavy cardboard and added the different themes each day…whether it was drawing in the cobwebs or making paper doll figurines for the nativity scene.
Or you can do what we have done the last few years. We put up 4 big white posterboard papers on an empty wall to make a big blank paper just waiting for the crayons and sharpies to make their mark! (You can make it as big or small as you like, using just one or two posterboards.) Each morning we draw the part of the manger scene that is applicable to that day.
I usually do the drawing in pencil then the child whose day it is traces it with colored markers and colors it in.
OR, (and I wish to thank my friend, Mary Ann for for this!!), you can use these Stable printables and get your children to color them on the day they go into the stable, and voila! you can add them to your Nativity scene!
We also print out (or write out) the special prayer for the day and put the assigned one up so we can say it throughout the day.
We sometimes forget a couple days and have to back track. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a wonderful family devotion that helps to make Advent and Christmas meaningful!
Here’s the devotion:
Start on December 1.
Read the thought indicated
about Christ’s first crib.
Practice it during the day. Do this daily during
December and make your heart a worthy crib for
Christ on Christmas Day.
DEC.1 – THE STABLE
Frequently during the day offer your heart to the
little Infant Jesus. Ask Him to make it His home. –
Sweet Jesus, take my heart and make it meek and pure.
DEC.2 – THE ROOF
See that the roof of the stable is in good
condition, so that the Infant Jesus is protected
from rain and snow. This you will do by carefully
avoiding every uncharitable remark. —Jesus, teach me to love my neighbor as myself.
DEC.3 – CREVICES
Carefully stop every crevice in the walls of the
stable, so that the wind and cold may not enter
there. Guard your senses against temptations. Guard
especially your ears against sinful
conversations.–Jesus, help me to keep temptations out of my heart.
DEC.4 – COBWEBS
Clean the cobwebs from your spiritual crib.
Diligently remove from your heart every
inordinate desire of being praised. Renew this
intention at least three times today. —My Jesus, I want to please You in all I do today.
DEC.5 – FENCE
Build a fence about the crib of your heart by
keeping a strict watch over your eyes, especially
at prayer. —Sweet Jesus, I long to see You.
DEC.6 – MANGER
Fix the best and warmest corner of your heart
for the manger of Jesus. You will do so by
abstaining from what you like most in the line of
comfort and amusement. —Mary, use these sacrifices to prepare my heart for Jesus in Holy Communion.
DEC.7 – HAY
Supply the manger of your heart with hay, by
overcoming all feelings of pride, anger or envy. Jesus, teach me to know and correct my greatest sins.
DEC.8 – SOFT STRAW
Provide your manger with soft straw by
performing little acts of mortification; for
instance, bear the cold without complaints; or sit
and stand erect. —Dear Jesus, Who suffered so much for me, let me suffer for love of You.
DEC.9 – SWADDLING CLOTHES
Prepare these for the Divine Infant by folding
your hands when you pray, and praying slowly and
thoughtfully. —Jesus let me love you more and more.
DEC.10 – BLANKETS
Provide the manger with soft warm
blankets. Avoid harsh and angry words; be kind and
gentle to all. —Jesus, help me to be meek and humble like You.
DEC.11 – FUEL
Bring fuel to the crib of Jesus. Give up your own
will; obey your superiors cheerfully and
promptly. —Jesus, let me do Your will in all things
Bring fresh clean water to the crib. Avoid every
untruthful word and every deceitful act.
—Dearest Mary, obtain for me true contrition for my sins.
DEC.13 – PROVISIONS
Bring a supply of food to the crib. Deprive
yourself of some food at mealtime or candy as a
treat. —Jesus, be my strength and nourishment.
DEC.14 – LIGHT
See that the crib has sufficient light. Be
neat and orderly about your person; keep
everything in its place in your room. —Jesus, be the life and light of my soul.
DEC.15 – FIRE
Take care to have the crib of your heart warmed
by a cozy fire. Be grateful to God for the love He
has shown us in becoming man; behave with grateful
respect towards your parents and relatives. — Jesus, how can I return Your love; how can I show my gratitude to You?
DEC.16 – THE OX
Lead the ox to the crib. Obey cheerfully without
making excuses and without asking “why.” —I will obey for love of You, Jesus.
DEC.17 – THE DONKEY
Bring the donkey to the crib. Offer to the Divine
Infant your bodily strength; use it in the service
of others. —Jesus, accept my service of love; I offer it for those who do not love You.
DEC.18 – GIFTS
Gather some presents for the Divine Infant and
His Blessed Mother. Give alms for the poor and say
an extra decade of the rosary. —Come, Jesus, to accept my gifts and to take possession of my heart.
DEC.19 – LAMBS
Strive to bring some little lambs, meek and
and patient. Do not murmur or complain.
—Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make
my heart like Yours.
DEC.20 – SHEPHERDS
Invite the shepherds to pay homage to our newborn
King. Imitate their watchfulness; stress in your
speech and thoughts the idea that Christmas is
important because Jesus will be born again in
you. Jesus, teach me to love You above all things.
DEC.21 – THE KEY
Provide the stable with a key to keep out
thieves. Exclude from your heart every sinful
thought, every rash judgment —Dear Jesus, close my heart to all that hurts you.
DEC.22 – ANGELS
Invite the angels to adore God with you.
Cheerfully obey the inspirations of
your guardian angel and of your conscience. — Holy Guardian Angel, never let me forget that You are with me always.
DEC.23 – ST. JOSEPH
Accompany Saint Joseph from door to door. Learn
from him silently and patiently to bear refusals
and disappointments. Open wide your heart and beg
Him to enter with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
—Saint Joseph, help me to prepare for a worthy Christmas Communion.
DEC.24 – THE BLESSED VIRGIN
Go meet your Blessed Mother. Lead her to the
manger of your heart and beg her to lay the
Divine Infant in it. Shorten your chats and
telephone conversations and spend more time today
thinking of Jesus and Mary and Joseph.
—Come, dear Jesus, Come; my heart belongs to You.
“Cultivate kindness of heart; think well of your fellow-men; look with charity upon the shortcomings in their lives; do a good turn for them, as opportunity offers; and, finally, don’t forget the kind word at the right time. How much such a word of kindness, encouragement, of appreciation means to others sometimes, and how little it costs us to give it!” -J.R. MIller
Leane and Theresa from Finer Femininity discuss the lovely Catholic customs and traditions in the home during the Advent and Christmas season…
Advent starts Sunday and if you are new to using my Catholic Mother’s Traditional Advent Journal (if you are not, this tidbit is still a good reminder), you will want to peek at the following page. It will help you to get the things together you will need to do the Advent Traditions in the book. If there are some activities you are not doing then check or cross them off this list. We do them all but that is optional. Pick and choose as you see fit…
Advent Calendars (we have used the pop-up ones in the past….sweet, if you have a place to set it…can be purchased off Amazon.) The Advent candles can be bought online, too!
Advent Journal Printable~Daily Checklist~Spiritual Christmas Crib~St. Andrew Novena~Advent Wreath Prayers~Blessing of Christmas Tree & More!
Review: (Thank you Annamaria!)
Love the Advent Journal. A wonderful way to keep my heart, soul and mind on the way toward Christmas …. In fact I am always looking at all the journals put together by Meadows of Grace. Unfortunately I never thought I would be able to purchase this because for Australian customers the postage costs more than than the journal!!!! So I am so grateful and delighted that Leane offers a printable version, so very happy to join with so many others following the journey toward Christmas. God bless you abundantly Leane😘❤️🙏🏻
Nov. 30th is the start of the St. Andrew Novena! Don’t forget! Say this prayer 15 times from Nov. 30th to (and including) Dec. 24th. If you forget a day (try not to) then double up the next day…
You can print out this page from my Advent Journal and write down your petitions!
Check out my Advent/Christmas Finer Femininity Maglet here
Perfect books for the holidays! (And they make great gifts, too!)
In this joyful and charming book, Maria Von Trapp (from The Sound of Music) unveils for you the year-round Christian traditions she loved traditions that created for her large family a warm and inviting Catholic home and will do the same for yours.
Mary Reed Newland wrote numerous beloved books for Catholic families, but The Year and Our Children is her undisputed masterpiece. Read it, cherish it, share it, put it into practice and give your kids the gift of a fully lived faith, every day and in every season.
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
One special, and yearly, thanksgiving celebration going back to ancient times took place at the successful conclusion of the harvest. That is why we find harvest festivals with thanksgiving rites everywhere as far back as we can go in our knowledge of religions and cultures.
Among the Indo-European races it was the great “Mother of Grains” to whom these rites were addressed. Within the various ancient nations this common mythological Mother of Fields was represented as a national god or goddess of vegetation (Astarte, Osiris, Tam-muz, Demeter, Ceres ). Great festivals were held every year in their honor in thanksgiving for the harvest.
The most famous of all these feasts were the Eleusinian Mysteries in Greece, held every September as a tribute to the grain goddess Demeter.
Among the Slavic, Germanic, and Celtic races the ancient belief in the great Mother of Grains has persisted to our day in the form of many superstitious practices connected with fall harvesting, especially with the “last sheaf” in every field.
Sometimes the sheaf is personified, molded into the form of a straw doll and, as “harvest baby,” carried in joyful procession from the field to the village.
In Austria it is shaped into a wreath and placed on the head of a girl who then is designated at the harvest festival as “queen” or “bride” (Erntebraut).
Similar customs were universally practiced in England, where the last load brought home with great rejoicing bore the name “horkey cart,” and in Scotland, where the last sheaf is called “kirn [grain] doll.”
In northern France harvesters, seated on top of the last load brought home from the fields, chant an ancient traditional tune to the text Kyre-o-dle. This is an interesting relic of folklore from Carolingian times, when shepherds and field workers cheered their solitary toil by singing the Kyrie eleison as they had heard the monks sing it at High Mass.
In southern France the last sheaf was tied in the form of a cross, decorated with ribbons and flowers, and after the harvest celebration was placed in the best room of the house to be kept as a token of blessing and good fortune.
Moses instituted among the Jews two great religious feasts of thanksgiving for the harvest: the Feast of the Spring Harvest (Hag Shavu’oth, Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost; Leviticus 23, 15-21) and the Feast of the Fall Harvest (Sukkoth, Feast of Tabernacles; Leviticus 29-43): Thou shalt celebrate the festival of weeks to the Lord thy God, a voluntary oblation of thy hand which thou shalt offer according to the blessing of the Lord thy God. And thou shalt feast before the Lord thy God, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates. and the stranger and the fatherless, and the widow, who abide with you in the place . . . (Deuteronomy 16, 9-11).
Thou also shalt celebrate the solemnity of tabernacles seven days. when thou hast gathered in thy fruit of the barnfloor and of the winepress. And thou shalt make merry in thy festival time, thou, thy son, and thy daughter, thy manservant, and thy maidservant, the Levite also and the stranger, and the fatherless and the widow that are within thy gates (Deuteronomy 16, 13-15).
In the Christian era the custom of celebrating a thanksgiving harvest festival began in the High Middle Ages. For lack of any definite liturgical day or ceremony prescribed by the Church, various practices came to be observed locally.
In many places, as in Hungary, the Feast of the Assumption included great thanksgiving solemnities for the grain harvest. Delegates from all parts of the country came for the solemn procession to Budapest, carrying the best samples of their produce.
A similar ceremony was observed in Poland, where harvest wreaths brought to Warsaw from all sections were bestowed on the president in a colorful pageant. These wreaths (wieniec), made up of the straw of the last sheaf (broda), were beautifully decorated with flowers, apples, nuts, and ribbons, and blessed in churches by the priests.
The most common, and almost universal, harvest and thanksgiving celebration in medieval times was held on the Feast of Saint Martin of Tours ( Martinmas) on November 11. It was a holiday in Germany, France, Holland, England, and in central Europe.
People first went to Mass and observed the rest of the day with games, dances, parades, and a festive dinner, the main feature of the meal being the traditional roast goose (Martin’s goose).
With the goose dinner they drank “Saint Martin’s wine,” which was the first lot of wine made from the grapes of the recent harvest.” Martinmas was the festival commemorating filled barns and stocked larders, the actual Thanksgiving Day of the Middle Ages. Even today it is still kept in rural sections of Europe, and dinner on Martin’s Day would be unthinkable without the golden-brown, luscious Martin’s goose.”
THANKSGIVING DAY IN AMERICA PILGRIMS’ CELEBRATION
The tradition of eating goose as part of the Martin’s Day celebration was kept in Holland even after the Reformation. It was there that the Pilgrims who sailed to the New World in 1620 became familiar with this ancient harvest festival.
When, after one year in America, they decided to celebrate a three days’ thanksgiving in the autumn of 1621, they went in search of geese for their feast. We know that they also had deer (a present from the Indians), lobsters, oysters, and fish.
But Edward Winslow, in his account of the feast, only mentions that “Governor Bradford sent four men on fowling that so we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.”
They actually did find some wild geese, but a number of wild turkeys and ducks as well.
The Pilgrim Fathers, therefore, in serving wild turkeys with the geese, inaugurated one of the most cherished American traditions: the turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day.
They also drank, according to the ancient European tradition, the first wine of their wild-grape harvest. Pumpkin pie and cranberries were not part of the first Thanksgiving dinner in America, but were introduced many years afterward.
The second Thanksgiving Day in the New World was held by the Pilgrims two years later, on July 30, 1623. It was formally proclaimed by the governor as a day of prayer to thank God for their deliverance from drought and starvation, and for the safe arrival from Holland of the ship Anne.
In 1665 Connecticut proclaimed a solemn day of thanksgiving to be kept annually on the last Wednesday in October. Other New England colonies held occasional and local Thanksgivings at various times.
In 1789 the federal Congress authorized and requested President George Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for the whole nation. Washington did this in a message setting aside November 26, 1789 as National Thanksgiving Day.
After 1789 the celebration reverted to local and regional observance for almost a hundred years. There grew, however, a strong desire among the majority of the people for a national Thanksgiving Day that would unite all Americans in a festival of gratitude and public acknowledgment for all the blessings God had conferred upon the nation.
It was not until October 3, 1863, that this was accomplished, when President Abraham Lincoln issued, in the midst of the Civil War, a Thanksgiving Proclamation. In it the last Thursday of November was set apart for that purpose and made a national holiday.
Since then, every president has followed Lincoln’s example, and annually proclaims as a “Day of Thanksgiving” the fourth Thursday in November. Only President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date, in 1939, from the fourth to the third Thursday of November (to extend the time of Christmas sales). This caused so much consternation and protest that in 1941 the traditional date was restored.
Be attentive to the sacrifices your husband makes for the family. Each day he battles the world, the flesh and the devil out in the workforce for you. Don’t let that go unnoticed. Thank him often! Appreciate him. -Finer Femininity
Nothing like a hot cup of tea on a brisk November day!
Our attitude changes our life…it’s that simple. Our good attitude greatly affects those that we love, making our homes a more cheerier and peaceful dwelling! To have this control…to be able to turn around our attitude is a tremendous thing to think about!
This Gratitude Journal is here to help you focus on the good, the beautiful, the praiseworthy. “For the rest, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever modest, whatsoever just, whatsoever holy, whatsoever lovely, whatsoever of good fame, if there be any virtue, if any praise of discipline, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8 – Douay Rheims).
Yes, we need to be thinking of these things throughout the day!
You will be disciplined, the next 30 days, to write positive, thankful thoughts down in this journal. You will be thinking about good memories, special moments, things and people you are grateful for, lovely and thought-provoking Catholic quotes, thoughts before bedtime, etc. Saying it, reading it, writing it, all helps to ingrain thankfulness into our hearts…and Our Lord so loves gratefulness! It makes us happier, too!
Let Mrs. Newland show you how to introduce even your littlest ones to God and develop in your growing children virtues such as:
The habit of regular prayer
Genuine love of the Rosary
A sense of the dignity of work
Devotion to Mary and the saints
A proper love for the things of this world and for the things of Heaven
Attentiveness at Mass
Love for the Eucharist
An understanding and love of purity
The ability to make good confessions
And dozens of other skills, habits, and virtues that every good Catholic child needs
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.
Thérèse wanted to be a saint not out of ambition or vainglory, but in order to love God as much as he can be loved. That is completely in accordance with the Gospel.
She also very much wanted to be useful to the Church, and she felt that the only way she could do that was by aiming for holiness with all her strength.
But … alas, I have always realized, when I compared myself to the saints, that there is between them and me the same difference as exists between a mountain whose summit is lost in the heavens, and the obscure grain of sand trodden underfoot by passers-by.
Thérèse very soon realized that what she wanted was impossible. Despite all her good will and her ardent desires, she was quickly brought face-to-face with her limitations and had the feeling that her desire for holiness was inaccessible, unrealizable. She felt as though there were the same distance between that ideal of holiness and what she could actually do as between a high mountain and a grain of sand.
It should be said that at the time she lived, at the end of the nineteenth century, people still tended to identify the idea of sainthood with the kind of exceptional perfection that involved heroic enterprises, extraordinary graces, etc.
Thérèse felt an insuperable distance between that model and what she was in her everyday life. Her words should be taken very seriously. She was faced with a real difficulty and unquestionably went through a real inner crisis. The temptation in that kind of situation is discouragement: I’ll never get there!
How did Thérèse react? She goes on:
Instead of getting discouraged, I said to myself: “God could not inspire us with desires that were unrealizable, so despite my littleness I can aspire to holiness.”
Here is a very beautiful aspect of Thérèse’s spiritual personality: her great simplicity, her trust in God. If God has put this desire in me—and I’ve had it for years, that’s why I entered Carmel—then it must be realizable. The desire has always been with me. It can’t be an illusion, because God is just in all his ways.
We are looking at one of the paradoxes of Thérèse’s life: on the one hand, great psychological weaknesses and great sufferings; but despite this, on the other hand, always great desires.
Lest we idealize Thérèse, recall what she was like at almost fourteen, before the healing grace that came to her at Christmas 1886.
She was a very intelligent little girl, but she had not followed a normal school life because she could not adapt to the school run by Benedictine sisters to which she had been sent. She was hypersensitive, very dependent on others, and had an enormous need for gratitude.
When she had done some little act of service, such as watering the flowers, and no one thanked her, it was a full-scale drama for her. If by chance she had hurt someone she loved, she cried about it, and then, as she says, “cried for having cried.” “I was so oversensitive that I was unbearable.”
She was “enclosed in a narrow circle that she could not get out of.”
Yet at the same time she had a very deep life of prayer and a true desire for holiness. It took the grace of Christmas 1886 to sort out this tangle, so to speak. I shall say a little about it here, and invite you to read the passage where she describes it.
Briefly, then, after Communion at Midnight Mass, our Lord inspired Thérèse to make an act of courage to overcome her hypersensitivity. The youngest of the Martin girls, she was still treated rather like a child: at Christmas, there were gifts left for her by the fireplace, and so on.
Their father, Mr. Martin, despite his affection for his youngest child, was beginning to be a little tired of all this. The comment escaped him, “This is the last time, luckily!”
Thérèse heard this and it hurt her terribly; she was tempted, as usual, to cry like a child, which would have spoilt the whole family’s Christmas.
She tells how she received a grace at that moment which can be understood as follows. It was as if God made her understand, “That’s it, finished.”
She received a sort of intuition, like a call from the Holy Spirit: “No, Thérèse, that childishness is over, you can’t let yourself go and spoil Christmas for the others!” That is not exactly what the text says, but I think that’s what it means.
So she made an act of courage: she acted as though nothing had happened, looked as joyful and happy as she could, unwrapped her presents with laughter and thanks, and, astonishingly, was cured from that moment on.
She herself says she recovered the strength of mind she had lost at the age of four when her mother died, an event that traumatized her and lay at the root of all her emotional fragility.
After that, she was able to enter Carmel and embark on her wonderful, courageous way of life, undertaking a “giant’s race,” as she puts it.
I am telling you this to help you understand something:
It may happen that God works a deep cure in us through totally insignificant events. Sometimes we are called by God to come out of ourselves, to take several steps forward, to become more adult and free.
We turn round and round inside ourselves, enclosed in our immaturity, complaints, lamentations, and dependencies, until suddenly a day of grace arrives, a gift from God, who nevertheless also calls upon our freedom.
We have a choice to make, for it is at the same time a cure and a conversion: our freedom has to opt for an act of courage.
Making an act of courage even over some very small thing, which is what God is asking of us, can open the gate to in-depth cures, to a new freedom granted us by God.
We all need cures in order to become more adult in the faith, to be courageous in waging the battle that we must wage in the Church today. To be a Christian in this day and age is not easy.
We will receive the courage and strength it requires if we can say yes to what God asks of us.
So let’s put this question to God: “What is the ‘yes’ you are asking me for today? The little act of courage and trust you’re calling me to make today?” What is the little conversion, the door that opens to let in the Holy Spirit? For if we make it, God’s grace will visit us and touch us in the depths of our being.
I am convinced that many of us will receive new strength from God. The door through which this strength enters us is the “yes” we say to our Lord to something he asks of us—something perhaps very small, perhaps rather more important, according as he gives us to understand.
“At a certain moment when going to confession to a Capuchin father, St. Therese came to understand that it was just the opposite: her “defects did not displease God” and her littleness attracted God’s love, just as a father is moved by the weakness of his children and loves them still more as soon as he sees their good will and sincere love.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe,The Way of Trust and Love, http://amzn.to/2fpXVzl Painting by Millie Childers
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These are the stairs in the childhood home of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Her mother, Saint Zélie shared a story about the way young Thérèse would climb the stairs.
“”I hear the baby calling me Mama! as she goes down the stairs. On every step, she calls out Mama! and if I don’t respond every time, she remains there without going either forward or back.”
So on every step, Zélie would tenderly reply “Yes, my child.”
Now I will be fully honest with you here. As a mama to three kids five and under, my knee jerk reaction was “Dear Lord Baby Jesus, ain’t nobody got time for that.”
But then I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought about the heart of this Saint who was raising a Saint. I thought about how maybe she had to sigh deeply between each response, but she mustered up that patience because the opportunity to love someone is too important to pass up.
I think what Zelie understood is that love is an urgent calling. Think she knew that making sure that the people in our lives are intimately loved is a critical part of them experiencing Divine love. I think Zelie knew that when we lovingly speak to others, we are echoing the Father’s voice.
Each “yes my child”, was a reflection of God’s love on every step. Because no matter how many times we call out to the Lord, He faithfully hears us.
Today, Sept. 29th, is the Feast of St. Michael, the Archangel! How much we need his assistance in combating the devil in these days….in all the big things that trouble this world, but also in the little every day ways that he tries to get his licks in. St. Michael, the Archangel, pray for us!
The first fact we learn concerning this great Prince is that in the mighty combat which took place in Heaven, when the bad Angels fell away from their allegiance to God, Michael sounded his war cry: “Who is like to God,” and immediately, joined by the good Angels, he drove Satan and his legions from Heaven and plunged them into the depths of Hell.
Next, we hear his praises from no less an authority than his brother Angel, St. Gabriel, who speaking to the Prophet Daniel, says, “Michael, who is your Prince,” “Michael, who is a great Prince created for the children of your people,” and again, “Michael, who is one of the first among Princes.”
St. Thomas says of him, “Michael is the breath of the Redeemer’s spirit who will, at the end of the world, combat and destroy Antichrist, as he did Lucifer in the beginning.”
St. Michael was the protector and defender of God’s chosen people. He came with the Israelites from Egypt and accompanied them through the desert. He it was who gave them, from God, the Ten Commandments, and during the thousands of years that elapsed before the coming of Christ, he was their champion and defender.
Though express mention of him is made only a few times, yet owing to his office as their appointed friend and defender, we know that he never abandoned God’s people but took an important part in all that concerned them.
He is now the defender of the Catholic Church and of all the faithful, whom he defends against the constant assaults of the devil.
He is invoked in sickness and most especially at the hour of death, when his “all— powerful” help is so much needed, for then it is that Satan makes his last and fiercest attack on the Christian soul, seeking with craft and cunning, with fears and despair lo drag it down to Hell.
In the prayers said by the priest and people after Mass, there is a special and beautiful prayer to St. Michael imploring his help for the Church. It runs as follows: Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in the day of battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan and with him all the wicked spirits, who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
We should make it a sacred duty to join fervently in this important prayer.
In our morning and evening prayers we invoke St. Michael when saying the Confiteor, but we should try to do so with more devotion and confidence. Many do not even think of what they are saying.
St. Michael has been honored from the earliest times in many countries.
The Emperor Constantine, grateful for the victories gained over his enemies, which he attributed to the protection of St. Michael, built a magnificent church near Constantinople in honor of the Archangel which he called Michaelion.
It became a place of pilgrimage, and many sick and infirm were cured in it by the intercession of the Archangel.
Constantine’s successors erected no less than fifteen churches in Constantinople itself to St. Michael.
In Rome, churches were also built and dedicated to St. Michael as far back as 494 A.D. The Archangel appeared to the Bishop of Siponto, on Monte Gargano, in the Kingdom of Naples, where a beautiful church was dedicated lo him. This became a place of great devotion and attracted many pilgrims.
Mont St. Michel, France
In France, he appeared on Mont St. Michel, where there still exists a famous sanctuary consecrated to the Archangel.
In Egypt, the Christians dedicated their food-giving river, the Nile, to St. Michael, and on the 12th of every month they held a special celebration in his honor, and this celebration was kept with marked solemnity in the month of June, when the river begins to rise.
When Germany was converted, the cult to the pagan god Woden was replaced by devotion to St. Michael, and as a result there are to be seen numerous chapels dedicated to the Archangel in the mountain districts of that country.
In England, the feast of Michaelmas used to be celebrated with great rejoicing, the favorite dish of the day being the roast goose. Now it is mainly known as a legal term, the day marking what is called in law, the Michaelmas term.
St. Michael has appeared at different times to those who needed his help and invoked his aid. A most notable example was when he assisted St. Joan of Arc in the extraordinary mission given her by God of aiding the French King to restore peace and prosperity to his kingdom and expel his enemies from its shores.
ST. MICHAEL AT THE HOUR OF DEATH
We read in The Book of Similitudes of St. Anselm that a religious of this monastery, on the point of death, was dreadfully assaulted by the devil, who reproached him at first because of the sins he had committed previous to his Baptism, for the monk had received this Sacrament when already advanced in years.
The poor man knew not how to reply and was very much troubled until St. Michael, who had come to his assistance, answered that all the sins he had committed before Baptism were remitted in that Sacrament.
The evil spirit then urged several sins of his committed after Baptism.
The Archangel replied that these had been washed away in the general confession he made before his religious profession, and that the dying man should trust in the divine mercy.
Satan at last opposed to him the many offenses and negligences in his life subsequent to religious profession.
As the good monk said nothing in defense, St. Michael declared that all his sins were forgiven him, because he had confessed them and satisfied for them by good works, especially by obedience, and that if anything remained it was expiated by his patience under the sufferings of a sickbed.
At these words the devil departed in confusion, and the good religious, with confident hope, meekly gave up his soul to God.
We all must die, and we all must be prepared for the fierce attacks of the devil at this dreadful hour. Hence every Christian should make sure of having St. Michael’s help at the hour of death. This we can do by being devoted to the great Archangel during our lives.
CHILDREN RAISED TO LIFE BY ST. MICHAEL
The King of Dacia, Mulhoares, was gravely ill and suffered all the more because he had no heir to his throne. His children had all died.
He was counseled to have recourse to St. Michael.
The King followed this sage advice, and some time after twins were born to his wife. Alas, a new trial awaited him. These children also died!
Full of lively faith, the King ordered the bodies of the children to be taken to the church and placed before the altar of St. Michael, and he and his people besought the great Archangel to come to their aid.
Lo, St. Michael appeared and spoke lo the King: “I am Michael, whom you and your people have invoked, and I have presented your petition to God who is pleased to restore life to your children. Behold them alive, and I and the other Angels will watch over them. God wishes, too, to cure you, but you must thank the Angel who is Prince of your kingdom. That you may love him, I will now show him to you.”
A most beautiful Angel then appeared, clothed in royal robes, with a crown of gold on his head. He blessed the King, who was instantly restored to health.
HOW TO HONOR ST. MICHAEL?
1st. By frequently repeating this short prayer: “Glorious St. Michael, Prince of the Heavenly Court, pray for us now and at the hour of our death.”
2nd. By invoking his aid in sickness.
3rd. If we find it hard to conquer a temptation, or correct some fault, let us pray to St. Michael, who will assuredly help us to overcome the most violent temptation —and the most inveterate.
4th. By having a little picture of St. Michael in our prayer— book, saying each time we see it, “Glorious St. Michael, I love you.”
Sanctity is found by doing the duties that unfold before us each day – doing our housework, raising children, taking care of parents as they age, paying those bills that are ever with us, helping neighbors, and practicing our Faith. The formula for holiness doesn’t need to be searched for; it finds you, in the duties that come up each day in the path of ordinary life. -Finer Femininity, Painting by Morgan Weistling