Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ash Wednesday and Our Family's Lenten Traditions


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It's hard to believe that Lent will be here next week with the first day of Lent starting with Ash Wednesday on March 1, 2017. 



Before I explain some of our family's favorite Lenten traditions, I wanted to share a little about Ash Wednesday.

What is the significance of putting ashes on one's forehead to start the Lenten season?  Below is a quote from an article on About.com 

A Day of Repentance:
The distribution of ashes reminds us of our own mortality and calls us to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that we receive are a reminder of our own sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.



In this article, Ash Wednesday Our Shifting Understanding of Lent, it states the following:
When we receive ashes on our foreheads, we remember who we are. We remember that we are creatures of the earth ("Remember that you are dust"). We remember that we are mortal beings ("and to dust you will return"). We remember that we are baptized. We remember that we are people on a journey of conversion ("Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel"). We remember that we are members of the body of Christ (and that smudge on our foreheads will proclaim that identity to others, too).

Here is a great 2 minute video about Ash Wednesday and Lent:
 


Now onto Lenten traditions our family has enjoyed through the years. I hope there is an idea that will be new to you and you will want to try it with your family....

Salt Dough Crown of Thorns
Next week we will be making our annual crown of thorns out of salt dough and you can find the link for the recipe at Catholics United for the Faith (CUF).

Here is a picture I took several year's ago while my kids' hands mixed the salt dough ingredients


Each time our children and my husband and I make little or big sacrifices during Lent, we will pull out a toothpick to remove Jesus' thorns from his crown. 

So many opportunities to think beyond ourselves, hence the many, many, many "thorns.

Then just before Easter, our children will paint the thorn-less crown gold and glue jewels on the crown to represent that Jesus our King has risen!  The decorated crown looks lovely on the Easter table.  Here is a picture of a crown we did a few years ago.



Bean Jar
Speaking of sacrifices, another Lenten tradition our family does is the "bean jar".  We have a bowl filled with dried kidney beans, then when a family member makes a sacrifice, they put a bean in the jar.  Then on Easter morning the children will find that the beans that have accumulated in the jar during Lent will be changed into colorful and yummy jelly beans!  I told the kids that on Ash Wednesday and every Friday in Lent they could get a "2 for 1" deal on their sacrifices, meaning if they do something on Fridays they can pull a toothpick and put a bean in the jar vs. choosing one or the other like on the other Lenten days.  :-)

A few years ago we added these beautiful printables from Catholic Icing to our crown of thorns and bean jar. 



Holy Heroes-Lenten Adventure
I got the bean jar idea from Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure several years ago and we decided to try it in our home during Lent.  Our family loves Holy Heroes Lenten Adventure (and Advent Adventure) and you can register your email for free to receive weekly links all about Lent.  I have learned so much along with my children!



Family Devotional Books

Throughout Lent our family will be reading once again, A Family Journey with Jesus through Lent by Angela M. Burrin.  We really enjoy this book as it is written to promote family prayer and the characters in each story for each day of Lent are children and families that live in Jesus' time.  Then after each story that is based on scripture there is a "Jesus, Speak to Me" section where it is written as if Jesus is speaking to us.  This is a wonderful book that has been great to read as a family each day during Lent! 
 

Stations of the Cross 
Many years ago, when my older two children were little I had them color printable stations of the cross.  I then glued them onto construction paper and each Lent we tape them up in order on our dining room wall.  Each Friday as a family we pray through the stations of the cross with these if we don't attend our parish's Lenten soup suppers and Stations of the Cross.  I like the simplicity of these Stations of the Cross and maybe this year I can have my younger children color some to update these.


I can't remember where I got these particular coloring pages, but here are some other printable stations of the cross that children can color.

Several years ago, I found a simple presentation of the Stations of the Cross for kids 10 and under and this is what we use to say the stations during Lent.  It was in The Word Among Us Lenten Family Edition, Lent 2006 and HERE is a link to part of the article if you would like to review it.  Only subscribers to The Word Among Us can view this kid's version of Stations of the Cross in its entirety, however.
  
Speaking of Stations of the Cross this is one of my favorite crosses, which is a magnetic Stations of the Cross.  I gave this cross as a gift to my husband's cousin who entered into full communion with the Catholic Church with my husband on Easter 2006.  When she passed away, our family inherited this beautiful cross.  I was able to track down where I bought this cross several years ago.  St. Andrew's Church Supply carries them.   

You can find out How We Say the Stations of the Cross at Home using the coloring photos and the magnetic cross below.



 

Bury the Alleluia
Another Lenten tradition we started doing just last year was to "bury the Alleluia".  Last year I wrote a post on 7 Ways to bury the Alleluia at the beginning of Lent.


Make Homemade Pretzels 
Some years we get around to making homemade pretzels like in the book Walter the Baker that tells some history about the pretzel also.  Did you know that the pretzel can be a good reminder that we can turn to the Lord in prayer and is an especially popular food during Lent?  It's a fun book to read and the pretzels are easy and fun to do!



Meatless Meals
On Ash Wednesday and during all Fridays during Lent, Catholics abstain from eating meat as a form of fasting and penance.  For more information about the history of Lent, I would encourage you to read What are the origins of Lent? Did the Church always have this time before Easter? 

In the article I learned something new when it stated, "The word Lent itself is derived from the Anglo-Saxon words lencten, meaning "Spring," and lenctentid, which literally means not only "Springtide" but also was the word for "March," the month in which the majority of Lent falls."


I'm always on the look out for meatless dishes during Lent and this Seafood Spaghetti dish is easy and delicious.  You can find the recipe at my blog post from the archives.

Be sure to visit my A Slice of Liturgical Life page for more of my Lent posts from the archives, as well as browse other liturgical seasons and feast days that our family has celebrated in the past.

This post is linked to the CWBN Blog Hop with #HowWeLent theme! Be sure to visit how other readers are spending their Lent this year. 



 






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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

10 Simple Valentine Food Ideas for Those You Love



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Today we celebrated Saint Valentine's Day with friends from our local homeschool group.  It was a beautiful day to celebrate Saint Valentine, a servant of God, who was persecuted for his Christian faith and beheaded (yikes!) on February 14, 270. 

To read a lovely post and and prayer to Saint Valentine written by a friend's husband, be sure to visit Cecily's post at Cloudy Symbols of High Romance.  Aren't her daughters homemade Valentines the sweetest?!?  Such beautiful, heartfelt traditions the lovely Lowmans have!

I was inspired by this video that I found via Facebook that had lots of simple food ideas for Valentine's Day.  So I brought out my heart-shaped cookie cutters and a few of my kids and I prepared 10 simple foods for our Valentine's Day party! 



When the guests arrived my kitchen table was decorated with a plastic red tablecloth under a plastic lace tablecloth. On the table I had the food set out and a bouquet of red roses my sweet husband gave me. We read the book Saint Valentine that is a family favorite during our morning Couch Catechism time and I printed out a Saint Valentine graphic from Shining Light Dolls Facebook page onto white cardstock

#1 Valentine Food: Heart Pancakes
We made heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast before the party using our cookie cutters as molds.  We added some heart-shaped strawberries. 

#2 & #3 Valentine Food: Heart Strawberries and Rose Strawberries
I've been making the heart-shaped strawberries for awhile now, but then I saw how to make roses from strawberries (see this video). I loved this idea that is really easy to do once you get the hang of it! My 9 year old even made a few.  One of our packages of strawberries had a huge strawberry buried in the container. It reminded me of Jesus' Sacred Heart

#4 Valentine Food: Strawberry Jam Sandwiches
Bread + Strawberry Jam + Heart Cookie Cutter = these cute and simple sandwiches (see this video)

#5 Valentine Food: Heart Clementines
These were so easy and fun to make. Healthy too! (see this video)

#6 & #7 Valentine Food: Heart Watermelon/Pineapple and Heart Candy Canes
I only made a few of the heart-shaped watermelon/pineapple (because my cookie cutter wouldn't cut through and it's messy) and cut up the rest and put it into a bowl (see this video).  I had a small box of candy canes leftover from Christmas so I just laid them in a heart shape as part of the table decorations. 

#8 & #9 Valentine Food: Heart Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Heart Cherry Tomatoes
Easy to do and I love how they turned out! (see this video)

#10 Valentine Food: Sweet Pretzel Treats
I've made these pretzel treats year round for Christmas and Easter using the corresponding holiday M&Ms.  They are a family and friends favorite any time of year! 


When the guests arrived they decorated homemade Valentine's Day cards for friends family using coffee filters with a cut out heart in the middle like we did several years ago.  The children also made their bags to collect Valentines from friends. 

We then ate lunch and one of our teens made a beautiful chocolate cake and a family brought bags of popcorn in decorative bags. One of my daughters and I made treat bags with M&Ms, Hershey kisses and decorative straws

When the eating was done and the bags were decorated, it was time to deliver Valentines to our friends! 

It was a blessed day to remember such a faithful and strong witness to the Catholic faith!

Saint Valentine, Pray for Us!


To see more Valentine posts from years past, be sure to visit my A Slice of Liturgical Life page








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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Celebrating Our Lady of Lourdes: February 11


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On February 11, the Church celebrates another beautiful feast day, Our Lady of Lourdes.  This is one of my favorite Marian feast days because it commemorates the 18 apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Bernadette Soubirous that occurred between February 11 and July 16, 1858 in Lourdes, France.  Our beautiful Lady eventually identified herself in an apparition on March 25 with the words, "I am the Immaculate Conception." If you aren't familiar with the story of St. Bernadette and Our Lady of Lourdes, you might be interested in reading 10 Things to Know About Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Bernadette


We celebrated Our Lady of Lourdes one day early with a simple craft due to a busy soccer tournament weekend for one of my daughters.  My three younger children did the craft while my two older children were attending their science and government co-op classes for the morning.

Last year we did a fun, simple craft as well so I wanted to find another activity that didn't take too much preparation due to our busy day.

I found free printables of Our Lady of Lourdes and the flowers at Rosary Mom.  After coloring and cutting the pictures, my daughters glued them to blue card stock and also glued the words "I am the Immaculate Conception" to the bottom of their paper that I printed out in a word document.


I then displayed their finished art work on our kitchen table along with a white statue of Mary that used to belong to my deceased grandparents, we read from the book Our Lady of Lourdes and from my favorite Saint book for children, Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1, and I put the Our Lady of Lourdes Shining Light Doll and St. Bernadette Tiny Saints charm in the tray.

We also enjoy watching a family favorite DVD from CCC of America called Bernadette: The Princess of Lourdes.  I'm amazed how well my children (and even myself) have remembered the facts about Our Lady of Lourdes from watching this animated movie over and over again through the years.



Maybe one year we will celebrate this special feast day with a Rice Krispie Treat Grotto like Lacy did at Catholic Icing or a Fruity Pebbles Grotto and other crafts or this grotto craft at Catholic Icing.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us! 


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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Getting our Throats Blessed in Honor of Saint Blaise's Feast Day: February 3


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Saint Blaise's feast day is celebrated on February 3rd.   In the morning I set up our St. Blaise peg doll and we read about St. Blaise during our Couch Catechism time from Saints for Young Readers for Every Day, Vol. 1.  The St. Blaise prayer card was given to my 3 year old during her Good Shepherd class that she takes at our parish.



St. Blaise lived in the 4th century and it's a tradition to have your throat blessed on his feast day, but why?

When Blaise was sent to prison to be beheaded because he was a persecuted Christian, a poor mother rushed up to him and begged him to save her child who was chocking to death on a fishbone.  The saint said a prayer quietly and blessed the child and the child's life was spared through this miracle.  So on St. Blaise's feast day throats are blessed by the priest as he crosses two candles because he is the patron of those with throat diseases.

We aren't able to get to Mass every year for this special feast day to have our throats blessed to ask God and St. Blaise to protect us from all sicknesses of the throat, but this year we were able to attend morning Mass.   I was able to snap a photo of our priest blessing the altar server with the two candles before each parishioner lined up to do the same.   While the candles are rested near the throat the priest says: 

"Through the intercession of Blessed Blaise, Bishop and Martyr, may you be delivered from all illnesses of the throat and any other ailments. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."


The Church is decorated with red linens and the priest wears red vestments because St. Blaise was a martyr for the faith.  His death was gruesome to say the least. From Franciscan Media: Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, he was beaten. The next time he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes that are used to comb wool (and why he is the patron of not only those with throat ailments, but also English wool combers.)  Finally, he was beheaded. 

St. Blaise, pray for us! 

O glorious St. Blaise, who by your martyrdom left to the Church a precious witness to the Faith, obtain for us the grace to preserve within ourselves this divine gift, and to defend — without concern for human respect — both by word and example, the truth of that same Faith, which is so wickedly attacked and slandered in these our times. You miraculously restored a little child who was at the point of death because of an affliction of the throat.
Grant us your mighty protection in similar misfortunes. And, above all, obtain for us the grace of Christian mortification, together with faithful observance of the precepts of the Church, which keep us from offending almighty God. Amen. 



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Celebrating the Presentation of our Lord (Candlemas) with Candles and Cookies: February 2


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On February 2nd, we celebrate the Presentation of our Lord, traditionally called Candlemas, which   commemorates the presentation of Christ in the temple and the ritual purification of the Virgin Mary. It falls exactly 40 days after Christmas.

On Candlemas candles are traditionally blessed. I didn't really know why candles were blessed until I saw this explanation on Jessica's blog at Catholic Cuisine: Candles are blessed on this day to help us remember the words of holy Simeon who called the babe in his arms, "A light to lighten the gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel."

This year we celebrated this feast day similar to last year, except this year we were able to attend the daily morning Mass and have some of our candles from our home blessed in our church's chapel. Then everyone processed into the main church with candles that were lit in the chapel.

Daily Mass attendees placed their candles onto the table so that our priest could bless them with holy water.  Then we everyone went into the church with a lit candle.

When we got home from Mass I set up our kitchen table with our blessed candles and opened the book Mary, the Mother of Jesus to the page about the Presentation of our Lord.



We also made our cookie candles with cookie drip plates like we did last year for this feast day.


On our table I also displayed the Joyful Mysteries and talked about how the 4th Joyful Mystery is the Presentation of Jesus in the temple.  The middle candle is the candle that was given to us at our wedding.  One of our relatives attached our wedding invitation to a candle and put a bead border around it.  The other candle in the photo below is my 9 year old daughter's candle she received at her First Holy Communion

Candlemas Cookies with cookie drip cake and lots of "wax" icing!




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