Friday, February 24, 2017

Celebrating the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter: February 22


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February 22 is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which has been celebrated in Rome since the 4th century.  There really is a portable chair preserved at the Vatican and it is believed to be the chair used by St. Peter.  The chair is also a symbol of authority, as kings rule from their throne.  Jesus chose His apostles as earthly leaders when He told Peter, our first Pope, "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church." (Matthew 16:18)

We just started celebrating this feast day in 2016 and we celebrated it again in a similar way to continue another A Slice of Liturgical Life tradition. 

So the real chair of St. Peter is not made out of tootsie rolls, graham crackers, icing and sprinkles, but the Smith versions do.

Here is a photo of the real chair in the Vatican.   Amazing huh?

 
To learn more about the story of the Chair of Saint Peter, be sure to listen to the audio and read more information at Franciscan Media.  

Allison at Totus Tuus Family and Catholic Homeschooling has a photo she took of the chair in 2011 with even more fascinating information.


So we made our sweet, sugary chairs for the first time last year after I saw it posted at Catholic All Year and when I mentioned that this feast day was coming up my children said, "Oh yeah, that's when we made those cracker chairs!" :) 
Perfect, just want I want them to do...to remember our feast day celebrations so that as they grow older they will have these fun, faith-filled liturgical celebrations in their hearts to remember just how rich and beautiful our Catholic faith is that is filled with truth, goodness, and beauty.  So with these seeds of faith that I am planting (by God's grace), I pray they will never want to stray from Holy Mother Church and if they do, I want them to realize that they are going to be missing out on sweet, sugar chair celebrations ;) (and of the course, the most important aspect, the fullness of the faith and the Eucharist!)  

Here are photos of this year's creations...

The supplies we used, but you use anything you think will make good chair parts:

Some chairs got damaged during the manufacturing process. My 3 year old gave her chair a "thumbs up" and my son works diligently on his creative Tootsie Roll chair. 

Each child decorated their own version of St. Peter's chair. My 12 year old thought making a bench and decorating it with red gel icing and and a cross in the middle was a good way to make it. 

The finished masterpieces. My 9 year old daughter also brought out the Melissa & Doug wooden chairs from her castle to help remember this feast day even more. 

I didn't even realize this was a feast day until a few years ago, did you?  

I think our family will always remember the Chair of St. Peter on Feb. 22 and its significance and meaning in Church history.







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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 about our Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday traditions.

King Cake for Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)
The day before Ash Wednesday is also known as Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras and I usually try to make our traditional King Cake and hide a plastic baby somewhere in the cake.  My children like to see who will find the baby and whoever finds it has to provide the King Cake for next year's Mardi Gras. :) This King Cake tradition is also celebrated on Epiphany.



And if you don't want to make a homemade king cake or buy one at the store, you could try Mini King Cakes out of cinnamon rolls, icing and sprinkles.  I'll be doing this for the first time this year!

Mini King Cakes

Pancakes for Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday
For breakfast or lunch or dinner we will have pancakes, bacon, fruit. Fat Tuesday is also known as "Shrove Tuesday" and a traditional meal for Shrove Tuesday is pancakes.  Why pancakes?  Great question!  Here's the interesting answer!    Did you know one day could have so many different names? :)

So what is Shrove Tuesday all about?  As stated at About Religion"Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent in the Roman Catholic Church. "Shrove" is the past tense of the word "shrive," which means to hear a confession, assign penance, and absolve from sin. Shrove Tuesday is a reminder that we are entering a season of penance." 
 
Now onto 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....

Lenten Love Links
My Lenten Love Links idea all started with my 6 year old asking me several years ago, "When is Easter Mom?" and then I came across the 40 Acts of Lenten Love for Children from Homeschool with Love that I pinned to my Lent Pinterest board.  I loved the ideas on how children (and adults) can show love in Lent for the 40 days (the Lent "count" does not include Sundays) in Lent and I wanted a way for my children to count down until Easter Sunday. So I combined the two ideas into one.  Read more... 

 


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 great printable stations of the cross that children can color from Kristen at Drawn 2B Catholic.

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

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.

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."


Larabeth Miller at A Place in His Garden has a Crucifixion List for Lent, which lists 20 simple, beautiful and sacrificial ways to unite our frustrations, crosses and sufferings to the cross of Christ.  Go check it out and be inspired!

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. 


 

This post is also linked to New Evangelists Monthly - March 2017, Issue #51







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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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