Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday Reflection and Video

"On Holy Thursday, the night before he died, the Lord Jesus made some startling changes in the ritual of the Passover meal. Instead of being content with the traditional Jewish table blessing over the bread, Jesus proclaimed “take and eat for this is my body.” Over the third cup of wine, known as the cup of blessing, he said “take and drink for this is my blood.” Then he commanded the disciples “do this in memory of me.”
Obedient to the wishes of the savior, we remember and reenact this solemn moment in a special way each Holy Thursday, but more frequently in every Mass. Indeed the Catholic Church teaches that in the Eucharist, the communion wafer and the altar wine are transformed and really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Have you ever met anyone who has found this Catholic doctrine to be a bit hard to take?"

Read more from Holy Thursday The Eucharist: The Body of Christ? by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, PhD from Crossroads Initiative HERE. 

I shared this video last year and wanted to repost it as I think it is so beautiful and goes so well with the above Holy Thursday reflection!  Enjoy the music, lyrics, and images as we remember Jesus Christ's passion, death, and resurrection during Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and rejoice together when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Our Family's Holy Week and Easter Activities

The beginning of Holy Week began yesterday with Palm Sunday and you can read my Palm Sunday post which includes videos and information about the Easter Triduum HERE.

Our family always enjoys Holy Week and Easter because there are so many wonderful traditions and ideas to make this holy season more meaningful vs. the secular idea that Easter is just about bunnies, candy and egg hunts. Don't get me wrong, our family loves these things this time of year, but Easter is so much more than what our world tell us.

Here is a list of traditions we like to do as a family this week along with links to give you more information.

We always enjoy changing our salt dough crown of thorns that we made at the beginning to Lent...

....into a beautiful crown of jewels.  See how we decorate the crown with paint and jewels HERE.  The golden crown makes a great centerpiece along with the pot we plant with rye grass at the beginning of Holy Week filled with soil and burnt palm branches.  You can read how we prepare our real Easter grass and watch it grow HERE.

Our Cupcakes always look forward to making and eating resurrection rolls...

On Holy Saturday evening we usually make Easter story cookies which are easy and delicious and like the resurrection rolls, they symbolize Jesus' empty tomb after He rose from the dead.  You can get the recipe at my post HERE.
Lacy at Catholic Icing has a great list of Easter activities HERE, which is where I got some of our family's traditions. :)

And if you need a quick Easter decoration, be sure to check out how my Cupcakes made Easter egg garland HERE

Have a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday Videos and Easter Triduum 2013

Today is Palm Sunday, the start of Holy week and it's exactly one week before Easter Sunday. Each Palm Sunday, Catholic Churches hand out blessed palm branches to the congregation.  Tonight we will be attending our first Palm Sunday Latin Mass at a local church which I hear is especially beautiful! 

Did you know that the ashes from Ash Wednesday come from the burnt palms from last year's Palm Sunday? Catholicism states this about Palm Sunday, "Palm Sunday commemorates the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem  (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before  His arrest on Holy Thursday and His Crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Holy Week, the final week of Lent, and the week in which Christians celebrate the mystery of their salvation through Christ's Death and His Resurrection on Easter Sunday."

Here is a 4 minute Palm Sunday collage video that I wanted to share: (the resolution isn't the best, but the messages and images are still beautiful)

I just found this video this year via Facebook and it is a powerful one for Palm Sunday so I wanted to share it!

Have you ever wanted to learn how to braid your palms?  Jennifer at Catholic Inspired has this great video to show you how:

To see Jennifer's full post and tips, including how to make a crown with your palms go HERE.

So Holy Week begins today and the 3 holiest days of the Catholic Church's calendar are coming up on this Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. These 3 holy days are called the Easter Triduum.  This is a special time in our family's life, not only because we remember Jesus' passion, death and resurrection, but also because it was 7 years ago at the Easter Vigil Mass on Holy Saturday that my husband and his cousin entered into full communion with the Catholic Church.  Here we are just before this special Mass began.

My husband was baptized a Baptist, but he attended Mass with me while dating, when we were newlyweds and when we had our 3 older children. His cousin, Sharon, visited many churches during her lifetime. After 50 plus years of praying and searching she realized that what she was missing all her life was receiving Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Eucharist. (John 6: 48-68)

It was a blessing and a glorious day to see my husband and Sharon enter the Catholic Church at Easter 2006! Sharon was a saint here on earth and now she is in Heaven since 2007 when her 5 year battle with lung cancer took her away from her earthly home to be with Jesus and Mary's loving and awaiting arms.  Her son, Patrick, followed her 7 months later.  We miss Sharon and Patrick so much, but we are comforted that Sharon is no longer fighting her cancer and Patrick is running freely in Heaven after being in a wheel chair during his 21 years of living due to having cerebral palsy since birth.

Sharon and Patrick, together forever on earth and now in Heaven.  We love and miss you so very much!

May you and your family and friends have a blessed Palm Sunday and beginning of Holy Week 2013! 
Be sure to visit my blog again soon as I will be posting about our Holy Week traditions that we love do to each year as a family! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Birthdays and St. Joseph Feast Day Celebrations!

This past weekend was busy full of birthday celebrations and 3 soccer games!  My younger sister's birthday was last week and my hubby's birthday was this past Saturday.  We celebrated both my sister's birthday and husband's this past weekend.  It was a treat to visit with my sister since she lives out of town.

Here's my family with some of my husband's birthday gifts at my parent's house for birthday lunch.  I'm holding the #1 DAD "sportula" and my daughter is holding a N.C. State big checkers game (my husband and I both graduated from NC State- Go Wolfpack!)

My husband and sister (on the right) are holding up their trick birthday candles.  My kids were amused by the candles :)

My husband has a fraternal twin brother and this is one of my favorite pictures of the cuties that I like to post and share especially when their birthdays come around each year.   My husband (on the right) and my husband's fraternal twin brother (on the left).  They were stylin' with their suits! :) This picture always makes me laugh!

And here they are all grown up.  They switched places with my hubby on the left side in the red shirt.  Saturday night we spent time at my in-laws celebrating  their birthdays.  They are holding knives because it's a Smith tradition to "throw" a knife into the cake before cutting it.  It's more like tossing a knife carefully (with everyone not too close) vs. throwing it! 

On Sunday morning after Mass, we met my sister at the finish line at a popular local race where she completed a half-marathon!  She did a great job and her sister-in-law ran her first marathon! Way to go ladies!

It was last year at this same race that I ran my first half-marathon, but this year I'm racing to the finish line with my pregnancy instead!  I was 20 weeks pregnant this past Saturday...half-way there! 

Today my cupcakes and I prepared an Italian bread dough because we met at another homeschool families home to bake bread in honor of Saint Joseph's Feast Day, which we celebrate each year in the Catholic Church on March 19th (tomorrow).  Breadmaking for our St. Joseph altars has been an annual tradition in our homeschool group for awhile now and everyone loves the tradition (and the warm, freshly-baked bread samples are always a hit!) 

You can check out some of our homeschool group's very creative and decorative breads and read about our breadmaking day for St. Joseph altars from 2011 HERE.

And HERE our breadmaking day for St. Joseph altars from 2012 shows even more fun and creativity!
 You can read about our 2011 St. Joseph celebration HERE that has a detailed explanation and photos of the feast day, including wonderful black and white photos from when my father celebrated this feast day as a little boy!  

And then last year, we celebrated St. Joseph's Feast Day with our homeschool families where I blogged all about it HERE.  This year, due to especially hectic schedules for everyone, we just met to bake the bread so families could take it home to make their own altars. 

Before the kids shaped their bread dough, J.H. gave a brief explanation of the history of St. Joseph altars and we also prayed a Litany of St. Joseph

Here are some pictures from our fun day today: 
 J.H., who always hosts the St. Joseph celebration (and does an awesome job hosting!), set up a beautiful "mini" altar and the picture on the bottom left corner shows the little bags she handed out to everyone that included a St. Joseph prayer card, religious medal, and a fava bean.  She also made homemade traditional St. Joseph cookies that she bagged and gave to each family.  Thank you J.H.!

Each family brought homemade bread dough after it's first rising so that the kids could shape the dough into shapes of all kinds, but especially religious symbols.

Let the fun begin!  

Some of this year's creations before baking

And here are some finished products that families got to take home and some of the baked bread were delicious samples served hot with butter and honey that doesn't last long with our group!
Saint Joseph, pray for us! 
Have a blessed St. Joseph Feast Day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

HABEMUS PAPAM! In My Own Words/Photos/Videos

OK so I'll admit it...I LOVED watching the events of the Conclave unfold before our very eyes!  (Conclave originates from the Latin expression cum clave, "with a key," emphasizing seclusion and the need for a key to enter a meeting).

I'll also admit that it's not too often you can blame the election of a new Pope for being distracted from your regular homeschool studies and routines!  :)

Really the exciting events of this historic time in the Catholic Church began with the farewell to Pope Benedict XVI which I posted about HERE and then leading up to the start of the Conclave I posted links and resources HERE.

Our family doesn't have cable so my Cupcakes and I were glued to the computer watching EWTN Live starting on Tuesday, March 12 when the events of the Conclave began.  If I remember correctly this was the first time television cameras were allowed inside the Sistine Chapel while the Cardinals prepared their hearts, minds, and souls to take on the incredible burden of electing the 265th successor to St. Peter, our first Pope. I can't imagine voting for the Bishop of Rome who will be the leader of 1.2 billion souls.

For the words of the oath at the start of the conclave go HERE.  After senior Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re read aloud a formula of the oath, each cardinal elector, according to the order of precedence, then took the oath according to the following formula:
"And I, N. Cardinal N., do so promise, pledge and swear. Placing his hand on the Gospels, he will add: So help me God and these Holy Gospels which I touch with my hand."

Look who we happened to see on our computer screen taking the Conclave oath of secrecy!  In the picture is Jean-Louis Tauran from France who was the cardinal we "adopted" and prayed for throughout the conclave.  We were so excited to see "our" Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran taking the oath, especially since we were watching our computer screen at different moments in between our school work!

After each cardinal elector took their oath, we watched on television the doors to the Sistine Chapel close.

And the Swiss Guards were now guarding 115 Cardinals while they voted. 

As so many assumed and expected, after the first day of voting there was black smoke = no Pope.  Here is a picture I took as you can see two of my cupcakes look on at the black smoke billowing out of the smokestack.   Even though the smoke was black we were all excited to see the smoke!

Then it was early at 6:30 AM (Eastern) on Wednesday, March 13, that I saw on Facebook news feeds that Black Smoke #2 came out of the smokestack and I reported the updates to my cupcakes when they woke up for the day.

So Wednesday morning I heard reports that the next burning of the ballots would be sometime around noon (Eastern) so we did some lessons and then we anxiously awaited for the results on our computer on EWTN Live.  We were watching with the world and my son was especially amazed that so many people could wait sooooo long and in the rain too!
The most "Pope-ular" smokestack in the world and this bird knew it too!  Even he was waiting with great anticipation!

Sometime early afternoon, I was upstairs teaching some of my cupcakes and my son yelled from the downstairs computer, "White smoke!" and we all ran downstairs to see this...
We were all cheering with the world and very excited to witness this historic day!
Habemus Papam! We have a Pope!

In the photo on the left where it says "Viva il Papa" (Italian for "Long live the Pope!") you can see our Pope Party supplies that my kids colored thanks to Jennifer at Catholic Inspired and also in front of my computer is the Habemus Papam copywork sheets from Holly at Three-Sided Wheel.
Then we anxiously awaited the announcement of our new Pope.  My cupcakes and I were glued to the computer all afternoon and I even rescheduled my cupcake's piano lessons at the last minute so we wouldn't miss anything! 
OK, now I know I was really into all the excitement because when the cardinal came out to the balcony to declare the new Pope's name, I was thinking the cardinal himself was our new Pope! Duh! 

Above is a quick video I took with my i-Phone that I shortened.  I had to cut out the parts where I was thinking Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran was our new French Pope.  You do hear me say, "That's the POPE we prayed for!" when I meant to say Cardinal.  :)  O and ignore my son's "Boo!" sounds.  Silly boy!  
I was definitely caught up in the moment and excited that we got to see the Cardinal we "adopted" and prayed for AGAIN on TV!  My cupcakes had to tell me "Mom, that's the cardinal we prayed for, but that's not our new Pope! He's only announcing our new Pope's name!"  What would I do without them? I'll just blame it on my preggo hormones!  And I even read an article prior to the event that stated Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran would announce the Pope's name. 
So we now knew the name of our new Pope, but I had no idea about him.  We waited for him to come onto the balcony and we were all curious to see what he looked like and we couldn't wait to learn more about him.

It was so fun to anticipate this moment with my cupcakes!  I hope they will always remember this special day!  
We were all just trying to take it all in knowing that we were experiencing history in the making!  
We all listened intently to Pope Francis' first words which we didn't understand, but we were listening to the commentators translate some of them.  HERE are his first words in English.

I loved that he prayed for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI first, then before Pope Francis gave his first papal blessing he asked that we all pray for him.  What a solemn and special moment to see this crowd silently pray for our new Pope as the entire world joined in also. 

"And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence."

[The Protodeacon announced that all those who received the blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world.]

[Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi – To the City and to the World.]
"I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

First Urbi et Orbi – To the City and to the World

One of the first things that my 8 year old daughter observed when Pope Francis first came out to the balcony was that she didn't think he looked too happy.  I told her that he was probably very overwhelmed being elected to lead billions of people and he was probably just trying to take in the moment.  After his first papal blessing, I caught Pope Francis, former Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, with a beautiful smile on his face.  :)  

I didn't know much about our new Pope but the more I learn about him, the more I like him!  
I've been finding out more about him through news media and social media.  Here's some things about him we found interesting. (see links below) My cupcakes thought it was especially interesting that he has only one lung and he chose his name after Saint Francis of Assisi.

Here's a status from the Catholic Church Facebook page that I found intriguing: 
"Pope Francis is known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had the option to live in a palace but chose a simple apartment heated by a small stove. He gave up a limousine for the bus, and cooks his own meals."
My first impression of Pope Francis is "I like him!" and our family can't wait to get to know him better.  We will continue to pray for him as he continues to guide our Holy Church with the help of the Holy Spirit!
 photo credit: Catholic Pulse and CNS


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