Thursday, December 31, 2009

National Lampoon's American Vacation

This is no longer a vacation. It's a quest, a quest for fun. I'm gonna have fun and your gonna have fun. We're gonna have so much (bleep) fun they're gonna need plastic surgeons to remove the smiles from our (beep) faces. We'll be whistling zippity-doo-dah out of our ....

Sometimes, a movie quote just simply, beautifully describes a day.

(And I removed the expletives to protect my readers....)

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Prayer to the Holy Family

Last night, before dinner, before the wine-and-snakes, we prayed this prayer. Greg found it for me. It is beautiful, and so I am saving it here for next year, for the Holy Family. And sharing it with you, the one or two regular readers....

Act of Consecration to the Holy Family

O Jesus, our most loving Redeemer, who having come to enlighten the world with Thy teaching and example, didst will to pass the greater part of Thy life in humility and subjection to Mary and Joseph in the poor home of Nazareth, thus sanctifying the Family that was to be an example for all Christian families, graciously receive our family as it dedicates and consecrates itself to Thee this day. Do Thou protect us, guard us and establish amongst us Thy holy fear, true peace and concord in Christian love: in order that by living according to the divine pattern of Thy family we may be able, all of us without exception, to attain to eternal happiness.

Mary, dear Mother of Jesus and Mother of us, by the kindly intercession make this our humble offering acceptable in the sight of Jesus, and obtain for us His graces and blessings.

O Saint Joseph, most holy Guardian of Jesus and Mary, help us by thy prayers in all our spiritual and temporal needs; that so we may be enabled to praise our divine Savior Jesus, together with Mary and thee, for all eternity.

(Recite the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory 3 times.)


Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Holy Family

This Sunday in the liturgical year, our remembrance was the Holy Family.

Jesus, Mary, Joseph, pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.

The Church encourages us to pray such short aspirations; such ejaculations bringing our minds and hearts toward God, towards, heaven, towards eternity.

We remember the Holy Family; we pray and ask for intercession; we see a model of family and family roles; we give thanks that Our Lord became flesh and dwelt among us.

In my own life, the troubles and the upsets, the criticism I receive and , yes, the love and the humour, the joy of Christmas, the connections and the wrenches, I can pray, ponder the Holy Family ...and I can store up these things in my heart and humbly ponder their meaning, waiting for God's light and wisdom and healing touch to arrive.

During Mass, during thanksgiving after Communion, I read some psalms. From a book of psalms. A Christmas present.

O God, thou knowest my rash doings,
no fault of mine is hidden from Thy sight.

Deus, tu scis insipientiam meam,
et delicta mea te non latent

This is strangely comforting for me. Maybe because of the truth it contains. That others, the psalmist, have felt the same as I.

Gotta love this Christmas season, the liturgy, the prayers. And gifts like this book of Psalms.

St Athanasius wrote ~

In the Psalter you learn about yourself. You find depicted in it all the movements of your soul, all its changes, its ups and downs, its failures and recoveries. Moreover, whatever your particular need or trouble, from this same book you can select a form of words to fit it, so that you do not merely hear and then pass on, but learn the way to remedy your ill. Prohibitions of evildoing are plentiful in Scripture, but only the Psalter tells you how to obey these orders and refrain from sin.

But the marvel with the Psalter is that, barring those prophecies about the Savior and some about the Gentiles, the reader takes all its words upon his lips as though they were his own, written for his special benefit, and takes them and recites them, not as though someone else were speaking or another person’s feelings being described, but as himself speaking of himself, offering the words to God as his own heart’s utterance, just as though he himself had made them up.

It is possible for us, therefore to find in the Psalter not only the reflection of our own soul’s state, together with precept and example for all possible conditions, but also a fit form of words wherewith to please the Lord on each of life’s occasions, words both of repentance and of thankfulness, so that we fall not into sin; for it is not for our actions only that we must give account before the Judge, but also for our every idle word.

Let me add, not only give account for our idle words..but for our idle texts ..and emails..and Facebook entries..

Christmas-tide Saints

Yesterday, we remembered St Stephen, the first martyr.

After I came home from morning Mass, on Boxing Day, I served Rocky Road for breakfast. Not nutritional but..hey..St Stephen was stoned to death so the symbolism was there.

We read briefly about St Stephen.

I resisted my children's encouragement to get stoned for the feast of St Stephen...Where do they pick up such ideas? Not from me, I am sure! As if !

We sang Good King Wenceslas. Then The Twelve Days of Christmas, since Christmas-tide has begun.

Today, Sunday, I am serving wine, or other drinks, in wine glasses draped wth lolly snakes. As we do every year, for the feast of St John the Evangelist. You know, that story of others trying to poison St John; he blessed the wine and the poison came out of the wine in the form of snakes.

I love the whole Christmas season; the traditions and rituals...from white and gold candles on Christmas day..Christmas Grace...placing the child Jesus in the nativity and fun with friends...prayers...baked phone books,.. underpants...carols...pudding and silver coins ( don't get a coin, kids! It means you will be married in the year!)...St Stephen..lolly snakes...tomorrow mass for the Holy Innocents and prayer..St Thomas Beckett and Eliot's Murder in the presents..missing friends and family yet enjoying those we are all and faith and liturgy and tradition and little rituals.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What did you get for Christmas?

What did you get for Christmas?

I got a book. I bought it for myself and David Jones department store wrapped it and I put it under the tree for dh to give to me for Christmas. Along with perfume. Dh hates shopping so this works out nicely!

What book? Cleaving. The sequel, if you like. to Julie and Julia.

Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat and Obsession. By Julie Powell.

It looks like this is going to be another searing read..Searing as was the book Julie and Julia..Searing in the sense that phrases, paragraphs, sentences will sear, scorch, burn, leave a mark, on my mind and heart..with their aptness.
From the first chapter ~

..The last two slices I set aside, to wrap up and take home after work for a Valentine's Day dinner tomorrow. Once, I thought the holiday merited boxes of chocolate and glittery cards, but in these last couple of eye-opening years, amid the butchery and wrenches of my heart, I've realized life has gotten too complicated for such sweet and meaningless nothings. I've even learned I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Santa Claus and the not so kids any more!

Back row ( name and son number...not age!) ~ Thomas 6, Gregory 2 , Luke 1.
Front row ~ Alexander 5, Anthony 7, Jonathon 4, Nicholas 3.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Look! I Made These!

I am so proud of myself! I made these for the priests' post Second Rite of Reconciliation supper...and the priests even survived the eating....and, no, I didn't let my dh and kids eat any...they had this (below) for dessert instead! Presents from some of my Kumon students..which I shared, lavishly, with the family.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

O Antiphons and Unschooling?

This morning, we lit the fourth candle on our Advent wreath.

The fourth Sunday in Advent.

Advent draws to a close and Christmas draws near.

COLLECT ~ O Lord, we beseech Thee, stir up Thy power, and come, and with great might succor us: that by the help of Thy grace that which is hindered by our sins may be hastened by Thy merciful forgiveness. Who livest and reignest, with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost .

So, what do we do in unschooling households, when it comes to Advent traditions and celebrating the liturgical year..where there are few have tos...but we work on building memories, on learning through life, on relationship?

Do we make family members participate?

Part of the celebration of the liturgical year is just part of family we share and live life together, including praying or making St Lucy Bread or...And we laugh and have fun ( Oh, Mum, you're burning the bread again! Who set fire to the Advent, this morning!..lolly snakes in wine glasses for the feast of St John..)

Part of the celebration of the liturgical year is making family memories and thus it helps if the extra activity is pegged to an existing activity ...the extra prayer to dinner time grace..the making and eating of the cake or bread for dinner or to French class with other homeschoolers..the praying of the O Antiphon to breakfast ( for those who eat breakfast!).

I also find that applying an unschooly mindset to the Advent/liturgical year activities helps.

In other words, we do the activity, we pray together, but no one is forced to participate. I usually peg it to a meal or another activity – currently we are praying the O Antiphon and pasting the symbol on the poster in the morning. If a teen is not up yet or not present, that is okay. I just pray and do the activity with anyone who may be around.

And with unschooling, I have seen that doing things that give memories, and spending time together, is what builds understanding and relationship over the years. So, I don’t worry if someone isn‘t enthusiastically into something like the O Antiphons this year – they will probably be more receptive next year. And I don’t worry if a young one doesn’t quite get it or understand it – this , too, will come over the years, with repetition and exposure and maturity.

A bit like learning to read and learning the times tables!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Our O Antiphon Activity

This link has suggestions for making an O Antiphon House - each day, you open a window, read the title, one of the seven Messianic titles from the Old Testament to address Christ, and look at the symbol.

This Advent, we have modified the activity. Each morning, we read the O Antiphon in Latin and in English, cut out the title and symbol and paste these onto Advent purple posterboard. We are building the poster as we go through these last days of Advent 2009. And displaying the same on the fridge, the hub of all activity.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The O Antiphons

Beginning these today, as Advent draws to a close, and as we get close to the joy of Christmas.

With Life ( with a capital e, our life is like that!) and with the liturgical year..why would we need the school part of homeschooling?

Although my kids are doing Maths today.... And isn't that picture, of Mummy with the O Antiphon house, just me?

The seven "O Antiphons" (also called the "Greater Antiphons" or "Major Antiphons") are prayers that come from the Breviary's Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the "Golden Nights." Each Antiphon begins with "O" and addresses Jesus with a unique title which comes from the prophecies of Isaias and Micheas (Micah), and whose initials, when read backwards, form an acrostic for the Latin "Ero Cras" which means "Tomorrow I come." Those titles for Christ are:

Radix Jesse
Clavis David
Rex Gentium
O Antiphons..Fish eaters

Link HT: Fr B

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spiritual Sacrifices

Found this quote today, while writing an essay for a course I am studying...And immediately thought, Wow!
Lifts my daily existence, my day today of mass, workout, tidying, taking kids to appointments and music lessons, essays, talking to dh, trying to listen to dh and kids (really listen!) , laundry, housework (Oh but no cooking!) and junk mail delivery and Kumon prep..and Facebook and texting and phone calls...makes my day, this day, have more importance and pertinence. You know?

Hence the laity, dedicated as they are to Christ and anointed by the Holy Spirit, are marvelously called and prepared so that even richer fruits of the Spirit maybe produced in them. For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit - indeed even the hardships of life if patiently born - all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord. And so, worshipping everywhere by their holy actions, the laity consecrate the world itself to God, everywhere offering worship by the holiness of their lives. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (901)

Monday, December 14, 2009

More on rose vestments...and Gaudate Sunday

Advent has the characteristics of a penitential season which makes it a kind of counterpart to Lent, the middle (or third) Sunday corresponding with Laetare or Mid-Lent Sunday. On Gaudete Sunday, as on Laetare Sunday, the rose-coloured vestments are allowed instead of purple . All these distinguishing marks help us remember that Gaudete Sunday, therefore, makes a breaker like Laetare Sunday, about midway through a season which is otherwise of a penitential character, and signifies the nearness of the Lord's coming.

We recall the hope we have because of the coming of Jesus.
In Advent, we not only celebrate the first coming of our Lord, but eagerly prepare for His Second Coming as well.

What are we unschoolers doing today, after a busy Gaudete Sunday with Mass, installation of our new parish priest, morning tea at the parish and carols at the oval in the parish last night? Well, we went to bed after midnight, after clean up after carols and after midnight snacks with others at Macdonalds.

Today I went to early mass...we have done junk mail delivery..been to the post office and made phone calls.....we are sharing the readings from the 1962 missal for Gaudate Sunday..the kids are putting up the Christmas tree, something we always do mid Advent..I am doing Kumon work and preparation...we all work at Kumon and have a parent meeting..and we hope to make Santa Lucia bread.

Who needs school???

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gaudete Sunday

Gaudete in Domino semper

Rejpice in the Lord always

As Christmas draws near, the Church emphasizes the joy which should be in our hearts at all that the birth of our Saviour means....

We light the third candle in our Advent wreath. The rose candle.

Rose marks a break from the usual violet or purple of the penitential side of Advent.

We pause. We rejoice. We realise how close we are to Christmas, to the joys of celebrating the birth of Our Lord.

The lighting of the third candle in the wreath, the priest wearing rose vestments, the readings about St John the Baptist, all these remind us to prepare for Christmas, for the coming of Our Lord...and of joy and rejoicing.

Externals mirroring our internal life of prayer as Christians.

And lest you think that simple things like lighting a rose candle or wearing rose vestments be of no significiance to our lives as Christians..well... Here I would simply make note that vestments are another branch of the sacred arts and we should not be reductionistic and secularize our considerations of them. Their symbolism, their dignity and beauty are equally as pertinent to the matter of the sacred liturgy as the matter of sacred architecture, music, painting or sculpture; they too can be bearers of the sacred, lending to (or, indeed, taking away from) our liturgical worship. We should indeed give them thought then, considering what does and does not lend to the dignity and gravitas of the liturgical rites; the rites in which the Church offers her public worship to God, and where we give our public witness and expression to that divine worship.
New Liturgical Movement

St Lucy December 13

...And we will make Santa Lucia bread this week...

Make a fruit scone or bread dough..braid...brush with beaten or glaze and add small candles.

Our bread never looks this good. But it always tastes nice..... Says she who is stll trying to lose that dreaded 10 kg!

Saint Lucy, also known as Saint Lucia, (283 – 304) was a wealthy young Christian martyr. Saint Lucy is one of seven women, aside from the Blessed Virgin Mary, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Happy birthday Greg!

December 9

Thursday, December 10, 2009

St Thomas More

No, it isn't this saint's feast day.

I am just remembering him tonight. Remembering his sage advice. His wisdom. After an exasperating evening.

Sometimes, people just don't get things. Who you are. Why you do and say the things you do.

Sometimes life is just plain and simply Battlestar Galactica fraky. ( Okay, I know already...I am giving up that word for Advent. Or maybe Lent.)

And sometimes we just do the best we can. Even when mis-judged by others.

The wisdom of St Thomas More?

You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds….What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can. Utopia.

And ~

We cannot go to heaven in featherbeds...from a letter to his children.
Oh - and one from the film, A Man For All Seasons...Silence is assent.

I should remain silent. More often. Than I do.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A successful life?

If A equals success, then the formula is: A = X + Y + Z, where X is work, Y is play, and Z is keep your mouth shut. ~Albert Einstein

I haven't yet worked out the Z, keeping the mouth shut, part....

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Are you unschooling or neglecting your children?

Remember, Leonie, you are unschooling? Helping to educate your children?

There have been so many things going on lately, that unschooling has had to take a back seat.

Am I brave to admit that?

However, to the trained observer, learning and education has been happening. ( Please don't laugh at the trained observer comment..trying to talk education-speak here!)

Learning the art of co-operation, in everyone working together, supporting one another.

A priest said to me the other night, that I seemed to have “docile” kids. I reeled in horror. Docile? Gasp! Dismay!

Fr then explained that maybe he didn’t mean docile, he meant co-operative. The kids don’t seem to balk a lot at what I ask them to do.

I explained that they, for the most part, are nice kids who do co-operate but we certainly have our moments and some kids are different to others in this aspect. But I also explained that we are a family with very few rules, so the kids have a lot of freedom and choice, we do things together, and so the few things I really want them to do are not onerous.

Like all pitch in to help with clean up.... No being mean! .....But I don’t police food or bedtimes or computer time and only rarely censor books or movies.

Anyway, it occurred to me that maybe unschooling principles, respecting the child, and being child and family centred, doing a lot of things together, always, well, maybe has made this difference over the years, has helped with co-operation.

Students value and implement practices that promote personal growth and well being.

We have been reading about the saints - St Andrew, St Francis Anthony Fasani, St Elizabeth of Hungary, St Francis Xavier; reading about Advent; choosing spiritual reading for Advent ( Heretics G K Chesterton, Mass and the Sacraments Fr Laux, Mere Christianity C S Lewis, Pius X, The Way of Perfection St Teresa of Avila); praying the novena to Our Lady for the feast of the Immaculate Conception; discussing mass and rubrics and prayer...

Students value and implement practices that promote personal growth and well being.
Students understand cultural, geographic and historical contexts and have the knowledge, skills and values necessary for active participation in life in Australia

Maths has continued with Kumon Maths study ( volume, graphs, quadratic functions) ; game playing; planning budgets and comparison shopping; talking about the family budget, about house buying and shares...

Students select,integrate and apply numerical and spatial concepts and techniques.

Lots of discussion - liturgy, movies, decision making, relationships,,,and movies with friends, family friends, family , online - Star Wars nerd quotes, quips, The Kingdom of Heaven, Alien Vs Predator 2, Alien, 310 to Yuma, Christmas With the Cranks.

Students use language to understand, develop and communicate ideas and information and interact with others
Students understand their cultural, geographic and historical contexts and have the knowledge, skills and values necessary for active participation in life in Australia
Students understand and appreciate the physical,biological and technological world and have the knowledge and skills to make decisions inrelation to it.
Students select, use and adapt technologies.

We have sung Latin hymns and carols..studied Latin with Lingua Angelica and Latina Christiana..some Latin translation..some Italian translation..Chinese study and exam...essay for course for Catholic Education Centre..French class with other homeschoolers.

Students interact with people and cultures other than their own and are equipped to contribute to the global community.
Students use language to understand, develop and communicate ideas and information and interact with others

Anne of Green Gables literature class...vocabulary, reading, discussing, drawing descriptions, poetry, learn about medieval times, writing reviews, talking about editing writing precisely and specifically, learn about wincey and geography and nature.

Students use language to understand, develop and communicate ideas and information and interact with others
Students understand their cultural, geographic and historical contexts and have the knowledge, skills and values necessary for active participation in life in Australia.]
Students understand and appreciate the physical,biological and technological world and have the knowledge and skills to make decisions inrelation to it.
Students participate in creative activity of their own and understand and engage with the artistic, cultural and intellectual work of others.

Discussion about politics, Church politics, the Liberal Party, new leader.

Students understand their cultural, geographic and historical contexts and have the knowledge, skills and values necessary for active participation in life in Australia.

Junk mail delivery, Kumon assistant work, attend Mass, serve at mass, chores, cooking, housework!

Students value and implement practices that promote personal growth and well being.

Fitness exercises, walking, trampolining, Bocci, park equipment play, active games with friends.

Students value and implement practices that promote personal growth and well being.

Computer and video games; Singstar; listen to music; band practice, piano practice, play at Youth Mass, music lessons.

Students select, use and adapt technologies.
Students participate in creative activity of their own and understand and engage with the artistic, cultural and intellectual work of others.

Volunteer work and meetings in the parish.

Students select, use and adapt technologies.
Students value and implement practices that promote personal growth and well being.
Students interact with people and cultures other than their own and are equipped to contribute to the global community.
Students use language to understand, develop and communicate ideas and information and interact with others
Students select,integrate and applynumerical and spatial concepts and techniques.

Map making and map comparisons, role playing games, writing on their novels, reading - The Water Babies Kingsley, Skipping Christmas John Grisham, Coming Up For Air George Orwell, The Secret Life of Bees, Ballet Shoes Noel Streetfield.

Students use language to understand, develop and communicate ideas and information and interact with others
Students understand their cultural, geographic and historical contexts and have the knowledge, skills and values necessary for active participation in life in Australia.
Students understand and appreciate the physical,biological and technological world and have the knowledge and skills to make decisions inrelation to it
Students participate in creative activity of their own and understand and engage with the artistic, cultural and intellectual work of others.

Phew. I am unschooling, not neglecting. I think.

(Cartoon from the Official Book of Homeschooling Cartoons )

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Feast of St Andrew

And Thomas' birthday...November 30.

Isn't this more fun than dieting?

A quote from the old classic FIRM workout Volume 1.

Such an 80s workout classic. Yet so effective. Cardio and weights. You can do the whole 70 minutes or break it up into parts. I'm addicted to the high impact cardio, the push ups on the dumb bells, the killer legwork, the chest work, the abs....I don't often do the whole workout but have been doing parts since Wed of last week, every day, after I heard of the untimely death of the workout's creator.
The FIRM used to promise visible results in ten workouts. And it is kind of true. I've done six days of the FIRM Volume 1 in a row and people have already asked me if I have lost weight.

It is more fun than dieting..I find I need tough-ish workouts to help me lose weight, to keep that waist line in shape...And I need to watch what I eat...That is the tricky part right now!

I am reading the book I mentioned a few posts back - Finally Thin.

At first, I didn't feel the book was helpful for me. She lost a lot of weight, as I did, but she looks thin and gorgeous while I look...fat and ugly.

The author raves about never having to worry do I look fat in this? But I worry about that most days.

And she doesn't do a lot of talk about emotional eating. Eating to cover up emotions.

But then, I gave myself a mental shake up. A mental slap. Come on, girl!

I realised that maybe I was just being way too negative and that this negativity was attributing to my inability to lose a few more kilograms.

Now, I am reading the book with a positive frame of mind. I might be old. I might be fat. But I am not as fat as I was. I might never be as thin as the author. I might never rejoice at what I see in photos.

But I can learn some more positive food habits .

Like - thinking, really thinking, before I eat. And allowing myself to feel...well, stuff.
And returning to my own, personalised sort of food plan..meals and calorie allowances that suit me. Not someone else.

Knowing there is never just one way.

And learning that it is okay to take care of myself, too.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

It is beginning to look a lot like Advent....

.......In this illuminated miniature Saint Bernard is intoning the Introit of the First Sunday of Advent, Ad te levavi animam meam. He is lifting up his soul in the form of a newborn baby, the new liturgical year! God the Father, surrounded by angelic hosts, thrones in glory above him. To his left a choir of monks sings the Introit that Bernard has intoned.....

It is beginning to look a lot like Advent..and we have.....Christmas DVDS to start watching.............

An Advent Calendar with Advent readings for the family to read together ( we have yet to choose our Advent personal spiritual reading, and yet to choose our Advent penances) .......

Ourside Advent Wreath.............
...........................Christmas books to read.............................

.....Our table centrepiece and Advent Wreath..and our traditional Cadbury's chocolate Advent calendar....

...and violet or purple vestments for Holy Mass on this first Sunday in Advent.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hidden Art

What is Hidden Art? In The Hidden Art of Homemaking Edith Schaeffer writes:

Whatever it is, surely art involves creativity and originality. Whatever form art takes, it gives outward expression to what otherwise would remain locked in the mind, unshared. .

It is true that all men are created in the image of God, but Christians are supposed to be conscious of that fact, and being conscious of it should recognize the importance of living artistically, aesthetically, and creatively, as creative creatures of the Creator. If we have been created in the image of an Artist, then we should look for expressions of artistry, and be sensitive to beauty, responsive to what has been created for our appreciation.

I first read this book about eighteen years ago. Eighteen years! I can't believe it was that long ago ..I was expecting son number five,. Had just prayed my very-first-ever-novena. This one to St Gerard Majella, asking for intercession for the gift of another child. I was on bed rest, in a difficult pregnancy healthwise, and although not yet Catholic, I knew the power of prayer.

And the power of beauty.

Into my life came the above book, inspiring one to find Hidden Art in daily life. To appreciate beauty in both work and prayer.

I found beauty in prayer in the Latin Mass, Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Eventually found my way , four years later, to being a Catholic.. as you all know.

Not only did I experience beauty and Truth in the mass, in the prayers, in the beliefs expressed by the words and actions of the mass. I also found beauty in the externals..My senses were filled...and I was drawn into Catholicism by mind, my soul, my heart, my urge for beauty and little bit of the sacred were also satisifed...the candles on the altar, brightly polished candle stands; awe inspiring icons ; reflective art for Stations of the Cross; incense; marble altars with intricate altar cloths; priestly vestments, made with care and detail, colours changing to reflect the liturgical year, donned wth care and prayer..there was nothing ordinary, every day, nothing prosaic in the mass..Every detail was taken care of, to demonstrate and catechize inspire..

Because, however, the celebration of the Eucharist, like the entire Liturgy, is carried out through perceptible signs that nourish, strengthen, and express faith, the utmost care must be taken to choose and to arrange those forms and elements set forth by the Church that, in view of the circumstances of the people and the place, will more effectively foster active and full participation and more properly respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful.
General Instruction of the Roman Missal (20)

I have been on a bit of a "liturgy kick " recently. Reminding myself of what is important in liturgy; of why the Holy Mass and its rubrics and celebration is important.

And today I remembered The Hidden Art of Homemaking and its application to the beauty of externals in the Mass.

If we should be sensitive to beauty in daily life, how much more should we be sensitive to beauty in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. To the beauty of the prayers and of the Eucharist. Christ truly being there, for us to receive.

To the beauty of the externals. Like the vestments of the priest.

Vestments? Those garments, worn by the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon during the celebration of the Eucharist.

These are rich with symbolism; part of their Hidden Art is to remind one of the liturgical year, of the role of the priest, of Christ, of the mass through the centuries, of the sacredness of the liturgy, of the sacredness of the Holy Sacrifice.

The symbolism customary among the liturgists from the ninth to the eleventh century is a moral symbolism, that is the liturgical vestments were made to symbolize the official and priestly virtues of their wearers. In the twelfth century there were added to this the typico-dogmatic symbolism, in which the vestments were expounded in reference to Christ Whose representative is the priest, and soon they symbolized Christ's Incarnation, the two Natures of Christ, the unity and relation to each other of these natures before long, the virtues of Christ, His teaching, and soon, lately, His relations to the Church.
Curious to say the vestments were not made to symbolize Christ's Passion and Death. This last symbolism, which may be called typico-representative, first appeared in the course of the thirteenth century, and quickly became very popular, because it was the most easily expressed and consequently most easily understood by the people. The people interpreted the vestments as symbolizing the instruments of Christ's Passion, as the cloth with which Christ's head was covered (amice), the robe put on him in mockery (alb), the fetters (cincture, maniple), etc., and the priest who was clothed with these was regarded as typifying the suffering Saviour.

The Catholic Encyclopedia

I wasn't aware of any of this, when I, as a non Catholic, attended the Latin Mass. I just knew there was a sense of being apart from the world of every day, of entering into the mysteries of Faith and of Life and Death. I wanted to know more.

I was inspired by the beauty of the whole mass, having all my senses employed, my sense of beauty ignited in a spiritual and physical fashion. By prayers and sacred language.

And I was inspired not by unadorned tables or altars and polyster garments but by the richness of detail and the lavish care given to every detail..even to cloths..and candles..and vessels..and statues..and vestments.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Belle..our cat....

And a cat teapot..a gift from an older lady at church....

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Spirit of the Liturgy

Got hooked on this book. "The Spirit of the Liturgy."

So many salient quotes with regard to liturgy, to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Because when we go to Mass, we ( hopefully) remember that it is more than a liturgical gathering. It is Holy Mass. It is not praise and worship alone. The central act , the central focus of the Mass, is not that of the priest as such or that of the laity. The central action/focus is Christ our Lord, truly present on the altar.

Mass is not about the people or a committee deciding what to add, what to infuse or inject. It is not like organising a parish barbecue ( I speak from experience here..experience of organising parish barbecues!).

(Mass) ... never just an event in the life of a community that finds itself in a particular place. No, to celebrate the Eucharist means to enter into the openness of a glorification of God that embraces both heaven and earth, and openness effected by the Cross and Resurrection. Christian liturgy is never just an event organized by a particular group or set of people or even by a particular local Church. The Spirit of the Liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger)

We don't need creativity in the Mass. We don't need ethnic groups represented. We don't need spontaneity. These things can be done most effectively outside the mass, in our friendly parishes and events and groups.

Unspontaneity is of their essence. In these rites I discover that something is approaching me here that I did not produce myself, that I am entering into something greater than myself, which ultimately derives from divine revelation. This is why the Christian East calls the liturgy the "Divine Liturgy", expressing thereby the liturgy's independence from human control...... . The greatness of the liturgy depends - we shall have to repeat this frequently - on its unspontaneity . Ibid.

My life is full of flexibility, of little traditions ( think Christmas traditions) and rituals ( tea making); time with friends; laughter, music, singing; hanging out; sharing meals with others; ordinary every day actions and words. Oh, and work!

Mass, worship, should be something set apart. Something sacred. Something inspiring awe. Reminding us of eternal, sacred things, of things out of the ordinariness of life. Filling our souls and our sense of , our urge, for beauty.

Helping us to face God, as it were, in our worship and in our lives. Not facing the gods of money, fame, awards, perfect houses...and so on.

From the book above, again,..

A common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of accidentals, but of essentials. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come. What corresponds with the reality of what is happening is not the closed circle, but the common movement forward expressed in a common direction for prayer....In this way we obey the ancient call to prayer: Conversi ad Dominum, "Turn to the Lord!" In this way we look together at the One whose Death tore the veil of the Temple -- the One who stands before the Father for us and encloses us in His arms in order to make us the new and living Temple.

Something to think of, during this weekend as we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Giving Your "All"

Sunday November 8, was a time of farewell. Friars leaving our parish, to be replaced by new friars.

One of the friars celebrated his last Sunday mass, thirty second Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Fr's homily was far from ordinary. He inspired not only me, but many others who have also shared with me their thoughts and tears.

Inspired us all to give our ALL.

Give our all in our vocations - be it as husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, priests, religious, lay people, teachers, doctors, nurses..and so on.

Give ourselves fully to our vocations.

The trouble with me hearing give my all is that I tend to use it as a stick with which to beat myself.

I want to give my all because I want to; because I know I should; because it is the right thing to do. And when I fail to give my all, as we all fail at times, I feel guilty and bad.

Catholic guilt? As if! There is no such thing....Nah, I felt like this way before I was a Catholic.

Giving our all in our vocations should be done with love. Yes, I get that part. I love and so I want to give my all.

But it can't be done on our own. We give our all in love, with love, with God's help, His graces and His love.
We may give imperfectly but it is in the striving, the leaning on God, the love that counts . That helps us live out our vocations, our lives.

I am the first to admit that this is hard for me. Loving God is easy. Living that out in my vocation is not.

I have read and talked with friends about the Five Love Languages.

How we express our love, in ways that another appreciates.

I love to do things for others..the trouble comes, for me, when others try to do things for me.

I can see where my husband and children have strong leanings towards different love languages - one likes the language of touch; another of affirming words..and so on.

But I, personally, don't like any of the five love languages. Not that I don 't want to be loved but I dislike it, well, feel uncomfortable, when others show they care. I just want to live my life day to day, doing my best, following God, finding joy.

I am uncomfortable with receiving love.

There. I said it. I blogged it. With trepidation. Because maybe my writing this out will help others in their vocations, in giving their all.

And maybe this uncomfortable-ness with emotions is what also prevents me from giving my all in my vocation, giving my all as well I could. Or should. Or as well as I want to.

The Five Love Languages

Words of Affirmation - I am uncomfortable with receiving praise or words of affirmation..but love to affirm others. ( So uncomfortable with words...Lois and Brenda...You know, someone says you have a nice smile and your immediate thought is..yeah, that translates as I'm fat and ugly but they are trying to say something nice..)

Quality Time - love spending time with family and friends but hate the idea of quality time..feel controlled or owned. That I have to perform or please. And fail.

Receiving Gifts - Oh, shopping for gifts for others is so much fun! Receiving gifts can be kind of do I say thank you? How do I receive? I'd rather give!

Acts of Service - This is a big way that I try to show my love, to give my all. I give by giving - gifts and acts of service. But I hate things being done for me! Ack!

Physical Touch - I am just not a touchy feely sort of person. But I am learning to give hugs. To like hugs. Enough said!

These are the things I have thought about this week. Why?
Because of Fr's excellent homily. Inspiring. Give your all to your vocation!

Because of some emotional stuff. And dealing with emotional eating.

Because of dealing with unhappiness in others - my fault? Did I, am I really giving my all?

And because of wise words from a long term who knows me and my family and extended family well...a quote...

It is the mother who gives food and in being mothered you were really sold short. So to make up for this, you have been excellent in mothering - both your boys and your friends. Well - I don't know about the others but you mothered me and you helped in turn with my mothering. I expect its the same for the others though. But all that giving without the initial sustenance has left you starving. And every so often you feel that starvation. But you have been left - not only without a mother - but with a great distrust of being able to receive mothering. So you fill the starvation with food.

Now, these words, and the rest of her too-personal-to-share message, were like a splash of cold water to me. What? Could this be right? Too much to think about!
Two days in Queensland with female friends, for a friend's son's graduation, became not only a time of laughter and shopping and fun and talking and alcohol but also a time for prayer and reflection. And book buying. Buy a book! Solve your problem!

Reflection? On giving my all as a wife, mother, friend, teacher.

And learning how to receive so that I can actually give my all. Instead of my (many times) feeble attempts.

And trusting in God, not doing this on my own power, but with His love and grace.

Giving my all in love.
Even when I fail.

Beginners in the service of God sometimes lose confidence when they fall into any fault. When you feel so unworthy a sentiment rising within you, you must lift your heart to God and consider that all your faults, compared with divine goodness, are less than a bit of tattered thread thrown into a sea of fire.Suppose that the whole horizon, as far as you can see from this mountain, were a sea of fire; if we cast into it a bit of tattered thread, it will disappear in an instant. So, when you have committed a fault, humble yourself before God, and cast your fault into the infinite ocean of, charity, and at once it will be effaced from your soul; at the same time all distrust will disappear St Paul of the Cross

And I do all things for the gospel's sake: that I may be made partaker thereof. Know you not that they that run in the race, all run indeed, but one receiveth the prize? So run that you may obtain. And every one that striveth for the mastery, refraineth himself from all things: and they indeed that they may receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible one. I therefore so run, not as at an uncertainty: I so fight, not as one beating the air: But I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. 1 Corinthians 9 23-27 ( emphasis mine)

Sunday, November 15, 2009


This Sunday I had the privilege of attending three different Sunday masses. A vigil. A morning mass. An evening mass.

Just because that is the way things worked out!

Three masses . Masses with liturgical differences.

All masses were valid. Two masses were celebrated with great care for rubrics and with reverence.

We Catholics express our faith, our beliefs, by actions and by words. Reverence in mass reminds us of Whom we are reverencing.

There is a difference between a mass where the priest follows rubrics carefully and a mass where a priest ad libs. Even a little.

a title, heading, direction, or the like, in a manuscript, book, statute, etc., written or printed in red or otherwise distinguished from the rest of the text.
a direction for the conduct of divine service or the administration of the sacraments, inserted in liturgical books.
3.any established mode of conduct or procedure; protocol.

The rubrics of the Mass form the directions, the guide, for the priest to follow. They serve as protocol for the mass; reminding us that mass is about worshipping God , that it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that Jesus is truly present at the altar..and that mass is not about the people and the personality of the priest.

It is not a feel good exercise.

From one of the documents of the Second Vatican Council - there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them, and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing(Sacrosanctum concilium ).

I am truly not being critical here. Not being that liturgical nazi that my family all hate, the one who decries any change post 1962.

I just know that we go to mass to adore God, to receive Jesus. Yes, within the community of believers and with communion with all the saints but also with a focus on Christ, on prayer, on eternity, not the here and now of laughter/clapping/jokes/priests wandering around giving a homily..( I am sorry, Fr, but it is impossible for me to listen well, to gather myself and my thoughts interiorly, with you wandering near my elbow, giving a homily, asking me and others to cry out Praise the Lord. Is PTL part of the rubrics? Can't we participate more fully when we are not distracted?).

Whenever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of the liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Pope Benedict the XVI, (then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) The Spirit of the Liturgy

The richness of Catholic theology, the theology of the Mass, the ritual over the centuries, gradually unfolds in the mass. Forms our beliefs. How we worship really does have an effect on what we believe.

We demonstrate our beliefs by the rubrics of liturgy. We develop and understand these beliefs, we grow in grace and in love and understanding, by the way we worship, by familiarity with the liturgy, a familiarity that comes with repetition - with very careful observance of liturgical norms. If the norms are ignored, are played with, are altered in small ways, not necessarily via big liturgical differences or abuses but via little changes and injections of personality, then we lose an opportunity. We lose a powerful means of transmitting and re-inforcing the Church's teaching about the meaning of the Mass, of the Eucharist, of what we as Catholics believe.

We lose an opportunity to lift ourselves out of the sometime quagmire of daily life, to think not of ourselves but to lift up our hearts and eyes and minds towards God.

When we change or add little things to the Mass, things that of themselves are not of great substance, that certainly do not mean liturgical abuse or an invalid mass yet are little people-centred innovations, well, when we do this, we not only lose a sense of awe and a sense of the sacred. We also lose a sense of unity, of praying the one and same mass with others.

We have liturgical legislation not to enforce what one writer calls "rigid rubricism" but instead to encourage reverence and unity in Catholic liturgy... in Catholic worship.

The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer..Pope Paul VI

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eating Emotionally

That is, eating to cover up emotions, to deal with emotions.
It is NOT eating with emotion and gusto.

In conversation with a friend today. We discussed many things. One of which was emotional eating.

Now, eating ice cream or chocolate when sad or angry almost seems acceptable amongst my circle of friends. I mean, we all do this at some time or other. We joke about it. We share Facebook comments about our comfort foods. We laugh at how emotional eating is portrayed in movies. Harmless. Fun. An occasional lapse.

For some of us, this emotional eating is not so harmless.

It is how we live.

I live like this.

I am getting better. As I confessed to my friend, at least now I recognise that I am comfort eating. As I stand at the kitchen counter, eating, I now know why.

Before, I just ate. And ate. When angry. Or sad.

Now, I probably still eat and eat but nowadays, as I wolf down another handful of Cheezels or Peanut M &Ms I swallow, I realise what I am doing.

I realise and feel, really feel, the hole inside, something aching. I realise that I am eating to fill that hole. Even though eating doesn't really help . Or maybe it eat until stuffed so now you feel sick and thus unable to feel that scary emotion.

Is this a step towards recovery from emotional eating? This is what my friend and I talked about. Is there some multi step programme for overcoming eating, working from within?

Step One - you just eat when sad.

Step Two, you still eat but you realise why you eat.

Step Three, you eat, you realise you are eating when sad or lonely or angry and you let yourself pause, for a minute, to feel that ache, that gap. Then return to eating, to stuffing oneself silly with food.

Step Four. I don't know. I am not there yet. Having only recently reached Step Three.

Maybe the next steps involve eating less. Or not comfort eating At All?

Or maybe that is too much to expect!

Hi, I am Leonie. I was, I am, I probably always will be a comfort eater.

Totally Britney.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Pegging Prayers for All Souls

I have talked about pegs, pegs in our day, before.

And Lissa has that great blog post on pegs, too.

Lately, I have been trying to naturally, rhythmically, seamlessly, add more prayer into the life of our family.

I used the idea of pegs yet again.

Specifically, I have pegged an additional prayer to our evening Grace before meals..most days..especially those days when we don't have visitors and when we are actually home for dinner, however late that dinner may be. Even if that dinner is leftovers again, or make yourself a sandwich again. ( She says guiltily. She who hasn't cooked a dinner since Wednesday of last week. NO, Pam, I didn't end up cooking last night, either!)

During September, we re-visited the Latin prayer ~ Memorare before dinner. Food means I have a captive audience!

In the month of October, I pegged the prayer to St Joseph to grace before dinner.

This month of November, of Holy Souls, I am pegging this prayer..

My Jesus, by the sorrows Thou didst suffer in Thine agony in the Garden, in Thy scourging and crowning with thorns, in the way to Calvary, in Thy crucifixion and death, have mercy on the souls in purgatory, and especially on those that are most forsaken; do Thou deliver them from the dire torments they endure; call them and and admit them to Thy most sweet embrace in paradise. Our Father..., Hail Mary...., Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

Liturgically speaking, for All Souls and Requeim Masses, the priest may wear black vestments.

The use of black represents Christian realities. Christians are people of hope ; we are also aware of the reality of sin and of judgement. We do not presume to know the state of another's soul. We know that we have a tendency towards sin and that we do not always resist, nor always repent of our sins. So, we hope and pray.

Black has overtones of mourning , and acknowledges our emotional response to loss , and reminds us of our need to pray for the repose of the deceased's soul. It also is a reminder and symbol of our belief in purgatory, where the suffering souls require our prayers and Masses.
Black represents our mourning and reminds us that there is work to be done -- the work of prayer.

The gold or silver which adorns the black vestment gives us that silver-lining of Christian hope .

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

I'd like to see you have a little direction.

Mel: I'd like to see you have a little direction.
Cher: I have direction!
Josh: Yeah, towards the mall.

From the movie Clueless

I needed some direction today. Some retail therapy.

Sometimes a little shopping makes you feel better.

Went into Borders and Dymocks to buy one book ~ another copy of Anne of Green Gables.

Came out with a bunch of books and a very cool, very organised looking 2010 diary/planner.

Almost bought a book on saving money, The $21 Challenge. but stopped myself. Had a glass of Coke Zero instead.

I mean.

Sometimes you can go too far.

Today might've had sadness but there was no need to add guilt in the form of a budgeting book!

All Saints Day

Almighty God, you have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord:grant us grace so to follow your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that we may come to those inexpressible joys that you have prepared for those who truly love you;through Jesus Christ our Lord,who is alive and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit ,one God, now and for ever. Amen.