Sweet little Eliza turned five today! She was so excited all day, and she read her 'Happy Birthday Eliza!' signs over and over in delight. Her mood was positively jolly as is most fitting for a birthday girl. Balloons and singing and candles and presents - she loved it all. She is so dear and so charming when she's happy - it is sheer joy to be able to please her and be swallowed up in her infectious glee.
She was thrilled with her Pickles cake and card, made with lots of love by Lydia. 'Pickles Fire Cat' as she calls it is currently her most favorite book, which Daddy lovingly reads to her each night in its entirety. Lydia gave Pickles nice big paws so he can do great things.
I wrote about some of her birth story last year. We are so thankful she is here and happy and healthy and has blessed us with another year of her special, precious self. We really just wanted to eat her up all day, she was just so cute.
And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.
Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The children participated in two performances of the Christmas play; they oldest three as musicians and the younger four as angels. On both occasions, the Baby Jesus was accompanied by His very own sweet little self-appointed guardian angel named Eliza. At the first performance she planted herself right beside the manger where she knew the baby doll was hiding, and somehow at the right moment she presented him to the Blessed Mother. Which seemed quite fitting. At the second performance she again staged herself right at the manger. The girl who played Mary put the baby doll in the manger, and this seemed to displease Eliza. She kept patting the Baby Jesus, rearranging his swaddling clothes, trying to give him back to his mother, and she would not leave his side.
Both times, as soon as it was over she quickly scooped the Baby Jesus up in her arms, and then she was happy.
Je suis l'Immaculee Conception - vintage medal from Lourdes, where Our Lady revealed herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. From the moment of her conception Our Lady was preserved from the stain of original sin. So in a way it is also a feast of St. Anne, as we celebrate the wondrous miracle that occurred in her womb. Many people do not understand this tenet of our Catholic faith, mistakenly thinking we try to elevate our Blessed Mother to some sort of 'goddess' status by saying she was without sin. But we believe that she was preserved from the stain of sin by the grace of God, not be her own merits, so that she would be fit to be the Mother of Our Redeemer. Our Lord came to save us from the pit of sin that we have fallen into but Mary was saved by being spared the falling in.
The readings at Mass today invite us to compare Our Blessed Mother to Eve, our first mother, and indeed the New Eve is one of Our Lady's titles. By giving her fiat, her yes to the angel Gabriel, she agreed to be the Mother of Our Savior. In his sermon Monsignor posited, where would we all be if Mary had said no. I tend to think of such a thing as impossible; after all she was without sin so how could she have possibly said no. But Monsignor reminded us that Adam and Eve were created without sin, meant to live forever in Paradise. But they clearly said no - no to God's will because it contradicted their own. Mary was created the same as Adam and Eve, yet their responses to God led Adam and Eve to bring sin into the world and Mary to bring redemption.
Mary lived in a world tainted by the stain of sin with sinful people all around her, yet she was able to do what Adam and Eve would not. How often I try to blame my own sin on the sin of those around me. Mary resisted the temptation of sin throughout her whole life, always choosing God's will over her own. We know that freedom from sin does not equal freedom from temptation, as even Our Lord was tempted by the devil himself. But Mary's most famous Fiat, her yes given to Gabriel's request, was just her most famous, her most significant yes. Her whole life was one constant series of yes-es, every moment of every day her will was submitted to that of the Father. From the time she was a little child and capable of choosing evil to the time when she was an old woman, having suffered the loss of her Son, her life was one long never quavering series of moments saying yes.
We have much to rejoice in and much to learn from this great teaching about Mary. Though we are not full of grace as she is, we can and should avail ourselves of as much grace as possible through frequent reception of the sacraments. We can call upon her intercession constantly and she will come to our assistance. All throughout our days we can ask her to help us say yes - the big hard yes-es and the endless string of tiny yes-es, which may actually be more difficult. We know that Mary's sinless nature did not spare her from many sorrows in her life, and we can turn to her for comfort in our afflictions, to walk with us through them. It is interesting to note that Our Lord did not choose His sinless Mother to be the rock upon which to build His church; Our Lord chose Peter with his many apparent sins to be the first pope. Instead He gave us His Mother to be our Blessed Mother, Our Lady, Queen of Heaven and Earth. She gave us her Son and she can lead us to Him - to know, love and serve Him on this earth and to be with Him for all eternity in Heaven.
O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!
Yesterday, December 7th, was the memorial of St. Ambrose. His prayer as found in my missal is a most beautiful preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and I truly love to say it every morning.
Prayer of St. Ambrose
O loving Lord Jesus Christ, I a sinner, presuming not on my own merits, but trusting in Thy mercy and goodness, with fear and trembling approach the table of Thy most sacred banquet. For I have defiled both my heart and body with many sins, and have not kept a strict guard over my mind and my tongue. Wherefore, O gracious God, O awful Majesty, I, a wretched creature, entangled in difficulties, have recourse to Thee, the font of mercy; to Thee do I fly that I may be healed, and take refuge under Thy protection. And I ardently desire to have Him as my Savior, Whom I am unable to withstand as my Judge.
To Thee, O lord, I show my wounds, to Thee I lay bare my shame. I know that my sins are many and great, on account of which I am filled with fear. But I trust in Thy mercy, of which there is no end. Look down upon me, therefore, with the eyes of Thy mercy on me, who am full of misery and sin, Thou Who wilt never cease to let flow the fountain of mercy.
Hail, Victim of salvation, offered for me and for all mankind on the tree of the Cross. Hail, noble and precious Blood, flowing from the wounds of my crucified Lord Jesus Christ and washing away the sins of the whole world. Remember, O Lord, Thy creature, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy Blood. I am grieved because I have sinned, I desire to make amends for what I have done.
Take away from me, therefore, O most merciful Father, all my iniquities and sins, that, being purified both in soul, and body, I may worthily partake of the Holy of Holies. And grant that this holy oblation of Thy Body and Blood, of which, though unworthy, I purpose to partake, may be to me the remission of my sins, the perfect cleansing of my offenses, the means of driving away all evil thoughts and of renewing all holy desires, the accomplishment of works pleasing to Thee, as well as the strongest defense for soul and body against the snares of my enemies. Amen.
Hope you are having a blessed, joyful feast day. The blogs are just bursting with wonderful ideas for celebrating this special day, and it's delightful to peek at so many diverse family traditions. There's a wealth of information at the St. Nicholas Center, and a St. Nicholas Fair over at Catholic Cuisine. An extra special 'Happy Feast Day' to all of the Nicholases (Nicholai?) and Nicoles out there.
2. TypePad Woes
I just want to mention that I am having difficulty leaving comments on TypePad blogs since they've switched to their new 'Next Generation' platform and profiles. So please excuse me for not leaving comments as I read your lovely blogs. After investigating the problem and having numerous exchanges with TypePad tech support, their most recent advice states:
When an issue is reported, we go through a specific, formal process in which the issue is discussed with the development engineers and a priority assigned. Once we can determine the cause of the problem, the code changes must be made in development, tested, and verified. Finally, they are assigned to a release and pushed into production. Since this process does take some time, we are unable to give a specific date at this time when the change would be made. This will be determined during the development process, as we mentioned.
Translation for when this problem will be resolved - Not Anytime Soon.
Sometimes someone in the family does something that just begs to be blogged, almost like I bet there's no way you can resist blogging this...
You may recall how my dear husband enjoys trying to get the grass to grow. Look at this dedication and hard work! He actually told me with an almost-straight-face that it's easier to apply fertilizer in the snow because you can keep track of where you've already been. But do note that he is grinning for the picture above.
4. About Last Night
Did you hear excessive screaming and laughing and roaring and generalized very loud hoopla? That was us. There is something about Friday-after-a-long-busy-week (aka Fried-day) that naturally invites a bit of blowing-off-steam in the form of some fun rowdy play and happy hullabaloo. We started off by piling on top of dear old Dad who was trying to get a little un-fried in typical Dad fashion by resting on the couch -
You have to love a guy who can support six womenfolk.
We also had the rare treat of having Jonathan home for an evening. The girls jumped, quite literally, at this opportunity and coerced him into being their horse. 'Macintosh' took turns giving rides to his sisters, sometimes stubbornly dragged by his lead ropes-
but most of the time galloping wildly through the house (hence the screaming). The girls were quite kind to him and fed him sugar cubes whenever he got a rest. A good time was had by all.
5. The Cook
You have to love it when Gandalf comes and makes soup in your kitchen.
I haven't blogged about our Advent devotions this year because they are the same as last year. As Alice pointed out, families may add something new occasionally but it is the things we do every year as we have always done - that's what makes it tradition. We are praying the beautiful St. Andrew novena prayer, doing our Jesse Tree readings each evening, lighting our Advent Wreath, and singing the same Come, Lord Jesus that we have sung for years and years. It's always lovely to watch a new toddler learn this simple song and sing it every night with all her heart, bowing her head at the Holy Name. We also just started listening to just a little Christmas music, beginning with our friends' CD, Eventide Lullaby. Soon the children will start crafting in earnest, as they've been doing 'handmade holidays' for years and I hope to blog some of their projects. And right before Christmas we will make cookies the same way we always do.
7. Et Moi - Quick Takes
It was Jen at Conversion Diary who started the 7 Quick Takes, but you may know that it is supposed to be a Friday thing. You may also know that I have trouble doing anything on time, which is why I rarely post in blogs fairs and things that normal, organized bloggers do.
Right on cue, the cold weather feathered friends have arrived and daily populate our feeders.
The juncos, which we haven't seen all summer, are plentiful and so are their sparrow friends. Chickadees are seen and their cheery buzzing fills the air but they rarely sit still long enough for a photo.
But the big hairy woodpeckers do,
and their little downie twins do too.
The sunflowers are no longer sunny looking, but tasty just the same.
I love this picture. They are watching chant videos together on You Tube. :-)
For our evening entertainment we watched Lord of the Rings - one movie a night. This required careful planning in keeping the littles up without naps so they would go to bed extra early and sleep all night. It worked fairly well for the most part - just don't ask what time we actually started watching Fellowship on Thanksgiving night, after all those dishes and all that pie...
On Saturday night Eliza woke up right when the Fellowship arrived at the Black Gate and we couldn't get her back to sleep for anything. So Michael held her and rocked the sleepy princess for the rest of the movie. But she gleefully popped right up out of his arms and was wide awake for the very end. I think we will always remember the sight of her sitting directly in front of the TV in her pink polka dotted fuzzy pj's at never mind what time in the morning singing and signing Into the West with all her heart. It's one of her most favorite songs.
You know how they're always good as gold when they're up when they're not supposed to be. So she got to go downstairs for pie as well:
In the kitchen we found that the two middle girls had been crocheting while we watched the movie. I thought these horses looked like they could have galloped right out of Rohan in their majestic new coats:
These are the simple happy moments of blessed family life that we treasure.
I leave you with Eliza leading the evening Angelus before our Thanksgiving grace:
Remember, O Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life: God to glorify - Jesus to imitate - The Angels and Saints to invoke - A soul to save - A body to mortify - Sins to expiate - Virtues to acquire - Hell to avoid - Heaven to gain - Eternity to prepare for - Time to profit by - Neighbors to edify - The world to despise - Devils to combat - Passions to subdue - Death perhaps to suffer - Judgment to undergo.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Kimberlee. I am a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven children ages 10 - adult. This is my place to share all these things I treasure, and ponder in my heart.
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