(chalkboard design inspired by Elisa at Elisa Loves)
Outside we've had cold and wind and scary ice (watched a huge truck s--l--i---d--e backwards down the road outside our window yesterday) and now there's just enough snow left to look poetical.
We quit listening to most recorded music during Advent, so it's relatively quiet around here. The music practicing does provide some anticipatory strains of rejoicing - someone was playing O Holy Night on the harp today and it was so lovely. Mainly we're listening toAdvent at Ephesus from the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles (also available on Amazon). We don't have a lot of Advent music so this one gets played lots, which seems rather appropriate - to just focus on the one thing we are doing, waiting and longing and preparing for the coming of the Messiah. The nuns are able to put it all into music, and beautifully so. Music keeps on flowing in the mind long after it's turned off, which in this case is very good. In the evenings we sing Creator Alme Siderum and Alma Redemptoris Mater after our readings and listening to the nuns should help us with Rorate Caeli which we are (supposed to be) learning next. We save O Come, O Come Emmanuel for the nights of the O Antiphons.
Popular reading right now is Kersti and Saint Nicholas. Oh my goodness, we loved this book! Hilda van Stockum and Saint Nicholas, together in one book! I gave this to the little girls for Saint Nicholas Day and proceeded to read it aloud at tea (cocoa!) time that afternoon to everyone. The beloved Hilda van Stockum is such a masterful storyteller and boy does she ever understand children. And families. And grace. A wonderful, wonderful book and I think perhaps the older folks may have enjoyed it even more than the littles. I had to read it aloud again for the benefit of the guys who missed the first reading, Eliza has read it at least two more times since, and Kateri has adopted Sapperdekriek! as her current interjection of choice.
I'm thankful for safe travels of the menfolk during the recent snow and ice, good health, this season of opportunities for penance and spiritual growth (along with the plentiful interspersed feast days) that keep us waiting in joyful anticipation.
Thinking about the reflections in Come, Lord Jesus: Meditations on the Art of Waiting by Mother Mary Francis. I am so grateful that Jessica recommended this and that I actually got a copy in time! I read it aloud to the family in the evening after our Jesse Tree readings and it is really so very good. The daily sections are long enough to be meaty but not overwhelming and Mother Mary Francis has such a down to earth way with words. The first time I cracked it open I was struck by these words: "Wickedness does not at all necessarily imply gross sin, but it is doing nothing. Have we gone from week to week in the wickedness of not changing?" That line has reverberated with me over and over again, 'week to week in the wickedness of not changing.'
She paraphrases St. Paul, "For heaven's sake, get up! The time is here. This is the time of grace. Don't continue on your old sleepy way. Wake up!" She exhorts, "This should be our goal this Advent: that we will not waste grace. Great things are put before us. The Church becomes, even in her tenderness, very dramatic. 'Wake up!' she says. And she will say this again and again in Advent: 'Get up out of this torpor, this stupor. Wake up! Now is the time to rise from the spiritual sleepiness, the same old dreary infidelities, the same wastefulness, the same old idling paths, the same old petty self-indulgences. Wake up!' she says."
Very good Advent reading.
From the kitchen, we had gingerbread last night for tea with a friend, so good and fitting for the season. In squares with whipped cream it's cake, but sliced like a loaf and eaten plain it's rather bread, see. Today I had some leftover rice to use up so I made 'cheater rice pudding' - my latest culinary invention - which some children scoffed at but most gobbled up. I made a vanilla pudding on top of the stove in the regular milk-corn starch-(brown)sugar fashion, with eggs added, then when it was done I just stirred in my leftover rice along with a few fistfuls of raisins and liberal sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg. Warm and tasty and nutritious and easy as can be. (I clearly sided with the gobblers.) We had our first clementines of the season on St. Nicholas Day, as is our tradition, along with our first candy canes.
In the learning house, Mary Rose remains firmly entrenched in World War II, enticing the rest of us along with her, and she faithfully recalled the events of Pearl Harbor Day on Saturday. Every few hours she would come running up to me, eyes shining with a strange combination of poignant solemnity and enthusiastic excitement, recounting the unfolding of that tragic day. I'd be dusting my bedroom and she'd burst in to solemnly declare, 'The two army pilots who are manning the radar set (Lockard and Elliott) are seeing the first blips of the Japanese planes.' Shut off the vacuum so I could hear the report, 'Half an hour ago Outerbridge fired the first shot of the war at the midget sub.' I think she and her sisters have been memorizing parts out of Air Raid - Pearl Harbor!, and naturally she commemorated the day with a picture. Immersion history continues no matter the liturgical season around here.
I am creating a few handcrafts here and there, but at this time of year I surely can't tell you more. ;-)
Around the house, just a single star lights the way outside for now while our white lights make a bit of merry in the kitchen here. Mary and Joseph travel a bit closer to the empty stable each day while the sky is filled with more stars. Baby Jesus' crib grows softer each day, and Christkindls perform works of prayer and service while secret notes tell of their deeds.
I'm praying for online friends facing serious medical challenges this week, a dear priest who is so blessed to have his birthday on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, Mary Rose as she prepares for Confirmation, which we just found out will be in just a couple of weeks! She's studying like anything in preparation - matter and form! holy days of obligation! We Can Find Peas Under Fat Knights! (I'm told I made this mnemonic up years ago, though I have no recollection of it at all!) St. Edmund Campion, ora pro nobis!
A few plans for the rest of the week: Tea for Our Lady of Guadalupe on Thursday and celebrating Saint Lucia on Friday - another blessed week!
Hope your Advent is finding you at peace as we wait in joyful anticipation.
O come Divine Messiah, the world in silence waits the day
When hope shall sing of triumph and sadness flees away.
Sweet Savior haste; come, come to earth;
Dispel the night and show Thy face, and bid us hail the dawn of grace
-traditional French carol, found on Advent at Ephesus