Celebrating He Who Gives Me Peace, Hope, and Joy

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It is Christmas Eve.
We wait in anticipation to celebrate the birth 
of the most important person in human history.  
A man who was sent to save us.  
God in the flesh:

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

This Christmas, I reflect on the enormity of Christ's birth and how He has been at work in my life.  He is always with me, as He is with you.  I just have to answer his call and spend time with Him.  I will tell you, this has made all the difference in my life.  

It is through Him that I have found peace, even in the midst of the turmoil of daily life.  
It is through Him that I have hope each day, no matter the struggles I face.  
It is in Him that I have real contentment, not just fleeting happiness.  
It is through His example that I strive to serve others.  
It is because of His forgiveness that I can get up each day, despite my sins and failings, and strive to be holier.  
It is in Him that I trust that no matter what happens in this life, He will always be there.  

Pope Francis recently said:

"Christmas, the nativity of Jesus, (is) a feast of trust and hopewhich overcomes uncertainty and pessimism.  The earth is no longer a vale of tears.  It is the place where God himself raised a tent, the place of God's encounter with man, of God's solidarity with men." [emphasis mine]

Amen to that.

 I hope that you too will find the peace, hope, and joy of Jesus this Christmas.

Celebrate the Feast of St. Lucy! {December 13}

Friday, December 13, 2013

St. Lucy
**From Catholic Online
*I've updated this post from last year with a few pictures of last year's celebration.**

St. Lucy (or St. Lucia), was a Sicilian girl who lived from 283-304.  Little is known about her life, but what is known is that she was martyred for her Christian faith.  She is recognized for her faith and bravery.  Lucy means "light", and so light is reflected in the celebration of her feast day.  St. Lucy is the patron saint of eyesight.  
To read more about her, check out St. Lucy from Catholic Online.

If you are from my generation, you might remember Kirsten, the American Girl doll, celebrating St. Lucia Day.  Too bad she's been retired. :(

Here is a short video that tells a little about the traditions associated with St. Lucy.

Ways to celebrate St. Lucy

My daughter, Grace, age 4
bringing us cinnamon rolls.

Traditionally, the oldest daughter dresses in a white, with a red sash, and brings saffron rolls to her family, who are still in bed.  The idea of this overwhelms me at this stage in my life, so I'm focusing on some simpler ways to celebrate St. Lucy.  Below are some things you can do with your family to celebrate this Feast of St. Lucy.  They are separated into Very Easy, Easy, and More Elaborate.  Enjoy!

Very Easy

    St Lucia coloring page
  • Eat dinner by candlelight and the light of the Christmas tree.

  • Drive or take a walk to see Christmas lights.

    • Color a picture for St. Lucy's Day from here or here

    • Say a prayer to St. Lucy, like the one below from Family Prayer
    Saint Lucy
    Whose beautiful name signifies 'LIGHT'
    by the light of faith which God bestowed upon you
    increase and preserve His light in my soul
    so that I may avoid evil,
    Be zealous in the performance of good works
    and abhor nothing so much as the blindness and
    the darkness of evil and sin.
    Obtain for me, by your intercession with God
    Perfect vision for my bodily eyes
    and the grace to use them for God’s greater honour and glory
    and the salvation of souls.
    St. Lucy, virgin and martyr
    hear my prayers and obtain my petitions.


    • Make cinnamon buns from the can and make them into the shape of a saffron bun or a circle, like at Catholic Icing 

    • Eat ginger cookies.  You can buy ginger cookie mix from the grocery store or follow a recipe, like this one.

    • Listen to music from St. Lucia Day in Sweden like this: 

    • Make a St. Lucy wreath from a paper plate.  Directions can be found here.  I had some leftover fake leaves from some random craft project that I hot glued onto our paper plate wreath.  We also made candles out of foam and hot glued those on.  Here is how it turned out:


    • Have your kids dress up.  Girls can wear white dresses, red sashes around their wastes, and wreaths on their heads.  Boys can wear white, with white cone hats with stars.  
    Here is Grace, all dressed up
    with her St. Lucy paper doll.

    More Elaborate

    Enjoy St. Lucia's Day however it is you decide to celebrate!

    Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe {December 12}

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    With my focus on Jesus this Advent, I'm making an effort to recognize several of the feast days leading up to Christmas.  I have learned so much as I have grown in my Catholic faith, and I have a new-found respect for the many traditions we have!

    December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Only recently have I learned about the miraculous apparition of the Virgin Mary to Saint Juan Diego in Mexico.  I learned much about this miracle from watching the Catholicism series with Father Robert Barron (video clip below) and reading articles, like this one from Catholic Online.  There is also tons of information to be found about Our Lady of Guadalupe, as well as Juan Diego at Sancta.

    This video is longer, but it's very interesting and talks about what makes the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan Diego's tilma so miraculous.  It was so incredible that it converted millions in Mexico!

    Pretty amazing stuff, right?!  Now that you're all inspired, here's some music to listen to as you peruse ideas for celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego with your family!

    Mary by Jessica P on Grooveshark

    Teach kids about Our Lady of Guadalupe

    A great way to teach kids the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe is with the DVD Juan Diego: Messenger of Guadalupe.  We were able to get it on Netflix.

    There are also several children's books featuring this story.  

    Crafts and Coloring

     Here are a variety of Our Lady of Guadalupe coloring pages.

    Several awesome coloring pages that tell the story of Juan Diego by Holy Heroes can be found here .

    Make a printable Saint Juan Diego paper doll from Paper Dali.

    Brown bag tilma
    Catholic Inspired

    Make a tilma out of brown paper bags.  

    Ways to Celebrate

    An easy way to celebrate is to eat Mexican food for dinner.  You can also have Mexican hot chocolate!

    Get a Lady of Guadalupe candle and light it during dinner or prayer time.  You can find them at many grocery stores in the Latino food aisle.

    Jessica from Shower of Roses celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a tea (pics below).  Her children created their own Tilmas.  They had some simple, yet creative and symbolic foods, including St. Juan Diego sombreros, Tepayac Hill mash potatoes, A Woman Clothed With the Sun taco dip, A Mantle of Stars cookies, and Tilma of Roses made of tortillas.  The kids also built and decorated their own church.  I will definitely be making a few of these!

    A Tea in Honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe
    Shower of Roses


    Mary is such a wonderful example for us mothers, and I find great comfort in asking her for her intercession.  You can find a variety of prayers to Our Lady of Guadalupe at Sancta, as well as a novena.  

    Enjoy the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

    Celebrate St. Nicholas! {December 6}

    Tuesday, December 3, 2013

    Did you know the legend of Santa Claus actually comes from a real man?  St. Nicholas (yes, Jolly Old St. Nick) was the Bishop of Myra (now part of Turkey) around 300 years after Jesus' Ascension into Heaven.  He was known as a kind and generous follower of Jesus Christ and is the patron saint of many people and places, including children, sailors, bakers, and pawnbrokers (Yes, pawnbrokers.).  Here is a kid-friendly explanation of who St. Nicholas was and what he did.

    St. Nicholas of Myra

    St. Nicholas' feast day is December 6th, and there are many fun and easy ways to celebrate.

    Learn about St. Nicholas

    This short video gives a quick overview about St. Nicholas Day:

    St. Nicholas - Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus
    St. Nicholas Center
    The St. Nicholas Center is a great place to find information about St. Nicholas, as well as activities, recipes, and crafts.
    Saint Nicholas VeggieTales DVD
    Veggie Tales: St. Nicholas

    The Veggie Tales  video St. Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving tells the true story of St. Nicholas (if he were a vegetable, anyway), and incorporates the modern-day St. Nick that brings Christmas presents.  It's available on Netflix Streaming!

    Ways to celebrate

      Wooden shoe with treats
      Treats from St. Nicholas
      St. Nicholas Center
    • On the night of Dec. 5, have your kids leave out their shoes in a special place, like the fireplace.  Place treats, like chocolate, coins (or chocolate coins), clementines, and candy canes, in the children's shoes from St. Nicholas.

    • If you haven't already, hang your stockings up in preparation for Christmas.

    St. Nicholas Giving Box
    Catholic Inspired

    St. Nicholas figure
    St. Nicholas Center

    • Have a candlelit dinner or a special breakfast with St. Nicholas feast day foods, like the ones here.

    For more ideas on how to celebrate St. Nicholas' feast day, check out this page from Catholic Culture.

    I hope your family has a wonderful St. Nicholas Day!
    - Jessica